NFL Overrated and Underrated Teams: Week 18

A.J. Brown



I’ve posted overrated and underrated NFL teams on my NFL Picks page for a while, but I thought it deserved its own section. I’ll update this page every week during the season as well as periodically during the offseason. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

Updated Jan. 2, 2024




NFL Overrated Teams:


Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys have beaten up on bad teams this year. They’ve faced some tough opponents lately, however. In those games, they got crushed by the Bills; lost a close one to the Dolphins, who then went on to get demolished by Baltimore; and got lucky thanks to corrupt/inept officiating at the end of the Detroit contest.

Dallas is just 14th in net EPA, ranking 27th in defense. If this seems low to you, remember what Geno Smith did to this defense on a recent Thursday night.

Detroit Lions
It pains me to put the Lions in the overrated list because I bet them to win the Super Bowl. However, I’ve been very disappointed with their defense lately, and the metrics agree; their stop unit is 20th right now. This has caused the Lions to be ranked 13th in net EPA. That’s somewhat low for a 11-5 team.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Would it shock you if I told you that the 9-7 Jaguars were the seventh-worst team in the NFL? That’s where they rank in the metrics, thanks to their 26th-ranked defense. The Jaguars have been a mess in the second half of the year, allowing Jake Browning and Joe Flacco to look like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

Kansas City Chiefs
Everyone expects the Chiefs to hit the on switch, but when will that happen? Their receivers can’t stop dropping passes, while Patrick Mahomes’ protection has not been ideal. Defensively, the Chiefs are a mess, ranking 25th in EPA. They’re 21st in net EPA, and they remind me of the Buccaneers from last year.

Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles recently had the best record in the NFL, so people naturally thought they are better than they really were. As I’ve been saying the past few years, team records are the siren song of the uninformed ESPN viewer.

Philadelphia hasn’t been very impressive despite its record. The Patriots outgained the Eagles by 130 yards. The Vikings imploded in Week 2. Sure, the Eagles had a great win in Week 3, but they nearly lost to the Redskins at home in Week 4. They then suffered a defeat versus the Jets. They rebounded versus Miami, but the Dolphins were missing several key players and were hosed by horrific officiating. In their second meeting against the Redskins, they were outgained in net yards and yards per play (472-374, 6.8-6.0). They were also outgained by Dallas by a large margin. Buffalo, meanwhile, had them on the ropes with a pair of 10-point leads, but the Eagles won because of a 59-yard field goal and a miscommunication between Josh Allen and Gabriel Davis. Of course, the losses to the 49ers and Cowboys stand out as something that should have been obvious. The Eagles went on to lose to the Seahawks and Cardinals. Blegh.

The metrics have the Eagles as just the 19th-best team in the NFL, as they rank seventh in offense and a shockingly horrible 29th in defense.



NFL Underrated Teams:

Chicago Bears
I recently had some Lions fans calling me out on Twitter for slotting the Bears above their team in the NFL Power Rankings. The Bears may have the worse record, but they’re way ahead in the metrics. In fact, Chicago ranks No. 1 in defense, while the offense has been much better since Justin Fields’ return from injury.

Denver Broncos
The Broncos made the right decision to bench Russell Wilson, who had been enduring a terrible year despite the stats. Wilson’s numbers had been misleading, as most of his positive production occurred when he was trailing by multiple scores. Jarrett Stidham isn’t a great quarterback, but he could be an upgrade, which would make the Broncos a formidable team if the season were any longer.

Las Vegas Raiders
No one seems to appreciate how good the Raiders defense has been lately, as it has been in the top 10 of defensive EPA for several weeks. The offense has been lackluster, but Aidan O’Connell has been accurate and decisive in some games

Los Angeles Rams
The Rams have gotten over their mid-season injuries and have been on fire in the second half of the season. In fact, they’re No. 1 in net EPA. They’re fourth in offensive EPA and sixth in defensive EPA. Overall, this gives them a net ranking of first. Yes, they are the only team to have both the offense and defense in the top six. Their record is bad because of the injuries they suffered in the middle of the year, but they’ve blown out most of their recent competition. They also went toe-to-toe with the Ravens in Baltimore, a game that was decided by a punt return in overtime. I bet the Rams to win the Super Bowl at 66/1 odds.

New England Patriots
The Patriots are seen as a joke, but they’ve played within one score of the Colts and healthy Chargers recently. They also went into Denver and Pittsburgh and won convincingly. They’ve done this with an excellent defense ranked third in EPA.

 





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