Rankings

NFL Week 13 Defensive Efficiency Rankings

New York Jets Defense

The NFL boasted an average total of 45 points per game in Week 12, which is tied for the third-highest this season. Offenses are starting to click a little more as they learn how to become more efficient in facing the two-high shell coverage more often. This has been a cat-mouse game between offensive and defensive play callers all season, leading to ebbs and flows of who can be more efficient on their respective side of the ball. 

Defensive 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 defense 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. New England Patriots

EPA/Play = -0.16

Last Week = 1

2. New York Jets

EPA/Play = -0.14

Last Week = T-2

T-3. Denver Broncos

EPA/Play = -0.12

Last Week = T-2

T-3. San Francisco 49ers

EPA/Play = -0.12

Last Week = T-5

The 49ers’ defense stepped up in the fourth quarter after allowing no points to the Saints in the redzone en route to a 13-0 shutout. Since giving up 44 to the Chiefs in Week 7, the defense has not allowed more than 16 points. A big part of its success has been stopping the run, as the 49ers rank fourth since Week 7 in positive run percentage allowed at 34.6%. Additionally, the 49ers are first in early down EPA per play allowed at -0.18, which signifies stability as a top defense in the league. The 49ers will undoubtedly be a dangerous team for the rest of the season and the playoffs, backed by an elite stop unit.

5. Dallas Cowboys

EPA/Play = -0.11

Last Week = T-5

T-6. Indianapolis Colts

EPA/Play = -0.10

Last Week = T-7

T-6. Philadelphia Eagles

EPA/Play = -0.10

Last Week = 4

Even though the Eagles won a 40-33 thriller on Sunday night, their defensive play has seemed to take a step back during the last three weeks. During this time span, the Eagles have allowed the ninth-most passing yards per attempt at 8.2, a significant increase from the 5.6 they allowed in weeks 1-9. The offenses the Eagles will face down the stretch are not threatening, as the Cowboys are the only team in the top 10 in offensive efficiency. With an easy run to the postseason, look for the Eagles to sort out these issues quickly.

T-6. Washington Commanders

EPA/Play = -0.10

Last Week = T-7

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

EPA/Play = -0.09

Last Week = T-9

10. Buffalo Bills

EPA/Play = -0.08

Last Week = T-9

11. Cincinnati Bengals

EPA/Play = -0.06

Last Week = 11

T-12. Baltimore Ravens

EPA/Play = -0.05

Last Week = 13

T-12. Tennessee Titans

EPA/Play = -0.05

Last Week = 12

14. Carolina Panthers

EPA/Play = -0.04

Last Week = T-16

The Panthers held the Broncos to only 10 points, marking the third straight week they held their opponent to 15 points or less. Since Week 10, the Panthers are first in passing yards per attempt allowed with 5.8 and are third in EPA per attempt at -0.27. Brian Burns has been a menace in the backfield, accounting for the most pressures this year at 54, and is tied for fifth in sacks at 10. With everyone struggling on offense in the NFC South, the Panthers’ defense could push them into division crown.

T-15. Jacksonville Jaguars

EPA/Play = -0.03

Last Week = T-16

T-15. Miami Dolphins

EPA/Play = -0.03

Last Week = T-25

The Dolphins feasted on the Texans’ offense this past Sunday, allowing only 210 yards. In fact, the Texans did not have a play in Dolphins’ territory until there were five minutes left in the third quarter. The Xavien Howard scoop n’ score and Andrew Van Ginkel interception returned to Houston’s three-yard line in the first half swung the pendulum mightily from an EPA standpoint. The Dolphins’ defense will look to carry the momentum forward with games against top 10 offenses in the 49ers and the Bills looming.

T-15. New Orleans Saints

EPA/Play = -0.03

Last Week = T-16

T-18. Green Bay Packers

EPA/Play = -0.02

Last Week = T-14

T-18. Kansas City Chiefs

EPA/Play = -0.02

Last Week = T-23

T-18. Pittsburgh Steelers

EPA/Play = -0.02

Last Week = T-20

T-18. Seattle Seahawks

EPA/Play = -0.02

Last Week = T-14

T-22. Los Angeles Rams

EPA/Play = -0.01

Last Week = T-16

T-22. New York Giants

EPA/Play = -0.01

Last Week = T-20

24. Minnesota Vikings

EPA/Play = 0.00

Last Week = 22

The Vikings’ defense allowed the Patriots to score 26 points on Thanksgiving night, while Mac Jones threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns. They also allowed Jones to have his highest accumulated Total Points of the season at 12.7, as he had not eclipsed more than six at any other point this season. This is not a recipe for success if the Vikings are looking to make a Super Bowl run. They will have to face much better quarterbacks than Jones down the stretch.   

25. Arizona Cardinals

EPA/Play = 0.01

Last Week = T-25

T-26. Chicago Bears

EPA/Play = 0.02

Last Week = T-23

T-26. Houston Texans

EPA/Play = 0.02

Last Week = T-27

T-28. Cleveland Browns

EPA/Play = 0.03

Last Week = 29

T-28. Los Angeles Chargers

EPA/Play = 0.03

Last Week = T-27

30. Las Vegas Raiders

EPA/Play = 0.05

Last Week = T-30

31. Atlanta Falcons

EPA/Play = 0.06

Last Week = T-30

32. Detroit Lions

EPA/Play = 0.09

Last Week = 32

Prepared by: James Weaver

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