Monthly Archives: December, 2012

NFL playoff seed history points to an Atlanta-New England Super Bowl

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

Logo of the National Football League Playoffs,...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The final piece of the 2012 NFL playoff puzzle was completed last night when the Washington Redskins defeated the Dallas Cowboys 28-18 to win the NFC East title and the fourth seed in the NFC.

With the 12 playoff teams set on the journey for this year’s Super Bowl, the big question is: Who will face off in Super Bowl XLVII? (Super Bowl 47 for those of you who might be Roman-numerally challenged) Based on a few stats from the past 22 NFL playoffs, it  wouldn’t seem too far-fetched to see an Atlanta Falcons-New England Patriots Super Bowl. Before you start throwing things at your screen, let me explain:

Back in 1990, the NFL went to a 12-team playoff system with six teams making the post-season from the two conferences; each conference is seeded from the top seed to the #6 seed (it is the system that is currently in place). As teams jockeyed for playoff position and seeding yesterday on the final week of the 2012 season, the question ultimately needs to be asked… does it really matter what seed an NFL team is when the playoffs begin?

The obvious answer is “Yes!” Let’s take a look at how well each seed has done in the NFL playoffs since 1990 when the current playoff format was put in place.

Division Seeds win-loss in playoffs from 1990-2011

AFC #1 seed: 24-20 .545
AFC #2 seed: 26-19 .587
AFC #3 seed: 23-21 .523
AFC #4 seed: 25-20 .556
AFC #5 seed: 11-22 .333
AFC #6 seed: 10-21 .323

NFC #1 seed: 37-15 .712
NFC #2 seed: 25-19 .568
NFC #3 seed: 15-22 .405
NFC #4 seed: 21-21 .500
NFC #5 seed: 10-21 .323
NFC #6 seed: 15-21 .417

The best winning percentage in the AFC is the #2 seed (good news for the Patriots), while the best winning percentage in the NFC and also best in the league is the #1 seed (good news for the Falcons).

Let’s take it a step further by combining the seeds for the two conferences:

#1 seed: 61-35 .635
#2 seed: 51-38 .573
#3 seed: 38-43 .469
#4 seed: 46-41 .529
#5 seed: 21-43 .328
#6: seed: 25-42 .373

Did you know? Thirty-three of the 44 Super Bowl teams since 1990 have either been a #1 or #2 seed. The NFC #1 seed has won seven Super Bowls since 1990, most during that time. The AFC #2 seed and NFC #2 seed have each won three during that time. The NFC #1 seed has played in 12 of the 22 Super Bowls since 1990; the AFC #1 seed is second with nine Super Bowl appearances in the last 22 years.

Bad news for Green Bay and Indianapolis. The NFC #3 seed and the AFC #5 seed have not won a Super Bowl since 1990; in fact, an AFC #5 seed has not appeared in the Super Bowl since the league went to the current format in 1990.

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The rushing TD makes a big splash in Packers latest victory

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

English: Ahman Green warming up for a preseaso...

Ahman Green (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Green Bay Packers 55-7 win over the Tennessee Titans last Sunday featured a couple of elements that have been pretty rare in Packers games over the last couple of seasons.

First, the team scored four rushing touchdowns. This was the first game with four or more rushing TDs since the team had five TDs via the run in a December 27, 2009 game against the Seattle Seahawks. It was also the ninth game with four-plus rushing touchdowns since 1966 (the start of the Super Bowl era). Games with four-plus rushing TDs:

December 23, 2012: four rushing TDs vs. Tennessee
December 27, 2009: five rushing TDs vs. Seattle
January 2, 2000: four rushing TDs vs. Arizona
October 31, 1994: four rushing TDs vs. Chicago
October 9, 1988: five rushing TDs vs. New England
September 9, 1979: four rushing TDs vs. New Orleans
October 15, 1978: four rushing TDs vs. Seattle
September 26, 1971: four rushing TDs vs. Denver
October 22, 1967: five rushing TDs vs. New York Giants

The Packers won each of the above nine games. In fact, in the 33 games where the Packers have scored three or more rushing TDs, the team has a 32-1 record (only loss was a 41-38 defeat at the hands of the Rams when the Pack scored three TDs via the run).

The four-rushing-TD game last Sunday was unique for two more reasons: The team gained only 117 yards rushing in this four-TD game; it was the fewest rushing yards in a game where they scored four-plus rushing touchdowns. The Packers averaged only 3.3 yards per rushing attempt in the game, the lowest yards per rushing attempt in a game where they scored four-plus TDs rushing.

The other rarity we saw last Sunday was a running back with two rushing touchdowns. Ryan Grant had a pair of TD runs, the first time a Packers runner has scored two or more rushing TDs since Grant did it in a December 11, 2011 game against the Raiders. The Packers have played 95 games since 1960 where a runner had two-plus rushing touchdowns in a game.  The team has a 81-13-1 record in those games.

