Finding the Winning Factors - 3 & Outs

This week in the Finding the Winning Factors series, let's take a look at a not-so common stat:  3 & Outs.  Technically it should be called "Drives without a First Down", but 3 & Outs is the common vernacular, so we'll go with that.  Here's how I calculated it:

Drives without a First Down

Tough huh?  I looked at dividing it by the number of drives in a game, but it wasn't as good at predicting as just straight 3 & Outs.  In the stats I included the Percentages, just for completeness (and to show the Colts awesomeness on offense and not-awesomeness on defense).

I went back to 2001 to see how teams do.  That means I'll be looking at 4,080 games over the past 8 years.  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.

Let's get to the numbers:

  • The Overall Average number of 3 & Outs over the past 8 years is 3.92 / Game.  About 1 per quarter, and 34.5% of all drives.  That seems high to me, but the numbers don't lie.  Funny enough there have been exactly 16,000 3 & Outs the past 8 years.
  • The Colts have by far the least number of 3 & Outs, with 336 (or 2.63 / Game).  The difference between the Colts and #2 (Patriots) is the same difference between #2 and #14 (Giants).  The Colts are also way ahead in Percentage at only 25.6%.  I'm not surprised by this at all.
  • Defensively, the Ravens are #1 again, causing 633 3 & Outs (or 4.95 / Game).  That 1 more 3 & Out, on average, for every game.  How have the Colts done?  If you guessed dead last, you'd be right.  The Colts have only forced 399 3 & Outs (or 3.12 / Game).  Yikes.  But we already knew the Colts were bad at this.
  • So how often do teams win when they are Above Average on Offense?  1096-767-0, which is 58.8%.  That's definitely not as good as some of the other stats we've looked at.  Having an Above Average defense produces a record of 1271-942-4, which is 57.4%, which is a little worse than the offense. This doesn't seem like it is going to give us good predictions.
  • When both the Offense and Defense are Above Average, their record is 577-248, or 69.9%.  This ranks 7th out of 10 stats so far, which won't make the cut. I plan on keeping the top 6.
  • The best game since 2001?  Week 5 in 2005, where the Redskins had 12 drives without a 3 & Out against. the Broncos.  That's pretty darn good.  Unfortunately for them, they lost to the Broncos 21-19. Best game for the Colts offense?  Week 11 in 2003 against the Jets, where they had 11 drives without a 3 & Out, tied for 2nd best game overall (8 games).  
  • The worst game since 2001? Week 15 in 2006, where the Buccaneers had 13 3 & Outs against the Bears.  They did have 19 drives in that game though, and scored 31 points, losing in Overtime.  The Colts worst game not involving Sorgi?  Week 12, 2001, a 39-27 loss to Baltimore, where they had 8 3 & Outs.  The Colts have only had 5 games with more than 5 3 & Outs.

  • The Colts have only lost 2 games when they have had less than 4 3 & Outs, and the defense has forced 4 or more 3 & Outs: Week 10 in 2003 against the Jaguars (28-23 loss), and Week 13 in 2003 against the Patriots (stupid Edge not getting in the End Zone at the end).  The Colts have won 21 straight games since then.  Come on defense, get your act together and get off the field!

So what did we learn today?  Well, 3 & Outs aren't the best way to predict football games, but it isn't the worst we've looked at so far.  We also learned the Colts are really good on offense, and really bad on defense.

I promised a table of all the stats we've looked at so far, and those we still have to look at.  Here goes:

Statistic Average Off Win% Def Win % Off/Def Win %
ANPY/A 5.338 70.3% 70.7% 89.1%
Yds/Play 5.095 62.2% 61.6% 77.4%
RZ Eff 65.6% 59.3% 60.6% 69.7%
RB Success 45.6% 54.8% 54.5% 59.0%
Yds/Drive 28.36 63.2% 63.6% 81.5%
ToP/Drive 2:39.3 65.4% 65.3% 79.6%
DSR
Yds/Carry 4.125 52.8% 52.2% 55.0%
3rd/4th Down 39.1% 62.6% 61.8% 75.1%
Turnovers
Avg Start Pos 31.20 65.0% 62.8% 72.9%
Plays/Drive
Net Punts Yds/Game
Penalty Yds / Play
First Downs/Drive
3 & Outs 3.92 58.8% 57.4% 69.9%

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.  Here's a link to the last 5 years worth of data.  There's not much of a difference, especially since it only took out 3 years worth of data.

