What really wins championships?

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from prolate0spheroid. Show prolate0spheroid's posts

    What really wins championships?

    I did a quick review of a few simple statistics to see what the last 15 Super Bowl champions did well and not so well in their playoff games. There were six statistics I looked at:

    • Yards per offensive play.  This is a good measure of how well teams move the ball on offense, and it has a high correlation with offensive scoring, so it's a meaningful statistic. In recent seasons, teams have been averaging about 5.4 yards per play. 
    • Yards given up per defensive play.  This is the opposite of the first statistic, and is a good indicator of how well a defense keeps its opponent from moving the ball (and scoring). In recent seasons, this also averages 5.4 yards per play (every yard gained by an offense is also a yard given up by a defense, so the averages have to match).
    • Yards per pass play.  This is the net yards a team gets on its pass plays, taking into account completions, incompletions, and sacks.  It is a good measure of the productivity of the passing game. Over the past few seasons, teams are averaging about 6.2 yards per pass play.
    • Yards given up per pass play.  The opposite stat which shows how well defenses limit their opponents' productivity in the passing game.  It too averages about 6.2 yards per pass play. 
    • Yards per rush play.  Pretty obvious, the average yards gained on a running play.  This is roughly 4.2 yards over the past few seasons.
    • Yards given up per rush play.  The defensive flip side of the previous stat, also averaging 4.2 yards per rush play. 

    Here are the findings:

    • Yards per offensive play.  In the playoffs, the past 15 Super Bowl champions have averaged 5.2 yards per play, slightly below the 5.4 yard league average for recent regular seasons.  
    • Yards given up per offensive play.  Here the average is 5.0 yards given up per play, so the champions are just a bit better than their playoff opponents in the yards per play category.
    • Yards per rushing play.  Surprisingly maybe, in the playoffs, the past 15 Super Bowl champions have averaged only 3.6 yards per running play.  This is well below the league's regular season average of 4.2.  
    • Yards given up per rushing play.  Even more surprising, the past 15 Super Bowl champions give up more yards per rush to their opponents than they themselves gain.  Their opponents average 3.9 yards per rushing play.  That's still below the league's regular season average, but it is closer to the average than the champions get. 
    • Yards per passing play.  Here's where the Super Bowl champions excel.  They gain 6.7 yards per pass play, compared with the regular season league average of 6.2.  Super Bowl champions are productive in the passing game. 
    • Yards given up per passing play.  And here's what Super Bowl champions do the absolute best.  They defend the pass well, giving up just 5.0 yards per pass play compared with the regular season league average of 6.2 yards per play.

    Conclusion

    The surprising finding is that Super Bowl champions are actually less productive running the ball in the playoffs than their playoff opponents.  What they do succeed at, however, is being productive in the passing game and, especially, limiting their opponents' productivity in the passing game. 

    So what really wins championships? From the stats, the key to winning a championship is, first and foremost, having an effective pass defense and, second, having a productive passing offense. 

    The numbers may not tell the whole story, but the story they do tell is clear.  

     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from gogogopats. Show gogogopats's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    So, can we conclude that both sides of the ball failed to perform upto expectations in the playoffs? Instead of trying to pin the blame on one side as some of the posters regularly do here.

     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from Paul_K. Show Paul_K's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    Payoffs.

    I can predict who will win low-stakes NFL games, and by how many points, with considerable accuracy.  I can't predict who will win high-stakes NFL games.

     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from prolate0spheroid. Show prolate0spheroid's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    In response to gogogopats' comment:

    So, can we conclude that both sides of the ball failed to perform upto expectations in the playoffs? Instead of trying to pin the blame on one side as some of the posters regularly do here.



    I've always said that, but this post really is more general than that. I'm just looking for trends across a number of playoff games rather than looking at what happens in any particular game.  Any single game can be an outlier . . . with this analysis I'm trying to find what's generally true, not what happened in any particular game. 

