Most Offense- & Defense-Heavy Teams of 2016

April 25, 2017

I don't know if you know this, but some teams are better on offense than they are on defense, and vice-versa. How much better? Well, that's actually an impossible question to answer, because each unit is essentially playing a completely different game, but I'm going to tell you anyways.


Using my ratings from last season, I can determine how much better (or worse) than average every unit in the country was. For an offense, how many more PPG did you score than an average offense would have given your schedule, and for the defense, how many PPG did you prevent that an average defense would have allowed? By charting these values and comparing them for each team, I can determine which teams were either the most offensive- or defensive-heavy teams in the country.


First, the ten most offensively-dominated teams in the country:

Occidental had a pretty good offense last season, not really Top 25 level, but probably one of the best 50 offenses in the country, but that defense... ooh boy. An adjusted rating of 41.8 ppg (essentially, how many points they would be predicted to allow against an average offense) is a bottom 20-caliber squad. If you like points, these teams played some pretty exciting contests. If you're like me, and seeing blown assignments on defense resulting in big plays makes you physically upset, maybe watching these games shouldn't be advised.


Not every team is on this list because of poor defense though, Hartwick had easily the most explosive & productive position player in the country, East Texas Baptist is famous for running the most up-tempo offense in the country (while Whitworth had the 4th highest tempo), and Hendrix had both the most efficient offense in the country and the best backfield duo in the country. 


They play good defense in the NJAC. Three of the ten most defense-heavy teams in the country were from the NJAC last season, and half of these teams are from the East region.


Unlike the list of most offensively-focused teams, only one of these teams was above average on the other side of the ball. Interestingly though, two of the defense-heavy teams made the playoffs, while none of the offense-heavy teams did. This doesn't mean that having a good defense is more important than having a good offense (they're equally important), but having the ability to keep possessions and scoring to a minimum can prove important to winning games as an underdog (see, Northwestern vs. St. Scholastica). If you're the favored team, having as many opportunities to showcase your superior talent (faster pace) helps prevent close games that could be flipped by the random bounce of a ball.


RMC, Ithaca, and Rowan all had Top 25-level talent on the defensive side of the ball, allowing only about 11 points per game, and a cumulative of one game allowing 30 points, and only six total games allowing more than two touchdowns. Northwestern didn't allow a point until their fourth game of the season. Kean pronounces their school name incorrectly.


I'll concede that to many people, low-scoring contests can be boring to watch (you're wrong, but to each their own). I don't like shootouts with poor defense, so what are we to do? Maybe watching a team with a more balanced approach is preferable?


It's heartening that the most balanced team in the country was also a Top 10 squad, but just like with teams with vast differences between their offenses and defenses, this is a mixed bag. St. Norbert may have made the playoffs if Monmouth hadn't had arguably the best MWC team ever this season, but most of these squads were average or bad this season.  


The moral of this story? Other than the apparent coastal West Coast Offense/East Coast Defense divide, is that being outstanding on one side of the ball doesn't matter so much if you're below average on the other side of the ball. It's best to be good at both (I know, duh).

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