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How long do elite offenses last in the modern NFL?

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The Bronco’s elite offense lasted three seasons (2012, 2013 and 2014). How long do they normally last in the NFL?

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Denver Broncos Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos have not had an elite offense since 2014. Even with a hobbled Peyton Manning in the later half of the season (he got hurt against the Rams), the Broncos averaged 31.5 points per game in the final six regular season games and scored 22 or more points in every one of those games. The Bronco’s elite offense lasted three seasons: 2012, 2013 and 2014. How long do elite offenses last in the modern NFL?

So what do I mean by an elite offense? I define an elite scoring team as one that finishes in the top quartile of the league (ranked 8th or better). The Broncos were ranked second, first and second in scoring in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

There have now been 18 seasons where the league has had 32 teams (2002-2019). Over the course of those years there have only been seventeen three year stretches where a team has been in the top 8 in scoring. Denver only has one. Many teams have none. The Patriots have the most with four - and theirs was an amazing stretch of twelve straight (4 x 3) years where they were in the top 8 in scoring (2006-2017). Only three other teams have multiple three year stretches of elite offense during this era: Green Bay, SD/LA and KC. Green Bay has two blocks of three years (2002-2004 and 2007-2009) and one block of four (2011-2014). The Chargers have one block of eight total years (2004-2011). The Chiefs have one block of four years (2002-2005) and one block of three (2017-2019). Kansas City will most likely extend their streak in 2020.

I should also note that the Saints have been really good at scoring since 2008. They missed the top 8 barely in 2010 (11th), 2013 (10th) and 2014 (9th). Had they made the top 8 in those three years they would have been on a run to rival New England’s run.

It should be noted that only one team in the league has had zero years of elite offense, the Jets. In 2008, the Jets finished 9th in scoring. That is the highest that they have finished in the 32-team era. The average rank of the Patriots over this time-frame is 5.7, meaning that the Pats have a better average than the Jets best single season rank.

All of this data is pulled from NFL.com and pro-football-reference.com. For those who want it, I can make this into a google sheet so that you can peruse at your leisure. I have the team by team offensive totals for every season going back to 1987 (with each year on a separate tab). Let me know in the comments if you want access to this spreadsheet and i’ll post a link. I initially put this spreadsheet together when I was studying turnovers and their frequency across teams and years.

Poll

In points scored where do you think that the 2020 Broncos will rank?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    1-8
    (110 votes)
  • 62%
    9-16
    (477 votes)
  • 20%
    17-24
    (153 votes)
  • 2%
    25-32
    (19 votes)
759 votes total Vote Now