     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from prolate0spheroid. Show prolate0spheroid's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    In response to Paul_K's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    Payoffs.

    I can predict who will win low-stakes NFL games, and by how many points, with considerable accuracy.  I can't predict who will win high-stakes NFL games.

    [/QUOTE]

    I'm not sure this says anything about who will win or lose a particular game.  The stats are more about general trends--what typically happens over a larger sample of games.  Any individual game can buck the trends, but the trends do show what generally works most of the time. 

     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from TrueChamp. Show TrueChamp's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    "The numbers may not tell the whole story, but the story they do tell is clear. "

    Clearly....

     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from Philskiw1. Show Philskiw1's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?


    A good pass rush does. It gets the ball back for the O and throws the opponents O out of their comfort zone.  It beats manning, it beats brady. Manning with all day to pass scores a lot of points. Manning getting rushed not so much.

     

     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from garytx. Show garytx's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    Nice job of putting these numbers together.  The Seattle team model is what wins championships.  Great defense and a control the ball type offense.  

    Anything on special teams?  What roll they play or if they are significant at all in the playoffs?

     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from prolate0spheroid. Show prolate0spheroid's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    In response to Philskiw1's comment:
    [QUOTE]


    A good pass rush does. It gets the ball back for the O and throws the opponents O out of their comfort zone.  It beats manning, it beats brady. Manning with all day to pass scores a lot of points. Manning getting rushed not so much.

     

    [/QUOTE]

    Yep, this is a big part of limiting your opponent's productivity in the passing game. Forcing incompletions or getting sacks is a big part of keeping your opponents' yards per pass play low. 

     

     

     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from prolate0spheroid. Show prolate0spheroid's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    In response to garytx's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    Nice job of putting these numbers together.  The Seattle team model is what wins championships.  Great defense and a control the ball type offense.  

    Anything on special teams?  What roll they play or if they are significant at all in the playoffs?

    [/QUOTE]

    I didn't look a special teams stats, but I'll guess that the most important stat is tbe average starting point for drives (your own and your opponent's).  The longer a team has to march down the field, the less likely it is to score, so where drives start makes a difference.  TOs (in all three phases) are also a key stat since they abort drives and often result in good starting field position for the recovering team.  

     
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from garytx. Show garytx's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    Makes perfect sense.

     
  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from mthurl. Show mthurl's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    Nice thread and I agree...a great quarterback and a great pass defense wins championships. Of course there are exceptions to that rule, but for the most part I think that is the norm.

     
  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from prolate0spheroid. Show prolate0spheroid's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    In response to garytx's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    Makes perfect sense.

    [/QUOTE]

    And it's why BB values a guy like Matthew Slater so much.  Pats typically are very good at limiting their opponents' starting field position on drives, in part because they've got such good kick and punt coverage teams.  Last year, they were third best in the league at this, and their opponents' average starting position was the 24 yard line (league average is closer to the 28 yard line).  

     

     
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from garytx. Show garytx's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    In response to prolate0spheroid's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    In response to garytx's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    Makes perfect sense.

    [/QUOTE]

    And it's why BB values a guy like Matthew Slater so much.  Pats typically are very good at limiting their opponents' starting field position on drives, in part because they've got such good kick and punt coverage teams.  Last year, they were third best in the league at this, and their opponents' average starting position was the 24 yard line (league average is closer to the 28 yard line).  

     

    [/QUOTE]

    The value of special teams goes un-noticed and that's why I was wondering if you had seen any numbers for special teams.  It's a third of the game that I felt the Pats did a wonderful job of last year.  Field position is key.

     
  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from prolate0spheroid. Show prolate0spheroid's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    In response to mthurl's comment:

     

    Nice thread and I agree...a great quarterback and a great pass defense wins championships. Of course there are exceptions to that rule, but for the most part I think that is the norm.

     



    Last January, when asked about the Pats' run-pass balance, Belichick said that how much you run or how much you pass isn't signficant.  What is significant he said is whether you move the ball and score . . . and whether you get and don't give up TOs.

