Oct 312013

On the MoneyOur contributors had a banner week last week, as Brodrick, Country Preacher, Fat Jesus, and LGBT all scored on twelve of thirteen games, while DJ Crash, Flip Stricland, Ghost Rat, and Sharpe all got eleven of thirteen correct. More importantly, Gandhi got ahead of the Quarter again, sparing him any further ridicule.

For the coming week, the Preacher continues his anti-Kansas City and anti-New England tirades, while our contributors are nearly unanimous on most of the games. At press time, I have the Widow’s picks, and they will be added tonight after trick or treating.

Here are our Week Nine picks:


For the year, the standings have tightened up considerably, and the contest is still anyone’s game. Ghost Rat and DJ Crash remain on top, while Fat Jesus is in the midst of a surge. Here are the standings at the moment:

Fat Jesus17788X
Ghost Rat174913
DJ Crash174913
Flip Stricland170957
Brodrick Kincaid169968
Country Preacher168979
Like Gandhi, But Taller16110416
Reyno Island16010517
Rat's Widow15511022
Guest Quarter (coin flip)13013547
updated 2/1/14
Oct 312013

Rats RankingsFor all intents and purposes we are halfway through the 2013 season, and the Kansas City Chiefs are the lone undefeated team at 8-0. Say what you will about the Chiefs’ early schedule, but winning eight straight is an impressive accomplishment for any team, let alone one that finished 2-14 last season. And they are winning with great defense, a consistent running game, and a quarterback who is better than he is being given credit for. Don’t expect this team to fade even after they drop a game or two down the road.

Here are our Week Nine power rankings, accompanied by the most serious injury resulting in placement on PUP or IR for each team’s roster. Please note that some of these players are designated for return. Everyone has to deal with injuries throughout a sixteen game season. Some teams are just better at “next man up” than others. Enjoy!

1. Kansas City Chiefs (8-0, five first place votes) [1] – None. See what a difference a healthy roster makes?
2. Seattle Seahawks (7-1) [2] – WR Percy Harvin
3. Denver Broncos (7-1) [3] – T Ryan Clady
4. New Orleans Saints (6-1) [4] – LB Will Smith
5. San Francisco 49ers (6-2, one first place vote) [5] – WR Michael Crabtree
6. Indianapolis Colts (5-2) [6] – WR Reggie Wayne
7. Green Bay Packers (5-2) [8] – WR Randall Cobb
8. New England Patriots (6-2) [7] – Take your pick: DT Vince Wilfork. LB Jerod Mayo. RT Sebastian Vollmer.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) [9] – CB Leon Hall.
10. Dallas Cowboys (4-4) [10] – LB Anthony Spencer
11. Detroit Lions (5-3) [12] – WR Ryan Broyles
12. Carolina Panthers (4-3) [15] – G Amini Silatolu
13. San Diego Chargers (4-3) [14] – WR Malcolm Floyd
14. Miami Dolphins (3-4) [11] – TE Dustin Keller
15. Chicago Bears (4-3) [13] – DT Henry Melton
16. Tennessee Titans (3-4) [16] – WR Kevin Walter
17. Baltimore Ravens (3-4) [17] – TE Dennis Pitta
18. Arizona Cardinals (4-4) [22] – G Jonathan Cooper
19. Buffalo Bills (3-5) [23] – QB Kevin Kolb
20. St. Louis Rams (3-5) [20] – QB Sam Bradford
21. Atlanta Falcons (2-5) [18] – WR Julio Jones
22. Oakland Raiders (3-4) [28] – T Jared Veldheer
23. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5) [24] – LB Larry Foote and C Maurkice Pouncey
24. New York Jets (4-4) [19] – LB Antwan Barnes (the injury to QB Mark Sanchez can only be viewed as a positive by Jets’ fans)
25. Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) [22] – WR Jeremy Maclin
26. Washington Football Club (2-5) [26] – DE Adam Carriker
27. Houston Texans (2-5) [25] – LB Brian Cushing and S Dannieal Manning
28. Cleveland Browns (3-5) [27] – QB Brian Hoyer
29. New York Giants (2-6) [30] – G Chris Snee
30. Minnesota Vikings (1-6) [29] – S Harrison Smith
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7) [31] – WR Mike Williams
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8) [32] – T Luke Joeckel

Oct 312013

It’s looking like the Chiefs will remain our Super Bowl favorites until they lose; and the numbers say that isn’t likely to happen this week. We have Kansas City as 16-point favorites in Buffalo (Vegas is less bullish on KC, giving the Bills a scant 3 points. Perhaps the system needs to consider home-field advantage; or maybe the oddsmakers just feel — understandably — that the ride has to end sometime, right?)


