The Pi-Rate Ratings

October 2, 2013

PiRate Ratings: NFL–October 3-7, 2013

Early Playoff Projections

The season has reached the quarter pole, and there is a wide rift between the haves and have nots.  In most years after four weeks, maybe one to three teams could be considered playoff locks, while two to four teams could be considered already out of the playoffs.  In 2013, we can say with considerable confidence that six teams can be considered playoff locks, barring catastrophic injuries.  Likewise, we can say that about eight teams have less than 3% chances of recovering from lousy starts.

 

After just one quarter of the season (less for Green Bay and Carolina who have already had their bye weeks), the playoff race comes down to a handful of teams fighting for the remaining playoff spots.  Let’s now take a look at each division.

 

A F C East

New England is definitely a playoff lock after a 4-0 start without Rob Gronkowski.  The Patriots’ defense is cause for concern for the rest of the league, as Tom Brady does not have to put up 30 points every week.

 

Miami is on pace to grab a wildcard spot, probably the number six seeding.  At 3-1, the Dolphins project to a 10-6 record according to our ratings.

 

While both Buffalo and the New York Jets have split their first four games, our ratings show both teams heading south from here.

 

A F C North

This is the second biggest disappointment so far.  Before the season, Cincinnati, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh were supposed to fight for the division title with at least one of the runners-up qualifying for the playoffs as a wildcard.  Now, it appears that 9-7 could win the division, and Cleveland could compete with the Bengals and Ravens for the lone playoff spot from this division.

 

Pittsburgh could be the 2011 version of the Colts, except Ben Roethlisberger is not missing the entire season due to injury.  He might wish this was so in a few more weeks.

 

A F C South

This is one of the two most interesting divisional races.  Houston was supposed to run away from the pack and compete for home field advantage to the Super Bowl.  Indianapolis was supposed to fall back some, while Tennessee and Jacksonville were picked to compete for a distant third.

 

The Texans look like a sports car that needs a tune-up because it is misfiring on a cylinder.  They find themselves in third place.

 

Indianapolis and Tennessee are tied for first, but the Titans must play their next three games without quarterback Jake Locker.  The three teams facing backup Ryan Fitzpatrick: Kansas City, Seattle, and San Francisco!

 

It looks like these three contenders will struggle to get too many games over .500 due to the tough schedules.  They all must play Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, and Kansas City, and 9-7 could be enough to get into the playoffs.  Two or even all three contenders could finish 9-7, and yet only one would qualify for the playoffs.

 

A F C West

The only question in this division is: can Denver go 16-0?  The Broncos are on pace to top 700 points.  No NFL team has ever scored 600 points in a season.  The 2007 Patriots scored 589, while the 1950 Los Angeles Rams hold the mark for highest scoring average in a season at 38.8 (NFL teams played just 12 games then).   We say the Broncos will lose at least once and probably another after they have secured home field advantage.

 

Kansas City is close to a playoff lock at 4-0.  The Chiefs benefit from playing a fourth place schedule, and with four wins in the bag, KC could easily be looking at 11 or 12 wins this year.

 

San Diego is one of the few “best of the rest” teams to watch out for.  The Chargers are 2-2 with close losses to Houston and Tennessee.  This team is capable of going 9-7 and moving into a four-team scuffle for the last playoff spot.

 

N F C East

Call it the NFC Least, where 8-8 should win the division outright, and unfortunately 7-9 could be enough to get into the playoffs.

 

Dallas is still too inconsistent, even with entirely different philosophies on both sides of the ball.  Still, an inconsistent Cowboy team is the odds-on favorite to finish 8-8 and win the division outright.  This might be the end for Jason Garrett if Dallas does not win at least nine games.  Kevin Sumlin might be a perfect fit here if owner Jerry Jones makes a change.

 

The Philadelphia experiment has been a bust after a week one boom.  Still, the Eagles are just one game out of first place, and they still play Dallas twice.  Defense will keep the Eagles from reaching .500.

 

Washington is a team in flux.  It seems to be the theme for D.C. Sports.  The Nationals were criticized for benching Steven Strasburg last year when it appeared they were the class of the National League.  The Redskins were criticized for playing RGIII last year when they qualified for the playoffs.  This year, the Nats did not recover until it was too late.  It looks like the same situation for the ‘Skins.  They may eventually recover and start playing ball like they did in 2012, but by then, they could be 4-8.

 

N F C North

Last year, three teams won 10 or more games in the North.  It could happen again this year.  In fact, our ratings show that Chicago, Detroit, and Green Bay should all finish with identical 10-6 records.  And, like last year, one of these three 10-6 teams will miss the playoffs.

