Sacks & Interceptions . . .

One thing that has always driven me crazy is the APBA Football Master Game Sack and Interception Finder System.  Not because it isn’t accurate, because it truly is.  No, what has always bothered me is that guys who are not even on the field will get credited for sacks and picks!!

Now, I have tried a number of different ways to address this, with almost no success.  And, even though the game company gives you the option of only using the defensive players on the field in determining the calculation, what a pain it is to have to recalibrate this formula every time you make a substitution.  I can understand why just keeping the entire roster in this formula saves some time.

Until now!

I have created what I hope is a very easy spreadsheet (click on the “Sack and Pick Quotas” attachment below) to account for only those defensive players on the field.  Simply put in their “QS” and “W” numerical ratings and you get a simple dice roll table to determine who gets credit for the sack or the interception.  If you make a substitution, you only have to enter, at most, two new numbers and you will automatically get a new chart.

I will be using this system in my next replay.  But, I would love to get some feedback on this idea.  Look over the spreadsheet and let me know your thoughts . . . . .


Sack and Pick Quotas

Modified Offensive Index Finder

Ever since I first read about the floating offensive index for the Master Football Game in the APBA Journal so many years back, I was excited about the possibility of finally having a system which emphasized the importance of every point in Offensive and Defensive Team totals. It always bothered me that a +7 Offense would be exclusively in “B” Index while a -7 Offense would also always be in “B” Index, yet it was clear which was the better of the two teams on the tabletop.

The AJ Offensive Floating Index Finder below took a step forward in alleviating the


problem but the emphasis was more on normalizing differentials of +/- 7. Outside of that range the system became extremely generous/punitive, introducing the concept of A* or D indexes (In A* all pass plays regardless of receiver grades were in A and +1 yard was added to all running plays. In D, all pass plays were in C regardless of receiver grade an -1 was subtracted to all running plays). These additional indexes kicked in at +/9. My APBA Brother and gracious host of this site, Greg “OGuard62” Barath, experienced first-hand how extreme the above table was during his 1985 NFL Replay. The Bears regularly had teams in “D” index making it near impossible for a team like the 85 Buccaneers to gain a yard let alone score a point (while many Bears fans would argue this was realistic, the Bucs actually put up 307 and 373 yards of offense on the real-life “Monsters of the Midway”). Greg and I consulted after week 2 of that replay and both decided that perhaps the system which came with APBA’s Master Game was a better choice.

Both Greg and I have used APBA Finder system below in all our replays since:


APBA’s system eliminated the concept of A* and D indexes (which disappointed me) but was certainly more realistic for differentials outside the +/- 7 range. APBA, while gradual within the  +/-7 range, made the drop from +/- 7 to +/-8 more extreme. I believe this was done to stay true to the game engines index rules, but is there really that much of a difference in a team at -7 or a team at -8? In my view, no, every point should make a difference and the decline should be more gradual. So I set out to create my own version of the Offensive Index Finder System.

The fruit of my efforts is below:


As you can see from the “Yellow” B Index section the jumps between all point totals is just about the same. Teams in +/- 8 will still be largely playing in  A or C Index but a team at +/-6 or +/-7 will as well. I also re-introduced the A* and D indexes but at a much higher point differential. Instead of +/- 9 it kicks in at +/- 16 (rules are the same as those from the AJ). For me this satisfies my need to have every index point count truly distinguishing the +47 offense from the +40 offense. If interested in using this system I have included the link below. The file is in Excel.



Intentionally Punting Out-Of-Bounds

Have you ever played an APBA Football game and thought to yourself, “I really don’t want to punt the ball to the opposing team?”  I know that I have.

In fact, I recently played a game involving the 2016 Lions and 2016 Vikings.  Believe it or not, both teams have punt returners that have Play Result Numbers that could result in a punt return for a touchdown.  As my game progressed, each time one of the two teams went back to punt, I wondered if “this” would be the time when a player would return it all-the-way.  Finally, it happened.  The Vikings’ Marcus SHERELS returned the punt 84 yards for a touchdown, and that score put Minnesota ahead in the game at the time.  Later, with only 30 seconds remaining in the game and with the Lions now leading, Detroit needed to punt the ball back to Minnesota.  Obviously, that’s just two plays at the most.  So, wouldn’t this be a great time to implement some kind of new rule that could have the Lions still be able to punt the ball to Minnesota, but could keep it away from SHERELS?  Since a rule covering this didn’t exist, I created a situation whereby a team could punt the ball out-of-bounds, but with a reduced distance.  By the way, this is similar to the Squib Kick innovation created by Mark Zarb. It’s really simple, and here’s how it works:

The punting team announces that it will be attempting to punt the ball out-of-bounds.  You roll the dice, obtain the result, and then subtract 15 yards from the total.  (Note: This is similar to the Maximum Rush Rule whereby 5 yards are subtracted by the punting team.)

