The Rams, the Bengals, and Guts & Stomps Revisited

NFL Offseason – Visitor column by Chris Johnson

Within the common season final 12 months, the Cincinnati Bengals had three wins by 14 or extra factors towards groups that completed with profitable data; the L.A. Rams had none. Nevertheless, the Rams did not lose a single recreation to an opponent who completed beneath .500, whereas the Bengals misplaced to shedding groups 4 instances. Did any of those previous outcomes forecast L.A.’s win over Cincinnati within the Tremendous Bowl?

Each time a superb crew beats a nasty crew by a big margin, there’s a variety of debate concerning the diploma to which we should always care about it. In accordance with one faculty of thought, what a contender does towards a nasty crew means little or nothing for his or her long-term prospects, as a result of as a way to win within the playoffs it’s a must to beat good groups. Profitable a detailed recreation towards a good crew is a greater indicator of postseason potential as a result of hard-fought video games towards good groups are what the playoffs are all about. In accordance with one other faculty of thought, nevertheless, a giant win towards a nasty crew is an equal or higher indicator of general crew high quality in comparison with a detailed win towards a superb crew, which means that we should always take such a blowout critically when contemplating a crew’s long-term prospects.

Early within the historical past of Soccer Outsiders, Aaron Schatz wrote an article about this subject known as “Guts and Stomps” during which he argued in favor of the second place. Sure, he argued, championship groups are sometimes outlined by their potential to destroy dangerous groups, not their potential to win shut video games. That article broke down the numbers from 1995 to 2004 to help Schatz’s level. It hasn’t been up to date in nearly 20 years. So right now, we will compile those self same numbers from 2005 to 2021 and see whether or not something has modified.


Wins within the authentic “Guts and Stomps” article have been put within the following classes:

  • A “Intestine” is a one-score win (eight factors or fewer) towards a crew that finally finishes over .500.
  • A “Stomp” is a win by 14 factors or extra towards a crew that can finally end beneath .500.

These have been the 2 most important classes, however Schatz went additional (as will I) to take a look at two different classes of wins:

  • A “Skate” is a one-score win towards a crew that can end beneath .500.
  • A “Domination” is a win by 14-plus factors towards a crew that finishes over .500.

For this up to date article, I’ve determined to no less than outline the 4 analogous classes of losses:

  • A “Gutless” loss is a one-score loss towards an eventual over-.500 crew.
  • An “Outclassed” loss is a loss by 14-plus factors towards an eventual over-.500 crew.
  • A “Stinger” loss is a one-score loss towards an eventual under-.500 crew.
  • An “Embarrassment” is a loss by 14-plus factors towards an eventual under-.500 crew.

If losses observe an analogous logic to valuing Guts over Stomps (high quality of competitors is extra necessary than margin of victory), you may count on Stinger losses to be worse for a crew than Outclassed losses as properly. We’ll see. For the document, this is how the Rams and Bengals fared within the common season final 12 months:

2021 Video games by Class
Intestine 2 1
Stomp 4 3
Skate 2 3
Domination 0 3
Gutless 2 2
Outclassed 2 1
Stinger 0 3
Embarrassment 0 1

The Rams then added a Domination and three Guts within the playoffs, whereas the Bengals added three Guts themselves earlier than struggling a Gutless loss within the Tremendous Bowl.

Tremendous Bowl Winner Deep Dives

For Tremendous Bowl winners for the reason that 1995 season, I went via all eight of the classes we simply mentioned. Listed here are the numbers for all of these Tremendous Bowl winners within the common season:

  • General document: 324-109
  • 42 Guts, versus 42 Gutless losses.
  • 58 Skates, versus 17 Stinger losses.
  • 45 Dominations, versus 18 Outclassed losses.
  • 102 Stomps, versus 4 Embarrassing losses.
    • I did not maintain observe of nine- to 13-point wins, however I can let you know that Tremendous Bowl winners on this timeframe have solely 25 complete losses towards sub-.500 groups, so the 14-or-more-point Stomps alone quadruple the variety of losses.
    • Trivia query: What number of of these 4 Embarrassments are you able to title?

