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League favorites, overall wins and the best (and worst) teams in the NFL: insights from the forecasts for 2021

That Kansas City Chiefs could have lost Super Bowl LV, but they are still the NFL team to beat this season, according to the new one ESPN Football Power Index (FPI) forecasts for 2021.

FPI, launched on Monday, is a forward-looking projection model that includes: reviews and Projections for every team, from forecast win-loss records to percentages to win each division.

A full explanation of how FPI works can be found here here, but here’s the abridged version: the model determines forward-looking strength ratings for each team based on a variety of factors including the team’s total winning amount, forecast starting quarterback, returning starters, and past performance in attack, defense, and specialty teams. FPI then uses these ratings to simulate the season 20,000 times to make forecasts.

For the FPI version 2021, we’ve made some under-the-hood improvements, including an updated one expected points added Model and a better predictive quarterback rating system. But the results are all the same: we’re still talking about football – and each team’s chances of success – which now has 17 regular season games and an expanded playoff field.

Let’s dive into the FPI forecasts for 2021 with the 10 greatest insights. And we start with the chiefs:

More:
Complete team-by-team FPI projections
Team-by-team-strength-of-schedule ranking

The Chiefs are still Super Bowl favorites

Yes, the Chiefs – not the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers – are expected to be the best team and also have the best chance of lifting the Lombardi trophy next February.

Kansas City would be preferred to Tampa Bay on a neutral field by 1.3 points if the teams competed for a rematch tomorrow, FPI believes. And the Chiefs would be at least 3.5 points clear of any team outside of the Bucs, Bills, and Ravens.

No wonder: it is Patrick Mahomes-guided crime – including Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and a modified offensive line – this is groundbreaking and more than 2.5 points per game better than the second best offensive (Green Bay). Kansas City’s mediocre defense (# 11 in the league, per FPI) is no problem with that kind of strength on the other side of the ball.

The Chiefs rank # 1 in almost every prediction you can think of, including predicted wins (11.5) and odds of making the playoffs (89%), winning their division (72%), the To be number 1 in the AFC (32%) and reach the Super Bowl (30%).

With a 19% chance of winning the Super Bowl, the Chiefs are slightly above average for the league favorite going into the season. FPI has been making preseason forecasts every year since 2015, and Chiefs 2021 are third out of the seven favorites, behind Patriots 2017 (32%) and 2020 Chiefs (22%). Both teams lost in the Super Bowl.

Of course, don’t sleep on the rest of the league. While Kansas City’s 19% chance of winning the Super Bowl could be higher than any other team’s, FPI also says there is a 4-in-5 chance that a team other than the Chiefs will win the Super Bowl . Here are the 10 teams most likely to win the Super Bowl LV:


The most likely Super Bowl match is … a rematch

Kansas City vs. Tampa Bay is still not the but probably. FPI believes there is an 8% chance the Chiefs will face the Bucs again, more than any other potential matchup.

The Bucs, while not quite on par with Kansas City, remain the favorite in the NFC and are the only other team in double digits in terms of their chances of winning the Super Bowl. Your strategy too run it back with almost the same roster looks (on paper) like it might pay off; the Bucs have an 85 percent chance of making the playoffs and a 15 percent chance of repeating themselves as champions, according to the FPI. These numbers are driven by two factors:

  • FPI predicts they have the best defense in the league. The Bucs ended the season, including the playoffs, with the sixth most efficient defense under coordinator Todd Bowles. FPI believes they will take another step forward this season. The model gains confidence from all the returning starters from an already good unit. On the other side of the ball Tom Brady & Co. are expected to be number 5 of the offenses.

  • The NFC, with two of the six best teams in the FPI rating, is a little less threatening than the AFC. And NFC South doesn’t have any other teams in FPI’s top 10.

Here are the 10 most likely Super Bowl LV matches:


The difference between the packers with and without Aaron Rodgers is everything

That Green Bay Packer are clearly Super Bowl contenders. They are the fifth best team in football and, according to the FPI, have the fourth best chance of winning everything with a 6% shot. They’re giving back the 2020 MVP and had the most efficient offensive in the league last year – yes, even better than Kansas City’s.

