The bye week gave me a chance to mess around with a few things I’ve been meaning to get to for a while. Situational football is a big part of winning. Converting third downs extends drives, and rests the defense. Scoring touchdowns in the red zone instead of field goals is often the difference between winning and losing. I wanted to see which offenses were best in the NFL in those situations, and from that desire, Clutch Factor was born.

Clutch factor

The formula I chose put triple the weight on red zone efficiency compared to third-down efficiency. It also includes a bonus for number of touchdowns scored in the last two minutes of each half. All the calculations are done on a per-game basis, so playing fewer games has no negative impact on a team’s score.  Here are the results:

Note: This includes the results from the weekend, but not Monday Night Football

Rank Team Clutch Factor
1 Atlanta 3.28
2 Denver 3.26
3 Indianapolis 3.10
4 Kansas City 2.98
5 Dallas 2.94
6 Green Bay 2.86
7 Chicago 2.86
8 Jacksonville 2.85
9 Oakland 2.83
10 NY Giants 2.75
11 New England 2.68
12 Washington 2.68
13 New Orleans 2.67
14 Detroit 2.57
15 Tampa Bay 2.56
16 San Francisco 2.54
17 Seattle 2.50
18 San Diego 2.28
19 Cleveland 2.25
20 Minnesota 2.23
21 Cincinnati 2.17
22 Miami 2.10
23 Baltimore 2.04
24 Tennessee 1.95
25 Pittsburgh 1.89
26 Houston 1.87
27 Philadelphia 1.78
28 NY Jets 1.72
29 St Louis 1.56
30 Arizona 1.49
31 Carolina 1.39
32 Buffalo 1.30

Atlanta is ranked second in the NFL in 3rd down conversion percentage and first in red zone percentage. Denver is third in red zone, but 18th in 3rd down. The Broncos are helped by having three touchdowns in the final two minutes of a half. A team like New Orleans, that ranks highly in both third down and red zone conversions is hurt by not having any touchdowns at the end of a half. Every member of the top ten has at least two end of half touchdowns except for Atlanta (zero) and Chicago (one).

Seattle is well down the list because they are 11th in red zone percentage and 21st in third-down conversion percentage. They have one touchdown at the end of a half.

I wanted to see a different view of this number, so I created a separate index that factors in how many red zone chances a team gets.

Threat Factor

This also looks at third-down and red zone efficiency, but it puts a higher weight on just how many red zone chances the offense is generating per game.

Rank Team Threat Factor
1 Indianapolis 7.35
2 NY Giants 7.25
3 New Orleans 6.67
4 Cleveland 6.55
5 Miami 6.35
6 Chicago 6.11
7 Baltimore 5.99
8 Seattle 5.95
9 Dallas 5.94
10 Green Bay 5.86
11 Denver 5.81
12 Washington 5.63
13 San Francisco 5.54
14 Tampa Bay 5.51
15 Atlanta 5.48
16 Kansas City 5.48
17 Cincinnati 5.47
18 San Diego 5.28
19 New England 5.23
20 Buffalo 5.10
21 NY Jets 4.97
22 Pittsburgh 4.89
23 Detroit 4.82
24 Minnesota 4.78
25 Philadelphia 4.73
26 Arizona 4.49
27 St Louis 4.26
28 Tennessee 4.20
29 Houston 4.12
30 Carolina 3.89
31 Oakland 3.83
32 Jacksonville 3.55

I find this a more interesting measure. These are offenses that are not only playing good situational football, but are threatening the defense consistently by getting in the red zone a lot. Here, the weighting on red zone attempts and red zone efficiency helps Seattle rank 8th overall.

Tinkering and feedback

I will continue to mess with the formula to try and dial it in. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. I do listen! 

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