Innovative NFL Statistics and Analysis

49ers vs. Lions Huge Game in Week 6

A 49ers-Lions matchup wouldn’t sound all that appealing in the past few seasons, but this year it could be the best game of week 6 according to our TEAM Productivity Statistic (TEAM PS). 

TEAM PS measures the overall effectiveness of an NFL team, and at this point in the season, San Francisco and Detroit are ranked 2nd and 3rd respectively. Not only are both teams performing at a high level, but their success is fairly balanced on offense and defense. 

San Francisco has the 3rd best defense by our Defensive Productivity Statistic (DPS) and the 10th overall offense by our Offensive Productivity Statistic (OPS). The Lions are ranked 5th in both DPS and OPS, providing the most balanced attack in the league, but San Francisco’s elite special teams support their sometimes average offensive performance. 

Look for the Lions to make a big defensive play to exploit San Francisco’s biggest weakness - their offense, and the 49ers to make a big special teams play to keep it close. Either way, the game is sure to be one of the most exciting of week 6!

San Francisco 49ers may be legit

Who would most fans think rank as the best teams in the NFL after week 5? Most might think that the 5-0 Packers and Lions are by far the best, but they might be surprised to find the 49ers edging them out for the 2nd overall TEAM PS ranking (Baltimore and their amazing defense place them 1st).

The Lions offense has a better OPS ranking than San Francisco, and a comparable defense, and the Packers have a top-flight offense, but a subpar defense. The 49ers separate themselves with outstanding special teams play. They not only have both a touchdown return on a punt and a kickoff (Thanks Ted Ginn), but they also are second in the league in yards per punt! takes all of this into account with their overall TEAM PS ranking, and shows that the 49ers could be pretty legitimate contenders in 2011, especially in the weak NFC West.

Pittsburgh Steelers Season Recap

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a chance to become the NFL’s most recent dynasty with a Super Bowl victory this season over the Green Bay Packers, by winning three championships in the past six seasons. They finished the season strong, with a 12-4 record and winning the AFC North. 

Our Team Productivity Statistic (TEAM PS) ranks the Steelers as the 2nd best team in the league, only behind the seemingly dominant New England Patriots. The obvious strength of their team is the number one defense, ranked best in the league by our Defensive Productivity Statistic (DPS). This more or less agrees with the current statistics of yards allowed (2nd in the league) and points allowed (1st in the league). 

Our Offensive Productivity Statistic (OPS) shows that the Steeler’s offense was slightly better than most people thought, ranked as the 10th best offensive unit in the NFL. Yards Gained ranks the Steelers as the 14th overall offense, and a reason for the difference in our ratings is the dominance of the Steeler’s defense. Many times the Steelers had decent field position to begin a drive because of their defensive effectiveness, and so had less yards to gain before scoring. This is an example of how OPS doesn’t penalize the Steelers for scoring on a short field. 

The Steelers were playing excellent football going into the playoffs, blowing out the Cleveland Browns 41-9 in week 17, with the 2nd highest TEAM PS performance of the entire season (TEAM PS of 415.90 for the game). They then continued to have quality games against both the Ravens and the Jets, even though their defense struggled a little bit in the 2nd half of the AFC Conference Championship vs. the Jets.

The Steelers have the experience and the challenge to become Super Bowl Champions yet again, but will they be able to reel in Aaron Rodgers’ offense, and move the ball against Clay Matthews and the Packers defense? 

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Green Bay Packers Season Recap

The Green Bay Packers were favorites for many analysts to win the Super Bowl, and now they have their chance vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Packers made the playoffs as a 6th seed wild card and a 10-6 record. 

Everyone knows about Aaron Rodgers and the Packers prolific offense, but sometimes their fantastic defense is forgotten. Our TEAM Productivity Stat (TEAM PS) ranks the Packers as the 3rd best team in the NFL after the regular season. The Packer’s strongest asset is their defense; our Defensive Productivity Statistic (DPS) ranks it as 3rd best in the league.

The Packer offense can be close to the best in the league, but plays inconsistent at times. Our Offensive Productivity Statistic (OPS) ranks them as the 7th best Offense, but they’ve shown dominance (OPS of 270.16 in Wild Card Round vs. Falcons).

Green Bay’s balance allows them to be a successful overall team, whenever the offense or defense struggles, the other team picks up the slack. Most impressive may be Green Bay’s outstanding defensive performance in the NFC Conference Championship against the Bears, where the defense (DPS of 127.68) picked up the struggling Aaron Rodgers (OPS of -70.99). 

Green Bay is definitely deserved of a Super Bowl bid, and their balance should be an interesting matchup with the equally balanced Steelers.  

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NFC Divisional Round: Packers vs Falcons

The Packers come off their strong win on the road vs. the Eagles to face one of the NFL’s best teams at home - the Atlanta Falcons.

The Team’s are very evenly matched on the season, the Packers are 3rd ranked by TEAM PS (87.02), and the Falcons are 5th with a TEAM PS of 81.39.

Green Bay has one of the best offenses in the league (OPS of 44.13), the the 3rd best defense in the league (DPS of 55.88), but they also played their worst defensive game week 12 vs. the Falcons (DPS of -120.5). 

Green Bay has the potential to be the best team in the league, with a premier defense and an offense that can put up massive numbers, but on the road they never play to their full potential (TEAM PS of 33.58 on the road compared to 139.94 at home). 

The Falcons had a bye week to recover and prepare, and the Packers are still carrying over a lot of injuries from the regular season, so the game should be really close, with the slight edge to the Falcons.

