Cheap Points in 2011: Is Regression to the Mean Good for the 49ers?

Tre's note (doing a Fooch impression): Solid post here by Grant that I felt was worthy of moving up to the front page. Also, I'm short.

As fans and pundits alike have been looking more at the statistical side of the NFL, people have become more familiar with the concept of regression to the mean. This concept suggests that unless there is some significant explanatory factor not captured by statistics, over time, statistics that look strange (exceptionally high or low) will generally change to be less strange (more like the average).

The reason I bring this up is that it seemed to me that the 2011 49ers scored an inordinately low number of "cheap points"--that is, non-offensive points--in 2011. When I had a look at this in a more detailed way, the numbers bore out. Follow me after the jump to see how this affects the 49ers as we look forward to the playoffs.

Here are the facts (all numbers courtesy Yahoo Sports):

  • The 2011 49ers forced the 2nd-most turnovers in the league (after the Packers)
  • The 2011 49ers made the 2nd most interceptions (after the Packers)
  • The 2011 49ers forced the 2nd-most fumbles in the league (after the Ravens)


  • The 2011 49ers scored only 1 defensive TD all season


  • The 2011 49ers were 5th in average Punt Return yardage per return
  • The 2011 49ers were 1st in average Kick Return yardage per return


  • The 2011 49ers only returned 1 punt and 1 Kick for TDs

In total, the 2011 49ers defense and return game gave them 3 TDs. This ranked them 20th in the league, which seems particularly low, given the general success of the 49ers' return game and the defense's impressiveness taking the ball away.

The offense's (lack of) red zone production has often been criticized during this season. But perhaps that's because they were often only getting the ball in good (sometimes *really* good) field position instead of getting another TD on the board! Other than the Seattle game, can you recall a time when the defense has flipped not just field position--but the score on the scoreboard?

Do you think that regression to the mean will mean that the 49ers will get some of the cheap points that they've been missing in the regular season in the playoffs?

The google-doc that I've posted here will allow you to do all the sorting you want:

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.

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