The runpass balance is a figure that is much talked about in the NFL. But what is a good balance? Does one rush for each pass attempt balance? Or is it some other figure?
A computer-aided analysis over the past eight years shows the best-balanced teams finish close to 2 to 1 (two rushes for each pass). Over the past seven years, Super Bowl teams have averaged 1.6 to 2.0 for each pass). By comparison the weakest teams in the league typically come in with one to one run-pass ratios.
Oakland was the strong team this year with a 2.1 balance figure on offense (21 rushes for each 10 passes). Other playoff teams near the top of the list were: Chicago, 1.96; L.A., 1.83, and Pittsburgh. 1.70.
By comparison, the weakest teams in the NFL typically show run-pass balance stats close to one-to-one. Buffalo, for example, ran the ball less than they passed. In the table above, they ranked last in the league with a .98 figure (below one-to-one). The Bills won only three games. But if you count the runs and pass attempts in those three wins you find their runpass balance figure jumped to 2-to-1 and 1.7-to-1 - typical of champions.
With a team that averaged 4.14 yards per rush, well over league average (3.8), one wonders why the Bills passed more than any other NFL team?
The strongest run-pass balance in all games this year was the Chicago-Minnesota contest of week 10. The Bears ran into the Viking's defensive line 63 times and passed only 7 - a run-pass ratio of 9-to-1. Walter Payton ran for 275 record yards and a Bear's victory.
It is not surprising. The Vikes didn't win a game in 1976 when their opponents had a 2-1 run-pass balance. In short, teams can run on Minnesota. The Rams ran 50 times this season passing 21 (2.4-to-1) and beat the Vikes by 32 points.
Statistically, Dallas is an interesting team relative to this run-pass balance stat. Their year average is 1.5 rushes for each pass ranking the Cowboys 11th, well below Oakland, New England. L.A. and Pittsburgh. Obviously Tom Landry believes in using Staubach's passing arm.
In the only game this season where Dallas ran less than they (27 rushes, 36 passes, vs Pittsburgh, they lost by 15 points.
In the AFC, Oakland played two games this year where their run-pass balance fell below 1-to-1. They lost both, the first to Denver the second to the Rams. Denver likewise fell below the 1-to-1 mark on two games and lost both.
Checking the defensive run-pass chart, it is clear that strong defensive teams stop forcing the foes to air and keeping them close to the 1-to-1 run-pass figure.
Does it make sense for the Broncos to force Stabler to the air? Statistics show that is the way to beat Oakland.