This year’s NFL Draft begins on Thursday. Every team will be looking to fill some spots on their roster with young players… either potential starters or players who can add depth to their team.
Does your team need a playmaker? A defensive specialist? The first round in the draft is always an interesting time when teams try to fill their most immediate need. Some teams, however, seem to have a pattern in how they select that first-round player. Case in point: Since 2007, the New York Jets have made 12 first-round selections, 10 defensive players and only two offensive players. That +8 is the biggest discrepancy of any of the 32 NFL teams.
Let’s look at the last 10 years and see which side of the ball each team has focused on in the first round. There have been 318 players chosen in the first round over the last 10 drafts. A total of 163 of those players (51%) were defensive players while 155 (49%) were offensive players. During that 10-year period, 14 NFL teams have chosen more defensive players than offensive, while there were 12 teams that have chosen more offensive players in the first round than defensive players. Six teams chose the same number of offensive players and defensive players in the first round over the past 10 NFL drafts.
Here’s the breakdown of each team over the last 10 drafts when they have made their first-round selection.
More offensive players than defensive players
Baltimore +2 (5 offensive, 3 defensive)
Chicago +2 (5 and 3)
Cincinnati +1 (6 and 5)
Cleveland +3 (8 and 5)
Dallas +2 (6 and 4)
Detroit +6 (9 and 3)
Indianapolis +4 (6 and 2)
Miami +4 (7 and 3)
Minnesota +2 (7 and 5)
Philadelphia +2 (5 and 3)
Tennessee +6 (8 and 2)
Washington +1 (4 and 3)
More defensive players than offensive players
Atlanta +2 (6 defensive players, 4 offensive players)
Carolina +1 (5 and 4)
Denver +1 (6 and 5)
Green Bay +6 (8 and 2)
Houston +4 (7 and 3)
Kansas City +2 (6 and 4)
New England +6 (7 and 1)
New Orleans +3 (7 and 4)
New York Jets +8 (10 and 2)
Pittsburgh +4 (7 and 3)
San Diego +2 (6 and 4)
San Francisco +1 (7 and 6)
Seattle +1 (4 and 3)
Tampa Bay +2 (6 and 4)
Same number of offensive players and defensive players
Arizona (5 offensive players, 5 defensive players)
Buffalo (5 and 5)
Jacksonville (5 and 5)
Los Angeles Rams (6 and 6)
New York Giants (5 and 5)
Oakland (4 and 4)
The 2016 NFL season is in the books, but how about one more stat from last season… (For those of you going through football withdrawals, maybe this will help!)
Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers fans will remember the ’16 season for many reasons including how their teams put together long winning streaks to finish the season. Both teams ended up in their respective conference championship games, although both lost in an attempt to make the Super Bowl.
How important is finishing strong in an NFL season? How important is the second half of the season?
Let’s take a look at the records of each of the 32 NFL teams in the second half of 2016… some very distinct numbers pop out.
Here’s the record of each NFL team in the second half of 2016 (Games #9 through #16).
7-1: New England*, Pittsburgh*
6-2: Atlanta*, Dallas*, Green Bay*, Kansas City*, Miami*, New York Giants*, Oakland*, Tampa Bay
5-3: Detroit*, Indianapolis, Seattle*, Tennessee
4-4: Arizona, Baltimore, Houston*, Washington
3-5: Buffalo, Carolina, Cincinnati, Denver, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia
2-6: New York Jets, San Diego
1-7: Chicago, Cleveland, Jacksonville, L.A. Rams, San Francisco
Did you notice the very clear stats that emerge from these records:
- The 12 playoff teams had a combined record of 76-26 (.745) in the second half of the season. The teams that did not make the playoffs last season were a combined 52-102 in the second half (.338).
- Twelve of the 18 teams that won at least four of their last eight games made the playoffs in 2016.
- Eleven of the 14 teams that won five or more of their last eight games made the playoffs last season.
- Teams that won their division (New England, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Green Bay, Dallas, Kansas City, Seattle and Houston) were 47-17 (.734) in the second half of the season.
- The two Super Bowl teams (New England and Atlanta) were a combined 13-3 (.813) in their last eight games of the season.
- The four teams that played in the conference championship games (New England, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Green Bay) were a combined 26-6 (.813) in the second half of the season.
- The best second half by a non-playoff team last season was Tampa Bay at 6-2. Since 1988, the best second half of the season by a team that did not make the playoffs were the 1991 Philadelphia Eagles who went 7-1 in their last eight games but did not make the post-season.
- Both Seattle and Houston finished the year 4-4 in 2016, but each made the playoffs. The 1999 Miami Dolphins and 2006 New York Giants both finished those seasons 2-6, but each made the playoffs that year. It was the worst finish in their last eight games by a playoff team since 1988.
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The Green Bay Packers begin the 2016 playoffs with a home game against the New York Giants, a team they defeated in the regular season… a Week #5 contest in Green Bay won by the Packers, 23-16.
Of the 12 playoff teams this year, the Packers played the most regular season games in 2016 against teams that eventually made the playoffs, seven. The Pack defeated division foes Detroit twice this season, and beat fellow playoff teams Houston, the Giants and Seattle. They lost to the NFC’s #1 and #2 seeded teams, the Cowboys and Falcons.
