Heading into week 2 of the 2016 NFL season, it’s a good opportunity to take a look at some of the stats and rankings following the first weekend, and see what kind of offense and especially defensive rankings held determine the outcome of a game, and which teams stood out for better or worse.
The top 5 teams in passer rating or top 6 teams in yards per pass couldn’t tell us much about being the best in week 1, with a mix of winner and losers in the bunch. Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, losing 35-34 to the Oakland Raiders at home, had fantastic numbers, with Brees finishing with a 131.3 passer rating and a 10.1 yards per pass average, #1 and #2 on the rankings. Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals, walking away with a 23-22 win over the New York Jets on the road, finished with the best yards-per-attempt average, with 12.2, thanks to A.J. Green having a huge day against Darrelle Revis.
Andrew Luck completing 66% of his throws while posting a passer rating of 119.5 (#4) didn’t help the Indianapolis Colts either, losing with some poor defense in the 4th quarter against the Detroit Lions. The Lions had a big passing day as well, led by Matthew Stafford to post a 128.6 passer rating in a terrific game for him, that included leading a winning drive to win the game with less than a minute left.
A better indicator would be allowed passer rating. In the top 10 this category, only two teams lost: The Carolina Panthers, who held Trevor Siemian to 69.1, but lost 21-20 to the Denver Broncos. The Tennessee Titans lost at home to the Minnesota Vikings despite making things difficult for Shaun Hill, finishing with a 77.3 passer rating.
The best pass defense in week 1 belonged to the San Francisco 49ers, beating the Los Angeles Rams 28-0, as they held Case Keenum to 120 passing yards on 35 attempts, and a final passer rating of 34.2. The Philadelphia Eagles beat the Cleveland Browns and had no problem handling Robert Griffin III (Who might be out for the season due to a shoulder injury), finishing with a 55 passer rating. The Browns are the only team to complete under 50% of their throws.
Again, not a bad indicator, as out of the top 6 teams, only one team lost their game. The Baltimore Ravens stood out in their stinginess, holding the Buffalo Bills to only 1.8 yards per carry, while the Bills held Baltimore to just 3 yards, #7 in these rankings. The only losing team in the top 6 were the Titans, holding the Vikings to 2.3 yards on average per carry. Turnovers meant the difference in this game, with Marcus Mariota throwing one interception and fumbling the ball away once. The Vikings held the Titans to just 2.9 yards per carry. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, beating the Atlanta Falcons to open the season, held their opponents to only 2.4 yards per carry.
Getting to the Quarterback
Despite losing, the New York Jets featured a frightening front seven, sacking Andy Dalton 7 times. Defensive end Leonard Williams led all players with 2.5 sacks in this game, while four others: Steve McLendon, Jerry Hughes, Whitney Mercilus and Kerry Hyder, had 2 sacks in week 1. The Seattle Seahawks and the Houston Texans were the other teams with at least 5 sacks in week 1. Quite interesting to see J.J. Watt off the list of players who tackled the quarterback in that game.
Only one team scored touchdowns directly off turnovers in week 1: The Minnesota Vikings. One off an interception (Eric Kendricks), one off a fumble (Danielle Hunter). The Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers were the only teams to force two interceptions. Four teams: Raiders, Rams, Cardinals and Jags forced two fumbles. Only one of these one their games.