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Comparing Current Teams to Teams in History


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I have been working on a project that compares teams as they sit in the current NFL landscape to how teams performed in history (as of now it only goes back to 2001) and thought you all might be interested in seeing the results. It works as follows:

I take four metrics: 1. DVOA (as provided by Football Outsiders).

                                  2. Pythagorean Wins ((Points for^2.37)/(Points For^2.37+Points Against^2.37)*16)

                                  3. Passer Rating Differential (Team Passer Rating - Opponent Passer Rating)

                                  4. Turnover Margin Per Game (TO Margin / Games Played).

I then normalize each metric to a score from 0 to 100 for each individual season, allowing every team since 2001 to be plotted on a 4-dimensional graph. I then find a current team and find the closest historical comparison. Any comparison not within 15 values on the graph is disregarded as too attenuated ( the closer on the graph, the more similar).

The results are as follows (distance on the graph in parentheses):

NFC North

Minnesota Vikings - 2019 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9)

Green Bay Packers - 2006 Jacksonville Jaguars (5)

Detroit Lions - 2003 Washington Football Team (4)

Chicago Bears - 2012 New Orleans Saints (5)

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys - 2003 Buffalo Bills (6)

Philadelphia Eagles - No Team Within 15 Values

New York Giants - 2001 Dallas Cowboys (3)

Washington Football Team - 2007 New York Jets (5)

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons - 2003 Detroit Lions (4)

Carolina Panthers - 2006 New York Jets & 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers (Tied)(6)

New Orleans Saints - 2006 New York Giants & 2004 Cincinnati Bengals (Tied)(8)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 2002 Miami Dolphins (3)

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals - No Team Within 15 Values

Seattle Seahawks - 2006 Philadelphia Eagles (3)

San Francisco 49ers - 2019 Los Angeles Rams (5)

LA Rams - 2013 Denver Broncos (6)

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AFC North

Cleveland Browns - 2013 Detroit Lions (3)

Cincinnati Bengals - No Team Within 15 Values

Baltimore Ravens - 2005 Chicago Bears (8)

Pittsburgh Steelers - 2006 Jacksonville Jaguars (8)

AFC East

Buffalo Bills - 2008 Houston Texans (4)

Miami Dolphins - 2013 Arizona Cardinals (6)

New York Jets - 2001 Carolina Panthers (4)

New England Patriots - No Team Within 15 Values

AFC South

Jacksonville Jaguars - 2008 Seattle Seahawks (6)

Indianapolis Colts - 2008 Carolina Panthers (4)

Houston Texans - 2002 Washington Football Team (8)

Tennessee Titans - No Team Within 15 Values

AFC West

Denver Broncos - No Team Within 15 Values

Kansas City Chiefs - 2005 Jacksonville Jaguars (5)

LA Chargers - 2002 Buffalo Bills (8)

Las Vegas Raiders - No Team Within 15 Values

Edited by SpeightTheVillain
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2 hours ago, Hunter2_1 said:


2. Pythagorean Wins ((Points for^2.37)/(Points For^2.37+Points Against^2.37)*16)"

Can you explain this further?


Pythagorean expectation is a sports analytics formula devised by Bill James to estimate the percentage of games a baseball team "should" have won based on the number of runs they scored and allowed. Comparing a team's actual and Pythagorean winning percentage can be used to make predictions and evaluate which teams are over-performing and under-performing. The name comes from the formula's resemblance to the Pythagorean theorem


Although Football Outsiders Almanac acknowledges that the formula had been less-successful in picking Super Bowl participants from 2005–2008, it reasserted itself in 2009 and 2010. Furthermore, "[t]he Pythagorean projection is also still a valuable predictor of year-to-year improvement. Teams that win a minimum of one full game more than their Pythagorean projection tend to regress the following year; teams that win a minimum of one full game less than their Pythagoerean projection tend to improve the following year, particularly if they were at or above .500 despite their underachieving.


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