The Pi-Rate Ratings

November 13, 2018

PiRate Ratings NFL Forecast For Week 11: November 15-19, 2018

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Spreads

Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias Totals
Seattle Green Bay 5.3 4.7 6.1 46.5
Detroit Carolina -1.3 -1.1 -1.8 51
Atlanta Dallas 3.7 3.5 4.1 45
Baltimore Cincinnati 9.3 9.3 9.2 45
Chicago Minnesota 4.2 3.7 5.0 45
New Orleans Philadelphia 13.0 13.1 14.0 50
Indianapolis Tennessee 1.6 0.3 2.0 45.5
Washington Houston 0.2 -0.6 0.2 45.5
N.Y. Giants Tampa Bay 3.4 3.6 3.2 47
L.A. Chargers Denver 6.7 7.8 7.7 44
Arizona Oakland 9.0 8.3 9.5 38.5
Jacksonville Pittsburgh -5.1 -5.8 -5.6 43.5
L.A. Rams * Kansas City -0.6 -0.2 -1.2 56.5
L. A. Rams Kansas City 2.4 2.8 1.8 56.5
* This is a neutral site game to be played in Mexico City

This game has now been moved back to LA due to unplayable field conditions in Mexico City.


This Week’s PiRate Ratings

East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals W-L
New England 104.5 104.9 104.6 104.7 23 7-3
N. Y. Jets 94.6 94.0 94.3 94.3 23 3-7
Miami 94.5 94.1 94.2 94.2 22 5-5
Buffalo 92.3 92.2 91.9 92.1 17 3-7
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals W-L
Pittsburgh 107.5 107.7 107.6 107.6 24 6-2-1
Baltimore 103.0 103.3 102.9 103.1 21 4-5
Cincinnati 96.7 97.0 96.7 96.8 24 5-4
Cleveland 95.8 96.1 96.5 96.1 24 3-6-1
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals W-L
Houston 101.0 101.1 101.2 101.1 24 6-3
Tennessee 100.2 100.5 100.1 100.3 19 5-4
Jacksonville 99.4 99.0 99.1 99.1 19.5 3-6
Indianapolis 98.9 97.8 99.0 98.6 26.5 4-5
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals W-L
Kansas City 107.7 108.0 108.1 107.9 28.5 9-1
LA Chargers 103.3 104.1 103.7 103.7 23 7-2
Denver 99.2 98.8 98.5 98.8 21 3-6
Oakland 89.8 89.8 89.3 89.6 20 1-8
East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals W-L
Philadelphia 101.4 101.5 101.0 101.3 22 4-5
Dallas 99.9 99.8 99.3 99.7 19.5 4-5
Washington 98.7 97.9 98.9 98.5 21.5 6-3
N.Y. Giants 95.5 95.5 95.6 95.5 20.5 2-7
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals W-L
Chicago 104.2 104.1 105.0 104.4 23.5 6-3
Minnesota 102.6 102.8 102.5 102.6 21.5 5-3-1
Green Bay 100.2 100.8 99.9 100.3 24.5 4-4-1
Detroit 98.9 98.8 98.6 98.8 26 3-6
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals W-L
New Orleans 111.4 111.6 112.0 111.7 28 8-1
Carolina 102.7 102.3 102.9 102.6 25 6-3
Atlanta 101.1 100.9 100.9 100.9 25.5 4-5
Tampa Bay 94.6 94.4 94.9 94.6 26.5 3-6
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals W-L
LA Rams 107.1 107.7 107.0 107.3 28 9-1
Seattle 102.5 102.5 103.0 102.7 22 4-5
Arizona 96.3 95.7 96.2 96.1 18.5 2-7
San Francisco 95.0 95.2 94.9 95.0 22.5 2-8


This Week’s NFL Playoff Projections

As we enter week 11, we add a look at current playoff standings if the season ended today.

