Each week I publish the model’s rankings in the following categories: Projected Final Standings, Overall (Power), Quarterback, and Offense and Defense.
With week two complete, our dataset doubled. It is still not sufficient to make wagering predictions. Some of the rankings below are the sole product of the first two weeks of the seasons. Other metrics include simulations based on the model’s prior predictions. I will identify in each section what the dataset contains.
The model will begin using the data that follows in more significant percentages after week four. This week it is a polaroid of the season to date. It tells us who has been erratic and who has been consistent.
Projected Final Standings:
The data that follows is based on more than just the first two weeks of the season. It is based on countless simulations. Those simulations now include the actual results from the first two weeks and the model’s previous simulations. As the season progresses, the simulations become less important until they are removed entirely. At that point, earlier weeks in the season become less critical.
These rankings will change dramatically over the next two weeks. As of today, this is where the model stands.
As you read through the list that follows, notice the absolute disparity in talent the model sees between the teams over the entirety of the season. The model has clear favorites. Then compare that disparity to the rankings that follow where, after one week, it sees teams generally bunched in the middle. What explains the seemingly contradictory positions is that a slight advantage applied throughout a season results in significant disparities.
The AFC projected division winners are the Chiefs, Bills, Browns, and Titans. The Wildcards are up for grabs between seven teams at this point. I expect Pittsburgh to drop considerably from the running after this week. With the Ravens and the Browns at 1-1, their odds are artificially high.
|AFC Teams||Projected Wins||Make Playoffs||Win Division||Win Conference||Win Super Bowl|
|Kansas City Chiefs||12||81.12%||54.96%||24.34%||12.01%|
|San Diego Chargers||9||52.35%||19.83%||5.43%||1.27%|
|Las Vegas Raiders||8||47.20%||15.31%||1.94%||0.04%|
|New England Patriots||8||35.99%||15.67%||2.28%||0.05%|
|New York Jets||5||6.50%||6.00%||0.36%||0.00%|
After two weeks, it is looking even more likely that the NFC West will produce all three wildcard teams. There is a 10% disparity between Arizona and New Orleans, with Arizona getting the final wildcard spot in this projection. Dallas is nestled between them, but they would be the East’s division winner in this scenario.
|NFC Teams||Projected Wins||Make Playoffs||Win Division||Win Conference||Win Super Bowl|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||12||87.00%||65.76%||30.17%||9.10%|
|Los Angeles Rams||10||63.00%||31.44%||11.23%||7.25%|
|Green Bay Packers||10||61.95%||58.33%||10.09%||6.38%|
|San Francisco 49ers||10||60.00%||19.82%||7.78%||4.67%|
|New Orleans Saints||9||48.28%||10.43%||2.09%||0.96%|
|New York Giants||5||16.87%||12.47%||1.39%||0.59%|
You can use the power rankings to produce a raw expected spread (RES) on a neutral field by subtracting each team’s number. The RES does not account for the scheme employed by each team. The model’s ultimate prediction may differ.
Moreover, this is the raw data from the model. These numbers are only showing the data from the first two weeks of the season. As you can see, outlier performances, both good and bad ones, are still causing the data fits. The Saints/Packers game is still causing havoc.
After week four, this graph will begin to produce a highly accurate prediction on the spread in games on a neutral field. The extremes will regress to the middle. For now, it serves as a reminder that parity is more widespread than the Vegas line indicates.
The model ranks quarterbacks based on its own metric called Total Passer Rating (TPR). The metric can be faulted, like any metric can, for undervaluing the contributions of quarterbacks such as Lamar Jackson. I accept that criticism. Generally, I believe most people will not have too many issues with the ranking. You will notice that it punishes quarterbacks for interceptions. The model does not like quarterbacks that throw interceptions.
Remember, this is based solely on the first two weeks of the season. Rodgers is moving up, and he is one of on.
The four quarterbacks that start for the NFC West are rated four, five, six, and eleven. All four may finish in the top ten at the end of the season. Rodgers is moving up, and Taylor will move down. Bridgewater is a limited but good quarterback. He is so easy to like. It makes me happy to see him sitting at number one after two weeks.