There is hope for the rest of the league, however: the Chiefs’ odds are down five percentage points since last week, and 11 points over the past two weeks. They keep winning, but 1- and 6-point wins, at home, against weak opponents, is not exactly championship football. They have to face Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos two out of the next three weeks, which will go a long way towards deciding the AFC West. By December 1, the Chiefs will have either solidified their hold on the AFC title race, or… not.

If you’ve forgotten how the whole Pythagorean Five thing works, click here.


Cincinnati Bengals (+1.3): One of the things we’re trying out behind the scenes is the concept of a “game score”, in which teams are rated in each week based on how well they played and the quality of their opponents. This week’s game score for the Bengals was 96 — a far cry from the measly 6 they scored four weeks ago against their intrastate rivals. Wins over Green Bay (74) and New England (88) should prove the Bengals are a contender; but they need more consistency for a playoff run.

New York Giants (+1.1): The Giants are now up 3.5 wins from their low point three weeks ago. Sadly, that doesn’t mean a whole lot; at the time they were a projected 0-16. Certainly, most people would look at 4-12 as much better, but you have to wonder if it will be enough to save Tom Coughlin’s job.

Arizona Cardinals (+1.0): Looking at a projected 8-8 finish instead of last week’s 7-9, the Cardinals should be feeling pretty good after dispatching the Falcons. But does it mean much? There’s literally no chance Arizona leapfrogs both San Francisco and Seattle for a division title. Our projections say they are in fourth place for the second NFC Wild Card berth, behind Carolina (10.7), Detroit (10.1), and Chicago (8.6).


New York Jets (-1.1): One week after gaining 1.2 projected wins (with the help of an untimely Patriots penalty), the Jets give almost all of it right back with a truly pathetic showing against Cincinnati. Things aren’t likely to get much better with a date this Sunday against New Orleans — but at least New York is guaranteed not to lose the following week.

Atlanta Falcons (-0.9): Number-crunching aside, I am voting for Atlanta as one of the biggest disappointments this season. Before the season, I would have pegged them as a contender for their division, at least. Now, they’ll be lucky to avoid a losing record.

Philadelphia Eagles (-0.9): Expect the Eagles to battle all the way until the end for the coveted spot of first-place loser in the worst division in football. Whee.

Current projection accuracy:

  • Average difference between actual and projected wins: 0.67
  • Median error in winning percentage: 7%
  • Overachiever: New York Jets (+1.5 wins)
  • Underachiever: Carolina Panthers (-1.8 wins)
San Francisco (96%) at Jacksonville [35-9] Final: 42-10
Carolina (90%) at Tampa Bay [22-9] Final: 31-13
Cleveland at Kansas City (90%) [23-9] Final: 23-17
Seattle (83%) at St. Louis [31-16] Final: 14-9
Green Bay (80%) at Minnesota [37-20] Final: 44-31
Buffalo at New Orleans (79%) [30-17] Final: 35-17
Washington at Denver (79%) [54-31] Final: 45-21
New York Giants at Philadelphia (72%) [32-22] Final: 7-15
New York Jets at Cincinnati (66%) [21-16] Final: 49-9
Miami at New England (63%) [22-18] Final: 27-17
Atlanta (60%) at Arizona [26-22] Final: 13-27
Dallas (59%) at Detroit [30-26] Final: 30-31
Pittsburgh (51%) at Oakland [17-17] Final: 18-21
Tampa Bay at Seattle (91%) [26-10]
Kansas City (89%) at Buffalo [28-12]
New Orleans (89%) at New York Jets [32-13]
Indianapolis (87%) at Houston [32-14]
Atlanta at Carolina (83%) [28-14]
Minnesota at Dallas (78%) [40-23]
Pittsburgh at New England (73%) [21-14]
Cincinnati (72%) at Miami [25-17]
San Diego (72%) at Washington [33-22]
Chicago at Green Bay (65%) [39-30]
Baltimore (62%) at Cleveland [21-17]
Tennessee (60%) at St. Louis [22-19]
Philadelphia at Oakland (50%) [21-20]
North South East West
Cincinnati Bengals 11.5 (+1.3)
Baltimore Ravens 7.6 (-0.2)
Cleveland Browns 6.8 (-0.2)
Pittsburgh Steelers 5.4 (-0.5)
Indianapolis Colts 11.5 (-0.1)
Tennessee Titans 8.2 (-0.1)
Houston Texans 5.0 (-0.1)
Jacksonville Jaguars 0.8 (-0.1)
New England Patriots 11.0 (+0.5)
Miami Dolphins 7.3 (-0.5)
Buffalo Bills 7.0 (-0.3)
New York Jets 6.3 (-1.1)
Kansas City Chiefs 14.1 (-0.1)
Denver Broncos 12.2 (+0.4)
San Diego Chargers 8.4 (-0.1)
Oakland Raiders 6.8 (+0.9)


