Finding the Winning Factors - Net Punting Average

This week in the Finding the Winning Factors series, let's take a look at a common, but rarely looked at:  Net Punting Average. This stat came about after the Colts playoff game back in January, for good reason.  Mike Scifres significantly helped the Chargers, but can the punter and punt coverage be a significant factor in winning games?  Here's how I calculated it:

(Punt Yards - Return Yards) / Punts

In getting this data, I found that NFL.com had the Net Punting Average incorrect.  It subtracted the Return yards from the wrong team, i.e. If the Colts had 150 Punt Yards, and they had 50 Return Yards, it said the Colts had a net Punting of 100 Yards, instead of subtracting what the opponent had in Return Yards.  Oops.

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 Net Punting Average (that just sounds weird) over the past 8 years is 37.9 Yards.  Does this mean that offenses are just really good at getting first downs, or the defenses aren't that good at stopping them? 
  • The best team since 2001?  The Raiders, with an average of 40.8 Yards, which is over a full yard better than the #2 team, the Panthers.  I guess that's why Shane Lechler goes to all those Pro Bowls.  The Colts are slightly below average at 37.5 Yards, and have by far had the fewest punts at 458 (next closest is the Patriots at 530).
  • Defensively, the Bears are #1 with an average of 36.2 Yards.  I'm thinking that two year span with Hester really helped this stat out. The Colts come in at 31st, with a Net Punting Average of 39.1 Yards.  Not a huge difference between the top and bottom teams in the league.  The Colts have also been punted to the fewest times in the league, meaning when we Colts fans watch games, we don't see a lot of punting.
  • So how often do teams win when they are Above Average on Offense?  1104-1054-1, which is 51.2%.  That's the worst record we've seen so far.  This was expected on my part.  Having an Above Average defense produces a record of 980-919-3, which is 51.6%, which is a little better than the offense. I have the sound effect when somebody loses on The Price is Right in my head now.
  • When both the Offense and Defense are Above Average, their record is 499-443-1, or 53.0%.  This ranks 12th out of 12 stats so far, which makes sense.  Special Teams play an important role in the game, but by themselves they don't do much to predict winners.
  • The best game since 2001?  Week 17 in 2003, where the Redskins had a Net Punting Average of 69.0 Yards against the Eagles.  That was only 1 punt though, but still pretty good.  Best multiple punt game was Week 3 in 2007, where the Broncos had an average of 63.0 Yards against the Jaguars.  Best game for the Colts offense?  Week 4 in 2004 against the Titans, where they had a Net Punt Average of 55.0 Yards (2 Punts), 15th best game overall. 
  • The worst game since 2001? Week 7 in 2006, where the Colts (!?!) had a Net Punting Average of -8.5 Yards (2 Punts) against the Redskins.  Did it matter?  Of course not, as the Colts dominated the Redskins, winning 36-22.  There were 3 games that had a negative Net Punt Average, just in case you were wondering.

  • There have only been 19 games since 2001 without a Punt, which seems really low to me.  The Colts have only done it 3 times, the last being in Week 7 of 2005 against the Texans.  I'm amazed it's been that long.  The Colts have had it done to them only once, Week 13 in 2007 against the Jaguars (a Colts 28-25 victory).
  • Of the top 40 games (51.3 and higher), there were 5 of them that came against the Colts.  Of those 5, 4 happened in 2008!  The Colts were 1-3 in those games.  The playoff game against the Chargers? 51.7 Net Punting Average.  Teams boomed punts against the Colts, and the Colts failed to return them.  This better change in 2009.

So what did we learn today?  Net Punting Average may help win an occasional game, but on the whole, it is only slightly better than flipping a coin over an 8 year span.  We also learned that the Colts played 5 games this past season where the punter for the other team had a career day.  Somehow I don't see this happening next season.

