Visualizing the 2008 NFL Season

Super Bowl XLIII is less than two weeks away, so it feels like an appropriate time to look back at the statistics that were so diligently recorded during this past football season.  I’ve put together a comparison matrix based on data from pro-football-reference.com.  For first time visitors, a comparison matrix processes multidimensional statistics, looking for correlations, and lays out the results in a color-coded grid.  In this example, red indicates a positive correlation between the two crossed fields and blue indicates negative.  The deeper the color, the stronger the relationship between the two fields being compared.

You can view the interactive version of the matrix here.  View source is enabled.

I’m not much of a football pundit, so I’m not going to try to make too many insights into the data.  It did strike me as interesting that there is a weak or negative correlation between rushing and passing statistics.  It seems that teams with better throwing games tend to prefer to throw the ball over running it.  (Yeah, that was about as insightful as “The team that scores the most points usually ends up winning…”)

In this version of the comparison matrix, I introduced an item renderer which shows a snapshot of each of the plots.  The updated code can be checked out from my repository.

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One Comment

  1. darya
    Posted March 7, 2009 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Mike, one thing that would be useful for the comparison Matrix: a legend. Otherwise the too-lazy-to-read-the-post people like me, who look a the matrix before reading your explanations first, wouldn’t know what the color mean on the plot. Good work!