It was Grant’s fifth game in which he scored two or more rushing touchdowns as a Packer. Jim Taylor tops the list with 16 games with two-plus rushing TDs. Here are the Packers who have scored two or more rushing touchdowns in the most games since 1960:

Games with two-plus rushing TDs, Player

16: Jim Taylor
14: Ahman Green
7: Paul Hornung
5: John Brockington, Ryan Grant, Eddie Lee Ivery, Dorsey Levens, Elijah Pitts

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NFL Week 16 Stop Factor rankings: Bears extend lead over Seahawks

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

Barring a total collapse against the Detroit Lions, it looks like the Chicago Bears defense will end the season as the NFL’s number one Stop Factor defense. The Bears hold na almost two point lead over the Seattle defense going into this final week.

(The Stop Factor is based on the premise that it is the defense’s job to stop their opponents from scoring on each possession. To get a team’s STOP Factor, you divide the number of times a defense stops the offense from scoring – offensive unit TD or field goal – by the number of total possessions by the opposition.)

Following is each NFL teams’ Stop Factor. Listed is how many times each team stopped the opponents from scoring, the number of possessions their opponents had, and the percentage of possessions that each team prevented the other team from scoring (stats are through Week 16 games).

Team, Opponents’ scoreless possessions/opponents’ possessions, Stop Factor percentage

1. Chicago 74.4 (131 stops in 176 possessions)
2. Seattle 72.5 (111 stops in 153 possessions)
3. Arizona 71.4 (130 stops in 182 possessions)
4. Houston 70.9 (129 stops in 182 possessions)
5. San Francisco 70.7 (111 stops in 157 possessions)
6. Denver 70.2 (120 stops in 171 possessions)
7. Cincinnati 68.6 (116 stops in 169 possessions)
8. Cleveland 67.2 (117 stops in 174 possessions)
9. New York Jets 66.9 (113 stops in 169 possessions)
10. Green Bay 66.8 (111 stops in 166 possessions)

11. Atlanta 66.7 (104 stops in 156 possessions)
12tie. Pittsburgh 66.3 (106 stops in 160 possessions)
12tie. San Diego 66.3 (108 stops in 163 possessions)
14. Miami 66.0 (107 stops in 162 possessions)
15. New England 65.9 (114 stops in 173 possessions)
16tie. Minnesota 65.5 (108 stops in 165 possessions)
16tie. Tampa Bay 65.5 (112 stops in 171 possessions)
18. Baltimore 64.0 (112 stops in 175 possessions)
19. St. Louis 63.6 (105 stops in 165 possessions)
20. New York Giants 60.1 (92 stops in 153 possessions)

21. Washington 60.0 (99 stops in 165 possessions)
22. New Orleans 59.8 (101 stops in 169 possessions)
23. Philadelphia 59.4 (95 stops in 160 possessions)
24. Indianapolis 59.1 (94 stops in 159 possessions)
25. Detroit 59.0 (98 stops in 166 possessions)
26. Dallas 58.4 (90 stops in 154 possessions)
27. Carolina 57.3 (86 stops in 150 possessions)
28tie. Buffalo 57.2 (91 stops in 159 possessions)
28tie. Kansas City 57.2 (87 stops in 152 possessions)
30. Tennessee 56.3 (94 stops in 167 possessions)
31. Jacksonville 55.7 (93 stops in 167 possessions)
32. Oakland 54.6 (89 stops in 163 possessions)

Biggest gainers this week: Green Bay (up five spots this week); Pittsburgh (up four spots this week); Carolina (up three spots this week); Indianapolis (up three spots this week).

Biggest losers this week: New England (down four spots this week); Tennessee (down four spots this week).

Average league Stop Factor (through Week 16): 64.1

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

NFL Week 17: Head-to-Head stats you need to know

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

The New York Giants in a December 2008 game ag...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The final weekend of the 2012 NFL regular season features 16 divisional games. Following is a look at this week’s NFL schedule and some historical stats on the head-to-head matchups.

Tampa Bay vs. Atlanta: The series is tied 19-19. Atlanta has won seven of the last eight in the series. The Falcons have scored 20-plus points in six of the last seven games. The Falcons have won four straight in Atlanta. Five of the last eight games have been decided by four points or less.

New York Jets vs. Buffalo: Buffalo holds a 54-50 advantage over the Jets. The Jets have won six straight and have won four straight games played in Buffalo. New York has scored 27-plus points in each of the last five contests.

Baltimore vs. Cincinnati: The Ravens lead the series 19-14. Baltimore has won four straight. Cincinnati has won five of the last seven at home. The Bengals have scored under 20 points in eight of the last nine games.

