Monthly Archives: September, 2011

Can Cam Newton match Aaron Rodgers first two career starts?

The new NFL logo went into use at the 2008 draft.

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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a biweekly blog published every Wednesday and Sunday with a bonus “SIX STATS…” posting every Friday.

A lot has been said about Cam Newton‘s performance last Sunday in his NFL debut. Not to take anything away from Newton, but his fellow rookie starter at QB, Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton, also had a good start to his NFL career, although he was injured in the game and had to be replaced. Dalton completed 10 of 15 passes with one touchdown in his first NFL start for a 102.4 passer rating. Newton passed for 422 yards and finished the game with a 110.4 passer rating.

What makes Newton’s and Dalton’s first career starts impressive is that it is rare for an NFL QB starting his first career game to finish with a passer rating over 100. Case in point: Looking at the other 30 starting quarterbacks from last week, only four of them had a passer rating over 100 when they started their first career game in the league. Topping the list was Atlanta’s Matt Ryan who had a 137 passer rating in his first NFL start. The other three: Drew Brees (136.8), Philip Rivers (133.9) and Aaron Rodgers (115.5).

Worst starting debut in the league of the other 30 QBs who started last week: Alex Smith (8.5), Matthew Stafford (27.4), Matt Schaub (35.4), Tarvaris Jackson (35.4), Eli Manning (45.1), Donovan McNabb (46.3) and Matt Hasselbeck (48.4).

Here’s another interesting stat… Not only did Aaron Rodgers have a passer rating over 100 in his first career start, but he also had a passer rating over 100 in his second career start with a 117.0. Ryan, Brees and Rivers were all under 100 in their second career start, although Rivers just missed two straight 100 rating games with a 99.1 in his second career start. The big question: Can Newton and Dalton match Rodgers first two career starts with a passer rating over 100?

WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG FOR A TRIVIA QUESTION: Reader Steve Douglas asked against what franchise did the most Hall of Fame quarterbacks play their last game? Answer at the end of the blog.

Let’s expand the list of quarterbacks to compare Newton and Dalton. We looked at 13 Hall of Fame QBs who had 150 or more career TDs and 13 QBs not currently in the Hall who have 200 or more career TDs. Of those 26 QBs, only five had a passer rating of 100 or higher in their first career start. The five: Brett Favre (144.6), Roman Gabriel (128.5), Jim Kelly (119.8), Roger Staubach (115.3) and Dan Marino (108.7). Of those five, only Marino had a passer rating over 100 in his second career start as well (113.9).

The worst starting debuts of the 26: John Elway (0.0), John Hadl (0.0), Jim Everett (4.2), Fran Tarkenton (15.5), Terry Bradshaw (19.3), Randall Cunningham (22.7), Jim Hart (24.4), Bob Griese (25.0).

Did you know? Hadl not only had a 0.0 passer rating in his first career start, he also had a 0.0 passer rating in his second career start as well. He went on to throw 244 career touchdowns, most with the San Diego Chargers.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Of the 25 Hall of Fame quarterbacks, four played their last game against the Los Angeles Rams (Otto Graham, Sonny Jurgensen, Roger Staubach and Fran Tarkenton). Four teams had two Hall QBs play their last game against them: Miami, San Diego, Washington, Jacksonville. (Note: Last game stats were not available for two of the 25, Bob Waterfied and Sid Luckman)


SIX STATS you might not know about… Jeff Gordon

NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon in August 2007 at Br...

Jeff Gordon... Image via Wikipedia

“SIX STATS…” is a bonus feature of Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ and is published every Friday.

(This post is dedicated to Jeff Gordon‘s biggest fan, Dolly Tapp. Her battle cry of “Go Jeffy, Go!” is forever embedded in my memory banks.)

Jeff Gordon won his 85th race two weeks ago vaulting him into third place on NASCAR‘s all-time wins list. Here’s a look at some of the stats from those wins.

1. June and September are the months when Gordon has won the most races. He has won 13 races in both of those months. He has won 12 in August.

2. Gordon has won races in 19 states. Topping the list is North Carolina where he has won 10 races. After North Carolina: Virginia (9), California (8), South Carolina (7), Florida (6), Alabama (6) and Georgia, Tennessee and Pennsylvania with five each.

3. Gordon’s birthday is August 4. He has never won a race on his birthday, although he did win a race on August 5, 2001, one day after turning 30.

4. During his career, Gordon has gone winless in three NASCAR seasons: 1993, 2008 and 2010. His longest victory drought was 22 months and 22 days.

5. Gordon has won four Sprint Cup Series in his career; the lowest he ever finished was 14th in 1993.

6. Gordon won 55 races in his 20’s; he won 29 races in his thirties.

The NFL’s Opening Weekend: A stats recap

Pittsburgh Steelers vs New England Patriots at...

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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a biweekly blog published every Wednesday and Sunday with a bonus “SIX STATS…” posting every Friday.

The 76 combined points by the Packers and Saints in last Thursday night’s opening game of the 2011 NFL season was the 10th time since 1970 that two teams have combined for 75 or more points in an opening weekend NFL contest. The most opening weekend points is 86… in 1971 the Dallas Cowboys defeated Buffalo 49-37.

Dallas and Green Bay have each played in three opening weekend games where the combined total of points scored was 75 or more. The ‘boys have won all three of those games; the Pack is 2-1.

WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG FOR A TRIVIA QUESTION: During the past 10 NFL seasons (2002-2011), what percentage of games have been won by the home team on the opening weekend? 51.9%, 54.5%, 60.0% or 61.1%. Answer at end of the blog.

