The Pi-Rate Ratings

August 25, 2007

The Pro Football Computer Simulation League

Filed under: Pro Football Simulation — piratings @ 8:01 pm

 

Introducing The Pro Football Computer Simulation League

 

This is for those of you who loved pro football in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  What I have done is taken the best (in my opinion) season in a two-decade span of each of the 26 franchises that played football in the 1969 season.  Atlanta, New Orleans, Miami, and Cincinnati made the cut, while Tampa Bay and Seattle did not.

Next, I selected the best single season team of those 26 franchises using the criteria of 1960 through 1979.  I placed the teams in their respective alignments from the 1969 season-the last year of the American Football League and of the Capitol, Century, Central, and Coastal Divisions of the National Football League.

I have a computer simulation game that allows me to put any of these teams in a league and play them head-to-head.  Rather than input my own strategies, I have instead had each team use, as best as I can estimate, the actual strategies employed by their coaches.  If a team relied on a bruising fullback to run the ball on third down and three, and another team almost always threw in the same situation, their computer teams do so as well.

So without further adieu, here are the teams for the 2007 (1969) season:

National Football League

Eastern Conference: Capitol Division

1968 Dallas Cowboys 12-2-0-This team didn’t win the Super Bowl, and it even lost in the Eastern Conference Championship game, but if you look at the stats, this was Landry’s best team ever.  It was the final year for quarterback Dandy Don Meredith, and he had two of the fastest receivers in Bullet Bob Hayes and Lance Rentzel.  The Doomsday Defense had its best year with an exceptional pass rush and tough secondary.  To make matters worse for opponents, Hayes topped 20 yards per punt return.

1979 New Orleans Saints 8-8-0-The Saints finally finished with a breakeven record after posting losing records their first dozen years.  They had a good shot at making the playoffs until a late-season collapse.  Leading the Rams in the division, and after dominating Oakland for three quarters on Monday Night Football, they allowed the Raiders to come from behind and win the game.  Their season was basically over at that point, and they limped home at .500.  Archie Manning had his best year, and the offensive line protected him better than any other team protected their signal caller.

1960 Philadelphia Eagles 10-2-0 (NFL CHAMPS)-This was the year that made Chuck Bednarik famous.  He was the last of the 60-minute players in the NFL, and he was perhaps the most vicious hitter in the game at that time.  The Eagles rode the shoulders of quarterback Norm VanBrocklin, and they made a habit of “winning ugly.”  Their stats were not all that impressive, but their opponents always seemed to have an off day on both sides of the ball.

1972 Washington Redskins 11-3-0 (NFC Champs)-This was George Allen’s over-the-hill gang that made it to the Super Bowl and gave undefeated Miami a good game.  The Redskins had the best defense in the NFC and the third best offense.  Veteran Billy Kilmer shared some time with even older veteran Sonny Jurgensen at quarterback.  Larry Brown rushed for more than 1,200 yards which helped Washington control the clock.  The defense was equally strong against the rush and the pass.

Eastern Conference: Century Division

1964 Cleveland Browns 10-3-1 (NFL CHAMPS)-This Browns team wasn’t expected to win the Eastern Conference title much less embarrass the mighty Baltimore Colts 27-0 in the NFL Title Game.  Second year coach Blanton Collier came from the University of Kentucky, where he had successfully followed Bear Bryant.  Following Paul Brown was a cinch, especially when he inherited the greatest running back of all-time in Jim Brown, who averaged more than 100 yards rushing per game at a 5.2 yard clip.  Quarterback Frank Ryan led the NFL with 25 TD Passes, with Paul Warfield and Gary Collins nabbing 17 of those scoring tosses.  Lou “The Toe” Groza was still in his prime as a kicker, scoring 115 points.  Defensively, this team had a top-rate front four with Dick Modzelewski, Paul Wiggin, Bill Glass, and Bob Gain.  To top it all off, Leroy Kelly and Walter Roberts were the best return specialists in the league, combining for 16 yards per punt return and 26 yards per kick return.

