This week I’m taking a page out of Ozzy Osbourne’s book; no more tiers! In the earlier parts of the season, teams are bunched up and there isn’t a whole lot of difference among them, especially within tiers. That is no longer the case as teams start to have some space between them this week.
I also want to try to explain what these ratings mean as there has been some confusion. This is how good we think the team is from this point going forward. We of course use the results of this season to help come up with these ratings but we don’t just use game results because that would be both incorrect and lazy. This also doesn’t factor into account the team’s remaining schedule. We do adjust their results up to this point based on a tough schedule but Jacksonville doesn’t get a boost because of an easy final run and Atlanta isn’t knocked down for having a difficult road to the playoffs.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s take a look at the ratings heading into Week 12.
(1) New England Patriots
The Patriots have been our top choice all year long in the ratings. A rough defensive start had some people doubting but New England has once again “figured it out” and once again looks like the dominant team we expected before the season started.
(2) Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles have nothing left to prove. They have shown that they are the favorites in the NFC time and time again. Not only is Philadelphia playing well but everything seems to be breaking right for them. The Packers, Cowboys, and Seahawks all figured to be threats in the NFC but all are dealing with injuries that could cost all three teams a shot in the playoffs.
(3) Pittsburgh Steelers
While the Steelers still have the issue of looking like two completely different teams on the road and at home, the composite of those two is still a pretty damn good football team. They are on a collision course with New England in Week 15 which could ultimately decide which team gets home field advantage in the AFC and perhaps who winds up in the Superbowl.
(4) Jacksonville Jaguars
A reminder that I am not a Jaguars fan and that these ratings are actually spit out by a computer. But man does my computer love the Jags this season. They are the ultimate “Moneyball” team. The optics don’t look great: Blake Bortles is still their quarterback, their defense has to create turnovers to win, and everyone still generally can’t process the idea of Jacksonville being good. The match cuts straight through all of that and continues to say the Jaguars are a legitimate contender.
(5) New Orleans Saints
There is no such thing as a bad win in the NFL so we’ll give the Saints credit for coming back against the Redskins on Sunday. The one time New Orleans had a good defense, that was enough for Drew Brees to get them a Superbowl victory. A solid defense and a running game? We’ll see what Brees is able to do with that in the NFC playoffs.
(6) Los Angeles Rams
Hey Los Angeles, in case you haven’t noticed, and judging by the attendance you haven’t, the Rams have managed to win a few here and there, and are threatening to climb out of the cellar. Harry Doyle quotes aside, the Rams are more than climbing out of the cellar, they are now favorites to win the NFC West with injuries to the Seahawks knocking them down a peg.
(7) Minnesota Vikings
I can already here Vikings fans: “Hey, we just beat the Rams! Why are we a spot below them?” First of all, shouldn’t you be ice fishing right now? Secondly, the Vikings were small favorites over the Rams at home and won. That’s…well…kind of what is supposed to happen between two close teams. A turnover in the redzone can make the scoreboard more lopsided than the game actually is. If you want some good news, the VIkings are now the favorite to earn that coveted bye in the NFC (along with Philadelphia of course).
(8) Kansas City Chiefs
Who the hell are these guys? Here’s what I said after Sunday:
Patriots and Eagles are the two best teams in the league.
The Chiefs beat both teams.
The Giants beat the Chiefs.
Football is weird.
— Travis Reed (@BetLabsTravis) November 20, 2017
That’s right, the Chiefs have beaten the #1 and #2 teams in the power ratings. Conversely they just managed to score nine points against a team that can best be described as burnt dogshit. The spectrum may be wider on the Chiefs than any other team. Maybe they are the 5th best team, maybe the 25th best, they have certainly looked like both this season.
(9) Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens are basically a less impressive version of the Jaguars (talk about your backhanded compliments). I think, as viewers, we value good offensive teams more than good defensive teams but the computer doesn’t really care which unit is dominating. The Ravens have allowed the third fewest points in the league and have a competent coach which makes them a tough out if they reach the playoffs as a wildcard.
(10) Carolina Panthers
Carolina was my value pick before the season to win the Superbowl, and they are certainly in a sneaky position to do so. The NFC playoffs are going to be a tough gauntlet but the Panthers are getting healthy at the right time with Greg Olsen being the most well known name returning.
(11) Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons were able to go into Seattle and come out victorious which is an achievement no matter how beat up the Seahawks’ secondary might be. That keeps Atlanta’s playoff hopes alive but they still have a tough road ahead with two games remaining against the Saints, and games against the Vikings and Panthers as well.
(12) Seattle Seahawks
Losing Sherman or Chancellor would be a big blow to any team. Losing both is going to put even more pressure on Russell WIlson and the offense to put up monster numbers to stay in games. Luckily for them, the best thing to see would be the 49ers defense which they’ll face up against in Week 12.
