We have been taking a top-down look of team production so far this week. First by diving into team scoring and touchdown output per possession and then the dispersal of those offensive touchdowns with an eye on applying trends and 2019 output towards the 2020 season. Keeping the scoring theme going, we are going to take a peek at how good at teams are converting their offensive yardage into touchdowns.
League Offensive Yardage Into Touchdown Conversion
It is hardly a revelation to suggest that teams that gain a lot of yards also score points, but at least we can apply some context here. Over the past decade, yardage gained on a leaguewide level has a .6171 correlation to offensive touchdowns while on a per-team basis, that correlation is .6917. In other words, over the past 10 years, roughly 62 percent of all offensive touchdowns scored in the league can be explained by yardage gained and on the team level, a nice 69 percent.
Last season, teams scored a touchdown once per every 143.2 yards of offense gained. As has been a common theme so far in these early articles, the league continues to become increasingly efficient at scoring touchdowns. Over the past two years, teams have scored a touchdown per yard gained at their lowest points of the past 10 years and in three of the past four seasons have posted the three lowest marks in that department.
As far as per team correlations into converting yardage into offensive touchdowns per season, the 2019 season had the highest per-team correlation since the 2014 season. Outside of the 2015 and 2017 seasons, yardage gained on the team level has explained at least 69 percent of team offensive touchdowns in the other eight seasons in the sample above.
As usual, we always want to explore how sticky the year-over-year carryover is for teams. As has been the case over the opening few posts in scoring rate per drive and touchdown dispersal, following season yardage to touchdown conversion rate is highly unstable, carrying just .0405 correlation to the following year.
As has been the case, that does not mean we still cannot take away some large-scope antidotes about the teams that were strong and struggled in this area a year ago and shine some shreds of light on potential regression.
Over the past 10 seasons, 67.5% of the 160 teams that have scored fewer touchdowns than their expected total based on offensive yardage gained per league rates that season came back and scored more offensive touchdowns the following season. Those teams averaged a 10 touchdown increase.
On the other end, teams that out-kicked their projected offensive touchdown totals based on yardage gained fared worse in reversion. 72.4% of those teams that scored more touchdowns than their implied total came back the following season and scored fewer offensive touchdowns the following year.
From 2018 to last season’s output, the top 14 teams to outproduce their implied touchdown totals in the 2018 season came back and scored fewer offensive touchdowns in 2019 while 16 of the bottom 18 teams scored more touchdowns a year ago than the season prior.
2019 Expected TD Output Per Yardage
The Ravens were the only team last season to be in the double-digits over expectation based on yardage, becoming just the 25th team since 2008 in that company. 20 of the previous 24 teams scored fewer touchdowns the following season with an average loss of 14 touchdowns scored per those teams. That -14 score also synchs up with the same number for the company Baltimore kept in scoring rate per possession.
Again, all regression should not be a boogeyman to be avoided. The Ravens can absolutely lose scoring efficiency across the board and still remain one of the league’s highest-scoring offenses in the context of this upcoming season. We are simply providing the context in just how special their 2019 scoring season was and not to expect that roll over at the same levels.
As mentioned earlier, last season the top 14 teams in this metric from the year prior saw a decrease in offensive touchdowns in 2019. The 2018 season was the highest-scoring season in league history, so we were bound some heavy oscillation, but the teams behind Baltimore with five or more scores than expected were the Titans, 49ers, Saints, Vikings, and Packers. 77.9% of the teams over the previous 10 seasons in that arbitrary bucket came back and scored fewer offensive touchdowns the following season.
Turning things over, the Jaguars joined some inept company by being 32nd in the league with 11 fewer offensive touchdowns based on yardage gained. In doing so, the Jaguars became just the third team to ever have back-to-back seasons below their expected touchdown totals in the double-digits, joining the 2008-2009 Rams and the 2011-2012 Chiefs.
On a positive note, the Jaguars did score five more touchdowns than they did in the 2018 season. Of the 21 previous teams since 2008 to be below their implied total by double-digits, 18 of those teams have now come back and scored more touchdowns the following season. Jacksonville is taking baby steps, but they are another sound objective bet to score more touchdowns than the previous season once again.
Last season, there were 16 teams below touchdown expectation the year prior and 13 of those teams came back and scored more touchdowns in 2019. The only teams that did not were the Broncos (-10), Jets (-4), and Washington (-1).
Those other 13 teams on average produced nine more offensive touchdowns than they did in 2018, with the Ravens (+21), Titans (+19), 49ers (+18), Cardinals (+14), and Cowboys (+13) all in the double digits in touchdown spikes. Among those teams, only the Cardinals and Cowboys were not above their implied expected touchdown totals based on yardage gained while the other three teams were the top three in out-kicking their scoring expectations. In fact, Dallas had the most yards in the league a year ago and still matched the output they were supposed to.
Over the previous decade, there have been 62 teams that have increased their offensive touchdown total from the year prior by double-digits. Of those teams, 50 of them (80.7%) had a negative touchdown total in relation to their implied total by yardage gained in the previous season while 90.3% were two touchdowns above or less above expectations the year prior.
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