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Largest Decreases in Team Scoring

Yesterday, I looked at the largest increases in team scoring from one year to the next. Today, the opposite: which teams have seen the largest decreases in scoring?

In the post-merger era, that “honor” would belong to the 1974 Falcons. In 1973, the Falcons averaged 22.7 points per game, 7th-best in the NFL. The team was led by fullback Dave Hampton and quarterback Bob Lee, and while both returned the next season, the results were disastrous. Atlanta averaged just 7.9 points per game, the lowest in the NFL. Along with the 1977 (not ’76) Bucs, the ’74 Falcons are one of just two teams since 1950 to average fewer than 8 points per game.

In more modern times, the 2015 Cowboys (after losing Tony Romo), 2011 Colts (after losing Peyton Manning), and 2010 Vikings (in year two under Brett Favre) are the biggest decliners. The top 100 biggest declines below:

RkTeamYearPrev Yr PPGCurr Yr PPGIncrease
1Cleveland Bulldogs192525.45.4-20.1
2San Francisco 49ers195034.717.8-16.9
3Evansville Crimson Giants192217.82.0-15.8
4Cleveland Browns195629.113.9-15.2
5Atlanta Falcons197422.77.9-14.8
6New York Giants196432.017.2-14.8
7Rochester Jeffersons192217.02.6-14.4
8Frankford Yellow Jackets192523.39.5-13.8
9Chicago Bears195730.316.9-13.3
10Buffalo Bills197630.017.5-12.5
10Chicago Bears196629.216.7-12.5
12Green Bay Packers194625.813.5-12.3
13Dallas Cowboys201529.217.2-12.0
13Indianapolis Colts201127.215.2-12.0
15Minnesota Vikings201029.417.6-11.8
16St. Louis Rams200231.419.8-11.7
16Denver Broncos199931.319.6-11.7
18Washington Redskins199230.318.8-11.6
19San Francisco 49ers199929.918.4-11.5
19Rock Island Independents192322.010.5-11.5
21Pottsville Maroons192622.511.1-11.4
22Oakland Raiders200328.116.9-11.3
23New England Patriots200836.825.6-11.2
24Akron Pros192314.63.6-11.0
25Cincinnati Bengals200823.812.8-11.0
26Rock Island Independents192120.19.3-10.8
27Dallas Cowboys198429.919.3-10.7
28Philadelphia Eagles196825.114.4-10.6
29Cleveland Browns200825.114.5-10.6
30Chicago Cardinals195030.019.4-10.6
31New York Yanks195130.520.1-10.4
32Chicago Cardinals192616.46.2-10.3
33Washington Redskins200027.717.6-10.1
34Green Bay Packers194822.812.8-10.0
35New Orleans Saints197022.212.3-9.9
36Green Bay Packers193220.810.9-9.9
37Atlanta Falcons199927.617.8-9.8
37Minnesota Vikings199934.824.9-9.8
39Milwaukee Badgers192510.91.2-9.8
40Philadelphia Eagles199819.810.1-9.8
41Kansas City Chiefs201122.913.3-9.6
41San Diego Chargers198332.022.4-9.6
43Baltimore Colts194923.814.3-9.5
44Dallas Cowboys199627.217.9-9.3
45Philadelphia Eagles195030.321.2-9.2
46New York Giants192815.26.1-9.1
47New York Jets197326.217.1-9.1
48St. Louis Cardinals198526.417.4-9.1
48Denver Broncos200130.321.3-9.1
50Houston Oilers196236.627.6-9.0
51Los Angeles Rams197427.718.8-8.9
52Detroit Lions195528.119.2-8.9
53Buffalo All-Americans192217.68.7-8.9
54Houston Oilers199423.014.1-8.9
55Baltimore Colts196928.719.9-8.8
56Philadelphia Eagles195620.711.9-8.8
57Houston Texans201326.017.3-8.8
58Baltimore Colts197729.821.1-8.7
59Buffalo Bills196725.616.9-8.6
59Boston Patriots196526.117.4-8.6
61New Orleans Saints198828.119.5-8.6
62Indianapolis Colts199117.68.9-8.6
63Buffalo Bills200323.715.2-8.5
63Seattle Seahawks199217.38.8-8.5
63Los Angeles Rams195928.720.2-8.5
66New York Giants201326.818.4-8.4
67Detroit Lions199627.318.9-8.4
68Boston Patriots197019.010.6-8.4
69Columbus Tigers192511.43.1-8.3
70Brooklyn Dodgers193112.84.6-8.3
71San Diego Chargers198629.220.9-8.3
72Carolina Panthers201631.323.1-8.2
73San Francisco 49ers195526.118.0-8.1
74New York Yankees194827.018.9-8.1
75Washington Redskins198526.618.6-8.1
76St. Louis Rams200427.919.9-8.0
76Dayton Triangles192310.02.0-8.0
78Denver Broncos201530.122.2-7.9
78Green Bay Packers201235.027.1-7.9
80Green Bay Packers195324.616.7-7.9
81Chicago Bears201427.819.9-7.9
81Green Bay Packers200526.518.6-7.9
81New Orleans Saints201031.924.0-7.9
84San Francisco 49ers200424.016.2-7.8
84Indianapolis Colts201528.620.8-7.8
86Buffalo Bills200524.716.9-7.8
86Denver Broncos201437.930.1-7.8
88New York Jets198327.219.6-7.7
89Denver Broncos196621.614.0-7.6
90Oakland Raiders200618.110.5-7.6
91Carolina Panthers200624.416.9-7.6
91Los Angeles Rams198126.518.9-7.6
93Detroit Lions194211.03.5-7.5
93New York Giants194221.614.1-7.5
95San Francisco 49ers198830.623.1-7.5
96New York Giants197323.616.1-7.5
97New York Jets198923.315.8-7.4
97New England Patriots198127.620.1-7.4
97Carolina Panthers201019.712.3-7.4
100Pittsburgh Steelers195325.017.6-7.4

The 2009 Vikings under Favre ranked 2nd in the NFL in scoring. The 2010 team? They fell to 29th in scoring, the largest decrease in NFL history.

