Monday, February 02, 2009

Know Thy Football History (Part II)

First I should congratulate the Cardinals and Steelers on a well played, very entertaining Super Bowl. The Cards weren't given much of a chance going into the game, but I think next year people will take the more seriously. As always we had a good time at the Super Bowl party which was held at Nicole's mom's house this year. You can find out more about our party here and here.

OK, now for the football history. Leading up to the Super Bowl I was thinking about how to define and mathematically find NFL "Dynasties". My first thought would be just to look at overall records for each year including playoffs. However, when I thought about qualities of a successful team in the NFL their regular season record has little consequence in the long run. I don't think anyone would classify Patriot's season this year as successful even though they went 11-5 in the regular season. History really only remembers the teams that make it to the playoffs, so I know that I needed to look solely at the playoffs to find which teams were dominate throughout the recent history of the NFL.

What we decided upon was to give points to each team for how far they made it in the playoffs each year. Then I looked at the 5 year moving average of each teams success in the playoffs. After all the data was compiled I got the following graph. (Note: I removed any team that was not the best team at any point, the lower part of the graph was pretty crowded.)

From this graph we see that the Cowboys have been the most dominate team at any one point, with their height at 1993. (93 Dyn5 means that I am looking at 1991-1995, 93 is the center point of the average.) Also, recently the Patriots have been the team to beat although with the Steelers win in Super Bowl XLIII they are now the team. It is interesting to see that besides the 49ers most teams have a pretty regular peaking cycle that has their rise to power about as swift as their fall.

According to my analysis, these are the football NFL Dynasties for the "modern" era of football (1978 on). I am shifting my years, so that each year listed is at the end of the average, so 1982 means I am looking at playoff performance from 1978 to 1982.

1982: Cowboys
1983: Raiders
1984-85: 49ers
1986-87: Redskins
1988-92: 49ers
1993-94: Bills
1995-96: Cowboys
1997-99: Packers
1999-2001: Broncos
2002-03: Rams
2004-07: Patriots
2008: Steelers
*Both the Packers and the Broncos had the same rating in 1999.

So what does this mean for current football history? It looks like the Patriots are on their way out, it is hard for me to think that this is possible since their team still has a good core but they are heading downwards. Also it looks like the Steelers are on their way to being the dominate team for a couple of years. Looking at the full graph the only other teams that are tracking significantly up are the Giants, Chargers and Cardinals, so they are the teams to watch for the next couple of years.

Know Thy Football History Part I


Miss Mountaineer and Mr. Husker said...

Hey, this is really cool, but this begs one really important question: How on God's green earth could your study not include the 1985 Bears?

Ditka's teams from 82-86 were among the best in the league. It's actually a bit of an anomaly that these guys didn't win more than just the one Super Bowl.

Otherwise, I liked what you said.

Slyde said...

and it means my raiders havent been doing much of anything for about 20 years now..

elizabeth said...

This made my brain actually HURT

Ookami Snow said...

mr. husker - I did include the bears in the overall analysis, but I did not include them on the chart since they were not ever the best team over a five year span.

Slyde - The raiders went to the super bowl a couple of years ago.

elizabeth - I didn't know that you disliked football that much ;)

More about this topic soon.