A passing success? Running works better

Adrian Peterson (Brace Hemmelgarn/US Presswire)

The big passing numbers put up in the first two weeks around the NFL are all the rage, but having a 100-yard rusher means more for winning percentages. See what the numbers says about the best way in increase winning percentages.

After an opening weekend of football in which 14 of the 32 starting quarterbacks topped 300 yards, things slowed down somewhat in Week 2, but the message continues to be coming out loud and clear – passing is the norm in the new-look NFL.

Passing yardage numbers are being shattered early on in the 2011 season. Cam Newton set a passing yardage record for a rookie in his first game by topping 400 yards in his NFL debut (422). He followed that up by doing it again Sunday vs. Green Bay. Tom Brady has thrown for 940 yards in two games and is currently on pace to throw for an eye-popping 7,520 yards and 56 touchdowns. Granted it's only two games into the season, but five quarterbacks are on pace to throw for more than 5,000 yards if they continue at this early torrid pace.

But has being a consistent 300-yard passer a sign of success? Perhaps more importantly, is throwing the ball a better indicator of team success than have a 100-yard rusher?

Eight of the 30 quarterbacks that played Sunday threw for more than 300 yards. In addition, three others threw for between 291-298 yards. NFL quarterbacks are slinging the ball around and it would appear that quarterbacks are becoming more important than ever to their respective offenses.

There was a time not too long ago if a quarterback threw for more than 300 yards it meant that his team lost. That isn't true anymore. The 11 quarterbacks that threw for more than 290 yards on Sunday had a combined record of 7-4 and three of the four that lost were in games in which the other QB threw for 300 yards as well. Combined with the 8-6 record posted by the 300-yard QBs from Week 1, if you throw for more than 300 yards you're more likely to win than lose. However, 100-yard running backs aren't coming around as often, but they remain more of a barometer of success.

In Week 1, seven running backs topped 100 yards. Of those, six were on the winning team. In Week 2, there were six running backs that topped 100 yards and they combined to have a 4-2 record. Adrian Peterson's 120 yards were the most of any running back this week (through Sunday's games) and, as you know, he was one of the losing players. Of the 13 running backs that have topped 100 yards in the first two weeks of the season (pending tonight's game between the Giants and Rams), their teams have combined to post a record of 10-3.

Like it or not, the numbers don't lie. If you're looking to win, having a 100-yard runner is still the most successful way to go. Having a 300-yard passer puts that team at a 55 percent win rate (12 of 22). A 100-yard rusher means winning 77 percent of the time (10 of 13) so far this year. Passing has become the early rage of the 2011 season, but the old adage remains the same – if you run the ball successfully, you win more than you do throwing the ball all over the yard.


  • Brian Robison sat in front of his locker for an inordinate amount of time following Sunday's game, lamenting his offside penalty that negated a Bucs fumble in Tampa Bay territory.

    "It's something that inexcusable and can't happen," Robison said. "I own up to that myself. It's something that I can't do. It happened and I've got to try to make sure it doesn't happen again. Sometimes mistakes like that happen, but it's inexcusable."

  • Through two weeks, the surprise early undefeated teams include Detroit, Washington and Buffalo – all teams that lost double-digit games last year. There are only three undefeated teams left in the NFC after two weeks – unfortunately for the Vikings, two of them are in their own division.

  • There are currently just three teams in the NFC that have yet to win a game – the Vikings, Seattle and Carolina. A fourth will join them tonight, since the Giants and Rams are both 0-1 heading into their Monday night matchup.

  • The Vikings are going to face a stiff test against the new-look Lions. Through two games, not only have the Lions scored the most points in the NFC, they've allowed the least – outscoring their opponents 75-23 through two games.

  • The Vikings' Week 4 opponent, Kansas City, suffered an enormous loss when star running back Jamaal Charles suffered what is believed to be a torn ACL – the third starter to go down for the Chiefs in two games. Kansas City has been outscored 89-10 in their first two games.

    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

  • VikingUpdate.com Recommended Stories

    Up Next

    Adrian Peterson set a number of records and continued his assault on the team and NFL rushing charts…