How important is it to be the first team to crack the scoreboard in a game?  That’s what we’ll be trying to find out in this installment.  All stats courtesy of pfref.com.

Going back to 1950 and including all the following seasons up to and including 2016, including both regular season and playoffs, the team that scores first wins 65.10% (8769-4668-141 = .651) of the time.  In fact, just going back to 1967, *all 32* current franchises have a career winning record when scoring first.  (There were a couple short-lived franchises that had losing records, one going 0-1, the other 0-3, back in the early 1950’s.  These were the Dallas Texans and evidently one incarnation of the Baltimore Colts.)

Even just looking at away games, the team that scores first still wins the game most of the time (58.52%).  Road teams scoring first have a record of 3481-2458-68 (.585) since 1950.  When the home team scores first, as you might imagine, the winning percentage is even better: 5254-2193-73 (.735).

In division games, the team that scores first wins 64.93% of the time, which is pretty much inline with the overall percentage of 65.10% for all games.

So, you definitely want to always try to score first.  But you also don’t want to ever give up the lead.  Teams that scored first, but then trailed at any point in the game after that only won about 35.2% of the time: 2514-4668-94 (.352).  This a complete reversal of the positive impact of scoring first in the game.

 

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