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Today we’ll be slicing and dicing the Saints’ win/loss record from 2006-2016.  What was the Saints’ record against playoff teams?  What was their record on grass?  We’ll cover these and more in this installment.   All stats courtesy of pfref.com.

Let’s start off with the overall regular season record.   Saints are 101-75 (.574) since 2006, which is the 7th best winning percentage in the league over those 11 seasons, and one of only eight teams with 100+ wins.  Top team was NE, followed by GB, IND, PIT, DEN, and BAL.

Next up, we’ll look at home games.  Saints’ home record is 55-33 (.625) 10th best in the league.  Best home team is NE at 75-13 (.852).  Now, road games.  Saints’ road record is 46-24 (.523), good enough for 9th best, and one of only nine teams with a winning road record over these 11 seasons.  New England is #1 with a staggering 63-25 (.716) road record.  Geez, Louise.  Nobody else is over 58%.

What about when the opponent was a playoff team that year?  In this case the record was 25-37 (.403).  That’s not great, but compared to the rest of the league, not too bad, actually.  This, like the overall record, is the 7th best record in the league.  Only one team had a winning record against playoff teams.  Can you guess who it was?  I’ll bet you can.  NE was 35-20 (.636) against playoff teams.  Wow.

What about against teams with winning records?  It’s more or less the same situation as against playoff teams.  Saints winning percentage was 40%, 7th best.  NE was #1 again, with a 62.7% record against winning teams.  (I believe this to be against teams that ended the season with winning records as opposed to having a winning record at the time the game was played.)

What about when playing on grass?  It should, of course, be noted here that playing on grass infers the game is a road game.   Thus, to compare the Saints’ record on grass against teams that play home games on grass isn’t really fair.  For that reason, I’ll set the criteria here to pull up only the results for road games on grass for all teams.  Saints’ record on the road on grass is 28-26 (.519), which is 10th best in the league.   #1 is, of course, New England at 28-14 (.667).

What about in domed stadiums?  Similar to above, comparing the Saints to other teams who only play in domes in road games would be unfair to the rest of the league, so this time we’ll only be considering road games in domes.  Saints record in road games against dome teams is 10-8 (.556), good enough for 10th best.  Best team surprisingly isn’t New England this time.  It’s Indy, with a 6-1 (.857) record on the road in domes.  The Jets are 2nd best (another surprise), followed by NE and (biggest surprise yet) the Browns at 5-2 (.714).

What about prime time games (after 7:00 — local time presumably)?  Saints have really excelled in these games, with a 26-14 (.650) record, good enough for 3rd best.  Best was Seattle at 23-7-1 (.758), followed by, wait for it…, New England at 33-13 (.717).

What about division games?  Saints are a strong 38-28 (.576) in division games, 8th best in the league.  (None of the teams ahead of the Saints are in the NFC South.)  The top teams are the usual suspects: NE, GB, IND, PIT, BAL, SEA, DEN, and the Saints.

What about non-conference games?  Saints are 23-21 (.523) against the AFC, 15th best in the NFL against the opposite conference.  New England has owned the NFC: 35-9 (.795).

What about against non-playoff (i.e, bad) teams?  Saints are 70-35 (.667) against non-playoff teams.  This is 13th best in the league.  Best team is no surprise: NE is 93-17 (.845) against non-playoff opponents.  25 of the 32 NFL teams have winning records against non-playoff opponents.  The 7 exceptions are RAMS, OAK, WAS, TB, JAX, CLE, and MIA.

Now let’s just look at games 1 through 4.  (Yeah, I’m dreading this one, too.)  Saints are 22-22 (.500) in games 1 through 4 (not weeks 1 through 4, *games* 1 through 4).  This is 18th best in the league.  It’s not good, but it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.  Saints have really struggled in recent years out of the gate.

