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Wild Card Round True Power Rankings: Chiefs back in second place to close the season

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The Chiefs hold steady with the number-crunchers and return to second place in the final combined rankings

As we saw on Tuesday’s pundit power rankings, the Kansas City Chiefs got a boost from the pundits for their lopsided 35-3 victory over the Oakland Raiders to close the regular season on Sunday, but it doesn’t count for as much with the number-crunchers. So the Chiefs hold steady in the data-based models, and with Tuesday’s boost, return to second place in the season’s final Arrowhead Pride True Power Rankings.

Here’s how the crunchers see the NFL after the final week of the regular season.

Cruncher Power Rankings for Week 18

Chiefs AFC West Teams Other AFC Teams

Rank Team Elo DVOA SRS PE
1
(1)
Saints (1)
13-3
1
(1)
4
(3)
1
(1)
2
(1)
2
(2)
Chiefs (1)
12-4
2
(2)
1
(1)
2
(3)
5
(5)
3
(3)
Rams (2)
13-3
5
(4)
2
(4)
3
(2)
3
(4)
4
(5)
Bears (3)
12-4
3
(6)
5
(6)
5
(6)
1
(2)
5
(4)
Ravens (4)
10-6
6
(5)
6
(5)
4
(4)
4
(3)
6
(6)
Chargers (5)
12-4
7
(7)
3
(2)
6
(7)
7
(6)
7
(7)
Patriots (2)
11-5
3
(3)
7
(7)
8
(9)
6
(8)
8
(9)
Steelers
9-6-1
9
(10)
9
(8)
7
(5)
11
(11)
Rank Team Elo DVOA SRS PE
9
(10)
Colts (6)
10-6
11
(14)
8
(9)
11
(11)
9
(9)
10
(8)
Seahawks (5)
10-6
10
(8)
12
(10)
9
(7)
10
(7)
11
(12)
Texans (3)
11-5
14
(15)
11
(13)
10
(10)
8
(10)
12
(13)
Eagles (6)
9-7
7
(8)
15
(18)
12
(15)
13
(16)
13
(11)
Vikings
-7-1
13
(11)
10
(11)
15
(12)
12
(12)
14
(15)
Cowboys (4)
10-6
12
(12)
21
(22)
13
(14)
14
(14)
14
(19)
Panthers
7-9
16
(18)
14
(16)
14
(20)
16
(19)
16
(18)
Falcons
7-9
15
(16)
17
(17)
17
(17)
17
(18)
Rank Team Elo DVOA SRS PE
17
(14)
Titans
9-7
17
(13)
20
(20)
16
(13)
15
(13)
18
(17)
Broncos
6-10
22
(20)
13
(12)
19
(16)
18
(17)
19
(20)
Browns
7-8-1
19
(22)
17
(19)
18
(19)
20
(20)
20
(16)
Packers
6-9-1
20
(17)
19
(14)
22
(18)
19
(15)
21
(21)
Giants
5-11
25
(25)
15
(15)
20
(21)
22
(21)
22
(26)
Lions
6-10
18
(21)
26
(30)
23
(26)
21
(26)
23
(23)
Buccaneers
5-11
24
(24)
24
(26)
21
(22)
23
(22)
24
(22)
Jaguars
5-11
20
(19)
22
(21)
25
(23)
27
(25)
Rank Team Elo DVOA SRS PE
25
(25)
Bengals
6-10
27
(27)
23
(23)
24
(25)
24
(27)
26
(24)
Redskins
7-9
26
(23)
29
(27)
26
(23)
26
(23)
27
(31)
Bills
6-10
23
(28)
28
(31)
28
(30)
30
(31)
28
(29)
49ers
4-12
28
(29)
30
(29)
27
(27)
25
(28)
29
(27)
Jets
4-12
31
(31)
25
(24)
29
(28)
28
(24)
30
(28)
Dolphins
7-9
29
(26)
27
(25)
30
(29)
29
(29)
31
(30)
Raiders
4-12
30
(30)
31
(28)
31
(31)
31
(30)
32
(32)
Cardinals
3-13
32
(32)
32
(32)
32
(32)
32
(32)
Numbers in parentheses are the previous week's ranking.
The left-hand column is the average of all rankings.
Other questions?
Read the True Power Rankings Methodology

The Chiefs hold steady or improve in all of the data-based models, and remain in second place.

On Tuesday, we saw how the pundits placed all of the playoff teams somewhere in the top 12 of the rankings. This is to be expected since the pundits know they will look dumb if they put playoff teams outside of the top 12.

