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First Down Percentage

What is First Down Percentage?

This statistic is not officially tracked by the NFL, but is tracked by every team and most every sports publication.  It tracks the percentage of first downs earned by the team and is typically compared against the percentage of other downs. 

Sporting Charts explains First Down Percentage

A team starts each series by automatically receiving a first down, and then must advance the ball 10 yards to receive another.  This statistic is calculated by dividing the number of total downs by the total number of first downs earned.  This statistic counts first downs earned through penalties, and usually counts first downs given to start the series.  This statistic is also useful for comparing teams across the league.  If a given team has a high percentage of first downs, it is indicative of their ability to advance the ball successfully. 

It is often used in association with red zone conversions to illustrate a team's ability to move the ball and score.  Some more advanced measures omit the first downs given to gain a more in depth look at the team's ability to actually gain a first down.

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