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NFL Rewind - Week 14

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Editor's Note: After 14 weeks of regular season action, "The SportsBoss" has hit 62% (+1,848) of his NFL selections. Finish the year strong with his NFL Winners!

Week 14 is in the history books and one thing of note from that week's games was the fact all 16 SU winners were also ATS winners. That is a very interesting phenomenon to follow, as more often than not, simply picking the SU winner of a game leads to also being on the right side of the ATS result. With that in mind, let's jump into this week's numbers…..

Performance Ratings [PR] (max grade is 160, 80 on offense and 80 on defense, calculated using 16 different stats with 5 points per stat being the best score = 16x5 = 80).

Weekly and Divisional Performance Ratings

Performance Ratings
Category Offense Defense Total Team Blended
Wins Team Rating Rank Rating Rank Rating Rank SOS
10 DEN 50.6 3 48.5 3 99.1 1 22
9 SF 48.4 4 49.7 1 98.1 2 26
11 HOU 47.8 5 45.7 5 93.6 3 29
8 SEA 45.7 8 45.3 6 91.0 4 22
10 NE 57.2 1 33.7 27 91.0 4 23
7 PIT 40.9 20 48.5 2 89.4 6 27
9 GB 44.3 11 41.7 9 86.1 7 12
8 CHI 39.7 21 46.2 4 85.9 8 14
7 WAS 52.8 2 32.5 28 85.3 9 15
7 CIN 42.8 13 40.8 10 83.7 10 30
11 ATL 46.0 7 35.7 22 81.7 11 31
4 DET 45.2 9 36.3 18 81.6 12 9
8 NYG 46.1 6 35.0 25 81.1 13 7
7 DAL 42.2 15 38.4 14 80.6 14 7
5 SD 39.0 23 40.2 12 79.2 15 24
9 BAL 42.1 16 37.0 17 79.1 16 13
5 BUF 41.9 17 37.1 16 79.0 17 28
4 CAR 44.5 10 34.3 26 78.9 18 3
6 TB 42.6 14 35.9 21 78.5 19 25
4 PHI 41.3 18 35.5 23 76.8 20 19
9 IND 40.9 19 35.4 24 76.3 21 32
6 STL 37.5 24 38.5 13 76.0 22 1
7 MIN 39.2 22 36.0 20 75.1 23 11
6 NYJ 34.5 28 40.5 11 75.0 24 8
5 MIA 32.3 30 42.0 8 74.3 25 20
2 KC 37.3 26 36.0 19 73.3 26 16
5 CLE 32.9 29 38.0 15 70.8 27 17
5 NO 43.3 12 25.7 32 69.0 28 4
3 OAK 37.5 24 31.1 30 68.6 29 19
4 ARI 25.4 32 43.2 7 68.5 30 3
4 TEN 36.8 27 31.1 29 67.9 31 5
2 JAC 29.3 31 30.6 31 59.9 32 10

*Blended SOS is a weighted average of opponent's performance ratings and opponent's record

For the second straight week and fourth time in the last five weeks the Denver Broncos lead the Performance Ratings (PR). The Broncos are a well-balanced club ranking #3 in both offense and defense, with the only weakness of the team being their 19th ranked rush offense. With RB Willis McGahee out until deep into the playoffs, the brunt of the rushing attack now falls on the shoulders of former #1 draft pick but extremely underachieving Knowshon Moreno, along with smallish rookie Ronnie Hillman and journeyman Lance Ball. In other words, the Broncos running game doesn't appear to have the makings of a unit that will excel as we head into the playoffs - which means QB Peyton Manning, potentially the NFL MVP, will have to continue making his own magic while leveraging a strong defense that makes it fair share of plays.

San Francisco and Houston round out the top 3, a familiar spot as they both have been ranked in the top 3 each week since Week 3. Worthy of mention however is the fact these two teams have struggled some of late with HOU posting a game grade of 83+ only twice in their last five outings, while SF has graded to 90 & 97 their last two games - which comes on the heels of posting triple digits in 7 of their prior 10 games. For SF the QB change by HC Jim Harbaugh has had an interesting impact on their grades offensively as the last two games they have not graded above 48; in the four prior games immediately preceding they posted marks of 49+. Keep an eye on the impact the QB change has not only on the offense, but also the defense as last week was their second lowest grade out of their last seven games.

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Seattle
sits at #4 and continues to impress, as they have remained in the top 6 in each of the last six weeks. They too are well balanced, and rookie QB Russell Wilson continues to improve, especially on the road - going into their bye in Wk11 Wilson had posted an average QBR of 60.1 in road contests vs. 119.7 at home including 94.4 or better in every game, and triple digits in four of five; since their bye the Seahawks have played a pair of road games where Wilson has posted QBR's of 122.4 & 102.3, a significant improvement.

Rounding out the top 5 is New England, as QB Tom Brady is having another MVP caliber season leading the league's #1 offense. The Patriots issue is a defense that checks in at #27 - but they seem to make the plays when it counts most, including leading the Pats to a +24 in turnover margin, good for #1 in the NFL.

Other teams of note start with the Redskins and Bengals, who round out the top 10 at #9 & #10 respectively. Both of these teams are within reach of a playoff berth, but have their work cut out for them without question.

Let's briefly examine a weakness of each team which may wind up holding them back from reaching the playoffs. For the Redskins, who are led by likely Rookie of the Year QB Robert Griffin III, their defense is the major culprit checking in at #28 in the NFL. And with that defense it's not so much one area, its multiple areas that are a problem as they check in at #29 vs. pass, and #31 vs. miscellaneous (these are statistics that cannot be directly attributed to either pass or rush such as time of possession or first downs). While these numbers and rankings do leave a lot to be desired one area worthy of note is their opponent's offense SOS - which is ranked #6 in the NFL, meaning they have generally played a schedule of strong opposing offenses. When examining their remaining schedule it shows two of their final three games are versus team's that do not tout big passing games in CLE & PHI, although both contests will be on the road. WAS will need better play from their defense, especially pass defense, to overcome the Giants, Cowboys and other NFC wild card contenders to earn a playoff spot.

