The Top Five Most Efficient NFL Offenses (11/02/16)

By Frank Brank @realfbra
Offensive efficiency and passing attack have taken over the NFL. The more recent rule changes aide to offenses to create a more exciting game. Offensive and defensive efficiency is a leading indicator of the top NFL teams and today, we'll look into the top five most efficient NFL offenses to date. Check out our Team Rankings page if you'd like to see where all 32 teams rank on offense and defense.

Though many folks expected Ezekiel Elliott to be a great running back behind the best offensive line in the NFL, it is truly remarkable two rookies have led the Cowboys to the fifth-ranked offense mostly without their star wide receiver, Dez Bryant.

Dak Prescott has impressed overall. He happened to struggle last weekend on Sunday Night Football for three quarters only to lead a comeback victory in the fourth quarter and overtime. He faced a lot of pressure from the Philadelphia defense but looked more willing to throw the ball down the field now that Dez Bryant is back on the field.

The Cowboys currently rank fourth in yards per play, fifth in yards per passing attempt, and fourth in yards per rushing attempt. If the Cowboys can add in a threatening deep passing game along with Jason Witten and Cole Beasley catching more efficient passes underneath, they will continue to be an offensive threat for the remainder of the season.

Drew Brees will seemingly play consistently forever. At 37-years-old, Drew Brees may be putting together one of his best seasons. Playing in the high-paced Mercedes-Benz Superdome definitely helps but it is not the sole reason. All Brees has done this year is complete 69.5% of his passes (3% higher than his career percentage), thrown 5.8% of his passes for touchdowns, along with a 1.6% interception rate, and 337.9 yards per game.

What makes this even more impressive is that the Saints lack a running game. New Orleans boasts just the 28th-ranked rushing attack in yards per attempt and the team lacks a true top wideout or tight end. The entire offense is on Drew Brees' back and he's led them to the fourth-most efficient overall offense.

In contrast with Drew Brees, Derek Carr is young and does have a couple top wide receivers to target in the passing game. The Raiders are embracing their passing game, as well. Carr has attempted nearly 40 throws per game, including 59 (!) passes last week in the overtime win against the Buccaneers.

Carr has taken a huge leap in his first eight games of this season. He's completed 66.3% of his passes, a stark contrast to his 61.0% career compeltion rate. An underrated part of this Raiders' offense is their offensive line. The group had high expectations coming into the season and has supported Carr who has only been sacked in 2.7% of his dropbacks compared to 5.1% last season.

Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper gives Carr sufficient weapons in the passing games and he uses them often. Crabtree has seen over nine targets per game and Cooper has gotten ten throws per game. The three-C's will need to continue to carry the Raiders as their defense ranks near the bottom of the league in every stastical category.

There's no surprise to see the Patriots offense at the top of the NFL at any point in the last decade. Tom Brady is the key and could be having his best season at age 39 (grantedm he's only played four games after serving his suspension earlier in the year). However, he's completed 73.1% of his passes and has thrown the ball further down the field than usual. The average yards per catch from Brady is 13.5 yards, almost two yards higher than his previous three years. It is rare to see quarterbacks that consistently throw the ball further down the field and complete a higher percentage of throws.

Rob Gronkowski is an impossible matchup for any defense. Safeties and cornerbacks are not big enough to defend him. Linebackers are not fast enough to keep up or quick enough to jump his efficient route-running. Coincidentally, Gronk has caught 73% of the passes thrown his way and has amassed an insane 22 yards per reception.

Their running game isn't great, though, ranking 21st in yards per attempt. They will rely mostly on the passing game for the duration of the season and it has paid off thus far as they are overwhelming favorites to win the Super Bowl.

The Falcons offense has had the most efficient season thus far. They have been nearly impossible to stop thanks to Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, and even Jacob Tamme, having incredible seasons. The Falcons rank first in yards per play, first in yards per attempt passing, first in yards per completion, and tenth in rushing yards per attempt.

Matt Ryan is another quarterback having a career year. Ryan, who has showed promise over his career is finally now developing into one of the bests quarterbacks in the NFL. He's been extremely efficient by completing 69.2% of his passes, while throwing for 13.7 yards per completion; 2.4 yards higher per completion than last year. His 2.3% career interception rate is poor but he's drastically improved that to 1.4% this season with his increased completion rate.

The Falcons aren't especially deep at wide receiver outside of Julio Jones, but Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman have been weapons in the rushing and passing game out of the backfield. Freeman carries the ball most frequently and has averaged 4.7 yards per rushing attempt. Coleman does get some carries but makes himself more of a dangerous threat in the passing game. After catching only two passes in seven games last year, Coleman has now caught 19 passes for 330 yards this year, averaging 17.4 yards per catch.

The Falcons have lost a few games late as their defense has struggled at the end of games but their offense should propel them to the top of the weak NFC South. With Matt Ryan's career-high play and unique weapons available, they can make a run at a Super Bowl appearance if their defense can perform at an average rate.