Run or Pass. What’s been the path to NFL success after three weeks?

Giants Stadium

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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a biweekly blog published every Wednesday and Sunday with a bonus “SIX STATS…” posting every Friday.

WE INTERRUPT THE START OF THIS BLOG FOR A TRIVIA QUESTION. After the first three weeks of the NFL season only five teams are averaging four or more yards on every run and eight or more yards on every pass. Can you name the five teams? Answer to follow.

One expert calls the NFL “a passing league.” Another says “today’s marquee NFL stars are quarterbacks and receivers.” A friend of mine (a football fan) recently said to me, “If you would had asked me to name last year’s top three running backs in the NFL I’m not sure I could name them.” The point is, or maybe better stated, the question is… is the passing game the pathway to success in the NFL?

TRIVIA ANSWER: The five teams that after the first three weeks of the season were averaging four or more yards on every run and eight or more yards on every pass were Green Bay, Houston, New England, New Orleans and Arizona. They have a combined 10-5 record.

Here’s a look at the teams with the best and worst average yards per run and yards per pass:

Top Six rushing yards per play: Minnesota (5.8), Buffalo (5.6), Oakland (5.5), Philadelphia (5.4), Baltimore (5.2), Atlanta (4.8). These teams have a combined record of 9-9.

Top Six passing yards per play: New England (10.0), Dallas (8.9), Green Bay (8.9), Houston (8.9), NY Giants (8.8), Pittsburgh (8.8). These teams have a combined record of 13-5.

Bottom Four rushing yards per play: Tennessee (2.4), San Francisco (2.5), Detroit (2.8), Denver (3.2). These teams have a combined record of 8-4.

Bottom Four passing yards per play: Indianapolis (5.0), Kansas City (5.2), Seattle (5.4), Cleveland (5.7). These teams have a combined record of 3-9.

Let’s take a look at some more average run and average pass yardage stats after the first three weeks and how it translates to wins and losses:

* Teams averaging 8 or more yards per pass have a combined record of 24-12.

* Teams averaging 4.5 or more yards per run are a combined 9-18

* Teams under 7.0 yards per pass play are a combined 11-25.

* Teams averaging 7.5 or more yards per pass are 30-18; those under 7.5 are 18-30.

* If you combine each teams average yards per run and their average yards per pass, there are four teams that total 13.0 or more (Green Bay, New England, Buffalo and Houston). These four teams are a combined 10-2.

* The Tennessee Titans have the largest differential between average yards per run and average yards per pass. They are at 8.3 per pass and 2.4 per run, a difference of 5.9.

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