TeamYearPrev Yr PPGPrev Yr RkCurrent Yr PPGCurrent Yr RkPPG IncreaseRk Increase
Minnesota Vikings201029.4217.629-11.8-27
Dallas Cowboys201529.2517.231-12.0-26
Houston Oilers199423.0414.128-8.9-24
Oakland Raiders200328.1216.926-11.3-24
Indianapolis Colts201127.2415.228-12.0-24
Houston Texans201326.0817.331-8.8-23
St. Louis Cardinals198526.4417.427-9.1-23
New York Giants201326.8618.428-8.4-22
Dallas Cowboys199627.2317.925-9.3-22
Washington Redskins200027.7217.624-10.1-22
Cleveland Browns200825.1814.530-10.6-22
St. Louis Rams200231.4119.823-11.7-22
Baltimore Colts197821.1614.927-6.1-21
Pittsburgh Steelers199823.3716.428-6.8-21
Philadelphia Eagles201224.8817.529-7.3-21
San Francisco 49ers200424.0916.230-7.8-21
Chicago Bears201427.8219.923-7.9-21
Cincinnati Bengals200823.81112.832-11.0-21
Carolina Panthers199722.9716.627-6.4-20
New York Giants201626.3619.426-6.9-20
New York Jets198923.3615.826-7.4-20
Washington Redskins201327.3420.923-6.4-19
Minnesota Vikings200124.8518.124-6.7-19
New York Jets201624.21117.230-7.0-19
Minnesota Vikings199625.8418.623-7.1-19
Carolina Panthers200624.4816.927-7.6-19
Detroit Lions199627.3218.921-8.4-19
Buffalo Bills200323.71115.230-8.5-19
Atlanta Falcons199927.6417.823-9.8-19
New Orleans Saints197022.2612.325-9.9-19
San Francisco 49ers199929.9318.422-11.5-19
Buffalo Bills197630.0117.520-12.5-19
Atlanta Falcons197422.777.926-14.8-19
Oakland Raiders198122.8717.125-5.7-18
Arizona Cardinals199420.4914.727-5.7-18
St. Louis Rams200722.91016.428-6.5-18
Chicago Bears199624.5817.726-6.8-18
Jacksonville Jaguars200825.7618.924-6.8-18
Los Angeles Rams198126.5318.921-7.6-18
Indianapolis Colts201528.6620.824-7.8-18
Boston Patriots197019.0810.626-8.4-18
Baltimore Ravens201525.6820.525-5.1-17
Seattle Seahawks198023.6418.221-5.4-17
Cincinnati Bengals199822.21016.827-5.4-17
Cincinnati Bengals201626.2720.324-5.9-17
Baltimore Colts198122.2916.226-6.0-17
Tampa Bay Buccaneers201324.31318.030-6.3-17
Cincinnati Bengals198725.6319.020-6.6-17
Philadelphia Eagles198321.21114.628-6.7-17
Carolina Panthers200026.3419.421-6.9-17
Cleveland Browns198826.0319.020-7.0-17
New Orleans Saints199024.1517.122-7.0-17
New Orleans Saints200521.81414.731-7.1-17
Buffalo Bills200524.7716.924-7.8-17
Green Bay Packers200526.5518.622-7.9-17
Denver Broncos201530.1222.219-7.9-17
St. Louis Rams200427.9219.919-8.0-17
Washington Redskins198526.6318.620-8.1-17
Kansas City Chiefs201122.91413.331-9.6-17
Chicago Bears200221.11117.627-3.6-16
Detroit Lions199823.7419.120-4.6-16
Miami Dolphins201524.31119.427-4.9-16
Cleveland Browns198122.3817.324-5.1-16
Chicago Bears200726.7220.918-5.8-16
Dallas Cowboys200828.4222.618-5.8-16
Cincinnati Bengals199122.5716.423-6.1-16
Minnesota Vikings199323.4417.320-6.1-16
Seattle Seahawks200824.6918.425-6.2-16
Kansas City Chiefs200720.71514.131-6.6-16
St. Louis Cardinals197123.2416.520-6.7-16
New York Jets198327.2319.619-7.7-16
New Orleans Saints198828.1219.518-8.6-16
Dallas Cowboys198429.9219.318-10.7-16
Denver Broncos199931.3219.618-11.7-16
Evansville Crimson Giants192217.812.017-15.8-16

The 2014-2015-2016 Cowboys are fascinating. In 2014, Dallas ranked 5th in scoring, but in 2015, the Cowboys fell to 31st; that 26 slot drop in rank stands out as the 2nd biggest ever. But in 2016, Dallas jumped back up to 5th, for a 26-slot increase that that was the 2nd biggest ever, too. Going from 5th to 31st to 5th in scoring? I wonder what the reason for all that was.

  • Robert Wise

    Great analysis. Cowboys fans have been on a rollercoaster the last few years certainly. ’14 and ’16 Cowboys overachieved preseason win estimates, and the ’15 team obviously fell apart with the simultaneous losses of the best players from ’14: starting quarterback (injury), running back (free agency), #1 wide receiver (injury), top cornerback (injury), linebacker, defensive lineman, etc. Add in suspensions and a toxic locker room guy (Hardy) and they were a hot mess.

  • Richie

    Surprised the 2011 Colts only dropped to 28th.

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