# What Makes Team's Win?

Discussion of technique and strategy.

### What Makes Team's Win?

So, as many may recall, I posted a thread about "What Makes Teams Win" in the TiCats Forum that went through the correlations of specific factors within the game that have the largest impact upon the outcome of football games. I've also used this as a basis of many of my discussions on this board when it comes to separating truth from fiction - math from myth - fact from fallacy & basically debunking verbal diarrhea bull-crap. (#1 offender being "Defense Wins Championships!") http://forums.ticats.ca/viewtopic.php?f ... n#p1396709

So to recap. From Advanced Football Stats ... These are the strongest correlated factors in determining outcomes of football games.

Stat Win Correlation
Off Pass Yds/Att 0.61
Def Pass Yds/Att 0.47
Off Fumble Rate 0.46
Off Int Rate 0.45
Def FFumble Rate 0.41
Def Int Rate 0.39
Off Pen Rate. 0.37
Off Run Yds/Att 0.18
Def Run Yds/Att 0.04

To put this in a mathematical formula ... It would look like this.

Off Pass Yds/Att X 0.61 - Def Pass Yds/Att X 0.47 - Off Fumble Rate X 0.46 - Off Int Rate X 0.45 + Def FFumble Rate X 0.41 + Def Int Rate X 0.39 - Off Pen Rate X 0.37 + Off Run Yds/Att X 0.18 - Def Run Yds/Att X 0.04

Just thought I'd put this out there at the beginning of the season and see how accurate the formula actually is.

Here's the original with analysis & interpretation.

What Makes Teams Win? (From Advanced NFL Stats)

Below is a table that lists the relevant statistics and their correlations with winning. Ie; Which stats/events have the most significant impact upon winning. The table is sorted in order of absolute strength of correlation.

Stat Win Correlation
Off Pass Yds/Att 0.61
Def Pass Yds/Att 0.47
Off Fumble Rate 0.46
Off Int Rate 0.45
Def FFumble Rate 0.41
Def Int Rate 0.39
Off Pen Rate. 0.37
Off Run Yds/Att 0.18
Def Run Yds/Att 0.04

The relative importance of each aspect of the game begins to come into focus. Passing is most important, followed by turnovers, then penalties and running. For every aspect, the correlation on the offensive side of the ball is stronger than on the defensive side.

A good passing game is far more important than a good running game in the NFL. It’s at least twice as important, and probably even more so. If we include interceptions as part of the passing game, passing efficiency and interception rates dwarf the importance of running efficiency by a factor of 4 to 1.

An alternate way of looking at interceptions is that they are a threat to the passing game, so their importance should be subtracted, not added, to passing efficiency to properly compare running and passing. Although it's a valid consideration, you cannot win without passing, and so the risk of interception is not optional. The bottom line is that if a team would rather be good at passing or good at running, it should choose passing.

Part of the conventional wisdom about the running game in the NFL is that it “sets up” the passing game. It keeps the defense off balance and unable to focus exclusively on defending against the pass. This may be true up to a point, but it appears that the balance between defending against the run and the pass is far out of equilibrium.

If a good running game gives a team an advantage in passing then we would see a positive and significant correlation between offensive running and passing efficiency. In fact, the correlation is 0.13, which is very weak and not statistically significant. Running well does not prevent interceptions either. The correlation between running efficiency and interception rates is 0.12. Further, including an interaction variable (running * passing) in the regression model results in an insignificant coefficient and a marginally weaker model. We have to conclude that running and passing are fundamentally independent of one another.

It appears that offensive passing is more important than defensive passing, and that offensive running is more important than defensive running. We might conclude that offense is more important than defense, but it may not be that simple. For starters, that violates the symmetry of the sport. Points allowed are equally as important as points scored.

One explanation becomes clear when you add the coefficients of offensive passing and offensive interceptions (1.14 + 0.45 = 1.59). Compare that with the sum of defensive passing and defensive interceptions (0.92 + 0.76 = 1.68). We see that the balance between offensive passing and defensive passing starts to equalize.

Comparing the sum of all offensive weights with the sum of all defensive weights yields a very balanced result. Offensive variables add up to a total weight of 2.38 vs. a total weight of defensive variables of 2.34. Although the defensive variables appear slightly stronger, the relative sums of the weights are within 1.7%--remarkably balanced.

Passing is indeed far more important than running, and although offense appears more important than defense, they're equally important.

http://forums.ticats.ca/viewtopic.php?f ... n#p1424919
All-Star

Posts: 1918
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2012 3:47 pm

### Re: What Makes Team's Win?

scoring more points...don't matter how you get em.

All-Star

Posts: 9436
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:21 pm

### Re: What Makes Team's Win?

I suspect that these factors would be different in bad weather conditions, which affects some NFL teams more than others (Green Bay, Minnesota vs. Dallas, Arizona). Does the running game increase in importance in bad weather? And given that bad weather is almost a given late in the season in the CFL, how does that affect the way CFL teams approach their game plans and rosters?

All-Star

Posts: 9499
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 1:54 pm
Location: Ottawa

### Re: What Makes Team's Win?

Not an exact answer ... but interesting all the same ...

http://www.sportsbettingstats.com/NFL/f ... eather.asp

"Here are a few facts about games played in poor weather conditions:

The surface will be slower if a game is played in wet conditions. When the surface footing gets sloppy the game becomes a battle of attrition and the game will be won or lost in the trenches, which is on the line.
When it is a wet day the power game that takes place in between the tackles is more important because it is very hard to sweep block. It is also hard for the QB throw a tight spiral in wet conditions, as it is harder to get a good grip on the ball.
If the weather is cold the kicking game will be affected. With every kick the kicker will lose distance on their kicks.

