James Gibson's NFL Analysis Page

A look at statistics in football

What's coming? / What's new?

Table of Contents:
Drive Rankings
Pythagorean Rule of Football
Individual Player Rankings
Essays and Letters
Book Reviews

Drive Rankings

A different look at statistics in football - This is the theory behind the my ratings analysis. An explanation of the TPPD rankings and yards per drive rankings and why they are useful. I'm not interested in how many points or yards a team has total, but rather how efficient that team is. As of July 26, 1997 this now explains my new "Modified Drive Value."

A note on the idea behind this type of ranking - Some credit for the original idea; where else to look for support of the yards/posession system.

Year by Year Rankings:
2000: Offense Defense | 1999: Offense Defense | 1998: Offense Defense | 1997: Offense Defense | 1996: Offense Defense | 1995: Offense Defense | 1994: Offense Defense | 1993: Offense Defense | 1992: Offense Defense | 1991: Offense Defense | 1990: Offense Defense

*note: any discrepancies between my yards/drive data and that found in The Hidden Game of Football: The Next Edition, should probably be attributed to mistakes by me although I tried not to make any.

Testing of the Theory 1995 - put the theories about the correlation of the different ratings to the test.

Pythagorean Rule of Football

Pythagorean Rule - calcualate a team's winning percentage from points scored and points allowed.

Johnson Effect - Sometimes teams overplay/underplay their theoretical winning percentages. What heppens to them the next year?

Example: 1996 Season

Example: Denver Broncos (1970-1996)

Great Teams of the Modern Era - Since the AFL-NFL merger, 13 teams have had a pythagorean winning perecnetage of better than 0.850. Who are they?

Terrible Teams of the Modern Era - Since the AFL-NFL merger, 17 teams have had a pythagorean winning percentage of less than 0.150. Who are they?

Michael O'Connor's Estimated Winning Percentage - Apparently much smarter at figuring this out than me, Michael O'Connor adapted Bill James's formula to football about 15 years before I tried to. He says he swears by this system. It even accounts for schedule strength!

The 1972 NFL season by the O'Connor method - This is an Excel spreadsheet. Internet Explorer should read it, and Netscape should ask you to download it. If you are interested in seeing the sheets for any other year, please e-mail Michael. Penn State only gives me so much web space.

Playoff Prediction Method - A Microsoft Word Document from Michael O'Connor.

Individual Player Rankings

How does one rate an individual? Truly, football is a team game and quarterbacks cannnot be separated from wide receivers, running backs cannot be separated from the lineman and so forth. Despite that, I'll do my best to rate individuals. Recognize, these are always team dependent stats. For each type of player, there is a RATE and a VALUE. The RATE is supposed to be a judge of how good the player is. The VALUE is nothing more than an individual players contribution to his team's yards/drive totals (adjusted for TDs and turnovers). The numbers are scaled by constants to get to similar numbers that the NFL uses (that is my QB ratings have similar numbers to theirs and RB's numbers resemble yards/carry type numbers).


Running Backs

Wide Receivers


How do different dynasties compare? - A method called playoff points from Michael O'Connor, in the form of a MS Word file.

My 1998 NFL Predictions - Unfortunately, I fell way behind in my analysis of this section, so there is only the predicted standings and very few comments. I was hoping to look at some MDV trends and individual player ratings, but that's what happens when I actually get some chemistry research done.

Listing of Interconference series and Super Bowl winners

Season By Season List of Pythagorean Standings, Actual Records and MDVs:
1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999

Rankings of % Rush Yards and % Rush Plays for 1998

Essays and Letters
(All written by me, unless otherwise noted)

(11/20/99): How does team efficiency compare to yards/drive?

(7/16/99): Rushing vs. Passing: Which one is more important?

(6/19/99): Defense Wins Championships?

(11/19/98): Was Denver's victory in Super Bowl XXXII really an upset?

(5/2/98): A comment on the validity of my statistics

(7/6/97): Who is the greatest team of the modern era?

(1/14/97): Super Bowl XXXI Preview

(9/17/96): Was the offseason 1996 free agent raid on the Cowboys really justified?

Book Reviews

(7/25/99): Pro Football Scoreboard 1999

(7/19/99): The Hidden Game of Footbll (the Next Edition)


-Michael O'Connor: Several essays and system of his own estimated winning percentage.
-Jim Henley: For modification of my TPPD data to include field goal attempt distances.

-The Hidden Game of Football (Bob Carroll, Pete Palmer, John Thorn, 1988, Warner Communications): value bonus for touchdowns, fumbles and interceptions and the adjusted yards per game concept; Basic ratings for QBs and WRs; chart for % running and passing when ahead or behind.
-The Hidden Game of Football: The Next Edition (Bob Carroll, Pete Palmer, John Thorn, 1998): chart mentioned above; review
-Official 1996 NFL Fact & Record Book: An actual list of AFC vs. NFC year by year which allowed me to correct for my mistakes in my compliation; individual player data (including fumbles!) for RB and WR from the 1995 season.
-The Sports Encyclopedia: Pro Football 14th editon. (David S. Neft, Richard M. Cohen, Rick Korch): Raw data for 1990-1995 drive rankings and the 1990-1994 individual RB and WR data; Raw data for compiling the AFC vs. NFC conference series records.
-Stats Inc: Pro Football Handbook 1999: Raw data for 1998 RB rankings and 1998 WR rankings; data for rushing vs. passing essay
-Stats Inc: Pro Football Scoreboard 1999: review

-Kickoff: The Official Magazine of the NFL 1997 (Preview): Raw data for individual rankings of RB, WR, QB for 1996.
-Pro Football Weekly (Dec30th, 2000 issue): Raw data for 200 drive stats
-Pro Football Weekly (January 3rd, 1999 and January 10th, 1999 issues): Raw data for 1998 drive rankings
-Pro Football Weekly Preview '00: Raw data for 1999 drive rankings
-Pro Footbal Weekly Preview '98: Raw data for 1997 drive rankings.
-Pro Football Weekly Preview '96: Raw data for the 1995 drive rankings.

NFL.com: RB and WR raw data for 1997, raw data for 1996 drive rankings.


Here are football pages that I find useful for statistics or just generally interesting:

Bud Goode's Monday Night Football Stats
Professional Football Researchers Association
ESPNET SportsZone: NFL
Gridiron Grumblings
USA Today's NFL section
Stats, Inc.
Pro Football Weekly
Two Minute Warning

Last updated: 14 Januray 2001 by James Gibson (jgibson@psu.edu)