Note: Maybe you don't put any stock in advanced statistics. I don't blame you, but I still find them interesting. So keep an open mind and try not to take this too seriously.
The football nerds of websites like Advanced Football Statistics and Football Perspective have worked together to create an advanced statistic which they call "Adjusted YPC." Read the full article here.
Not unlike "Adjusted Girth," Adjusted YPC is a combination of different statistics that accurately measures potency-- of a running game in this case. Why is this necessary? Well, as you know, not all rushes are created equal. A one yard run on fourth and one is much, much more valuable than a twenty yard run on third and thirty. Touchdown runs are also more valuable than runs that occur on other parts of the field, even longer runs. And of course, even an ineffective running game can produce as much as an effective running game if the ineffective team runs the ball more often. As a result, teams that like to run the ball in short yardage situations, such as the Carolina Panthers, tend to have a low YPC that belies their true rushing prowess.
This leaves us with the following formula:
Adjusted Yards per Carry = (Rushing Yards + 20 x Rushing TDs + 9 x Rushing First Downs) / Rushes
Naturally, a ranking of all 32 NFL teams according to this stat would look different than a ranking that is based on another stat, such as total rushing yards or YPC.
Here is the ranking according to AdjYPC: These last three columns show rankings based different stats.
Sometimes the different rankings are fairly consistent. For example they all seem to agree that Philadelphia is the best running team in the league while Baltimore is the worst or close to it. The Colts, however, make a significant jump. Although they were twentieth in total yards and thirteenth in YPC, they came in twelfth in Adjusted YPC, which puts them just above Seattle. Go ahead and rage out about that.
Some other things I found interesting:
The entire NFC North is ranked in the top half of this list, and Green Bay, Chicago, and Minnesota were all in the top six. Considering that three of those teams also have high powered passing games, the NFC North could be the best offensive division in football next year. But they'll have to compete with the NFC East, which also has three teams in the top ten.
The Colts are higher on this list than
LaVon Brazill on vacation in Mexico any other team in the AFC South. That's great, but it seems likely to change next year with the return of Arian Foster and the retooled Jacksonville and Tennessee rushing attacks.
Last season, the only team with a top 16 Adj YPC that beat the Colts was the New England Patriots. San Diego, Arizona, Saint Louis, Cincinnati, and Miami were all on the bottom half of the list. It is interesting that a team with a poor rushing defense lost almost exclusively to teams with weak running games.