What is Dan Marino's passing worth regarding the winning margin? How much is the 49ers' running game worth when it comes to putting points on the scoreboard?
When a computer is turned loose on the 49ers-Dolphins statistics, the hardware has objective answers. Some are surprising:
One quarterback sack, according to the computer, is worth three points in the winning margin. That's more than a lost or recovered fumble.
Here are the computer's point values for the key stats:
Interceptions 5 points
QB sacks 3 points
Yards per pass attempt 3 1/2 points.
Fumbles lost/recovered 2 points.
Rushing plays 1 point
First downs rushing 2 points
10 yards rushing 1.3 points
10 yards passing 0.3 points
Percent TDs passing 2 points
The most important statistic, separating winners from losers this year, is percent of touchdowns per pass. Miami leads the league on offense (8.36 of all pass attempts are touchdowns, i.e., 1 in 12); San Francisco is tied with Denver for defensive leadership (2.34 percent). Miami has a small advantage on the differential (leads league with plus 4.65 vs. second-ranked 49ers' 3.77 percent). Advantage of two points to Miami.
QB Sack Differential (.6 point advantage for Miami, league leader on offense with Marino getting dumped less than once per game (.8); 5.7 points advantage for Miami on yards per pass attempt (Marino leads league on offense, 8.6 yards per toss). Teams are even on the interception differential; 49ers have an advantage of 0.7 points on total rushing plays and 5.5 advantage on the touchdown passes-to-interception ratio with Montana leading the league with 3.2 touchdowns per each interception.
San Francisco has a 2.1-point advantage on the first downs rushing differential, but Miami has a 1.5-point advantage on yards per play.
As always, the outcome will depend on the balance between passing touchdowns and interceptions, with quarterback sacks contributing to victory. Computer analysis: Miami by 1.