Looking at NFL Passing Offenses after 4 Weeks


With the NFL at the quarter mark I want’s to look at how teams are performing in a number of passing categories based on the schedule they have faced. I like to measure things with an efficiency score which tells me how much better or worse a team is faring compared to their schedule. I do this because it provides more context, in my opinion, than just a raw look at the numbers. For example Andrew Luck has put up phenomenal numbers the last two weeks, but if we take into account the opponents the numbers are not as incredible (though they were still terrific games).

The efficiency numbers I will talk about are the percentage better or worse a team performs in a specific category. You can get this number by adding up the performance of all of a teams opponents, subtract out the teams statistics, and then calculate the percentage better or worse the team is in that particular field.

So who are some of the big winners?

In terms of passing yardage, which is big to those playing fantasy football, the three clear cut winners are the Falcons (44%), Lions (38.8%), and Colts (32.6%) who are just obliterating the defenses they face. The Lions have been a bit more up and down than the other two, but these are the only teams above 30% as the next closest are in the low 20s.

The Colts and the Falcons are also at the top of the charts in terms of touchdowns thrown. The Falcons at 111.5% are more than doubling the expected touchdowns for their opponents. The Giants are second at 90.4% and the Colts are just slightly behind. The Seahawks and Bears have also been high level producers of touchdown passes based on defenses they have played.

Five teams are clocking in at a 60% or better rate in sacks allowed. The Bengals have yet to allow a sack on the season which is pretty incredible even if just through three games. The Ravens, Raiders, Broncos and Texans are the next four teams. This probably holds a bit more weight when adjusted for attempt.

The Cowboys surprisingly top the NFL in completion percentage, ranking 11.2% better than expected. They are followed closely by the Saints at 11.1%. Indy, Denver and Seattle round out the top 5 in completion percentage.

Two of the teams capable of some bigger plays, which Ill judge by yards per completion, are the Falcons (28.9%) and Chargers (27.3%). The Cardinals are just above 21% while the Lions, Bengals and Packers are all above 18%.

Chase Stuart, who runs the website Football Perspective and writes for a number of different sites, is always big on adjusted net yards per attempt so I figured that was worth calculating as well. San Diego is clearly the best team in the NFL in this regard. Though they rank second to the Bengals in their overall ANY/A, their mark of 8.9 is 63% better than their schedule has allowed in other games this season. The Bengals, who rank first with a 9.11, rank 5th here at 45.2% above the expectation level. The teams above them are the Cardinals, Seahawks and Packers.

So that takes care of some of the best teams, what about the worst?

In terms of total yardage the worst performers are the 49ers, Buccaneers, Titans, and Bills, all averaging 12% or worse than expected. San Francisco and Tennessee are not that surprising since they don’t throw the ball that much.  Per attempt the Buccaneers lead the way, followed by the Dolphins and Patriots.

The three worst teams at scoring through the air are the Rams (-52.6%), Vikings (-51.5%) and Titans (-47.6%). Surprisingly the Eagles are 4th worst at -35.7%.

There is no team worse at turning it over than the Buccaneers at 4.5 times the expected amount of picks. Basically the teams they have faced have almost no interceptions (0.27 int/gm)  except against the Buccaneers(1.25 int/gm). The Falcons rank second in this category which is the one negative on their passing game though Ryan has had at least one useless interception that really doesn’t count. Oakland, Jacksonville and the Rams are big  in turnovers too, so those are some target teams to start defenses against.

The Jaguars have had a miserable time protecting the QB and the numbers back that up tremendously. They are currently are allowing 275% more sacks than their opponents usually produces. The next closest team is at -120%, so this is a staggering bad number.  Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tampa, and Dallas are the other big sacked teams.

When we look at ANY/A, the Buccaneers are in a class of their own at -41.3%. Next up is the Jaguars at -33.6%. Minnesota, Tennessee, and Oakland round out the bottom 5.

The following chart is sortable so you can find out where yourfavorite team ranks in each category.


TeamYardsTDsIntsSacksComp %Y/AY/CANY/A