Excelling on Third Down

Excelling on third down extends drives and keeps your opponent off the field, making it a pivotal factor in winning games.

Last season, the New England Patriots led the NFL with the highest third-down conversion percentage (48.7), followed by the Atlanta Falcons (45.1) and Denver Broncos (45.1). The three teams each won its respective division and combined for a 38-10 record (.792).

"Our goal is to be 45 percent or more on third-down conversions," says Falcons head coach Mike Smith (left, with Matt Ryan), whose team ranks fourth in the NFL in third-down conversion rate (44.3) since he was named head coach in 2008.

"If you're between 40 and 50 percent on third down, you're going to be in the top 25 percent of the league."

The teams with the best third-down conversion percentage in 2012:

Team 3rd Down Att 3rd Down Conv 3rd Down Pct
Source: NFL
New England22611048.7
New Orleans2079144.0

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Excelling on Third Down