Looking back at the last 25 NFL seasons, how well has your favorite team done on opening weekend? Here’s a look at each NFL team’s opening weekend record in games from 1987-2011.

W-L/PCT      Teams

16-8 .667….. New England

11-6 .647….. Jacksonville

16-9 .640….. San Francisco, Denver

15-10 .600….. Chicago, Green Bay, NY Giants, Pittsburgh

14-11 .560….. Washington

13-11 .542….. Miami

13-12 .520….. Kansas City, Minnesota, New Orleans, Tennessee

8-8 .500….. Baltimore

5-5 .500….. Houston

12-13 .480….. Buffalo, Dallas, Indianapolis, Philadelphia

11-13 .438….. Cincinnati, San Diego

11-14 .440….. Atlanta, Detroit, NY Jets, St. Louis, Tampa Bay

10-15 .400….. Seattle, Oakland

6-11 .353….. Carolina

8-16 .333….. Arizona

6-16 .273….. Cleveland

Did you know? With their 35-7 loss to Baltimore, the Pittsburgh Steelers had their NFL-best streak of eight straight opening weekend wins snapped. The New England Patriots win over Miami now gives them eight straight opening weekend victories, currently the longest streak in the NFL. The Packers are second with five straight on opening day. The longest losing streak on opening weekend belongs to the Cleveland Browns who have now lost on opening weekend for seven straight seasons. The Raiders had lost eight straight opening weekend games, but their 23-20 win over Denver on Monday night ended that streak.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Home teams have won 60% of the opening weekend games over the past 10 years.

MVP voters don’t show much love to pitchers

Justin Verlander

Justin Verlander... Image via Wikipedia

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a biweekly blog published every Wednesday and Sunday with a bonus “SIX STATS…” posting every Friday

There has been quite a bit of talk and discussion among baseball experts and analysts about the possibility of Detroit’s Justin Verlander winning the American League Most Valuable Player. The Tigers pitcher has a record of 22-5 and an ERA of 2.56 to go with 232 strikeouts as of Sept. 10 for the division-leading Tigers. Whether or not you believe he deserves the honor or if pitchers should even be considered for the honor, past history has shown that the voters have been less than enthusiastic to name a pitcher the MVP.

In the history of the MVP award, 23 pitchers have won the MVP honor; 10 in the National League, 13 in the American League. The last pitcher to win an MVP was Dennis Eckersley in 1992. Bob Gibson is the last NL pitcher to win the MVP; he won the award in 1968.

WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG FOR A TRIVIA QUESTION. Can you name the last NL pitcher to finish in the top 5 for the MVP award? Hint: It was an Atlanta Braves pitcher in the ’90s. Answer at end of blog.

Following is a look at the pitchers this century who have finished in the Top 10 of the MVP voting. As you will see, only one pitcher, Pedro Martinez in 2000, has finished in the top 5 in the past 11 seasons.

Year, pitcher, finish in MVP voting

2010: Roy Halladay-Philadelphia (6th)

2008: Francisco Rodriquez-LA Angels (6th); CC Sabathia-Milwaukee (6th); Brad Lidge-Houston (8th)

2007: Jake Peavy-San Diego (7th)

2006: Johan Santana-Minnesota (7th); Trevor Hoffman-San Diego (10th)

2005: Mariano Rivera-NY Yankees (9th); Chris Carpenter-St. Louis (8th)

2004: Johan Santana-Minnesota (6th); Mariano Rivera-NY Yankees (9th); Roger Clemens-Houston (8th)

2003: Eric Gane-LA Dodgers (6th); Mark Prior-Chicago Cubs (9th)

2002: Randy Johnson-Arizona (7th); John Smoltz-Atlanta (8th); Curt Schilling-Arizona (10th)

2001: Roger Clemens-NY Yankees (8th); Curt Schilling-Arizona (10th)

2000: Pedro Martinez-Boston (5th)

TRIVIA ANSWER: Greg Maddux was the last NL pitcher to finish in the top 5 in the MVP voting. Maddux had a 19-2 record with a 1.63 ERA in 1995.

“SIX STATS” you might not know about… The next season after a Super Bowl win!

The Vince Lombardi Trophy.

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“SIX STATS…” is a bonus feature of Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ and is published every Friday

The Green Bay Packers began defense of their Super Bowl championship with a 42-34 win last night over the New Orleans Saints. So what do the Packers and their fans have to look forward to this season after a Super Bowl? Here’s a look at how the previous 44 Super Bowl champions did the season following their championship.

1.     Only six Super Bowl champs increased their win total the following season. Five teams had the same number of wins as their Super Bowl winning season; thus 75% of the Super Bowl champions had fewer wins the season after their Super Bowl win.

2.     Twenty-nine of the 44 Super Bowl champs (65.9%) won 10 or more games the next season.

3.     Thirty-one of the 44 champs (70.5%) made the playoffs the next season. Eight teams won back-to-back Super Bowls: Dallas (1992, 1993), Denver (1997, 1998), Green Bay (1966, 1967), Miami (1972, 1973), New England (2003, 2004), Pittsburgh (1974, 1975), Pittsburgh (1978, 1979), San Francisco (1988, 1989).

4.     Of those 31 teams that made the playoffs the season after their Super Bowl win, 21 (67.7%) won at least one playoff game.

5.     Twenty-four of the previous 44 Super Bowl champs won their division the next year. Nine finished second in their division; seven finished third; two finished fourth; two finished fifth.

6.     Prior to last night’s Packers-Saints game, the previous 44 Super Bowl champs were 30-13-1 in their first game of the next season after their Super Bowl win.