I heard a really interesting statistic last night on some show on ESPN that I was not actually watching. It was so interesting, in fact, that even though I have no idea what show it was or who actually mentioned this particular gem of a statistic, I decided to write about it, anyway. I was brushing my teeth, and in the next room, my husband was watching some show, on which some guy said that if the Falcons can score 30 points against the Lions, the Falcons will definitely emerge victorious. He elaborated--in each of the Falcons’ three wins to this point in the season, they have managed to put at least 30 points on the board. In each of their three losses, the Falcons have racked up fewer than 30 points.
I spent some time on NFL.com comparing offensive stats from the Falcons’ wins and losses, and there are some trends that support the theory that the Falcons will win if they score 30 points. Hit the jump to find out if we can legitimately breathe a sigh of relief once the Falcons hit 30 points tomorrow, and why.
In wins, Matt Ryan’s stat line looks like this: 59 completions on 92 attempts; 649 total passing yards, and 6 passing TDs with 2 INTs. In losses, his stat line reads: 75 completions on 126 attempts, 816 total passing yards, 2 passing TDs and 4 INTs. When the Falcons lose, Ryan is throwing significantly more often and completing more passes, but not for touchdowns, and he’s also turning the ball over more via interceptions.
Perhaps the most glaring offensive comparison exists in rushing statistics for wins compared to losses. In games that the Falcons have won, Michael Turner has had a total of 74 rushing attempts for 323 yards and 6 rushing TDs. In losses, Turner has had 37 attempts for 176 yards and 1 rushing TD.
In that same vein, you can also see a trend by comparing the number of rushing and passing first downs attributed to the Falcons offense in wins versus losses. In games that the Falcons have won, they have had a total of 69 first downs, 26 achieved by rushing, and 37 achieved by passing. In losses, the Falcons have had a total of 59 first downs. Ten of those were rushing first downs, and 43 were passing.
The other statistic that stood out to me in comparing wins to losses for the Falcons was Red Zone Efficiency. Red Zone Efficiency in wins breaks down to an average of 91.5%, indicating that the offense is consistently capitalizing on scoring opportunities, paving the way for the Birds to score 30 or more points and walk away with a win. In losses, Atlanta’s Red Zone Efficiency average is a mere 37.5%.
There are also inconsistencies between wins and losses in time of possession, penalties and yards lost to penalties, and fumbles lost, but what is most apparent to me, and will not be a surprise to any readers of The Falcoholic, is that in games that the Falcons have lost, they are clearly not running a balanced offense. When the Falcons effect a balanced offense by establishing the run game with Turner and complementing it with a steady passing attack, they win games.
I am not buying that scoring 30 points is a magic ticket to a win for the Falcons in any given game. But, a balanced offensive attack has allowed the Falcons to score at least 30 points in each of their three wins this season, and in my opinion, there is no reason the Falcons should not be able to let Turner run all over the Lions’ 26th-ranked run defense and score at least 30 points. If the defense steps up, brings pressure on Stafford, and contains Calvin Johnson, 30 points should be enough to beat the Lions, although perhaps just barely, since Detroit is averaging 29.7 points per game so far this season.
What do you think? Are you going to kick up your heels and relax once the Falcons hit 30 on the scoreboard tomorrow? Do you think there is some validity to the statistics behind it, but it isn’t a magic formula? Or, do you think stats are for losers? Discuss!