Which NFL teams can carry strong 2022 stretch runs into 2023? 8 units to watch

Which NFL teams can carry strong 2022 stretch runs into 2023? 8 units to watch

It’s an annual subject when NFL gamers take away their belongings on locker room clean-out day as soon as a group’s season ends: “Momentum for subsequent season.”

Groups miss the postseason just like the Lions or the Steelers, however finish the common season on a scorching streak. The franchises hope to construct upon late-year successes and carry that into the next season. Is that even potential given the one group with true momentum leaving a season could be the Tremendous Bowl champions? And even then there’s the “Tremendous Bowl hangover” stigma that typically hovers above the reigning champion.

Sounds cliché usually, however information like roster turnover and accidents throughout the league actually carry a “new group” aspect to each locker room and training employees every season.

So in my newest research, I’m selecting one side from a group in every division that I consider can carry over late success from the 2022 season (Weeks 14-18) and both keep or enhance upon that in 2023. I’ve tried to keep away from some apparent ones, and a few may shock you.

(Word: All stats courtesy of TruMedia until in any other case specified.)

Patriots offensive line cross safety

New England’s offense most likely presents the least perceived momentum heading into this season of any group within the AFC East. This one could be the most important stretch of the record, particularly given the prognosis from colleague Chad Graff earlier this summer time. However … cross safety wasn’t a large concern for the Patriots, statistically talking, by the tip of the yr.

New England’s entrance 5 solely surrendered a 25.5 % stress charge, rating second within the league within the closing 5 weeks. The unit allowed six sacks in the course of the span as nicely, which ranked seventh greatest. The Patriots’ beginning inside linemen every allowed cross stress charges higher than league common within the closing 5 weeks:

  • Left guard Cole Unusual: 2.7 % (place league common: 4.3 %)
  • Middle David Andrews: 2.7 % (common: 3.5 %)
  • Proper guard Mike Onwenu: 3.3 % (common 4.3 %)

Onwenu may not be prepared for Week 1 as ankle surgical procedure has sidelined him all offseason. When wholesome, he’s one of many higher guards within the league. I’m banking on him being prepared, but it surely’s not a assure.

Sort out could possibly be scorching spots with Trent Brown struggling on the left facet with a 7.0 stress proportion, seventh worst amongst left tackles in Weeks 14-18. Indicators level to Riley Reiff being the Week 1 starter at proper deal with, however that spot could possibly be in flux.

Quarterback Mac Jones also needs to assist the equation, although. His common time to throw was the fourth quickest amongst certified passers averaging 2.53 seconds. He averaged 2.65 seconds to throw in Weeks 1-13, seventeenth greatest.

And just a little teaching might assist. The Patriots now have a certified offensive coordinator in Invoice O’Brien and an true offensive line coach in Adrian Klemm.

Offense will take heart stage for the Bengals with Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Joe Mixon and Tee Higgins within the combine. However the Cincinnati protection ranked among the many greatest total items within the league within the backstretch of final season:

  • Anticipated Factors Added per play: 0.16 (third)
  • EPA per drive: 0.92 (third)
  • EPA per rush: 0.19 (fifth)
  • EPA per cross: 0.11 (seventh)

The Bengals maintained continuity alongside the line of defense and at linebacker. The secondary will current a special look with Dax Hill and Nick Scott sliding into the security spots following the departures of Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell. However Cincinnati made Hill a 2022 first-round choose realizing it could lose a security and signed Scott after his first season as a starter with the Rams final season.

Cincinnati additionally used its first three 2023 draft picks on defenders: edge rusher Myles Murphy, cornerback D.J. Turner and security Jordan Battle. The Bengals aren’t simply constructing an offense in Cincinnati.

You’re dwelling proper when your protection leads the NFL in these classes over the ultimate 5 video games:

  • EPA per play: 0.20 (first)
  • EPA per drive: 1.17 (first)

Jacksonville additionally ranked third in EPA per cross at 0.19 (third) and sixth in factors per sport allowed (15.6) and EPA per rush (0.16).

The above charges have been a large enchancment from Weeks 1-13:

  • EPA per play: -0.05 (twenty seventh)
  • EPA per drive: -0.29 (twenty seventh)
  • EPA per rush: 0.06 (tenth)
  • EPA per cross: -0.13 (twenty seventh)
  • Factors per sport allowed: 22.7 (twenty third)

Edge rusher Josh Allen tallied an 18.2 % stress charge and 4 sacks within the closing 5 weeks after a 13.8 % charge and three sacks in Weeks 1-13. On the opposite facet, the Jaguars could possibly be solely scratching the floor with 2022 No. 1 choose in edge rusher Travon Walker. Walker watched his stress proportion soar to 13.3 % in Weeks 14-18 after solely an 8.4 % charge in Weeks 1-13.

Linebacker Foyesade Oluokun ranked No. 2 amongst all defenders with 20 “splash” performs within the final 5 weeks. Solely the Ravens’ Roquan Smith produced extra. Defensive backs Rayshawn Jenkins tied for second amongst defensive backs with 14 such performs, whereas Darious Williams amassed 10 (tied for thirteenth) within the span. Tyson Campbell additionally yielded opposing passer scores of 42.4, 18.7 and 58.3 in Weeks 16, 17 and the Wild Card spherical, respectively.

This one might come out of left area. Possibly deep left area.

The Broncos ranked third in EPA per rush at 0.08 in Weeks 14-18. That could be a flimsy metric to cling to on this train. That is extra about seeing a shred of success in a misplaced season and the way this yr’s group will possess the instruments to construct a stable-to-good speeding assault.

