Normally in this space we’d look for a betting angle to the upcoming New Orleans Saints game. But it’s a bye week, so, we’re going to focus on a key indicator stat captures the Saints’ breathtaking offensive excellence. Conveniently, they’re neck-and-neck in that stat with a team that will be starring in the Sunday Night showcase you’ll be watching on TV.
With offseason rules changes making it easier to move the ball in the air, elite offenses can now put up big numbers even more easily than in the past. Can anyone stop Drew Brees? Is Patrick Mahomes the next unstoppable quarterback in the NFL?
To pin down “true offense,” VSiN likes to focus on points scored on drives of 60 yards or more. Sometimes scoreboards can be polluted by defensive or special teams’ touchdowns, or by “field position” points on short drives after turnovers or long kick returns. Which offenses can drive the field consistently to put points on the board? Here are the best point-per-game averages through five weeks of action.
Best Offenses on Long Drives
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- 1. New Orleans 26.8
- 2. Kansas City 26.2
- 3. Tampa Bay 22.0
- 4. Pittsburgh 21.2
- 5. Chicago 20.5
Again, those are ONLY points scored per game on drives of 60 yards or more. We’ve thrown out everything else. New Orleans leads the NFL (actually topping 30 in three different individual games vs. Tampa Bay, Atlanta, and Washington). Kansas City is right there with them. Those two are well clear of other category elites. (Note that Chicago has only played four games because of a bye week … and popped a massive 42 on Tampa Bay. The Bears may fall back toward the pack in coming weeks).
Still a lot of football left to be played. And, we don’t mean to suggest that defense and special teams don’t matter. But, winning bettors need to evaluate offensive skill sets. This is a great stat for letting you know who can or who can’t move the ball. The way the game is played in 2018, this could be the single most important factor that separates contenders when it comes time to win a championship.
Just behind the top five: Cincinnati 19.8, LA Rams 18.8, Detroit 18.4, Atlanta 17.8, LA Chargers 17.8, Philadelphia 16.0, New England 15.8, NY Giants 15.8, Carolina 15.5, Cleveland 15.4, San Francisco 15.2.
Let’s stop right there. That hunk takes us down to the midpoint of the league. All the above were “better than typical” through the first five weeks. You see top Super Bowl contenders like the LA Rams and New England in this second tier. Will be interesting to see how the Rams perform Sunday in what could be a “snow game” in Denver.
Of course, the whole country will be watching the Kansas City Chiefs play the New England Patriots Sunday night (NBC, 7:20 p.m). That could be a “drive point” showcase. The Pats just posted 24 and 28 long distance points their last two games, after struggling in Jacksonville and Detroit. This skill is always a characteristic of Bill Belichick/Tom Brady offenses when they’re hitting on all cylinders. New England is -3.5 with an extremely high Over/Under of 59.5 vs. the Chiefs.
Early disappointments: Seattle 14.6, Indianapolis 14.6, Washington 14.5, Denver 14.2, Baltimore 13.4, Oakland 12.6, Green Bay 12.2, NY Jets 12.2, Minnesota 12.0.
Sub-par offenses include Andre Luck in his return from injury for Indianapolis, Alex Smith with his new team in Washington, Case Keenum with his new team in Denver, hobbled Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay, rookie Sam Darnold of the Jets, and Kirk Cousins with his new team in Minnesota. You can see right away how issues with injuries or roster stability can hurt this performance in this stat. Offenses are a machine. They don’t always work right away with new or broken parts!
Studying long distance scoring will give us a great read through the season on how the “old faces in new places” are progressing with their current teams. Finishing with the worst performers…
Early disasters: Jacksonville 11.4, Miami 11.0, Houston 10.6, Dallas 9.6, Tennessee 8.0, Arizona 6.0, Buffalo 5.6.
Both Jacksonville and Tennessee will try to make deep runs into the playoffs with defensive powers. Will that be enough after the rules changes? Trouble in Texas with DeShaun Watson and Dak Prescott not showing hoped-for development. No surprise that Arizona and Buffalo finish out the field with rookie quarterbacks.
We’ll run periodic checks for you through the season. And, when an opportunity arises, we’ll also look at this concept from the defensive perspective. If you’re wondering right now which defenses have done the best job this season of PREVENTING opposing offenses from scoring on long drives, the top five entering the week in per-game averages were Tennessee 7.6, Jacksonville 8.6, Philadelphia 8.6, Cleveland 9.4, and Baltimore 10.8.
New Orleans will be back on the betting board Sunday, Oct. 21 on the road against that great defense of the Baltimore Ravens.