I am of two minds regarding the Kansas City Chiefs:
- Winning close games is what championship teams do.
- 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.
|WEEK SEVEN RESULTS (8-7)||WEEK EIGHT MATCHUPS|
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]
|AMERICAN FOOTBALL CONFERENCE|
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)
|NATIONAL FOOTBALL CONFERENCE|
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.