September 7, 2012

My New Website - Five Tool Stats

Why hasn't NFL Stats Blog been updated in a while?  Well, I've been working on a sports statistics project that has taken up the bulk of my free time.  I've created, a Major League Baseball statistics website that has a whole host of goodies, but the main focus are the player profiles which create a sort of "Madden Rating" for every player in the MLB.  Here are few examples:

R.A. Dickey
Albert Pujols
Robinson Cano
Stephen Strasburg

Enjoy!  And stayed tuned for an NFL version in the future.  You can contact me at fivetoolstats [at] if you'd like to help, contribute, or offer some thoughts on that project.

February 7, 2012

Pictures from New York Giants NJ Celebration

New York Giants "All In" flashes on the big screen
Fans entering MetLife Stadium in anticipation of the ceremony
WFAN broadcaster Bob Papa starts things off
NYG Pride
Captains holding the trophies
Scoreboard showing the score of Super Bowl 46 -- Giants: 21 Patriots: 17
Eli Manning watching highlights of the final drive in Super Bowl 46 on the big screen
Coach Tom Coughlin reacts to highlights of Super Bowl 46
Tom Coughlin addressing the fans with the hardware in the foreground
Captain Justin Tuck thanks the fans and reminds them that MetLife Stadium is the Giants' Stadium
Eli Manning, future Hall of Famer
Eli thanking the fans
Brandon Jacobs milling about on stage after the ceremony
Super Bowl 46 Vince Lombardi Trophy

Pictures from New York Giants NYC Celebration

Victor Cruz and Michael Strahan salsa dancing
Justin Tuck speaking in front of City Hall following the ticker tape parade
Mayor Bloomberg
MVP Eli Manning holding the Vince Lombardi trophy during the parade
View from City Hall
Victor Cruz sign
New York Giants Super Bowl 46 stage in front of City Hall

November 21, 2011

Week 12: Teams Most Affected by Injuries

As the season goes on, a common excuse for a failing team is that they are "racked by injuries."  I'll start by pointing out that this is football and injuries are part of the game.  A team can't excuse poor performance just because a starter goes down.  That is why there is such a thing called a backup.  A wise team makes sure to judiciously sign solid backups at important positions since it is inevitable some starters won't last the whole season.  Just because a team has a couple of key injured players doesn't mean they have a reason to complain.

That being said, some teams are more affected by injuries than others.  While it's smart to have good backups, no team is expected to spend half their money on bench warmers.  At a certain point, even the smartest of teams no longer have enough depth to cover all of their roster holes.

Thus, rather than allow fans to keep making excuses for their team by selectively pointing to a couple of key injuries.  I thought it would be fun to make a chart of all injured players by team by week to illustrate which teams have truly caught the "injury bug" and which really don't have much of an excuse as far as injuries go.

November 20, 2011

Skins Made the Right Call Icing the Kicker

Instant stats analysis here.  The Redskins called timeout in overtime to "ice" Dan Bailey of the Cowboys before he attempted a game-winning field goal in overtime.

As I've discussed before, there is hard evidence that icing the kicker actually works.  Not only that, but it is proven to be effective in overtime and kicks beyond 35 yards.  That was exactly that situation the Cowboys were facing against the Redskins.

Mike Shanahan called timeout, but was unaware that Tony Romo was also trying to call timeout.  Romo didn't know that the Cowboys had run out of timeouts.  Thus, had Shanahan not tried to ice Bailey, the Cowboys would have been flagged 15 yards, pushing them back to the 44 yard-line.  Thus, the "right choice" for the Redskins would not have been to call timeout.  But, Shanahan couldn't have known Romo would have been that stupid.

In the end, it didn't work, but the Redskins made the statistically right call.

Here is the post on icing the kicker.

November 14, 2011

NFL Quarterbacks On Record Pace

This season is shaping up to be one of the most legendary years for NFL quarterbacks.  We’ve been astounded by the increase in 300-yard and 400-yard games, but perhaps the most shocking statistic is that seven players are currently on pace to finish the season with top 25 passing seasons.  That means 28% of the top passing seasons of all time will have taken place in 2011.  Not only that, but three of the 2011 quarterbacks are on pace to finish with record-breaking seasons.  As NFL offenses get more sophisticated, the rushing game is becoming just too slow to put the rapid number of points on the board that teams desire.

November 11, 2011

11/11/11 Trivia

 ·       Two players have passed for 1,111 yards in a season
o   Johnny Unitas—Baltimore (1972)
o   John Brodie—San Francisco (1960)
·         One player has rushed for 1,111 yards in a season
o   Cedric Benson—Cincinnati (2010)
·         One player has had 1,111 receiving yards in a season
o   Cliff Branch—Oakland (1976)
o   (Three players had 1,112 and four had 1,110)
·         One player this season has run for 111 yards in a game
o   Fred Jackson—Buffalo (Week 5)
o   Jackson also ran for 112 in a game (Week 1)
·         No players have passed for 111 yards in a game this season
·         One player has 111 receiving yards in a game this season
o   Michael Jenkins—Atlanta (Week 7)
·         Two players have 111 career passing TDs
o   Aaron Rodgers—Green Bay (2005-present)
o   Jim Zorn—Tampa Bay (1976-87)
·         Walter Payton (Chicago) has 110 career rushing TDs
o   One shy of 111

November 9, 2011

Detroit @ New Orleans the Most Likely Candidate for the 12/2 Sunday Night Game

The NFL announced that the Colts and Patriots were "flexed out" of the Sunday Night game for December 4 since it would obviously be a boring blowout between a Peyton-less Indianapolis and non-elite New England.

