NFL Efficiency Ratings- Playoff Prediction Edition
Now 3/4 of the way through the season lets take a look again at how effiecent the teams in the NFL are doing and see how the playoff race looks to be shaping
up based on the upcoming strengths of schedule.
All 4 teams are still alive and the easy schedule looks to make it very possible for the East to have at least two teams make the playoffs. The Jets are the clearcut number 1 and the hottest team in the NFL, They have risen from 23rd in overall efficiency to number 5 overall in a span of 4 weeks. They have two statement wins in beating the 2nd ranked Titans and 9th ranked Cardinals. The Jets are the 3rd most productive team in the NFL at scoring points and the defense is improving. The remaining schedule consists of Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, Miami, and Buffalo. The toughest opponent would be Miami who ranks 5th in the NFL away from home. The remainder of the teams they face are all well in the bottom of the NFL. The worst the Jets should finish is 12-4.
New England has shown some signs of life on offense, but only rank 15th overall and the only quality win of the year came against the Jets back in week 2 when the Jets were not playing good football. They have to still play the Steelers and Cardinals, both top 10 teams, and the Bills in Buffalo where they play significantly better. The Patriots can finish as bad as 9-7 or as good as 11-5.
Miami at 6-5 is relying on their schedule to help them out. Every time Miami has stepped up in class they have gotten wacked, being beat up by the Jets in week 1 and getting killed by the 9th ranked Cardinals and 4th ranked Ravens. The Dolphins have played much better away from home and may catch a break by playing 4 of their last 5 away from Miami, where they rank 22nd in the NFL. They still play the horrible Rams and Chiefs which should be two easy wins, but will have to make the best of games in Buffalo and New York and at home against the 49íers. The Dolphins look poised for a 9-7 finish.
The Bills probably blew their season with a loss against the Browns, but they still have a glimmering of hope. Like the Patriots and Dolphins they have done poorly when they step up in competition and it is hard to predict them winning a game against a quality team. They should win in Denver and home against San Francisco, but will have to sweep their home games against the Patriots and Dolphins if they want to make it. That will not be easy. Probably a 9-7 finish which will put them in 4th place in the East,
This boils down to two teams in the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. Pittsburgh has been extremely consistent this year pretty much ranking in the top 3 in overall efficiency week after week after week. They currently rank number 3. They have played a tough schedule and it will only get worse from here. They have to travel to Baltimore, who are the best home team in the NFL, and Tennessee who rank 2nd overall. Dallas will also come in for a visit, though the Steelers should be a relatively heavy favorite that week. The Steelers could finish as good as 12-4.
Baltimore has the much easier path. Three of their remaining five games are at home and if they can get by Pittsburgh the 22nd and 23rd ranked Redskins and Jaguars should be easy pickings. They play the Bengals this week, who rank 30th and travel to Dallas in a few weeks to take on the 18th ranked, but healing, Cowboys. At worst they will be 10-6 and all signs point to an 11-5 finish. The tiebreakers in that scenario would come down to strength of victory which would probably favor the Steelers over the Ravens, but that is impossible to predict.
The Titans are basically locked into a bye and it would take a major collapse to lose their grasp on the number one overall seed. Their remaining opponents consist of the Lions, Texans, and Browns, none of whom rank higher than 21st, along with the Steelers and Colts. At worst the Titans should finish 14-2 unless the Colts game means nothing and they rest everyone.
The Colts are in a dangerous position of fighting for a wildcard spot for the first time since 2002. Indy is lucky in that they own head to head wins against other possible wildcard contenders in the Pats, Ravens, and Steelers making them a likely entry as the 5 seed. The Colts finish up the year playing Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, and Jacksonville before finishing up against a Titan team that may not even try. The Colts should sleepwalk to 11 wins against that schedule.
No team deserves to go from here, but somebody must go as per league rules. The season will likely come down to week 17 when the Broncos take on the Chargers in San Diego and it is likely 8-8 takes the crown. Denver has a rocky road ahead. They only rank 25th overall and travel to take on the Jets and Panthers, both top 10 teams, as well as the Chargers who rank 14th at home. Even the Bills and Chiefs look to be a tough task for the Broncos. It wouldnít be stunning if Denver did not win another game this year and they wonít be better than 8-8.
San Diego only has 4 wins, but still has some easy marks on the schedule in Oakland and Kansas City. They travel to take on Tampa Bay, who they have no chance of beating on the road, but that is the only given loss. They have to beat Atlanta this week if they want to win the division. If they donít they need Denver to lose out.
The early projection in the AFC:
1 Tennessee Titans 14-2
2 Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4
3 New York Jets 12-4
4 San Diego Chargers 8-8
5 Indianapolis Colts 11-5
6 Baltimore Ravens 11-5
The race for the division is basically over. The Giants are clearly the dominant team in the NFL and the only stumbling block should be their game they play in Dallas. Unless they just donít show up in week 17 this is a 14-2 team at worst, which will get first seed overall in the NFC.
