Analysis

NFL Week 17 Offensive Efficiency Rankings

NFL EPA Rankings

This past week, we saw some low-scoring games due to tough weather conditions. But, we also had some games that went haywire in the scoring department.

The Cowboys and Eagles combined for 74 points with Gardner Minshew filling in for Jalen Hurts and carrying the torch from where he had left. The Rams scored 51 points on a Broncos team that couldn’t help themselves from throwing interceptions and the towel on their coach. The Panthers put up 37 on a Lions defense believed to be turning a corner, only to come crashing back down to reality.

As we head into Week 17, we look at the EPA per-play efficiency rankings to see which teams are looking good and which teams need a tune up heading into the postseason.

Offensive Efficiency Rankings Explained

This season, we’ve taken a weekly temperature on the efficiency of each offense and defense. This article will once again check in on how each NFL offense ranks in EPA/Play. If you’re unfamiliar with EPA, it stands for expected points added and is simply a way to measure whether or not a play brought a team closer to scoring.

For example, it’s easy to understand that a gain of five yards on fourth-and-4 is good, whereas a gain of five yards on fourth-and-6 is bad, and EPA can contextualize that in a way that net yards cannot. 

To put into context the worth of a big turnover, another example would be a quarterback throwing a pick-six on first-and-goal from the opponent’s 1-yard line. Conventional wisdom would say that was a 14-point swing – because we expected the offense to score a touchdown in that situation – and EPA would reflect roughly that. 

1. Kansas City Chiefs

EPA/Play = 0.12

Last Week = 1

2. Philadelphia Eagles

EPA/Play = 0.07

Last Week = 2

The Eagles’ offense went down to Dallas with a backup quarterback and out-gained the Cowboys by 23 yards. Even with four turnovers, the Eagles had a chance on the final play to beat their division rival. Minshew played well, averaging the seventh-highest passing yards per attempt (8.9) as well as having the sixth most passing Total Points in Week 16. One more win and the Eagles lock up the one seed in the NFC, and it looks like Minshew will have to be the one leading the charge to do so. 

3. Buffalo Bills

EPA/Play = 0.05

Last Week = 3

4. Detroit Lions

EPA/Play = 0.03

Last Week = 4

T-5. Cincinnati Bengals

EPA/Play = 0.01

Last Week = T-6

T-5. Dallas Cowboys

EPA/Play = 0.01

Last Week = T-6

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys got a huge win Saturday against the Eagles. Prescott led the league in SIS’ Independent Quarterback Rating with 136 and had the fourth-highest passing yards per attempt with 9.9 in Week 16. A direct beneficiary of Prescott’s big performance was CeeDee Lamb, who had the third most Total Points among wide receivers in Week 16.

Since Prescott’s return in Week 7, the Cowboys are first in positive play percentage on passes (54.5%). The Cowboys are sitting firmly in the fifth position in the NFC Playoffs with a date against the Titans on Thursday night.

T-5. Jacksonville Jaguars

EPA/Play = 0.01

Last Week = T-6

T-5. Miami Dolphins

EPA/Play = 0.01

Last Week = 5

T-5. San Francisco 49ers

EPA/Play = 0.01

Last Week = T-6

10. Las Vegas Raiders

EPA/Play = 0.00

Last Week = T-6

T-11. Baltimore Ravens

EPA/Play = -0.02

Last Week = 12

T-11. Seattle Seahawks

EPA/Play = -0.02

Last Week = 11

13. New York Giants

EPA/Play = -0.03

Last Week = T-13

T-14. Atlanta Falcons

EPA/Play = -0.04

Last Week = T-13

T-14. Cleveland Browns

EPA/Play = -0.04

Last Week = T-13

T-14. Los Angeles Chargers

EPA/Play = -0.04

Last Week = T-16

T-17. Green Bay Packers

EPA/Play = -0.05

Last Week = T-16

The Packers are trying to do the improbable of winning five straight games to make the playoffs. They kept their dream alive after beating the Dolphins 26-20. However, their offensive success seemed to ride on the shoulders of short fields from the defense and special teams. The Packers mustered only 301 total yards on offense and Aaron Rodgers was 23rd in SIS IQR this week. Luckily, the Packers play a bottom-tier Vikings defense next week in a got-to-have-it game against their divisional rival. 

T-17. Minnesota Vikings

EPA/Play = -0.05

Last Week = T-20

T-17. Pittsburgh Steelers

EPA/Play = -0.05

Last Week = T-18

T-20. Carolina Panthers

EPA/Play = -0.06

Last Week = 28

The Panthers are somehow ascending into the playoff picture after beating down the Lions 37-23. Sam Darnold had a great game, averaging 11.4 yards per attempt and had a 132 SIS IQR, both good for second in Week 16. However, the better game came from the running backs as both D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard ran for more than 100 yards. The Panthers have won three out of their last four, and during that time they are fifth in EPA per rush attempt. This success will be put to the test against the Buccaneers next week.

T-20. New Orleans Saints

EPA/Play = -0.06

Last Week = T-20

T-20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

EPA/Play = -0.06

Last Week = T-20

23. Chicago Bears

EPA/Play = -0.07

Last Week = T-18

T-24. Arizona Cardinals

EPA/Play = -0.09

Last Week = T-23

T-24. Tennessee Titans

EPA/Play = -0.09

Last Week = T-23

T-24. Washington Commanders

EPA/Play = -0.09

Last Week = T-25

T-27. Los Angeles Rams

EPA/Play = -0.10

Last Week = 29

T-27. New England Patriots

EPA/Play = -0.10

Last Week = T-25

29. New York Jets

EPA/Play = -0.11

Last Week = T-25

30. Denver Broncos

EPA/Play = -0.14

Last Week = 30

31. Indianapolis Colts

EPA/Play = -0.17

Last Week = 31

32. Houston Texans

EPA/Play = -0.18

Last Week = 32

James Weaver contributed to this report

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