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Offensive Balance

Over on, Mike Sando wrote a interesting article about characteristics of a team coorelate to playoff success. analyzed every team in every season from 2000 to 2007 to see how strengths and weaknesses translated to playoff performance. A goal was to project which teams might enjoy playoff success based upon characteristics evident during the regular season.

To that end, we measured each of the 254 teams during 2000-07 in 36 statistical categories tracked by the league (18 on each side of the ball). Statistical analysis revealed which categories correlated most strongly to regular-season victory totals. We then noted how many playoff games pre-2007 teams won, and which teams won and lost Super Bowls.

Basically they tested all the old football cliches about how to win and found out whether they actually still held true. All of his results were interesting and worth checking out, but one caught my eye. Mostly because it's a hot topic among Eagles fans and it mentioned us...

4. Conventional wisdom: Balanced offenses always have an advantage.
Verdict: FALSE

Truly balanced teams generally aren't very proficient through the air. But even teams with highly productive passing and running games have struggled to win in the playoffs.

The Philadelphia Eagles were the only team this season to average more than 230 yards passing and 120 yards rushing per game. They finished 8-8.

Fifteen other teams have hit those averages since 2000. Eight finished the regular season with double-digit victories, but together these 15 teams won only five playoff games. Of the group, only the 2001 St. Louis Rams reached a Super Bowl, and they lost.

The least balanced offenses haven't fared much better. The current season produced five of the 17 largest pass-rush yardage imbalances since 2000. The 2000 Rams were least balanced, followed by the 2005 Arizona Cardinals, current Patriots and current New Orleans Saints.

The other 12 least-balanced teams went 0-2 in Super Bowls while winning nine playoff games.

This just underscores how amazing it was that the Eagles offense was able to put up this kind of yardage without translating it to points.

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