     

    What my statistical analysis is showing is that:

    (1) scoring correlates very highly with "moving the ball"  (getting yards), and

    (2) moving the ball depends very highly on having productive pass plays

    This is not to say that running the ball is irrelevant or unimportant.  There are many strategic situations where running is important.  But when it comes to moving the ball, productivity on pass plays is the key stat, and Super Bowl champions in the playoffs have been particuarly good at being productive in their own passing plays (averaging 6.7 yards per pass play) and at limiting the productivity of their opponents' pass plays (giving up an average of just 5.6 yards per pass play). The Super Bowl champions' don't get lots of yards on their running plays (3.6 per run) and actually give up more yards to their opponents on running plays (3.9 per run), but that's okay because they can rely on their passing game to get them the yards they need to sustain drives and can count on their pass defenses to limit the yards their opponents would need to sustain their drives. 

     

     
  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from stinkman. Show stinkman's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    defense ( all around the ball)

    timely offense

    Good special teams ( very good kicker)

    moving the chains on third down.

    getting off the field on third down 

    not taking dumb penalties 

    That should cover it. 

     
  17. You have chosen to ignore posts from ghostofjri37. Show ghostofjri37's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    In response to stinkman's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    defense ( all around the ball)

    timely offense

    Good special teams ( very good kicker)

    moving the chains on third down.

    getting off the field on third down 

    not taking dumb penalties 

    That should cover it. 

    [/QUOTE]

    Two more things... execution of a solid game plan and having your best players make plays in crunch time.

     
  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from Not-A-Shot. Show Not-A-Shot's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    In response to mthurl's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    Nice thread and I agree...a great quarterback and a great pass defense wins championships. Of course there are exceptions to that rule, but for the most part I think that is the norm.

    [/QUOTE]


    A great QB makes things happen and a great pass defense prevents things from happening against!

     
  19. You have chosen to ignore posts from CatfishHunter. Show CatfishHunter's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    Another informative thread.   Nice job Prolate.

    No doubt there will be those who will accuse you (as they did in the Scoring thread) of pushing an agenda.  

    Increasingly, in all sports the reliance on sabermetrics and the like are essential to building a roster and game planning.  I recall John Fox doing a 60 Minutes interview leading up to the 2003 SB and he showed how he used metrics to spot tendencies for the opposing teams. And that was 11 years ago.

    The days of Grady Little types getting coaching jobs in major sports are over.  If you go to an interview and don't show a willingness to embrace math/science in your decision-making you may as well write off your chances for that job.  Even "old school" coaches that have kept working through this evolutionary period have a bench coach or equivalent to assist when needed.

     

     
  20. You have chosen to ignore posts from seattlepat70. Show seattlepat70's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    In response to prolate0spheroid's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    ....

    Here are the findings:

    • Yards per offensive play.  In the playoffs, the past 15 Super Bowl champions have averaged 5.2 yards per play, slightly below the 5.4 yard league average for recent regular seasons.  
    • Yards given up per offensive play.  Here the average is 5.0 yards given up per play, so the champions are just a bit better than their playoff opponents in the yards per play category.
    • Yards per rushing play.  Surprisingly maybe, in the playoffs, the past 15 Super Bowl champions have averaged only 3.6 yards per running play.  This is well below the league's regular season average of 4.2.  
    • Yards given up per rushing play.  Even more surprising, the past 15 Super Bowl champions give up more yards per rush to their opponents than they themselves gain.  Their opponents average 3.9 yards per rushing play.  That's still below the league's regular season average, but it is closer to the average than the champions get. 
    • Yards per passing play.  Here's where the Super Bowl champions excel.  They gain 6.7 yards per pass play, compared with the regular season league average of 6.2.  Super Bowl champions are productive in the passing game. 
    • Yards given up per passing play.  And here's what Super Bowl champions do the absolute best.  They defend the pass well, giving up just 5.0 yards per pass play compared with the regular season league average of 6.2 yards per play.