(13) Los Angeles Chargers
Oh, what might have been. The Chargers are 4-6 with a +25 point differential. That is tough to do, but if anyone can lose games they shouldn’t, it’s the Chargers. With the Chiefs slowly morphing into a dumpster fire on offense, there is still a door open for the Chargers to sneak into the playoffs although it’s still more likely to be as a wildcard then a division champion.
(14) Detroit Lions
The Lions are right in the thick of things in the playoff race and have a bunch of winnable games to finish off their season (@TB, vs CHI, @CIN, vs GB). They are a slightly above average team based on our metrics but sometimes slightly above average is enough to sneak into the playoffs as a wildcard.
(15) Dallas Cowboys
I’ve been beating this drum for a while now, but non-fantasy players are more important than everyone thinks. Alfred Morris was just fine filling in for Zeke Elliott, but the Cowboys don’t have similar replacements for Tyron Smith or Sean Lee. Dallas’ playoff chances are on life support and they’ll need their reinforcements back sooner rather than later if they don’t want to see them drop to zero.
(16) Washington Redskins
Washington feels slightly like the Chargers of the NFC. They are in a lot of games at the end but aren’t walking away with very many wins. Sunday was that scenario at it’s worst as they had a 15-point lead late in the fourth quarter but couldn’t hang on.
(17) Oakland Raiders
I’m not so sure the Raiders are underperforming as much as everyone was overrating them coming into the season. Derek Carr looks good at times, but he doesn’t look like the perennial MVP candidate that many were touting him before he broke his leg last year. At least in a couple of years, they’ll be disappointing a brand new set of supporters in Las Vegas.
(18) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I’m not sure here the Bucs ould be ithout Ryan Fitzpatrick hich is a eird thing to say. Sorry about that, Jameis ate all of my “W’s” in that last sentence. The Bucs were a popular breakout team but they still have the talent to a below average team which is right where they stand at 4-6.
(19) Tennessee Titans
This is a weird spot for a team that is likely to make the playoffs but the computer model is not thrilled with the Titans up to this point. They are narrowly beating some bad teams which helps your playoff chances but doesn’t gain you any love according to our numbers.
(20) Cincinnati Bengals
I’m not sure how much boring a team can get than the Bengals. A.J. Green is a great talent but I really don’t see a reason to watch other than that.
(21) Buffalo Bills
Miraculously, the Bills haven’t made a decision on who their quarterback would be for Week 12. I’m baffled and flabbergasted and am wondering what crime Tyrod committed that someone has dirt on him for. I know one game isn’t a big enough sample to make definitive decisions buuuuuuuuut I think we all know Nathan Peterman sucks, right?
(23) Chicago Bears
The Bears are still hanging around in games but losing a majority of them all while getting their rookie quarterback plenty of experience. This is tanking at it’s finest, Chicago.
(24) Houston Texans
Quick injury update: everyone on Houston is on injured reserve. It probably would behoove them to just rest everyone and keep them healthy for a 2018 run with Deshaun Watson back.
(25) Denver Broncos
John Elway deserves a lot of credit for building a Superbowl-winning defense. He also deserves a lot of shit for having no semblance of a long-term plan at quarterback. Osweiler sucks, Siemian sucks, and haven’t seen enough of Paxton Lynch to decide whether he sucks or not.
(26) Arizona Cardinals
Any time you have to turn to Blaine Gabbert to save your season, you know your season hasn’t gone exactly as planned. While 4-6 doesn’t look that bad, the Cardinals playoff chances are nearly zero within the stacked NFC.
(27) New York Giants
Congrats on the win, I guess? I mean, if you are looking to get a high draft pick for a quarterback of the future, that’s not the ideal result. Although it might have bough Ben McAdoo some more time as head coach so maybe that win is exactly what the Giants needed.
(28) Miami Dolphins
Records can be deceiving and everyone that paid attention knew the Dolphins were not a good football team at any point this season. The good news is that their rating slightly improves if Matt Moore starts over Jay Cutler.
(29) Green Bay Packers
The Packers were up to 4th in our power ratings before Aaron Rodgers went down. He’s the most valuable player in this league and it’s not particularly close.
(30) Indianapolis Colts
Jacoby Brissett has some flashes of brilliance in between plays where his offensive line nearly gets him killed. Smart choice by the Colts not to let Andrew Luck see a snap behind those blockers.
(31) San Francisco 49ers
Sticking to the plan of losing a lot of games this year. The only intrigue left is to see if Jimmy G gets any playing time down the stretch.
(32) Cleveland Browns
They’re just awful.
Disagree with the rankings? Hit me up on twitter @BetLabsTravis to kindly disagree and/or yell at me.