Now for games 5 through 8 (2nd quarter of the season).  Here the Saints are 2nd best in the league at 31-13 (.705).  Only NE is better at 34-10 (.773).  Why do the Saints struggle out of the gate, and then turn it around over the next 4 games?  Beats me.  All I know is these slow starts have killed the team in recent years.

Following the same theme, games 9 through 12 is next.  Saints are 24-20 (.545), which is tied for 9th best with 3 other teams.  Best team is, well, I don’t even have to tell you this one.

Closing out the season in games 13 through 16, the Saints are 24-20 (.545), good enough for 10th best (tied with 4 other teams).  New England is 37-7 (.841) closing out the season strongly.  This is very impressive considering they probably “rested starters” more than a few games in those final games.

Just one more before I wrap this up.  This time we’ll be looking at game time temperatures of 32 degrees F or below.  In other words, below freezing.  Saints are only 1-3 (.250) in such games, but of course, they’re all road games and with such a small sample size, it’s hard to draw any firm conclusions.  Best cold weather teams: New England, Green Bay, and Pittsburgh, no surprises there.NFL win loss 2006-2016

 

 

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.

 

The Saints had way too many kicks blocked in 2016, which got me wondering how they ranked against the rest of the league during the Sean Payton era (2006-2016).  So, I looked it up on pfref.com.

In games where teams had a field goal blocked their record was 116-121-1, just slightly below .500.  The average distance of the blocked kicks (238 of them) was 40.71 yards.  David Akers had the most blocked (13) and he did it in only 11 games.  It took the 2nd place guy (Graham Gano) 12 games to get his 12 blocks.  The Great Dane only had 2 kicks blocked in his Hall of Fame career.  Wil Lutz already has 2.

Saints have had 8 kicks blocked during the Sean Payton era, but that’s not the worst.  4 different teams had 12 kicks blocked each (CHI, MIA, SF, GB), and 4 more had 11 blocked each (SEA, CLE, MIN, ATL).  Saints were tied for 16th, so they were just middle of the pack when it comes to getting field goals blocked.  Teams with the fewest field goals blocked: DEN, NE, BUF, and TEN.

Saints blocked 5 field goals of their own (23rd out of 32).  The team with the most blocks: ARI with 21, followed by CHI with 16, and SEA with 13.  Worst at getting blocks: KC with just 1.  A few teams only had 3: IND, SD, JAX, and NYJ.

The important stat is the net number of field goals blocked (the amount your team blocked minus the amount your team had blocked = the net).  So, if you blocked 10 field goals, but had 12 of your own field goals blocked, that would give you a net of -2, for example.)  Saints were -3 in net field goals blocked (not good, for those scoring at home).  Here is the complete list, sorted by net:

TEAM HAD BLOCKED BLOCKED NET
ARI 4 21 17
NE 2 10 8
OAK 4 11 7
DAL 4 9 5
BUF 3 8 5
CHI 12 16 4
NYG 6 10 4
TEN 3 7 4
DET 8 11 3
BAL 4 7 3
DEN 1 4 3
SEA 11 13 2
CIN 6 7 1
PHI 6 6 0
PIT 4 4 0
CLE 11 10 -1
TB 7 6 -1
MIN 11 9 -2
CAR 10 8 -2
HOU 9 7 -2
RAMS 8 6 -2
WAS 9 6 -3
NO 8 5 -3
IND 6 3 -3
MIA 12 8 -4
SF 12 8 -4
SD 7 3 -4
JAX 9 3 -6
ATL 11 4 -7
NYJ 10 3 -7
KC 8 1 -7
GB 12 4 -8

And here’s a handy dandy little chart:

NFL net blocked field goals 2006-2016

In this game I’ll be listing a stat.  Your job is to guess if the teams that put up that had winning records or losing records in those games.  All stats from 1970-2016, regular season only, courtesy of pfref.com.

