The New England Patriots are one week away from making history, according to Football Outsiders. “DVOA” is a metric of how efficient a team is on the field on any given play and no team in NFL history has finished first one one side of the ball and last on the other.
The Patriots are one week away from accomplishing this unique feat.
New England ranks first on offense and last on defense through 16 weeks, which mirrors their 2011 season when they also ranked first on offense and last on defense through 16 weeks. They dropped to third on offense and improved to 30th on defense after the finale.
The Patriots have a strong lead on the offensive side of the ball and they’ve been doing it without Julian Edelman or Chris Hogan, a testament to the abilities of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski and Dion Lewis and the offensive coaching staff. In fact, the difference between the first-ranked offense and the third-ranked Pittsburgh Steelers is the same as the difference between the Patriots last-ranked defense and the 16th-ranked Cleveland Browns defense.
So the more likely reason the Patriots wouldn’t clinch the first-and-last ranking would be the defense making a minor improvement in the season finale against the 23rd-ranked New York Jets offense and quarterback Bryce Petty.