I break down the other matchups that weekend to determine the most likely game that will be switched to Sunday Night.  Because Detroit will be fighting for a playoff spot for the first time in what seems like forever, and the Saints will be protecting their narrow division lead, I'm convinced their game will get the nod.

However, there are some other games that are worth considering, and I rank them . . .

November 8, 2011

Deep Passes Are Twice as Effective As Short Passes

There’s a big difference between throwing the ball deep and keeping it short.  Deep balls are risky since it’s hard to get a completion, but the reward can be huge.  Short passes are safer, but their potential yardage is modest.  I’ve always wondered which type of pass has a better “average payout.”

The answer is that that deep passes, despite a dramatically lower completion percentage, clearly have a better average payout in yards (nearly double).  For example, the adjusted yards/attempt for a deep middle pass is 12.3, whereas the adjusted yards/attempt for a short middle pass is only 6.1.

I use the term “adjusted” because this calculation takes into account a bunch of factors.  The defense might commit a penalty giving the offense yardage even without a completion, the offense might commit a penalty moving them backwards, the pass might be incomplete resulting in zero yards, or the pass might be complete and the receiver gains yards for the offense.  Taking all of these outcomes into account, the results show that quarterbacks can double the expected yards of a play by throwing it deep.

[Read more to see the charts]

Updated Playoff Picture Heading into Week 10

Last week was pretty important.  It's that time of year when a team can either start winning and build momentum heading into the second half of the season, or they can get buried under under the weight of too many losses.  For example, the Philadelphia Eagles went into last night's match against the Bears at 3-4.  A win would have brought them to .500 and kept them at least in the hunt for a spot in the NFC playoffs.  But, their loss dropped them to 3-5, which is a whole world apart from 4-4.  Even if they somehow can right the sinking ship in Philadelphia, it wouldn't even be until week 12 when the Eagles could try to move above .500, and that would just be far too late for a legitimate playoff run.

Anyway, now that we are moving into the later stages of the season, the teams are nicely divided into categories that reflect their likelihood of making the playoffs.  The top of the NFC looks pretty locked with the 49ers and Packers as almost certain division winners.  There are essentially 9 teams left in the NFC race competing for 6 spots.  The AFC is still very much up for grabs with a whole bunch of teams (7) within at least one game of each other.  Overall, in the AFC there are 11 teams left vying for their 6 spots.

[Read more to see the chart and % of each team making it to the postseason]

November 7, 2011

The Curse of 10 to 85: Eli Manning's Super Drives Against the Patriots

That was simply amazing.  As a Giants fan for over twenty years, and a student of New York Giants history since their founding in 1925, I can honestly say that was one of the single-greatest moments in team history.  Sure, this was only week 9 and the Patriots are now just a 5-3 team, but the stakes were so much bigger.  Regardless of what anyone says, this was a rematch of Super Bowl 42.  I don’t care how many of the players have changed.  This is about Boston vs. New York, about Brady vs. Manning, and about Belichick vs. Coughlin.  As long as those ingredients were the same, it was a rematch.

November 6, 2011

Just for Fun: What Happens When You Put a QB in as a WR

Mark Sanchez jumped back in fear when the opposing cornerback made a move at him!

November 5, 2011

The Madden Curse is Real!

Peyton Hillis was celebrated after the fans chose him to be on the cover of the 2012 edition of Madden.  At the time, he deserved it.  He had just run for 1,177 yards with 4.4 yards per carry and 11 touchdowns.  That was before he graced the cover of Madden.  This year (after 8 weeks and only 4 starts), Hillis has run for 211 yards with 3.5 yards per carry and 2 touchdowns.  He represents the latest example of the so-called "Madden Curse."

I decided to take a look at all the running backs, quarterbacks, and wide receivers who have been on the cover dating back to the first non-John Madden cover in 2001 (Eddie George).  I compared each players' performance in yards per game before, during, and after they were on the cover.  The results are exactly what a believer of the curse would expect.  Players are awesome before they are on the cover, and then they start doing worse after they are on the cover.

Is this merely bad luck?  It can't be--this has happened to too many players.  However, the likely explanation is that Madden picks players who have been performing well above average, at a level that is hard to replicate year after year.  Players probably do worse on average after they have been on the cover because it is hard to get any better, but easy to get worse.

But, as for the injury bug that seems to bite Madden cover players, that is much harder to explain.  We have to remember that injuries are quite common in the NFL, and out of a group of just a few players, it isn't that strange to have a rate that is a bit higher compared to the rest of the league, especially since these players are the best of the best and have a target on their back.

[Read more to see every cover since 2001!]

November 2, 2011

"Must Win" Games for Week 9

Looking back since 2002 (when the NFL expanded to 32 teams), we can calculate the percentage chance of any team making the playoffs based on their current win-loss record.  For example, teams that started the season "4-1" made the playoffs 73% of the time, teams that started the season 5-7 made the playoffs 2.1% of the time, etc.  These numbers reveal when teams are in "must-win" situations.  Such teams face a dramatic decrease in their chances of making the playoffs if they lose compared to if they win.

The table shows the current chances of each team making the playoffs, and their new chances based on whether they win or lose the next game.  The difference between whether they win or lose is what's at stake this weekend!

November 1, 2011

Week 8 Power Rankings by GPA

Here is another look at the NFL power rankings by the teams' GPA (grade point average).  As explained in a prior post, this analysis looks at each team's performance in different categories and assigns a grade based on a "B-Curve" looking at how every other team performed in the same category over the last 10 years.

Remember, this looks at the most complete teams by assigning and average a grade in each category.  A terrible grade in one area can bring down the GPA (just as it did back in school!).

[See the grades for each individual category after the jump]