Now, you can leave the rule that there if you want to do so.  Subtract 15 yards and you are done, OR….you can take it a step further.  If you have used any of my innovations from before, then you know that I like to add a little drama to each outcome.  So, after subtracting the 15 yards, we need to make some adjustments to the punt yardage.  After all, it’s too easy to just calculate 15 yards less than the amount.  What if the guy kicked it further, or what if he punted it even less than that?  Well, this part of the option adds (or subtracts) some more yardage.  Roll the two dice and add the two together.  If the red die is odd, then the sum of the two dice is added as yardage to the already altered punt yardage.  For example, the original punt yardage was 40 yards, and the reduced punt yardage lowered the punt to just 25 yards, and because the red die is odd, the total of those two dice is added to the 25.  Let’s say it was a total of 7, so the final yardage of the punt would be 32 yards.  That’s not too bad to keep the ball away from someone like SHERELS.

And, the flip side does the reverse.  If the red die was an even number, then the sum of those two dice are subtracted from the total.  This balances things out.  Using our example from before, the 40 yard punt is reduced to 25 yards, and then further reduced because of the total of the dice of 7 being subtracted from the punt.  That means that the punt only traveled 18 yards.  But, again, you managed to keep it away from SHERELS, so he couldn’t return it for a touchdown.

If you think about it, it really does make sense.  After all, you are trying to give yourself the best chance to win-the-game.

The innovation is quick, simple, and it makes sense.

By the way, the Detroit Lions punt returner is Andre ROBERTS and he, and SHERELS each have two Play Result Numbers on their cards that would be touchdowns, if rolled.

Innovation Friday – “Spike Play”

Doug Reese has created a tremendous innovation that will enhance realism and provide the APBA coach with a great clock-management tool during the final two minutes of a half or game. A great innovation should be three things, (1) simple to implement and understand. (2) not slow down playability of the game. (3) enhance realism or correct a deficiency.  Doug’s innovation fits the bill.



Two-Minute Timing Innovation

If you are reading the article then I assume that you are familiar with the APBA Football Game.  If you have played the game for a while, then you are aware that each quarter is broken down into 30 full plays per quarter.  Occasionally, a half play (15 seconds) is recorded, usually as a result of play such as an incomplete pass, a penalty, an out of bounds play, or a time out.   When playing the game, it appears that the timing system used by APBA yields the proper amount of plays in the game, so that is not an issue.  And, while some plays actually take a little longer than 30 seconds from snap to snap, others are actually shorter than 15 seconds from snap to snap, so it all seems to work out.  Overall, the timing system works very nicely regarding the total number of plays.

So, why am I offering a suggested innovation if the timing system works so well?  Well, because I would like to make it slightly more realistic in the last two minutes of the game.  I’ll explain why I think that this is necessary as I go along.

With APBA, the final two minutes of a half can only have a maximum total of 8 plays, at the most.  We already know that.  And, calling our time outs is a very important decision to make as the time winds down.  Because of the timing system, you can’t really call time outs as they would in real life because you will often end up having unused time outs if you wait too long.  So, you have to really anticipate when they should be called.  This article isn’t about when to call your time outs, per se.

Here is the meat of the article.  I would occasionally run into a situation like this:  Your team is driving, needing at least a field goal, late in the game.  You have one time out left and there are 45 seconds remaining on the clock.  Your team has just completed a 12-yard pass to the defensive team’s 34-yard line, and it would be a long (but makeable) 52-yard field goal from here.  Since this completed pass requires full play you, as coach, must make a decision to either let the clock run down to 15 seconds, or call a time out.  If you call the time out, then there will be 30 seconds remaining in the game, and if you run a play, and you can’t get the clock stopped, then you lose without being able to even try the field goal.  Your other choice is to let the clock run down and try the kick from here, leaving no time for the opposition.  If you choose this option, then you eat an unused time out, and you are attempting a very long field goal.  That seems very unrealistic to me.  If only there was a way to stop the clock, and save the time out for the field goal attempt.  With my innovation, there is…..

