NFL Quarterbacks Who Give Their Teams a Chance to Win Every Game

Chad HensleyCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2008

The NFL is full of parity.  No matter the matchup, every team has a decent chance to win on "Any Given Sunday"—just like the movie.

But which quarterbacks give their teams a chance to win every week?

I wanted a way to see if a quarterback could adjust to the ebb and flow of a game and keep his team in contention, regardless of how the game was going.

I wanted to find out which quarterback—despite losing—kept his team in the game.

In some games, defenses don't perform well, and the quarterback needs to carry his team.  

In others, it's a tight game and the quarterback needs to manage the game. 

Now there are also times when the quarterback plays horribly, but do the mistakes he makes completely eliminate his team's chances of winning?



Note: I only used quarterbacks whose teams were still in the playoff hunt, and only those games in which they played the majority of the game.

I.e. Tony Romo only played in 11 games, so I only used the losses from those 11 games.

I.e. I didn't include Donovan McNabb's statistics from the Baltimore Ravens game, because he was benched at halftime. (The Eagles were down by three at the half.)

Quarterback (Losses)AMDAPGAPSW1S
Donovan McNabb (4)4.831.026.3100%
Tony Romo (3)5.025.320.3100%
Jeff Garcia (4)6.522.816.375%
Ben Roethlisberger (3)6.720.013.367%
Gus Frerotte (3)8.732.323.767%
Matt Ryan (5)10.225.615.440%
Kyle Orton (5)10.434.223.860%
Kerry Collins (2)11.023.512.550%
Joe Flacco (5)
Brett Favre (5)11.628.216.620%
Peyton Manning (4)12.029.317.325%
Chad Pennington (5)12.428.215.840%
Eli Manning (3)
Matt Cassel (5)14.830.615.820%
Kurt Warner (6)14.837.823.050%
Jake Delhomme (3)17.030.713.70%
Jake Cutler (6)17.530.813.333%



Average Margin of Defeat (AMD): The average margin the quarterback's team lost by.

Average Points Given Up in Defeat (APG): This is the average amount of points scored by the opposing team.  Note: This is regardless of whether the points came from offense, defense, or special teams.

Average Points Scored in Defeat (APS): AMD - APG

Within One Score (W1S): (Total games lost within one score) divided by (Total games lost)


What This Chart Shows

In the games in which Donovan McNabb starts and the Philadelphia Eagles lose, the average margin of defeat is 4.8 points. The final score is 31-26, on average.

When a quarterback keeps his team within eight points, the team has a chance at the end of the game to tie the game. 

An example would be McNabb's loss to the Dallas Cowboys in week two, in which the Eagles lost by four points, 41-37.  Note: The Eagles did have a chance to win that game on a final drive but fell short.

It also shows that when the Denver Broncos and Carolina lose, the average final score is 31-13 and 31-14, respectively. 

The final column shows what percentage of games lost were decided by eight points or less. 

McNabb's Eagles and the Tony Romo-led Dallas Cowboys have been within one score in all of their losses.

Jake Delhomme's Carolina Panthers lost all of their games by more than eight points.


What This Chart Doesn't Show

This chart doesn't show which games a quarterback was winning and then threw an interception for a touchdown, resulting in a loss for his team.

Given the above scenario, it also doesn't show that the same quarterback threw for five TDs and kept his team in the game, despite his defense laying an egg.

The chart doesn't reflect games in which the quarterback drove his team for the winning touchdown, because it doesn't include wins.

It doesn't include the surrounding cast that each quarterback has.

The chart doesn't show how a team is doing recently.  It is a reflection of the entire year's performance despite injuries, suspension, momentum, and all the other variables that change week to week within a season.


Suggestions to Improve the Data

It is very time consuming to go through each team's statistics, so not all variables were taken into account.  (It is also very hard to format a large amount of statistics on Bleacher Report.)

There are a couple of good extensions to this snapshot of data that I may put together over the coming weeks.

I would like to put in the quarterback's actual numbers in losses: touchdowns, interceptions, third down percentages, quarterback rating, etc.

I would like to include each team's overall scoring defensive average in comparison with what it is in losses. It would also be nice to do the same with rushing yardage. 

I believe this would show whether or not a quarterback carried the team when the defense gave up more points or the running game struggled—or both.

Please comment on any way you think the data could be improved.



It looks like McNabb and Romo give their respective fans hope at the end of the game.  They might also give them a few heart attacks along the way.

These are just some numbers to hopefully spark debate, and maybe someone else will come up with an even better idea.

If I have made a mistake with my numbers, just leave a comment and I will correct it promptly.


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