1963 New York Giants 11-3-0-This wasn’t the best record for the Giants during the two decades, as the 1962 team went 12-2.  However, this team caught fire with quarterback Y. A. Tittle becoming the first NFL passer to top 3,000 yards in a season.  His 36 TD passes also established a new record for the senior circuit.  Del Shofner caught 64 of those passes and averaged 18.5 yards per reception.  The defense had a big star in Dick Lynch who picked off nine passes and returned three for scores.

1975 Pittsburgh Steelers 12-2-0 (SUPER BOWL CHAMPS)-This team dominated on both sides of the ball.  Cornerback Mel Blount led an outstanding secondary with 11 interceptions.  Linebackers Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, and Andy Russell were the best trio in the league.  Up front Mean Joe Green and L.C. Greenwood were both pro-bowlers.  Offensively, running back Franco Harris rushed for 1,246 yards, while quarterback Terry Bradshaw hooked up with Lynn Swan and John Stallworth to keep defenses from keying on Harris.  When a hole opened, Bradshaw could sting defenses with long scrambles.

1975 St. Louis Cardinals 11-3-0-Air Coryell began here before it became the norm in San Diego.  The Cardinals didn’t totally rely on the passing game though.  Fullback Jim Otis rushed for more than 1,000 yards, while halfback Terry Metcalf added more than 800 yards.  Metcalf was a threat in the passing game and as a breakaway return specialist.  Quarterback Jim Hart was a feast or famine passer.  He could look great one week and look awful the next.  Mel Gray was a threat to burn a defender deep on any play, and he averaged nearly 20 yards per catch. Conrad Dobler and Dan Dierdorf led an offensive line that led the league in fewest sacks (many considered them the dirtiest players as well).  Defensively, the Cards were average, but backs Roger Wehrli and Norm Thompson combined for 13 interceptions.

Western Conference: Central Division

1963 Chicago Bears 11-1-2 (NFL CHAMPS)-This Bear team lacked much offensive imagination or explosiveness, but the defense was a record-breaker.  Defensive Coach George Allen instituted a zone pass defense, and enemy quarterbacks didn’t know how to attack it.  The Bears intercepted 36 passes and returned four for touchdowns.  Rosey Taylor, Richie Petitbon, Bennie McRae, and Dave Whitsell combined for 29 of the picks.  Doug Atkins anchored a tough defensive line, while Joe Fortunato was one of the best linebackers in the league.  Offensively, quarterback Bill Wade was no longer the aerial magician he had been a couple years earlier, but he still made All-Pro.  His leading target was tight end Mike Ditka who rarely went down on contact.  The Bears won the conference title by hanging the only two losses on the defending NFL champion Packers.

1962 Detroit Lions 11-3-0-This Lions team finished second in the Western Conference, but they were most definitely the second best team in pro football in 1962 and maybe one of the top five in the 1960’s.  They had the misfortune of playing in the same conference with arguably the best team in pro football history.  The Lions narrowly lost at Green Bay early in the season by a 9-7 score.  They lost by three at New York (who would win the East at 12-2) a few weeks later.  They proceeded to reel off four easy victories heading into a Thanksgiving Day game against 10-0 Green Bay.  The Lions not only pinned the only loss on the Packers, they blew them off the field 26-14 (The score looked closer than the game action).  The great Lion defensive line sacked Bart Starr an amazing 11 times that day!  Alex Karras and Roger Brown led the pass rush, while linebackers Joe Schmidt, Wayne Walker, and Dave Lloyd could blitz and get to the quarterback with relative ease.  When the enemy passer did get his pass away, Yale Lary, Dick “Night Train” Lane, and Dick Lebeau combined for 16 interceptions.  The Lions had some offense too, led by quarterback Milt Plum.  Plum’s favorite target was end Gail Cogdill.

1962 Green Bay Packers 13-1-0 (NFL CHAMPS)-Except for the previously mentioned game at Detroit, this team was unstoppable.  This was Vince Lombardi’s best team and probably the best team in NFL history.  Offensively, Bart Starr rarely made a mistake.  He completed 62.5% of his passes.  Fullback Jim Taylor became the only back to best Jim Brown over a nine-year period when he led the league with 1,474 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns.  Receivers Max McGee, Boyd Dowler, and Ron Kramer combined for 135 receptions and 12 touchdowns.  The offensive line of center Jim Ringo, guards Jerry Kramer and Fuzzy Thurston, and tackles Forrest Gregg and Bob Skoronski was without a doubt the best ever.  Defensively, the Packers were even more impressive.  End Willie Davis and tackle Henry Jordan led the front four.  Middle linebacker Ray Nitschke joined outside backers Dan Currie and Bill Forester, while Willie Wood and Herb Adderley teamed for 16 interceptions.