I use, and suggest, that you implement the “spike play.”  To go back to our example, there were 45 seconds before the pass.  The play, at a minimum would take at least 15 seconds off of the clock.  We are now down to 30 seconds left and the clock is running.  I suggest that we call the spike play which immediately follows the pass, and turns that aforementioned 30-second pass play into a 15-second play, thereby stopping the clock with the intended incomplete (spike) pass.  What I am envisioning is the QB hustling his guys up to the line after the 12-yard pass, and then lining up and spiking the ball.  By doing so, there are now 30 seconds left, and the team keeps its time out, and can run their second down play (the first down play was the spiked pass) and still have the time out to stop the clock in the event of an in-bounds full timed play.  The innovation can be used during the last two minutes, and under any situation.  It will help you tremendously to get your time out usage correct.

Now, just as APBA makes a practice of having an ebb-and flow, a ying-and-yang, so must this option.  There has to be a possible negative side to this.  Since not too many bad things can happen by lining up and spiking the ball, there can’t be too much very serious going on as far as penalties are concerned.  The only penalty that I can envision is a False Start penalty which would kill the clock.  In order to simulate this, I roll one die and if whatever number result (you pick) occurs, then a False Start penalty is assessed.  Per NFL rules a mandatory 10-second runoff of time is assessed, so the play that began with 45 seconds, dropped to 30 seconds because of the completed pass, is converted down to just 15 seconds left with the penalty being assessed.  It’s a risk, but not a very big one.  Being able to stop the clock is more than worth it by trying to spike the ball to save time.

I have one last innovation for you that goes along with this.  What happens if, because of your “poor coaching decisions” (just kidding), you have an unused time out at the end of the game?  Well, in real life, you might be able to call a last second time out.  Perhaps there are a few seconds, and perhaps there aren’t.  You don’t know.  So, to add drama, if this situation develops, I allow the home team a 3 out of 6 (you pick the successful numbers) die roll chance of being able to successfully call a last second time out.  For the visitors I allow a 2 out of 6 (again, you pick the successful numbers) chance of calling the time out.  This is the old home field clock operator advantage kicking in.  If the time out is successful, then you have one extra play.  If not, then sorry, the game is over. You can’t actually plan on the strategy working, because it is up to the luck of the die roll, but it could give a team a last-second chance of “pulling victory out from the jaws of defeat.”

These are rules that I have been using for a while.  Feel free to adopt them, modify them, in any way that you like.  If you do modify them, please let me know because your way might be better than mine, and I may want to adopt your rule.  <g>


Oguard’s take on “Home Field Advantage”

There has been a lot of talk about “Home Field Advantage” lately and it occurred to me that all the focus has been on the team’s performance (record) while playing in their home stadium. Last Sunday while I was watching the fourth quarter of the Cincinnati – Denver game it occurred to me that at times, it’s the venue itself that provides the advantage or disadvantage. Without question, the Broncos have a distinct advantage playing at home because they are acclimated to the altitude. During that fourth quarter, I witnessed three different Cincinnati players all pull up lame due to altitude related (cramping, shortness of breath, etc.) symptoms.

So for a quick moment, let’s take our focus off the teams on the gridiron and focus on the stadium itself and its fan base. I’m sure there is more but three topics come to mind: penalties (false starts), injuries, and the kicking game.

Let’s talk about injuries. My recommendation is teams visiting Sports Authority Field at Mile High automatically have one point added to their J-rating for players who are J1 through J-3. This could provide a realistic home field advantage to the Broncos. Now let’s focus on the playing surface, nine NFL stadiums currently have Field Turf (Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, New England, Atlanta, Minnesota, St. Louis, Seattle and the new Meadowlands Stadium) which has been proven to cause a higher rate for ankle sprains. So whenever an injury occurs and the player is identified, why not roll one die and if the dice roll is a “six”, that player sprained his ankle and his effectiveness is reduced by one-point for the remainder of the game.

What impact does the fans have on the game? Just ask one of the crazed “12th” men at CenturyLink Field because they have caused more false start penalties over last three years than any other venue in the league. Here are the top five “loudest” stadiums which have contributed to the most false starts over the last three years.

  • CenturyLink Field
  • Arrowhead
  • University of Phoenix Stadium
  • Mercedes-Benz superdome
  • Lambeau Field

Food for thought, whenever the opponent is playing in one of the above venues and its third and long (greater than 7 yards), roll one die and if it is a “six” the crowd noise resulted in a false start penalty.