  1.  28 games where a team scored exactly 5 TD’s, but also had exactly 5 turnovers (giveaways).  Did these teams win more or lose more of those 28 games?
  2.  7 games where a team made 6+ field goals, but allowed 25+ points.  Win or lose?
  3.  55 games where a team punted 11+ times, but also held opponent to 20 or fewer points.  Win or lose?
  4.  46 games where a team had 6+ turnovers (giveaways), but held opponent to 14 or fewer points.  Win or lose?
  5.  29 games where a team completed 40+ passes.  Win or lose?
  6.  50 games where a team had 50+ sack yards lost (not good), but also scored 25+ points.  Win or lose?
  7.   Threw 4+ INT’s, but scored 30+ points.  Win or lose?
  8.   5 games where a team scored 2 safeties, but had 150 or fewer passing yards.  Win or lose?
  9.  35 games where a team punted 11+ times, but held opponent to 14 or fewer points.  Win or lose?
  10.  37 games where a team out gained the opponent in rushing yards by 75+ yards, but was out gained in passing yards by 250+ yards.   Win or lose?

I’ll post the answers below.  I didn’t play along this time.

Answers:

  1.  They won more, but not by much.  Record was 15-13.
  2.  Winners, but again not by much.  Record was 4-3.
  3.  Losers.  Record was 21-29-5.
  4.  Losers, but not by much: 22-23-1.
  5.  Losers.  Record was 11-18.
  6.  Winners.  Record was 28-22.
  7.  Losers.  Record was 20-27.
  8.  Winners.  Record was 5-0.
  9.   Winners.  Record was 18-12-5.
  10.  Winners, but not by much.  Record was 20-18.

 

Let’s play a little game.  I’ll give you a scenario and you decide whether you’d rather be on offense in that scenario or defense in that scenario.  The answers will be based on the win probability calculator at pfref.com.  In all instances below the Las Vegas point spread is a pick’em (0).

  1. Tie score.  4th quarter.  2:20 to go.  3rd and 8 from the offense’s 20 yard line.  Do you want to be on offense or defense?
  2. Offense is down by 2 points.  4th quarter.  :40 seconds to go.  1st and 10 at the 50.  You want to be the offense or the defense?
  3. Offense is down by 7 points.  4th quarter.  :30 seconds to go.  1st and 10 at the defense’s 30.  Offense or defense?
  4. Tie score.  1st quarter.  14:50 to go.  1st and 10 at the offense’s 5.  Do you want to the ball or do you want to be on defense?
  5. Offense is down by 3.  It’s OT.  10:20 to go.  2nd and 5 at the 50.  Do you want to be on offense or on defense?

Here are my guesses, before I go look up these scenarios.

  1. I’ll go with defense there.  I figure I have a good chance to stop them on 3rd and 8 and should come up with pretty good field position after a punt from their own 20.
  2. I’ll go with defense there.  I’m up by 2, which means the offense has to score.  They’re at the 50, which is still outside of field goal range and there’s not a lot of time left on the clock.
  3. Defense again.  I’d rather be up by 7 with :30 seconds to go than have the ball down by 7 just outside the red zone.
  4. Defense again.  I have them backed up deep at their own 5.
  5. I’m going to go with offense this time since all my other guesses were defense.  2nd and 5 is a good down and distance, and the 50 is a good spot on the field.  Decent shot here at least getting into field goal range and tying it up.

And now for the actual answers.

  1. Defense has it.  Offense’s win probability is only 33.44%.
  2. Offense is the answer, win probability: 99.45%.
  3. Defense has it.  Offense’s win probability: 36.81%.
  4. Slight edge to the defense here.  Offense’s win probability: 48.90%.
  5. Defense has advantage.  Offense’s win probability: 43.30%.

Looks like I was right on 3/5 (not very good).  I have some doubts about the win probability calculator’s answer for #2 though.  Over 99% win probability doesn’t seem right, but maybe it is.  I’m not real happy with my results.  Did you do better?  You should have.  But most importantly, hopefully you had fun with the little quiz.

