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NFL Efficiency Ratings- Week 13

With 3/4 of the season over we now seem to get a pretty clear picture of what teams are real playoff possibilities and which teams are not. This is the first season I can recall where there is such a drastic drop in league performance after the top positive ranked teams. Usually you get a handful of teams that are just average or below average, however this year it just falls off a cliff after the Houston Texans with a 3.88% efficience to a -14.27% for Seattle. This is likely why you hear some folks talking about the disparity in the league becoming greater and the fear that an uncapped year will make it even worse.

There are no real surprises in the overall rankings. The Saints have the best offense in the NFL though they have trailed off a bit since the superb start. New England, Minnesota, and San Diego are all in a virtual tie for 2nd in that area. On the defensive side of the ball you have a number of very good teams vying for the top spot. The Colts, Broncos, Jets, Bengals, and Ravens all have a chance to be number 1 at the end of the season. None of these teams are putting up the elite numbers we have seen in the past from clubs like Baltimore and Pittsburgh, but all are good. I don't make any distinction between defensive and offensive points allowed, so the reality is the Jets probably have the best defense by a slim margin. Their number is skewed by having given up so many TDs on offense and special teams. If you want to find a spoiler team this year it is likely the Redskins who rank 9th in defense but are held down by one of the worst offenses in the league.

Just like last season Im going to go through this division by division and try to predict how the teams end up at the end of the season, using the efficiency numbers, but giving more weight to the home/away split stats than the overall numbers posted here.

AFC East

This is a three team race with the Patriots in the lead at 7-5, with Miami one game back at 6-6 and the Jets virtually 2 games back despite a 6-6 record due to tiebreakers. The Patriots would look to have an easy road with Carolina and Jacksonville at home and road games against the Bills and Texans, neither of whom are very good home teams. New England is unstoppable at home, where they rank better than both the Ravens and Saints in terms of home field play. That is two easy wins right there. While the Pats are not good on the road they are respectable and slightly above average. The schedule has been a nightmare for them thus far. At worst they should split the two road games with a win in Buffalo and a possible loss in Houston. Statistically they should win both and finish 11-5 and win the division.

Miami's road is a bit tougher because they are a bad road team (-11% total efficiency) and are two fluke kick returns away from having a 1-5 record away from home. Miami will play one average home teams in Jacksonville and a dominant home squad when they travel to Tennessee (31% home efficiency). They project to lose both games, though the Jaguar game should be competitive and Jacksonville is very up and down. Miami is very good at home with a 32.4% home efficency, but they will play two very good road teams in the Texans and Steelers both with extremely positive numbers away from their home fields. Both games more or less fall in the category of too close to call and alot may depend on the if the teams have given up on the year, which is a possibility. Miami at best would potentially find a way to 9-7, but 8-8 is more likely.

The Jets are the one team with the backwards split. Despite the blowout to the Patriots, the Jets are a very good road team where they rank 5th in the NFL. The Jets problems are at home where they only rank 22nd in the league. The Jets two home games will be against the Falcons and Bengals, in what will likely be a meaningless game for Cincinatti. If Atlanta was to get healthy they could be a potential upset. While Atlanta has not done well in terms of wins away from home, they do put up very strong statistical numbers. However, if they do not have Matt Ryan they are a shell of a team. The Jets would project to have a good chance to beat Atlanta and a toss up against the Bengals. Despite the 12-0 record the Colts are not a good home team where they post a -6.0 efficiency. As crazy as it sounds the Jets would project to beat Indianapolis in Indy. The Jets should crush Tampa by over 20 points. The Jets should have 9 wins, the question is can they get to 10? It will likely rest on the last game of the year. If the Jets play their usual home game they will lose and finish 9-7. If they end up playing slightly better 10-6 is a legit possibility.

AFC North

The Bengals pretty much have this thing all wrapped up with a 3 game lead with 4 weeks left. They have to travel 3 times and only play home once, but their numbers are very consistent at home and on the road. They would look to be non-competitive with the Vikings, about a 3-4 point loser at San Diego, a double digit winner against the Chiefs and a toss up against the Jets. A loss to the Chargers would end their chances of getting the bye and could make the final week meaningless. They will win either 10 or 11 games.