1969 Minnesota Vikings 12-2-0 (NFL Champs)-This group of purple yielded just 9.5 points per game, but they also finished first in the NFL in scoring.  The Purple People Eater defensive line consisted of four all-pro players in Alan Page, Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, and Gary Larsen.  Defensive backs Paul Krause and Bobby Bryant made life rough for receivers.  Minnesota allowed a paltry 77 yards rushing and 117 yards passing per game.  When the Vikings had the ball, they were more of a power team than a finesse team.  Quarterback Joe Kapp was a better runner than passer, and when he took off, he could put defenders on the disabled list.  Backs Dave Osborn and Bill Brown were more like bulldozers than drag racers, and they didn’t put up lofty statistics.  Receiver Gene Washington was the one speedster, and he caught 39 passes for 821 yards.  The top scoring threat was kicker Fred Cox, who was a perfect 43 of 43 on extra points to go along with 26 field goals.

Western Conference: Coastal Division

1973 Atlanta Falcons 9-5-0-The young Falcons weren’t ready to make the playoffs in 1973, but they made it to the cusp.  Only a late season slide saw them lose out on the wildcard spot to the Redskins.  After opening the season at 1-3, Coach Norm VanBrocklin made a quarterback change from Dick Shiner to Bob Lee.  The Falcons proceeded to reel off seven consecutive victories by an average score of 30-12.  At 8-3, Atlanta needed only to go 2-1 in the last three games.  After losing to a good Buffalo team, the Falcons laid an egg against a weak St. Louis Cardinals team.  To add to the misery, the Falcons apparently had their first 1,000-yard rusher.  Dave Hampton topped 1,000 yards in the final game, and the game was stopped to give him the game ball.  Hampton then lost four yards on his next carry and finished with just 997.

1968 Baltimore Colts 13-1-0 (NFL Champs)-When Johnny Unitas went on the shelf before the season began, it looked like the Colts wouldn’t be able to compete against Los Angeles for the Coastal Division title.  Little did anybody know that backup Earl Morrall was about to earn the NFL MVP award.  Morrall took over and led the NFL with 2909 yards passing and 26 touchdowns.  Seven different receivers caught 10 or more passes, led by John Mackey with 45.  Willie Richardson and Willie Orr were threats to go all the way on every catch, and they combined for almost 22 yards per reception.  Tom Matte led the running attack, rushing for 662 yards and nine scores.  Defensively, the Colts were scary over a 6-game stretch in which they yielded just 22 points!  Defensive lineman Fred Miller was a Pro-Bowler.  He was joined on the All-NFL team by Middle Linebacker Mike Curtis, and defensive back Bobby Boyd.

1967 Los Angeles Rams 11-1-2-Going into the final game of the regular season, the Rams were 10-1-2 but only in second place in their division.  They had to beat 11-0-2 Baltimore to win the division flag.  The Rams combined a highly competent offense with an outstanding defense.  Pro-Bowl Quarterback Roman Gabriel had his best season in a Ram uniform with 25 touchdown passes and 2,779 yards.  Receivers Bernie Casey and Jack Snow also were elected to the Pro-Bowl.  Running back Les Josephson earned a trip to the Pro-Bowl after rushing for 800 yards at a 4.5 yard clip.  Fullback Dick Bass gained the tough yards up the middle.  Defensively, the front four was known as the “Fearsome Foursome.”  Merlin Olsen, Roger Brown, Deacon Jones, and Lamar Lundy made life rough on enemy passers.  Linebackers Maxie Baughan and Jack Pardee were equally strong against the run and pass, while defensive backs Irv Cross and Eddie Meador stopped the deep passing game.

