Who is the best team in professional football?
That will be decided on the field over the next month beginning this weekend with Wildcard Weekend, but that doesn’t stop us from speculating now.
A look at some key numbers reveals a clear top six, and things get messier from there.
Here is a look at how the teams stack up heading into the postseason:
1. Buffalo Bills
Both traditional and advanced stats favor the AFC’s No. 2 seed. They finished second in the league in points per game and points allowed per game while also ranking in the top 10 in total offense and defense. Football Outsiders have them No. 1 in DVOA, which measures a team’s efficiency based on success on a play-by-play basis.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Shanahan’s team is No. 1 in total defense and points allowed, and it has the top defensive line in the playoffs according to Football Outsiders average line yards. They are sixth in points per game and offensive DVOA, but a lot could fall on the shoulders of rookie Brock Purdy.
3. Philadelphia Eagles
Philly ranks third in total offense, total defense, points per game, offensive DVOA and total DVOA. They lead the league in sack rate on defense but are 21st in offensive sack rate and 22nd in defensive line yards.
4. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys are fourth in points per game and fifth in points allowed, but they are a bit lower on the yards scale. Via advanced stats, the offense is middle of the road (15th in DVOA) but the defense is elite (fourth in DVOA).
5. Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow’s team is in the top 10 in scoring and points allowed per game while ranking fifth overall in DVOA and fourth in offensive DVOA. They have questions on the offensive line thanks to a pair of key injuries, though.
6. Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Maholmes and Co. lead the league in scoring and total yards, but the defense is 16th in points allowed per game and 11th total yards allowed. The offensive line is elite, but the Chiefs are 21st in defensive line yards and third in sack rate.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It becomes pick your flavor after the Chiefs, but the Buccs appear to be the next-most-balanced team — and they still have Tom Brady. Tampa has the best pass protection in the league and its defensive line ranks eighth in line yards and sack rate.
8. Baltimore Ravens
The numbers say this is where Baltimore should be, but they have been scuffling without star quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Ravens still have a top 10 or better defense.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars
The surprise team of the season is 10th in the league in scoring and total offense while checking 12th in points allowed and 24th in total defense. Advanced stats say Trevor Lawrence leads a top 10 offense, but the defense ranks 26th in DVOA.
10. Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers aren’t great in the trenches, but they are ninth in total offense and have a young quarterback with great potential in Justin Herbert.
11. Seattle Seahawks
Another surprise division winner, Seattle is 10th in total DVOA thanks more to its offense than defense.
12. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings are actually the worst team in the playoffs according to DVOA overall, but they are eighth in scoring and seventh in total offense.
13. New York Giants
The Giants are 15th in scoring and 17th in points allowed per game, but advanced stats show they lean heavily on an offense that is 10th in DVOA while the defense is just 29th.
14. Miami Dolphins
They are actually eighth in the league in DVOA and 11th in scoring, but they lost five of their last six games and won’t have quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who has been declared out as he continues to recover from a concussion.
About the Author