Current Playoff Standings

1 Kansas City
2 Pittsburgh
3 New England
4 Houston
5 L.A. Chargers
6 Cincinnati


1 L.A. Rams
2 New Orleans
3 Chicago
4 Washington
5 Carolina
6 Minnesota


Our Projections 

AFC Seeding
1 L.A. Chargers
2 Pittsburgh
3 New England
4 Houston
5 Kansas City
6 Tennessee


NFC Seeding
1 New Orleans
2 L.A. Rams
3 Chicago
4 Washington
5 Carolina
6 Minnesota


Wildcard Round
New England over Tennessee
Houston over Kansas City
Chicago over Minnesota
Carolina over Washington


Divisional Round
L.A. Chargers over Houston
Pittsburgh over New England
New Orleans over Carolina
L.A. Rams over Chicago


Conference Championships
Pittsburgh over L.A. Chargers
New Orleans over L.A. Rams


Super Bowl 53
New Orleans over Pittsburgh


Can the New York Giants Pull Off The Nearly Impossible?

Prior to week 10, members of the New York Giants claimed to the media that they could win their final eight games and finish 9-7 and make the playoffs.  With a 1-7 record at the time of this statement, the chances of winning eight consecutive games and moving from last place to first place was so infinitesimal that the odds of winning the lottery were not much worse.

Yet, if the Giants were to win just one game in the first half of the schedule and then go undefeated in the second half of the schedule to win the division and make the playoffs, it would have precedent.  Yes, this has been done one time before in the post-merger era.

In fact, it was the first year of the merger between the NFL and former AFL.  In the AFC Central, the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers had moved from the former NFL Century Division along with Houston and Cincinnati.  Entering the season, Cleveland was the heavy favorite to breeze to the division title and the second pick to the Baltimore Colts (Which had moved from the NFL Coastal Division to the AFC East Division, as it was ridiculous for the Colts and Rams to be in the same division).  The Browns had advanced to the NFL Championship Game in 1969 and returned the bulk of their roster.

Pittsburgh had been the worst team in the NFL in 1969, going 1-13.  Still, the Steelers were expected to contend with a mediocre Houston Oilers team for second place in the division, but nobody expected either team to contend with Cleveland or for the newly created single Wildcard spot for the AFC.

And, then there was Cincinnati.  The Bengals had been in existence for just two seasons.  They were a dismal 3-11 in 1968, but in 1969, they had one fantastic rookie quarterback.  Greg Cook, a local hero who had been a star quarterback at Chillicothe High School and the University of Cincinnati, had been the Bengals’ first round pick in the  1969 draft.  Cook immediately won the starting quarterback job in training camp.  He was a gunslinger type passer, typical of the type of quarterback that made the AFL more exciting than the conservative NFL.  The Bengals, led by legendary coach Paul Brown, rarely threw short passes.  Their strategy was to stretch the field vertically to open up running lanes for their two starting running backs, halfback Paul Robinson fullback Jess Phillips.

Cook’s debut was similar to Pat Mahomes this year with the Chiefs.  In his very first game, the Bengals beat Miami thanks to two long touchdown passes from Cook to receiver Eric Crabtree.  Nobody thought too much of the game, since the Dolphins were also an expansion team that had yet to build up a decent roster.  In week two, Cincinnati hosted a San Diego Chargers team that was a contender for the AFL West title.  The Chargers were big favorites, and Cook once again hooked up for two long touchdown passes, one to Bob Trumpy and one to future head coach Bruce Coslet.

At 2-0, the Bengals picked up a little notice, but week three was going to obviously be their week for comeuppance.  The powerful Kansas City Chiefs with the best defense in AFL history were coming to the Queen City.  Cook would have no chance against the best defensive line in all of football, the line that would lead KC to the Super Bowl title in a few months.  Because of the great start, NBC made this their nationally televised AFL Game in the early time slot, and yours truly was perched in front of the big Zenith TV watching this game in all hopes that the new phenom could become another Joe Namath and Daryle Lamonica for the much “funner” AFL.