North South East West
Green Bay Packers 11.4 (+0.3)
Detroit Lions 10.1 (+0.5)
Chicago Bears 8.6 (+0.1)
Minnesota Vikings 3.5 (-0.2)
New Orleans Saints 12.0 (+0.4)
Carolina Panthers 10.7 (+0.3)
Atlanta Falcons 5.2 (-0.9)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1.8 (-0.3)
Dallas Cowboys 9.2 (-0.8)
Philadelphia Eagles 6.3 (-0.9)
Washington Redskins 5.5 (-0.7)
New York Giants 3.9 (+1.1)
Seattle Seahawks 13.2 (+0.1)
San Francisco 49ers 11.4 (+0.6)
Arizona Cardinals 7.9 (+1.0)
St. Louis Rams 5.6 (-0.3)


AFC Championship NFC Championship Super Bowl XLVIII
Kansas City Chiefs 49%
Cincinnati Bengals 18%
Denver Broncos 13%
Indianapolis Colts 8%
New England Patriots 7%
San Diego Chargers 4%

Seattle Seahawks 35%
New Orleans Saints 33%
San Francisco 49ers 14%
Green Bay Packers 10%
Dallas Cowboys 5%
Detroit Lions 3%

Kansas City Chiefs (1) 31%
Seattle Seahawks (2) 17%
New Orleans Saints (4) 16%
Cincinnati Bengals (9) 8%
Denver Broncos (3) 7%
San Francisco 49ers (5) 6%
Green Bay (7), Indianapolis (6) 4%
New England Patriots (8) 3%
Dallas Cowboys (10) 2%
Detroit (11), San Diego (13) 1%


Teams are ranked by expected number of wins. The value in parentheses is the change in expected win total since last week. Under “Super Bowl”, the number in parentheses is the current Gridiron Rats Power Ranking.

Oct 242013

On the MoneySticking with the rat-with-pneumonia theme, this is going to be brief this week. The Preacher had a great week last week, proving that even blind squirrels do indeed find nuts! While the Widow had another solid effort, most of us had a brutal day last Sunday, and the bulk of our contributors are now within ten games of first place in our weekly picks contest. One troublesome note is that Gandhi (LGBT) has now fallen behind our weekly guest quarter. Ruh roh.

Enjoy the picks, but keep your wallet in your pants.


The standings so far:

Fat Jesus17788X
Ghost Rat174913
DJ Crash174913
Flip Stricland170957
Brodrick Kincaid169968
Country Preacher168979
Like Gandhi, But Taller16110416
Reyno Island16010517
Rat's Widow15511022
Guest Quarter (coin flip)13013547
updated 2/1/14
Oct 242013

Rats RankingsThe Rat has been laid up (literally) with pneumonia this week, so it’s nice to even care about football once again. But alas, that means a slimmed down version of our Power Rankings this week. Denver’s loss means a wide open battle for the top spot, with one nameless contributor still believing that Kansas City deserves no better than a number eight ranking. So, I pose this question… what do you call a team if they line up against sixteen bad teams in a row, yet they win every game? I think the word would be undefeated. The deserving Chiefs finally grab our top spot, even if it is only for a brief, shining moment. because… then again… it may just last. A looming showdown with Denver will certainly serve as a tremendous test for Andy Reid’s rejuvenated squad.

This week (and hopefully in all future weeks) we are also factoring in Danny Boy’s mathematical wizardry to our rankings process. It makes for some interesting adjustments as we approach the midpoint of the season.

Here are our Week Eight Power Rankings:

1. Kansas City Chiefs (7-0, 5 first place votes) [3]
2. Seattle Seahawks (6-1, 1 first place vote) [2]
3. Denver Broncos (6-1, 1 first place vote) [1]
4. New Orleans Saints (5-1) [5]
5. San Francisco 49ers (5-2, 1 first place vote) [6]
6. Indianapolis Colts (5-2) [9]
7. New England Patriots (5-2) [4]
8. Green Bay Packers (4-2) [11]
9. Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) [10]
10. Dallas Cowboys (4-3) [13]
11. Miami Dolphins (3-3) [8]
12. Detroit Lions (4-3) [12]
13. Chicago Bears (4-3) [7]
14. San Diego Chargers (4-3) [15]
15. Carolina Panthers (3-3 [18]
16. Tennessee Titans (3-4) [14]
17. Baltimore Ravens (3-4) [17]
18. Atlanta Falcons (2-4) [19]
19. New York Jets (4-3) [22]
20. St. Louis Rams (3-4) [16]
21. Arizona Cardinals (3-4) [23]
22. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) [20]
23. Buffalo Bills (3-4) [24]
24. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4) [27]
25. Houston Texans (2-5) [21]
26. Washington Football Club (2-4) [28]
27. Cleveland Browns (3-4) [26]
28. Oakland Raiders (2-4) [28]
29. Minnesota Vikings (1-5) [25]
30. New York Giants (1-6) [30)
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-6) [31]
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-7) [32]

Oct 242013

I am of two minds regarding the Kansas City Chiefs:

  1. Winning close games is what championship teams do.
  2. A one-point squeaker, at home, against one of the worst teams in the league, is not what you want to see from your Super Bowl front-runner.