1970 San Francisco 49ers 10-3-1-Before he was a professional golfer, John Brodie was an All-NFL quarterback.  In 1970, Brodie earned the NFL MVP award, leading the 49ers to the Western Division title.  He completed 59% of his passes for almost 3,000 yards and 24 touchdowns.  Gene Washington (not the same one who played for Minnesota) was the receiving star with 53 catches for 1,100 yards and 12 scores.  Running back Ken Willard kept defenses honest by rushing 789 yards, many of them coming in short yardage situations.  Defensively,  San Francisco was about average, but linebacker Dave Wilcox and cornerback Jimmy Johnson were true stars.

The American Football League

Eastern Conference

1964 Buffalo Bills 12-2-0 (AFL CHAMPS)-The Bills won their first nine games before losing at home to Boston.  After losing to Oakland two weeks later, it set up a season finale at Boston for the Conference championship.  Buffalo won 24-14 and then beat San Diego 20-7 for the AFL Title.  Jack Kemp started at quarterback, but backup Daryle Lamonica  played significant minutes in every game.  Neither QB completed even 45% of his passes, but Coach Lou Saban called for several long passes.  The Bills averaged 20 yards per pass completion, with Elbert Dubenion leading the way with 43 receptions.  Bruising back Cookie Gilchrist rushed for a league-leading 981 yards and six touchdowns, while the two QBs ran for 11 more.  Defensively, the Bills were tough to run against, yielding just 65 yards per game.  Tom Sestak and Jim Dunaway led the charges up front, while Mike Stratton made numerous tackles from his linebacker spot.  The secondary picked off 28 passes with Butch Byrd and George Saimes combining for 13 of those.  Buffalo had the best kicking game with Paul MaGuire averaging 42.7 yards per punt and precedent-setting Pete Gogolak scoring 102 points with his soccer-style kicking.

In 1969, the Patriots were known as the Boston Patriots and will be called that in this simulation, even though the team selected to represent this franchise was already playing as New England.

1976 Boston Patriots 11-3-0-The Pats were the surprise team of all pro football in 1976.  Coming off a 3-11 record in 1975, they were picked last again.  The Patriots were one of the most one-dimensional teams to ever make the playoffs.  They had the second best rushing attack in the league and ran the ball for 211 yards per game.  In nearly every other department, they were pedestrian at best.  Three backs, Sam “Bam” Cunningham, Don Calhoun, and Andy Johnson, combined for 2,244 yards at a 4.8-yard clip.  Quarterback Steve Grogan was more a running threat than passing threat, as he scored 12 touchdowns on the ground.  He only averaged 136 passing yards per game.  When he did throw, backs Johnson and Cunningham were his leading targets, and tight end Russ Francis was his third choice.  Defensively, four players stood out.  End Julius Adams was a strong pass rusher.  Linebackers Steve Nelson and George Webster  held their own, while defensive back Mike Haynes picked off eight passes.  Haynes was the league’s top punt returner as well.

1961 Houston Oilers 10-3-1 (AFL CHAMPS)-The Oilers began the season 1-3-1 when owner Bud Adams fired Coach Lou Rymkus and hired Wally Lemm.  Lemm installed veteran George Blanda as quarterback, and the Oilers became the greatest offensive power in pro football history.  Over the final nine games, Houston outscored opponents by an average of 41-14!  Blanda fired 36 touchdown passes and threw for more than 350 yards per game over that stretch.  Charley Hennigan nabbed 82 balls for 1,746 yards 12 touchdowns, while Bill Groman caught 50 more passes for 1,175 yards and 17 scores.  Billy Cannon rushed for 948 yards to lead the AFL.  The Oiler defense was overshadowed by the offense, but the secondary picked off 33 passes.  In the AFL Title game, Houston edged San Diego 10-3.

1972 Miami Dolphins 14-0-0 (SUPER BOWL CHAMPS)-To this day, this team still doesn’t get the respect it deserves.  While probably not the best team in NFL history, they did something no other team could do-win them all.  Coach Don Shula’s “No-Name Defense” held opponents to 12.2 points per game to lead the NFL.  They also led the league in fewest yards allowed at 235.5.  Bill Stanfill anchored the front four, while Nick Buoniconti led the way from his linebacker position.  Jake Scott and Dick Anderson were two of the best defensive backs in the league.  Offensively, Earl Morrall did for the Dolphis what he had done for Shula’s 1968 Baltimore Colts.  He took over when starter Brian Griese went down with an injury, and he earned league MVP honors.  Morrall didn’t have to pass the ball very often thanks to a great rushing attack, but when he did throw, he had a 91 QB rating.  Paul Warfield averaged almost 21 yards with 29 receptions, while Howard Twilley caught 20 balls for 363 yards and former QB Marlon Briscoe grabbed 16 for 274 yards.  The aforementioned running game produced 1,000-yard rushers in halfback Mercury Morris and fullback Larry Csonka.