And listed here are notes extra much like those in Schatz’s authentic article:

  • 19 champions have extra Stomps than Guts; solely 4 have had fewer (2003 Patriots, 2006 Colts, 2011 Giants, 2015 Broncos).
  • 9 champs have had extra Guts than Gutless losses; 12 have had fewer.
  • Solely the 2004 Patriots, 2012 Ravens, and 2014 Patriots have extra Dominations than Stomps. Eighteen have had fewer.
    • Schatz’s authentic article included the 1995 Cowboys by mistake on this class. They’d three of every.
  • 5 groups have extra Skates than Stomps, versus 19 who’ve had fewer.

Because it seems, it is doable that Schatz’s authentic article truly undersells his case, attributable to a failure to take a look at the shedding finish of the spectrum. Not solely are Stomps rather more than twice as widespread as Guts for champions, however Tremendous Bowl champions since 1995 are precisely .500 in one-score video games towards groups who end over .500.

I used to be considerably on the Stomps > Guts bandwagon earlier than I wrote this essay, however the Guts vs. Gutless stat shocked even me. To be honest, even an 84-game pattern has some margin for error (so there’s nonetheless room to take a position that Tremendous Bowl champs ought to have some benefit in these video games, as much as profitable 60% of the time or so), however the ratio (just one Intestine for each Gutless loss) is remarkably unremarkable, to the purpose that it made me doubt for a second whether or not my knowledge was even right.

Alternatively, the Skates-to-Stingers ratio (3.4:1) and the Dominations-to-Outclassed ratio (2.5:1) are rather more related. The arrogance intervals for these two samples overlap, so there is not a lot we will conclude from that discrepancy.

In fact, the ratio of Stomps to Embarrassments (25.5:1) completely laps the sector, though that is not essentially information. (Tremendous Bowl winners do not lose badly to dangerous groups fairly often!)

Listed here are explicit circumstances of groups who bust the Guts > Stomps narrative:

  • The 1999 Rams had a ludicrously straightforward schedule. They racked up 10 Stomps (plus two Stomp-level wins towards 8-8 groups), and performed a grand complete of ONE regular-season recreation towards an over .500 crew (a Gutless loss to the Titans).
  • All three of the 2013 Seahawks’ losses have been Gutless. In fact, these are the most effective losses to have from an “indication of crew high quality” standpoint. However should you went with the “who can discover a method to pull out shut wins towards good groups” narrative, you might play video games surrounding the truth that Seattle went 9-0 towards below-average groups and “solely” 4-3 towards above-average ones (and 1-3 when these contests have been determined by one rating).
  • The 2005 Steelers (4 Stomps, one Intestine, three Gutlesses) and 2010 Packers (4 Stomps, two Guts, three Gutlesses) are related examples.

Playoff Breakdowns, 2001-2021

One other ingredient of the unique Guts and Stomps article was a desk taking a look at whether or not the crew with a bonus in a selected class gained annually within the Tremendous Bowl and convention championship video games. I did this train with each playoff recreation within the final 21 seasons, for all 4 classes of wins, in addition to DVOA, general wins, home-field benefit, and the variety of wins that do not belong in any of the 4 “buckets” (both nine- to 13-point wins, or wins towards precisely .500 groups).

Wins by Class and Playoff Benefits
  DVOA Wins HFA Stomps Guts Skates Dominations Different Ws
2011-2021 73-52 65-42 75-41 57-42 46-50 40-58 54-33 51-55
2001-2010 67-43 52-42 60-40 50-39 42-41 33-54 46-30 46-41
2001-2021 140-95 117-84 135-81 107-81 88-91 73-112 100-63 97-96
Solely SBs 11-10 7-11 2-0 5-11 8-11 September 11 10-5 9-8
Solely SBs and CCGs 35-28 28-24 30-14 23-27 24-25 24-31 26-17 24-30
2001-2021, Pct 59.6% 58.2% 62.5% 56.9% 49.2% 39.5% 61.3% 50.3%
90% conf. interval 54.0%,

To assist perceive this desk: beneath the HFA column, the 135-81 within the 2001-2021 row signifies that from the 2001 season via the 2021 season, playoff groups have been 135-81 after they had home-field benefit. Groups with extra Stomps than their opponent within the common season went 107-81, groups with extra Skates went 73-112, and so forth.

Within the later rounds, Stomps have not separated themselves from Guts within the final 21 years. Nevertheless, in a bigger pattern of the entire playoffs, they undoubtedly have separated themselves. In the meantime, groups with essentially the most Dominations are clearly profitable at excessive charges no matter the way you slice it.

