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 Nov. 27, 2023
NFL Overrated Teams:
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 24th right now. This has caused the Lions to be ranked 18th in net EPA. That’s quite low for an 8-3 team.
The Jaguars had a nice, bounce-back win against the Titans and a close victory against Houston, but they’re rather underwhelming for a team that is 8-3. They rank 16th in offensive EPA and 25th in defensive EPA. Some of that is skewed by the San Francisco result, but they weren’t remotely competitive with the 49ers.
The Eagles have the best record in the NFL at 10-1, so people will naturally think they are better than they really are. 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.
The metrics have the Eagles as just the 17th-best team in the NFL, as they rank third in offense and a shockingly horrible 28th in defense.
It appears as though I was mistaken to be so high on the Seahawks earlier in the season. In their past five games, they’ve struggled to put away the horrible Cardinals, they nearly lost to Phillip Walker at home, they got absolutely trashed by the Ravens, they barely beat the Redskins in an easy bounce-back spot, they lost to the Rams even though Matthew Stafford couldn’t throw normally, and then they once again failed to be competitive against the 49ers.
The metrics hate the Seahawks. They have the Seahawks 31st overall, with Seattle being 25th in offense and 29th in defense!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers are 4-7, so people are trying to talk themselves into believing that they are not that bad. The Buccaneers’ four wins have been against the Vikings, Bears, Saints, and Titans. Minnesota outplayed Tampa in that game, but made a number of turnovers. The Chicago game saw Justin Fields run only twice after the opening drive. The Saints had no chance because Derek Carr played hurt. And the Titans looked like they had no shot with Will Levis finally playing down to his natural abilities. The Buccaneers lost to the Falcons by three, but that game would have been a blowout had the Falcons not lost fumbles twice at the Tampa 1-yard line. They also covered against the Bills, but needed a miracle to do so. Plus, Buffalo isn’t very good either. The Buccaneers rank 25th in net EPA.
This is a listing based on the team’s record. The Redskins are 4-8, but they’re 30th in net EPA. The win in Atlanta may have looked impressive, but the Redskins were outgained, 402-193, and they averaged 1.2 fewer yards per play. Washington’s other claims to fame are near-victories against the Eagles, but Philadelphia is also overrated. The Redskins beat the Patriots, but New England is dead last in net EPA. They battled the Seahawks closely, but Seattle is also overrated. Dallas destroying Washington was not a surprise.
NFL Underrated Teams:
What’s killing me most about the recent Sunday night pick loss to the Chargers, aside from all the nonsense we had from the officials and dropped passes, was that the Bears still rank higher in the metrics than the Chargers, despite that 30-13 result. Chicago is 15th in offense (adjusted for Justin Fields) and 15th in defense, making them 15th in net adjusted EPA. That’s not bad for a 3-8 team.
The Broncos are 6-5. They recently barely scraped by the Vikings at home, but Minnesota has made my underrated list as well, so that win was more impressive than some would think. Denver’s defense has been so much better since that 70-20 debacle, currently ranking second in adjusted defensive EPA. The offense, meanwhile, is a respectable 17th, as Russell Wilson has improved under Sean Payton. The metrics have Denver as the fourth-best team in the NFL!
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay’s win in Detroit was no surprise if you look at the metrics. Green Bay is eighth overall in net EPA, ranking 13th in both offense and defense. Everyone hates the Packers, but they’ve had some close losses that easily could have been wins. Turn two of those games around, and everyone would be looking differently at a 7-4 Packer team.
Kirk Cousins is out for the year, so what’s with this underrated designation? Well, I think Minnesota can beat mediocre or worse opponents consistently, even without Cousins. The Vikings have a stellar offensive line and the seventh-ranked EPA defense. Besides, Josh Dobbs has shown that he could be a solid game manager. If the Vikings could advance to the NFC Championship with Case Keenum, why can’t they do so with Dobbs? The Vikings are sixth in net EPA.
Everyone likes to point out the fluke victories the Steelers have had, but they’re going to be better with Diontae Johnson and Cameron Heyward playing again. The Steelers are also an impressive 10th in net EPA, ranking 14th in offense and 12th in defense.