1968 New York Jets 11-3-0 (SUPER BOWL CHAMPS)-Possibly the most flashy of the 10 AFL champions, the Jets won with a strong passing attack and underrated defense.  Broadway Joe Namath made headlines for wearing a fur coat on the sidelines and having the worst pair of knees in the game.  He had a rifle arm and rapid release, and that arm produced 3,147 passing yards.  Receivers George Sauer and Don Maynard teamed for 123 receptions and 2,438 yards (19.8 avg)   Fullback Matt Snell bulldozed his way for 747 yards and six scores.  Defensively, the Jets front four of Verlon Biggs, John Elliot, Gerry Philbin, and Paul Rochester provided one of the top pass rushes in either league.  Al Atkinson was an excellent cover linebacker, while the underrated secondary, led by Johnny Sample picked off 28 passes.  Namath once again made headlines by guaranteeing a Super Bowl victory over the 18-point favorite Colts, and the Jets won 16-7.

Western Conference

1975 Cincinnati Bengals 11-3-0-This was Coach Paul Brown’s best team in Cincinnati, even though his 1973 team won the division title and this one was just a wildcard.  The Bengals were one of the first to run what is today known as the West Coast Offense later made famous by the 49ers; Brown’s assistant coach in charge of offense was none other than Bill Walsh.  Quarterback Ken Anderson excelled in the short passing game, and he completed more than 60% of his passes for 3,169 yards and 21 touchdowns.  Seven players caught 20 or more passes with Isaac Curtis and Charlie Joiner teaming for 81 receptions and a 20.5 average.  Boobie Clark, Stan Fritts, Lenvil Elliott, and Essex Johnson formed a formidable running back quartet.  The four combined for 1,454 yards and 14 scores.  While they led the league in passing yardage, the defense finished second in passing yardage allowed and led the NFL in yards allowed per passing attempt.  Lemar Parrish, Ken Riley, and Bernard Jackson covered receivers as well as any three defenders in the league.  The team had some difficulty stopping opposing ground games, and that came home to roost in their two battle against Pittsburgh.  The Steelers beat them both times, and the third loss occurred at Cleveland, when they couldn’t stop Greg Pruitt.

1977 Denver Bronocs 12-2-0 (AFC Champions)-The Broncos’ Orange Crush defense carried the team all season long, giving up just 148 points to lead the AFC.  They gave up just 270 total yards per game (109 vs. run and 161 vs. pass).  The Broncos best unit was at linebacker where Randy Gradishar, Tom Jackson, and Bob Swenson rarely let runners get by.  Up front, Lyle Alzado and Paul Smith were terrors against the run and pass.  Two Pro-Bowl defenders, Billy Thompson and Louis Wright, aligned in the backfield.    The Broncos forced several punts, and speedy return specialist Rick Upchurch frequently gave his offense great field position.  The offense was mediocre at best, but Coach Red Miller’s philosophy was to play it close to the vest and try to eat up clock.  Quarterback Craig Morton directed an offense that passed the ball only 22 times per game while running the ball 37 times per game.  Morton frequently took sacks rather than gamble with unsafe passes, and the Broncos offensive line surrendered 50 sacks.  Denver had a running backs by committee approach as five different players saw significant action.  The one breakaway threat on the team was wide receiver Haven Moses who caught 27 passes for 539 yards.  The Broncos lost to Dallas in the final regular season game and faced them in the Super Bowl, where the Cowboys dusted them 27-10.