Here's 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% 89.10%
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 69.1% 66.5% 65.4% 89.14%
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 Punting Average 37.90 51.2% 51.6% 53.0%
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
Punts Punt Yds Return Yds Net Yds/Punt Punts Punt Yds Return Yds Net Yds/Punt
Raiders 625 29130 3648 40.771 593 24672 2482 37.420
Panthers 700 30940 3164 39.680 675 28882 2916 38.468
Titans 627 26714 2111 39.239 632 27028 2684 38.519
Chargers 592 25342 2205 39.083 606 25787 2541 38.360
Saints 566 24444 2366 39.007 592 25392 2860 38.061
Bills 612 26369 2537 38.941 582 24029 2762 36.541
Bears 731 30631 2488 38.499 710 29391 3671 36.225
Falcons 608 24928 1547 38.456 611 26415 3014 38.300
Buccaneers 678 29277 3206 38.453 671 29083 2904 39.015
Dolphins 659 27519 2318 38.241 654 27965 2899 38.327
Jaguars 593 25195 2549 38.189 608 25451 2800 37.255
Rams 552 24237 3214 38.085 562 24184 2271 38.991
49ers 660 28120 3051 37.983 591 24261 2355 37.066
Lions 663 28203 3092 37.875 580 24892 2600 38.434
Seahawks 637 26622 2540 37.805 617 26064 2770 37.754
Browns 648 27318 2886 37.704 588 24363 2815 36.646
Ravens 694 28911 2794 37.633 718 29922 3471 36.840
Texans 547 22444 1880 37.594 496 20892 2245 37.595
Eagles 657 27491 2796 37.588 724 30114 3403 36.894
Colts 458 19694 2509 37.522 490 20961 1784 39.137
Packers 579 24175 2466 37.494 650 27417 2663 38.083
Chiefs 591 24474 2321 37.484 554 23439 2518 37.764
Broncos 536 22859 2793 37.437 601 26603 2502 40.101
Patriots 530 21681 1870 37.379 611 25434 2848 36.966
Steelers 558 23143 2324 37.310 673 28473 2866 38.049
Cowboys 644 27145 3147 37.264 670 28479 2682 38.503
Vikings 586 24765 3020 37.108 573 24365 2345 38.429
Giants 621 25286 2374 36.895 653 26507 2432 36.868
Jets 572 23305 2258 36.795 565 23591 2380 37.542
Redskins 678 27918 3156 36.522 673 27993 2616 37.707
Cardinals 640 27054 3757 36.402 581 25030 2427 38.904
Bengals 618 25136 2999 35.820 556 23391 1860 38.725
Total 19660 830470 85386 37.898 19660 830470 85386 37.898

