HEAT Check: NFL Week 6

Reservoir GodCorrespondent IIOctober 16, 2011
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The numbers say LeBron James may need to suit up for his Cowboys to beat the Patriots, but what do they say about the rest of the Heat's favorite NFL teams?
Friday's HEATcast featured picks for the Heat players' favorite football teams in Week 6 of the NFL season by Alfredo Arteaga from HeatFreak.com. These spreadsheets list the QB and RB Scores for the passers and rushers on those teams and their opponents this week. What do the numbers say about Arteaga's picks?

QB Score and RB Score are simple statistical measures developed by sports economist David Berri to measure player performance in the NFL. The advantage of these stats have over the NFL's QB Rating and simple rushing yards is that Berri's stats are simpler to calculate and correlate with wins. See the article, A New QB Score, for more information on QB Score and RB Score.

Panthers on offense:
  • Cam Newton ranks 10th in QB Score per Play. Carolina's rookie quarterback has more combined passing and rushing attempts (243) than any other quarterback in the league. Drew Brees is second with 239. Newton is literally carrying the Panthers' offense on his back and is doing it with top 10 efficiency.
  • Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams rank in the top 15 for RB Score out of 140 qualified running backs and both of them have above average RB Scores per Play. While Newton assumes a heavy load on offense, Carolina's backs are no slackers.  Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte and Fred Jackson are the only running backs with more plays from scrimmage than Stewart and Williams.
Panthers on defense:
  • Matt Ryan's efficiency has been ice-cold this season. He ranks 23rd out of 33 qualified passers in QB Score per Play. Only Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger have more turnovers than Ryan, but Matty Ice has generated less yards than both of them despite using more plays.
  • Michael Turner has been more of a slow and steady cook than the burner this season. He ranks 14th of 140 qualified running backs in RB Score but his RB Score per Play is below average.
Alfredo picked the Falcons to win. Atlanta's defense and home-field advantage will have to get them the lead and Turner will have to burn the clock out after that. If the Panthers' defense can get Cam and the offense the ball enough, then Alfredo will be proven wrong this afternoon.

Eagles on offense:
  • Michael Vick ranks 12th in QB Score per Play. If he just had an average number of turnovers, then Vick would be the fifth-most efficient quarterback in the NFL. Instead he's tied with Roethlisberger for the most turnovers in the NFL and the Eagles are 1-4.
  • LeSean McCoy ranks 8th in RB Score. Only five running backs have more yards from scrimmage than McCoy — Forte, F. Jackson, Ryan Mathews, Darren McFadden and Jahvid Best.
Eagles on defense:
  • Rex Grossman ranks 26th in QB Score per Play. As expected, his turnovers are below average. Grossman has also produced about 250 less yards from scrimmage than the average quarterback this season. Fortunately for Washington, Grossman's been responsible for less plays than the average QB, thus limiting his negative impact on the offense.
  • Washington has three running backs in the top 40 (of 140 qualified RBs), but Tim Hightower has gotten the overwhelming majority of the touches despite underwhelming production. Hightower has only been half as productive as the average running back on a per-play basis. Ryan Torain was twice as productive as the average running back in his only appearance this season and Roy Helu has been 1.5 times as productive. It might be time for a change in the ground game after their bye week.
Alfredo picked the Eagles to win. In order for that to happen, the Eagles' defense will need to either get lucky with a lot of carries by Hightower or take the ball away from Grossman while keeping Torain in check.

