NFL Efficiency Ratings
Once again I'm taking a look at how efficient the teams in the NFL are playing now that every team has at least 7 games under their belts and certain squads are setting themselves up as contenders for a title and other as contenders for the 1st overall draft pick. Just as a reminder the efficiency of a team is calculated by determining how much better or worse a team is performing against the norms of their competition. Scoring efficiency is an indicator of how efficient a team is at scoring points while the defensive efficiency is how impressive a team is at holding their opponents under their seasonal averages. Overall efficiency combines the two numbers.
Not surprisingly the best team in the NFL is the 7-0 Tennessee Titans. The Titans rank 2nd in defense and 11th in offense, combining for an overall efficiency of 44.24%, the only team above 40. They have been very consistent both at home and away from home and look ready to cruise to the finish line. They still have Chicago and Pittsburgh left on the schedule and those may be their two toughest matchups remaining. Despite a 4-3 record the Philadelphia Eagles rank second in the NFL. The Eagles have played a very hard schedule so far and have played poorly on defense away from home which explains their 3 losses. The Steelers rank third as the only other quality team from the AFC.
After the Steelers is a load of NFC teams, once again enforcing the theory that the power has shifted from the AFC to the NFL in 2008. The Bears, Buccaneers, Giants, Panthers, and Cardinals are all above a 24% efficiency which indicates a very high level of play. Even though the Giants rank 6th overall and 4th in the NFC, they are likely the best team in the NFC this season. Unlike the other teams there is no drastic drop in play when the Giants leave the Meadowlands as the team brings a very consistent level of play both at home and on the road. All of the other quality teams, except the Bears who surprisingly play better on the road than they do at home, see a large dropoff once they travel.
San Diego’s 15.96% keeps them in the top 10 despite the 3-5 record. Their number is misleading as the club is a complete Jeckyl and Hyde act. In San Diego their offense is producing at nearly a 46% efficiency which is just giving the opposition no chance to compete despite their defensive struggles. On the road that number falls to under 13% which is why they never win. The Chargers main problems lie with the defense and it's no surprise their defensive coordinator was fired today. Since the team has only played 3 games at home they are likely still the favorites to win the West and 8-8 might get the job done there. Baltimore rounds out the top 10 taking advantage of some easy games and their typical monster play on defense on their home field. With back to back to back road games coming up they will likely lose their spot in the top 10 shortly.
Dallas ranks 12th, but is in freefall after ranking as the top team for the first quarter of the season. Things were getting bad for the team prior to the Romo injury, but the insertion of Brad Johnson into the starting QB role has completely sunk the team. With 4 games remaining against the NFC East teams as well as a game against the Steelers, the Cowboys may be the biggest disappointment of the season and miss out on the playoffs. If that happens expect a big name coach to replace Wade Phillips in 2009. The Dolphins rank as the highest team in the AFC East with an 8.72% score. Miami has had some big wins this year, but the loss to Houston could haunt them to end the year. The remaining schedule is easy and they could end up with 10 wins this season. The Colts, Jaguars, and Vikings rank 16-18 and have to be terribly disappointed with their years. All three are playing very by the numbers uninspired football and the Jags and Vikes have been embarrassing at home, especially Minnesota who has the worst home offense in the NFL, being held to 50% below their opponents norms. Atlanta, Buffalo, Cleveland, and New England are all playing around an average level, which favors teams like the 5-2 Bills and Patriots, who both play weak schedules this season, in the playoff race.
The big dropoff in play begins with team number 23, the New York Jets, who have an efficiency of -12.39% and are shaping up to be one of the bigger disappointments of the season. Denver looks to have completely run out of gas and is the worst road team in the NFL. Their defense is abysmal and they will likely have a hard time winning another game on the road this season. Its highly unlikely these teams can make the playoffs unless they show major improvements in the second half of the season.
In the season is over category are the dregs of the NFL. These are the Chiefs, Lions, Rams, Raiders, and Bengals, all operating at an efficiency of -41% and below. The Rams have at least shown a pulse since they replaced coaches and may be the most dangerous of that group, while the Bengals have completely given up now that Ryan Fitzpatrick is their starting QB.
When looking at the conferences and divisions it is no surprise to see the NFC East and South remain the top 2 in the NFL. All the teams are playing above average and most well above average. The East has the strongest scoring outputs in the NFL while the South’s defenses are stifling. The AFC South is the only AFC division ranking in positive territory, while the AFC West has taken over the mantle of worst division in football from the NFC West. Both are terrible, which in theory should lead to some inflated win totals for the AFC East who matches up with both divisions this year. Overall the NFC is at an overall efficiency of 68.72% compared to a -70.26% for the AFC, a drastic change from the last few years where those numbers were likely reversed.
The rankings for each team are given below, and may be sorted by clicking on the header for each column.
2008 NFL Efficiency Ratings, thru week 8
|Rank||Team||Scoring Efficiency||Defensive Efficiency||Overall Efficiency|
|5.||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||-7.30||39.04||31.74|
|6.||New York Giants||17.59||11.64||29.23|
|9.||San Diego Chargers||25.97||-10.01||15.96|
|11.||Green Bay Packers||18.60||-6.50||12.10|
|13.||New Orleans Saints||20.25||-11.43||8.82|
|22.||New England Patriots||-16.35||12.55||-3.80|
|23.||New York Jets||7.69||-20.08||-12.39|
|27.||San Francisco 49’ers||-8.32||-21.23||-29.55|
|28.||St. Louis Rams||-21.51||-20.45||-41.96|
|29.||Kansas City Chiefs||-22.49||-22.79||-45.28|
2008 NFL Efficiency Division Ratings, thru week 8
|Rank||Division||Scoring Efficiency||Defensive Efficiency||Overall Efficiency|