Cook once again opened this game with brilliant passing plays to set up his running backs.  After spotting the Chiefs a couple of field goals, Cook led the Bengals on a scoring drive that ended with a scoring pass to Crabtree.  The Bengals led 7-6, but their history was about to be changed forever.  In the second quarter, Cook dropped back to pass and faced a Chiefs’ blitz by the outside linebackers.  Chiefs’ outside linebacker Jim Lynch knocked Cook to the ground, forcing all his weight on Cook’s throwing shoulder.  Cook would later say he heard his shoulder pop, and he exited the game with intense pain.

The Bengals hung on to win behind back up QB and future head coach Sam Wyche.  They were an incredible 3-0 and led the AFL West over the Chiefs and Raiders.  However, their gunslinger was out of bullets for the next three weeks.  Had doctors been able to diagnose a torn rotator cuff, they would have held Cook out for the rest of the year, but 1969 was a different time.  Cook was expected to come back and play in four weeks, maybe even less if he felt strong enough to throw.

He came back two weeks later, because the Bengals could not move the ball without him in the lineup.  They failed at San Diego and fell to 3-1.  Cook wasn’t ready to face the second best defense in the league in the New York Jets.  He could not get any strength behind his passes, and the Jets’ pass rush forced him to throw quickly in fear of further hurting his shoulder.  He didn’t last a half.  He had to leave the game in the second quarter, and the Bengals lost to the Jets by 14.  It was a mistake for him to try to play, and his shoulder hurt worse than it had after the initial injury.

Cook was held out of play the next two weeks, and the Bengals looked more like the expansion team they were.  A weak Denver team pummeled them, and then the Chiefs punished them in a revenge match at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City.  The loss dropped the Bengals to 3-4 at the halfway mark.  Cincinnati would have to win out to have any chance of making the playoffs, and they had yet to play the powerhouse team of the league, the Oakland Raiders.

Oakland had yet to lose a game in 1969.  This Raiders’ team looked as strong if not stronger than the two previous teams that went 13-1 and 12-2.  At 6-0-1, Oakland led Kansas City by a half-game.  Once again, this was the nationally televised AFL game on NBC that week, and yours truly sat in front of the ole Zenith ready to route the silver and black to an easy victory.

Cook made his last hurrah in this game.  Brown showed his genius in this game.  He used his wideouts as decoys, sending them deep, while placing his tight ends to run intermediate routes over the middle.  Cook hit Trumpy over and over across the middle, setting up third receiver Chip Myers as a surprise.  The strategy worked, and thanks to the Bengals’ defense picking off a trio of Lamonica passes in the first half, Cinti led 24-0 at the half on way to an easy 31-17 victory.  It would be Oakland’s only loss of the season, and it would be the Bengals’ last win of the season.

Cook limped through the rest of the year unable to put any zip on the ball, and the Bengals finished 4-9-1 and in last place in the AFL West.  Prospects were still high for the Bengals, because after an off-season of rest Cook would be ready to return to form in 1970.

However, things did not go according to plan.  Cook never again regained his arm strength as his rotator cuff injury did not heal itself on its own.  He would never again start a game for the Bengals or anybody else.  He appeared briefly in one game four years later, but it was obvious that he would never again be an NFL quarterback.

The Bengals entered 1970 picked to finish in last place, because Sam Wyche was not the quarterback to lead a team to victory in the new AFC.  He didn’t have the arm accuracy of Cook, and he lacked the finesse to hit shorter passes with much success.  The Bengals would have to try to win by pounding the ball with Phillips, Robinson, and new addition Essex Johnson.

In week one, the Bengals pulled off their miracle for the season, or at least that’s what most sports fans believed.  The three running backs combined for 200 rushing yards, and Wyche even contributed with his legs, scoring a rushing touchdown.  Cincinnati upset Oakland once again.

