Inside Slant: Plays and time of possession

September, 19, 2013
9/19/13
2:15
PM ET
Initial furor over the Philadelphia Eagles' high-speed offense seemed to have dissipated after they ran a modest 53 plays in last Sunday's loss to the San Diego Chargers. That gave the Eagles 135 plays for the season, tied for the eighth-most in the NFL and only slightly above the NFL average (132) through the season's first two weeks.

But as we gear up for Thursday night's game against the Kansas City Chiefs, it's important to look more closely at the numbers to understand the Eagles' pace.

The Eagles' near-average total of offensive plays is not a product of their tempo but rather the amount of time they've held the ball. Their average time of possession in two games is 26 minutes, 11 seconds -- the third-lowest total in the league.

So when you scale the number of plays to the opportunity of time, as ESPN Stats & Information has, you find that the Eagles are running a play every 23.3 seconds. That figure ranks third in the league and is only one-tenth of a second from the second-best team.

A quick tempo throughout a game isn't always ideal. As we all know, there are times when a team is best served to slow down and bleed time from the clock. But generally speaking these days, the quicker the better. To be clear, the Eagles have been plenty quick.

The range for time between plays runs from 21.8 seconds to 31.2, so below I thought I would list the five fastest and five slowest teams. Everyone else in the middle is pretty close to each other.

1. Buffalo Bills (21.8)
2. Denver Broncos (23.2)
3. Philadelphia Eagles (23.3)
4. Baltimore Ravens (24.4)
5. New England Patriots (25.0)

28. Tennessee Titans (30.1)
29. Carolina Panthers (30.2)
30. Dallas Cowboys (30.6)
31. Seattle Seahawks (30.7)
32. Oakland Raiders (31.2)

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