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2020 Team NEFF Rankings

2020 NFL team rankings based on our in-house efficiency rating.

Given the state of the NFL and the world in general in 2020, I was anticipating a potentially odd looking season from a NEFF ratings perspective (full breakdown of my NerdBall Efficiency Rankings) due to no preseason and little to no crowds in attendance. In retrospect it turned out that way as we saw the strongest average offensive rating and corresponding lowest average defensive rating in the 15 seasons I’ve graded NFL games. That makes sense as teams were unable to install their defenses in the usual way and then were not able to adjust in-season as they would have in previous years and that massively benefitted the offenses.

The average offensive rating was +42.5%, over 7% higher than the average of the last five seasons, and we saw the highest graded offense in any of the last 15 seasons from the Green Bay Packers. Their +66.7% rating blew out even the historic 2007 New England Patriots offense (+60.6%). In fact, eight teams achieved an offensive rating of over +50%, again a record across the seasons I’ve graded. Only one of these eight missed the playoffs (Minnesota Vikings, +51.7%), with all four of the championship game teams finishing with a top-8 graded offense.

How the 2020 Season Played Out

Looking back at how the season shaped up, the first four weeks saw the Indianapolis Colts take an early season lead in the rankings with a +35.4% rating as they bounced back from an opening day loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars (who didn’t win another game) to record three convincing victories, including a 36-7 win over the Jets in Week 3 that gave them a +77% rating, their highest of the season.

Just behind the Colts were eventual Super Bowl Champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+32.5%), who also bounced back from an opening day loss to the Saints to win three straight. Rounding out the top three were the Pittsburgh Steelers (+31.9%), who were unbeaten through four weeks thanks to a COVID-19 affected Week 4 game against the Titans that was rescheduled to Week 7.

At the bottom, the Jets found themselves in a position that would become all too familiar to them as they went 0-4 and recorded a -51.4% rating through the first quarter of the season, which had them on pace for the worst rating I’ve recorded.

By the half way point, the same three teams topped the rankings, with the Buccaneers (+32.5%) maintaining their rating to lead the Steelers (+27.6%) and the Colts (+26.7%). The Bucs repeated their 3-1 record over the second quarter, including a 38-10 thumping of the Packers, which turned out to be a foreshadowing of the NFC title game three months later. The Steelers remained unbeaten but their narrow victory over the Baltimore Ravens in Week 8 actually gave them a negative grade (-1%) and kept them off the top spot.

The Jets remained rooted to the bottom of the rankings and actually saw their grade reduce to -55.7% thanks to a -77% rating in the Week 8 35-9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

However, the 2020 season saw the New Orleans Saints finish as the top-rated team in the NFL, thanks to having the second-rated offense and third-rated defense. The Saints have been the most consistent team over the past five years, finishing ninth, third, third, fourth, and first in my rankings since 2016.

Full 2020 NEFF Rankings
TeamTotal RatingRankOffense RatingRankDefense RatingRankSpecial Teams RatingRank
New Orleans Saints27.6%156.3%2-32.7%31.8%12
Tampa Bay Buccaneers27.0%253.2%6-33.4%513.8%3
Green Bay Packers23.8%366.7%1-42.0%14-13.3%31
Buffalo Bills23.6%453.8%5-38.4%1117.4%2
Baltimore Ravens19.0%550.0%9-36.2%89.4%5
Pittsburgh Steelers18.3%643.0%17-27.0%10.0%13
Indianpolis Colts16.2%750.4%8-37.2%103.1%9
Los Angeles Rams11.0%843.2%16-30.2%2-11.2%28
Seattle Seahawks10.9%948.0%11-39.5%133.4%8
Kansas City Chiefs10.7%1055.5%3-47.7%215.2%7
Arizona Cardinals7.1%1143.8%14-37.0%9-2.3%21
Miami Dolphins5.9%1240.3%19-34.6%6-1.8%20
San Francisco 49ers4.5%1338.0%22-35.0%72.9%10
Washington Football Team3.5%1432.1%27-33.1%413.5%4
Clevelans Browns1.9%1547.0%12-44.0%17-4.7%26
Tennessee Titans-0.3%1655.5%4-55.5%29-0.8%14
Minnesota Vikings-1.8%1751.7%7-52.9%27-1.3%16
Caroliona Panthers-2.9%1839.5%20-48.4%2321.1%1
Las Vegas Raiders-5.1%1948.8%10-54.1%282.9%10
Los Angeles Chargers-7.1%2043.4%15-46.1%19-11.7%29
Chicago Bears-10.4%2135.0%24-42.8%16-4.2%24
Atalanta Falcons-12.4%2241.4%18-49.8%24-8.3%27
Houston Texans-13.3%2346.7%13-57.4%30-3.1%22
New England Patriots-15.6%2432.5%26-44.8%18-4.4%25
Denver Broncos-17.1%2531.9%28-46.5%20-1.3%16
Dallas Cowboys-17.8%2635.2%23-49.8%24-3.4%23
New York Giants-17.9%2723.8%31-39.1%12-1.3%16
Philadelphia Eagles-21.8%2827.2%30-42.7%15-12.0%30
Detroit Lions-22.9%2939.4%21-62.7%328.1%6
Cincinnati Bengals-26.2%3028.9%29-51.6%26-0.8%14
Jacksonville Jaguars-29.3%3133.6%25-58.8%31-1.6%19
New York Jets-33.1%3223.6%32-48.0%22-15.1%32