Making You the Smartest NFL Fan in the Room
Week 7 Stats to Discuss During Week 8
Admit it, no matter where you watch football on Sundays, you’d love to be the smartest fan in the room, especially if you watch the games with people who claim to be “experts.” Just once you’d love to see the look on their faces when you spit out a random, but accurate, statistic in the middle of an average conversation. Luckily, you’re not the only one. My girlfriend lives for these moments, and I know she’s not alone. So, instead of searching the internet for a trend or a tidbit that you may or may not ever find, allow me to lay out a handful of stats that even the most astute NFL fan would find interesting and enlightening.
These stats are easy to remember, but they are numbers/trends that your football friends likely failed to notice. This set of data is strictly from last week, as the most useful statistics are the most recent statistics. By no means am I saying that these trends will hold for every week of the season, but these are all true statements from the week that was, thus making them relevant when watching this week's games.
That’s right, I’m making you the most interesting fan in the world. Do what you want with this knowledge, but you will have the opportunity to contribute some impressive tidbits to any football conversation. Some perceived trends were disproved last week, thus giving you the chance to back your arguments with some cold hard data.
Should teams pass more and run less? Should an offense focus on one matchup that they like in the pass game or spread the ball around? Which quarter, if you had to pick one, would you want your team to win? Those answers and more in the coming slides.
5. Pass Catchers With 100 Yards Receiving
Statistic: Teams that had a player total at least 100 receiving yards in Week 7 won only five of 11 games.
Explanation: It is becoming more and more clear that passing attacks who can hurt defenses in a variety of ways are much more lethal than an offense that relies heavily on a single player. The Chicago Bears are a prime example of this, as their offense has been much more effective this season with the emergence of Alshon Jeffery. Use this nugget when a quarterback appears to be honing in on one receiver time and time again.
4. Workhorse Running Backs
Statistic: Teams that gave their starting running back at least 19 carries went 8-1 and teams that had their starter carry the mail at least 20 times while scoring a touchdown were undefeated (5-0).
Explanation: In this era of wide open offenses and efficient quarterback play (besides last week’s Monday night debacle), teams that at least put forth the effort to run the ball were very successful last week. Use this tidbit if you’re watching a team go three-and-out on three consecutive run plays, reassuring the fans in the room that the commitment to the ground game paid dividends last week. Eddie Lacy, Frank Gore, Marshawn Lynch, Ryan Mathews, and Jamaal Charles led their teams to victory last week, proving that even efficient quarterbacks realize the importance of at least the threat of a run game.
3. Workhorse Quarterbacks
Statistic: Teams that threw the ball more than their opponent lost 13 of 15 games in Week 7.
Explanation: It’s quality over quantity when it comes to passing the ball in the NFL these days. While the rules favor the offense, simply chucking the ball on every down is not going to work (see Freeman, Josh). Interestingly enough, the two quarterbacks who won in a game in which they threw more passes than their opponent (Robert Griffin III and Alex Smith) lead very run oriented offenses. Use this statistic if you see an early scoring drive in which a quarterback passes the ball on 80 percent of the plays. Ignoring the run game will have an impact later in the game, and last week was a strong example.
Bonus Factoid: Griffin and Smith may have thrown the ball more than their opponents, but they also tucked the ball and ran with regularity. Quarterbacks who ran the ball at least five times in Week 7 were undefeated (7-0).
2. Total Offensive Yards
Statistic: Six teams won last week despite being out-gained on offense.
Explanation: Remember earlier when I said it's “quality over quantity” that wins in the NFL? It holds true here as well. Being able to travel the length of the field is nice, but teams that are given a short field (be it a result of defense, special teams, or penalty) and convert win ball games. We live in a fantasy football obsessed world (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but the pretty stat lines don’t always result in W’s. Use this piece of knowledge if your favorite team is being dominated but continues to hold the opponent to field goal attempts.
1. Scoring by Quarter
Statistic: Teams that won the first quarter won 10 of 13 games last week while teams that won the fourth quarter won only six times.
Explanation: I’ve played sports for a long time and many a coach has preached that “it’s not how you start … but how you finish”. Even in fantasy sports, the mantra is typically that “leagues are won in the middle to late rounds”. Well, I’m here to tell you that jumping out to a lead is never a bad thing. It sounds obvious, but would you have guessed such a drastic difference? Drop this into a conversation if a big underdog takes an early lead. At worst, the fact is dismissed. But if the underdog hangs onto the victory, guess who looks like they knew it was coming after the first 15 minutes?