Commentary

Andy Dalton is NFL's top rookie

Cam Newton has been impressive, but the Rookie of the Year isn't about hype

Updated: December 4, 2011, 4:45 PM ET
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
Andy DaltonJim Brown/US PresswireWhile another rookie quarterback has been impressive, Andy Dalton has been better.

As we head into the homestretch of the NFL's regular season, a few things seem like near certainties: Aaron Rodgers will win the MVP award, the Green Bay Packers will be the No. 1 seed in the NFC and the Indianapolis Colts will finish with the worst record in the league and thus have dibs on drafting Andrew Luck.

Another item that seems like it should fit into that list is Cam Newton winning the Rookie of the Year award. After all, he is on pace to throw for more yards than any other rookie quarterback in NFL history and has a good shot at breaking the season record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.

Those numbers are certainly prolific, but if one desires quality over quantity, Newton should not be considered the front-runner for this award.

That honor would go to Andy Dalton, as a detailed tape review and metric analysis indicate Dalton's numbers are better than Newton's in a variety of ways.

Let's start with some statistical basics. (Note: all yards per attempt -- YPA -- totals include attempts and yardage for penalties such as pass interference, defensive holding, illegal contact, etc.)

Newton does top Dalton in the aforementioned season-long passing and rushing yardage categories and has the lead in short pass YPA (6.3 for Newton vs. 5.1 for Dalton) and overall YPA (7.7 for Newton vs. 6.9 for Dalton).