The 33rd Team introduced the Big Play Index last season to show how NFL teams stack up in terms of big plays produced and big plays allowed.
The Big Play Index has a new and improved formula with the help of former NFL head coach Marc Trestman. When Trestman coached in the NFL, his definition of a “big play” was a run of 10-plus yards and/or a pass of 16-plus yards. Ultimately, BPI correlates the ability to create explosive plays, while also limiting the opponent, and the success of the team (based on wins).
Heading into Week 7, we take a look at some key matchups that could be influenced by each team’s ability to generate or stop big plays.
Ravens vs Bengals:
The Ravens are the No. 3 team in big plays for, with 39 of their 62 big plays this year coming through the air. They will face a Bengals defense that has been stout in eliminating big plays from occurring (8th least amount of big plays allowed). They have been equally as stout against the run as they are against the pass. On the flip side, the Bengals have struggled to pick up big plays, ranking as a low-to-middle of the pack offense in terms of big plays gained.
Interestingly, Joe Burrow leads all QBs with the most TD passes of 30-plus air yards (4), with each of those going to Ja’Marr Chase. The Ravens have been porous defensively at times, allowing the 5th most big plays against and 6th most big passes, which will allow the Bengals to truly open up their offense deep to Higgins, Boyd and Chase.
Buccaneers vs Bears:
This could be a very poor matchup for the .500 Bears as they are facing the team with the most big passes completed through 6 weeks. Unfortunately for the Bears, while they have been middle of the pack in stopping big plays through the air, they very likely can’t compete in an offensive shootout, as they only have generated the 4th most big plays on offense so far this season. Chicago has by far the least explosive passes for with 14, which is 6 less per week than the Buccaneers.
Which teams will be stronger for the rest of the season based on BPI?
The Philadelphia Eagles are the highest ranked under .500 team. Their plus-18 Big Play Differential is higher than that of the Cardinals, Rams, Buccaneers and Cowboys. They need to convert their big plays on offense into touchdowns more frequently.
The San Francisco 49ers are the 2nd highest ranked under .500 team. They sport a plus-10) Big Play Differential behind and extremely strong defense, which has allowed the 2nd least big plays of any team. Surprisingly, Kyle Shanahan’s offense just needs to pick up the pace, as they’re tied for the 5th-least big plays generated on offense thus far.