Over the next six weeks, the Bengals performed exactly like they were expected to perform–miserably.  In their first interconference game in their history, Detroit ran over them like a fleet of automobiles leaving the plant.  The passing stats were plain awful–64 yards!  Losses piled up against Houston, Cleveland, Kansas City, Washington, and Pittsburgh.

At the halfway point of the season, Cleveland led the AFC Central with a disappointing 4-3 record.  As expected, Pittsburgh and Houston fought for second place.  The Steelers were 3-4, while the Oilers were 2-4-1.  The Bengals were 1-6, and it looked like a similar second half would give Cincinnati the chance to draft at the top of the 1970 Draft, where Jim Plunkett and Archie Manning were there for the taking.

The Bengals players refused to give up.  A smart future NFL legend was on the Brown’s staff, and he came to Brown with an idea.  Insert backup Virgil Carter at quarterback for Wyche.  Carter had flamed out in Chicago, where he was best when he turned and handed the ball to Gayle Sayers.  Carter had an accurate arm and rather quick ability to read defenses, but his arm strength limited the types of passes he could throw.  Anything longer than 20 yards downfield looked like a beach ball floating to defensive backs.

This intelligent assistant was Bill Walsh.  His idea was what we know today as the West Coast Offense, but it should have been called the Ohio River offense.  Walsh went to Brown with ideas to spread the field horizontally and use all 53 plus yards from sideline to sideline, which would also create holes for the backs to run through, and better yet, more defensive players would be out of position to make tackles if they were spread wide.

Carter had actually become the starting quarterback a few weeks earlier, but it wasn’t until the Bengals went to War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo that the new strategy was implemented.  At 3-4, the Bills were going nowhere, but they had a rookie running back that had to be stopped in O.J. Simpson.  The Bengals figured the best way to stop Simpson was to keep the ball out of Simpson’s hands.  They tried their new ball-control short passing strategy.  It had only mediocre success, but the Bengals’ defense and special teams scored three touchdowns and set up another, as Cincinnati rolled to a 43-14 victory to improve to 2-6.  Cleveland lost to Oakland to fall into a first place tie with Pittsburgh at 4-4, while Houston fell to 2-5-1.  The Bengals were still in last place, but there was a glimmer of hope just two games behind the co-leaders.

In week 9, Cleveland came to Riverfront Stadium in the most important game in the Bengals’ early franchise history.  With Pittsburgh having to play the Chiefs, there was a chance that Cincinnati could finish the day just one game behind the two co-leaders.

Of course, this meant that Cincinnati had to win against their bitter enemy, the team named for their own coach.  It was a cold and windy day, and long passes were not easy to attempt.  Cleveland QB Mike Phipps saw some early success, but he could do nothing else once the winds picked up.  The Bengals shut down Leroy Kelly, and after trailing 10-0, they slowly came back with their short passing game.  The biggest threat this day came off the passing game, but it did not necessarily come from the passes themselves.  Carter noticed that the Browns’ linebackers were dropping wide into the flat zones, as Cleveland tried to take away the short hook and out patterns.  It left a gaping hole in the middle of the field, and when the Browns rushed from the outside-in, it looked to Carter like he could have driven his car in the opening.  Carter actually topped 100 yards rushing for the only time in his career, and Cincinnati upset the Browns.

Pittsburgh lost to the Chiefs, while Houston lost again.  Now, the Browns and Steelers were tied at 4-5, while Cincnnati was 3-6 and Houston was 2-6-1.  The Bengals could see their opportunity.  They were all of a sudden the only hot team in the division.  They truly believed that they would keep winning.  Better yet, the schedule got easier from this point on.