Chicago vs. Detroit: This is the 166th meeting between the two teams. Chicago has won 95, lost 65 and the teams have tied five times. The Bears have won eight of the last nine in the series. The two teams have split the last 10 games played in Detroit.

Houston vs. Indianapolis: Indianapolis holds a 17-4 advantage. The Colts and Texans have split the last six games. The Colts are 10-0 in games at home against the Texans.

Green Bay vs. Minnesota: Green Bay holds the edge in the series, 54-48-1. The Packers have won five consecutive vs. the Vikings. The two teams have each won two games in the last four played in Minneapolis. The Packers have scored 23 or more points in 11 straight games against Minnesota.

Miami vs. New England: The Dolphins lead the series 50-44. The Patriots have won five straight and nine of the last 11 in the series. The Patriots have won five of the last six played at home.

Carolina vs. New Orleans: The Panthers lead the series 18-17 over the Saints. The two teams have split the last 16 games dating back to Jan. 2, 2005. The Saints have won the last three games played in New Orleans. The Saints have averaged 34 points in the last four games against Carolina.

Philadelphia vs. New York Giants: This will be the 162nd meeting between the two teams. The Giants lead the series 83-76-2. The Eagles have won eight of the last nine. The Eagles have won the last five games played on the Giants’ home field. Five of the last six games have been decided by 10 points or less.

Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh leads the series 64-57. The Steelers have won 16 of the last 18 against the Browns. The Browns have scored under 10 points in five of the last nine games.

Jacksonville vs. Tennessee: The Titans are ahead 20-16 in the series. The Jaguars and Titans have split the last eight games. The Titans have won three of the last four played at home. The last three games in the series have been decided by a total of 13 points.

Kansas City vs. Denver: The Chiefs hold a 56-49 lead in the series. The two teams have split the last six games. Denver has won nine of the last 11 at home. The Chiefs have not scored more than 10 points in each of the last four games against the Broncos.

Oakland vs. San Diego: Oakland leads the series 58-46-1. San Diego has won 15 of the last 18 against the Raiders. Oakland has won the last two games played in San Diego. The Raiders have won three of the last five against the Chargers.

Arizona vs. San Francisco: San Francisco leads the series 25-17. The 49ers have won six of the last seven games. In five of the last six games the Cardinals have scored under 10 points. The 49ers have won four of the last five games played in San Francisco.

St. Louis vs. Seattle: Seattle is ahead in the series, 17-12. The Seahawks have won 13 of the last 15 games played between the two franchises. The Seahawks have won seven straight in Seattle.

Dallas vs. Washington: Dallas has a 62-41-2 advantage in games versus the Redskins. Washington has won six of the last eight. The Redskins have won three of the last four games played in Dallas. The last five games have been decided by seven points or less.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Arizona Cardinals to start fourth QB this season on Sunday

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

Brian Hoyer behind center

College QB Brian Hoyer behind center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Arizona Cardinals announced yesterday that they will start Brian Hoyer in their season finale against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Hoyer will be the fourth Cardinals quarterback to start a game for the team this season; John Skelton started six games, Kevin Kolb started five, and Ryan Lindley started four contests. Hoyer will be making his first NFL start.

This is also the 28th different QB the Cardinals franchise has now started in the last 25 seasons (since 1988). That will tie them with the Chicago Bears, who have started 28 different QBs since 1988.

While the Cards and Bears will have started 28 different signal-callers since 1988, the Green Bay Packers in that same timeframe has started only eight different QBs. (If you are a Packers fan, can you name those eight quarterbacks who have started a game for the Pack since 1988? Answer at the end of the column.)

Following are the number of starting quarterbacks used by each of the NFL teams since 1988.

Number of starting QBs since 1988, Team

28: Chicago
27: Arizona (will have 28 with Hoyer starting on Sunday)
26: Cleveland (no team from 1996-98), Washington
24: Detroit
23: New York Jets, Oakland
22: Dallas, Miami
21: St. Louis
20: Atlanta, Minnesota, Tampa Bay
19: Kansas City, Philadelphia, San Diego
18: Denver, New Orleans, Seattle
17: Cincinnati, Indianapolis, San Francisco
16: Baltimore (Ravens franchise started in 1996)
15: Jacksonville (Jaguars franchise started in 1995), Tennessee
14: Carolina (Panthers franchise started in 1995), New England
13: Buffalo
12: Pittsburgh
9: New York Giants
8: Green Bay
7: Houston (franchise started in 2002)

Die-hard Packers fans will remember that the eight quarterbacks who have started games for the team since 1988 are (alphabetically): Anthony Dilweg, Brett Favre, Matt Flynn, Blair Kiel, Don Majkowski, Aaron Rodgers, Mike Tomczak and Randy Wright.

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