Smart sites for smart football fans

Cold, Hard Football Facts for May 04, 2008



Where do intelligent football fans turn for the best and most interesting analysis on the web?
 
Well, you sure as hell don't know. You're here.
 
Actually, we kid you only because we love you ... both of you. We know you come here for the same reason we created this little experiment in revolutionizing online analysis a couple of years ago: because there's so much useless, opinionated manure  in the mainstream football media that you could fertilize the state of Iowa with it.
 
But there are plenty of cool sites out there beyond the cozy confines of the Cold, Hard Football Facts offering intelligent and interesting commentary for football-loving trolls such as yourself.
 
So, if you're looking to spice up the 2007-08 playoffs with some analysis that's a little more intelligent than Merril Hoge telling you for the 20 millionth erroneous time that Pittsburgh must "establish the run," we offer this collection of the smartest football sites on the web. And, naturally, these sites are intelligent because they typically confirm the peerless, pearly wisdom of the Cold, Hard Football Facts.
 
Motto: "A statistical analysis of the NFL"
 
Overview: This site sure ain't purty and can be dryer than the sparkling French brut the guys from FootballOutsiders drink at their tailgate soirees (more on them below). But there are plenty of analytical gems that can be harvested from its pages, such as the metric these guys created to explain the number of extra wins that can be attributed to a head coach each season.
 
Confirmation of the Cold, Hard Football Facts: "Dome teams are at a severe disadvantage when playing in cold weather." Nice job, BB! The crippling effect of domes on a team's postseason hopes has been a frequent topic of conversation over the years here on ColdHardFootballFacts.com.
 
Motto: "The No. 1 name for statistical analysis in sports"
 
Overview: Forget the content. The bios on the "about us" page alone are more intimidating than Buddy Hinton, the Gooch and Johnny Lawrence rolled into one. These guys studied at fancy schools like the London School of Economics, whereas the average Cold, Hard Football Facts reporter was a crack-baby orphan at Boy's Town. But Bud Goode is a pioneer in the field of football research, conducting hardcore statistical analysis long before the web made it all so easy and all these hot-shot sites came along. The average BudGoodeSports.com reader is a former Cold, Hard Football Facts reader who strayed from the path of trolldom when he actually had sex, knocked up his girlfriend and then had to get a job to support his family.
 
Confirmation of the Cold, Hard Football Facts: For two years now we've been hammering home the importance of Passing Yards Per Attempt, one of our key Quality Stats. Well, seems like we weren't the first. Bud Goode's No. 1 "Killer Stat" is Yards Per Pass Attempt Differential, which he deems "the single most meaningful independent statistic in pro football."
 
No argument here, Bud. But what about all the stats still living under colonial rule?
 
Motto: "It's always football season somewhere"
 
Overview: This is an awesome site from someone separated at birth from the Cold, Hard Football Facts. Dave's football blog is devoted to anything that goes by the name football in any part of the world – NFL, CFL, Gaelic football, Aussie rules, Rugby and, yes, even soccer. While fans of each jealously protect the turf of their most beloved as the best form of football, Dave treats them all as equally beloved branches of the same, deeply rooted family tree of football (which they are). The best part of the site is his historic studies of the origins of football, such as its look at a rudimentary form of football in ancient China. (Damn, the Chinese invented everything, didn't they?) On the American football side, Dave's look at  "John Heisman's Archimedes moment" is typical of the interesting stories you'll find with great historical depth.
 
Confirmation of the Cold, Hard Football Facts: This Dave fella must be the long-lost spiritual twin of the Cold, Hard Football Facts: He frequently delves into other topics near and dear to our hearts, such as beer and military history, the latter of which he discussed in this look at an "Australian-American hybrid" form of football created with our Aussie allies during World War II. Hell, we have an entire section of the site devoted to beer and roll military history into our analysis at appropriate times throughout the year.
 
Awesome job, Dave! If you have a birthmark on your temple and a long family history of alcoholism, maybe we should talk.
 
Football Outsiders
Motto:
"Tackling football from outside the hash marks"
 
Overview: These guys do great work, they're big in the world of football geekdom and they must be smart ... because we have no idea what they're talking about half the time. If they could channel all that geekery into things that football fans understand – like yards, points, wins and losses – we might be able to figure it all out. But there are moments of brilliant simplicity. The best stuff is when they ditch the complex periodic tables of pigskin and dive into things like breaking down formations and individual plays, which they do as well as anyone. It's a top-notch site for the guy who loves the groundbreaking analysis of the Cold, Hard Football Facts, but prefers actuarial charts to pork fat, alcohol and fun.
 
Confirmation of the Cold, Hard Football Facts: FootballOutsiders' Offensive and Defensive line rankings consistently mirror our Offensive and Defensive Hog Indices. Great job, guys!
 
Motto: The official website of the Professional Football Researchers Association
 
Overview: It's rarely updated and not very dynamic. But it is a great repository of informative articles chronicling the history of the game and the evolution of rudimentary European contests into the sport we know today as American football. It features tons of articles about great teams and players throughout history.
 