Pittsburgh came to Riverfront the next week, and the Bengals were now a short favorite to win the game.  While Cleveland put Houston out of their misery to square their record at 5-5, Cincinnati blew the Steelers off the astroturf.  Terry Bradshaw lasted long enough to toss three interceptions before getting yanked in favor of Terry Hanratty, but by then, the outcome had been decided.  Pinpoint passing by Carter, solid running by Robinson, and a solid effort by the defense led the Bengals to another blowout win.  Now, after 10 weeks, Cleveland could hear the roar of the Bengals.  The Browns still led the division at 5-5, but Cincinnati was 4-6, while Pittsburgh was also 4-6, making this an exciting race down the stretch

In week 11, Cincinnati benefited from having the worst team in the NFC come to town, and the Bengals clawed New Orleans for an easy victory.  Meanwhile, the Steelers knocked off the Browns, roughing up Phipps and forcing old veteran Bill Nelsen to finish the game.  The three teams were now tied at 5-6, and the media were starting to get on the Bengals’ bandwagon.

Week 12 was the big one.  Cincinnati’s only really tough remaining game took them across the continent to San Diego to face a Chargers team fighting in a three-way race in the AFC West.  It was a must-win game for both teams.  San Diego would be all but eliminated with a loss, while a win and losses by the Raiders and Chiefs would give them a chance to sneak in at the end.

The game was a tough defensive struggle, and for the only time since the implementation of the short passing game, Cincinnati could not move the ball with short passes.  San Diego begged Carter to throw long, and when he did, he was off target.  The Bengals would finish with zero net passing yards this Sunday, and the running game would manage 136 yards.  Few teams win NFL games with 136 total yards, but when you have the best punt returner in football in Lemar Parrish, sometimes you win games on 83-yard punt returns, which is what Cincinnati did when they edged the Chargers by three.

Cleveland topped a breathless Oilers team, but Pittsburgh lost to Green Bay.  The Bengals and Browns stayed tied at 6-6, while Pittsburgh was still in the race at 5-7, but obviously on the verge of elimination.

Week 13 saw the NFL experts picking the obvious.  Cincinnati played at the breathless Oilers, while Cleveland was forced to play the other hot team in the league in Dallas.  The Bengals had no trouble quickly topping the Oilers, rushing for close to 200 yards, while Carter got some rest in the second half.  At the same time, Cleveland could not move the ball at all against the surging Cowboys.  They lost a defensive struggle where they could only muster a safety.  Now, with one week to play, Cincinnati led the division at 7-6, while Cleveland was 6-7.  Pittsburgh lost to Atlanta and was eliminated at 5-8.

All Cincinnati had to do to complete the miraculous turnaround from 1-6 to 8-6 was to top a weak 2-11 Boston Patriots team at Riverfront Stadium.  Cleveland had to beat Denver, as they held the tiebreaker over the Bengals should both teams finish 7-7.

It was never in doubt.  Boston was now in star franchise quarterback mode.  A loss to the Bengals would give the Patriots their choice of Plunkett or Manning.  They wanted Plunkett, and they were sure to get him.  The Patriots looked worse than the 1976 Tampa Bay Bucs would look in six years.  Cincinnati looked like the 1962 Green Bay Packers this day, as they rolled to a 45-7 victory.  Carter’s day was over early, after he went 3 for 3 for 96 yards and a TD.  Cincinnati had done the almost impossible–going from last place and 1-6 in the first half to first place and 7-0 in the second half.  The Bengals were inept against eventual Super Bowl Champion Baltimore in the first round of the playoffs when the Colts used the same tactics as the Chargers to stop the Cincinnati short passing game.  It was still an incredible year to remember in the Queen City, as a third year team won its division.

Now, can the 2018 New York Giants go from 1-7 to 9-7 and win the division?  Chances are less than the chances Cincinnati faced for multiple reasons.

First, the team at the top of the standings, Washington, is 6-3.  The Browns were never three games over .500 in 1970.  It’s possible that the Redskins could go 2-5 the rest of the way, but chances are less than 50-50 that will happen.

Second, Dallas and Philadelphia are not Pittsburgh and Houston.  You have the reigning World Champions that have yet to find their way in 2018, but they are not likely to fold.  Dallas may be an 8-8 team at best, but just one upset in the final weeks could move the Cowboys to 9-7.