Whatever I have to say on the matter, the system remains high on the Chiefs; their Super Bowl victory odds dropped back down to 36%, but they are still well ahead of the next contender. Seattle and New Orleans are the only other double-digit shots, while Carolina is a surprisingly strong new entry to the NFC title race.

For a refresher on how the whole Pythagorean Five thing works, click here.


Pittsburgh Steelers (+1.2): For two weeks in a row, the Steelers have had the biggest positive change in expected win totals. I said last week they weren’t a likely playoff team, and while it’s less certain, I stand by that assessment. Sitting at a projected 6-10, Pittsburgh gets a deceptively difficult opponent next week at Oakland, then has to head to New England before home dates with Buffalo and Detroit. Looking at the schedule, I think it’s optimistic to credit them with 5 more wins. Even in a seemingly weak AFC North, 7-9 isn’t going to cut it. Scrape together another win or two, flip that record to 9-7, and they just might squeak in.

New York Giants (+1.2): And the Giants are on the board! The system had New York as the underdog in Monday’s game, but it doesn’t take into account ill-advised changes at quarterback by the opposing team. See below.

New York Jets (+1.2): What a difference an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty makes. Again, see below.


Minnesota Vikings (-1.2): Josh Freeman? Really? Ponder wasn’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard, but he lost to solid Detroit and Chicago teams by a combined total of 11 points (and he had the Bears game wrapped up until the defense collapsed in the final minutes). The switch to Cassel was understandable, even if the results were somewhat disappointing. They should have beaten Cleveland, but the loss to Carolina was predictable. News flash, Minnesota; your team just isn’t that good. The move to Freeman smells like a coach trying to save his job instead of doing what gives his team the best chance to win week in and week out.

New England Patriots (-1.0): Take away the penalty on the Jets’ 56-yard field goal attempt, and New England, in all likelihood, wins the game 30-27. With that result, New England retains a first-round bye in our projections (by 0.001 wins) and more than doubles their chances of making the Super Bowl. One thing is becoming clear: getting one of the top two seeds is Very Important.

Denver Broncos (-0.9): Ouch. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Before we get to the standings and playoff projections, a quick check on how the system is doing accuracy-wise. Two weeks ago, 27 of the 32 teams were within one win of their projected total, while the average error in winning percentage was 13% (median: 11%). This week, 26 teams are within one win of their projected total, and winning percentages are off by an average of 9% (median: 7%). The largest error? The Carolina Panthers, who have won 1.8 fewer games than the system predicted.

Houston at Kansas City (96%) [33-8] Final: 17-16
San Diego (93%) at Jacksonville [35-12] Final: 24-6
Seattle (82%) at Arizona [24-13] Final: 34-22
St. Louis at Carolina (79%) [24-14] Final: 30-15
New England (77%) at New York Jets [20-12] Final: 27-30
Minnesota (75%) at New York Giants [38-24] Final: 7-23
Tampa Bay at Atlanta (70%) [22-15] Final: 31-23
Baltimore (68%) at Pittsburgh [23-17] Final: 16-19
Chicago (66%) at Washington [33-25] Final: 41-45
Dallas (65%) at Philadelphia [40-31] Final: 17-3
Cleveland at Green Bay (64%) [25-20] Final: 31-13
Buffalo at Miami (57%) [26-23] Final: 21-23
Denver at Indianapolis (56%) [31-28] Final: 33-39
San Francisco (56%) at Tennessee [20-18] Final: 31-17
Cincinnati at Detroit (54%) [22-21] Final: 24-27
San Francisco (96%) at Jacksonville [35-9]
Carolina (90%) at Tampa Bay [22-9]
Cleveland at Kansas City (90%) [23-9]
Seattle (83%) at St. Louis [31-16]
Green Bay (80%) at Minnesota [37-20]
Buffalo at New Orleans (79%) [30-17]
Washington at Denver (79%) [54-31]
New York Giants at Philadelphia (72%) [32-22]
New York Jets at Cincinnati (66%) [21-16]
Miami at New England (63%) [22-18]
Atlanta (60%) at Arizona [26-22]
Dallas (59%) at Detroit [30-26]
Pittsburgh (51%) at Oakland [17-17]