Confirmation of the Cold, Hard Football Facts: Chuck Howley is one of the great stories and great linebackers in NFL history; we've been on the Chuck-wagon for a year, lobbying the eminently biased-against-defenders Hall of Fame to induct this Cowboys legend. Way to go, PFRA.
 
Motto: "Celebrating the absurdity of professional sports"
 
Overview: These guys don't cover football exclusively and rarely dive into hardcore statistical analysis. But we don't know of any site on the web that more consistently produces clever, irreverent and entertaining ways of looking at sports in general and football in particular. Their "worthless sports cards collection" is cool, and their fake MySpace pages range from brilliant to laugh-out-loud funny.
 
Confirmation of the Cold, Hard Football Facts: The 2007 Patriots are pretty good, NFL referee Ed Hochuli is pretty buff and the sports media provides more comic relief than Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams. Cool stuff, men!
 
Motto: "A reluctant (Green Bay) Fan's Notes"
 
Overview: This blog is updated only sporadically, but always contains a few gems written from the point of view of one of those intellectual types who wears an LL Bean watch-plaid overcoat ... think Gregg Easterbrook, before he turned into a journalistic machete hacking his way through alleged pro football analysis.
 
Confirmation of the Cold, Hard Football Facts: Brett Favre is still Old Yeller. We were disheartened when Favre reverted to his bad-dog old ways in Green Bay's biggest game of the year, the Thursday night loss to Dallas.
 
So was "Nietzsche or Nitschke?" author Robert Lalasz, in his own smoky Parisian coffeehouse kind of way: "Brett Favre's performance Thursday night in Dallas put me in mind of Nietzsche's idea of eternal return. But not in the way you might think. Nietzsche was of course wrong about eternal return. Events don't perpetually recur—that's just clove-cigarette mystification." 
 
Hey, that's what we were thinking!
 
Motto: None. It's all about the data here
 
Overview: This was one of the great resources on the web for historic NFL and AFL (and even AAFC) team and player data, even before it underwent its recent massive redesign. Want to know who led the 1933 Bears in rushing and in passing? ProFootballReference has the answer. (For the record, the leaders, respectively, were Bronko Nagurski, 533 rushing yards, and Keith Molesworth, 433 passing yards. Football sure has changed over the last 75 years, hasn't it?) But the site really took a leap forward about a year or two ago when publisher Doug Drinen added a blog in which he typically considers an interesting topic and then pulls the information out of his database to give us a hard-core statistical answer. Pretty cool stuff with tons of factual data to support his assertions.
 
Confirmation of the Cold, Hard Football Facts: Drinen seems to have been tied up recently with the redesign and some of his older stuff is tough to find. But if we dig up confirmation of the Cold, Hard Football Facts, and we're certain there's plenty, will post the link here.
 
Motto: "Analysis and Strategy by Chris"
 
Overview: This site is not updated very frequently, but it's rich with some great analysis that puts modern football into historical context. For example, the current lead story talks about the shotgun formation, considered by many a modern phenomenon. But author Chris Brown points out that the famed "Notre Dame Box" that gave us the Four Horsemen in the 1920s ran every play out of a shotgun formation.
 
Confirmation of the Cold, Hard Football Facts: "More important to me than passing efficiency, or completion percentage (by itself), yards per completion, or any other statistic is Average Yards Per Pass play (including sacks)." He just perfectly summed up our Passing Yards Per Attempt Quality Stat which, of course, includes sacks.
 
Great minds think alike, Chris, and so do ours!
 
Motto: "Second-guessing the split-second decisions of college kids under extreme physical duress since 2005"
 
Overview: These guys are awesome, essentially doing for college football what ColdHardFootballFacts.com does in the world of pro football with a wink of the eye (the motto gives you plenty of insight into their mindset) and an arsenal of facts by their side. They have great, entertaining stories. More interestingly, they have their own version of Quality Stats – stats that have a direct correlation to winning college football games. Their "stat relevance watch" tells you which stats correlate most closely to victory.
 
Confirmation of the Cold, hard Football Facts: Sunday Morning Quarterback found that defensive pass efficiency had the highest correlation to victory at the college level, much like Cold, Hard Football Facts readers know Defensive Passer Rating does at the pro level. For analysis that great, we'd like to give the Sunday Morning Quarterback guys a job in the off-season. But the NCAA threatened to suspend their eligibility if we did.
 
Motto: "New School thought. Old School Game"
 
Overview: You won't find much in the way of stats here. What you will find are some clever and intelligent ways of looking at pro football, such as their Barbara Walters-style treatment of the playoff contestants, pondering if, for example, the Titans were a politician, which politician would they be?
 
Confirmation of the Cold, Hard Football Facts: Author "Zac" claims to muck about his New York City apartment in his bathrobe, whereas we muck about our cardboard box under the Throg's Neck Bridge in our dingy West Virginia football hoodie.

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