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Now that we’ve inched past the halfway point of the 2012 NFL season, most football pundits are preparing their playoff hierarchy and looking to place a team or two as the “teams to beat” for this year’s title.
In the NFC, unbeaten Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco and the New York Giants are each garnering support for the top team in that conference. Add in an injury-riddled but dangerous Green Bay Packers team, and you’ve got a conference that could be up for grabs in January.
In the AFC, Houston has been the sexy choice, and with Denver making waves with Peyton Manning at the helm, the Broncos are a legitimate contender to represent the AFC. The one team that few seem to be talking much about are the New England Patriots. Maybe they’re not getting much talk because we just expect them to be there at the end of the season. But it could also be that we’re not sure which Pats team will show up as the regular season draws to a close and the playoffs begin.
The Patriots lead the league with 262 points, and their offense again this week tops the POP Score rankings as the most efficient offense in the NFL. New England is one of three teams to score a field goal or touchdown in 50 percent or more of their offensive possessions this year. The Patriots have scored 45 times in 88 possessions (51.1 percent). The New York Giants have 49 offensive scores in 95 possessions (51.6 percent) and the Atlanta Falcons’ offense has scored 42 of 84 possessions (50 percent).
(POP Score is based on the simple premise that it is the offensive team’s objective to score a touchdown (or at the least, kick a field goal) in each possession. POP Score stands for Points per Offensive Possession. Here’s how it works: The Falcons in Week One had nine possessions in their game. On four of the possessions, they scored a touchdown. On four of their possessions they kicked a field goal. They punted once. They scored 24 points on their four TDs (extra points are not included in Pop Score); 12 points on their four field goals. The Atlanta offense scored 36 points on nine possessions. By dividing the 36 points by the nine possessions, you get a POP Score of 4.0. Maximum POP Score is 6.0, which would indicate that a team scored a touchdown every time they had an offensive possession.)
Here’s a look at the POP Score rankings through Week 9.
Team, POP Score, (Season Offensive Scores/Possessions)
1. New England 2.49 (45 scores in 88 possessions)
2. Atlanta 2.29 (42 scores in 84 possessions)
3. New York Giants 2.27 (49 scores in 95 possessions)
4. Pittsburgh 2.22 (37 scores in 77 possessions)
5. Denver 2.20 (35 scores in 82 possessions)
6. New Orleans 2.08 (33 scores in 85 possessions)
7. Tampa Bay 2.05 (38 scores in 92 possessions)
8. Green Bay 2.04 (38 scores in 97 possessions)
9tie. Houston 2.03 (37 scores in 90 possessions)
9tie. San Francisco 2.03 (34 scores in 80 possessions)
11. Detroit 1.90 (36 scores in 87 possessions)
12tie. Baltimore 1.89 (34 scores in 84 possessions)
12tie. Chicago 1.89 (35 scores in 85 possessions)
14. Washington 1.80 (36 scores in 95 possessions)
15. Cincinnati 1.78 (34 scores in 81 possessions)
16. Minnesota 1.75 (37 scores in 96 possessions)
17. San Diego 1.74 (31 scores in 81 possessions)
18. Dallas 1.69 (30 scores in 80 possessions)
19. Indianapolis 1.64 (31 scores in 84 possessions)
20tie. Oakland 1.63 (35 scores in 94 possessions)
20tie. Seattle 1.63 (32 scores in 89 possessions)
22. Buffalo 1.62 (28 scores in 89 possessions)
23. Miami 1.53 (29 scores in 90 possessions)
24. New York Jets 1.45 (27 scores in 87 possessions)
25. Tennessee 1.44 (30 scores in 98 possessions)
26. Carolina 1.43 (23 scores in 82 possessions)
27. Philadelphia 1.40 (27 scores in 86 possessions)
28. St. Louis 1.39 (27 scores in 80 possessions)
29. Cleveland 1.34 (32 scores in 105 possessions)
30. Kansas City 1.23 (27 scores in 93 possessions)
31. Jacksonville 1.17 (25 scores in 92 possessions)
32. Arizona 1.15 (27 scores in 107 possessions)
Biggest gainers this week: Detroit (up four spots this week); Tampa Bay (up three spots this week); Seattle (up three spots this week); Carolina (up two spots this week); San Diego (up two spots this week).
Biggest losers this week: Buffalo (down five spots this week); Houston (down three spots this week); Tennessee (down three spots this week); Washington (down two spots this week)
NFL POP Score league average through Week 9: 1.75
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