If the Packers can finally get out of their rut on the road, then they could do some damage. Otherwise, expect Atlanta to find a way to put up the offensive performance they did in their last matchup, and pull out a key road win.

AFC Divisional Round: Ravens vs. Steelers

The Ravens had an impressive win over the Chiefs last weekend on the road, will they be able to keep up that momentum traveling to Pittsburgh? 

The Steelers are the second best team in the league by TEAM PS (93.51), only second to the seemingly dominant Patriots, and the Ravens are the 6th best, but by a wide margin (54.14 TEAM PS on the season). 

The teams match up pretty well, during the regular season the team’s split two games, each winning one. In both games, the Ravens defense gave the Pittsburgh offense a tough time (OPS of -37.02 and -72.45 in the two matchups were in the bottom 5 of Pittsburgh’s offensive performances)

Meanwhile, the Ravens played their best game of the season vs. the Chiefs, with season highs of 320.4 TEAM PS, 145.87 OPS, and 183.63 DPS. 

The Ravens tend to not play as well on the road compared to home (30.75 TEAM PS on the road, 77.42 at home), but they also dominated the Chiefs on the road last week. 

The Steelers seem to have been the better team during the season, but the Ravens have a lot of momentum going into the game. Expect a lot of good defense in this game, and the team that wins will most likely have a few big defensive plays. 

AFC Wild Card Preview: Ravens vs. Chiefs

After an exciting first day of NFL playoffs, today’s games look to be even more entertaining. 

At 1 pm the Ravens(12-4) will visit the Chiefs(10-6), looking to defeat the Chiefs after their tough loss last Sunday to the Raiders. 

The Chiefs play enormously better at home, compiling the 6th highest home TEAM PS of any team in the league (82.78), much higher than their overall season mark of 20.56.

The Ravens, on the other hand, don’t play great away, but are still an above average team. Their offense plays poorly on the road (-20.82 OPS away), but their defense steps up (48.12 DPS away), which puts their team at 30.75 TEAM PS away. 

Even though the Ravens are the 6th best team in the league by TEAM PS, and the Chiefs are 14th, home field will play a huge advantage for the Chiefs. Look for the Ravens defense to make some big plays to keep the game close, but the Chiefs seem to have the statistical advantage.

Which ever team wins will play at Pittsburgh next week to face the Steelers coming off their wild-card round bye.

AFC Wild Card Preview: Jets vs. Colts

The first AFC playoff game kickoffs tonight at 8 PM, and a very exciting game should ensue. The Jets 5th best defense (34.97 DPS) in the league travel to Indy to face Peyton Manning and the 3rd best offense (65.93) in the league.

Overall, the Jets are the 9th overall ranked team (33.91 TEAM PS) and the Colts are the 12th overall ranked team (29.04 TEAM PS).This appears to be a close game on the surface, but the home and away splits tell us what to watch for tonight. 

First off, Indianapolis plays much better defense at home (24.56) than on the road (-77.91 DPS). Offensively, they are still above average, but the team in general plays a lot more well balanced at home.

The Jets defense on the road (-45.22 DPS) is far below average, comparable to teams like Arizona and Denver. Yet, oddly enough, the Jets play better offense away (32.21 OPS), probably to make up for their lack of defense.

This shows that the matchup is fairly even, but the Colts have a decided advantage in this one. Look for Indianapolis to make a big defensive play, and exploit the Jets defense during the night to secure a victory. 

NFC Wild Card Preview: Saints vs. Seahawks

The Wild Card playoff round starts at 4:30 on Saturday, with the surprise Seattle Seahawks(7-9) visiting the reigning champion New Orleans Saints(11-5).

Overall on the season, TEAM PS ranks the Saints as the 7th best overall team(49.73), with the 8th best offense(43.52) and 12th best defense(12.40).

The Seahawks on the other hand seem to be one of the worst teams to have ever made the playoffs. They are the 28th ranked team in the league (-62.64 TEAM PS), with the 30th ranked offense (-52.50), and 26th defense (-22.07 DPS).

The matchup looks a lot closer when looking at home and away splits. Seattle is the third worst team on the road, with a TEAM PS of -118.75, but are actually about average when they play at home, with a TEAM PS of -7.06. 

Surprisingly, New Orleans played much better on the road than at home, with a Road TEAM PS of 71.74. 

These teams played in New Orleans in week 11, and the Saints had their best offensive performanc of the season with a game OPS of 252.29, so it seems New Orleans has the clear upper hand in this matchup, but Seattle will most definitely put up a fight.

How did Seattle beat St.Louis?

Many analysts wonder how the Seattle Seahawks managed to upset the St. Louis Rams in week 17. Seattle (7-9) became the first below .500 team to make the playoffs in league history with the help of strong defense, and an intimidating home crowd.

Using TEAM PS to analyze the matchup, it seemed that the Rams and Seahawks were both below average teams, but the Rams had played better all season, compiling a TEAM PS score of -16.718 on the season to the Seahawks score of     -75.069.

What was not obvious was the large split difference between St. Louis in away games, and Seattle at home games.  

In fact the tables are almost completely turned in this situation, with the Ram’s TEAM PS = -69.55 in away games on the season, and the Seahawks TEAM PS =  -24.54.

Using these numbers it looked like Seattle had a pretty good chance to make the playoffs since they were playing at home for the final game. TEAM PS for the entire season also shows that their chances of going any further in the playoffs are slim.

The Seahawks are the 28th worst team in the league with a TEAM PS of -62.64 after week 17, by far the worst playoff team.

The New York Giants, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were 11th, and 13th ranked overall, respectively, after week 17.