Analysis

Week 7: NFL Offensive Efficiency Rankings

As you may have seen reported elsewhere, the two most efficient offenses in the league faced off this past weekend (Buffalo and Kansas City). The Bills came out on top in what turned out to be less of a shootout than expected but no less interesting of a game.

Of course, what’s not shown in the list below is that the Bills have a top-flight defense to pair with their offense (and to benefit them in exactly this matchup). Buffalo clamped down on shot plays from Patrick Mahomes, whose average throw depth was short of six yards, his lowest this season. He also posted an Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt of 2.1 on passes five yards downfield or fewer, which was his worst mark in a year.

The list below is based on Expected Points Added per play. EPA is a way to quantify points added on a play, factoring in yards gained, field position, down, and distance. For example, a 5-yard gain on third and 3 results in a higher EPA than a 5-yard gain on third and 8, factoring in that the first down was achieved by the former.

Here is where teams stack up offensively through Week 6.

T-1. Kansas City Chiefs

          EPA/Play:  0.10

          Last Week:  #2

T-1. Buffalo Bills 

          EPA/Play:  0.10

          Last Week:  #1

3. Philadelphia Eagles

          EPA/Play:  0.06

          Last Week:  T-3

4. Seattle Seahawks

          EPA/Play:  0.03

          Last Week:  T-3

T-5. Las Vegas Raiders

           EPA/Play:  0.02

           Last Week:  #11

These rankings don’t take into account Monday’s game each week, so the jump from the Raiders here is based on their strong showing in a losing effort against the Chiefs in Week 5. The offense isn’t the issue with this underperforming squad, but the defense has fallen off as much as the offense has improved from last year. The Raiders produce positive-EPA plays more than any recent season of theirs, but they also allow them more often. (You can check that out in the Pos% column in the Advanced subtab of the Stats tab on their team page.)

T-5. Baltimore Ravens

          EPA/Play:  0.02

          Last Week:  #6

The Ravens are having one of the stranger seasons in recent memory. A team whose identity in recent seasons included an incredibly effective running game to accent an aggressive passing attack has had immense trouble holding onto leads. Through three quarters, Lamar Jackson has the second-best Independent Quarterback Rating and the team averages 6.5 rush yards per attempt. In the fourth quarter, both of those numbers drop substantially.

7. Cleveland Browns

          EPA/Play:  0.01

          Last Week:  #5

8. Los Angeles Chargers

          EPA/Play:  0.00

          Last Week:  T-8

T-9. Atlanta Falcons

          EPA/Play:  -0.02

          Last Week:  T-15

Atlanta’s offense was never going to be outstanding. Still, the addition of Marcus Mariota seems to have invigorated a running game that is one of the most successful in the league. The running backs are a big part of that, but Mariota himself is on pace for a career-high in rushing (admittedly with a career-high in fumbles). They could plausibly be sitting in playoff position come their Week 14 bye because five of their next seven games are against teams in the bottom 10 of the SIS team rankings.

T-9. Miami Dolphins

          EPA/Play:  -0.02

          Last Week:  T-8

T-9. Detroit Lions

          EPA/Play:  -0.02

          Last Week:  T-12

T-9. New York Giants

          EPA/Play:  -0.02

          Last Week:  T-12

T-13. Minnesota Vikings

          EPA/Play:  -0.03

          Last Week:  #7

T-13. New England Patriots

          EPA/Play:  -0.03

          Last Week:  #18

T-13. Jacksonville Jaguars

          EPA/Play:  -0.03

          Last Week:  T-15

T-16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

          EPA/Play:  -0.04

          Last Week:  T-15

T-16. Arizona Cardinals

          EPA/Play:  -0.04

          Last Week:  T-8

The Cardinals might need to reset the game and blow on the cartridge a bit. (That’s still how video games work, right?) Kyler Murray is tied with Joe Flacco and behind both Steelers quarterbacks in Yards per Attempt. They come into Thursday’s game this week with a different look at receiver, as DeAndre Hopkins is returning from suspension, and newly-acquired Robbie Anderson is acting as a replacement for an injured Marquise Brown. Murray will need to be more willing and able to push the ball downfield to get them out of this hole, as he’s currently towards the bottom of the league in air yards per attempt and accuracy on deep throws.

18. Cincinnati Bengals

          EPA/Play:  -0.06

          Last Week:  #24

19. New Orleans Saints

          EPA/Play:  -0.07

          Last Week:  T-22

T-20. Tennessee Titans

          EPA/Play:  -0.08

          Last Week:  #20

T-20. San Francisco 49ers

          EPA/Play:  -0.08

          Last Week:  #19

T-20. Green Bay Packers

          EPA/Play:  -0.08

          Last Week:  #14

The Packers were third in this metric last year, averaging +0.06 EPA per play. Assuming around 60 plays per game, that’s 8.4 Expected Points per game worse than a year ago. And would you look at that? They’re averaging almost exactly that number of fewer actual points per game. Like Kyler Murray above, Aaron Rodgers has regressed substantially on deep balls. He’s been accurate on a third of his passes more than 20 yards downfield, which is just a smidge more than half of where he was in 2020.

23. New York Jets

          EPA/Play:  -0.09

          Last Week:  #21

24. Dallas Cowboys

          EPA/Play:  -0.10

          Last Week:  T-22

The other shoe dropped for Cooper Rush on Sunday against the Eagles, as it seemed his passes were constantly bouncing around. The Eagles batted, deflected, defensed, or intercepted 12 passes, which was the most by any team in a game this year. In that game, his overall Independent Quarterback Rating—an adjustment to Passer Rating that isolates competitive throws and factors within the quarterback’s control—was the third-lowest by any passer this year with at least 25 attempts. (Let’s ignore that the second-lowest was Dak against the Bucs in Week 1.)

T-25. Los Angeles Rams

          EPA/Play:  -0.12

          Last Week:  T-27

T-25. Indianapolis Colts

         EPA/Play:  -0.12

         Last Week:  #32

T-25. Washington Commanders

          EPA/Play:  -0.12

          Last Week:  #25

T-28. Chicago Bears

          EPA/Play:  -0.13

          Last Week:  #26

T-28. Pittsburgh Steelers

          EPA/Play:  -0.13

          Last Week:  T-27

T-30. Denver Broncos

          EPA/Play:  -0.15

          Last Week:  T-27

T-30. Houston Texans

          EPA/Play:  -0.15

          Last Week:  T-27

32. Carolina Panthers

          EPA/Play:  -0.20

          Last Week:  #31

The Giants ended last year in this exact spot with this exact EPA per play, and look where they are now! The skill position players on this team were compelling enough to dream of a competent offense. And so far this year, they are among the best teams in the NFL in broken and missed tackle rate on both carries and receptions. But they need to still be on the team next year to provide that upside to the next coaching staff.

Alex Vigderman contributed to this report.

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