NFL Offense vs. Defense Study

Hard to believe, the NFL draft is less than 1 month away.


The Bengals’ lousy season helped them to secure the #4 overall pick and there has been much discussion who to take.


There is a strong push for AJ Green (and more recently Julio Jones) with the theory that he would be the best player available. Others are advocating for Camshaft Newton or Blaine Gabbert since we will likely to lose the elder Palmer and feel that the Bengals need to reach for the mediocre QB’s available this year. Still others want Patrick Peterson since they think J Jo will not be resigned, and that Pat Pete may be the best player available. And still others want one of the D-Linemen like Marcell Dareus or  Bowers or Nick Fairley (or Quinn) since our defense was only average last year, and the defense starts up front. Still others would like Von Miller who some will become an elite 3-4 OLB (yes, I know we run the 4-3).


A lot of the discussions regarding who to take have come down to what is more important when it comes to winning games...offense or defense...


To that end...


There was an interesting replication study done at Valdosta State University in 1999 using the 1998-1999 season data. The study was an attempt to show what was more important to winning NFL games. Who would have thought that Valdosta State was the hotbed of football statistics. Anyway, here were their results:




The biggest factor in determining the variation in wins/losses was turnover margin (defensive takeaways), which had a 54.4% influence.


The second biggest factor was rushing yards allowed, which accounted for 21.3%.


The third factor was the number of first downs the offense attained by passing, but this accounted for 9.1%.


The fourth and fifth factors were only 4.1% each and were number of defensive penalties committed and third downs converted into first downs by the offense.


The study attributed the turnover margin to be defensive takeaways and therefore credited them to the defense. The second factor, rushing yards allowed is also a factor of the defense. Also, defensive penalties committed is another defensive factor. This means that at least 80% of the variance in winning / losing was tied into the defense.


So with that 1 study in mind (which I agree isn’t the final word and authority in football, but an interesting guide or baseline to build from), I think the question is WHAT POSITIONS ARE MOST IMPORTANT TO CONTRIBUTING TO THE TOP FACTORS FROM THIS SURVEY – GENERATING TURNOVERS AND STOPPING THE RUN.


These are the positions that the Bengals should focus on.


Stopping the run starts with the D-Line. A lot of INT’s are caused by DB’s with good ball skills and a D-Line that can generate pressure and hurry throws or push them off target.


So I think we primarily need (in no particular order)

-Good D-Line who can stuff the run and create pressure on the QB

-Good DB’s who can play the ball

-Good SS who can stop the run


If we do NOT have these 3 positions, then we should acquire them in the draft.

If we DO have these 3 positions, then we should move on to other positions.




Onwuegbuzie AJ.


Department of Educational Leadership, Valdosta State University, GA 31698, USA. TONWUEGB@VALDOSTA.EDU



The purpose of the present investigation was to replicate Onwuegbuzie's 1999 study by identifying which variables best predict a team's winning percentage in the 1998-1999 regular professional football season. Findings gave a model containing five variables: (1) turnover differential (which explained 54.4% of the variance), (2) total number of rushing yards conceded by the defense (which explained 21.3% of the variance), (3) total number of passing first downs attained by the offense (which explained 9.4% of the variance), (4) percentage of third-down plays that produce a first down (which explained 4.1% of the variance), and (5) total number of penalties conceded by the opponents' defense resulting in a first down (which explained 4.1% of the variance). These variables combined to explain 93.3% of the total variance in winning percentage for the 1998-1999 season. That the first two variables, which explained more than 75% of the variance, were characteristics of the defense supports Onwuegbuzie's conclusion that defensive gains are better predictors of success than are offensive gains.

PMID: 10833765 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors.

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