But the crunchers don’t care; the data says what it says. Still, the conclusion is not much different. On Tuesday, the pundits saw the Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles as the most likely teams to make an early exit from the postseason. The crunchers identify the same four teams — just in a somewhat different order.

From the crunchers’ point of view, the Cowboys’ postseason chances look pretty grim, the New England Patriots got a much better seeding than they probably deserve, and the Pittsburgh Steelers... well, like USA Today’s Nate Davis said on Tuesday, they’d probably like to forget this season as soon as possible. That tie against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1 — along with losses to the likes of the Denver Broncos and the Raiders — not only kept the Steelers out of a playoff spot they might easily have deserved, but it pretty much set the tone for the whole season.

It’s nice to see other teams fail to take care of business against lesser opponents, isn’t it?

When we throw the cruncher rankings in with the pundit rankings, here’s what we get as the regular season concludes.

True Power Rankings for Week 18

Chiefs AFC West Teams Other AFC Teams

Rank Team Pundits Crunchers
1
(1)
Saints (1)
13-3
1
(1)
1
(1)
2
(3)
Chiefs (1)
12-4
2
(3)
2
(2)
3
(2)
Rams (2)
13-3
4
(2)
3
(3)
4
(4)
Bears (3)
12-4
3
(4)
4
(5)
5
(7)
Patriots (2)
11-5
5
(5)
7
(7)
6
(5)
Ravens (4)
10-6
7
(7)
5
(4)
7
(6)
Chargers (5)
12-4
6
(6)
6
(6)
8
(10)
Colts (6)
10-6
8
(10)
9
(10)
Rank Team Pundits Crunchers
9
(8)
Seahawks (5)
10-6
10
(8)
10
(8)
10
(11)
Texans (3)
11-5
9
(9)
11
(12)
11
(9)
Steelers
9-6-1
13
(12)
8
(9)
12
(14)
Eagles (6)
9-7
12
(15)
12
(13)
13
(13)
Cowboys (4)
10-6
11
(11)
14
(15)
14
(12)
Vikings
-7-1
15
(13)
13
(11)
15
(15)
Titans
9-7
14
(14)
17
(14)
16
(17)
Browns
7-8-1
16
(16)
19
(20)
Rank Team Pundits Crunchers
17
(18)
Falcons
7-9
17
(19)
16
(18)
18
(20)
Panthers
7-9
19
(21)
14
(19)
19
(16)
Packers
6-9-1
18
(17)
20
(16)
20
(19)
Broncos
6-10
24
(22)
18
(17)
21
(21)
Giants
5-11
20
(22)
21
(21)
22
(27)
Lions
6-10
23
(27)
22
(26)
23
(24)
Buccaneers
5-11
26
(25)
23
(23)
24
(28)
Bills
6-10
22
(24)
27
(31)
Rank Team Pundits Crunchers
25
(26)
Bengals
6-10
27
(26)
25
(25)
26
(23)
Dolphins
7-9
21
(18)
30
(28)
27
(22)
Redskins
7-9
25
(20)
26
(24)
28
(25)
Jaguars
5-11
30
(29)
24
(22)
29
(29)
49ers
4-12
28
(28)
28
(29)
30
(30)
Jets
4-12
29
(30)
29
(27)
31
(31)
Raiders
4-12
31
(31)
31
(30)
32
(32)
Cardinals
3-13
32
(32)
32
(32)
Numbers in parentheses are the previous week's ranking.
The left-hand column is the average of all rankings.
Other questions?
Read the True Power Rankings Methodology

No big surprise here: the Chiefs move back into second place in the combined rankings.

As far as the crunchers have been concerned, the Chiefs have been no worse than third since Week 3 of the season. As we might expect, the pundits have been a little less generous with a small-market Midwestern team — but not really by all that much.

In fact, if you want to see an example of consistent media disrespect in 2018, the Baltimore Ravens probably have the best case.

The Chicago Bears could make a case for media disrespect, too.

As always, we suspect that teams like the Patriots get all the media love. While this is generally true, it wasn’t quite to the extent you might have imagined in 2018.

Now let’s move on to our final reality-check of the season: the Week 18 cruncher grades.

