One of the more interesting stories to come out of the 2017 NFL season was how frequently the Colts led at the end of the 3rd quarter but were unable to close out the win.
There is an excellent read about this, including the reasoning as to why this happened, on Warren Sharp‘s site.
Motivated by that, we thought it would be worth a look at how frequently teams were going on to win, when holding leads, at various stages of games, in the 2018 season.
Q1 – Home Teams
Home teams that led at the end of Q1 went on to win in 81% of games.
It probably won’t come as a shock that the best-performed team in this regard was the Patriots, with the Bears, Cowboys, Chiefs and Saints all performing well.
The one surprise packet was the Titans, who led at the Q1 five times and won all of those games.
Somewhat predictably, the Cardinals managed to turn a couple of Q1 leads into losses, although another surprise packet was the Bucs, who lead at the end of Q1 in seven games but only went onto win four of them.
Q1 – Away teams
As you would expect, the frequency of away teams converting Q1 leads to wins is lower at 68%.
There are a couple of quite surprising stats to mention here:
The most prolific Q1 leaders when playing away were the Ravens AND the Giants (not a typo).
The Ravens converted four of their five Q1 leads into wins, while the Giants converted three of these leads into wins.
Other noteworthy performers where the Chiefs (4/4), Rams (4/4) and the Houston Texans (4/4).
Teams unable to convert Q1 leads into wins were the Raiders (0/3) and also the Packers and 49ers (0/2).
The Jags and (remarkably) the Saints did not lead at the end of Q1 in any of their away games – not that it slowed down the Saints who went on to win seven away games regardless.
H1 – Home teams
The success rate of home teams leading at half time and going on to win ticks up slightly, but probably not as much as we anticipated, only moving up to 83%.
There are some interesting movements at a team level, where teams who were clearly good performers in Q2 improved their position (Baltimore led at Q1 three times, but at halftime seven times) or alternatively fell away in Q2 (Buffalo led at the end of Q1 four times, but that dropped to two at halftime).
H1 – Away teams
The success rate of away teams leading at half time then went onto win jumped to 73%.
Teams like the Bears improved their position in games during Q2, leading just twice at the end of Q1, but five times by halftime.
Paradoxically, the Ravens who peformed strongly in Q2 at home, tapered off during this period when playing away, leading five times at the end of Q1, but just twice at halftime.
Q3 – Home teams
The success rate of home teams leading at the end of Q3 and winning their games again jumped slightly, this time up to just under 85%.
While there were no Colts like stories in 2018, the Broncos did manage to blow leads at the end of Q3 on three of four occasions (against the Chiefs, Texans and Browns).
Fourteen teams were able to convert all of their leads at the end of Q3 into wins.
Q3 – Away Teams
The success rate of away teams that led at the end of Q3 and went onto win games jumped again to 78%.
There were a couple of surprises when it came to teams who were unable to go on and win games in this situation.
Firstly, the Steelers who only won on three of six occasions (lost to the Saints and Raiders and finished tied with the Browns), and the Bears, who only won three of five.
On the positive side of the ledger, there were eighteen teams that had a 100% record in converting Q3 leads into wins.