Based on Cleat Street’s EPA model, we continue to have the Kansas City Chiefs rated as the #1 team in the NFL. However, this week, we decided to shake things up and try something new. We have shown our model outputs with current QB injuries/COVID-19 restrictions taken into consideration:
Most Notable Callouts:
Baltimore Ravens: #27 without Lamar Jackson
San Francisco 49ers: #3 without Jimmy Garoppolo
New Orleans Saints: #9 without Drew Brees
Say what you want about Lamar Jackson and his struggles this season, but he is still the reigning MVP. Greg Roman and the Ravens offense has underperformed all season, but with Jackson out with COVID-19, the Ravens offense hit a new low against the Steelers. Despite a top-five defense, we see the Ravens as one of the worst teams in football without Jackson, no different from the Chicago Bears.
Coming off a Super Bowl appearance last season, the San Francisco 49ers have been decimated by injuries this season, losing 13 players to IR, including key starters such as Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, and Dee Ford. At 5-6, this explains why they have struggled, so why do we still have them graded as the third-best team in the NFL? Our EPA model takes into consideration strength-of-schedule, and simply put, the Niners have played well against strong teams, even in defeat. They also have two convincing victories over the Los Angeles Rams, who we have graded as the #2 team in the NFL based on EPA.
Lastly, the New Orleans Saints prove to be a complete team, coming in at #9 despite not having Drew Brees. His replacement, Taysom Hill, has not shown to be nearly as effective in the passing game, but has somewhat made up for it with his ability to run. With Brees, our EPA model has the Saints as the #2 team in the NFL.
Offense Power Rankings
Our EPA model continues to show no respect for the Miami Dolphins, grading them as the #23 offense in the NFL. Two other callouts to playoff-bound teams: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 11-0 Pittsburgh Steelers. We are quite low on the Bruce Arians-Tom Brady partnership in Tampa Bay and the undefeated Steelers, viewing them both as average offenses:
Defense Power Rankings
No real surprises here, with the exception of the Miami Dolphins, who remain stuck at #17. As mentioned in previous Power Rankings, only two of their starters played more than 10 games for them last season, and they have seven defensive starters that were not even on the team last year. Our heavy reliance on priors probably gives the Dolphins too little credit on defense: