FanPost

Passer Rating Differential and the Vikings (Why the future might be brighter than it looks)

       A while back, the writers at coldhardfootballfacts.com came up with a stat called Passer Rating Differential, which they are now calling "the mother stat in all football analysis." Passer Rating Differential is a rather simple stat; it's a team's offensive passer rating minus its defensive passer rating. Their theory is that the best teams are the ones that dominate the passing game, both on offense and defense. Based on the research they did, the guys at CHFF concluded that Passer Rating Differential has a very direct correlation to whether or not a team is successful. Here are a few of their findings:

  • Of the 71 NFL champions (counting the pre-Superbowl era), 69 of them had positive passer rating differentials. The two exceptions are the 1957 Lions and the 2007 Giants and both teams had massive turnarounds in the playoffs where they both had very good Passer Rating Differentials.
  • On average, NFL champions were +27.41 in Passer Rating Differential.
  • The average NFL champion ranked 3.4 in the league for Passer Rating Differential.

     Some of the other stuff CHFF has written about Passer Rating Differential can be seen here and here. They really do make a very convincing case for this being one of the most important football stats. After reading about this, I was curious about what the passer rating Differentials were for the Vikings. Since I couldn't find these stats on the internet (and had way too much free time), I went and calculated the Offensive Passer Rating, Defensive Passer Rating, and Passer Rating differential for every Vikings team from 1661 through 2010. What I found was very interesting.

Passer Rating Differential By Season.

Season Record Offensive Passer Rating Defensive Passer Rating Passer Rating Differential
1961 3-11 70.02 75.27 -5.25
1962 2-11-1 59.06 80.43 -21.37
1963 5-8-1 74.94 99.05 -24.11
1964 8-5-1 89.43 75.12 +14.31
1965 7-7 81.84 83.92 -2.08
1966 4-9-1 66.95 68.00 -1.05
1967 3-8-3 44.63 65.92 -21.29
1968 8-6 64.95 75.39 -10.44
1969 12-2 76.00 42.07 +33.93
1970 12-2 66.25 40.44 +25.81
1971 11-3 75.26 45.72 +29.54
1972 7-7 81.15 47.54 +33.61
1973 12-2 89.11 53.19 +35.92
1974 10-4 85.93 57.73 +28.82
1975 12-2 90.95 46.23 +44.72
1976 11-2-1 85.76 51.06 +34.7
1977 9-5 72.66 61.04 +11.62
1978 8-7-1 66.61 65.40 +1.21
1979 7-9 69.35 65.62 +3.73
1980 9-7 74.76 75.76 -1
1981 7-9 69.47 83.33 -13.86
1982 5-4 73.88 72.37 +1.51
1983 8-8 67.50 70.33 -2.83
1984 3-13 63.82 104.41 -40.59
1985 7-9 67.2 74.04 -6.76
1986 9-7 90.11 68.51 +21.6
1987 8-7 69.40 71.42 -2.02
1988 11-5 80.45 41.17 +39.28
1989 10-6 71.96 67.68 +4.28
1990 6-10 72.05 68.04 +4.01
1991 8-8 75.25 74.7 +.55
1992 11-5 77.24 65.10 +12.14
1993 9-7 79.08 70.3 +8.78
1994 10-6 73.84 82.08 +-8.24
1995 8-8 90.3 80.15 +10.15
1996 9-7 80.36 71.17 +9.19
1997 9-7 82.31 92.16 -9.85
1998 15-1 101.45 73.85 +27.6
1999 10-6 89.33 85.36 +3.97
2000 11-5 94.68 91.60 +3.08
2001 5-11 80.67 89.52 -8.65
2002 6-10 76.0 94.64 -18.64
2003 9-7 86.93 68.80 +18.13
2004 8-8 110.58 94.54 +15.13
2005 9-7 81.73 75.25 +6.48
2006 6-10 72.16 70.36 +1.8
2007 8-8 71.38 84.54 -13.6
2008 10-6 79.1 80.1 -1
2009 12-4 107.25 92.52 +14.73
2010 6-10 67.65 86.39 -18.74

A few interesting notes about this info:

It confirms some stuff we already should know:

  • With the exception of recruiting Favre, Brad Childress did not do a good job running our offense. 
  • Adrian Peterson saved our offense in 2007 and 2008 showing that a good great runningback can help a team overcome terrible QB play.
  • Given how bad the Vikings pass defense was in 2004 (Only three other vikings teams had worse Defensive Passer Ratings), Culpepper deserved an MVP award just for getting the team to 8-8.

It also held a few surprises:

  • The Vikings pass defense improved last year. That was a pleasant surprise and definitely not something I would have expected.   
  • Our pass defense wasn't good at all in 2009. Favre really did cover for our D that season.
  • It doesn't appear as if Jared Allen had a big effect on our pass defense with all the pressure he supposedly is putting on opposing qbs.
  • The 1998 season wasn't that statistically great, at least not for being 15-1. The vikings had 8 seasons where they had a better Passer Rating Differential.

     To get a better feel for how accurately Passer Rating Differential correlates to a teams success, I rearranged the Passer Rating Differential from highest to lowest ratings.

Passer Rating Differential, Highest To Lowest.

Season Record Offensive Passer Rating Defensive Passer Rating Passer Rating Differential
1975 12-2 90.95 46.23 +44.72
1988 11-5 80.45 41.17 +39.28
1973 12-2 89.11 53.19 +35.92
1976 11-2-1 85.76 51.06 +34.7
1969 12-2 76.00 42.07 +33.93
1972 7-7 81.15 47.54 +33.61
1971 11-3 75.26 45.72 +29.54
1974 10-4 85.93 57.73 +28.82
1998 15-1 101.45 73.85 +27.6
1970 12-2 66.25 40.44 +25.81
1986 9-7 90.11 68.51 +21.6
2003 9-7 86.93 68.80 +18.13
2004 8-8 110.58 94.54 +15.13
2009 12-4 107.25 92.52 +14.73
1964 8-5-1 89.43 75.12 +14.31
1992 11-5 77.24 65.10 +12.14
1977 9-5 72.66 61.04 +11.62
1995 8-8 90.3 80.15 +10.15
1996 9-7 80.36 71.17 +9.19
1993 9-7 79.08 70.3 +8.78
2005 9-7 81.73 75.25 +6.48
1989 10-6 71.96 67.68 +4.28
1990 6-10 72.05 68.04 +4.01
1999 10-6 89.33 85.36 +3.97
1979 7-9 69.35 65.62 +3.73
2000 11-5 94.68 91.60 +3.08
2006 6-10 72.16 70.36 +1.8
1982 5-4 73.88 72.37 +1.51
1978 8-7-1 66.61 65.40 +1.21
1991 8-8 75.25 74.7 +0.55
1980 9-7 74.76 75.76 -1
2008 10-6 79.1 80.1 -1
1966 4-9-1 66.95 68.00 -1.05
1987 8-7 69.40 71.42 -2.02
1965 7-7 81.84 83.92 -2.08
1983 8-8 67.50 70.33 -2.83

1961

1985

3-11

7-9

70.02

67.2

75.27

74.04

-5.25

-6.74

1994 10-6 73.84 82.08 -8.24
2001 5-11 80.67 89.52 -8.65
1997 9-7 82.31 92.16 -9.85
1968 8-6 64.95 75.39 -10.44
2007 8-8 71.38 84.54 -13.6
1981 7-9 69.47 83.33 -13.86
2002 6-10 76.0 94.64 -18.64
2010 6-10 67.65 86.39 -18.74
1967 3-8-3 44.63 65.92 -21.29
1962 2-11-1 59.06 80.43 -21.37
1963 5-8-1 74.94 99.05 -24.11





1984 3-13 63.82 104.41

-40.59

     With a few exceptions, this list appears to be pretty accurate. Though dominating the passing game is a very good indicator of success, sometimes other factors will occasionally override it. Lots of fumbles, a strong running games, biased refs or good luck can all either make a team with a good passer rating differential bad or help a team overcome a bad passer rating differential. Consider Greenbay last year, the difference between them being 10-6, in the playoffs and Superbowl champions and being 9-7 "underachievers" was a few terrible calls by some dumb refs. Things as small as that can never be accounted for statistically, but can really change the course of a season. But, for the most part though, this stat appears to be a pretty good indicator of success. One final rearrangement of this data reinforces it pretty nicely.    

Average Passer Rating Differential Per Record.* ** ***

Record Teams Avg. Passer Rating Differential
15-1 1 27.6
14-2 0 NA
13-3 4 35.56
12-4 3 26.32
11-5 4 20.83
10-6 6 2.02
9-7 9 6.35
8-8 9 4.46
7-9 3 -5.57
6-10 5 -11.33
5-11 2 -4.85
4-12 2 -13.27
3-13 2 -30.93

 

* For the 14 game era teams I added one win and one loss to their records.

** I counted ties as losses, kissing your sister can't ever count as a win.

*** For shortened seasons I gave those teams a 16 game record that best matched the teams win/loss percentage.

     Even with the rather small sample size for each of the records, I would say that this provides fairly decent proof that if you want to win in the NFL you need to pass well and be able to defend against the pass.

     Looking at these stats I think they provide a lot of reasons to be optimistic about next season. Here they are.

  1. Despite what everyone is saying, our defense is still pretty decent and improved from 2009 to 2010. Our veterans are still going strong. With griffin coming back from his injury and quite a few younger players looking like they are ready to step up and play. Our defense will be just fine.

  2. Peterson is one of the rare runningbacks who when he is at his best he just elevates his team. He needs to be the player I remember in 2007 and 2008 who made a team with bad QBs much better than they should have been.

  3. Christian Ponder (or whoever the starter is) will be better than Tavaris Jackson, though I suppose that's not that high of a bar to pass. I would think that he could muster up an 80 QB rating, give or take a point.

      So, assuming that our defense remains solid and Peterson doesn't suffer some freak injury. If Ponder (or whoever is the starter for the Vikings) can manage to be at least as good (if not better than) as the 2008 combo of Jackson and Frerotte, this would get the Vikings a Passer Rating Differential around 0 which would mean that an 8 to 10 win season is definitely in the realm of possibility.

      Well, only if we have a season...........darn lockout......

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a community, that view is no less important.

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