Rusher Rating: Weekend recap, SB lookahead

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jan 23, 2012



By Ken Crippen
Pro Football Researchers Association


Both games were exciting this weekend, and both came down to field goals to tie or win the game.
 
Let’s dig into each of the games, but first let's take a look at the two teams that made it through.

New England Patriots vs. New York Giants

 
It is a rematch of the 2007 Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. The Patriots were gunning for a perfect season, but the Giants spoiled their dreams with a 17-14 victory. Now, the Patriots are bitter and want revenge.
 
The Giants, however, are not backing down. They know that they can beat the Patriots. They were also one of the hottest teams heading into the playoffs. Not only was Eli Manning improving, but the running game also improved. On the other side of the ball, the Giants got healthy. The return of Osi Umenyiora, who was out for four weeks with an ankle injury, definitely had an impact as the defense got stronger.
 
The Patriots are experimenting in the playoffs. During the Divisional round of the playoffs, the Patriots toyed with using Aaron Hernandez as a running back. It worked so well that he was their leading rusher, based on Rusher Rating, by a wide margin. Expect to see new wrinkles out of Bill Belichick and the Patriots offense. Some coaches do things just to out-smart themselves. Belichick’s experiments have provided dividends for the Patriots.
 
The Patriots had the better Rusher Rating Differential during the regular season.
 
Regular Season Rushing Attempts Offensive Rusher Rating Defensive Rushing Attempts Defensive Rusher Rating Rusher Rating Differential
New England Patriots 438 107.68 405 94.55 +13.13
New YorkGiants 411 101.16 435 96.53 +4.63
 
…but, the Giants have a decided edge during the playoffs…
 
Playoffs Rushing Attempts Offensive Rusher Rating Defensive Rushing Attempts Defensive Rusher Rating Rusher Rating Differential
New York Giants 84 86.22 72 60.38 +25.42
New England Patriots 61 87.66 71 78.50 +9.16
 
Looking at Offensive Rusher Rating, it is almost a statistical dead heat.
 
Offensive Rusher Rating Attempts Yards Yards per Attempt TD Fumbles Rusher Rating
New England Patriots 61 242 3.97 2 2 87.66
New York Giants 84 352 4.19 1 0 86.22
 
Where we see the difference is in the Defensive Rusher Rating.
 
Defensive Rusher Rating Attempts Yards Yards per Attempt TD Fumbles Rusher Rating
New York Giants 72 361 5.01 0 3 60.38
New England Patriots 71 260 3.66 1 1 78.50
 
The Giants were obviously helped with the three turnovers by the Packers in the Divisional round, but New York had been surging late in the year, so it was no surprise that they had solid Rusher Rating numbers for both offense and defense.
 
In the Super Bowl, I see the Giants using a balanced attack of Manning, and the combo of Bradshaw and Jacobs. However, I do not see New England relying on the running game to win. They have always been a passing team under Belichick and Brady, and I see no reason for them to deviate.
 


Baltimore Ravens vs. New England Patriots

 
Baltimore had a chance to win this game. Throughout the first half, Tom Brady was off. His passes were not as crisp as usual. His accuracy was not on par. However, Baltimore got away from what works for them on offense: heavy doses of Ray Rice. Still, at the end of the game, the Ravens were in position to tie the score on a 32-yard field goal attempts by Billy Cundiff. But, Cundiff shanked the ball to the left and the Patriots secured the victory.
 
In the second half, Baltimore started to get Rice more involved, but Tom Brady was able to get into his groove and started to move the ball more effectively.
 
What was surprising, however, was the defense of the New England Patriots. On the first three series of the game, the Patriots held the Ravens to -6 total yards and prevented them from getting a first down until late in the first quarter.
 
Another surprise was the Patriots running game. Toward the end of the season, it had shown signs of improvement. However, they still needed to rely on the arm of Brady to win games. Against the Ravens, Brady only threw for 239 yards, with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. The scoring was from the running game.
 
Baltimore Ravens Attempts Yards Yards per Attempt TD Fumbles Rusher Rating
Joe Flacco 4 27 6.75 0 0 89.81
Ricky Williams 6 22 3.67 0 0 72.90
Ray Rice 21 67 3.19 0 0 70.28
TOTAL 31 116 3.74 0 0 73.31
 
New England Patriots Attempts Yards Yards per Attempt TD Fumbles Rusher Rating
BenJarvus Green-Ellis 15 68 4.53 1 0 130.43
Tom Brady 6 2 0.33 1 0 107.38
Aaron Hernandez 3 9 3.00 0 0 69.24
Julian Edelman 1 -1 -1.00 0 0 52.78
Danny Woodhead 6 18 3.00 0 1 16.46
TOTAL 31 96 3.10 2 1 107.14
 
Finally, let’s look at Rusher Rating Differential for both teams. As mentioned previously, the Patriots won this game on the ground. They only generated 96 rushing yards, but those yards resulted in two touchdowns.
 