The Ravens have put up fantastic numbers this year, but have faced a very tough schedule all season long. Baltimore ranks 2nd at home and 10th on the road, which means they should have a chance to run the table. They are clearly better than the record indicates. It would be stunning if they were not 8-6 after playing the Lions and Bears. Both project to be blowout wins of close to 20 points. The tricky game will be the trip to Pittsburgh. The Steelers are not great at home, but play well enough to beat the Ravens. Right now the Steelers project to win a game by 1-2 points, but that is so close it is basically a toss up game. The Ravens close at Oakland which could be closer than some would think, but still would be a TD victory for Baltimore. If they beat the Steelers they will likely finish 10-6 and in the playoffs as the 6 seed. If they lose to Pittsburgh the Jets or Jaguars will likely sneak in instead.

The Steelers have stubbed their toes many times over with terrible losses. They are on a bad streak and their playoff hopes are very dim. They have to win out, which will not be easy. Cleveland on the road should be a cakewalk to get to 7-6, but the Green Bay matchup is very hard. The Packers have put up better numbers on the road than Pittsburgh has at home and would be in line to win a very close game. The Baltimore game the following week slightly favors Pittsburgh, but they most likely would split the two games. Miami is winnable, but another very tight game. With the way the Steelers season is trending it is hard to see them in the playoffs.

AFC South

The Colts already have this locked up. If you are interested in the perfect season, we'll we already said the Jets match up very well. The Broncos should give them a good fight and would be a slight favorite to break up the unbeaten season this week. Neither the Jaguars nor the Bills should give them any trouble unless they play no starters in the games. Figure on 14-2.

The Jaguars, despite ranking 26th overall in efficiency, find themselves in the middle of the playoff hunt. It really is unexplainable, but there they are. They should split between Miami and Indianapolis to move to 8-6 on the year before venturing to New England and Cleveland to close it out. The Patriots are a nightmare matchup and the Jaguars should have no chance there. Even Cleveland is not a gimme because the Jaguars are so bad away from home. If they feel the season is over the game would likely favor the Browns. Doubtful that this team will be better than 9-7, though that could be enough to sneak in.

Not much of a shot for Houston and Tennessee who are both 5 wins teams right now. The Titans would likely lose a close game to the Chargers and then potentially lose to the Seahawks. They should be 7-9 or 8-8. Houston has favorable matchups against the Seahawks and Rams and look to have a close game with Miami. They have no chance against the Patriots in New England. Call them 8-8 and definitely on the outside.

AFC West

This is a two team race between the Chargers and Broncos. San Diego is the superior team and has a 1 game lead. San Diego should be the favorite in the race. They have a tough game against Dallas that is very hard to call. San Diego should be the favorite considering how poor Dallas is playing again. They should win field goal type games against the Bengals and Titans and will close it out with a win against the Redskins. They should go 13-3, though 12-4 is always a possibility if they split the field goal games, especially if they have little to play for.

Denver at 8-4 is the wildcard favorite. They actually have a very good chance to beat the Colts to move to 9 wins and should win by close to two TDs against the Raiders, unless this QB change really has meant alot to Oakland. The real tough game comes against Philadelphia. Denvers road efficiency of 29.3% is very good, but the Eagles carry a 47% rating at home. Philadelphia should win a close game. Finally they get the Chiefs, who they just lit up for over 40 points. Much like the Raiders game this projects to be one of those dull 20-10 type wins. Barring a disaster this squad should be 11-5 and the number 5 seed in the playoffs.

NFC East

Much like the AFC East this is also a three horse race, but this will likely not favor the current 1st place team. The Cowboys have a nightmare of a schedule right now. They face the number 1, 5, and 7 ranked teams as well as a strong defensive team in the Redskins, in a game that is in Washington. Dallas travels very poorly ranking 17th in the NFL and posting negative numbers away from home. Dallas has a chance against the Chargers simply because the Cowboys do play well at home, though right now the team is in a funk on offense. They look to have no chance against the Saints and will have to play a perfect game to defeat the Eagles. The Redskin game projects to be a 1 point loss which means it could go either way, but will likely not be a walk in the park. If the Cowboys lose this week they might finish 8-8.

The 8 win Eagles have an easier road than Dallas, but will have to beat the Giants this week if they want to win the division. The Eagles would look to be a 3 point favorite to win. The Broncos game will likely also be tight, but this also favors the Eagles. The easiest game would seem to be the 49'ers game where the Eagles look to be a 6 point favorite. Finally, the Cowboy game will also be a lose contest that would favor Philadelphia, even if just slightly. No game is a gimmie, but a split would seem to be a conservative estimate which would put the team at 10 wins.

