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John Dewan's Stat of the Week

Bill James Power Ratings - The Saints are Marching In

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On his website, Bill James Online, Bill does power ratings for the NFL and the NBA. Based on Bill James’ NFL Power Ratings the number one team in the NFL is the New Orleans Saints. But it’s very close. Among the remaining eight teams in the playoffs, there are four of them with power ratings between 109.0 and 109.7:

Team Rating Conference Rank Team Rating Conference Rank
Patriots 109.0 1 Saints 109.7 1
Jaguars 106.1 2 Vikings 109.2 2
Steelers 105.0 3 Eagles 109.2 3
Titans 96.9 7 Falcons 106.4 5

The Saints appear here as the best team in the NFL, just as they were to close out the regular season. They’re followed closely by the Vikings and Eagles, both of whom have a slightly higher rating than the AFC-leading Patriots. Out of the four remaining NFC teams left in the playoffs, only the Falcons are not ranked among the top four teams—they beat the fourth-ranked team, the Rams, in the first round. Even so, they still are rated better than all but one team in the AFC.

In the AFC, the three highest rated teams have advanced to the Divisional Round as well. The Titans, though, are the only team left in the playoffs that is rated as below average (average is 100.0) by this system with a rating of 96.9. The system uses margin of victory or defeat as one of its inputs, and the Titans were one of two teams—the other being the Bills—to make the playoffs this year despite having a negative point differential for the season.

Based on Bill’s power ratings, the Patriots have the easiest path to the Super Bowl while the other three best teams in football have to fight it out in the NFC.

The ratings are calculated using an iterative process that takes into account the outcome of each game, the strength of the team’s opponent and the margin of victory or defeat, with an adjustment made for whether the team was home or away. Each team is given an initial score of 100, and, for each iteration, the team’s new score is determined by considering the inputs listed above for each of its games that season. The system will iterate until every team’s rating has stopped changing or until the maximum number of rounds is reached, at which point the team’s rating becomes their final rating.

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