I’m interested in all kinds of stats such as those put out by Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus, although I dabble in them more than I dive into them. I think that no matter how well structured a given esoteric stat might be, it is only going to tell part of the story.
I like the simpler numbers better. I found a couple from Cold Hard Football Facts that involve just one mathematical operation and they make sense. The also demonstrate on their site that, for 2010 at least, that the teams that had a good performance in these two categories generally won more games than those that did not.
One is the Scoreability Index. This measures how many yards an offense must travel to put a point on the scoreboard. The formula is simple: Total Yards/Points Scored. The Redskins Scoreability Index this year is 19.3. To put it in simpler terms, they must gain 135 yards of offense (19.3 X 7) to score a touchdown.
To provide some context, the 49ers Scoreability Index is 11.6. That means that they have to travel just 81 yards to score the equivalent of a touchdown.
Although the Cold Hard Football Facts folks keep the index information for the current season behind a pay wall, they do have the 2010 results posted. The 49ers current score would have led the league last year while the Redskins would have been 31st.
The Scoreability Index is primarily but not exclusively an offensive measure. Special teams (scores, field position) and defense (takeaways, field position) also play a part.
So the 49ers have a major edge when it comes to that measure. The Niners also show better in the other measure we’ll look at here, the Bendability Index.
This number is simply the defensive side of the Scoreability Index. It is Yards Allowed/Points Allowed.
The Redskins have given up 2405 yards and 139 points for a Bendability Index of 17.3. For the 49ers (2304 yards, 107 points) it is 21.5. Obviously, higher numbers are better here.
The average opponent has to gain 121 yards to get seven points against the Redskins while the other guys have to pile up 151 against the Niners. San Francisco’s Bendability Index in near the top of the NFL while the Redskins are in the middle of the pack. Again, offense and special teams have a major impact on this.
This stat has a very strong correlation to winning. The top two teams in the Bendability Index last year were the two Super Bowl teams, the Packers and Steelers.
Thinking of the Redskins, it is easy to picture why the rank where they do in these two measurements. Offensively, they usually have to work on a long field (only 10 takeaways and few big plays by the return team), and when they drive into scoring position they are plagued by botched field goals and red zone inefficiency. Add in the 16 times they have turned the ball over and you have an offense that might move the ball on occasion but can’t score very much.
Defensively, they benefit from Sav Rocca’s uncanny ability to put the ball inside the 20 without putting it into the end zone. And although the offense has turned the ball over plenty, the turnovers have rarely given the other team a short field to work with.
If these two stats and the teams’ performances hold to form, the Redskins will have a very tough time winning.