An age-old axiom says you need to run the ball to win in the NFL and for those who believe in that, the following numbers will support that belief. Teams with the most rushing yards in a game are 65-25 SU (.722) and an equally impressive 61-27-2 ATS (69.4 percent) after six weeks. Teams who have run more times in a game own an even higher winning percentage, going 71-15 SU (.826) and 66-19-1 ATS (77.6 percent) with four games ending with both teams having the same amount of rushing attempts. Teams with 100-yard rushers went 6-2 SU (6-0-2 ATS) in Week 6 and now own records of 28-12 SU (.700) and 28-10-2 ATS (73.7 percent) in those games on the season.
That's in stark contrast to teams which produce 300-yard passers. Four QBs topped 300 yards in Week 6 and while those teams went 3-1, they were just 1-2-1 ATS. Teams with 300-yard passers have gone a pathetic 10-20 SU (.333) and 9-20-1 ATS (31.0 percent) in 2010, after going 6-15 SU and 5-15-1 ATS the last four weeks. Philip Rivers of the Chargers is on pace for just over 5,350 passing yards on the season and Denver's Kyle Orton is on pace for just under 5,180 yards. Both have an opportunity to surpass Dan Marino's single-season record of 5,084 set back in 1984.
However, while Marino led the Dolphins to a 14-2 record and a Super Bowl appearance back in 1984, the Broncos and Chargers are both 2-4 through six games in 2010. There have seven, 400-yard passing efforts through six weeks of the 2-010 season with Rivers owning two (both losses) and Orton one (loss, as well). I'll note that Marino had four, 400-yard games in his record-setting 1984 season which remains an NFL-best to this day. In fact, Marino's three, 400-yard games in 1986 is the second-most 400-yard games in a single season. Matt Schaub passed for a season-high 497 yards for the Texans in the team's 30-27 (OT) Week 2 over Washington, although McNabb topped 400 yards passing in that game as well with 426. In each one of the other five, 400-yard passing games this year, the QB who threw for over 400 yards saw his team lose both SU and ATS.
One final QB note before moving on. Max Hall had a terrific career at BYU but went undrafted last April. However, he impressed the Cardinals in training camp and was one of the main reasons Arizona released former No. 1 pick and Heisman-winner, Matt Leinart. After Derek Anderson's play became unacceptable to Whisenhunt, Hall was given his first NFL start in Arizona's home game vs the Saints in Week 5. The Cards won that game 30-20, as Hall became the first undrafted rookie QB to start and win against a defending Super Bowl champ since Pittsburgh's Kent Nix did so against the Green Bay Packers in 1967. Another quite interesting note from that game is that the Cards became the first team to score 30 points without a rushing or receiving TD since 1993!
Week 7 opens with four teams owning winning records despite getting outscored by their opponents. The Cards have been outscored by 50 points, the Bucs by 31 and the Dolphiins by 23, yet all are 3-2. The Texans are 4-2, despite being outscored by 14 points. It seems unlikely these teams will continue to win if they don't start playing better. At the other end of the spectrum we find the Lions, who despite owning a 1-5 record, have outscored opponents by six points. Detroit's lone win was a 44-6 rout of the Rams (that helps the point-differential) but note that four of the Lions' five losses have come by margins of five, three, two and eight points. It should come as no surprise that the Lions are 5-1 ATS (lone ATS loss came by one point!).
Then we have the curious case of the Chargers and Cowboys. The Chargers, who have won the last four AFC West titles, find themselves at 2-4 through six weeks, despite outscoring their opponents by 31 points. Even more head-scratching occurs when one notes that San Diego leads the NFL in both yards gained (432.7 per game) and yards allowed (255.2 per). That means the Chargers have outgained opponents by 177.5 YPG, yet gone 2-4. How does that happen? Allowing six TDs via special teams and turnovers returned for scores is part of the answer.
That brings us to the Cowboys, who won the NFC East last year. Wth the Super Bowl set for Cowboys Stadium this February, Dallas had designs on being the first NFL team to ever host sport's biggest event. However, the Cowboys find themselves at 1-4 through Week 6, despite only being outscored by nine points on the season. In a somewhat similar situation to San Diego's, Dallas ranks third in total offense (400.0 YPG) and 4th in yards allowed (281.4) but has won just once in five tries, despite outgaining its opponent in each game this year. Both teams have HUGE games this week at home, the Chargers (minus-2 1/2 points) hosting the Patriots and the Cowboys (minus-3) hosting the Giants on MNF.
Speaking of home teams, they were 8-6 SU and 6-7-1 ATS in Week 6. That leaves them 51-39 SU (.567) and 42-46-2 ATS on the year. Home dogs had a rough time of it last weekend, going 1-4 SU and 1-3-1 ATS. However, home dogs have been a solid play in 2010, going 20-13-1 ATS (60.9 percent). There are just two home dogs in Week 7, the Dolphins getting three points vs the Steelers and Panthers getting three points vs the 49ers. For the fifth straight week, we saw more overs than unders. Eight games went over in Week 6 (six went under), giving over bettors a five-week run of 43-31 (58.1 percent). Y-T-D, it's 47 overs, 42 unders and one push.
Regular readers know I've been playing a little game of "going against" unbeaten teams since Week 3 (when there were eight 2-0 teams and eight 0-2 teams) in this column, while "playing on" winless teams. The only play in Week 6 was on the winless 49ers and they eked out a win and cover in their 17-9 victory against the Raiders. That leaves us a very profitable 17-7 or 70.8 percent ATS since Week 3. There haven't been any unbeatens to go against since KC lost at Indy in Week 5 and with San Francisco's win in Week 6, we have just two winless teams to play "on" in Week 7. The 0-5 Bills are at the 4-2 Ravens getting 13 points and the 0-5 Panthers are home to the 1-5 49ers getting three points (all lines as of 12 noon ET on Saturday).
Good luck this weekend, Larry