Kickoffs, Touchbacks, and Scoring in the NFL

Published by patrick honner on

goalpostsTwo weeks in and my prediction that NFL per-game scoring would be down in 2011 isn’t looking so good.

As predicted, the number of touchbacks on kickoffs has risen dramatically.  In week one, 50 percent of kickoffs were touchbacks, up from around 16% of all kickoffs in 2010.  The increased number of touchbacks, and the consequential reduction in field position, led me to speculate that scoring would drop by a few points per game.

But the numbers tell a different story.  Not only was Week 1 the second highest scoring opening weekend in NFL history, but Week 2 saw even more offensive production.  So far in 2011, teams are scoring a combined 46.63 points per game; in 2010, that number was 44.07.  Thus, scoring is up by about 2.5 points per game.

But I’m not giving up on my hypothesis just yet.  Like a good statistician, I’ll just blame the sample size for the discrepancy!  The season is still young:  let’s see what where we are in January.

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patrick honner

Math teacher in Brooklyn, New York


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