North South East West
Cincinnati Bengals 10.2 (+0.3)
Baltimore Ravens 7.8 (-0.7)
Cleveland Browns 7.0 (-0.9)
Pittsburgh Steelers 5.9 (+1.2)
Indianapolis Colts 11.6 (+0.6)
Tennessee Titans 8.3 (-0.7)
Houston Texans 5.1 (+0.3)
Jacksonville Jaguars 0.9 (-0.1)
New England Patriots 10.4 (-1.0)
Miami Dolphins 7.8 (-0.8)
New York Jets 7.3 (+1.2)
Buffalo Bills 7.2 (+0.6)
Kansas City Chiefs 14.2 (-0.2)
Denver Broncos 11.8 (-0.9)
San Diego Chargers 8.5 (+0.6)
Oakland Raiders 5.9 (-0.1)


North South East West
Green Bay Packers 11.1 (+0.8)
Detroit Lions 9.6 (-0.8)
Chicago Bears 8.6 (-0.7)
Minnesota Vikings 3.7 (-1.2)
New Orleans Saints 11.7 (-0.2)
Carolina Panthers 10.4 (+0.3)
Atlanta Falcons 6.1 (+0.5)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2.1 (-0.2)
Dallas Cowboys 9.9 (+0.6)
Philadelphia Eagles 7.2 (-0.8)
Washington Redskins 6.2 (+0.9)
New York Giants 2.8 (+1.2)
Seattle Seahawks 13.1 (+0.1)
San Francisco 49ers 10.8 (+0.6)
Arizona Cardinals 6.9 (-0.3)
St. Louis Rams 6.0 (-0.4)


AFC Championship NFC Championship Super Bowl XLVIII
Kansas City Chiefs 55%
Indianapolis Colts 20%
Denver Broncos 13%
New England Patriots 5%
San Diego Chargers 4%
Cincinnati Bengals 2%
Seattle Seahawks 31%
New Orleans Saints 29%
Carolina Panthers 19%
Dallas, San Francisco 7%
Green Bay Packers 6%

Kansas City Chiefs (1) 36%
Seattle Seahawks (2) 14%
New Orleans Saints (4) 13%
Carolina (15), Indianapolis (6) 9%
Denver Broncos (3) 6%
Dallas (10), Green Bay (8), New England (7), San Francisco (5) 2%
Cincinnati (9), San Diego (14) 1%


Teams are ranked by expected number of wins. The value in parentheses is the change in expected win total since last week. Under “Super Bowl”, the number in parentheses is the current Gridiron Rats Power Ranking.

Oct 172013

On the MoneyIt was a banner week for our resident experts at GiR. Fat Jesus and Sharpe led the way with 12-3 records, while Country Preacher, DJ Crash, and Ghost Rat all got eleven picks right. The season standings are starting to tighten up, with six of our writers within ten games. Here are the standings to date:

Fat Jesus17788X
Ghost Rat174913
DJ Crash174913
Flip Stricland170957
Brodrick Kincaid169968
Country Preacher168979
Like Gandhi, But Taller16110416
Reyno Island16010517
Rat's Widow15511022
Guest Quarter (coin flip)13013547
updated 2/1/14

Our Week Seven picks demonstrate a lot of consensus among our writers, which is often troublesome news for our picks. we are unanimous on the Dolphins, 49ers, Packers and Giants, and nearly unanimous on a couple of other games. Our games of disagreement include the Patriots at the Jets, where New England is down several key starters and seems ripe for the picking, and the Bengals at the Lions, where it all just depends on which teams show up, as neither have been models of consistency so far this season. We are also split on the divisional match-up between the Cowboys and the Washington football club. Just for giggles, over at Pro Football Talk, Michael David Smith is sitting at 63-29, which would place him in third place at Gridiron Rats, while guru Mike Florio is 57-35, good for fourth place on our site. That ties Florio with our very own Rat’s Widow, and when you are finally allowed to hear how she has made her picks this season, you’ll start turning to her for your football insights over that expert at PFT!

Here are our Week Seven picks. Note that at press time, Sharpe’s picks are outstanding, and will be added as soon as they arrive. (Rat’s Note: He got them in on time.)

Oct 172013


The dust has settled after Week 6 in the National Football League, and Kansas City is still riding high. In fact, their odds for winning the Super Bowl have shot up nine points; although their likely opponent has changed from New Orleans to Seattle.

Still a long way to go, of course, but it’s becoming harder and harder to ignore the possibility the Chiefs are for real.

For a refresher on how the whole Pythagorean Five thing works, check out last week’s post.


Pittsburgh Steelers (+1.8): The first win of the season is always the most important. It’s better when it comes via a superb defensive effort from a team that had been giving up 28 points per game. Holding the Jets to two field goals means that average is down almost 20%; more importantly for our system, Pittsburgh’s Pythagorean Expectation is up nine points, from 24.9% to 34.2%. They’re not likely to be a playoff team (we have them finishing at 5-11) but 1-4 looks a lot better than 0-5.