Dallas ranks 18th overall in efficiency but spent a good portion of the season at number 1 before the wheels fell off and injuries piled up. They scare people because they were so good early and they have to potential to be again. The schedule is rough. They play the Giants, Steelers, and Ravens all ranked in the top 5 in efficiency and travel to Philadelphia to close out the season. Philly is a hard team to figure out, but would love nothing more than to KO the Cowboys in a big game. Dallas could hit 10 wins if everything breaks right for them
Itís a miracle the Redskins have survived this long in the race. They rank near the bottom of the NFL in points scored and in home game production. Statistically they are the worst team in the East yet they are right in it at 7 wins. The schedule is tough with expected losses against the Ravens, Giants, and Eagles. They should have two games they win against San Francisco and the woeful Bengals. Philadelphia likely holds the key as the current Eagles have no hope, but if they can refind themselves they should easily defeat the Redskins.
The Eagles at 5-5-1 need a miracle to make it happen. The tie gives them some hope, but they will need to beat Dallas and Washington and upset either the Cardinals or Giants to have a chance. They have the talent to do it, but right now look lost and have fallen well down the rankings. They project to finish at 9-5-1, but based on the way they have looked the last two weeks that may not happen.
Only one team should make it from here and all signs point to it being the Chicago Bears. The Bears schedule helps them out as they play teams ranked 23, 24, and 31 and get Green Bay at home. If they sweep Green Bay and Minnesota there is really no way for them to lose the division, but the Packer game is much more important than the Viking one. The Bears should finish with at least 10 wins and winning out is not impossible.
Green Bay might have the easiest road, but is already in a hole being one game out with only 5 games to play. They catch a big break by playing Carolina in Green Bay and then play the same remaining schedule as the Bears with all cakewalk opponents. They need to beat Chicago in 16 to get in. If they do they will win the tiebreaker and take the division at 10-6.
Minnesota, a preseason favorite for the Super Bowl, has pretty much killed themselves with early season stumbles and lack of production from the QB position. The Vikings schedule is a nightmare. They play the top ranked Giants, the number 9 ranked Cardinals in Arizona, and the 10th ranked Falcons. They have to beat Chicago this weekend to last in the race and hope the Giants rest everyone in week 17. If they donít the Vikings have the look of a 7 or 8 win team.
A bizarre division is that almost all of the teams play very well at home, with three of the four teams ranking in the top 5 in home efficiency, and terrible on the road .The splits for Carolina, Tampa, and New Orleans are pretty incredible. That fact looks to favor Tampa Bay to win the division with an 11-5 record. They have three home games left on the schedule they must win as well as some big games in Carolina and Atlanta where they will not be favored.
Carolina, with only 2 home games left, just does not look to have the ability to pull off an away game win against the likes of the Giants, Packers, or Saints all ranking top 8 or better in home performance this year. If they can get to 10 wins this year it should be enough to eliminate the Falcons in a tiebreaker and allow them to maybe sneak into the playoffs.
Atlanta is the most consistent of the teams in the division and has the advantage of playing the Rams to close out the year, but also must travel to San Diego, New Orleans, and Minnesota. The Viking game is the probably difference between 9 and 10 wins. 9 wins gives them no shot, while 10 gives them a chance, depending on how the east turns out.
New Orleans is so bad away from home and so far behind the leaders that it would seem impossible for them to win the division. For them to do it they have to upset the Bucs this weekend, which wonít be an easy task. One of their three road games is in Detroit so that should also help them make a run. 9 wins would seem to be the finishing point for the team.
Arizona is the only team making it and the question simply is where will they be seeded. If they can upset the Patriots, which they should have a chance to do, they can get to 11 wins which may earn them the 2 seed. If not 10 wins would be a certaintly.
Overall The early projections in the NFC: 1. New York Giants 14-2
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11-5
3. Chicago Bears 10-6
4. Arizona Cardinals 10-6
5. Carolina Panthers 10-6
6. Atlanta Falcons 10-6
2008 NFL Efficiency Ratings, thru week 12
|Rank||Team||Scoring Efficiency||Defensive Efficiency||Overall Efficiency|
|1.||New York Giants||32.27||12.79||45.06|
|5.||New York Jets||26.35||-1.22||25.13|
|6.||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||-4.04||28.88||24.84|
|7.||Green Bay Packers||23.77||-2.08||21.69|
|12.||New Orleans Saints||26.98||-14.15||12.84|
|14.||San Diego Chargers||11.38||-0.33||11.06|
|15.||New England Patriots||-1.64||11.75||10.10|
|27.||San Francisco 49íers||-6.13||-20.16||-26.28|
|29.||Kansas City Chiefs||-7.51||-23.57||-31.07|
|32.||St. Louis Rams||-39.42||-27..28||-66.69|