In the immortal words of Leonard Nimoy: I am about to boldly go where The Power Rank’s predictive capability has never gone before.
OK. So that might be a slight misquote, but I’m sure if the NFL were popular on Vulcan he very well might have said it. After all, how could Spock resist the logic of The Power Rank algorithm?
A few weeks ago, I discussed playoff predictions and how The Power Rank’s best teams didn’t quite match up with the current playoff scenario at the time, in a very incomplete season. This week I’ve used The Power Rank’s week 14 ratings to project the victors of all games in the final three weeks of the season and calculated who will make the playoffs based on those projections.
One important modification had to be made, however, as The Power Rank’s ratings only account for a game in a neutral location. A common practice for football bettors is to give an automatic three points to the home team to compensate for the home field advantage. I used that convenient number to do the same with The Power Rank’s ratings when projecting the outcome of the remaining games in the season.
This three point home field bonus was surprisingly not a factor in most of the games. Instances where it did change the outcome of a game were generally very good match ups that will certainly be big games in the upcoming weeks.
Home Field Upset Number One – Bears (#12) over Jets (#10) in week 16. A battle between two of the NFL’s nastiest defenses fighting for a playoff spot in late December… it could be the tag line for a movie.
Home Field Upset Number Two – Rams (#25) over Chiefs (#16) in week 15. The Rams make a huge jump through that tightly packed middle to beat cross-state rivals. If this prediction is correct it locks up the Ram’s playoff spot and shuts Kansas City out.
Home Field Upset Number Three – Giants (#14) over Eagles (#6) in week 15. This one is huge. With the three point bonus, New York edges out Philly by a mere .08 points. If this tiniest of margins helps sway the game in favor of the Giants it will not only edge Green Bay (#3) out of the playoffs but also make a tie for division winner between the Eagles and Giants in overall record, head-to-head record, and division record. Even though both teams make the playoffs either way, a Giants win could bring the seeding into question.
Home Field Upset Number Four – Buccaneers (#21) over Lions (#19) in week 15. This… is not an exciting game. The Lions proved last week against the Packers that they could be potent playoff spoilers, but The Power Rank suggests that the Lions won’t thaw in time to win when visiting sunny Tampa Bay. This win helps Tampa eventually climb to 10-6, but they still fall short of the playoffs unless…
Non-Upset Big Game Number One – Buccaneers (#21) at New Orleans (#8) in week 17. The Power Rank predicts a solid victory for the Saints, but consider this a March Madness style play-in game. The Power Rank predicts both NFC South teams will enter this game at 10-5, meaning the winner will move on and the losers will go home. If both teams do show up tied expect a battle.
Check out the predictions for Week 15 here.
On to the winners…
The AFC doesn’t have many surprises as the top ranked teams finish strong and secure their playoff spots.
The NFC is a bit more jumbled. #3 ranked Green Bay feels the sting of five losses by a total of 16 points and doesn’t make it. Making Packer and Buccaneer fans especially angry is St. Louis limping in with the NFC West title and an 8-8 record.
So, 10 of the Power Rank’s top 12 are expected to make the cut. The exceptions are Green Bay (#3) and Cleveland (#11), with the Giants (#14) and St. Louis (#25) taking their place instead.