    Conclusion

    The surprising finding is that Super Bowl champions are actually less productive running the ball in the playoffs than their playoff opponents.  What they do succeed at, however, is being productive in the passing game and, especially, limiting their opponents' productivity in the passing game. 

    So what really wins championships? From the stats, the key to winning a championship is, first and foremost, having an effective pass defense and, second, having a productive passing offense. 

    The numbers may not tell the whole story, but the story they do tell is clear.  

    [/QUOTE]

    I did not respond to your first thread, because I did not think that was a productive path - focused on regular season stats. We all know NEP doe snot ahve problems in the reg season.

    To me this thread is headed in the right path. It needs a bit of tweaking but it will get to the truth.

    Thank you for driving.

    A few asks for you below. I would ahve done the crunching myself but am really busy nowadays (I am note ven able to post much on the draf thread). You will probably get the analysis results on this board faster than I could.

    I do not think the league's reg season average is the correct benchmark for this analysis. IMO it is better to look at how the SB champ's stat in the SB compared with their own respective reg season stat. I'd love to see it in two ways -- 1) average reg season for the SB champs; and 2) average change in the stat between reg season avg and SB performance [=average (SBYPR - REGSEAYPR)]

    For #2 above, it would also be good to see the losing team's.

     
  21. You have chosen to ignore posts from TrueChamp. Show TrueChamp's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    In response to prolate0spheroid's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    In response to garytx's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    Nice job of putting these numbers together.  The Seattle team model is what wins championships.  Great defense and a control the ball type offense.  

    Anything on special teams?  What roll they play or if they are significant at all in the playoffs?

    [/QUOTE]

    I didn't look a special teams stats, but I'll guess that the most important stat is tbe average starting point for drives (your own and your opponent's).  The longer a team has to march down the field, the less likely it is to score, so where drives start makes a difference.  TOs (in all three phases) are also a key stat since they abort drives and often result in good starting field position for the recovering team.  

    [/QUOTE]

    Im not sure prolate agres with you gary, at least not about a ball control offense. 

    Prolate, would you care to expand?

     

     

     
  22. You have chosen to ignore posts from BostonTrollSpanker. Show BostonTrollSpanker's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    I'm pretty sure turnovers would be the most revealing stat. Would be interesting to see how many teams that won the turnover battle and scored off a turnover lost Super Bowls. Guessing not many. 

    Officiating matters too, in this way: the playoffs this year were not called as aggressively for the offense as the regular season was. 

    This allowed fast, physical defenses like Seattle to excel in the postseason, and reminded us that defense can be a serious factor if officials allow a bit more physicality. 

    Clearly Belichick has noted these things given his emphasis on pass defense signings this offseason. 

    We also know without a great QB you are not making the playoffs, though in some cases it can be a QB that gets "hot" like Flacco or Eli have in the past. 

    Even with a strong D, a "game manager" QB is not going to be enough to win, you have to be able to make some plays, like Wilson and Cap did. 

    Finally, it seems like the edge is going to mobile quarterbacks who can disrupt defenses in multiple ways, but that will be interesting to watch as there is a delicate balance between mobility and increased injury. But the ability to extend plays by eluding the pass rush or running for a first down is a major differentiator. 

     

     
  23. You have chosen to ignore posts from prolate0spheroid. Show prolate0spheroid's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    In response to TrueChamp's comment:

    In response to prolate0spheroid's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    In response to garytx's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    Nice job of putting these numbers together.  The Seattle team model is what wins championships.  Great defense and a control the ball type offense.  

    Anything on special teams?  What roll they play or if they are significant at all in the playoffs?



    I didn't look a special teams stats, but I'll guess that the most important stat is tbe average starting point for drives (your own and your opponent's).  The longer a team has to march down the field, the less likely it is to score, so where drives start makes a difference.  TOs (in all three phases) are also a key stat since they abort drives and often result in good starting field position for the recovering team.  