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 45 20 0 0.692 52 11 0 0.825 59 14 0 0.808 38 17 0 0.691
Steelers 49 19 0 0.721 33 23 1 0.588 45 14 0 0.763 40 28 1 0.587
Colts 45 20 0 0.692 43 17 0 0.717 33 16 0 0.673 57 21 0 0.731
Chargers 45 33 0 0.577 26 24 0 0.520 29 27 0 0.518 42 29 0 0.592
Packers 38 27 0 0.585 37 26 0 0.587 36 19 0 0.655 39 34 0 0.534
Cowboys 35 20 0 0.636 31 42 0 0.425 28 31 0 0.475 38 31 0 0.551
Eagles 46 18 0 0.719 35 28 1 0.555 46 23 1 0.664 35 22 0 0.614
Ravens 38 28 0 0.576 33 28 0 0.541 45 28 0 0.616 26 28 0 0.481
Seahawks 36 30 0 0.545 35 27 0 0.565 34 26 0 0.567 37 30 0 0.552
Jets 27 35 0 0.435 34 31 0 0.523 30 26 0 0.536 32 39 0 0.451
Broncos 40 23 0 0.635 33 30 0 0.524 22 26 0 0.458 52 28 0 0.650
Rams 31 37 0 0.456 29 31 0 0.483 26 25 0 0.510 34 43 0 0.442
Dolphins 39 32 0 0.549 21 35 0 0.375 27 28 0 0.491 34 39 0 0.466
Panthers 44 41 0 0.518 20 23 0 0.465 23 28 0 0.451 41 36 0 0.532
Bears 36 34 0 0.514 33 25 0 0.569 43 30 0 0.589 26 29 0 0.473
Giants 36 23 0 0.610 32 37 0 0.464 45 28 0 0.616 23 30 0 0.434
Titans 50 35 0 0.588 20 23 0 0.465 29 16 0 0.644 41 41 0 0.500
Falcons 33 33 1 0.500 29 32 0 0.475 25 36 1 0.411 37 29 0 0.561
Buccaneers 40 36 0 0.526 26 26 0 0.500 32 23 0 0.582 34 39 0 0.466
Saints 33 41 0 0.446 25 27 0 0.481 33 29 0 0.532 27 38 0 0.415
Chiefs 27 39 0 0.409 32 30 0 0.516 23 31 0 0.426 36 38 0 0.486
Vikings 28 33 0 0.459 32 34 0 0.485 23 32 0 0.418 37 35 0 0.514
Bills 30 38 0 0.441 22 38 0 0.367 30 40 0 0.429 21 35 0 0.375
Jaguars 35 34 0 0.507 26 31 0 0.456 34 36 0 0.486 28 30 0 0.483
Browns 24 41 0 0.369 24 38 0 0.387 23 44 0 0.343 25 35 0 0.417
49ers 27 37 0 0.422 27 37 0 0.422 29 35 0 0.453 25 38 0 0.397
Bengals 25 23 0 0.521 28 50 1 0.361 20 26 1 0.436 34 47 0 0.420
Redskins 29 28 0 0.509 29 42 0 0.408 25 36 0 0.410 33 34 0 0.493
Cardinals 23 34 0 0.404 26 44 0 0.371 22 32 0 0.407 27 47 0 0.365
Raiders 33 58 0 0.363 12 25 0 0.324 25 38 0 0.397 20 44 0 0.313
Texans 21 42 0 0.333 19 30 0 0.388 23 34 0 0.404 17 36 0 0.321
Lions 16 62 0 0.205 15 35 0 0.300 13 42 0 0.236 18 54 0 0.250
Total 1104 1054 1 0.512 919 980 3 0.484 980 919 3 0.516 1054 1104 1 0.488

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
Broncos 14 13 0 0.519 26 17 0 0.605
Rams 11 16 0 0.407 14 22 0 0.389
Patriots 28 10 0 0.737 21 7 0 0.750
Colts 14 7 0 0.667 24 8 0 0.750
Titans 17 6 0 0.739 8 13 0 0.381
Giants 23 10 0 0.697 10 18 0 0.357
Buccaneers 21 13 0 0.618 15 16 0 0.484
Cowboys 12 8 0 0.600 15 19 0 0.441
Bengals 8 7 0 0.533 16 31 0 0.340
Packers 19 8 0 0.704 20 15 0 0.571
Eagles 23 7 0 0.767 12 11 0 0.522
Bears 22 15 0 0.595 12 10 0 0.545
Steelers 24 7 0 0.774 14 16 1 0.468
Vikings 7 14 0 0.333 16 16 0 0.500
Chiefs 10 15 0 0.400 19 14 0 0.576
Ravens 19 15 0 0.559 7 15 0 0.318
49ers 15 18 0 0.455 13 20 0 0.394
Chargers 19 17 0 0.528 16 13 0 0.552
Seahawks 15 12 0 0.556 16 12 0 0.571
Jaguars 20 14 0 0.588 12 10 0 0.545
Cardinals 13 13 0 0.500 17 25 0 0.405
Saints 18 18 0 0.500 11 16 0 0.407
Falcons 12 19 1 0.391 16 15 0 0.516
Jets 11 10 0 0.524 16 15 0 0.516
Panthers 16 17 0 0.485 13 12 0 0.520
Texans 8 18 0 0.308 4 13 0 0.235
Dolphins 16 11 0 0.593 10 18 0 0.357
Browns 10 19 0 0.345 11 13 0 0.458
Redskins 12 14 0 0.462 16 20 0 0.444
Bills 16 20 0 0.444 8 18 0 0.308
Raiders 20 25 0 0.444 7 12 0 0.368
Lions 6 27 0 0.182 8 19 0 0.296
Total 499 443 1 0.530 443 499 1 0.470
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