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Power Rankings - Week 11

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After 10 weeks of action we still have the Denver Broncos leading the performance ratings, but have three teams just behind them followed by a huge drop-off to the 5th rated team Cincinnati. Eight of the top twelve teams reside in the NFC including three of the top four.

Performance Ratings (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).

Performance Ratings
Category Offense Defense Total Team Blended Turnover
Wins Team Rating Rank Rating Rank Rating Rank SOS Margin
8 DEN 56.1 1 41.9 12 97.9 1 29 (2)
7 NO 50.2 3 45.4 7 95.6 2 28 5
6 CAR 46.2 10 49.0 1 95.2 3 31 8
9 SEA 48.1 7 46.7 4 94.8 4 25 7
6 CIN 42.0 13 47.3 3 89.3 5 22 (4)
6 DET 48.9 5 40.1 19 89.0 6 18 1
9 KC 39.8 16 48.4 2 88.2 7 32 15
5 GB 51.1 2 36.9 24 87.9 8 11 (4)
2 HOU 42.0 13 44.9 8 86.9 9 7 (9)
6 SF 42.2 12 43.8 9 86.0 10 14 4
3 WAS 48.7 6 33.1 26 81.8 11 6 (1)
5 PHI 46.8 9 34.6 25 81.4 12 30 2
5 NYJ 34.1 27 46.6 5 80.7 13 26 (10)
6 IND 42.4 11 37.8 21 80.2 14 13 3
4 SD 49.2 4 31.0 29 80.2 14 23 (6)
5 CHI 48.0 8 31.6 27 79.6 16 10 8
7 NE 38.6 17 40.8 13 79.4 17 27 7
4 TEN 37.4 21 40.7 15 78.1 18 3 4
5 ARI 35.0 23 42.3 11 77.3 19 5 (1)
3 PIT 36.3 22 40.4 17 76.8 20 20 (11)
4 BAL 30.3 30 45.9 6 76.2 21 19 (3)
3 BUF 34.9 24 40.8 14 75.7 22 8 (1)
4 STL 38.2 20 37.5 22 75.6 23 24 5
4 CLE 32.3 29 42.4 10 74.8 24 21 (1)
4 MIA 34.2 26 40.4 17 74.7 25 16 0
3 OAK 34.8 25 39.6 20 74.3 26 9 (1)
5 DAL 39.8 15 31.6 28 71.4 27 18 11
3 NYG 29.7 31 40.7 15 70.3 28 5 (13)
1 TB 33.3 28 36.9 23 70.2 29 2 2
2 ATL 38.5 18 30.4 30 68.9 30 12 (6)
2 MIN 38.4 19 28.2 31 66.7 31 15 (4)
1 JAC 23.5 32 26.4 32 49.9 32 1 (5)

This week let’s examine some of the biggest outliers when it comes to record versus performance.

Dallas is easily the team that stands out the most as they rate just 27th but have posted a 5-5 mark to date. We can see right off the bat their +11 TOM has been a critical driver to their success – they are 1-3 when they are even or negative in TOM compared to 4-2 when positive. In addition they are 0-4 versus teams rated in the top 10 of the performance ratings compared to 5-1 facing teams sub top ten. More specifically when examining their performance they are 0-4 when facing one of the top six pass offenses in the NFL. It may remain an uphill battle for the Cowboys this season as their remaining schedule is ranked 6th overall including 7th versus passing offenses and 5th versus total offense.

Right behind the Cowboys in the overachieving column are the New England Patriots who check in at 17th in the ratings versus the 6th easiest schedule – but they have posted a 7-2 mark to date. The Patriots offense rates just 17th in the NFL, behind the likes of Kansas City, Houston, San Francisco and Carolina to name a few. That is not a good sign in today’s offense happy NFL, but even more so because the Patriots will face the toughest schedule of opponent defense over the final 7 weeks of the regular season – including the toughest schedule versus opponent pass defense, rush defense and miscellaneous defense! To date they have faced the 12th toughest schedule of opponent defense, so expecting their offensive numbers to improve dramatically even after the demolition they put on the Steelers in their last outing may prove incorrect unless they continue to post a strong TOM.

On the flip side a team that may be undervalued some is Washington as they check in at #11 in the ratings, but because of an SOS rated #6, and a negative TOM they have just 3 wins on the season. With the health of Griffin III improving by the week the offense has posted the 6th best rating to date; the defense has been the issue checking in at #26. But there is reason for optimism, not only because the NFC East is not any good, but because to date they have faced the toughest schedule of opponent offenses; over their final 7 weeks of the season that number dramatically shifts to the 26th rated schedule of opponent offenses! In addition to that note on SOS they also will face the easiest closing schedule in the NFL including 4 divisional contests and four home games. Washington is 2-0 on the season when holding opponents to 26 points or less – which is a very modest point total – so keep an eye on the Skins as they attempt to defend their NFC East title.

