In 2020, Buffalo lost to Kansas City in week 6. QB Josh Allen didn’t have the greatest game, as he completed 14 of 27 passes.
This game seemed like a confirmation of his lack of accuracy. The analytics community has doubted Allen since his last year at Wyoming in college football.
However, the advanced metrics told a different story. Consider passing success rate. For an offense, success on a play means gaining the following fraction of yards towards the next first down:
- 50% on first down
- 70% on second down
- 100% on third and fourth down
After my schedule adjustments, Buffalo’s pass offense ranked 7th in success rate after the Kansas City game. Seventh.
Why should you trust passing success rate?
Over the past 10 seasons, I looked at the correlation from early to late season for a variety of passing metrics. Passing success rate by the above definition had an R-squared value of 0.331, the highest I found. For comparison, passing EPA per play had an R-squared value of 0.252.
Passing success rate is predictive, and it didn’t fail for Buffalo last season. The Bills finished the season 3rd in my adjusted passing success rate and made it to the AFC championship game.
After week 7 in 2021, let’s look at some insights from passing success rate. All ranks refer to my passing success adjusted for opponent, which are available to members of The Power Rank.
Buffalo – Allen, Diggs and company still boast a strong pass offense, as they rank 10th. As I discussed this preseason, OC Brian Daboll makes life easier for Allen with his play calling.
Buffalo gets even more of a nod as a Super Bowl contender not because of Kansas City’s troubles but because of their defense. The pass defense ranks 2nd.
Indianapolis – Carson Wentz’s offense seems fine, as they average 24.1 points per game, 15th best in the NFL. However, the pass offense ranks dead last in my pass rankings.
The pass offense has shown signs of life, as Wentz’s offense had a 52.6% success rate against Baltimore. However, he can’t pick on Anthony Averett every game. The Colts have had a 39.8% success rate for the season compared to the NFL average of 45.6%.
Green Bay – The Packers have had success on 46.8% of pass plays this season, 11th best in the NFL through Thursday night’s game. However, they have faced a strong set of pass defense by my numbers, units that include San Francisco (1st), Cincinnati (4th), Arizona (6th) and Chicago (9th).
My schedule adjustments move the Packers pass offense up to 6th.
Minnesota – The offense doesn’t look that great in terms of points per game, as the Vikings rank 14th in this category. However, you expect better from an offense with the talents of WRs Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen.
Minnesota ranks a much healthier 7th in my pass offense rankings. They face Dallas on Sunday, and my numbers make the Vikings the favorite in this game.
Tennessee – Ryan Tannehill’s offense has not looked great this season, as they rank 21st by my numbers. Poor performances against the weak pass defenses of the New York Jets (39.3%) and Jacksonville (40.0%) hurt their rank.
However, this rank is probably low because of injuries. WR Julio Jones didn’t play against the Jets and Jags, and WR A.J. Brown also missed the Jets game. Both receivers are back from injury, and my numbers favor Tennessee by a point at Indianapolis.
Football betting with a PhD edge
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