The Model’s NFL Rankings: Week Six

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The Model's NFL Rankings Week Six

Each week I publish the model’s rankings in the following categories: Projected Final Standings, Overall (Power), Quarterback, and Offense and Defense. 

Predictive analytics in the NFL involves a constant battle with the sample size. We finally have a sufficient sample size that the numbers are stabilizing. This data is now fully incorporated into the model.

Projected Final Standings:

These projections take into consideration current record, health, and remaining schedule. On Fridays, I post the Futures Market version of this chart with available values. 

TeamDivisionProj. WinsTo Make PlayoffsWin DivisionWin ConferenceWin Super Bowl
BillsAFC East12.6797.00%93.00%32.00%15.00%
PatriotsAFC East7.5224.50%5.00%0.80%0.35%
DolphinsAFC East6.6511.50%1.50%Close to 0Close to 0
JetsAFC East5.133.00%0.65%Close to 0Close to 0
RavensAFC North11.3783.50%52.50%19.00%8.50%
BrownsAFC North10.2370.50%31.50%8.50%5.50%
BengalsAFC North8.5343.00%12.50%3.50%1.35%
SteelersAFC North6.9717.00%3.50%0.65%0.20%
TitansAFC South9.1873.00%67.50%4.00%2.00%
ColtsAFC South7.8840.00%28.00%1.60%0.85%
TexansAFC South4.294.00%3.50%Close to 0Close to 0
JaguarsAFC South3.711.95%1.85%Close to 0Close to 0
ChargersAFC West11.5887.00%56.50%16.50%7.00%
ChiefsAFC West9.8564.50%22.50%7.00%5.50%
RaidersAFC West8.5541.00%10.00%3.45%1.75%
BroncosAFC West8.7139.00%10.50%2.00%0.90%
CowboysNFC East11.2087.50%81.00%11.50%6.00%
EaglesNFC East7.5019.50%8.50%0.65%0.20%
WashingtonNFC East6.8316.00%8.50%0.60%0.20%
GiantsNFC East5.376.00%2.00%Close to 0Close to 0
PackersNFC North10.8579.50%70.00%9.50%4.50%
VikingsNFC North7.4027.50%15.50%1.15%0.85%
BearsNFC North7.9627.00%15.00%0.80%0.75%
LionsNFC North2.950.15%Close to 0Close to 0Close to 0
BuccaneersNFC South12.8993.50%78.00%27.00%16.00%
SaintsNFC South9.5049.50%13.00%3.50%2.50%
PanthersNFC South8.3431.50%7.50%1.80%0.75%
FalconsNFC South7.4417.00%2.00%Close to 0Close to 0
CardinalsNFC West12.7992.50%60.00%24.50%9.00%
RamsNFC West11.5784.00%30.50%13.00%7.00%
SeahawksNFC West8.4837.00%6.00%2.85%2.00%
49ersNFC West8.6031.50%3.50%1.30%1.00%

Power Rankings (RES):

You can use the power rankings to produce a raw expected spread (RES) on a neutral field by combining the numbers for any two teams. The RES does not account for the scheme employed by each team. Thus the model’s ultimate prediction may differ.

Remember, the RES does not make any accounting of home-field advantage. The model disagrees strongly with the commonly-held belief that home-field advantage is worth 3 points. The model adjusts its home field advantage weekly based on numerous factors, including rest, and recent travel. The model also includes its own advantage based on whether a team is traveling east or west. No team in the league has ever received more than 2.13 points for home-field advantage.  

You can also use the RES to find value in the look-ahead lines for next week. 

Quarterback Rankings:

The quarterback rankings are an objective measure which I named Total Passer Rating. There is no perfect score. However, I have never seen a quarterback finish the season with a ranking over 14. As with any ranking, it is subject to some disagreement. Generally, I think we will all agree with the broad strokes. The model uses these rankings in developing its power rankings, offensive efficiency rankings, and simulations of every game. 