Last but not least, let’s look at weather conditions. NFL teams with open-air stadiums ranked by average wind speeds (windiest to least windy)

  • Buffalo/Orchard Park, New York 16.1
  • New England/Foxborough, Massachusetts 14.5
  • New York Giants/East Rutherford, New Jersey 10.1 New York Jets/East Rutherford, New Jersey 10.1
  • Kansas City, Missouri 10.6
  • San Francisco/Santa Clara, California 10.6
  • Cleveland, Ohio 10.5
  • Chicago, Illinois 10.3
  • Green Bay, Wisconsin 10.0
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 9.5
  • Washington/Landover, Maryland 9.4
  • Miami Gardens, Florida 9.2
  • Cincinnati, Ohio 9.0
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 9.0
  • Oakland, California 8.8
  • Seattle, Washington 8.8
  • Baltimore, Maryland 8.7
  • Denver, Colorado 8.7
  • Tampa, Florida 8.3
  • Nashville, Tennessee 8.0
  • Jacksonville, Florida 7.8
  • Charlotte, North Carolina 7.4
  • San Diego, California 7.0

This results in a mean average of 9.65, so let’s round it up to 10. Using a +2/-2 rule, if the venue you are playing at is between 12 to 8 rated, you will read the board result from the Master game booklet in accordance by rules (i.e., by quarter 1-3 and 2-4). If the venue is greater than 3 (Gillette Stadium or New Era Field (formerly Rich or Ralph Wilson) you will always use the worst line result for the visiting kicker. For stadiums with less than 3 or dome stadiums, both team’s kickers will use the more favorable column.

These are just subtle nuances that could have a major impact if it occurs at the critical juncture of a contest. Food for thought, would love to hear anyone’s thought on the matter.

Home Field Advantage – Innovation

By Ray Dunlap

I’ve done a lot of thinking about Home Field Advantage over the past week, and I think I have an idea that will work.

First of all, let me define what I think of “Home Field Advantage.”  If a team is 5-3 at home and 5-3 on the road, I don’t consider them to have ANY “Home Field Advantage.”  To me, a better win-loss record at home should be the only criteria for home field advantage.  That team, above, with a record of 10-6, will have their effectiveness at home and on the road baked into their point totals by the game company.  They should get no advantage just because they’re playing in their own park . . . because they exhibited no advantage in the actual NFL season.

But, the advantage cannot just be the domain of the “home” team . . . because there are some teams that played better as a visiting team than they did in their own stadium!  Take the 2016 New England Patriots.  They finished the season 14-2, but their road record was 8-0!  So, New England was a true “Road Warrior” team last season.  Conversely, look at the Houston Texans.  They were 7-1 at home and only 2-6 on the road.  A 9-7 record that will give them a certain number of APBA points on both offense and defense, but they were CLEARLY a much better home team than they were on the road.

So, for me, the starting point is to take the number of home victories and subtract the number of road victories.  Here are a few examples from the current card set:

Team                                 Home       Away       Home Rating       Visitor Rating

Pittsburgh                           6-2            5-3                   +1                          -1

New England                     6-2             8-0                   -2                          +2

Jacksonville                       2-6             1-7                  +1                          -1

Houston                               7-1            2-6                   +5                         -5

NY Jets                                  2-6            3-5                   -1                         +1

Baltimore                             6-2            2-6                  +4                         -4

Now, some of these ratings may look a little funny.  How can Jacksonville, with a record of 3-13, have a positive “Home Field Advantage” number?  It’s because, as bad as they were, statistically they played marginally better at home!  You get the idea.

Here is how my calculation works.  You simply take the Home team’s “home rating” and subtract from it the Visiting team’s “visitor rating.”  This would give you the “Home Field Advantage” rating for that game.

Let’s say that Houston is hosting Pittsburgh.  You would take Houston’s home rating of +5 and subtract Pittsburgh’s away rating of -1 and you would get a +6.  This would be Houston’s “Home Field Advantage” rating for this game.  If, however the game was in Pittsburgh, you would take the Steelers’ home rating of +1 and subtract the Texan’s visitor’s rating or -5 and you would get a +6 home field advantage for Pittsburgh.

Let’s see what happens when Houston hosts New England.  You would take the Texans’ rating of +5 and subtract the Patriots road rating of +2 and Houston’s home field advantage would now only be +3.

What about this scenario?  Let’s say the Jets are hosting the Patriots.  New York’s home rating is a -1.  Subtracting the Patriots’ visitor rating of +2 from that leaves the Jets with a negative home field advantage number of -3.  The “Road Warrior” Patriots would have an advantage, even playing in the Jets’ home park!  So, a positive “Home Field Advantage” number would benefit the host team – a negative number would benefit the visitors.

So, what do you do with these numbers?