Cowboys on offense:
  • Tony Romo ranks 6th in QB Score per Play. Despite some bone-headed turnovers, he's still average in that category. How has he managed to be so productive while playing with broken ribs? Some combination of offensive line, athleticism and quick receivers seems to be the answer. Only Matthew Stafford, Kerry Collins, Colt McCoy, Jason Campbell and Vick have been sacked less than Romo this season.
  • Felix Jones ranks 32nd of 140 RBs in RB Score and has been below average on a per-play basis. Tashard Choice has been more productive per-play but only has 29 touches this season. The average running back has gotten 31 touches.
Cowboys on defense:
  • Tom Brady ranks 2nd in QB Score per Play. No QB has produced more yards from scrimmage than Brady and the only reason he ranks second is his four-interception game against the Buffalo Bills.
  • BenJarvus Green-Ellis ranks 22nd of 140 RBs in RB Score, but his production per-play is below average. Danny Woodhead has also received a significant number of touches and has been slightly below average per-play.
Alfredo picked the Patriots to win at home and it seems the only way the Cowboys can prove him wrong is if they get an unusual number of turnovers from Brady and the offense.
Bears on offense:
  • Jay Cutler ranks 14th in QB Score per Play. He's managed to provide above average production despite being tied for taking the most sacks in the NFL. The other two QBs that took as many sacks as Cutler, Tarvaris Jackson and Sam Bradford, rank 27th and 31st in QB Score per Play. If Cutler only took an average number of sacks for the average number of lost yards, then he would be as efficient as Cam Newton.
  • Matt Forte ranks 1st in RB Score and he's doing it catching the ball out of the backfield. Only Adrian Peterson has gotten more touches at running back than Forte but Peterson has 28 more rushes. Only Darren Sproles has more receptions than Forte. Is that by design in Martz's offense or a result of the offensive line's inability to give Cutler time to throw downfield? Either way, it's working well for the Bears.
Vikings on offense:
  • Donovan McNabb ranks 19th in QB Score per Play. He's less involved in the Vikings offense as illustrated by his below average number of combined passing and rushing attempts but his efficiency is also below average. On the ground, McNabb is older but still effective. Only four QBs have more rushing yards than McNabb — Vick, Netwon, Chad Henne and Josh Freeman. The inefficiency in his game comes in the air, where only four quarterbacks average less yards per attempt — Kerry Collins, Sam Bradford, Blaine Gabbert and Kyle Orton. Those four quarterbacks have the four lowest QB Scores per Play in the NFL.
  • Adrian Peterson ranks 10th in RB Score but it's more quantity than quality with All Day this season. Peterson leads all running backs in total plays from scrimmage but has produced a below average RB Score per Play.
Alfredo picked the Vikings to upset the Bears at home but the numbers seem to favor Chicago unless Minnesota's pass rush really tilts the balance of the game in their favor with an insurmountable amount of pressure on Cutler.

Dolphins on offense:
  • Chad Henne ranked 11th in QB Score per Play. Before his season was ended by injury, Henne was putting together a very efficient year. While his QB rating was low, his QB Score was high because he was the third-ranked QB in the NFL in rushing yards. Henne was a big loss for the Dolphins.
  • Reggie Bush ranks 80th of 140 RBs in RB Score. Bush has only produced 205 yards from scrimmage in 53 plays this season. Thomas Jones and Rashard Mendenhall are the only running backs to produce less yards in 50 plays or more.
Dolphins on defense:
  • Mark Sanchez ranks 28th in QB Score per Play. Sanchez's season is what happens when you produce a below average number of yards with an above average number of plays and turn the ball over too much. Maybe the pundits are right and Sanchez needs to play a smaller role in the offense.
  • LaDainian Tomlinson ranks 13th out of 140 RBs in RB Score but only 48th in touches with 36 plays from scrimmage. Shonn Greene ranks 51st in RB Score and 15th in touches with 84 plays from scrimmage. Tomlinson and Greene both average 3.3 yards per carry. Maybe the Jets can simultaneously fix their running and passing game by having Sanchez throw the ball to Tomlinson instead of handing it off to Greene.
Alfredo's a Dolphins fan, so he took them to beat the spread but lose the game. If they get anything from the quarterback position, then Miami could give the Jets a good game as long as Rex Ryan and Brian Schottenheimer don't figure out how to fix the New York offense.