The Giants season fell apart after the Saints game and even after their win last week it is hard to put them in the top class of the NFL. New Yorks problems lie in the fact that the offense is mediocre on the road while their defense is bad when they leave the Meadowlands. They have to travel to both Washington and Minnesota, but the Giants could get a break if the Vikings have nothing to play for. Overall this just looks to be too much for them. They stand to lose against Philadelphia and Washington before getting a win against an overmatched Panthers team. They should lose by double digits in Minnesota, but in a meaningless game all bets could be off. The Giants do have the most favorable schedule because of those final two games, but will have to play better than they have all year to get to 10 wins. Most likely they will stand at 9-7 when the season is over, though that should be enough to get them in.

NFC North

The Vikings basically have this wrapped up and should be planning for the playoffs right now. Expect a blowout win against the Bengals followed by slightly tighter than expected victories in Carolina and Chicago, with an outside chance for a loss against the Bears who may play that game as their Superbowl. It would be expected that they lay down for the final game against the Giants. They will not be any worse than 12-4 and could be 13-3.

Green Bay has come on strong showing a very consistent home/away splits of 8.5%. They do have tough games remaining though. Chicago does play decent at home with a 9.2% efficiency and could win the game. The stats favor the Packers but it is not a slam dunk. Similarly the matchup in Pittsburgh does slightly favor the Pack by about 3, but Pittsburgh is dangerous. They have a breather against the Seahawks before travelling out to Arizona in what may be a meaningless game. Even if not meaningless the numbers favor the Packers by at least 5. They will probably lose one of the first two games, but 11-5 and a trip to the playoffs looks like a very strong possibility.

NFC South Can the Saints lose a game? Statistically they should not. Right now they should win by about 9 in Atlanta, 17 against Dallas, 24 against the Bucs and 16 in Carolina. They get a huge help not having to play in the cold and 16-0 looks to be theirs. The Falcons have an outside playoff chance, but need Matt Ryan back if they want to compete. They have a chance to compete against the Jets and should easily beat the Bills and Buccaneers, but if they do not get their QB back all bets are off. 8-8 and out of the playoffs would look to be their future.

NFC West

Arizona has a huge lead and is a dominant road team where they are holding teams to nearly 36% below their usual scoring outputs. They will want to get the 3 seed and with games against the Rams, 49'ers, and Lions they will have a good chance at it. They will win 11 games.

2009 NFL Efficiency Ratings, Thru week 13

Rank Team Scoring Efficiency Defensive Efficiency Overall Efficiency
1. New Orleans Saints 60.82 0.52 61.34
2. New England Patriots 28.92 16.96 45.88
3. Indianapolis Colts 19.62 21.48 41.11
4. Baltimore Ravens 12.44 28.53 30.98
5. Philadelphia Eagles 22.40 6.50 28.89
6. Minnesota Vikings 28.80 -1.48 27.31
7. San Diego Chargers 28.61 -5.52 23.08
8. Green Bay Packers 18.79 3.68 22.47
9. Arizona Cardinals 11.40 7.54 18.95
10. Cincinatti Bengals -1.99 19.68 17.69
11. Dallas Cowboys 3.97 13.60 17.57
12. Denver Broncos -3.80 21.14 17.34
13. New York Jets -6.68 20.88 14.20
14. New York Giants 19.80 -6.60 13.19
15. Pittsburgh Steelers 4.21 3.51 7.73
16. Miami Dolphins 13.43 -6.47 6.96
17. Atlanta Falcons 8.38 -3.01 5.37
18. San Francisco 49'ers -6.99 11.88 4.89
19. Houston Texans 11.36 -7.47 3.88
20. Seattle Seahawks -6.38 -7.87 -14.27
21. Tennessee Titans 2.36 -17.10 -14.75
22. Chicago Bears -10.29 -5.40 -15.61
23. Carolina Panthers -17.93 1.78 -16.16
24. Washington Redskins -26.67 8.90 -17.77
25. Buffalo Bills -26.04 -0.48 -26.53
26. Jacksonville Jaguars -15.83 -11.61 -27.45
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -25.81 -16.95 -42.77
28. Oakland Raiders -42.49 -3.27 -45.76
29. Kansas City Chiefs -20.00 -26.80 -46.80
30. Detroit Lions -18.93 -28.97 -47.90
31. Cleveland Browns -38.62 -15.55 -54.17
32. St. Louis Rams -45.29 -35.39 -80.69