Finding the Winning Factors - Yards per Play

This week in the Finding the Winning Factors series, let's take a look at another non-conventional stat:  Yards / Play.  It's a pretty simple calculation, and here it is:

(Pass Yds + Rush Yds - Sack Yds) / (Pass Atts + Rush Atts + Sacks)

This is a good stat to look at as it combines both rushes and passes, and finds an average.  I've learned after looking at this stuff for over a year now that straight numbers are not the way to look at this stuff.  Averages (and formulas) are the way to go.

Again, I've gathered stats from over 6,500 games, dating back to 1996.  I did this calculation for every game, then found the overall average for a game.  I then went back and compared every game to this average, and found wins/losses based on being above or below average.  Here's some initial thoughts before getting to the data:

  • The overall average over the past 13 seasons is 5.09 yards / play.  This is higher than I was expecting, but not blown away.
  • The #1 offensive team?  Your Indianapolis Colts at 5.62 yds / play.  Surprisingly, the Vikings were #2.  The Culpepper to Moss years must be playing heavily into this.
  • Defensively, the Colts check in at 26th, with 5.28 yds / play.  Again, there were some really bad years for the Colts, so this makes sense.  #1 Defensive team? The Steelers at 4.64 yds / play
  • How well did teams do when they went above 5.09 yds/play? 1965-1196-2, which is a Win Percentage of 62.2%.  Not too bad.  Defensively, holding the other team below average results in a record of 2064-1287-6, for a Win Percentage of 61.6%.
  • What happens when both the offense is above average, and the defense holds the other offense below average? 1089-318, which is 77.4%.  I like any stat that produces winners 3/4 of the time.
  • Which game had the best Yards/Play over the past 13 seasons?  Week 12 in 1997, the Packers were the only team to go over 10 yds/play, with 10.02.  Their opponent was unfortunately the Colts, but the 0-10 Colts actually won this game 41-38.  Strange, eh?  The worst game was 0.37 yds/play, Week 14 in 2004, where the Browns were absolutely horrific.  Four of the worst 5 games since 1996 have been accomplished by the Browns, including Week 17 from this past season.
  • Of the top 12 overall games, Peyton Manning is responsible for 4 of them, including the #3 overall game, Week 8 in 2000 against the Patriots, where the Colts went for 9.71 yds/play.  

After the jump you'll see the offensive and defensive numbers for each team, as well as Win/Loss records when going above/below the league average.  Click on the headers to sort.  UPDATE: Here's a link to the last 5 years worth of data.  The Colts are the only team to be undefeated (27-0) when both the offense and defense perform above average.

Here are the Offensive Numbers:

Team Pass Yds Rush Yds Sack Yds Pass Atts Rush Atts Sacked Yds/Play
Colts 53908 21692 2063 7203 5570 322 5.616
Vikings 50095 25984 3278 6778 5753 528 5.575
Broncos 48504 29047 2524 6791 6406 387 5.523
Packers 52244 22865 2436 7368 5622 362 5.443
Rams 53924 21543 4094 7311 5269 596 5.417
Chiefs 48018 25468 2806 6813 6002 437 5.334
Jaguars 46246 25897 3023 6569 6079 521 5.249
49ers 45394 25426 3072 6685 5825 524 5.198
Seahawks 46478 24105 2974 6768 5754 497 5.193
Saints 49372 21471 3012 7169 5519 469 5.156
Patriots 50227 21916 2968 7127 5850 464 5.147
Titans 41087 23549 2228 5994 5808 358 5.132
Eagles 47312 23963 3312 7169 5525 551 5.131
Falcons 42891 25799 3767 6198 5920 594 5.107
Cowboys 44691 24261 2836 6466 6055 440 5.101
Raiders 45905 23545 3516 6797 5613 577 5.077
Steelers 42868 27966 3011 6131 6771 482 5.067
Chargers 45528 23336 2925 6870 5779 426 5.043
Redskins 44584 24582 2988 6700 6043 453 5.015
Jets 44927 22788 2886 6721 5762 455 5.011
Bengals 45559 23617 3188 6989 5781 508 4.970
Panthers 44663 21851 3210 6603 5673 493 4.958
Giants 44206 25027 3020 6896 6028 460 4.947
Lions 45592 20524 3563 7149 4957 578 4.932
Texans 26418 13759 2161 3835 3517 360 4.929
Dolphins 44676 22185 2724 6766 5853 411 4.922
Bills 44039 23428 3882 6497 5946 566 4.888
Cardinals 49096 18468 3571 7456 5201 527 4.854
Buccaneers 42526 22626 2969 6565 5861 467 4.823
Ravens 42915 24667 3442 6675 6203 506 4.792
Browns 31700 14857 2749 4981 3959 413 4.684
Bears 41987 21763 3041 6959 5803 464 4.590
Total 1447580 737975 97239 212999 181707 15196 5.095

Here are the Defensive Numbers...