Here are the Offensive and Defensive Numbers...

Team Offense Defense
3 & Outs Drives 3 & Outs % 3 & Outs Drives 3 & Outs %
Colts 336 1311 25.6% 399 1331 30.0%
Patriots 413 1395 29.6% 499 1431 34.9%
Steelers 434 1429 30.4% 556 1425 39.0%
Broncos 446 1439 31.0% 488 1419 34.4%
Chiefs 449 1444 31.1% 449 1441 31.2%
Rams 459 1473 31.2% 490 1452 33.7%
Chargers 457 1425 32.1% 526 1481 35.5%
Jets 431 1340 32.2% 419 1365 30.7%
Saints 472 1460 32.3% 476 1448 32.9%
Vikings 472 1458 32.4% 478 1447 33.0%
Seahawks 477 1472 32.4% 476 1480 32.2%
Packers 498 1488 33.5% 504 1496 33.7%
Jaguars 473 1412 33.5% 479 1401 34.2%
Giants 496 1478 33.6% 513 1485 34.5%
Falcons 498 1455 34.2% 467 1454 32.1%
Ravens 523 1507 34.7% 633 1537 41.2%
Buccaneers 518 1466 35.3% 572 1464 39.1%
Titans 526 1486 35.4% 562 1471 38.2%
Raiders 516 1449 35.6% 487 1470 33.1%
Bengals 522 1447 36.1% 448 1441 31.1%
Bills 518 1435 36.1% 487 1418 34.3%
Cardinals 533 1474 36.2% 497 1479 33.6%
Texans 444 1227 36.2% 373 1219 30.6%
Eagles 551 1517 36.3% 569 1514 37.6%
Dolphins 538 1479 36.4% 524 1459 35.9%
Cowboys 549 1499 36.6% 547 1491 36.7%
Redskins 545 1482 36.8% 551 1468 37.5%
Panthers 571 1510 37.8% 545 1504 36.2%
Browns 557 1464 38.0% 461 1451 31.8%
Lions 563 1474 38.2% 452 1462 30.9%
49ers 586 1486 39.4% 456 1442 31.6%
Bears 629 1555 40.5% 617 1590 38.8%
Total 16000 46436 34.5% 16000 46436 34.5%