Carolina Panthers (+1.6): Carolina has been the most inconsistent team so far this season (see chart at left): after week one, the system was predicting fewer than four wins; after weeks three and four, it was projecting almost 12. Following this week’s solid effort at Minnesota, they are up a win and a half, and the system has them favored in every game the rest of the way, including in Weeks 14 and 16 against New Orleans (although by the slimmest of margins: 51/49). They only need to pick up a net of 0.04 wins to overtake San Francisco for the second Wild Card spot in our predictions, and who knows? If the Saints stumble again, those games at the end of the season could decide the NFC South.

St. Louis Rams (+1.4): Houston hasn’t exactly been lighting teams up this year; although, they were a poor decision by Matt Schaub away from defeating the current odds-on NFC Champion and being just a game behind Indy prior to last weekend. So, when St. Louis went into Reliant Stadium and roughed them up Sunday, many people may have been surprised (including most of our resident prognosticators) but our system wasn’t. It had the Rams as 55/45 favorites. Don’t get too excited; they are still projected to only finish 6-10.


New Orleans Saints (-1.7): Losing a game to Tom Brady in the closing seconds is not exactly shameful — it’s happened to better teams than New Orleans. But allowing 30 points (twice your season average) is going to make a dent in your Pythagorean Expectation (from 80.8% to 74.2%); enough to drop the Saints’ projected finish from 14-2 down to 12-4. That’s still sufficient to keep them in the divisional driver’s seat; and while they are currently no longer favored to win the NFC, Week 13 may provide a preview of a championship game for the ages (at the moment, Seattle is favored 54/46).

(Interestingly, the system isn’t necessarily punishing New Orleans for losing, per se. If Brady’s last-second pass had fallen incomplete, and the Saints won 27-23, Seattle would still be the NFC favorite, but by a much smaller margin: 39% to 38%.)


Minnesota Vikings (-1.4): This is the biggest week-over-week change in projected wins for the season’s third-most consistent team (see chart at left). The good news? Next week’s opponent is still winless. The bad news? Our system pegs the Vikings as the underdog in every game the rest of the way.

Indianapolis Colts (-1.3): The Colts weren’t failed by their defense on Monday night; 19 points allowed isn’t much more than their season average going in to the game (15.8). But an offense scoring 28 points a game was held to three field goals, and that doesn’t happen without some consequences. Indy is still favored to win their division, but is currently losing out on a first-round bye due to New England’s softer schedule.

Jacksonville at Denver (98%) [65-12] Final: 35-19
Oakland at Kansas City (89%) [24-10] Final: 24-7
New York Giants at Chicago (88%) [46-20] Final: 27-20
Indianapolis (80%) at San Diego [31-17] Final: 9-19
Tennessee at Seattle (69%) [23-16] Final: 20-13
Carolina (68%) at Minnesota [25-18] Final: 35-10
New Orleans (67%) at New England [16-12] Final: 27-30
Philadelphia (67%) at Tampa Bay [20-15] Final: 31-20
Pittsburgh at New York Jets (67%) [23-17] Final: 6-19
Cincinnati (63%) at Buffalo [21-17] Final: 27-24
Washington at Dallas (63%) [34-27] Final: 31-16
Arizona at San Francisco (61%) [19-15] Final: 32-20
Green Bay (58%) at Baltimore [28-25] Final: 19-17
St. Louis (55%) at Houston [25-23] Final: 38-13
Detroit at Cleveland (51%) [22-21] Final: 17-31

Houston at Kansas City (96%) [33-8]
San Diego (93%) at Jacksonville [35-12]
Seattle (82%) at Arizona [24-13]
St. Louis at Carolina (79%) [24-14]
New England (77%) at New York Jets [20-12]
Minnesota (75%) at New York Giants [38-24]
Tampa Bay at Atlanta (70%) [22-15]
Baltimore (68%) at Pittsburgh [23-17]
Chicago (66%) at Washington [33-25]
Dallas (65%) at Philadelphia [40-31]
Cleveland at Green Bay (64%) [25-20]
Buffalo at Miami (57%) [26-23]
Denver at Indianapolis (56%) [31-28]
San Francisco (56%) at Tennessee [20-18]
Cincinnati at Detroit (54%) [22-21]