I am assuming that most people are using the Offensive Index Finder System to determine their indexes.  If so, here’s my thought:  Take whatever the “Home Field Advantage” number and add that many points to both the offensive and defensive squads for that game.

So, based on the above example, when the Patriots come to the Meadowlands to play the Jets, you would add 3 points to both New England’s offense and defense to determine which column to read in the Offensive Index Finder System.

This is a pretty easy innovation to adopt, and one that will give a marginal advantage to teams that either play better at home, or play better on the road!

We would love to hear any comments or field any questions any of you have.

Some Thoughts on “Home Field Advantage”

By Ray Dunlap

Ever since this post appeared here, I’ve been thinking about “Home Field Advantage.”  It is a real phenomenon and would be fairly easy to account for in APBA.  Initially, I thought it might be interesting to see who runs the ball better at home or who throws it better . . . but, I quickly decided that there really is only one statistic that truly measures “Home Field Advantage,” and that’s wins and losses.

Take the Seattle Seahawks for example.  It is not a stretch to say that they are a much tougher opponent at home than they are on the road.  This is borne out based on the frenzied fans – their proverbial “12th Man” . . . but, it is also statistically obvious by their home record.  In 2016 they were 7-1 in Seattle and 3-4-1 on the road.

Atlanta, meanwhile, was 5-3 at home, certainly a good mark, but they were 6-2 on the road.  So, not only should we look at a team like Seattle and give them some kind of a leg-up when they’re playing at CenturyLink Field, but the Falcons, likewise should be given some kind of consideration whey they’re playing on the road, because they were true “Road-Warriors” last season.

So, how?

This is where it gets a little challenging.  How do you reward the team with the advantage, make it meaningful . . . but not too much so as to awkwardly skew the results?

The best I’ve ever seen at addressing these kinds of statistical nuances is Mark Zarb.  A close second is our host, Greg Barath.  They both understand how to effectively and accurately assign just the right amount of “plusses” and “minuses” to the formula to create a balanced rewards system, and I would love to hear their take on this concept.

In the meantime, I will be testing a couple of ideas myself that I will share here in a few days.

But, what about draft leagues that don’t use stock teams?

There should be a rewards system created because we make such a big deal out of having “Home Field Advantage” in the playoffs.  But, if you play the APBA game right out of the box, there is no accommodation for the team that finishes in a draft league with the best record . . . and, maybe there should be.

So, I would love to hear any ideas you may have on how this might work in a replay using stock teams (like Atlanta and Seattle), but, also, how you might be able to give those teams with the best records in a draft league a similar advantage in their playoffs.

Innovation Friday – “Read Option”

I was watching last Monday night’s game between the Packers and Lions and smiled to myself each and every time Brett Hundley ran the “read-option”. Why the “read-option” is no longer in vogue like it was a few seasons back, it is still routinely used throughout the league and is incorporated into each teams playbook. It should also be another “tool in the toolbox” for every APBA Football coach. This weeks “Innovation Friday” reintroduces Phil Molloy’s tremendous “Read Option” innovation.

“Home Field Advantage”

Mr. Dan Flynn contacted me regarding his thoughts on replicating “Home Field Advantage” and wanted an honest opinion on some ideas he was kicking around. After a little back and forth, Dan decided to table it for now and asked me to hold off presenting his ideas at this time. During our discussion, Dan pointed out the “Home” teams win at higher rate than road teams on a very consistent basis.  He used 2005 card set as an example were the home teams won at .570 clip (that is very close to the historical average).

My problem with external factors such as home field advantage, weather conditions, crowd noise, injuries, etc. have already been “baked” into the cards. There are so many variables to consider, does each team actually play well at home? What is each team’s “strength of schedule”? Personally if I ever considered implementing any type of “home field” advantage, I would keep it very subtle and use a few of my friend Ray Dunlap’s innovations. For instance, on third and fourth downs, if the play resulted in exact yardage for a first down require a measurement. If my team had a real good home record, I would say on dice rolls of 1 through 5 the visitors were short by one-yard. I would implement his “Bonus A” innovation, if a B receiver catches three in a row without an incompletion, he is an “A” receiver on his next target. C” receiver only requires two in a row before earning his bonus “A” on next target. These type of innovations don’t tinker with the cards but could have a huge impact on the outcome of the game. On the flip-side, Dave Urban is someone who I have great respect for and I know that he adjust the home team split offensive index by one.

Listen, Dan certainly is not the first person to ever contact me regarding “home field advantage” so I would love to open this topic up for discussion and hear other folks thoughts, methods, and any hopefully some statistical data.