Team Pass Yds Rush Yds Sack Yds Pass Atts Rush Atts Sacked Yds/Play
Steelers 43383 19139 3622 6758 5354 575 4.643
Ravens 45650 19305 3509 6972 5602 537 4.687
Buccaneers 40731 22181 3247 6510 5620 497 4.725
Eagles 43807 24350 3561 6846 5958 550 4.837
Bills 43145 23727 3306 6602 5955 488 4.873
Cowboys 43321 22572 2871 6673 5711 462 4.906
Dolphins 44090 22645 3338 6524 5788 533 4.936
Giants 46981 21950 3538 6968 5706 553 4.944
Packers 44889 23182 3285 6987 5587 507 4.953
Patriots 47304 21705 3278 7144 5595 497 4.966
Redskins 43444 24735 2653 6754 5960 432 4.984
Chargers 49580 20471 2974 7372 5536 494 5.005
Bears 46894 23069 2965 7054 5795 449 5.038
Jaguars 45968 21976 3169 6681 5669 499 5.041
Jets 44931 25270 2816 6714 6126 433 5.077
Panthers 46361 23938 3212 6835 5855 492 5.089
Broncos 46006 21629 3198 6897 5185 502 5.121
Browns 33475 22938 1897 5028 5229 309 5.160
Raiders 45695 25760 2983 6569 6224 457 5.168
Titans 44311 19366 2782 6415 4863 465 5.186
49ers 49400 22171 3135 7016 5671 481 5.197
Seahawks 49222 25237 3201 7102 6006 523 5.228
Saints 46893 24954 3380 6516 5930 542 5.272
Cardinals 46931 25999 2476 6672 6287 394 5.276
Rams 46620 24649 3350 6641 5698 524 5.280
Colts 44358 26340 3068 6400 5933 466 5.284
Lions 48630 25564 3017 6783 6157 456 5.313
Bengals 47879 25576 2580 6694 6175 398 5.342
Vikings 50946 22073 3120 7230 5350 480 5.352
Chiefs 48430 25054 3016 6901 5796 466 5.353
Texans 29287 15730 1531 4060 3663 234 5.465
Falcons 49018 24720 3161 6681 5723 501 5.469
Total 1447580 737975 97239 212999 181707 15196 5.095

Here are the Win/Loss records of teams when they go above/below average:

Team Offense Defense
Above Average Below Average Above Average Below Average
Win Loss Tie Pct Win Loss Tie Pct Win Loss Tie Pct Win Loss Tie Pct
Colts 98 38 0 0.721 32 40 0 0.444 62 57 0 0.521 68 21 0 0.764
Patriots 87 18 0 0.829 52 51 0 0.505 56 32 0 0.636 83 37 0 0.692
Packers 90 36 0 0.714 40 42 0 0.488 47 45 0 0.511 83 33 0 0.716
Broncos 97 39 0 0.713 33 39 0 0.458 47 49 0 0.490 83 29 0 0.741
Vikings 84 49 0 0.632 31 44 0 0.413 58 64 0 0.475 57 29 0 0.663
Jaguars 76 43 0 0.639 39 50 0 0.438 49 49 0 0.500 66 44 0 0.600
Chiefs 68 47 0 0.591 35 58 0 0.376 43 76 0 0.361 60 29 0 0.674
Titans 58 35 0 0.624 54 45 0 0.545 40 60 0 0.400 72 20 0 0.783
Rams 73 50 0 0.593 25 60 0 0.294 48 75 0 0.390 50 35 0 0.588
Seahawks 65 41 0 0.613 44 58 0 0.431 40 73 0 0.354 69 26 0 0.726
49ers 65 45 0 0.591 36 62 0 0.367 38 76 0 0.333 63 31 0 0.670
Redskins 57 35 0 0.620 42 74 1 0.363 37 63 0 0.370 63 45 1 0.583
Saints 55 42 0 0.567 33 78 0 0.297 38 72 0 0.345 50 48 0 0.510
Cowboys 71 35 0 0.670 34 68 0 0.333 33 50 0 0.398 72 53 0 0.576
Eagles 72 30 0 0.706 44 62 2 0.417 38 41 0 0.481 80 49 2 0.618
Steelers 73 28 1 0.721 55 52 0 0.514 29 42 1 0.410 100 37 0 0.730
Raiders 58 43 0 0.574 26 81 0 0.243 34 71 0 0.324 50 53 0 0.485
Jets 59 42 0 0.584 42 65 0 0.393 36 61 0 0.371 65 46 0 0.586
Dolphins 49 40 0 0.551 59 60 0 0.496 28 61 0 0.315 80 39 0 0.672
Panthers 57 37 0 0.606 45 69 0 0.395 36 64 0 0.360 66 42 0 0.611
Buccaneers 52 35 0 0.598 59 62 0 0.488 27 49 0 0.355 84 48 0 0.636
Texans 30 28 0 0.517 18 52 0 0.257 25 58 0 0.301 23 22 0 0.511
Bengals 46 41 0 0.529 34 87 1 0.283 36 77 0 0.319 45 50 1 0.474
Chargers 62 32 0 0.660 35 79 0 0.307 35 62 0 0.361 62 49 0 0.559
Falcons 64 38 1 0.626 31 75 0 0.292 43 80 1 0.351 53 32 0 0.624
Giants 57 38 0 0.600 54 59 1 0.478 36 53 0 0.404 76 43 1 0.638
Bills 53 36 0 0.596 44 75 0 0.370 27 53 0 0.338 70 58 0 0.547
Cardinals 40 46 0 0.465 38 84 0 0.311 33 87 0 0.275 45 43 0 0.511
Ravens 44 28 0 0.611 63 73 1 0.464 26 39 0 0.400 82 61 1 0.573
Lions 38 51 0 0.427 28 91 0 0.235 22 102 0 0.177 44 40 0 0.524
Bears 38 23 0 0.623 57 90 0 0.388 31 65 0 0.323 64 48 0 0.571
Browns 29 27 0 0.518 25 79 0 0.240 18 59 0 0.234 36 47 0 0.434
Total 1965 1196 2 0.622 1287 2064 6 0.384 1196 1965 2 0.378 2064 1287 6 0.616

And finally, Win/Loss records when the offense is above average, and the defense holds the other team below average (you'll have to click the link to see it, as I've hit my limit of characters).

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