North South East West
Cincinnati Bengals 9.6 (+0.6)
Cleveland Browns 7.9 (-1.3)
Baltimore Ravens 8.5 (-0.6)
Pittsburgh Steelers 4.7 (+1.8)
Indianapolis Colts 11.1 (-1.3)
Tennessee Titans 9.0 (-0.5)
Houston Texans 4.8 (-0.7)
Jacksonville Jaguars 1.0 (+0.3)
New England Patriots 11.5 (+0.4)
Miami Dolphins 8.6 (-0.1)
Buffalo Bills 6.6 (-0.4)
New York Jets 6.2 (-1.0)
Kansas City Chiefs 14.5 (+0.4)
Denver Broncos 12.7 (+0.2)
San Diego Chargers 7.9 (+1.2)
Oakland Raiders 6.0 (-0.9)


North South East West
Detroit Lions 10.4 (+0.8)
Green Bay Packers 10.2 (+0.3)
Chicago Bears 9.3 (+0.3)
Minnesota Vikings 4.9 (-1.4)
New Orleans Saints 11.8 (-1.7)
Carolina Panthers 10.10 (+1.6)
Atlanta Falcons 5.5 (-0.1)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2.2 (-0.6)
Dallas Cowboys 9.3 (+0.9)
Philadelphia Eagles 8.0 (+0.9)
Washington Redskins 5.3 (-1.1)
New York Giants 1.7 (+0.2)
Seattle Seahawks 13.0 (+0.3)
San Francisco 49ers 10.13 (+0.7)
Arizona Cardinals 7.3 (-0.9)
St. Louis Rams 6.4 (+1.5)


AFC Championship NFC Championship Super Bowl XLVIII
Kansas City Chiefs 59%
Denver Broncos 15%
Indianapolis Colts 13%
New England Patriots 10%
Cincinnati, Tennessee 2%
Seattle Seahawks 40%
New Orleans Saints 34%
San Francisco 49ers 7%
Dallas, Green Bay 6%
Detroit Lions 5%

Kansas City Chiefs (3) 42%
Seattle Seahawks (2) 17%
New Orleans Saints (5) 13%
Denver Broncos (1) 8%
Indianapolis Colts (9) 6%
New England Patriots (4) 4%
Dallas (13), Green Bay (11), San Francisco (6) 2%
Cincinnati (10), Detroit (12), Tennessee (14) 1%


Teams are ranked by expected number of wins. The value in parentheses is the change in expected win total since last week. Under “Super Bowl”, the number in parentheses is the current Gridiron Rats Power Ranking.

Oct 172013

Rats RankingsWell it took a week, but our voters finally decided to slam Atlanta for its pitiful 1-4 start and with a loss of Julio Jones and the Falcons plummeted, even during a bye week. Similarly, the Texans also took a plunge this week, after a rattling loss to the Rams. Our number one and two teams remain in place, with the Broncos still our unanimous #1 pick despite struggling with the Jaguars. Here are the rankings going into Week 7, along with our early thoughts on each team’s most valuable player. As always, last week’s rankings are in [brackets].

1. Denver Broncos (6-0, 6 first-place votes) [1] – Surprise! Peyton Manning
2. Seattle Seahawks (5-1) [2] – Russell Wilson
3. Kansas City Chiefs (6-0) [7] – Head Coach Andy Reid
4. New England Patriots (5-1) [5] – Head Coach Bill Belichick
5. New Orleans Saints (5-1) [4] – Jimmy Graham
6. San Francisco 49ers (4-2) [8] – Frank Gore
7. Chicago Bears (4-2) [3] – Brandon Marshall
8. Miami Dolphins (3-2) [6] – Ryan Tannehill
9. Indianapolis Colts (4-2) [12] – Andrew Luck
10. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) [10] – AJ Green
11. Green Bay Packers (3-2) [13] – Aaron Rodgers
12. Detroit Lions (4-2) [14] – Reggie Bush
13. Dallas Cowboys (3-3) [15] – Tony Romo (also the least valuable player)
14. Tennessee Titans (3-3) [16] – The entire defense
15. San Diego Chargers (3-3) [22] – Philip Rivers
16. St. Louis Rams (3-3) [18] – Zac Stacy
17. Baltimore Ravens (3-3) [17] – Terrell Suggs
18. Carolina Panthers (2-3) [19] – Luke Kuechly
19. Atlanta Falcons (1-4) [11] – Julio Jones (and that’s a problem)
20. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) [21] – Head Coach Chip Kelly
21. Houston Texans (2-4) [9] – JJ Watt
22. New York Jets (3-3) [20] – Muhammad Wilkerson
23. Arizona Cardinals (3-3) [23] – Patrick Peterson
24. Buffalo Bills (2-4) [24] – EJ Manuel
25. Minnesota Vikings (1-4) [26] – Adrian Peterson
26. Cleveland Browns (3-3) [27] – Brian Hoyer (and that’s also a problem)
27. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4) [28] – Ben Roethlisberger
28. Oakland Raiders (2-4) [30] – Terrelle Pryor
29. Washington Football Club (1-4) [31] – Robert Griffin III
30. New York Giants (0-6) [26] – Victor Cruz
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-5) [29] – Darrelle Revis
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6) [32] – Justin Blackmon

Oct 172013


We’ve changed our model a little bit, because we wanted more than one [Super Bowl ring].