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
Patriots 63 14 0 0.818 34 17 0 0.667 59 11 0 0.843 38 20 0 0.655
Steelers 56 18 0 0.757 29 24 1 0.546 53 24 1 0.686 32 18 0 0.640
Colts 71 20 0 0.780 20 17 0 0.541 40 8 0 0.833 51 29 0 0.638
Chargers 44 24 0 0.647 27 33 0 0.450 48 25 0 0.658 23 32 0 0.418
Packers 37 20 0 0.649 38 33 0 0.535 43 29 0 0.597 32 24 0 0.571
Cowboys 29 15 0 0.659 37 47 0 0.440 35 37 0 0.486 31 25 0 0.554
Eagles 40 14 0 0.741 41 32 1 0.561 52 25 1 0.673 29 21 0 0.580
Ravens 32 24 0 0.571 39 33 0 0.542 62 36 0 0.633 9 21 0 0.300
Seahawks 42 25 0 0.627 29 32 0 0.475 45 23 0 0.662 26 34 0 0.433
Jets 32 37 0 0.464 30 29 0 0.508 36 18 0 0.667 26 48 0 0.351
Broncos 45 24 0 0.652 29 30 0 0.492 43 25 0 0.632 31 29 0 0.517
Rams 36 35 0 0.507 24 33 0 0.421 40 30 0 0.571 20 38 0 0.345
Dolphins 24 20 0 0.545 37 47 0 0.440 40 37 0 0.519 21 30 0 0.412
Panthers 28 20 0 0.583 36 44 0 0.450 41 31 0 0.569 23 33 0 0.411
Bears 23 14 0 0.622 46 45 0 0.505 56 31 0 0.644 13 28 0 0.317
Giants 35 29 0 0.547 33 31 0 0.516 46 27 0 0.630 22 33 0 0.400
Titans 25 20 0 0.556 45 38 0 0.542 52 28 0 0.650 18 30 0 0.375
Falcons 37 21 0 0.638 25 44 1 0.364 30 33 1 0.477 32 32 0 0.500
Buccaneers 39 20 0 0.661 27 42 0 0.391 47 30 0 0.610 19 32 0 0.373
Saints 33 30 0 0.524 27 38 0 0.415 32 28 0 0.533 28 40 0 0.412
Chiefs 36 34 0 0.514 23 35 0 0.397 33 28 0 0.541 26 41 0 0.388
Vikings 37 29 0 0.561 24 38 0 0.387 35 33 0 0.515 26 34 0 0.433
Bills 25 31 0 0.446 27 45 0 0.375 40 34 0 0.541 12 42 0 0.222
Jaguars 35 29 0 0.547 27 37 0 0.422 35 30 0 0.538 27 36 0 0.429
Browns 24 22 0 0.522 25 57 0 0.305 27 38 0 0.415 22 41 0 0.349
49ers 26 18 0 0.591 28 56 0 0.333 32 32 0 0.500 22 42 0 0.344
Bengals 25 28 0 0.472 29 45 1 0.393 29 26 1 0.527 25 47 0 0.347
Redskins 29 22 0 0.569 29 48 0 0.377 41 41 0 0.500 17 29 0 0.370
Cardinals 22 26 0 0.458 27 53 0 0.338 28 34 0 0.452 21 45 0 0.318
Raiders 24 28 0 0.462 21 55 0 0.276 29 38 0 0.433 16 45 0 0.262
Texans 24 30 0 0.444 16 42 0 0.276 19 29 0 0.396 21 43 0 0.328
Lions 18 26 0 0.409 13 71 0 0.155 23 43 0 0.348 8 54 0 0.129
Total 1096 767 0 0.588 942 1271 4 0.426 1271 942 4 0.574 767 1096 0 0.412

And finally, Win/Loss records when the offense is above average, and the defense holds the other team below average

Team Above Average Below Average
Win Loss Tie Pct Win Loss Tie Pct
Patriots 32 3 0 0.914 7 9 0 0.438
Steelers 29 9 0 0.763 5 9 0 0.357
Jets 18 3 0 0.857 12 14 0 0.462
Packers 15 7 0 0.682 10 11 0 0.476
Falcons 15 8 0 0.652 10 19 0 0.345
Chargers 26 10 0 0.722 5 18 0 0.217
Giants 20 9 0 0.690 7 13 0 0.350
Ravens 26 10 0 0.722 3 7 0 0.300
Seahawks 23 7 0 0.767 7 16 0 0.304
Rams 21 13 0 0.618 5 16 0 0.238
Eagles 20 8 0 0.714 9 15 0 0.375
Jaguars 17 8 0 0.680 9 15 0 0.375
Bears 15 5 0 0.750 5 19 0 0.208
Broncos 23 7 0 0.767 9 12 0 0.429
Cowboys 15 7 0 0.682 17 17 0 0.500
Panthers 14 9 0 0.609 9 22 0 0.290
Colts 26 2 0 0.929 6 11 0 0.353
Buccaneers 25 5 0 0.833 5 17 0 0.227
Dolphins 12 6 0 0.667 9 16 0 0.360
49ers 14 8 0 0.636 10 32 0 0.238
Chiefs 21 9 0 0.700 11 16 0 0.407
Saints 13 11 0 0.542 8 21 0 0.276
Titans 13 5 0 0.722 6 15 0 0.286
Raiders 15 7 0 0.682 7 24 0 0.226
Cardinals 10 8 0 0.556 9 27 0 0.250
Vikings 20 12 0 0.625 9 17 0 0.346
Bengals 11 7 0 0.611 11 26 0 0.297
Browns 10 8 0 0.556 8 27 0 0.229
Bills 17 13 0 0.567 4 24 0 0.143
Redskins 18 12 0 0.600 6 19 0 0.240
Texans 10 8 0 0.556 7 21 0 0.250
Lions 13 4 0 0.765 3 32 0 0.086
Total 577 248 0 0.699 248 577 0 0.301
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