 

N F C South

Can one coach mean that much of a difference?  You betcha!  Sean Payton’s return from Bountygate exile has propelled the Saints to a 4-0 start after starting 0-4 last year.  The 2013 team is now drawing comparisons to the Super Bowl Champion team of 2009.

 

Atlanta is the bad luck team.  The 1-3 Falcons could easily be 4-0.  Their three losses have come against opponents that are 11-1.  This team will turn it around and win more than they lose, but the birds must pass a lot of teams to become playoff eligible.  They must finish 9-3 to make it into the conversation, and the schedule is not all that easy from here.

 

N F C West

Go ahead and put the Seahawks and 49ers into the playoffs.  You don’t have to pencil them in; you can use a pen—Seattle as the division champion and San Francisco as the number five seed.  Because Seattle hosts New Orleans in the regular season, we give the Seahawks the overwhelming edge to take the top mark in the conference and receive home field advantage to the Super Bowl.

 

St. Louis is one of the bigger disappointments.  The Rams are not going to figure in the playoff hunt this year, and as the season progresses, look for the fan support to wane.  If the baseball Cardinals continue to the World Series, and if the Missouri Tigers continue to win in the SEC, the Rams will become an afterthought.  Because of legal ramifications, there is a strong possibility that 2014 will be the Rams’ final season in St .Louis.  It is our belief that in 2015, the Los Angeles Rams will make their return to the NFL.

 

Arizona could win the NFC East, but the Cardinals will be lucky to finish 8-8 in the West.  Carson Palmer is always a threat to throw for 300+ yards and three touchdowns, but he is also a threat to lay an egg in a key game.

 

Here Are This Week’s NFL PiRate Ratings

Current NFL PiRate Ratings

N F C

East

PiRate

Mean

Biased

Dallas Cowboys

101.5

103.5

101.8

Washington Redskins

96.6

96.3

96.4

New York Giants

94.8

93.9

93.2

Philadelphia Eagles

92.8

94.1

92.5

 

 

 

 

North

PiRate

Mean

Biased

Green Bay Packers

106.3

104.9

105.6

Chicago Bears

102.9

102.9

102.4

Detroit Lions

101.0

103.1

101.0

Minnesota Vikings

97.5

96.5

96.7

       
South

PiRate

Mean

Biased

New Orleans Saints

106.0

108.3

106.8

Atlanta Falcons

102.1

101.5

101.3

Carolina Panthers

100.5

100.2

100.7

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

95.6

94.3

95.1

 

 

 

 

West

PiRate

Mean

Biased

Seattle Seahawks

108.5

108.5

108.8

San Francisco 49ers

105.2

105.1

105.4

Arizona Cardinals

94.9

97.3

95.2

St. Louis Rams

94.3

94.6

93.5

       

A F C

East

PiRate

Mean

Biased

New England Patriots

107.2

104.6

107.7

Miami Dolphins

99.6

100.4

100.2

Buffalo Bills

97.1

96.3

97.6

New York Jets

95.4

92.7

95.7

       
North

PiRate

Mean

Biased

Baltimore Ravens

102.9

101.2

102.2

Cincinnati Bengals

101.8

101.3

101.8

Cleveland Browns

98.0

98.8

98.7

Pittsburgh Steelers

95.2

93.5

93.9

       
South

PiRate

Mean

Biased

Indianapolis Colts

105.6

105.2

106.2

Houston Texans

102.6

102.1

102.8

Tennessee Titans

102.4

102.2

103.4

Jacksonville Jaguars

85.3

84.1

84.9

       
West

PiRate

Mean

Biased

Denver Broncos

112.4

113.8

113.1

Kansas City Chiefs

101.9

105.7

102.9

San Diego Chargers

99.9

101.6

100.6

Oakland Raiders

92.2

91.5

91.9

 

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Spreads

Home Visitor

PiRate

Mean

Bias

Cleveland Buffalo

3.9

5.5

4.1

Arizona Carolina

-2.1

0.6

-2.0

Chicago New Orleans

-0.1

-2.4

-1.4

Cincinnati New England

-2.4

-0.3

-2.9

Dallas Denver

-7.9

-7.3

-8.3

Green Bay Detroit

8.3

4.8

7.6

Indianapolis Seattle

0.6

0.2

0.9

Miami Baltimore

-0.3

2.2

1.0

N.Y. Giants Philadelphia

4.5

2.3

3.2

Oakland San Diego

-4.7

-7.1

-5.7

San Francisco Houston

5.6

6.0

5.6

St. Louis Jacksonville

12.0

13.5

11.6

Tennessee Kansas City

3.5

-0.5

3.5

Atlanta N.Y. Jets

9.7

11.8

8.6

   

 

 

 

Byes: Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington

 

 

 

 

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