But it wasn’t always so certain that FPI would love to give Green Bay. With Rodgers ‘future pending over the summer, so did the Packers’ predictions. Had Rodgers simply decided to retire instead of dressing, Green Bay’s chances of making the playoffs would have dropped from 70% to 24% and their Super Bowl chances of 6% to … 0.2%.


The Ravens and Browns are contenders, but they harm each other

The AFC North has two major Super Bowl threats in Baltimore and Cleveland. And while the effect isn’t dramatic, each would be a little better off if the other weren’t there. That Ravens and Shades of brown Fourth and sixth in the FPI standings – a true level of talent, basically – but the odds of making the playoffs and winning the Super Bowl are fifth and seventh.

The fact that they have to compete against each other twice and fight for the same division crown are limiting factors when it comes to overall victory and the chance of the coveted top seed in the AFC. While this is a long chance with Kansas City in conference, both the Ravens and Browns have at least a 10% chance of making it.

Baltimore is well balanced, with predicted offensive and defensive (and specialty teams!) Each ranking in the top 10. In contrast, FPI is optimistic about Cleveland’s offensive – the one behind the Chiefs and Packers in the league, but ahead of the Bills in third place – but gives the Browns the 18th best defense.

For the division title, Baltimore is a slim favorite over the Browns: 43% versus 40%.


Which team is most likely to vote # 1 in the 2022 NFL draft?

We have only been forecasting preseason chances of getting the best draft picks since 2018, but no team has entered the year more likely than 2021 Houston Texans, at 24%. That surpasses the Jaguars 2020, who started with 23% last season and ended up being number 1. (Hey, at least it worked for her since Trevor Lawrence was available.)

FPI considers Houston more than one touchdown worse than the average NFL team on a neutral field and believes the Texans have the worst offense at the same time and worst defense in the league. FPI works on the assumption that Deshaun Watson won’t play for the Texans this season. 22 women have said in court cases that Watson has sexually abused her or engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior at massage sessions.

The Lions are the team with the second highest probability of winning # 1 in the 2022 NFL Draft, with a 15% chance, followed by the Jets (10%), Jaguars (8%) and Eagles (7%).


49ers are tight favorites in the strong NFC West

NFC West has three of FPI’s top 10 teams in the Rams, 49ers and Seahawks, and the Cardinals in 21st are not exactly easy either. Although the Rams are the top team at FPI, San Francisco is actually the favorite here. Easy.

Why? It’s all about the schedule. Despite the strength of the division, the 49ers play with one of the easiest playing strengths in the league (SOS rank: 29th). In a 17 game list, division is much less important compared to the strength of the schedule. The three San Francisco games, based on last year’s leaderboard, are against the Eagles, Bengals and Falcons, all of which rank 24th or worse in the FPI. Meanwhile, the Cardinals, Rams, and Seahawks all rank in the top half of the toughest schedules.

The projection of the 49ers is based on the assumption that Jimmy Garoppolo is the starting quarterback. This decision is based on two factors:

  • Garoppolo is generally considered a favorite over rookie No. 3 in the overall standings Trey Lance start the season.

  • If we were to make Lance the starter or partial starter, it would affect the projection of the 49ers as the model assumes that Lance is currently slightly worse than Garoppolo. If lance does Hitting Garoppolo would be a sign of being on par with the Veteran, so downgrading may not make sense. So it seemed a safer choice to designate Garoppolo as the starter.

It’s not just about winning the highly competitive league. That’s how good NFC West is: there is a 37% chance that three of the four teams will reach the playoffs, and there is even a 3% chance that all four Come in.


Cowboys lead the weak NFC East

It only took Washington seven wins last season to lead NFC East, and FPI still doesn’t think much of the division a year later. This is the only team in the division with a positive FPI rating – i.e. above average Dallas Cowboyswhich are barely there at +0.7 (meaning they would be less than a point ahead of an average NFL team).