|1||Teddy Bridgewater||13.52||Another stellar performance. He is playing the position at the most effective level through two games. And Denver is quietly stacking wins.|
|2||Tyrod Taylor||13.46||He cannot catch a break. If it isn’t his own training staff taking him out with a needle, it is injuries. Blazing start for him. Now he sits for a month. In the first game of the season, his numbers were gaudy, but if you watch the tape, he was just chucking the ball up and getting a little lucky. On Sunday, he was outstanding until the injury.|
|3||Patrick Mahomes||13.28||We know exactly who he is. He is phenomenal. Had his team in position on the road against Baltimore. Last season all of those plays went their way. This time it did not. A brutal fumble felt hardest by the Chiefs’ ML backers.|
|4||Matthew Stafford||12.93||The Model’s MVP choice is was better than every other quarterback after week one. He came back to earth a bit in week two. Still, he remains in the front of a group of four or five through two weeks and he should be in contention until the end. At 20-1, the play was solid.|
|5||Kyler Murray||12.17||He just might be this … explosive. The picks prevent him from topping this list. The NFC West is so loaded at Quarterback as good as he has played. He is either the second or third best in his division.|
|6||Russell Wilson||12.00||After blowing a fourth-quarter lead, look for Carroll to reign in the offense unnecessarily|
|7||Tom Brady||11.34||This young man is worth keeping an eye on. He just might have a future.|
|8||Jalen Hurts||11.31||With each week he remains in the top ten, it gets more difficult to doubt his legitimacy. Still, the All-22 shows a quarterback that needs work but has a ton of upside. He is buoyed by his week one score and another solid outing.|
|9||Kirk Cousins||11.24||Cousins and Minnesota thought last week was the fourth preseason game. Despite a terrible start in Cincinnati, the world’s most boring quarterback showed up with his team against Arizona. Another loss, but the model is confident they are the second-best team in the North.|
|10||Sam Darnold||11.15||He was impressive on Sunday. The model still has its doubts. Very little chance it backs or fades Carolina in the coming weeks.|
|11||Jimmy Garoppolo||11.15||Back to Back road wins on the east coast are a great way to start the season. Still, after two weeks, they are the most vulnerable team in the stacked NFC West.|
|12||Derek Carr||11.03||If he keeps this up, Derek is going to get paid. It is a little funny because it seems like Gruden cannot stand him. He did his own little imitation of Rod Tidwell last week, but he is playing exceptionally well. The Raiders face the second-toughest schedule of any team over the rest of the season.|
|13||Daniel Jones||11.02||Run Daniel Run. The model is still not a believer. However, the clapper called a better game. He had a touchdown taken away on a bogus holding call.|
|14||Dak Prescott||10.67||It looked bleak last season. This guy seems to be mentally tough, and he has the skill set. An efficient if unspectacular performance. He played well enough to win. And he did.|
|15||Baker Mayfield||10.25||A solid game. He is the best quarterback in his division. He has the most talented team in his division. His team faces the second easiest schedule the rest of the season, including 9 of 15 remaining games at home. The Browns are legitimate. Baker is a big reason.|
|16||Jameis Winston||10.17||In week one, the Saints got good Jameis. This is bad Jameis. Inconsistent quarterback play must confuse all Saints fans in their 20s. They have never seen it before.|
|17||Mac Jones||9.96||Your OROY front-runner has looked solid through two starts. The game does not seem too fast for him, and he makes excellent decisions with the ball. Still a rookie, but his floor is higher than I thought two weeks ago.|
|18||Lamar Jackson||9.95||He now has a jump-pass in his arsenal. If he can become more effective from the pocket, he will skyrocket up this chart.|
|19||Taylor Heinicke||9.02||Meet the new fan favorite. He has that same Minshew appeal. Fun to root for this kid.|
|20||Andy Dalton||8.77||It is hard not to feel for the guy, but he is not a good NFL quarterback. Now he leaves a game due to injury, and it seems unlikely he starts another game in the NFL unless he is filling in for an injured player.|
|21||Aaron Rodgers||8.73||I will take 70’s Sitcom Theme Songs for a 1000, Aaron … “What is Moving on Up.” (RIP Turd Ferguson). I heard some speculate that Rodgers might be suddenly over-the-hill. I heard others suppose that he threw the game last week because he is still pissed at the Packers. It is all nonsense. He remains the most skilled quarterback I have ever seen.|
|22||Ryan Tannehill||8.62||His numbers were okay against Seattle, and they got the win. Still, it seems like this team is lost without Arthur Smith. Everything Tannehill does exceptionally well, they no longer do.|
|23||Carson Wentz||8.55||He threw an interception on a shovel pass. Then he got hurt, again. He is ranked perfectly. In the 20s.|
|24||Justin Herbert||8.42||Ok, so he is human. Herbert will be fine. He has the genes, skillset, arm, and approach of a superstar.|
|25||Josh Allen||8.35||A convincing win, but still some concern about his accuracy. That has been his biggest concern and the area most susceptible to regression this year. He had always been a mid 50% thrower. Last year he spiked to almost 70%. The model expected some regression, but he is back down to the mid-50s. If that continues, there is a far lower ceiling for this team despite the rout of Miami. You can rationalize it away, but this has been with him since high school. The concern meter is moving in the wrong direction.|
|26||Joe Burrow||7.40||At one point, he threw three consecutive interceptions. One returned for a touchdown. Still, it was a three-point game with three minutes to go, and the Bears hard to convert a 3rd and nine to run out the clock. It was a bad game. Nothing more. Nothing less.|
|27||Ben Roethlisberger||7.40||It wasn’t good. Again. If the Steelers lose to Cincinnati this week, their backers are going to have an existential crisis. If Skinny Ben does not play better, they will. Oh, and they have the 5th most difficult schedule remaining. After this game, it jumps to the 3rd most difficult schedule remaining. The outlook is mediocrity.|
|28||Jared Goff||7.39||This season has unfolded most likely for Goff. This is who he is as a quarterback. He is a serviceable lower-tier starter.|
|29||Matt Ryan||6.54||He played better, but that does not say much. But for three picks, it would have been sensational. He found Pitts, six targets, five receptions, and a 14+ yard average. They were never going to win this game. Their season starts this week.|
|30||Jacoby Brissett||5.98||It was as expected, Not good in a tough spot.|
|31||Tua Tagovailoa||5.35||Is Miami on the phone with Houston again? If he and Will Fuller play this week and the results do not improve, look for Watson to head to Miami.|
|32||Trevor Lawrence||5.35||<—Misses Clemson|
|33||Zach Wilson||5.35||<—Misses the Tabernacle Choir|
|34||Davis Mills||3.60||<—Sounds like a company that does a lot of things with oats|
Offensive & Defensive Rankings:
To read these graphs correctly, you need to know that a team that ranks precisely at 1.00 is considered league average. Technically it is the 16½ best team on offense or defense. Knowing the exact median provides a standard candle for the model to compare units. This data includes only the first two weeks of the season and is still subject to extreme outlier performances.
In short, good units are on the right and valued over one, bad teams are on the left and valued under one.
One look at the chart below, and you can see that New Orleans is still reaping disproportionate value for their week one performance. NEw England has joined them. By the end of week four, all teams should be within plus or minus 25% of the median. At that point, this data will become crucial to the model.