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The Wolfram|Alpha Team

Fun Facts from the 2011 NFL Season

January 26, 2012 —
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If you paid any attention to last weekend’s NFL games, you know that we’re headed for another Patriots versus Giants Super Bowl. We’ll take a closer look at those two teams next week, including prior matchups, head-to-head player comparisons, and performance trends over the past few months. But while we’ve got a slight breather in the NFL schedule, we wanted to show you a few ways you can use Wolfram|Alpha to uncover interesting stats from the 2011 NFL season (and beyond).

The Indianapolis Colts turned from a possible playoff contender to a team just hoping to win a game after quarterback Peyton Manning was ruled out for the year. Manning’s absence was a big reason why the Colts’ offense had a hard time scoring points. This bar graph clearly shows the Colts having the lowest point production since 1993.

Colts points scored

In fact, the Colts scored seven or fewer points in four different contests. One final way to understand just how much the Colts missed Manning is to look at Manning’s passing yards in 2010 compared to the total yards for the Colts offense in 2011.

Peyton Manning passing yards in 2010 / Colts total yards in 2011

A front-runner for NFL Rookie of the Year is Carolina’s Cam Newton. Newton proved to be a dual threat as he led all quarterbacks with 14 rushing touchdowns and threw for the 10th highest yards this season.

10th best QB by passing yards

The NFL put in new rules regarding illegal hits for the 2011 season. Some of these rules are directly connected to a team’s passing game. With these new rules in place, passing stats around the league have jumped since recent years. Twice as many quarterbacks had more than 4,000 passing yards in 2011 than in 2010. Drew Brees led all quarterbacks with a new NFL record: 5,486 passing yards. Brees’s total is 1.32 times the total yards Jacksonville had all season. Jacksonville gained only 4,149 total yards in 2011—the lowest in the NFL.

Drew Brees passing yards in 2011 versus Jacksonville total yards in 2011

Brees can also be considered a front runner for NFL MVP this season, along with Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. All three put up very impressive seasons. It should also come as no surprise that their respective teams ranked in the top three for points scored this season.

Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady

Out of 256 regular season games played, 10 games saw teams combine for more than 70 points. One playoff game broke the 70 point barrier too. Even with all that scoring, there were 10 games with less than 2 touchdowns.

NFL games in 2011 with a combined score over 70

For a season that nearly did not start on time due to the off season labor agreement between the owners and players association, the 2011 NFL season turned out to be a very exciting one. What are some of your favorite NFL stats from this season? Check back next week as we compare the New England Patriots and New York Giants before their Super Bowl rematch.


compare weights of each offensive line vs the opposing defensive line

histogram of annual QB ratings for Brady and E. Manning. Who is on the upswing or downswing career-wise? this year as season progresses?

Posted by mhuckman January 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I’m a stats geek and big fan of NFL so this is a pure win! 🙂

Posted by Karsten Hundetøj January 29, 2012 at 3:59 am