We’ve learned over the years that quarterback rating, long lauded as the stat that tells us which quarterback is the best in the NFL, is outdated and overrated. Lots of new ways to label the best quarterback have been created, but one of the most complete is Real Quarterback Rating, provided by Cold, Hard Football Facts.
The 2021 rankings finished with the Green Bay Packers in first, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in second, and the Los Angeles Chargers in third. Of course, the MVP was awarded to Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady finished second in MVP voting, and Justin Herbert threw for 5,000 yards and was named to the Pro Bowl.
Real Quarterback Rating involves total attempts (passing and rushing), total advances (completions and rushing), net yards, touchdowns, and turnovers. It is a measure of the whole quarterback, which in a league that involves running quarterbacks like Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson, is more important than ever.
A similar stat called Offensive Rusher Rating exists to measure the best teams at running the ball, also from the stat brains at Cold, Hard Football Facts.
It’s a team stat, not an individual one – the better for judging head-to-head matchups between teams – which is why the Colts only ranked sixth at the end of the year, in spite of the season from Jonathan Taylor. Undoing the Colts overall ranking was its 10 fumbles lost, with five of those belonging to Carson Wentz.
The top team in Offensive Rusher Rating was the Eagles, who did lead the NFL in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. Coming in second was Arizona, who only lost four fumbles all season, the best in the NFL.
Correlation to Victory
When it comes to using these stats, and the other stats provided by Cold, Hard Football Facts, and comparing them to standard football stats, it’s important to know which are the most predictive to an outcome of a game.
Correlation of Victory breaks that down for us, and shows us that teams that had the advantage in Real Quarterback Rating inside a given game finished the 2021 season 198-83. Compare that to the team that had the most passing yards, which was actually 94-177.
This was especially heightened in the playoffs. In the divisional round the team winning the Real Quarterback Rating battle was 4-0. The teams with the most yards went 0-4.
Using Stats for Preseason NFL Betting
With so few starters on the field for preseason football, traditional stats on individual quarterbacks, running backs, and defensive players don’t work. You can study Josh Allen’s numbers, but when he sits out the week, or plays just a series or two, it’s worthless.
This is where team efficiency stats come in, which do a better job of reflecting an overall philosophy or offensive style. A defensive scheme that works, and can still work even with the backups in.
Betting preseason NFL football is of course riskier than in the regular season, but if you focus your efforts on team predictive stats, you can lower that risk and get an edge.