Cruncher Grades for Week 18

Chiefs AFC West Teams Other AFC Teams

Team AvgGrade Elo DVOA SRS PE
Chiefs (1)
12-4
B
(B)
B
(B)
A-
(B+)
B
(B)
B-
(B-)
Saints (1)
13-3
B
(B+)
B
(A-)
B-
(B)
B+
(A-)
B
(B+)
Rams (2)
13-3
B
(B)
B-
(B-)
B
(B)
B
(B)
B-
(B-)
Bears (3)
12-4
B-
(B-)
B-
(C+)
B-
(B-)
B-
(C+)
B
(B)
Ravens (4)
10-6
B-
(B-)
B-
(B-)
B-
(B-)
B-
(B-)
B-
(B-)
Chargers (5)
12-4
B-
(B-)
B-
(C+)
B
(B)
B-
(C+)
B-
(C+)
Patriots (2)
11-5
B-
(C+)
B-
(B-)
C+
(C+)
C+
(C+)
B-
(C+)
Steelers
9-6-1
C+
(C+)
C+
(C+)
C+
(C+)
C+
(B-)
C+
(C+)
Team AvgGrade Elo DVOA SRS PE
Colts (6)
10-6
C+
(C+)
C+
(C+)
C+
(C+)
C+
(C+)
C+
(C+)
Seahawks (5)
10-6
C+
(C+)
C+
(C+)
C+
(C+)
C+
(C+)
C+
(C+)
Texans (3)
11-5
C+
(C+)
C+
(C)
C+
(C)
C+
(C+)
C+
(C+)
Eagles (6)
9-7
C+
(C)
B-
(C+)
C
(C)
C
(C)
C
(C)
Vikings
-7-1
C+
(C+)
C+
(C+)
C+
(C+)
C
(C)
C
(C+)
Cowboys (4)
10-6
C
(C)
C+
(C+)
C
(C-)
C
(C)
C
(C)
Panthers
7-9
C
(C)
C
(C-)
C
(C)
C
(C)
C
(C)
Titans
9-7
C
(C)
C
(C+)
C
(C)
C
(C)
C
(C+)
Team AvgGrade Elo DVOA SRS PE
Falcons
7-9
C
(C)
C
(C)
C
(C)
C
(C)
C
(C)
Broncos
6-10
C
(C)
C-
(C-)
C+
(C+)
C
(C)
C
(C)
Browns
7-8-1
C
(C)
C-
(C-)
C
(C)
C
(C)
C
(C-)
Packers
6-9-1
C-
(C)
C-
(C)
C
(C)
C-
(C)
C
(C)
Giants
5-11
C-
(C-)
C-
(C-)
C
(C)
C-
(C-)
C-
(C-)
Lions
6-10
C-
(C-)
C
(C-)
C-
(D+)
C-
(C-)
C-
(C-)
Buccaneers
5-11
C-
(C-)
C-
(C-)
C-
(C-)
C-
(C-)
C-
(C-)
Jaguars
5-11
C-
(C-)
C-
(C-)
C-
(C)
C-
(C-)
C-
(C-)
Team AvgGrade Elo DVOA SRS PE
Bengals
6-10
C-
(C-)
D+
(D+)
C-
(C-)
C-
(C-)
C-
(C-)
Redskins
7-9
C-
(C-)
C-
(C-)
D+
(C-)
C-
(C-)
C-
(C-)
49ers
4-12
D+
(D+)
D+
(D+)
D+
(D+)
C-
(C-)
C-
(C-)
Bills
6-10
D+
(D)
C-
(D+)
D+
(D)
D+
(D)
D+
(D-)
Dolphins
7-9
D+
(D+)
D+
(D+)
C-
(C-)
D
(D+)
D+
(D+)
Jets
4-12
D+
(D+)
D
(D)
C-
(C-)
D
(D+)
D+
(C-)
Raiders
4-12
D
(D)
D
(D+)
D+
(D+)
D
(D)
D-
(D)
Cardinals
3-13
F+
(F+)
D
(D-)
F
(F)
F+
(F+)
F+
(F+)
Grades in parentheses are the previous week's grade.
Other questions?
Read the True Power Rankings Methodology

As we’ve seen several times, there’s a small difference in how the teams are ranked when we average the numbers behind rankings — rather than the rankings themselves — and that math put the Chiefs at the top of the heap.

But let’s not get too excited, OK? The difference between the Chiefs and the New Orleans Saints is the difference between 1.54473 and 1.49318 — which in the world of standard deviations from average is completely insignificant; on a neutral field, these two teams would probably each win five out of ten games.

But now with seven teams — instead of the usual five or six — showing B grades at the end of the season, we can see which teams are the most likely to have postseason success. But we also see that the NFC is going to be a dogfight, while in the AFC, the Chiefs have a measurable — albeit statistically insignificant — edge over the other AFC contenders.

Hmmm. Maybe it’s not so crazy to think the Chiefs could make it to Atlanta.


Thanks for coming along on this ride during the 2018 season. Once again, we’d love to have your feedback. Did you like this weekly dive into this data, or was it silly? What could we do better?

And with that... we’re off to the postseason!