Where do Denver Penalties rank and what about the AFCW?

With stat help from Kevin, LOTS of help, we looked at penalties for Denver and the AFCW over the last two years. Why two years? Because it’s the only time frame recently with all four teams having the same head coach. This way we could compare oranges to oranges-no differences in coaching styles to account for penalty distribution.

Originally, this piece was going to be about seeing if there was a correlation between winning and penalties, but as stats always do, they sent us down a different path. Instead of looking at the whole league because New England* and our 2013 season skewed results, we narrowed it down to just looking at how penalties rack up for the AFCW. See if we get more penalties against each other, or vs other teams. We also wanted to see if home teams gets more breaks, than away teams.

What we found was both expected and also a little surprising. First up was the Raiders, the most penalized team over the last two seasons with an average of 8.93 penalties a game. FYI, they’ve been up there since the 90’s. Maybe it’s a black badge of honor to be league leader in something, anything, over the years. In contrast, New England* is consistently one of the least flagged offense teams.

Here’s how the numbers break down for 2015. You can see that home teams had an advantage. The Chargers home games weren’t very homey for them when broncos came to town, or Raiders for that matter, so that may be why there’s a tie. As far as seeing if penalties tie into moving on, I’d say yes, since Denver won a SB.

I included play counts to see if there was a correlation between more plays equaling more penalties. Like the more you drive, the higher the chance to get  in a wreck. For Denver, it didn’t matter. The less our offense played, the more flags they racked up.

2015 O Plays D Plays Away Home TOTAL DIV A DIV H TOTAL DIV Rec
Broncos 1056 1033 53 77 130 17 15 32 4-2
Chargers 1100 959 84 56 140 23 23 46 0-6
Chiefs 955 1037 84 42 126 27 22 49 5-1
Raiders 1008 1085 89 71 160 31 26 57 3-3

2016 showed for the Chiefs (and poor Chargers), they didn’t get a home field break against division rivals. And yet, the Chiefs were a perfect 6-0. Looking at Denver, we see a pretty big penalty jump post-Manning. Most flags were against the offense, indicating how a veteran QB can make a difference. What these stats also tell you is that we had less plays, so the the penalties were even worse than they appear.

2016 O Plays D Plays  Away Home TOTAL DIV A DIV H TOTAL DIV Rec
Broncos 1020 1076 91 58 149 33 26 59 3-3
Chargers 1010 1025 79 51 130 17 19 36 1-5
Chiefs 990 1063 77 50 127 15 23 38 6-0
Raiders 1048 987 98 54 152 25 17 42 3-3

An item that leaped off the page was the difference in plays our defense was on the field between 15 and 16. It’s not really relevant to the topic at hand, but if your defense is on the field 56 more plays than your offense, you either stink on offense or you’re killing it. We know the answer to 2015. No wonder our defense struggled in a couple games, they were tired.

One would assume that division rivals would have more penalties against each other. Surprisingly, that wasn’t the case. Division games makes up 37.5% of a team’s schedule. Therefore, one would assume at least 37.5% or higher would be in those bitter games.

As you can see, the AFCW actually plays nicer or better however you see it, against each other.


2015/16 Away Home TOTAL DIV A DIV H TOTAL %
Broncos 144 135 279 50 41 91 32.61
Chargers 163 107 270 40 42 82 30.37
Chiefs 161 92 253 42 45 87 34.38
Raiders 187 125 312 56 43 99 31.73

Another FYI, if we average the two years of penalties against Denver, it makes us 8.5th worst at getting them. The Raiders are second; however, in this case, averages don’t work because no other team had more penalties over the last two years than Oakland. Because of this, using an average of the two years does not correlate exactly without taking into account how every single team did. It’ll be close, but not exactly accurate.

However, with that said, the AFCW was 9.75 worst in getting flags. KC and the Chargers kept us and Oakland from being far worse. Hopefully with a new offensive coaching team, the penalties will drop across the board. Oh, and if you’re betting person, bank of the home team getting less flags.

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