Team Rushing Attempts Offensive Rusher Rating Defensive Rushing Attempts Defensive Rusher Rating Rusher Rating Differential
Baltimore Ravens 31 73.31 31 107.14 -33.83
New England Patriots 31 107.14 31 73.31 +33.83
 
 

New York Giants vs. San Francisco 49ers

 
The Giants’ gameplan going into this weekend was to rest the outcome on the arm of Eli Manning. Even through their running game was improving, the weather was definitely going to have an impact and they were going all in with Eli. Also, the 49ers had only allowed three rushing touchdowns all season and had the best Defensive Rusher Rating in the league.
 
Manning threw 58 passes, completing 32 for 316 yards and two touchdowns. Ahmad Bradshaw did get 20 carries in the game for a total of 74 yards, but they only ran 26 times as a team.
 
Conversely, the 49ers threw the ball 26 times, completing 12 for 196 yards and two scores. They were focused on the run. The combo of Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon ran 22 times for 108 yards. Add Alex Smith into the mix and San Francisco ran 28 times for 150 yards. A rather balanced attack.
 
The 49ers should have won this game. However, two costly mistakes by Kyle Williams put the Giants in excellent position for two scores, the last being the overtime field goal by Lawrence Tynes.
 
New York Giants Attempts Yards Yards per Attempt TD Fumbles Rusher Rating
Ahmad Bradshaw 20 74 3.70 0 0 73.08
Brandon Jacobs 5 13 2.60 0 0 67.04
Eli Manning 1 -2 -2.00 0 0 52.78
TOTAL 26 85 3.27 0 0 70.72
 
San Francisco 49ers Attempts Yards Yards per Attempt TD Fumbles Rusher Rating
Kendall Hunter 4 31 7.75 0 0 95.30
Alex Smith 6 42 7.00 0 0 91.19
Frank Gore 16 74 4.63 0 0 78.16
Anthony Dixon 2 3 1.50 0 0 61.01
TOTAL 28 150 5.36 0 0 82.17
 
As mentioned previously, San Francisco had the more balanced attack, but mistakes were costly. The two fumbles by Williams set up the Giants to score twice and win the game.
 
Team Rushing Attempts Offensive Rusher Rating Defensive Rushing Attempts Defensive Rusher Rating Rusher Rating Differential
New York Giants 26 70.72 28 82.17 -11.45
San Francisco 49ers 28 82.17 26 70.72 +11.45
 How the Rusher Rating is Calculated 
Here is how each component is calculated:
 
Average Yards Gained per Attempt (YD) = [Total Yards/(4.05 * Rushing Attempts)]
 
Percentage of TDs per Carry (TD) = [(39.5*Touchdowns)/Rushing Attempts]
 
Percentage of Fumbles per Carry (F) = [2.375-((21.5*Fumbles)/Rushing Attempts)]
 
Adding these components together and adjusting to a scale of 158.3 (the same as the NFL Passer Rating System) yields:
 
Rusher Rating = [(YD) + (TD) + (F)] * (100/4.5)
 
 
How the Real Running Back Rating is Calculated
 
Now, we look at the Real Running Back Rating. Here are the updated equations with the receiving components:
 
Average Yards Gained per Attempt (YD) = [Total Yards/(4.05 * Rushing Attempts)]
 
Percentage of TDs per Carry (RUSHTD) = [(39.5*Touchdowns)/Rushing Attempts]
 
Average Yards Gained per Reception (REC) = [Receiving Yards/(9*Receptions)]
 
Percentage of TDs per Reception (RECTD) = [(27.5*Touchdowns)/Receptions]
 
Percentage of Fumbles per Touch (F) = [2.375-((21.5*Fumbles)/(Rushes + Receptions))]
 
Adding these components together and adjusting to a scale of 158.3 yields:
 
Rusher Rating = [(YD) + (RUSHTD) + (REC) + (RECTD) + (F)] * (100/7.5)
 
 
Ken Crippen is the executive director of the Professional Football Researchers Association, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to preserving football history. You can follow him on Twitter: @KenCrippen.

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