Let’s look at the records of this year’s 12 playoff team in games against teams that also made the playoffs.
Green Bay 5-2
New England 4-1
Kansas City 3-2
New York Giants 3-2
Here’s another stat to consider… In each of the last four post-seasons, the Packers were knocked out of the playoffs by a team they had lost to in the regular season. In 2015, the Packers lost in the playoffs to Arizona, a team they lost to in the regular season. In 2014, the Seattle Seahawks defeated Green Bay in the post-season and beat the Packers in the ’14 regular season. And, in both 2012 and 2013, the Packers were eliminated in the playoffs by the San Francisco, and were beaten in the regular season by the 49ers in each of those years.
Might this “trend” again hold for 2016? Well, the 2016 playoff teams the Packers lost to in the 2016 regular season were Dallas and Atlanta. The Packers, if they win this Sunday against the Giants, will face either one of these teams (Cowboys or Falcons) in the next round. If they get by one of those teams in the second round, there’s a good chance the Packers could face the other of the two (Cowboys or Falcons) for the NFC Championship.
Just something to think about!
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The playoffs for the 2016 NFL season will begin next weekend. While some games will be held in domed stadiums and weather will not be a factor, there will be games where weather conditions could affect play and potentially the outcome of the game.
Let’s take a look at the history of NFL playoff games in the Super Bowl era (since 1966). Specifically, we’ll note the NFL playoff games since 1966 that were played in “extreme” temperatures… those under 20 degrees, and those games that were played in temperatures above 70 degrees.
- There have been 28 NFL playoff games that have been played since 1966 in temperature under 20 degrees.
- The last playoff game played under 20 degrees was last season when the Minnesota Vikings hosted the Seattle Seahawks in a games that was played with a temperature of six below. The game was played on January 10, 2016.
- There have been four games played in temperatures below zero. In addition to the aforementioned Vikings-Seahawks battle last season, the other three: 1967, Dallas at Green Bay (13 degrees below zero); 1981, San Diego @ Cleveland (nine degrees below zero); and 2007, New York Giants @ Green Bay (one degree below zero).
- Of the 28 games, three teams hosted more than half of those games. The Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers have each hosted five playoff games under 20 degrees since 1966. Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Kansas City and Philadelphia have each hosted two of those games, while Buffalo, Cincinnati and New England have each hosted one game.
- The home team is 19-9 in these games, although in the eight playoff games played since 2000 that were played in temperatures under 20 degrees, the home team is only 3-5.
- There have been 14 NFL playoff games that have been played since 1966 in temperatures of 70 degrees and above.
- The last playoff game played at 70 degrees or above was after the 2008 season when on January 4, 2009 the Baltimore Ravens played in Miami. Temperature for that game was 78 degrees.
- The home team is 9-5 in these “warm” games.
- Thirteen of the 14 NFL playoff games since 1966 played in temperatures 70 degrees and above have been hosted by the Miami Dolphins. The other game was hosted by the Tampa Bay Bucs.
- Five of these games were played in temperatures of 75 degrees and above. The highest was previously-mentioned games between the Dolphins and Ravens (78 degrees). The others: 1978, Houston @ Miami (77 degrees); San Diego @ Miami (76 degrees); Buffalo @ Miami (75 degrees); and 1990, Kansas City @ Miami (75 degrees).
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It seems appropriate that the final game of the 2016 NFL regular season should come down to a game between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions. The winner of this game will win the NFC North and secure a home game for the first round of the playoffs. The Lions are looking for their first divisional since 1993 while the Packers are hoping to regain their hold on the NFC North crown that they lost last year to the Vikings.
Last week I wrote about the fact that the Packers have been one of the best teams in the league since 2009 when it comes to games played later in the season. The Pack is 33-13-1 (.713 winning percentage) in Games #11-#16 of the season since ’09. Well, let’s take that stat one step further…
In the last 25 years, the Packers are 20-5 (.800 winning percentage) in the season finale, Game #16. They are the only team to have won 80% of the season-finale games since 1991; in fact, they are the only team to have won 70% of the last games of the season in that timeframe (the Steelers are second with a .680 winning percentage in this category).
So, Green Bay fans are hoping that this analytic will spur their team to victory over the Lions. One advantage for the Lions is that they are the home team in this game. In another bit of “good news” for the Pack, they have an 8-4 record (.667 winning percentage) since 1991 in season finales that were played on the road. That is the second-best record in this category behind the Carolina Panthers who are 10-4 (.714).
If we look at the last 10 seasons, the Packers are 8-2 in season finales… the 49ers and Steelers have the best season-finale record in the last 10 seasons at 9-1.
Following are the winning percentages of each team in the final games of the season since 1991 (the last 25 seasons).
.800 Green Bay
.640 New England, Tennessee, San Diego
.600 Baltimore, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, San Francisco
.560 Kansas City, Minnesota
.520 Denver, New York Giants, Seattle, Washington
.480 Cincinnati, New York Jets
.440 Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans
.400 Buffalo, Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay
.360 Dallas, Detroit
.280 Chicago, Oakland
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