Here are a few misconceptions about playing in poor weather conditions:

Snow does not usually affect a team's game plan.

If the game is played in wet conditions it will create fewer passing touchdowns.

One weather condition that is overly looked at by the public is snow. There are not many games each season that snow will affect a synthetic field, as there are advanced heating systems on fields such as this to make the field playable. It is a fact that snow only has an effect on less then 1% of both NFL and NCAA football games.

One weather condition that many sports bettors tend to overlook is the wind. Wind will change a game more then snow or rain will. Teams that line and die with the passing game, such as NFL teams that run the West Coast offense, will not be able to execute their game plan as well when there are gusty winds.

It can be difficult to find out, but if you can figure out the direction of the wind in a game, ie knowing the cross wind, rather from one end zone to the other can give you an edge.

All football teams will be affected by the wind, regardless of how they play and can offer a sports bettor an edge. In windy conditions the game will tend be one that is low scoring and while line-makers will take this into account they will not change the totals too much. The reason for this is that the line-maker will be afraid to lose big to good sports bettors that are always looking or a good middle proposition.

The supposed rule of thumb is that bad weather would make you bet on the Under. However, conditions that are wet or snowy will actually help the offense rather then the defense more then muddy conditions. It can be hard to make changes in directions in muddy conditions, which means the offensive team does not have the edge.

A WR is aware of their routes and the defense has to react and on wet surfaces this gives the offensive team the advantage. The same thing goes for the offensive lines, as they have to be aware of the snap count while the defensive line has to react when the ball is snapped. The D-line does not have the same leverage in rushing places because of the poor surface."
All-Star

Posts: 1918
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2012 3:47 pm

### Re: What Makes Team's Win?

A little more on the subject of cold weather games and scoring etc ...

Here are the average home and visitor scores for various circumstances. The first column is for all regular season games in the 2002-2006 seasons (n=1280), and the second column is for those games played in cold climates (n=114), as defined here. Since many playoff games are played in cold weather, the third column is for all playoff games (n=50+5). (Super Bowl scores are not included because there is no home advantage.)

Reg. Season Cold Playoff
Home 22.3 22.5 25.0
Visitor 19.8 18.6 19.9

The second table looks at scores from the same sets of games differently. The average scores of the winning and losing teams are listed. (Super Bowl scores are included as playoff games here.)

Reg. Season Cold Playoff
Winner 26.8 27.0 28.9
Loser 15.3 14.1 16.5

Cold weather doesn't appear to have a large effect on scoring. It seems to slightly enhance the spread between winner and loser by depressing the score of the loser. This is likely due to the "dome at cold" effect discussed in previous posts.

Playoff scores are generally higher, both in terms of winner and loser, and for the home and visiting teams.

It doesn't appear that cold weather reduces scoring.
All-Star

Posts: 1918
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2012 3:47 pm

### Re: What Makes Team's Win?

Interesting. It says bad weather ends to reduce scoring somewhat, that wet conditions emphasizes the play between the tackles, and the wind, especially crosswinds, affect teams that depend on the pass more than other teams.

The first point should affect all teams pretty much equally, so probably not a big deal. The second point, though, tells me that in order to win games near the end of the CFL season and in the playoffs when the weather gets bad, a team better be able to run up the middle effectively and also be able to stop the other team from doing the same. A line that can open up holes, a running back who can keep going after first contact, and a good MLB are crucial. (Explains the Ticats demise at the end of the year last year? Hmmmm....)

Then there's that crosswind point, that teams that depend on the pass are most affected by crosswinds. (No brainer there, but nice to see it in the study.) Which stadium has the worst crosswinds in the league? Hamilton, with it's north-south alignment perhaps? (Ok, Calgary too, and those winds can really whip if a Chinook rolls in.) And which team depends on its passing game so much that it almost doesn't have a running game? Hamilton again?

Sigh.

All-Star

Posts: 9499
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 1:54 pm
Location: Ottawa

### Re: What Makes Team's Win?

Some further research on the subject of What Makes Teams Wins or more accurately & succinctly ... Great Offenses > Great Defenses.

This means that the best offense in any given season will tend to produce more EPA than the best defense in a season. The distributions are very normal, meaning very bell shaped.

Also ...

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/03/sport ... .html?_r=0

The original goal of building a model for football forecasting was to weigh the importance of each facet of the game. In particular, I wanted to know if offense was more important than defense or if defense really did win championships.

“What’s more important?” is a tricky question. You would think that in a symmetric zero-sum sport like football, offense and defense are equally important to winning. For every yard or point gained by an offensive squad, there is a defensive squad that has surrendered an equal yard or point.

And that’s true, but only at the game level. When we aggregate squad performance by team, we find that the total number of yards or points gained and surrendered is indeed symmetric, but the distribution of offenses is wider. In other words, there are more really good and really bad offenses, and there are more average defenses.

We can use advanced metrics of team performance like Expected Points Added (EPA) and Win Probability Added (WPA) to measure the spread in performance. The standard deviation of a distribution tells us how wide a statistic is distributed — Is the bell curve wide or narrow?

Since the 2000 season, the standard deviation of EPA is 81 points for team offense and 65 points for team defense. For WPA, it’s 2.6 wins for team offense and 2.0 wins for team defense. Both measures are 30 percent bigger for offense than defense.

One lesson from this exercise is that if a team could choose to be ranked No. 1 in the league on one side of the ball and average on the other, it should choose to be the best on offense. It also explains why we see great offensive teams tend to beat great defensive teams.

This week’s game between the Colts and the Seahawks in Indianapolis features a top defense (third in points allowed) against a very good offense (eighth in points scored). Contrary to conventional opinion, the numbers like the offense in this one. The probabilities for Week 5 are at right.
All-Star

Posts: 1918
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2012 3:47 pm

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest