Here are this week’s efficiency rankings for each team. For those unfamiliar the percentages represent how much above/below a team is performing in terms of points against their particular schedule.
The top team remains Kansas City, though I think its pretty clear that if we weighted things to put more emphasis on current games that they would drop out of the 1st spot. Their defense, which is struggling at times, ranks 12th in the league. Offensively they are still killing it, performing nearly 50% above expectations, but the defense is going to scare people off.
The Jaguars are riding their defense to the second spot in the NFL. They actually rank 10th in offensive scoring performance, but that also includes scores by the defense and the good field position their defense helps them get. The hard part with the Jaguars so far has been consistency with a few stinkers thrown in.
The Saints offense, ranked 2nd overall, has put them into 3rd place which is higher than they have been in years. With an average performance from the defense this team does have a chance to make some noise and you could make a strong argument that they are the best team in the NFL now that Rodgers is down.
The Rams are similar to the Jaguars with some struggles with consistency and with a flipped script of offense and defense. The Rams defense has benefitted from their offense putting pressure on teams early, but the defense still has some issues. The Rams are flying a bit under the radar I think to the Eagles who are getting far more media attention, but the two are really close.
The Texans round out the top 5 due to their explosive ability on offense, but it is doubtful that they will stay there when you consider how poor the defense has played. It is asking a lot of a rookie QB to continue to move the ball the way he has all season long.
At the lower end of the spectrum you have the Colts, who have been the worst team all year and it’s a miracle they have won games, the Browns, who pretty much have been second worst all year, 49ers, Cardinals, and Bears. The Cardinals are a disaster when you look at their roster, the age of their team, and the big contracts. They need a miracle to turn that around.
Outside of the Colts, the team most likely to outperform its numbers is Miami. Miami did the exact same last year as one of the worst teams to ever make the playoffs. This year their defense is superior, but their offense is downright putrid. Maybe the switch to Matt Moore will help them.
As you look at the top 10 or so teams you can see why people see the league as wide open. Looking at the teams I would say 4 of them (KC, NE, Pit, and Sea) were expected to be playoff teams this year and only KC is really above expectations. The other teams expected to be really good (Atl, Dal, GB, Oak, NYG, and Den) have struggled this year. Green Bay is due to injury and Dallas and Oakland both had big games last week, but overall it has been average or below average play for those squads.
There are also a large number of mediocre teams and Id say there is a strong argument to be made that the Bills, or a similar team like the Chargers, may make the playoffs as a wildcard despite trending towards an under 9 win season. The NFC will be a bit more difficult but with the Packers trending out it there will be an opening. Enough teams this year are weak for some of the teams that look like a playoff afterthought to get on a hot streak and shoot up the rankings.
Here are the numbers for the teams.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.