CIN on the other hand is better positioned to reach the playoffs for the third time in four years. They feature a balanced club, and seem to be peaking heading into the stretch run as the Bengals have outperformed each of their last five opponents but have only earned a 3-2 mark from their work which includes last week's heartbreaking loss to the Cowboys. The Bengals have everything right in front of them to take care of business, and worry less about what other teams are doing - that's because they will face the Steelers and Ravens in their final two games, following a TNF contest in PHI. If CIN wins out they are most likely in - let's see how they handle it.

The Lions have performed MUCH better than their record indicates as they are easily the highest ranked 4 or less win team checking in at #12. DET has played an incredibly high number of one score games, and more often than not they wound up on the wrong end of the final score - 11 of their 13 games have had a final margin of one score or less, and they have gone 3-8 in those contests. In a league that has a razor thin margin between wins and losses turnovers and SOS can often tell a big story in what team's final records are - and the Lions fit that story to a "T" in 2012.

The Colts check in at #21 this week which is slightly above their average spot of 23.4 on the season. There is no arguing the success of rookie QB Andrew Luck, but some (alot?) of that is coming with smoke and mirrors it appears. Perhaps the biggest driver of their W/L success when comparing to their true performance is an incredibly weak schedule in every single aspect I break SOS down into. Here is the Colts SOS in all the buckets I use: PR #32, record #31, offense #32, rush offense #27, pass offense #32, miscellaneous offense #32, defense #30, rush defense #32, pass defense #21, miscellaneous defense #32. Wow, that explains a lot of their success, eh? They will have a chance to change some of that perception over the final three weeks of the season facing HOU twice (who makes these schedules anyway?) - but overall, the Colts definitely figure to be a team vastly overmatched if/when they reach the playoffs.

Last team of note this week is the Saints, who check in at #28 - which is actually better than their average mark this season of 29.4. It's been an awful season for NO in every way possible - but the one thing I wanted to point out here is even when the Saints won 5 of 6 following their 0-4 start I never bought into their success as a potential playoff team - and it was based on my PR, which showed NO was not playing good or even better than when they started 0-4, they just got a few more breaks, played an easier schedule which would even out and they would be right back to struggling. These ratings really tell the story of each team - the true story of how they are performing, not what the media wants you to think, and not what a team's current record may be at one point in time. More often than not a team's record will regress back towards where these rankings suggest they should be - as mentioned when a team wins this grading system in a game they win the game SU over 90% of the time - so keep that in mind as we head down the homestretch and into the playoffs - use this information and these numbers in your own handicapping - it can only assist you in picking winners!

Next up, here are my projected standings after Week 14. As a reminder, this process involves playing out the entire season based on my power ratings for each team.

AFC East Wins Loss
NE 12.12 3.88
NYJ 7.39 8.61
BUF 6.60 9.40
MIA 6.43 9.57
NFC East Wins Loss
NYG 9.69 6.31
WAS 8.67 7.33
DAL 8.29 7.71
PHI 5.26 10.74
AFC North Wins Loss
BAL 10.32 5.68
PIT 9.16 6.84
CIN 8.27 7.73
CLE 5.80 10.20
NFC North Wins Loss
GB 11.08 4.93
CHI 9.50 6.50
MIN 7.81 8.19
DET 5.99 10.01
AFC South Wins Loss
HOU 13.51 2.49
IND 9.84 6.16
TEN 5.28 10.72
JAC 2.80 13.20
NFC South Wins Loss
ATL 12.68 3.32
TB 7.33 8.67
NO 6.05 9.95
CAR 5.68 10.33
AFC West Wins Loss
DEN 12.42 3.58
SD 6.64 9.36
OAK 4.14 11.86
KC 3.15 12.85
NFC West Wins Loss
SF 11.40 4.60
SEA 9.72 6.28
STL 7.88 8.12
ARI 5.11 10.89

AFC Playoff Picture
#1 Houston
#2 Denver
#3 New England vs. #6 Pittsburgh
#4 Baltimore vs. #5 Indianapolis

NFC Playoffs Picture
#1 Atlanta
#2 San Francisco
#3 Green Bay vs. #6 Chicago
#4 N.Y. Giants vs. #5 Seattle

Following my weekly power rating adjustments, and updating for actual wins and losses thru Week 14, here are the teams that have a +/- 0.55 win move in the latest projections:

UP:
SD +0.81
PHI +0.63

DOWN:
PIT (0.81)
TB (0.63)

Last analysis for this week (I will post each week just like the standings above) is my power rankings. My rankings are comprised of a pair of numbers: one measures team performance in my performance ratings (discussed in the opener of this entry); two measures team performance vs. the spread. These two ratings are weighted and combined for my official power rankings.

Power Rankings - Week 15
Rank Team
1 New England
2 Denver
3 San Francisco
4 Houston
5 Seattle
6 Pittsburgh
7 Green Bay
8 New York Giants
8 Chicago
10 Washington
11 Cincinnati
11 Atlanta
13 Baltimore
14 Carolina
15 Detroit
16 Dallas
17 St. Louis
18 San Diego
19 Buffalo
20 Miami
21 Minnesota
22 Tampa Bay
22 New York Jets
24 New Orleans
25 Arizona
26 Indianapolis
26 Cleveland
28 Philadelphia
29 Kansas City
30 Oakland
31 Tennessee
32 Jacksonville

  
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