How Do Teams Fare When Playing a Third Time in a Season?

So it looks like this season the Broncos and Chiefs may be the 122nd time two teams will meet for a 3rd time in a season.  Of those 122 times, 20 times one team went 2-0 in the regular season before facing the same team again in the playoffs. I wanted to look to see how these teams did when they match up again in the playoffs. Thanks to the miracle that is Pro Football Reference I was able to gather all of this data and take a look. This won’t be too indepth, just a look to see what history shows for these rare cases.

Here is a link to a table with those 20 teams.

In the 20 playoff games that were played the team that went 2-0 in the regular season won the playoff game 13 times. Dallas and Pittsburgh have beaten a team twice and met in the playoffs three times while Green Bay, New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, and the Tennessee/Houston Titans/Oilers did it twice. The Browns have been on the receiving end twice and lost both playoff games as well. Denver has never done it before but was on the receiving end in 1993 when the Raiders swept them in the regular season and then beat them in the playoffs.

Overall it’s a small sample size, but something fun to look at going forward if the Broncos and Chiefs get to meet in the playoffs. If they do meet, 13-7 isn’t a bad track record to go on, though it’s not perfect either.

Does Playing Thursday Games Really Impact Play On the Field?

After the terrible performance from the Denver Broncos coaches and players on Thursday night, many cried out that this was a sign that Thursday night games caused below-par performance from both teams and leads to less enjoyable games to watch. I wanted to look at this by studying the Thursday night games of this season. To do this I looked at a few key areas:

– Points per game- Total yards per game
– Passing yards per attempt
– Rushing yards per attempt
– Penalties per game

I looked at these five because points and yards are a decent indicator of the offensive play of the game while the two efficiency metrics (the two yards per attempt numbers) show if the teams were efficient in getting their yards and points. Lastly I added penalties because those are one of the bigger indicators of preparations and sloppiness of a teams play. These five are hardly perfect but provide a good sampling of what the game was like both in magnitude and quality.

I’ll take these and compare each teams performance on Thursday against their season averages to see if they are above or below those averages. Finally I’ll include a percentage difference, that this means is that I take the difference between their Thursday game and their seasons averages and then divide it by the season average to get a percentage difference.

For example if a team normally averages 25 points a game but had 20 points on Thursday, that’s a difference of -5. Now take that -5 and divide it by the season average of 25 and this team underperformed by 20%. Another example is a team that normally has 5 penalties but only has 3 on Thursday has a difference 2 penalties and did better by 40%.

Here is a link to the table.

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Fun Facts – Pre Week 13

We’ll start with the not so happy fun facts first, get them out of the way and then get pumped by finishing the post with positive thinking!

Not So Happy Fun Facts:

– Of all the Denver Broncos players, those who produce 32.3% of the teams snaps will be free agents next year, in the top 5 in the NFL. The top 3 players lost in terms of snaps are OG Zane Beadles (846 snaps), WR Eric Decker (732 snaps) and Duke Ihenacho (615 snaps).

– The Broncos defensive line and LB’s only have 3 sacks that came less than 3 seconds and two of those came when the players was unblocked.

– The average age of Super Bowl winning coaches is just shy of 49, John Fox is 58 and turns 59 right after the Super Bowl. Of the 29 coaches to win a Super Bowl only 5 were older than 55 and of the 47 Super Bowls only 5 were won by men older than 55:
– Weeb Ewbank (age 61 in 1968)
– Barry Switzer (age 58 in 1995)
– Dick Vermeil (age 63 in 1999)
– Bill Walsh (age 57 in 1988)
– Tom Coughlin (age 61 and 64 in 2007 and 2011 respectively)

To go with that thought, coaches playoff records decline with age and have a strong correlation between them, the higher the age the lower the playoff record. On a side note, of those coaches only Ewbank was coaching an AFC team, don’t think that’s actually important but fun to notice.

Happy Fun Facts:

– Only 11.8% of Knowshon Moreno‘s run are for zero yards or less, that is good for top 5 in the league.

– The Broncos defensive line is consistently able to attack left tackles with 9 sacks against left tackles this season, that is tied with the 9 against right tackles, which are considered the weaker pass defenders.

– The Broncso are the 2nd best offense in history relative to their season’s respective average points per game, behind only the 2007 New England Patriots. What this means is the Broncos offense is 67.4% better than the league average when it comes to scoring points.