How Much Of An Impact Do Penalties Have In The NFL?

How many times has this happened?

There are less than two minutes to go in the game, and your NFL team is up by two and poised to make a stand against it’s opponent who is moving the ball and just passed the 50 yard line into your territory. The quarterback takes a shot down field to a receiver in one-on-one coverage. The pass is incomplete but there is contact on the play. There is a flag on the play, and your defensive back is called for pass interference, putting the other team in field goal range.

Or, vice versa.

The answer is probably too many times, but have you ever taken a step back and wondered about the grand scheme of things, the amount of penalties over a game, over a season, over multiple seasons? Our friends at Best Tickets have hit us with some great info one some of the answers to those questions.

How much of an impact do penalties have in determining a winning and losing team? We’ll give you the data, and you can decide for yourself.

Field position in the NFL, huge, right? Consequently, yardage is important, and here is the total penalty yardage for each team from 2009-2013 (so far).


Anyone else thinking “Of course Oakland?”

Comparing the top and bottom teams on this graph, the Raiders have a five-year record of 29-47, while the Falcons have a five-year record of 48-29. Wow, so penalties make a MASSIVE difference in regular season records, huh?


In fact, we’d go as far to say they hardly matter at all. The average five-year record of the ten teams with the most penalty yardage is 39.5-38.2, while the average of the ten teams with the least is 38.8-39.1, woah! We won’t because it’s silly, but based on these numbers, one could make the argument that penalties help a team. LOL.

Penalties against might seem like heartbreakers when they happen, but in the grand scheme of things, it seems like if your team is good, your team is good.

However, we did notice something about penalty yardage in favor of teams.

Total-Beneficial-Penalty-Yards-for-NFL-TeamsThe teams at the top of this graph aren’t too shabby, and in fact, as told by BT, “…seven have been to the Super Bowl since 2009. Four of those seven have won the game. Only the Saints and Steelers fall outside of the top ten and have also made it to the Super Bowl since 2009.” No need to go into five-year averages here, as seven different teams have been to Super Bowls, the most important game of them all.

So, what did we learn from all of this? The negatives in life aren’t so bad after all, but the positive things in life are worth cheering about.