The last potentially bullish teams I will examine here are the three six win teams that check in at third, fifth and sixth in this week’s performance ratings. The Carolina Panthers have been ranked in my top 3 teams the last four weeks, and been inside the top 8 the last seven weeks, but until last week’s win at San Francisco they were not receiving much recognition. Carolina was one of my top sleeper picks this summer, and has been even better than I expected posting a 6-3 mark along with the #1 defense in the NFL. Over their final seven games Carolina will face just the 23rd toughest schedule of opponent offenses, which should further solidify their spot near the top of the NFL as measured by total defense; on the flip side although they will face a tougher schedule of defenses they do face the easiest schedule of opponent rush defense to close – which should also lock up their playoff spot being such a strong rushing team. Expect Carolina to at best win the NFC South; at worst secure a Wild Card berth.

Cincinnati checks in at No. 5 despite back to back tough losses in OT. Cincinnati has four losses on the season, three of which came by three points or less – so many in the media discounting their record and efforts over the last two weeks appear misguided. TOM has proved a critical metric for their success as they are 0-3 when posting a negative margin versus 6-1 when even or positive. Andy Dalton has a ratio of 4/9 in their four losses, clearly a spot he must improve upon if the Bengals are to finally make some noise come January. Cincinnati will face a remaining schedule similar to what they have thus far – if they can take care of the football, and win more of those close games, expect them to win the AFC North.

Detroit has taken over sole possession of the lead in the NFC North, and checks in at No. 6 in my performance ratings, buoyed by an offense that rates #5 in the NFL. Passing is the name of the game in today’s NFL and Matthew Stafford is playing better than any current NFC North QB, hence why the Lions find themselves at the top of their division. And only better times may be ahead for these Lions as their closing schedule ranks amongst the easiest in the entire NFL at #29 including #28 versus opponent offenses and #30 versus opponent defenses. What’s more they also face the 31st rated schedule of opponent pass defense! I projected the Lions to also be one of my top sleeper teams this summer, and they have not disappointed to date; I also have projected them to reach the playoffs following each of the last seven weeks including four times to win the NFC North.

Next let’s examine conference and divisional breakdowns to see where the strengths and weaknesses are across the NFL landscape:

Division Rankings
Division Rating Overall Rank
AFC West 48 1
NFC West 56 2
NFC North 61 3
NFC South 64 4
AFC North 70 5
AFC South 73 6
AFC East 77 7
NFC East 78 8

This analysis has not changed much during the entire season as the AFC West remains the top division which should come as no surprise since KC remains undefeated and Denver continues to lead the performance ratings. The NFC owns the next 3 spots in the divisional rankings with the NFC East being the lone outlier – and they continue to battle the AFC East for the worst division in football.

As far as playoff projections go things are starting to really solidify themselves in many spots. In the AFC we know the next three week’s will tell the story as to whom will earn home field advantage, and the #2 seed as Denver plays KC, @NE, @KC. We also know there will only be one additional Wild Card berth available (as the AFC West loser will earn the #5 seed) and that battle will likely come down to the final two weeks between a number of teams.

The NFC may be even more clear-cut especially following last week’s win by Carolina at San Francisco. The pair of West Coast teams seem to be known with the NFC South loser (between NO & CAR) and the NFC West loser (between SEA & SF) earning those spots and likely travelling to the NFC East & North division winners on Wild Card weekend. Seattle appears to be a lock to win the NFC West, while the Saints are also in good shape to win the NFC South – those two teams will likely wind up with the bye weeks in the NFC. This weekend’s NFC East matchup between Washington and Philadelphia is a big one as I believe the Redskins are playing better than many believe, and need that win badly; the NFC North could come down to how quickly QB Aaron Rodgers returns to the Packers lineup.

AFC Playoffs
1) Denver
2) New England
3) Cincinnati
4) Indianapolis
5) Kansas City
6) N.Y. Jets

NFC Playoffs
1) Seattle
2) New Orleans
3) Detroit
4) Philadelphia
5) Carolina
6) San Francisco

Last analysis for this week are 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.

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

Marshall: NFL Draft Analysis
Broncos gather for 1st time since SB loss
Kelly, Trump, Bon Jovi pursuing Bills
Miami (Ohio) honors Ravens' Harbaugh
Wayne hopes to prove doubters wrong
Saints bring back WR Meachem
WR Rice agrees to terms with 'Hawks
Vikings sign safety Kurt Coleman
Jets sign former Titans RB Chris Johnson
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