Dwyane Wade and LeBron James enjoyed some college football between Oregon and USC last night, but their real passion is for the game on Sundays. Will their favorite NFL teams reward that passion with wins?
This article will use two stats created by sports economist David Berri to measure the performance of NFL players: QB Score and RB Score. QB Score and RB Score are simple measures that take a player's net yards and subtract the impact of any turnovers to illustrate their production.
QB Score = All Yards – 3*All Plays – 30*All Turnovers
RB Score = All Yards – 3*All Plays – 30*Fumbles Lost
Panthers at Lions
Mario Chalmers' favorite team takes the field in Detroit a seven-point underdog. Alfredo Arteaga from HeatFreak.com picked the Lions to win. Here's what the numbers say:
- Cam Newton ranks seventh in QB Score per Play. Only Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers produced more net yards than Cam this season.
- Jonathan Stewart ranks 16th of 141 eligible running backs in RB Score. Stewart's been nearly 2.5 times more productive than the average RB this season and has not turned the ball over.
- Matthew Stafford ranks 12th in QB Score per Play. Stafford ranks ninth in the NFL's QB Rating while Newton ranks 14th, but Stafford has less passing and rushing yards than Cam.
- Jahvid Best ranks 11th in RB Score. He's been four times more productive than the average RB this season and the Lions will miss him dearly due to injury.
Packers vs. Buccaneers
Dexter Pittman's favorite team welcomes Tampa Bay to Lambeau Field. The defending champions are 14-point favorites. Alfredo picked the Packers to remain undefeated. Here's what the numbers say:
- Aaron Rodgers ranks 1st in QB Score per Play. Brees and Brady produced more net yards but they each have eight more turnovers than Rodgers.
- James Starks ranks 22nd in RB Score. His production has been inefficient this season, but he's been able to carry the ball enough to keep the Packers' running attack as viable as the offense needs it to be with Rodgers at QB.
- Josh Freeman ranks 20th in QB Score per Play. Only Philip Rivers, Mark Sanchez and Michael Vick have more turnovers than Freeman.
- Earnest Graham ranks 27th in RB Score and LeGarrette Blount ranks 29th. Graham's production has come in 44 less touches. Blount's touches have been more about quantity than quality.
Dolphins vs. Bills
Udonis Haslem, James Jones and Eddie House's favorite team try to keep their winning streak alive as Buffalo comes to Miami. The Dolphins are three-point favorites and Alfredo expects them to win. Here's what the numbers say:
- Matt Moore ranks 25th in QB Score per Play. The average QB turned the ball over once every 33 plays this season. Moore has turned the ball over once every 28 plays so far.
- Reggie Bush ranks 23rd in RB Score. Bush has climbed the charts after a dismal start to the season. He's still not efficient with his touches, but he hasn't turned the ball over since September.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick ranks 14th in 2.2 QB Score per Play. Fitzpatrick is an average QB in terms of production and his role in the offense but he ranks near the bottom of the NFL in terms of turnovers. Only Vick, Sanchez and Rivers have more.
- Fred Jackson ranks 1st in RB Score. Jackson produced one more yard than Matt Forte with 11 less touches and the same number of lost fumbles.
Vikings vs. Raiders
Mike Miller's favorite team hosts the men in silver and black from Oakland. Minnesota is a one-point favorite at home and Alfredo expects them to lose. Here's what the numbers say:
- Christian Ponder does not have enough passes to qualify for the QB Score rankings yet, but the Courtside Analyst ranked him sixth in Net Yards Produced per Play behind Newton, Vick, Rodgers, Brady and Manning.
- Adrian Peterson ranks 9th in RB Score. The fumble problems he had when the Vikings went to the NFC Championship game have not appeared this season. Peterson has not lost a fumble in the first nine games.
- Jason Campbell ranks 11th in QB Score per Play at 2.6. Carson Palmer's produced a 2.6 QB Score per play in three starts.
- Michael Bush and Darren McFadden rank 10th and 12th in RB Score, respectively. Bush racks up more yards off receptions than McFadden and has nine less touches and one less fumble.
Cowboys at Washington
LeBron and Chris Bosh's favorite team travels to D.C. as a seven-point favorite and Alfredo picked them to win. Here's what the numbers say:
- Tony Romo ranks fourth in QB Score per Play. While he gets criticized for throwing dumb interceptions, only three starting QBs have less turnovers in at least as many starts as Romo this season: Rodgers, Matt Schaub and Alex Smith.
- DeMarco Murray ranks seventh in RB Score. Murray is nearly four times as productive as the average RB per game and nearly twice as efficient per touch.
- John Beck ranks 28th in QB Score per Play and Rex Grossman ranks 32nd. It doesn't really matter which one coach Mike Shanahan starts.
- Roy Helu ranks 30th in RB Score. He's twice as productive as Tim Hightower on a per touch basis.
Bears vs. Chargers
Wade's favorite team is a 3.5-point favorite hosting San Diego. Alfredo picked the Chargers in an upset. Here's what the numbers say:
- Jay Cutler ranks 16th in QB Score per Play. His production has slipped below average the last few weeks as his role in the offense shrunk. Cutler's only been used in 319 plays this season while the average QB was used in 321.
- Matt Forte ranks 2nd in RB Score. No RB in the NFL has more touches this season.
- Philip Rivers ranks 15th in QB Score per Play. Rivers leads all starting QBs in turnovers. If he only turned the ball over like an average QB, his production would rank in the top 10 with Vick and Newton.
- Ryan Mathews ranks 8th in RB Score. He's been four times as productive per game as the average RB and nearly twice as productive per touch.
Eagles vs. Giants
Norris Cole's favorite team is a 5.5-point underdog in Jersey and Alfredo expects them to lose. Here's what the numbers say:
- Michael Vick ranks eighth in QB Score per Play. The problem has been turnovers when Vick plays since only Sanchez and Rivers have more. Of course, he may not play (or finish) the game against the Giants' defensive line that likes to hit the QB.
- LeSean McCoy ranks fourth in RB Score. Only four RBs have more touches than McCoy this season but he's the only one in the group that hasn't lost a fumble.
- Eli Manning ranks sixth in QB Score per Play. Top 10 production in terms of net yards combined with an average number of turnovers have made Eli an elite QB this season.
- Ahmad Bradshaw ranks 24th in RB Score. Bradshaw is 2.5 times more productive than the average RB per game, but his production per touch is below average. Brandon Jacobs is only half as productive as the average RB per touch.
Alfredo is 29-15 with his picks this season.