NFL: What Happens When Top Offenses Play Top Defenses? (Part 1 of 2)

About the tables:  

Compares all games, 1991-2010, where a top 3 rushing offense plays against a top 3 rushing defense.  Table 1 shows the top ten rushing games for the offense and Table 2 shows the top ten rushing games for the defense.

Run Off:  Average Rush Yards Per Game for Offensive Team
Run Def:  Average Rush Yards Allowed Per Game for Defensive Team
Expected:  Average of Run Off and Run Def
Actual:  Rushing Yards Allowed By The Defense
Difference:  The Percentage Difference Between Actual and Expect

Notables: (These facts are not on the tables, but were in my research; I couldn’t reasonably fit them on the table.)

When a top 3 rush offense plays a top 3 rushing defense, the offense has 18% fewer rushing yards than expected, on average. 

In the ten best rushing games, the offensive team had a relatively diverse rushing attack (during the season, the team’s leading rusher accounted for only 48% of the total rushing yards on average, while the average of the yearly top 3 rushing teams (1991-2010) was 61%).  On these same teams, the quarterback accounted for 16% of the team’s total rushing yards while the average was 10%.

In the ten worst rushing games, the offensive team had a less diverse rushing attack.  The leading rusher accounted for 62% of the team’s rushing yards and the quarterback accounted for only 9% of the total rushing yards.

The statistical significance of these results was not measured, but these results do suggest that this topic might benefit from further study.


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