 

So… if your team wins the opening coin toss does that mean it has a better chance to win the game?  That’s what we’ll try to find out in this blog entry.  (All stats courtesy of pfref.com.)

 

The data available for this goes back to the 1999 season.  Including both regular season and post season games the opening coin toss winner has a record of 2401-2373-7 (.503).  But I can remember teams used to *always* take the ball when they won the coin toss.  Here lately though teams have started deferring to the 2nd half more often (or at least that’s the way it seems to me).  These selective deferrals might be worthwhile if your team has a significant edge in one of the matchups (your offense against their defense or your defense against their offense).  You might want to put the better matchup on the field for the first series to try to “set the tone” for the rest of the game.  Other factors could also come into play, such as where teams might also want the wind at their backs in the 4th quarter, for example.

If we just include data from 1999-2008, the teams that won the coin toss had a combined record (post season + regular season) of 1313-1330-2 (.497).  If we go from 2009-2016, again regular + post season combined) we get a record of 1088-1043-5 (.511) for the opening coin toss winners.  Could it be cleverly using selective deferrals to the 2nd half in the more recent seasons be making the difference?  Maybe, but my hunch is this is just regression to the mean.

In the final analysis, I don’t think it really matters much.  You either get the ball to start the 1st half or you get the ball to start the 2nd half and it doesn’t really matter which you get.  The overall winning percentage based on the most complete data available suggests the coin toss winners only prevail 50.3% of the time.

In this blog entry I will be taking a brief look at how teams have done coming off the bye week.  All data is from pfref.com, all from the regular season 1999-2016.  It should come as no surprise teams coming off a bye week will have an overall winning record, but how significant is this advantage?

The overall record of teams coming off the bye week is 301-266-3 (.531), but bear in mind some of them will be facing teams also coming off a bye week of their own.  So, there is a real advantage to having the previous week off.  Why?  Extra rest surely plays a part.  I think the big thing is probably players who are dealing with injuries will have that extra week to heal, and some of these players might have had to sit out the week had it not been for the bye.

Which side of the ball benefits more?  offense or defense?  Hard to say, so let’s go to the stats.  In games coming off the bye the teams had 831 TD passes versus 518 INT’s, a ratio of 1.60 TD’s per INT.  Their opponents (some of whom might have also been coming off byes of their own) had 790 TD’s versus 588 INT’s, a ratio of 1.34 TD’s per INT.  In all the games during this era (whether coming off a bye or not coming off a bye) the TD:INT ratio was 1.42.

To recap:

Coming off bye: TD:INT ratio = 1.60
Opponent TD:INT ratio = 1.34
All games TD:INT ratio = 1.42

It could be the quarterbacks’ arms were more sore when not coming off the bye, but I doubt that is the case.  More likely, the defense was getting better pass pressure.  Let’s look at the sack numbers next.

The team coming off the bye had its quarterback get sacked 0.0676 times per pass attempt.  It sacked its opponent .0690 times per pass attempt.  The overall rate of sacks per attempt in all games (whether coming off a bye or not coming off a bye) was .0683 sacks per pass attempt.  The quarterbacks least under pressure were the ones whose teams were coming off the bye week, and the ones under the most pressure were those opponents facing those teams coming off the bye week.  Given 32 average pass attempts per game this works out to 2.228 sacks per game versus 2.276 for the opponent as compared to 2.251 for all games.  Doesn’t seem like that big a difference, but it adds up over time.  And, of course, there are other factors besides just improved pass rush.

Finally, let’s take a look at the running game.  Teams coming off the bye week averaged 4.23 yards per carry, their opponents: 4.09 yards per carry.  In all games, the average was 4.15 yards per carry.

So, is it a bigger advantage for the defense or for the offense when coming off a bye?  I don’t know the answer.  Seems to be advantageous for both sides of the ball.  Pass defense and run defense are both clearly better coming off the bye week, but pass offense and run offense are also both clearly better.  Teams are just better with that week of rest.

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