Best 1st Down Offense With Best 3rd Down Defense

A followup on my last post on Best First Down Offense For Each Team, I now look at the best 3rd down teams for defense combined with their rank of the previous post of the best offensive formations for achieving first downs.

I  took the total number of third down plays a defense had a stop divided by the number of third down plays they were in to get a 3rd down stop percentage. I then ranked the teams in descending stop percentage. Next I took my rankings from the prior post of teams with the most first downs made for their personnel with the most first downs. I add the two rankings. The lower the sum of the rankings means the team was ranked high in both categories compared to other teams.

The caveat is that the offensive rankings are based on the 2019 team makeup. Whereas the defensive ranking is based on the 2018 team makeup. The site I used for data, Pro-Football-Reference.com, does not have sufficient play visibility for defense by players. Nevertheless it is a great site and highly recommended. For the most part teams are similar to their 2018 personnel.

Here are the ranking results which show the teams that are most all-rounded combining a explosive offense for 1st downs with a strong 3rd down defense. The first and last rank is highlighted. The Rank All is the combined rank. There are a number of ties like first place.

 

Offensive 1st Down Rank Sum 1st Dwns 3rd Down Stops 3rd Down Plays Stop % Stop Rank Sum Of Ranks Rank All Team
4 250 133 197 67.51% 4 8 1 PIT
3 255 141 210 67.14% 5 8 1 CLE
14 225 140 192 72.92% 1 15 3 MIN
7 238 133 202 65.84% 8 15 3 PHI
1 281 119 188 63.30% 16 17 5 LAR
16 214 148 213 69.48% 2 18 6 BAL
13 229 135 206 65.53% 10 23 7 TEN
10 233 130 202 64.36% 14 24 8 LAC
6 241 114 183 62.30% 21 27 9 CAR
23 202 147 220 66.82% 6 29 10 CHI
12 229 114 181 62.98% 17 29 10 TAM
2 259 112 189 59.26% 27 29 10 NOR
17 214 131 202 64.85% 13 30 13 BUF
5 242 116 194 59.79% 25 30 13 KAN
26 187 135 205 65.85% 7 33 15 ARI
18 208 135 212 63.68% 15 33 15 GB
11 229 125 201 62.19% 22 33 15 IND
31 141 145 213 68.08% 3 34 18 NYJ
24 199 120 184 65.22% 12 36 19 SEA
8 237 117 201 58.21% 28 36 19 DAL
19 207 142 227 62.56% 19 38 21 HOU
15 220 133 216 61.57% 23 38 21 SFO
30 149 140 213 65.73% 9 39 23 JAX
28 180 122 187 65.24% 11 39 23 DET
9 236 105 195 53.85% 31 40 25 ATL
21 206 123 197 62.44% 20 41 26 NWE
25 189 134 213 62.91% 18 43 27 DEN
20 207 126 206 61.17% 24 44 28 NYG
22 205 118 223 52.91% 32 54 29 CIN
29 163 117 197 59.39% 26 55 30 WAS
27 181 116 203 57.14% 30 57 31 OAK
32 95 114 196 58.16% 29 61 32 MIA
4080 6468

The data table shown here can be downloaded here – First Downs And Third Downs.

Just eleven random thoughts on the data:

  1. The Steelers ranked 4th in offensive personnel even with the loss of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell.
  2. The Browns fans must be excited about the upcoming season. Though Baker Mayfield knows nothing about Giants fans.
  3. The Vikings led the league with getting a stop on 73% of total 3rd down plays.
  4. Would the Patriots have been this successful if they played in another division? They are 26th on the overall ranking.
  5. Miami quarterback Josh Rosen may have the unenviable position of his team once again have the top draft pick with a generational talented quarterback available.
  6. I have optimism for my Giants even though the data looks otherwise. That’s what fans do. The Giants came in 28th on the overall ranking. I am looking forward to a big year from Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate. Shepard is one of only five active wide receivers that had a 61% or better catch percent, 650+ receiving yards and a 6.5+ yards per target average in each of their first three seasons.
  7. Of the top ten teams for offensive first down talent, half of them rank in the  bottom third of the league in 3rd down stop percentage.
  8. The Falcons had the 31st ranked third down stop percent with 54%. Yet their projected starting defensive eleven has seven day 1 or 2 draft picks that were all made by the Falcons. They did not have a day two selection in the 2019 draft and did not take a defensive player until day three. But its not like they have ignored the defense. in prior drafts. The Falcons tied the Bills for the most games where they took the lead during a fourth quarter lead change and wound up losing the game. They each had three games in which that happened. Go figure.
  9. It would be nice to see someone challenge the Patriots this year in the AFC East. Buffalo appears to have the best rounded team to do so among the contenders. Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen made the second most rushing first downs among quarterbacks with 45. He trailed Lamar Jackson by only three. The Bills have one of the best pass defenses. They were tie with the Ravens and the Bears for the lowest opponent yards per pass attempt with a 6.3 yards per attempt. They picked up two tough linemen in the draft – Ed Oliver on defense and Cody Ford on offense.
  10. There are four teams that are in the top ten for either offense (1st downs) or defense (3rd down stops) that fall into the bottom half of the league for the overall rank due to a poor rank in the opposite quality. They are the Jets and the Jaguars who have top defense rankings and the Cowboys and the Falcons who have top offense rankings.
  11. There are four teams that are in the bottom ten for either offense or defense that fall into the top half of the league due to a strong rank in the other category. They are the Bears and the Cardinals who have a strong defense and the Saints and the Chiefs who have a strong offense.

I hope you find the data interesting. Best regards and a reminder that there are only 13 days left to the unofficial start of football – the Hall of Fame Game.

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