Mad Chemist: Cam in Wonderland

By
Updated: October 24, 2013

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has talent but has frequently been misused by poor game planning.

In the inaugural article of this Mad Chemist series, I described how my system differed from the two most common systems: pure equations and trends. It is more borne of statistical categories and how they diverge from the mean when combined or dissected with other statistical categories.

One could argue, though, that my system is no different than the other two and in fact is more a blend of them. I take numerous past statistics and write numerous equations based on past trends to project future results.

That is not only the approach I take to pick against the spread, it is also my modus operandi when evaluating players and teams and foretelling their futures.

Through the looking glass

Today I will take you through the process from a topic that came up on the radio program: Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers’ collective win-loss record.

First, we cast a wide net to get a grasp on Newton’s career.

Venue
Home 8-11
Away 8-11
Completion %
60.00 to 69.99 8-8
>70+ 6-0
Passing attempts
<20 3-0
21 to 29 9-6
>30 4-16
Passer Rating
<80 3-13
80 to 90 0-3
90.1 to 100 2-2
>100 11-4
Interceptions
0 to 1 16-13
>1 0-9
Newton's rushing attempts
<6 1-6
6 to 9 9-14
>9 6-2

Except for the identical record for home and away records, nothing here is surprising: turnovers are bad and exceptional completion percentages good.

But the Mad Chemist way is to look at what pulls to the extremes. When Newton has fewer than six rushing attempts, the team is only 1-6, and when he throws it 30 or more times, they lose 80 percent of the time (4-16).

I am sure I am in the minority here, but I want Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers to win, so let’s focus on the inverse of the above. On occasions where Newton runs the ball six times or more and his pitch count is held under 30, the team is 12-5. When they’ve failed at this, they have gone 4-17.

Down the rabbit hole

That alone is good enough to affect game planning, but let’s dig deeper.

This is how the run/pass ratio has broken down during the Ron Rivera administration with Cam Newton at the helm:

Rushing attempts
W-L record
1-20 0-5
21-25 0-7
26-30 3-6
31-35 5-3
36-40 5-1
>40 2-0

It looks like there is a dividing line somewhere in the 26-30 range. Let’s zoom in:

Rushing Attempts
W-L Record
26 0-4
27 1-2
28 2-0
29 NA
30 NA

Yes, there is a very sharp dividing line. When Carolina rushes fewer than 28 times in a game, they lose (2-18). That would place them amongst the worst teams year after year. But when they get that 28th run, they rocket to a playoff contender (14-4)!

Giving Cam Newton six or more runs, rushing the ball 28 or more times (including Cam’s attempts), and passing less than 30 times a game are all very reasonable and doable goals coming into each game. The 13 times they have met these parameters, Carolina is 11-2. Both losses involved last-second defensive collapses:

  1. Atlanta mounts an improbable drive  from the 1 yd line with 59 seconds on the clock and scores the go-ahead field goal with with 10 seconds remaining. This was the drive lowlighted by the infamous .
  2. Tampa Bay drives 80 yards in 42 seconds and scores with 20 seconds left to force overtime.

One could argue that when the game gets out of hand early, a team may be forced to abandon the run, but that has seldom been the case with Carolina. Of Cam and company’s 22 losses, 14 have been by seven points or less. They have been within seven points entering the fourth quarter in 18 of their 22 losses.

So maybe this better illustrates how I come about any predictions in betting, Fantasy Football or real football.

I survey the landscape on a subject, take the relevant trends that show strong probability (A. Carolina is 14-4 when they have 28 or more rushing attempts) or improbability (B. Carolina is 1-6 when Newton rushes five times or less and C. Carolina is 4-16 when Newton passes 30 or more times) and then create an equation which I test to see if the result is even stronger than the components:

A (.778) + (not B(.857) + not C(.800)) = D. Panthers winning 84.6% of the time.

Off with their heads

The formula to win or lose is so blatantly clear! A review of this season makes it crystal clear:

 
Passing Attempts
Rushing Attempts
Newtons Rush Att.
Result
Wk 1: Seattle 23 26 5 LOSS 7-12
Wk 2: Buffalo 38 32 4 LOSS 24-23
Wk 3: NY Giants 27 46 7 WIN 38-0
Wk 5: Arizona 39 20 4 LOSS 22-6
Wk 6: Minnesota 26 39 9 WIN 35-10
Wk 7: St. Louis 17 38 10 WIN 30-15

In the two close losses, the coaching staff failed to meet two of the three criteria — and in the largest loss, all three! Look at how drastically different the offense and Cam Newton function when plays are called correctly compared to when the coaching staff ignores the run.

This is why I thought that offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinsky had to go last year. (As the Cleveland Browns head coach, with Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer as his quarterbacks, he has called 296 passes to 156 rushes.) But after yet another 0-2 start, I decided the coaching ineptitude reached higher.

Maybe the coaching staff has come to their senses, but head coach Ron Rivera remains on my hot seat and his only “get-out-of-jail-free” card is making the playoffs.

One pill makes you larger

Actually there are numerous pills that will make you larger these days, but that is beside the point. Here is the report on last week’s results:

Good news: I went 7-3 on the picks I gave you last week. Three of those wins were in games I picked against .

