631692910.jpg

Passer Rating Differential is the most powerful stat in all of North American sports. It's the only stat in football that really matters. 

It's an indicator of such uncanny precision that year after year, decade upon decade, it identifies the championship potential of each team with frightening accuracy. 

Teams that suck at PRD lose. Teams that are good in PRD win. Teams that dominate in PRD win championships. 

The 2016 NFL season was no exception. The Super Bowl favorite and AFC champion New England Patriots finished the year No. 1 in PRD (+24.9); the Super Bowl underdog and NFC champion Atlanta Falcons finished the year No. 2 in PRD (+24.4). 

Passer Rating Differential is so powerful that we call it the Mother of All Stats. No matter who wins on Sunday, for the 42nd time in the past 75 NFL seasons, the league champion will have finished No. 1 or 2 in this powerful indicator.

In other words, 56% of all NFL champions dating back to 1940 were one of the league's top two teams in Passer Rating Differential. No stat in all of sports is better than PRD at separating champions from the chaff. 

From 1940 to 2015: 

  • 27 of 74 NFL champions finished No. 1 in PRD (36.5%)
  • 41 of 74 NFL champions finished Top 2 in PRD (55.4%) (42 of 75 after this Super Bowl) 
  • 45 of 74 NFL champions finished Top 3 in PRD (60.8%) (46 of 75 after this Super Bowl) 
  • 60 of 75 NFL champions finished Top 5 in PRD (80.0%) (61 of 75 after this Super Bowl)

Put another way, if you looked ONLY at Passer Rating Differential, you would successfully identify the NFL champion in better than 1 of every 3 NFL seasons dating all the way back to before the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. 

(NOTE: Keen observers will note that there were 76 NFL seasons from 1940 to 2015; and 77 through 2016. However, in 1968 and 1969, the Super Bowl was won by the AFL's New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs, at a period when there was no inter-league play. So we excluded from the list for the sake of like comparisons. However, both teams dominated the AFL that year in Passer Rating Differential.) 

There have been on a rare few statistical outliers to defy the power of Passer Rating Differential, and almost all of them have come in a flurry in recent years. The list of five teams to finish outside the Top 10 in PRD and still win a championship include the 2007 Giants, 2011 Giants, 2012 Ravens and 2015 Broncos. Interestingly, all four of them beat the Patriots in the postseason. 

Other than these rare exceptions, Passer Rating Differential accurately identifies the championship potential of every NFL team. It also allows us to separate individual winners and losers week in and week out. Simply look at our 2016 Passer Rating Differential Big Board, with the PRD between opponents in every NFL game. You'll see that statistical blowouts in PRD are almost always accompanied by blowouts on the scoreboard, too. 

ANNUAL NFL CHAMPIONS RANK IN PASSER RATING DIFFERENTIAL (1940-2015) 

Champion

Year

OPR

DPR

Differential

PRD rank that year

Denver Broncos

2015

76.3

78.8

-2.5

18

New England Patriots

2014

97.5

84

13.5

5

Seattle Seahawks

2013

102.4

63.4

39

1

Baltimore Ravens

2012

86.4

80.6

5.8

12

New York Giants

2011

92.9

86.1

6.8

12

Green Bay Packers

2010

98.9

67.2

31.7

1

New Orleans Saints

2009

106

68.6

37.4

1

Pittsburgh Steelers

2008

81.9

63.4

18.5

4

New York Giants

2007

73

83.4

-10.4

24

Indianapolis Colts

2006

101

80.4

20.6

4

Pittsburgh Steelers

2005

89.4

74

15.4

7

New England Patriots

2004

92.5

75.3

17.2

5

New England Patriots

2003

84.3

56.2

28.1

2

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2002

86.3

48.4

37.9

1

New England Patriots

2001

85.3

68.6

16.7

5

Baltimore Ravens

2000

72.7

62.5

10.2

9

St. Louis Rams

1999

106.6

64.1

42.5

1

Denver Broncos

1998

93.5

80.5

13

6

Denver Broncos

1997

87.4

71.5

15.9

4

Green Bay Packers

1996

95.7

55.4

40.3

1

Dallas Cowboys

1995

91.7

72.3

19.4

2

San Francisco 49ers

1994

111.4

68.1

43.3

1

Dallas Cowboys

1993

96.8

75.3

21.5

2

Dallas Cowboys

1992

88.8

69.9

18.9

3

Washington Redskins

1991

98

58.9

39.1

1

New York Giants

1990

90.6

62.2

28.4

1

San Francisco 49ers

1989

114.8

68.5

46.3

1

San Francisco 49ers

1988

83.5

72.2

11.3

6

Washington Redskins

1987

80.7

69.3

11.4

5

New York Giants

1986

75

68.6

6.4

8

Chicago Bears

1985

77.3

51.2

26.1

2

San Francisco 49ers

1984

101.9

65.6

36.3

2

Los Angeles Raiders

1983

84.8

71.8

13

5

Washington Redskins

1982

91.8

67.7

24.1

2

San Francisco 49ers

1981

87.7

60.2

27.5

2

Oakland Raiders

1980

70

61.8

8.2

10

Pittsburgh Steelers

1979

76.6

56.4

20.2

2

Pittsburgh Steelers

1978

81.5

51.8

29.7

1

Dallas Cowboys

1977

85.3

48.2

37.1

1

Oakland Raiders

1976

102.2

68.8

33.4

4

Pittsburgh Steelers

1975

86.7

42.8

43.9

2

Pittsburgh Steelers

1974

48.9

44.3

4.6

12

Miami Dolphins

1973

75.2

39.9

35.3

2

Miami Dolphins

1972

86.9

47.4

39.5

1

Dallas Cowboys

1971

88.8

55.9

32.9

1

Baltimore Colts

1970

73.3

60.3

13

7

Green Bay Packers

1967

63.7

41.5

22.2

3

Green Bay Packers

1966

102.1

46.1

56

1

Green Bay Packers

1965

83.1

48.2

34.9

1

Cleveland Browns

1964

80.8

75.6

5.2

6

Chicago Bears

1963

75.6

34.8

40.8

2

Green Bay Packers

1962

84.9

43.4

41.5

1

Green Bay Packers

1961

82.2

53.7

28.5

1

Philadelphia Eagles

1960

87.9

49.1

38.8

2

Baltimore Colts

1959

92.1

45.1

47

1

Baltimore Colts

1958

85.4

35.1

50.3

1

Detroit Lions

1957

55.9

60.4

-4.5

8

New York Giants

1956

66

60

6

5

Cleveland Browns

1955

98.3

40.7

57.6

1

Cleveland Browns

1954

72.1

46.6

25.5

4

Detroit Lions

1953

53.9

37.6

16.3

4

Detroit Lions

1952

60

46.4

13.6

3

Los Angeles Rams

1951

79.8

51.9

27.9

2

Cleveland Browns

1950

64

28.7

35.3

1

Philadelphia Eagles

1949

77.6

30

47.6

1

Philadelphia Eagles

1948

84.9

45.9

39

1

Chicago Cardinals

1947

59.9

53.9

6

4

Chicago Bears

1946

67.8

41.8

26

1

Cleveland Rams

1945

67.8

31.1

36.7

2

Green Bay Packers

1944

41.1

32.4

8.7

5

Chicago Bears

1943

95.3

22

73.3

1

Washington Redskins

1942

65.6

25.5

40.1

3

Chicago Bears

1941

95.2

30.2

65

1

Chicago Bears

1940

52.3

48.1

4.2

5