1966 Kansas City Chiefs 11-2-1 (AFL Champs)-The Chiefs were the first AFL champs with a chance to face the NFL Champs in the post-season.  Coach Hank Stram had the unenviable task of facing the Green Bay Packers, and the Chiefs proved to be not up to the task, falling 35-10.  This team was one of the best in the 10-year AFL.  Their 448 points in 14 games were 90 points more than the second best offense.  Quarterback Len Dawson led the AFL with a 101.7 passer rating, 26 touchdown passes, and just 10 interceptions.  His favorite targets were Otis Taylor and Chris Burford, who each caught 58 balls.  Taylor gained 1,297 yards with his receptions.  Running Back Mike Garrett gained over 800 yards with a 5.4 yard average, and backup Bert Coan matched the per carry average.  Fullback Curtis McClinton rushed for 540 yards.  The defense was almost as strong as the offense.  The Chiefs intercepted 33 passes, paced by safeties Bobby Hunt and Johnny Robinson, who each picked off 10 balls!  Up front, Buck Buchanan and Jerry Mays both made the Pro-Bowl, while linebackers Bobby Bell, Sherill Headrick, and E.J. Holub did so as well.  The duo of punter Jerrel Wilson and kicker Mike Mercer gave KC the best kicking game in the league.

1967 Oakland Raiders 13-1-0 (AFL Champs)-Arguably the most dominant team in the 10-year history of the AFL, the Raiders only loss came in week for at New York.  Against their two tough conference rivals, Kansas City and San Diego, Oakland won all four games by an aggregate score of 159-74.  The explosive offense began with the passing arm of AFL MVP Daryle Lamonica, who threw for 3,228 yards and 30 touchdowns.  All-Star receiver Fred Biletnikoff caught 40 passes for 876 yards, while tight end Billy Cannon made the most of his 32 receptions by scoring on 10 of them.  Back Hewritt Dixon finished with a team-leading 59 catchesfor 563 yards.  The running game was balanced between Clem Daniels, Dixon, Pete Banaszak, and Roger Hagberg.  The quartet combined for 1,656 yards and 12 touchdowns.  Lamonica added four more rushing scores.  The defense gave up less than 17 points per game, but they didn’t get as much publicity as the attack side.  Ben Davidson was a monster in the line.  He teamed with Tom Keating, Ike Lassiter, and Dan Birdwell to form a ferocious pass rush that earned 67 sacks.  Not to be overlooked was a fine trio of linebackers in Dan Conners, Gus Otto, and Bill Laskey.  The pass defense was excellent with 30 interceptions, four of which were returned all the way.  Willie Brown and Warren Powers combined for 13 of the picks and three of the scores.  Topping it all off were the best set of special teams.  Punter Mike Eischeid averaged more than 44 yards per punt and the old man George Blanda tallied 116 points with his leg.

1963 San Diego Chargers 11-3-0 (AFL CHAMPS)­-Many experts believed if the Super Bowl had been around in 1963, the Chargers would have defeated the Chicago Bears.  This team had it all.  They led the league in scoring and in scoring defense.  They could beat you with their ground game, and they could beat you with their passing game.  They could beat you 58-20, and they could beat you 7-6. The only thing they couldn’t do was beat Oakland.  The 10-4 Raiders pinned two of their three losses on them.  Tobin Rote directed Coach Sid Gillman’s offense.  The QB led the AFL in pass efficiency and completed close to 60% of his passes for more than 2,500 yards and 20 touchdowns. On the receiving end of 61 of those passes was the best receiver in AFL history, Lance Alworth.  “Bambi,” as he was nicknamed, gained 1,205 yards on those receptions and crossed the goal 11 times.  The Chargers averaged an outstanding 5.6 yards per rush evenly distributed between their halfbacks and fullbacks.  Halfback Paul Lowe rushed for 1,010 yards, while fullback Keith Lincoln gained 826 and led both leagues with an average of 6.5 yards per run.  Defensively, San Diego yielded 103 yards on the ground and 180 through the air.  Notable standouts on the stop side included linemen Earl Faison and Ernie Ladd, linebackers Chuck Allen and Emil Karas, and backs Dick Harris and Charlie McNeal.  The Chargers decimated Boston 51-10 in the AFL Championship Game.

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1 Comment

  1. Speaking of Cowboys! Visit http://www.absolutecowboys.com today!

    Comment by dan — September 1, 2007 @ 2:28 am


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