So, Jim Irsay decided to diss the man who built his fancy new stadium in Indianapolis. That’s fine. It’s his prerogative to be a complete moron — and to flash that idiocy for the world to see.

Brady never had consistent numbers, but he has three.

I’m not about to get into the “who is the best QB of this generation” argument. Not now, anyway. But if there’s one thing that pisses me off in football analysis more than anything else, it’s the equation of championships with individual greatness. If Super Bowl rings made quarterbacks great, then Trent Dilfer would be a better QB than Dan Marino, Mark Rypien would be superior to Warren Moon, and Jeff Hostetler would rank above Fran Tarkenton.

You make the playoffs 11 times, and you’re out in the first round seven out of 11 times.

Well, gosh, Jim. I suppose there’s no other reason that happened other than Peyton Manning not being the Bestest Quarterback He Could Be. It couldn’t be the team (and its owner) emphasized “Star Wars” offensive numbers and failed to recognize that, even in this pass-happy environment, you need a defense to win championships, could it?

Here’s a quick look at those eleven Colts playoff teams:

Year Record PF PA Pyth% Result SB Pyth%
1999 13-3 423 333 63.8 Lost Divisional 86.3
2000 10-6 429 326 65.7 Lost Wild Card 84.0
2002 10-6 349 313 56.4 Lost Wild Card 79.4
2003 12-4 447 336 66.3 Lost Conference 71.1
2004 12-4 522 351 71.9 Lost Divisional 77.4
2005 14-2 439 247 79.6 Lost Divisional 72.6
2006 12-4 427 360 60.0 Won Super Bowl 60.0
2007 13-3 450 262 78.3 Lost Divisional 53.6
2008 12-4 377 298 63.6 Lost Wild Card 74.0
2009 14-2 416 307 67.3 Lost Super Bowl 72.2
2010 10-6 435 388 56.7 Lost Wild Card 75.7


Notice anything? I’ll give you a hint: those Indianapolis teams weren’t “great”. They averaged a Pythagorean Expectation (PE) of 66.3% — somewhere between 10-6 and 11-5. Better than most, but not consistently championship-worthy. Don’t believe me? Look at that last column, showing the PE of the eventual NFL Champion. Only twice did the Colts’ PE exceed that of the Super Bowl winner: in 2005, when the Colts had a slight 7% edge on Pittsburgh, and in 2007, when New York stunnned the Patriots (whose PE was a whopping 85.6%).

Looking more closely, we can see why the Colts weren’t as good as the Super Bowl winners. In the ten seasons they failed to win it all, the Colts scored an average of 429 points (7% more than the champions), while giving up an average of 316 points (26% more than the champions). The Colts outscored the champions in 8 out of those 10 years, but gave up more points than the champions in 7 of those 10 years (again, that includes 2007, when the Giants won the Super Bowl despite giving up 351 points).

In other words, those Manning-led offenses were more than good enough to compete for multiple Super Bowl rings — it was the defenses that weren’t up to the task. To overcome the defensive deficiency and achieve the same PE as the Super Bowl champions, the Colts would have needed to score an average of 76 more points per season.

And yet, those eleven Colts teams outperformed their PE by an average of 8.7%, or about 1.4 more wins per year. Their best years in this respect? 1999, when they won 2.8 games more than expected (losing in the divisional round to the eventual AFC Champion Titans); 2006, when they won 2.4 games more than expected (going on to win the Super Bowl); and 2009, when they won 3.2 games more than expected (losing to the Saints in the Super Bowl — whose PE was 5 points higher). Only once did the Colts underperform compared to their PE (in 2000, winning 10 games instead of the predicted 10.5).

So, in short, we’ve got a team, consistently playing above its potential, making the playoffs in 11 of 12 seasons, finishing with a record of 9-10. Again, not “great”, but co

Frankly, there’s only one year in which the Colts clearly choked in the playoffs. In 2007, they won 13 games, right in line with their PE of 78.3%. They had a first-round bye, and for once their defense was superb, giving up 16 points/game (first in the NFL).

But who choked, exactly?

Was it the offense, which put up 24 points against the fifth-ranked defense in the league?

Or was it the defense, which allowed almost twice as many points as its per-game average?

There’s no question you need a great quarterback to consistently succeed in today’s NFL. But don’t be an idiot like Jim Irsay — if you want to know why the Colts “only” have one Super Bowl ring, you need to look at the whole team, not just one position.

And whose responsibility is it to build the whole team?