Kansas City ranked 4th in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt in 2002, 1st in 2003, 3rd in 2004, and 2nd in 2005. In terms of Adjusted Yards per Carry, the Chiefs were 2nd in 2002, 3rd in 2003, 1st in 2004, and 3rd in 2005. That’s an incredible streak of not just dominance, but balanced dominance. And Kansas City missed the playoffs in three of those four years! (pours one out for Jason Lisk).
On Monday, we looked at some great defenses that missed the playoffs. Today, a look at some of the best offenses to stay home for the winter. And in the last 15 years, the 2002 Chiefs, 2004 Chiefs, and 2005 Chiefs are the only teams to rank in the top five in both ANY/A and AYPC and miss the playoffs.
What other teams since the merger met those criteria?
- In 1996, Washington ranked 3rd in ANY/A and 4th in AYPC, behind Pro Bowlers Gus Frerotte and Terry Allen, and wide receivers Henry Ellard and Michael Westbrook. The head coach was Norv Turner (he’ll come up again, of course), and the quarterbacks coach was Cam Cameron. Those two put together a good offense, but a 9-7 record was only good enough for third in the NFC East behind the Giants and Cowboys.
- In 1988, the Bengals made the Super Bowl. The next season, Cincinnati ranked 5th in ANY/A and 2nd in AYPC, but went 8-8. Cincinnati won several1 games by large margins, and actually finished 3rd in points differential. Boomer Esiason, James Brooks, tight end Rodney Holman, and offensive linemen Anthony Munoz and Max Montoya all made the Pro Bowl, while wide receivers Tim McGee and Eddie Brown both had strong seasons.
- To no surprise, the Dan Marino–Mark Clayton–Mark Duper–Dwight Stephenson Dolphins had a good passing game. The team ranked 5th in ANY/A, and Marino ranked 3rd in that metric individually. The big surprise is that the running game not only had an above-average YPC average but was extremely effective at picking up first downs. The Dolphins finished 8-7, although Miami might have made the playoffs had they not gone 1-2 in the replacement players games.
- In 1986, the Bengals went 10-6 with much of the same roster (plus an in-his-prime Cris Collinsworth) that dominated defenses in ’88 and ’89.2 Brooks helped the team lead the league in AYPC, and Esiason guided a passing attack that rank 3rd in ANY/A. The ’86 Dolphins also join the list, thanks to a miserable defense.
- The 1984 St. Louis Cardinals ranked 3rd in both ANY/A and AYPC. Wide receiver Roy Green was a first-team All-Pro, quarterback Neil Lomax was a Pro Bowler, and running back Ottis Anderson rushed for 1,174 yards and picked up another 611 through the air. But despite a decent defense, the team finished just 9-7.
- The 1983 Falcons finished 7-9 despite ranking 5th in both ANY/A and AYPC. William Andrews set a career high with 1,567 rushing yards and 2,176 yards from scrimmage, while Steve Bartkowski had one of the best seasons of his career.
- Prior to 1980, five other teams pulled off this feat: the ’79 Saints (5th in ANY/A, 1st in AYPC), ’77 Dolphins (3rd, 1st), ’75 Bills (3rd, 1st)3, ’74 Bengals (5th, 3rd), and ’70 Skins (2nd, 2nd).
Too Long; Didn’t Read
- The Dick Vermeil–Al Saunders–Greg Robinson Chiefs were pretty freakin’ weird. Also, Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson were good at fantasy football.
- Since 2002, only 17 teams have ranked in the top five in both ANY/A and AYPC, compared to 24 teams on the defensive side. All but the three Chiefs teams made the playoffs, while the top defenses made the playoffs in 19 out of 24 cases.
- Of the 36 teams to rank in the top 3 in Adjusted YPC, 19 of them missed the playoffs! On the defensive side, the ratio was similar, with only 19 making the playoffs. The 2011 Panthers, 2009 Titans, 2007 Vikings, 2004 Chiefs, 2003 Chargers, and 2002 Vikings all led the NFL in AYPC but missed the playoffs.
- Only 5 of the 36 teams to rank in the top 3 in ANY/A missed the playoffs.4 The 2010 Chargers ranked 1st in total yards and 1st in total yards allowed (Norv!), but missed the postseason thanks to one of the all-time bad special teams units. The 2008 Saints finished 8-8: Drew Brees threw for over 5,000 yards back when that meant something, but six losses by five or fewer points kept New Orleans out of the playoffs. In addition to the ’05 and ’02 Chiefs, the ’03 Vikings — you know, the Daunte Culpepper–Randy Moss Vikings — ranked 3rd in ANY/A but went 9-7, including four losses to the four worst teams in the league.