Bad news: The three loses were among the six games picked against PlatStats. That means Deep Cool went 1-5 on the week.

At 13-14-1, I take the biggest lead for either side yet at two games. PlatStats is 11-16-1. I am a lukewarm 31-22-2 on the year. A sweep by PlatStats will allow them to knot this challenge up yet again.

Pick Line Opponent
Deep Cool Agrees
Cleveland Browns +7 @ Kansas City Chiefs
New York Jets +6.5 @Cincinnati Bengals
Deep Cool Disagrees
Robert's Pick Line Deep Cool's Pick
Carolina Panthers -6 @ TB Buccaneers
Pittsburgh Steelers -3 @ Oakland Raiders

I had Pittsburgh at -1.5, but I am feeling magnanimous and will spot the Platy Pusses twice that!

My other picks are

  • San Francisco 49ers -16.5 @ Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Seattle Seahawks -10 @ St. Louis Rams
  • Miami Dolphins +4.5 @ New England Patriots
  • Green Bay Packers -6 @ Minnesota Vikings
  • New Orleans Saints -12.5 @ Buffalo Bills

As always, even though my system picks them, I do not recommend laying real money on double-digit favorites. One late garbage score or a kneel-down to run out the game can kill your bankroll.

About the author(s)

A self-described NFL addict and "stats geek," Robert J. Russ loves to demolish conventional wisdom with cold, hard numbers. When reputation doesn't jive with reality, he plows tirelessly through play-by-play charts and statistical tables to separate fact from fiction. A military brat who was born in California, raised in North Carolina, and bounced between the two states through college, Russ has lived in Coastal Carolina since 1990. He owns a small pest-control business and a free fantasy football and NFL betting line website. Feel free to contact him at with questions, comments, or ideas for future articles.

1743 comments
$50 Fiddy 50$
$50 Fiddy 50$

What I was getting at Prep is people treat people different around here. I coach a travel youth baseball team with at least 3 races of kids. But one parent always claims we treat his child unfairly because of race, every practice every game same ol same ol. While another parent of a child of the same race and family for that matter thinks I am the best thing that ever happened to her son.  Every time you try to do something in our community you will at some point be called racist even if you dont have racist bone in your body. It really wears on you at times.

Tearloch
Tearloch

I felt like I was a speed demon on those crutches.  I had a grand time blasting past slow fucking people in the airport on the crutches (after the airline assigned an 70+ year old woman to push me in a wheel chair.  That lasted about 30 seconds before I said "Ma'am, this isn't neccessary, I can make it myself.  You go sit down and have a coffee.")  Thanks Charlotte Airport...

Wolverines Big Ten Champs
Wolverines Big Ten Champs

Doesn't everyone die in predator except for arnold? It's been a while since I've seen that movie

Donny33
Donny33

Harsh reality fellas.... Reesy and SaintsChicka have won.

Staffords_Glove™
Staffords_Glove™

Speaking of "hole in the wall" apparently one of the bars about 20mins from me got busted for having a glory hole in the bathroom......quality place

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

  

Yeah that would get very tiring very fast. Thing is, that type of sentiment is very present in the North too. Dan Savage made a great point when he said that no one, absolutely no one, in the US isn't a little fucked up about race. It's a shitty legacy that we all have to live with and deal with at least occasionally, or much more frequently for a lot of people.

Rourke
Rourke

The solution is simple: Kill the racists.

Donny33
Donny33

 i'm guessing the mountaineers

G & G
G & G moderator

  Charlotte NC?

Donny33
Donny33

 we used to play a drinking game to predator. When there is shooting you drink.  You're drunk in 15 minutes.

G & G
G & G moderator

 And the latin girl

Tearloch
Tearloch

So by "bar about 20 mins from you" you mean your house?

Childerz...
Childerz...

 and you never knew of its existence? 

MIBearFan
MIBearFan moderator

   

Personally, I don't like white people.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

 

And then you work class anxieties and resentments into it and it gets even more fucked around.

Tearloch
Tearloch

Yep.  And I thought southerners treated their old folk nice like.

G & G
G & G moderator

  JVInced!!

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

   

Should do one where you drink every time Jesse Ventura says something awesome. So hammered...

G & G
G & G moderator

  And then became a packers defensive player

Donny33
Donny33

  we're talking about food... again.

MIBearFan
MIBearFan moderator

   

Let me rephrase that. I don't like people.

Rourke
Rourke

A smaller, more tolerant population.

G & G
G & G moderator

  At least the didn't throw at you Zima bottles

G & G
G & G moderator

  SDL is 002

Donny33
Donny33

    she swims her way to safety. (see now that was racist)

G & G
G & G moderator

   My bad...

JLo lives

Donny33
Donny33

   he didn't say there was anything wrong with being a latin girl

Donny33
Donny33

  yeah, that's what i said.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

   

Shouldn't it be Reesy and NightStalker then?

Childerz...
Childerz...

 where did the father touchy ou.. you can show me on this other alter boy 

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

   

If porn is to be believed, and I think it is.

Childerz...
Childerz...

 Or Europe where they are apparently standard issue at every night club. 

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

   

I'm just saying those types of infrastructural installations are generally reserved for the kinkier gay bars.

Childerz...
Childerz...

 if yes was the answer i'd say i'm surprised he didn't go there even more than before.