Green Bay Packers’ 2012 season: The importance of field position

Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy. Ph...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

How important is field position in an NFL game? How important is it to a team where they start each offensive possession?

Intriguing questions… but let’s actually put some numbers to these questions by examining the 172 offensive possessions that the Green Bay Packers had in the 2012 regular season. The team scored 49 touchdowns via pass or run and kicked 21 field goals (a total of 70 offensive scores in those 172 possessions).

The chart below is read as follows (example: go to the second line, “Own 11-yardline to 20-yardline”): The Packers started 58 drives from between their own 11-yardline to their own 20-yardline. They scored 16 touchdowns (27.6 % of the 58 drives); they scored 22 times… 16 TDs and six field goals… (37.9% of the 58 drives).

Start of drive (yardline)… Drives, TDs (pct), Scores (pct)

Own one-yardline to 10-yardline… 12 drives, one touchdown (8.3%), one score (8.3%)

Own 11-yardline to 20-yardline… 58 drives, 16 TDs (27.6%), 22 scores (37.9%)

Own 21-yardline to 30-yardline… 37 drives, 10 TDs (27%), 12 scores (32.4%)

Own 31-yardline to 40-yardline… 23 drives, six TDs (26.1%), 10 scores (43.5%)

Own 41-yardline to midfield… 23 drives, seven TDs (30.4%) 11 scores (47.8%)

Opponents 49-yardline to 40-yardline… nine drives, four TDs (44.4%), five scores (55.6%)

Opponents 39-yardline to 30-yardline… one drive, one TD (100%), one score (100%)

Opponents 29-yardline to 20-yardline… six drives, five TDs (50%), five scores (83.3%)

Opponents 19-yardline to 10-yardline… two drives, no TDs, two scores (100%)

Opponents nine-yardline to one-yardline… one drive, one TD (100%), one score (100%)

There are some interesting stats that come from these numbers above:

* When the Packers started a possession at their own 31-yardline or better, they scored 22 TDs and 13 field goals in 65 possessions. That means they scored a touchdown or field goal on 53.8% of those possessions. When they started at their own 30-yardline or worse, they scored 27 TDs and eight field goals in 102 possessions. That means they scored on only 32.7% of those possessions, a difference of over 21%.

* When the Packers started a drive in their opponents’ territory (which happened 19 times), they scored nine TDs and five field goals (14 scores in 19 possessions, 73.7%). Of the five times they didn’t score when they started a drive in their opponents’ territory, they missed three field goals.

* The Packers scored 47 times in 102 possessions (46.1 %) when they started a drive at their own 21-yardline or better. When they stated a drive at their own 20-yardline or worse, they scored 23 of 70 times (32.9%).

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

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