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Adding some nerd to your football conversation

A few go-to resources and tricks of the nerd trade to help make your football commentary nigh unreadable

Believe it or not, there are plenty of places on the ol’ internet to discuss the Buffalo Bills. Years ago when I was looking for a place to have meaningful conversations about football I jumped around a few spots and decided that Buffalo Rumblings was the place for me. There were two main reasons. The community here is much more open to discussion than most sites, and there’s a whole mess of really smart football talk here.

So many community members have helped me understand the game better and fueled my passion to dive deeper into analysis than I ever dreamed. Do you wanna know the best part? We’re probably inspiring the next wave of Rumblers and authors right now. So let’s give the analytical conversation a gentle push by sharing some of the best free resources for Bills fans.

Arguably the one that started it all for me. This site provides a deeper dive into penalties with sortable tables, tracking for every flag and advanced metrics like penalty rates based on per-game or per-play measures. Data goes back to 2009 so you can get the full scoop on things like Jerry Hughes’s year-by-year penalty numbers. Game recaps include full play-by-play with penalties highlighted.

The NFL Rulebook

This link will likely be outdated soon as it’s the 2019 version, but you get the idea. The league published the rules in their entirety. The voluminous digital tome can tell you everything from the dimensions of field markings to helping you explain why the Bills should have been awarded a safety in the Wild Card round.

The NFL Record and Fact Book

This one is also published every year and is full of fascinating tidbits of information with a heavy focus on league and team records. The link is to a download but it might be well worth your time. Did you know that the Bills VP of Community Relations is Gretchen Geitter? Page 43! Yes, that’s how deep the facts go. Need to win a bar bet? Memorize that Billy Atkins and Tom Janik are tied for the Bills’ single-season interception record with ten.

Next Gen Stats

I won’t tell you all the reasons I know this, but trust me when I say that the NFL is collecting A LOT more data than they let on to the public. The first peek into that world is their next gen stats site. Mostly focused on offense, here you can see which quarterback throws the ball furthest downfield on average via “air yards” or how often running backs face a stacked box. For most starting QBs, WRs, and RBs, there are also fun charts for play distribution like this one that shows how the Bills abused the Denver Broncos.

This is the big one. If PFR isn’t bookmarked already, do it now. This site aggregates NFL data from a ton of sources and puts it all at your fingertips. Ever wonder how sometimes in the comments you see an insanely quick data dump to respond to a question? PFR is usually the answer. Sortable tables across almost anything you can think of and even report builders to customize your queries. How deep does this go? They have information on referee tendencies, a searchable database to find out which players share your birthday, and a tool to get a list of every player to wear a specific jersey number. That’s how I know that Chuck Nelson was the first player to wear the number 13 for Buffalo and that it didn’t happen until 1984.

These are some of my favorites. Feel free to add your own to the collection in the comments!