Top Guns: NFL Blowouts Move In Lockstep With Real Quarterback Rating
By Shaun Church
Cold, Hard Football Facts Gridiron Goose (@church_NFL)
Another week is in the books, and already, we are nearing October. The first three weeks of the 2013 NFL season came and went faster than Maverick during a fly-by of the watch tower in Top Gun.
Speaking of things that fly, how about that Denver Broncos’ offensive attack? Peyton Manning is scoring more often than Tommy Lee did in the 1980s.
Through three games, Manning’s Broncos are tied with the 1966 Dallas Cowboys for the second-most points scored in NFL history (127) and are behind only the 1968 Cowboys for the most (132).
Manning and the Broncos are lighting up the NFL because they are lighting up the Real Quarterback Rating stat sheet.
- The Broncos are easily No. 1 in the NFL in Real Quarterback Rating (123.9).
- They're also No. 1 in Real Quarterback Rating Differential (+55.3).
Both rankings provide statistical confirmation that Denver is the most dangerous team in football.
The Broncos are winning for the same reason NFL teams always win: because they are dominating the battle at the most important position in sports.
But they're not alone. Teams in the NFL win when they win the battle of Real Quarterback Rating. We also learned in Week 3 that NFL teams blow out opponents when they blow out opponents in the battle of Real Quarterback Rating.
The 2013 season, and Week 3 in particular, provided plenty of proof that the scoreboard moves in lockstep with quarterback efficiency. It's not perfect lockstep. But it's pretty damn close.
Manning's latest virtuoso performance came Monday night in Denver's 37-21 victory over the Raiders. However, it was not one of the great blowouts of the 2013 season or even of Week 3, either on the scoreboard or on the Real QB Rating stat sheet.
Those blowout honors went to three other teams in Week 3:
- Cam Newton and the Panthers over the Giants (+38 points; +82.8 Real QB Rating Differential)
- Russell Wilson and the Seahawks over the Jaguars (+28 points;+74.3 Real QB Rating Differential)
- Tony Romo and the Cowboys over the Rams (+24 points; +64.0 Real QB Rating Differential)
These teams produced three of the six biggest scoreboard blowouts of the 2013 season; they were also three of the four biggest Real QB Rating blowouts of the 2013 season, according to our Real QB Rating Differential Big Board at CHFF Insider.
Seven games this season have been decided by more than 21 points. These are the seven biggest blowouts of the 2013 season. They include six of the seven biggest blowouts of the 2013 season in Real Quarterback Rating Differential, too.
Biggest Scoreboard Blowouts of 2013; Real QB Rating Differential 2013 season rank
|Week||Winner||Loser||Score||Score Diff.||RBQR Diff (rank)|
|1||3||Carolina||N.Y. Giants||38-0||+38||82.8 (1st)|
|3||1||Kansas City||Jacksonville||28-2||+26||57.4 (6th)|
|4||2||Seattle||San Francisco||29-3||+26||35.5 (14th)|
|5||3||Dallas||St. Louis||31-7||+24||64.0 (4th)|
|6||3||New Orleans||Arizona||31-7||+24||59.5 (5th)|
These blowouts highlight the accuracy of Real QB Rating and why we call it The Perfect Stat. Performance in Real QB Rating, more so than any other stat in football, has a direct impact on what unfolds on the scoreboard.
Teams getting solid quarterback play and defending opposing quarterbacks well are sitting pretty in the standings through three weeks. Four of the top five teams in overall Real QBR Differential are 3-0, while the Detroit Lions (No. 4, +31.43) are 2-1—that’s a combined 14-1 record among the top five, for our math-deficient readers.
The top five Real QB Rating Differential blowouts through three weeks feature an average score of 38.8-11.6. That’s nearly a four-touchdown advantage per game and is no surprise when you look at each game by the numbers.
Here's a closer look at the five biggest blowouts of the season in Real QB Rating Differential. They include five of the biggest blowouts of the season on the scoreboard, too.
No surprise that the biggest blowout of the year on the scoreboard was also the biggest blowout off the year in Real Quarterback Rating Differential, according to our Big Boards.
1. Panthers 38, Giants 0 (Week 3, Carolina +82.80)
Eli Manning completed 12 of 23 (52.2%) for 119 yards, 5.2 YPA, 0 touchdowns and 1 interception. He was sacked a staggering seven times by Carolina’s defense. Combined with Curtis Painter’s 2 of 4 relief effort, the Giants put up the lowest Real QB Rating of the early season, at only 26.49, according to our Real QB Rating Big Board.
Teams with an Offensive Real QBR of below 60.0 are now 0-15 this season.
As you can see from the table to the right, the Manning family is, indeed, the first family of football.
Yes, I say that in jest.
On the other sideline, Newton performed much more like the Panthers want to see on a weekly basis. Newton was sacked just once and rushed for 45 yards on seven carries (6.4 YPC) and a touchdown.
He completed 15 of 27 (55.6%) for 223 yards, 8.3 YPA, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception, earning the 38-0 shutout win and a 109.29 Real QB Rating, pushing the record of teams with a +100.0 Real QBR to 16-4 (.800) on the season.
