GraphLink: Facebook+NFL

NFL Facebook Fans by County

This winner of this month’s award for “Unexpected Achievement in the World of Graphs” is Sean Taylor of the Facebook Data Science Team. Rather than describe what has been done, I’ll just leave a link here and say it’s Super Bowl related. It’s better explained by Sean anyway.

NFL Facebook Fans by County
My, that's a lot of data.

We here at GraphGraph appreciate a good graph, but what is getting our spreadsheets all in a pivot right now is dreaming of the amount of data that the good folks* at Facebook have at their disposal.

I have one problem with their presentation, and that would be the use of grey as a color. I understand that with 32 teams, there are only so many color options, and I can’t at this moment say how I would have done it differently. Nevertheless, to my eye, grey always looks like it represents “neutral” or “no data available,” not “Patriots or Colts or maybe even Cowboys.” Oh well.

make a gif image

There is a series of maps that shows the support for each remaining team as this year’s postseason progressed. I immediately wished there was an animated version, so I created a gif for your internetting consumption. Enjoy.


I’d like to see this map redone with the map weighted by population, like they do around election time. I also wouldn’t mind seeing this for other sports, like baseball and basketball and curling. Finally, I would be remiss not to mention two things:

1) Sean, Corey, and I all share the same alma mater.
2) Go Ravens.

*I sincerely hope that they are good, given all of the embarrassing pictures they have of young graph enthusiasts.

NFL Championships Per Year

The Green Bay Packers are the winningest NFL franchise. If you watched one minute of Super Bowl coverage last year, you would have been told that. 10 times. But they are also one of the oldest teams in the NFL, founded in 1921. They were winning championships before most of the teams today existed, so their accomplishments aren’t all that great, right? Yes, they won a lot, but at what rate were they winning? How would they stack up against the rest of the league in terms of championships per year? As it turns out, quite well.

Using wikipedia as a source, a table was created listing every current NFL team. Years of eligibility are based on the first year the team is eligible to win the Super Bowl. Before the Super Bowl era, this is based on the first year the team is eligible for the NFL championship. Thus, no AFL championships are included, and NFL championships during 1966-1970 are not included. No AAFC championships are included.* Teams who have never won an NFL championship are listed in order from youngest to oldest. 

As a result, teams such as the New England Patriots and their three titles are ranked higher than the Washington Redskins and their five, due to Washington’s 34 more years of eligibility. Both the fledgling Baltimore Ravens and the long established Oakland Raiders are both winning Super Bowls at a rate of .067 per year. The aforementioned Packers are winning ~.05 more championships a year than the next closest team, their nearby rivals in Chicago.

Terribly useful? Perhaps not. But it is an interesting way to look at and define “success.”
* Let it go, Cleveland. It was a B-league and you know it.