Pass It Efficiently and Stop The Pass Wins Championships

By | January 3, 2014

1991-redskins(iacono)

All of us who grew up watching football listened to commentators and analysts pound home the theory that you need to run the ball and stop the run to win championships.  I just assumed that was true since the “experts” all said it was.  But watching the NFL the last few seasons it didn’t seem to be the case.

In my never ending quest to find an angle to help me handicap I looked at some statistics for Super Bowl winning teams.  Yards per Rush Attempt and Yards Per Pass Attempt.  I looked at these both offensively and defensively.  Below are the Super Bowl winners since the merger and their ranking in each category.

 

Year Team OYPR Rank OYPP Rank DYPR Rank DYPP Rank Passing Combined Rushing Combined
1970 Baltimore 22 5 12 4 9 34
1971 Dallas 7 2 1 5 7 8
1972 Miami 2 1 12 4 5 14
1973 Miami 2 15 7 2 17 9
1974 Pittsburgh 2 22 3 2 24 5
1975 Pittsburgh 2 6 22 2 8 24
1976 Oakland 14 2 15 23 25 29
1977 Dallas 5 3 8 1 4 13
1978 Pittsburgh 21 1 2 5 6 23
1979 Pittsburgh 1 1 1 2 3 2
1980 Oakland 9 10 1 15 25 10
1981 San Francisco 26 9 21 4 13 47
1982 Washington 17 3 13 9 12 30
1983 Los Angeles 14 3 5 7 10 19
1984 San Francisco 2 3 21 8 11 23
1985 Chicago 5 6 7 2 8 12
1986 NY Giants 11 12 11 6 18 22
1987 Washington 5 1 11 16 17 16
1988 San Francisco 2 9 5 3 12 7
1989 San Francisco 11 1 9 3 4 20
1990 NY Giants 19 9 8 1 10 27
1991 Washington 17 1 15 2 3 32
1992 Dallas 10 8 3 3 11 13
1993 Dallas 3 4 18 1 5 21
1994 San Francisco 7 1 16 6 7 23
1995 Dallas 5 3 19 16 19 24
1996 Green Bay 12 7 4 1 8 16
1997 Denver 2 6 30 4 10 32
1998 Denver 2 5 8 11 16 10
1999 St Louis 2 1 6 7 8 8
2000 Baltimore 8 21 1 4 25 9
2001 New England 24 14 21 17 31 45
2002 Tampa Bay 27 19 4 1 20 31
2003 New England 30 13 6 1 14 36
2004 New England 17 9 11 15 24 28
2005 Pittsburgh 12 1 1 5 6 13
2006 Indianapolis 17 3 32 8 11 49
2007 NY Giants 4 28 8 19 47 12
2008 Pittsburgh 29 14 1 1 15 30
2009 New Orleans 6 3 26 15 18 32
2010 Green Bay 27 3 31 7 10 58
2011 NY Giants 32 3 23 20 23 55
2012 Baltimore 12 14 7 17 31 19

Just 10 of the 43 Super Bowl winners since the merger had a combined ranking in Offensive and Defensive YPR greater than the combined ranking for YPP.  Included in that number are the 1979 Steelers who were pretty much dominant in every category, the 1988 49ers who were top 10 in each, and the 1998 Broncos who were very good in all categories just missing a top 10 sweep.

  • The average combined YPP ranking for Super Bowl winners is 14 while the average YPR rank is 23.
  • Only two teams have combined for more than a 25 in YPP rankings and won the Super Bowl (2007 NY Giants 47, 2012 Baltimore Ravens 31)

The 2007 Giants were probably the most difficult team to predict going into a playoff.  They performed nothing like they did in the regular season.  During the playoffs Eli became a different QB and the Giants pass rush was unstoppable.  They were an enigma and definitely not the norm.

We do see the numbers for all rankings a bit higher in the last 19 years since the salary cap was instituted.  Teams do not have the ability to be as dominant across the board like they were in previous seasons.  We may never see a 1979 Pittsburgh line again.

What I found most interesting was teams that I had assumed won with good running games and the ability to stop the run like the ’85 Bears ’86 Giants and ’90 Giants were not necessarily true.  Yes the Bears were pretty dominant across the board but it was equal.  The Giants in 1990 were actually not very efficient in the running game but they stopped the pass better than anyone that season.

Here is a look at this years playoff teams

 

Year Team OYPR Rank OYPP Rank DYPR Rank DYPP Rank Combined Pass Rank Combined Rush Rank
2013 Seattle 12 2 9 1 3 21
2013 Cincinnati 27 10 16 2 12 43
2013 New Orleans 26 6 28 11 17 54
2013 San Francisco 9 8 11 6 14 20
2013 Denver 18 3 10 15 18 28
2013 Philadelphia 1 1 6 19 20 7
2013 Carolina 16 14 17 9 23 33
2013 New England 11 18 24 13 31 35
2013 Green Bay 4 5 29 27 32 33
2013 San Diego 21 4 29 29 33 50
2013 Kansas City 5 27 26 18 45 31
2013 Indianapolis 13 19 25 22 41 38

Seattle is much the best in the passing categories combined.  Ranked 2 on offensively and 1 on defense.  Those are menacing numbers for teams coming in to Seattle.

Cincinnati ranks best in the passing categories in the AFC.

Philadelphia ranks first in both offensive categories.  Will their 19 rank in defensive YPP slow them down?

Kansas City and Indianapolis play each other this weekend but neither team looks to have a line that is favorable to a team winning it all.

8 Teams finished in the top 10 in Off YPP that are in the playoffs.  Just 4 finished in the top 10 of Off YPR.

Based on these numbers who do you like to win it all?

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