Mathletics: How Gamblers, Managers, and Sports Enthusiasts Use Mathematics in Baseball, Basketball, and Football

By Wayne Winston | Go to book overview

19
WHO'S BETTER, TOM BRADY
OR PEYTON MANNING?
Most American men spend a good deal of time arguing about who are the best quarterbacks in the NFL. For example, is Tom Brady better than Peyton Manning? The NFL quarterback rating system works as follows.

First one takes a quarterback's completion percentage, then subtracts 0.3
from this number and divides by 0.2. You then take yards per attempts sub-
tract 3 and divide by 4. After that, you divide touchdowns per attempt by
0.05. For interceptions per attempt, you start with 0.095, subtract from this
number interceptions per attempt, and then divide this result by 0.04. To get
the quarterback rating, you add the values created from your first four steps,
multiply this sum by 100, and divide the result by 6. The sum from each of
your first four steps cannot exceed 2.375 or be less than zero.1

This formula makes quantum mechanics or Fermat's Last Theorem seem simple. (The NCAA also has its own incomprehensible system for ranking quarterbacks.)To summarize, a quarterback's rating is based on four statistics:
completion percentage (completions per passing attempts)
yards gained per pass attempt (yards gained by passes) per (passing attempts)
interception percentage (interceptions per passing attempts)
TD pass percentage (TD passes per passing attempts).2

Like the antiquated Fielding percentage metric in baseball, this formula makes no sense. Note that all four statistics are given equal weight in the ranking formula. There is no reason why, for example, completion percent

1 Berri, Schmidt, and Brook, Wages of Win, 167.

2 Ibid., 167.

-132-

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