    [/QUOTE]

    Im not sure prolate agres with you gary, at least not about a ball control offense. 

    Prolate, would you care to expand?

     

     

    [/QUOTE]

    Teams very much have to sustain drives.  Doing that generally requires effective passing.  It's very rare that a team mounts a long drive without effective passing.  Running may be a part of the drive and even a big part of it, but success when passing is almost always required to sustain a long drive.  That's been the whole point of this thread (which you continue to fail to understand).  The winning teams pass effectively--not necessarily a lot, but effectively.  Passing effectively is key to mounting long drives--even more so than running well. 

    Said another way, if you are going to sustain a long drive without passing effectively, you better be getting a high percentage of 5+ yard runs.  That's very, very hard to do over a 70 or 80 yard drive.  The odds are against it.  Most long drives require multiple plays that get longish yardage--yardage greater than 5 yards and often closer to 10 yards.  Those plays almost always need to be pass plays.  So you better be able to execute on those passes.  If you can't execute on the passes, your drive is likely to stall, and handing the ball off more for 3 and 4 yard runs isn't going to help you.  

     

     
  24. You have chosen to ignore posts from prolate0spheroid. Show prolate0spheroid's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    In response to BostonTrollSpanker's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    I'm pretty sure turnovers would be the most revealing stat. Would be interesting to see how many teams that won the turnover battle and scored off a turnover lost Super Bowls. Guessing not many. 

    Officiating matters too, in this way: the playoffs this year were not called as aggressively for the offense as the regular season was. 

    This allowed fast, physical defenses like Seattle to excel in the postseason, and reminded us that defense can be a serious factor if officials allow a bit more physicality. 

    Clearly Belichick has noted these things given his emphasis on pass defense signings this offseason. 

    We also know without a great QB you are not making the playoffs, though in some cases it can be a QB that gets "hot" like Flacco or Eli have in the past. 

    Even with a strong D, a "game manager" QB is not going to be enough to win, you have to be able to make some plays, like Wilson and Cap did. 

    Finally, it seems like the edge is going to mobile quarterbacks who can disrupt defenses in multiple ways, but that will be interesting to watch as there is a delicate balance between mobility and increased injury. But the ability to extend plays by eluding the pass rush or running for a first down is a major differentiator. 

     

    [/QUOTE]

    Turnovers are very important.  In fact, when teams have won without particularly effective passing, it's almost always because they were able to dominate in turnovers. 

    A QB who can run is a huge advantage--as long as he's also a QB who passes well.  Part of the reason why running QBs have failed in the past in the NFL is because they weren't equally good passers.  I don't think it makes sense in the NFL to create an offense with a lot of designed QB running plays (a few are okay, but I don't think relying on QB runs to move the ball is very effective in the NFL).  But I do think it's a huge advantage to have a QB who can run well when a passing play breaks down.  That can be a giant plus on third downs, since there's always the running alternative if a called pass play is well covered. 

     
  25. You have chosen to ignore posts from Not-A-Shot. Show Not-A-Shot's posts

    Re: What really wins championships?

    In response to prolate0spheroid's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    A QB who can run is a huge advantage--as long as he's also a QB who passes well.  Part of the reason why running QBs have failed in the past in the NFL is because they weren't equally good passers.  I don't think it makes sense in the NFL to create an offense with a lot of designed QB running plays (a few are okay, but I don't think relying on QB runs to move the ball is very effective in the NFL).  But I do think it's a huge advantage to have a QB who can run well when a passing play breaks down.  That can be a giant plus on third downs, since there's always the running alternative if a called pass play is well covered. 

    [/QUOTE]

    I don't see the running QB as an advantage at all.  In fact, I see it as a disadvantage.  Outside of Russell Wilson, who won because of defense, almost all of the Superbowl winning quarterbacks have been big slow guys.  Yeah, you could put Roethlisburger into the running category, but it would be a stretch.

    QBs who can run, guys like Vick...or Tebow, just don't make it happen.

     
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