Lastly, this Giants team just isn’t good enough to win eight consecutive games.  All they have done so far is beat a lowly 49ers team on Monday Night Football.  Unlike the Bengals in 1970, the 2018 Giants have a tough, almost brutal, closing schedule.  They are one-point favorites over Tampa Bay this week, but they will be underdogs in the rest of their games against the Eagles, Bears, Redskins, Titans, Colts, and Cowboys.  The more likely scenario is a 4-12 finish and not a 9-7 finish.




  1. can someone please explain to me what these numbers mean in regards to the NFL

    Comment by Cole Uvila — November 17, 2018 @ 4:52 pm

    • We have three different ratings, each slightly different than the other two only in how we calculate the data we use.

      The columns go Home Team, Visitor, PiRate, Mean, Bias. If you see a positive number, then the home team is favored by that number in the particular rating. If you see a negative number, then the visiting team is favored by that number in the particular rating.

      For instance, if you see Baltimore for the home team, Cincinnati for the visitor, 9.3, 9.3, and 9.2, this means that the PiRate Rating favors Bal by 9.3; the mean rating also favors Bal by 9.3, and the Bias rating favors Bal by 9.2. The last number is the expected total points predicted to be scored.

      On occasion, you will see that one rating favors one team, while two ratings favor the other team. This week’s Washington-Houston game is an example of that situation.

      All of our ratings are predictive in nature and not retrodictive. This means that these ratings do not rank the teams based on what they have done so far, but only try to predict what they will do in the next game.

      Comment by piratings — November 17, 2018 @ 7:48 pm

      • Thank you so much!

        Comment by Cole Uvila — November 19, 2018 @ 12:55 pm

  2. How often are these ratings updated throughout the week as actives/inactives are announced which can sway the outcome of a matchup?

    Comment by Jun Sellers — November 18, 2018 @ 9:08 am

    • Due to the fact that we submit our ratings to the Prediction Tracker (college on Monday & NFL on Tuesday), we do not update the ratings after the Prediction Tracker publishes them. At this point in the season, only a starting quarterback is going to greatly affect a teams’ power rating, and we do our best to determine which QBs are out for Sunday when we look at Tuesday morning’s news. Because these are computerized power ratings, we cannot really fudge with the numbers other than including the injuries in a team’s home field advantage or road field disadvantage.

      We will consider all injuries when we post our just for fun selections against the Spread on Wednesdays, and our Land Sharps also carefully research their selections before making them.

      We did have a late update for this week’s games, but that was due to the Monday Night Football game being moved from a neutral site to the Coliseum where it became a true home game for the Rams.

      Comment by piratings — November 18, 2018 @ 1:52 pm

      • Thank you for your reply! Coincidentally, the game that triggered my inquiry was the Baltimore/Cincinnati game with the news of Jackson getting the start. Is it fair to say that the ratings for this game was predicted with Flacco in the lineup or did it already take Jackson getting the start into consideration?

        Comment by Jun Sellers — November 18, 2018 @ 5:13 pm

  3. The ratings for the Ravens game were published before it was known that Flacco would miss the game. Had we known this on Tuesday last week, our spread would have been adjusted by about 6 points, making Baltimore about a 3.3 point favorite. They won by three points, so adjusting their ratings this week will be minimal. If Flacco continues to miss time, then the rating will be adjusted in the home field advantage and road team disadvantage. But, if Lamar Jackson continues to rush for 100 yards per game while Gus Edwards performs admirably, it could lead to the Ravens’ rating going up rather than down. Having two runners combine for 200+ rushing yards is very 1970’s Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers. If you are old enough to remember, these teams won a lot of games and championships. With defenses built to rush the QB and slow the passing game today, a team with a running attack that can attack the inside and outside with power and deception could be very successful, especially in terrible weather conditions of December and January.

    Comment by piratings — November 19, 2018 @ 9:38 am

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