RANKPlayerTPR Adj.Comment
1Matthew Stafford13.38He has rightfully been in the top five all season.
2Patrick Mahomes13.28Not sure he deserves this ranking, but the model thinks so. The Bills did not blitz Mahomes once during the entire game.
3Tyrod Taylor13.26Injured –
4Tom Brady12.84Sick. +26 EPA. 400+ yards. 5 touchdowns. Sick
5Kyler Murray12.64Murray is the casual fan MVP favorite. He has been sensational. Is the most electric player in the NFL.
6Justin Herbert12.56The Oregon Kid has everything. It is hard to tell what is his best trait. He is starting to get MVP buzz, appropriately.
7Josh Allen12.19He held the ball a long time against the KC defense. When he held it over 4 seconds he was 4/6 190 yards and two touchdowns.
8Russell Wilson11.91Injured and now out for 4-6 weeks.
9Lamar Jackson11.65What performance in the second half on MNF. He hung some receivers out to dry, but he was sensational.
10Aaron Rodgers11.54Odd game. He missed early, threw a pick, then caught fire. Still, they stalled drive after drive.
11Dak Prescott11.52Don’t blitz Dak. It is his second game this season with 3 touchdowns against the blitz. Only other player with that accomplishment, Tom Brady. The touchdown to Lamb was a thing of beauty.
12Daniel Jones11.44Dazed and confused
13Jameis Winston11.20Jamies Winston’s first half hail mary was the NFL’s most improbable completion of the season, with only a 9% chance.
14Kirk Cousins11.20He has remained in the eight to 14 area most of the season. This seems exactly correct as he fits nicely into that second tier of quarterbacks.
15Derek Carr11.03I have to believe having Gruden gone is going to help him tremendously, and he has already been playing great. Gruden’s personality was never a fit with Carr. He needs to be coached differently.
16Matt Ryan11.01He and Pitts seem to have found each other. He has played great the last few games. Reports of his demise were…premature
17Joe Burrow10.86Kid gets beat to a pulp in that pocket, but he is special.
18Carson Wentz10.81I tip my hat to him, he played really well Monday night.
19Teddy Bridgewater10.81The schedule got tougher, especially on defense. This was expected.
20Ryan Tannehill10.62He has not been the same without Arthur Smith. His regression combined with Atlanta’s drastic improvement (Especially Matt Ryan) since week one speaks to how creative and effective Arthur Smith is.
21Sam Darnold10.21Don’t look now but NYJ Sam Darnold is starting to raise his hand. This is getting bad for a team that the model thought was overrated.
22Mac Jones10.20He is still the best performing of the rookie quarterbacks. Fields may come charging from behind the pack to overtake him.
23Taylor Heinicke10.08Heinicke is a decent backup.
24Jacoby Brissett10.06He played well enough. The quarterback quandary in Miami is disheartening.
25Jimmy Garoppolo9.95Injured
26Baker Mayfield9.46Brown fans need to be concerned. Where has the game one Baker gone? Does he even know I have futures tied up in this team?
27Ben Roethlisberger9.31His best game of the season.
28Jared Goff9.11Detroit continues to play hard and lose in a heartbreaking fashion. Goff has been exactly as expected.
29Jalen Hurts9.07Two short weeks ago he was in the top 10. I told you it was a mirage then. It was. This is where he belongs.
30Andy Dalton8.93He is now where he belongs. On the bench backing up Fields.
31Trevor Lawrence8.01His biggest impediment to success now is his head coach. Do not be surprised if he gets his first win this week.
32Davis Mills7.71The kid had himself a game against a Belichick defense.
33Zach Wilson6.61Starting to show glimpses.
34Tua Tagovailoa5.12Injured
35Justin Fields4.98At the bottom but he is looking up. He should have success deep against the Packers

Offensive & Defensive Rankings:

Both the offensive and defensive rankings are premised on efficiency. The median team always receives a ranking of 1.00. Thus, the Dallas Cowboys Offensive ranking of 1.22, indicates that they are 22% more efficient on offense than the league median. The New York Jets have a ranking of .79 which indicates they are 21% less efficient than the league median. 

(The model finds the median to be far more important in the NFL than the mean, or average)

The defensive rankings work identically to the offensive rankings. Thus, the New England Patriots ranking of 1.20 indicates they are 20% more efficient on defense than the league median. The Falcons ranking of .84 indicates they are 16% less efficient on defense than the league median. 

There is also reason to believe that Arizona is overrated on defense, Their five opponents include two rookie quarterbacks.

About the author:

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I write about data and sports. I created my first model in 1997 using nothing more than Excel. Currently, I have data-driven models for the NFL, NBA, and World Cup Soccer.

Mathematics is the music of reason.
— James Joseph Sylvester, English mathematician

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