NFL Week 3: Ray Rice, Eli Manning & Buffalo Bills Brought the Earth, Wind & Fire


The most productive running back and quarterback were Ray Rice and Eli Manning in NFL Week 3 action, but Montario Hardesty and Fred Jackson fueled the most exciting games of the weekend.The NBA Lockout has forced me to start writing a new series of posts for the Wages of Wins Journal: Earth, Wind & Fire. I’ll highlight the most productive running backs and quarterbacks, as well as the most exciting games each week of the NFL season.The metrics for this series will be RB and QB Score for players.

QB Score = Yards – 3*Plays – 30*All turnovers

RB Score = Yards – 3*Plays – 30*Fumbles Lost

Advanced NFL Stats’ Excitement Index and NFL.com’s fan ratings will be used to identify the most exciting games.

Let’s get started…

Earth: Best NFL RBs in Week 3

Rice edged LaDainian Tomlinson by one point for the top RB Score in Week 3 with 164 total yards on 14 plays with no fumbles against the St. Louis Rams. After three weeks, the Rams defense has allowed opponents to put up the highest rushing score in the NFL (rushing score is simply RB Score without receptions).

This spreadsheet ranks all running backs in Week 3 by RB Score. The top five backs are listed below.

  1. Ray Rice (BAL): 122 RB Score, 8.7 per Play
  2. LaDainian Tomlinson (NYJ): 121 RB Score, 11.0 per Play
  3. James Casey (HOU): 119 RB Score, 19.8 per Play
  4. Darren McFadden (OAK): 112 RB Score, 5.1 per Play
  5. Fred Jackson (BUF): 110 RB Score, 6.5 per Play

Jackson’s performance in a comeback win over the New England Patriots only ranked fifth in Week 3, but for the season he’s been the most productive running back in the league. Jackson edged out Rice by nine yards for the top spot.

This spreadsheet ranks running backs by RB Score per game this season. The top five backs are listed below.

  1. Fred Jackson (BUF): 84.3 RB Score per Game
  2. Ray Rice (BAL): 81.3 RB Score per Game
  3. Matt Forte (CHI): 78.3 RB Score per Game
  4. Darren McFadden (OAK): 77.0 RB Score per Game
  5. Ryan Mathews (SDG): 72.0 RB Score per Game

Wind: Best NFL QBs in Week 3

Eli Manning took the wind out of Lincoln Financial Field with two big touchdown passes in the first quarter to Brandon Jacobs and Victor Cruz that gave the Giants a 14-0 lead. Manning was more than twice as productive as the average quarterback in Week 3 with
273 yards and no turnovers in just 29 plays against a secondary most people expected to be one of the best in the NFL.

This spreadsheet ranks all quarterback performances from Week 3 by QB Score per Play.

  1. Eli Manning (NYG): 6.4 QB Score per Play, 186 QB Score
  2. Matt Schaub (HOU): 5.6 QB Score per Play, 229 QB Score
  3. Matthew Stafford (DET): 5.0 QB Score per Play, 261 QB Score
  4. Mark Sanchez (NYJ): 4.6 QB Score per Play, 224 QB Score
  5. Matt Hasselbeck (TEN): 4.4 QB Score per Play, 175 QB Score

Manning was the most efficient quarterback in Week 3 but Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford put up the biggest numbers. Stafford racked up 417 yards on 52 plays with no turnovers for the Lions’ to beat the Minnesota Vikings in overtime at the Metrodome. Every
other quarterback with over 50 plays in Week 3 turned the ball over.

Stafford’s performance not only guided the Lions to a 3-0 record but also placed his numbers among the elite quarterbacks in the league this season. This spreadsheet ranks all qualified quarterbacks by QB Score per Play for the season. The top five quarterbacks are listed below.

  1. Tom Brady (NWE): 5.6 QB Score per Play, 782 QB Score
  2. Aaron Rodgers (GNB): 4.9 QB Score per Play, 584 QB Score
  3. Tony Romo (DAL): 4.6 QB Score per Play, 538 QB Score
  4. Matthew Stafford (DET): 4.6 QB Score per Play, 579 QB Score
  5. Matt Schaub (HOU): 4.4 QB Score per Play, 458 QB Score

Fire: Best Players from Best Games in Week 3

Colt McCoy’s touchdown pass to Mohamed Massaquoi with 48 seconds left made the Cleveland Browns’ 17-16 win at home over the Miami Dolphins the most exciting game of the weekend, according to the Excitement Index at Advanced NFL Stats. If it wasn’t for that play, McCoy would have gone down as the goat in a loss instead of a hero in the win.

McCoy was half-man, half-terrible against the Dolphins with a QB Score per Play of 1.3 that was only half the production of an average QB on Sunday. He was badly outplayed by Dolphins QB Chad Henne, whose QB Score per Play ranked sixth in the NFL for Week 3. The tide changed for McCoy and the Browns when he completed a short pass to RB Montario Hardesty on fourth down that went for a 10-yard gain.

Before that play, the Dolphins’ probability of winning the game was at 99 percent. Hardesty’s fourth down conversion dropped it to 64 percent. Hardesty kept the Browns in the game with 86 yards on 17 touches and an above average RB Score per Play.

The Browns defense also kept them in the game by holding the Dolphins rushers to the seventh-worst production of any running back committee in the league on Sunday. Rookie RB Daniel Thomas was slightly below average with 122 yards on 26 touches in Cleveland after a solid performance in Week 2, but Reggie Bush was the real problem.

Bush only gained 36 yards on 12 touches and put the ball on the ground for the Browns to recover. He ranked 91st out of 93 running backs in Week 3.

Fans at NFL.com rated the Buffalo Bills 21-point comeback win over the New England Patriots as the best of the weekend. Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two less picks than Tom Brady to post a more efficient QB Score per Play.

The Bills defense gave Fitzpatrick the edge over Brady on Sunday, but the Harvard graduate has only been slightly above average for the season with a 3.4 QB Score per Play (average QB Score/Play is 3.2). In my NFL season preview, I said the Bills would have a tough time making the playoffs even if Fitzpatrick had a big season. He’s improved this year, but not enough to carry the Bills into the playoffs
without a lot of help.

Of course, if Fred Jackson continues to be the most productive running back in the NFL and the defense continues to make opposing quarterbacks look bad, then anything can happen.

-Mosi


Mosi Platt (@MIA_Heat_Index) is the Miami Heat writer for the Wages of Wins Network. You can normally find him at the Miami Heat Index. In addition to making sure the  world knows the greatness of Dwyane Wade, Mosi also helps keep haters in line. Mosi makes his own lists of people who spread false information and he checks them twice thanks to his trusty Blackberry.

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