What Schatz appeared to be lacking in his authentic article is that though Dominations are extra uncommon than Stomps for Tremendous Bowl winners, they’re additionally extra uncommon in common. When you may pull a Domination off, it truly is spectacular and suggests you are in fine condition going ahead. Dominations are, in truth, the one win kind which competes with the three “baseline” indicators (DVOA, general wins, HFA) when it comes to predicting playoff success (no less than in a optimistic sense; you might say Skates are a fairly good destructive indicator).

Taking a look at general percentages and confidence intervals, a transparent hierarchy of Dominations > Stomps > Guts > Skates emerges. It is principally in step with instinct/standard knowledge, with the exception that Stomps > Guts is not fairly as intuitive.

Enjoyable Factoids

  • Embarrassment losses by Tremendous Bowl champions in historical past (not simply the period I used to be specializing in):
    • 1981 Week 3: ATL 34, SF 17
    • 1988 Week 3: ATL 34, SF 17
    • 1993 Week 1: WAS 35, DAL 16
    • 1994 Week 5: PHI 40, SF 8
    • The following 4 video games are the solutions to the sooner trivia query!
    • 2003 Week 1: BUF 31, NE 0
    • 2011 Week 1: WAS 28, NYG 14
    • 2016 Week 4: BUF 16, NE 0
    • 2018 Week 3: DET 26, NE 10
  • The Brady/Belichick Patriots (2001-2019, excluding 2008) had 64 Stomps, 33 Guts, 38 Skates, 34 Dominations, 27 Gutlesses, 12 Outclasseds, 10 Stingers, and 5 Embarrassments.
    • The 5 Embarrassments have been the three video games listed above, plus a 21-0 loss to Miami in 2006 and a 31-14 loss to Cleveland in 2010.
  • The 1972 Dolphins are notorious for his or her straightforward schedule, so I used to be curious what they appear like with these definitions. They’d eight Stomps and one Skate, then added three Guts within the playoffs.
  • The 2007 Patriots, then again, had six Stomps, two Guts, one Skate, 5 Dominations, and naturally added one supremely Gutless loss within the playoffs.
  • The 1999 Rams lap the sector amongst groups I checked out for this train with their 10 Stomps. I am tempted to say “unbreakable document,” however I’ll admit that I have never checked out each crew in historical past to ensure that it is a document. And with weak divisions, it is likely to be doable to see one other crew racking up double-digit Stomps at some point.
  • Amongst groups I analyzed earlier than 2021, the leaders in Guts are the 2010 Falcons and the 2017 Panthers, tied at 5. Each have been one-and-done within the playoffs; the Falcons obtained Outclassed by the Packers and the Panthers paradoxically misplaced in Gutless vogue to New Orleans. In 2021, the Buccaneers joined the 5 Guts membership, and naturally misplaced within the divisional spherical of the playoffs.
  • I assumed the 1972 Dolphins would compete for the Skates title, however no, the title amongst groups I checked out belongs to their successors in Miami from 2016, who racked up eight Skates all through the season. One other one-and-done.
  • The Domination title is tied between the 2007 and 2014 Patriots. They have been tied at 5 (though it is value noting that the 2014 crew added a sixth within the AFC title recreation).
    • The 2014 crew additionally has the excellence of getting Dominated all three of the opposite AFC division winners that 12 months, leaving little doubt as to their supremacy within the convention.
    • Nevertheless, the 2007 crew did Dominate three division winners, simply not all within the AFC (they Dominated Pittsburgh, San Diego, and Dallas from the NFC).
  • Seven groups I checked out had 4 Dominations or extra: the 2021 Payments, 2019 Ravens, 2002 Buccaneers, and the Patriots in 2004, 2007, 2014, and 2017. 5 of these groups made it to the Tremendous Bowl and three of them gained it.


Beating up on dangerous groups, removed from ineffective, is definitely one of many most important traits of profitable postseason groups. Shut losses to good groups are necessary as a result of they’re losses within the standings, and due to their impact on tiebreakers for playoff place, however the identification of the most effective groups is mostly not decided by which groups play finest in shut video games towards different profitable groups.

Christopher Johnson is a latest school graduate from Massachusetts, so he cheered the Tom Brady Patriots on as they Stomped and Dominated via the league for the final 20 years. You may e-mail him at


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