This game produced the largest Real QB Rating Differential of the year so far, a burly +82.80 in favor of Newton’s Panthers. It’s good for ninth-best since the start of 2012 and is one of an even dozen games to feature a +80.0 or higher differential.
2. Seahawks 45, Jaguars 17 (Week 3, Seattle +75.26)
Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Tarvaris Jackson produced the eighth-highest Real QB Rating of the season in this one, a stout 117.94 rating after completing 21 of 29 (72.4%) for 331 yards, 11.4 YPA, 5 touchdowns and 1 interception. The combination added five carries for 16 yards (3.2 YPC) and a Jackson rushing touchdown.
Wilson did fumble on one of two sacks forced by the Jacksonville Jaguars defense. He cannot be faulted for the turnover, however, as rookie safety Jonathan Cyprien made a great play to track down Wilson as he escaped the pocket.
The Jaguars started quarterback Chad Henne for the second straight week, and he struggled mightily against the No. 4 team in the Defensive Hog Index.
Henne earned a 42.68 Real QBR for his time at CenturyLink Field, the 10th-lowest total of the season. We can give Henne one thing: He outperformed San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in Seattle. The struggling second-year QB mustered only a 28.54 Real QBR just the week prior to Jacksonville’s trek into hell.
For the game, Henne completed 18 of 38 (47.4%) for 235 yards, 6.2 YPA, 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He was sacked three times, with a fourth of rookie Denard Robinson coming out of the “Wildcat” formation.
3. Broncos 49, Ravens 27 (Week 1, Denver +68.72)
This record-setting performance from Peyton opened the NFL season with a bang. He threw for a Thursday game record 462 yards, breaking the previous mark of 455 yards by Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman on Thanksgiving Day, 1998 (that was the Randy Moss three 50-yard TD game).
He is one of nine quarterbacks in NFL history to average at least 11.0 YPA on at least 40 throws in a single game—he was No. 8; Aaron Rodgers did it just 10 days later in the beat-down of Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins.
Manning’s 132.36 Real QBR for this game is only the 10th-highest since 2012, but it will never be forgotten.
Denver’s defense forced two Joe Flacco interceptions and sacked him four times, but it was a struggle in the first half—Baltimore held a 17-14 halftime lead. It wasn’t until three straight Manning touchdown drives to open the second half that the game was in hand.
4. Cowboys 31, Rams 7 (Week 3, Dallas +63.96)
The Dallas Cowboys won every Quality Stat en route to their Week 3 demolition of the St. Louis Rams. Quarterback Tony Romo picked apart the Rams, going 17 of 24 (70.8%) for 210 yards, 8.8 YPA, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions for a 132.17 Real QBR.
It is the eighth time in Romo’s career he has thrown at least three touchdowns while not turning the ball over and earning a passer rating of 130.0 or greater, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com—the Cowboys are 7-1 when he does that.
Dallas’ defense did not get Sam Bradford to turn the ball over. Instead, it used key sacks to get the Rams off the field—three on third downs and six in total.
Other than converting just 1 of 13 third downs and the six sacks, it was a solid day for Bradford. He completed 29 of 48 (60.4%) for 240 yards, 5.0 YPA, 1 touchdown and 0 interceptions for a 68.21 Real QBR. He’s had worse days.
But this day was about Romo, defensive end DeMarcus Ware (two sacks) and Co. playing near-perfect football; Bradford and the Rams simply got in the path of destruction.
5. Saints 31, Cardinals 7 (Week 3, New Orleans +59.46)
Most figured this game would be won by Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, as they are the better team. Playing in the friendly confines of the Superdome, where Brees is 31-11 (.738) since 2009, certainly didn’t hurt.
Few assumed it would be a laugher. It was, with the quarterbacks and linemen having everything to do with it.
Brees was brilliant, completing 29 of 46 (63.0%) for 342 yards, 7.4 YPA, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. He was sacked four times, though three of them came from Arizona Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett as he battled undrafted rookie right guard Tim Lelito, who filled in for an injured Jahri Evans.
The Super Bowl-winning quarterback also rushed for a touchdown and earned a 95.83 Real QBR for his efforts—not his best day, but it was plenty given the day his counterpart had.
Carson Palmer and the Arizona offense started out great. They took the ball first on the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards for a touchdown in 11 plays. But their final 10 drives consisted of eight consecutive punts—including four 3-and-outs—before back-to-back interceptions from Palmer.
On the day, the former Heisman Trophy winner completed 18 of 35 (51.4%) for 187 yards, 5.3 YPA, 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He was sacked four times and tallied a 36.38 Real QBR.
Other Real QB Rating Notes
Here are some impressive and interesting Real Quarterback Rating stats through three weeks of the season:
Teams winning Week 3 Real QB Rating Differential went 13-3 (top 12 went 12-0)
Teams with Real QB Rating greater than 100.0 went 16-4
Teams with Defensive Real QB Rating less than 60.0 went 15-0
Teams with top 36 Real QBR Differential games have gone 33-3
Top Real QB Rating Differential team for each week went 3-0 and combined to win by average of 42.7-16.7
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