Two of the fastest offenses in the NFL meet Sunday when the 2-1 Ravens head north to Buffalo to take on the 1-2 Bills. Buffalo currently has the fastest offense averaging just over 21 seconds per play, while the Ravens average around 24 seconds per play. But does a fast offense equal a better offense?
Playing fast, essentially no-huddle usually means a team runs more plays than average. The Ravens this season have run the second-most plays in the NFL. More plays equal more opportunities for big plays. But they also equal more opportunities to make mistakes. It doesn’t have to be a big mistake, either. Fast-tempo teams have to run in near-perfect synchronicity. Otherwise, you could be looking at an even faster pick-6. Lots of yellow flags also seem to go hand-in-hand with up-tempo offenses.
On average, up-tempo teams don’t score more points than their slower counterparts. So why run it? Most of the time, it just suits the team, particularly the quarterback. No-huddle almost always equates to fewer sacks. This can be huge with a rookie QB or an aging vet whose body has seen better days.
Yes, up-tempo offenses leave little or no time for opposing defenses to rotate players in and out. This can quickly wear out even the best-conditioned defenses. It can also wear down the up-tempo offense and hurt their own defense. Up-tempo offenses almost always have more three and outs. Just look at the Ravens over the past few weeks. The more three and outs, the more time a defense is on the field.
I personally love no-huddle offenses. It makes the game more exciting to watch. But I think for this game, the team that makes the fewest mistakes will win. That’s why the safe bet for Flacco and company may be to take their time and slow things down a tad.
Prediction: Ravens travel the slow lane and win 21-12.