Overlook new coach Sean Payton having to “repair” Russell Wilson for a second. From 2017-2020, the Saints ranked No. 2 within the league in EPA per rush beneath Payton, trailing solely the Ravens. Now in Denver, Payton can be decided to create a constant and efficient run sport.

This may definitely begin with the return of a wholesome Javonte Williams at working again. Including Samaje Perine because the No. 2 possibility ought to give Denver a dependable duo.

Then comes the offensive line overhaul with the additions of guard Ben Powers and proper deal with Mike McGlinchey. And the unit can be guided by head coach-in-the-making Zach Strief in his first yr as a main offensive line coach.

Eagles rush offense

The Eagles’ run sport produced about in addition to any within the league final season, no matter time span, because it led the NFL with a 0.10 EPA per rush charge. Philadelphia improved on that quantity with a 0.12 EPA per rush charge in Weeks 14-18.

Whether or not or not the Eagles can keep this success might come all the way down to the turnover at working again. Miles Sanders is now a Carolina Panther. Sanders’ 0.04 EPA per rush charge in 2022 was the best of any working again ranked within the high 20 in working again touches, so that you shouldn’t downplay his loss.

However the Eagles nonetheless have a couple of issues going for them (no kidding). Jalen Hurts is as harmful because it will get when working the soccer on the quarterback place. The offensive line stays among the best within the league.

Jalen Hurts rushed for 18 touchdowns final season together with the playoffs, essentially the most by a QB in single-season NFL historical past. (Mitchell Leff / Getty Photographs)

Then comes D’Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny, each of whom the Eagles added this offseason.

Well being screams out as the main sticking level with each of those backs. Penny has performed 18 video games previously three seasons and Swift appears to overlook a handful of video games yearly. However when proper, the 2 can produce with the perfect of them.

In Seattle, Penny led the NFL in 2021 averaging 6.3 yards per carry and nearly maintained that with a 6.1 YPC common final season. In Detroit, Swift averaged 5.7 yards per carry final yr and ranked fifth in EPA per rush amongst 64 certified working backs.

Inexperienced Bay received 4 of its closing 5 video games final season with a wholesome uptick on protection. That was most likely misplaced to some individuals given the drama surrounding Aaron Rodgers. The Packers solely allowed 17.6 factors per sport of their final 5 video games.

Right here’s a have a look at how their EPA charges stacked up in Weeks 14-18:

  • EPA per play: 0.12 (sixth)
  • EPA per drive: 0.61 (sixth)
  • EPA per rush: 0.05 (twentieth)
  • EPA per cross: 0.11 (sixth)

And why would the Packers keep this success? Rashan Gary. That’s motive sufficient.

Inexperienced Bay’s protection in some way managed to raise its play after Gary tore his ACL halfway by way of final season. Gary started collaborating in group drills earlier this week for the primary time because the harm. When wholesome, he’s among the best cross rushers within the league, rating No. 2 amongst certified defenders the previous two seasons with an 18.9 % stress charge. The Cowboys’ Micah Parsons ranked No. 1.

Saints protection

One other defensive effort that most likely went unnoticed by some, given the Saints sputtered to a 7-10 end final yr, came about in New Orleans. The Saints gave up 18 factors or fewer in every of their closing six video games, and solely allowed 10 factors in every of their closing three video games.

Right here’s a have a look at how their EPA charges stacked up in Weeks 14-18:

  • EPA per play: 0.18 (second)
  • EPA per drive: 1.06 (second)
  • EPA per rush: -0.00 (twenty fifth)
  • EPA per cross: 0.34 (first)

The notable disparity in rush vs. cross made the unit’s success much more exceptional. New Orleans made a concerted effort to bolster its run protection this offseason by including veteran defensive tackles Nathan Shepherd and Khalen Saunders, in addition to 2023 first-round choose Bryan Bresee.

Shepherd and Saunders have been two of the extra environment friendly tacklers in opposition to the run over the last 5 weeks. Shepherd made tackles on 19 % of his run protection snaps (twenty fourth amongst 182 certified defensive linemen), whereas Saunders carried a 20 % charge (18th). Even the slightest uptick in opposition to the run might make the Saints’ protection stronger in 2023.

First the commerce for Christian McCaffrey. Then the invention of Brock Purdy. The items appeared to fall in place for the 49ers by the point December arrived and into the playoffs earlier than Purdy suffered a proper elbow harm.

Right here’s a have a look at how their offensive EPA charges stacked up in Weeks 14-18:

  • EPA per play: 0.11 (first)
  • EPA per dropback: 0.18 (second)
  • EPA per rush: 0.07 (fifth)

Each aspect of the 49ers offense synchronized throughout their close to run to a Tremendous Bowl. Purdy ranked second in EPA per dropback (0.21) and first in passer score (119.0) within the closing 5 weeks. McCaffrey ranked eighth in EPA per rush (0.10), third in speeding yards (439) and tied for second in speeding TDs (4). George Kittle led all tight ends with seven TD receptions.

This can come all the way down to Purdy overcoming the harm and avoiding a big drop-off. Anticipating Mahomes-type numbers from Purdy isn’t reasonable. Nonetheless, the Niners offense ought to roll on robust. And what might sound bizarre, backup Sam Darnold ranked third in EPA per dropback (0.17) in Weeks 14-18 for Carolina. It’s virtually as if the Niners worth metrics!

(High picture of Christian McCaffrey and Brock Purdy: Steph Chambers / Getty Photographs)

The Soccer 100, the definitive rating of the NFL’s greatest 100 gamers of all time, goes on sale this fall. Pre-order it right here.


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