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Chris Ivory vs. Mark Ingram: Who is the Better Back?

A statistical look at Saints running backs Chris Ivory and Mark Ingram to try and determine once and for all which one is actually better.

Chris Graythen - Getty Images

As the Saints have faced their most tumultuous season in NFL history, many discussions and questions have been raised about the team. A popular discussion brought up by Saints fans is about which running back should be playing more, Mark Ingram or Chris Ivory? I for one, have been a part of this discussion myself, and I think that it's time that we see a change.

At the beginning of this season, I had really high hopes for Ingram. I really thought he would explode and have a wonderful year. I guess I was kind of biased because I knew how much talent he had and I didn't want all of the picks the Saints traded away to get him to go to waste. So far, he has been the exact opposite of "wonderful."

Yes, he is used sparingly, but when he is in the game he really doesn't do anything special. Through the first five games this year, he has 37 rushing attempts for 106 yards. That's an average of 21.2 yards per game and 2.9 yards per rush. That's about 48 yards less per game and 1.4 yards less per rush than the average running back this year.

On the flip side, Chris Ivory hasn't played a down this year. Barring that, let's take a look at a comparison of their career numbers.

Mark Ingram
Yards per Game 38.7
Yards per Rush 3.6
Total Yards 580
Runs of 20+ Yards 2
Total Rushes 159
Touchdown Runs 6
1st Down % 23.9

Chris Ivory
Yards per Game 60.6
Yards per Rush 5.0
Total Yards 1,090
Runs of 20+ yards 7
Total Rushes 216
Touchdown Runs 6
1st Down % 30.1

I don't know about you, but it sure looks like Chris Ivory has been the better player for the Saints. He tops Ingram in every major statistical running category except for touchdown runs, which they are tied at 6 a piece. You might see that Ivory has 57 more carries than Ingram and use that to try and disprove the fact that he is better. But the thing is, Ivory is more efficient with those extra carries. If you average Ivory's extra yards (510) and his extra rushes (57), that comes out to be 8.95. Overall, he has 1.4 more yards per carry than Ingram and about 22 more yards per game. Ivory also has 6.2% more runs for first downs than Ingram.

A couple of weeks ago interim head coach Aaron Kromer told the media that, "The current group of backs gives us the best chance to win." I'm sorry coach, but that's not true. In the past three years, the Saints have won 60% of the games when Ingram played compared to winning 70% of the games that Ivory played in.

The stats show that Ivory has been a better back for the Saints. Numbers never lie.