Behind the numbers: Red or not

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
You might remember a November post in which we introduced the "Red or Not" statistical category, brought to you by our colleagues in ESPN Stats & Information.

The statistic is a different way to view red zone success. Instead of measuring scoring efficiency on offense and defense, it puts greater value on red zone possessions -- operating on the belief that most teams get something when they get in the red zone. As a result, the important factor is how often they get there or keep their opponents away. As the theory goes, the team's success can be predicted by the difference between offensive red zone possessions and defensive red zone possessions.

In 2007, the NFL's 12 playoff teams ranked in the top 13 of this category. In 2008, nine playoff teams were in the top 14. Three of the other top 14 teams -- Tampa Bay, New England and the N.Y. Jets -- were all in playoff contention on the final weekend of the regular season. Overall, the 12 playoff teams all ranked in the top 20.

The No. 20 team? Naturally, it was Minnesota. Nevertheless, this analysis came close to predicting the order of finish in the NFC North. Green Bay and Chicago swapped positions, but otherwise the Vikings were the highest-ranked team and Detroit was No. 32 overall.

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