With quarterback Dak Prescott back and the possibility of an offensive line returning to full strength, the Cowboys are the division’s favorites with a 45% shot to win. Washington, despite being the reigning champion and at the quarterback in the form of. has improved Ryan Fitzpatrick, ranks second (29%), followed by the Giants (15%) and Eagles (11%).

Again, FPI does not believe that the breakdown is much improved. And that embodies an extreme result: The NFC East is the only league that recorded a simulation with a five-win champion. In one of our 20,000 Sims, the Eagles won the crown at 5-11-1. That doesn’t even sound like a real record, let alone a division winner.


Can the Colts survive the storm without? Carson Wentz?

When Indianapolis versus Wentz. exchanged, the organization bet on a boom year for the former Eagles quarterback. Now the Colt must stay afloat while he recovering from foot surgerywhich will likely lead him to miss the start of the season.

Not having Wentz is certainly a downgrade: FPI’s predictive quarterback rating system believes in backup Jacob reasonWentz’s average planned season roughly corresponds to Wentz’s (bad) 2020 campaign. The same model expects Wentz to improve significantly from last season, but not back to pre-2020 levels.

To address the uncertainty about when Wentz will return, the FPI is giving the QB a very small chance to play in Week 1 and gradually increasing the chance of his return by Week 8 over the recovery period that lasted week from The coach was set up by Frank Reich.

play

1:34

Louis Riddick explains the risks the Colts would take if they chose Nick Foles following Carson Wentz’s foot injury.

The first five weeks of the Indianapolis schedule are tough as the Colts house the Seahawks and Rams before heading out to face the Titans, Dolphins, and Ravens. Even without Wentz, the prognosis for this route is better than one might assume; On average, the Colts win 2.2 of these games, and the odds of them starting 0-5 are just over 1 in 20. Remember, these numbers assume that Wentz will be in any of these games, especially the later, has some chance.

In the end, the FPI’s prognoses for the Colts aren’t all that bad; You have a 44% chance of winning the AFC South (second behind the Titans) and a 59% chance of making the postseason. For a team with quarterback insecurity, things could be a lot worse.


As of now, FPI is assuming that two rookies – Lawrence from the Jaguars and Wilson from the Jets – are the current starters of their respective teams. And it’s not particularly optimistic about their prospects. The jaguars and jets are back to back in the FPI rankings – in 29th and 30th place.

They don’t fully reflect this, although the FPI is never particularly optimistic about rookie quarterbacks. But the rest of the squad is also important. And in those two cases, both of them have quarterbacks below average pass protection ahead of them, and both will try to compensate for their teams’ defenses, both of which rank in the bottom six of the FPI.


Bears and Broncos about scheduling extremes

Every NFL fan intuitively knows that basing the schedule on the previous season’s record is a silly concern, as teams’ skills change too much from year to year to achieve that, let alone the fact that a single NFL season isn’t always a great indicator of a team’s talent.

An advance over the traditional method is to look at the average total winnings for each team’s opponents, but this again has a problem; for example, each Chiefs opponent’s total win total is depressed because they have to play against the Chiefs (division opponent twice as much!) FPI is able to fix this problem to determine a more accurate SOS. And no one has it harder than the Bears in 2021.

For starters, the NFC has nine street games this season, so a team from this conference would likely always come out on top. and Chicago can be found with eight games against the top 10 teams from FPI: at Rams, at Browns, at Bucs, vs. 49ers, vs. Ravens, at Seahawks and then a home game at the Packers.

At the other end of the spectrum is Denver. The broncos to do have to see Mahomes and the Chiefs twice but they only play against four top 10 FPI teams and get the extra home game because they are in the AFC. Denver has eight games against the bottom 10 teams of FPI: Giants, Jaguars, vs. Jets, vs. Eagles, vs. Lions, vs. Bengals and a home game with the Raiders. Those first three are the Broncos’ first three games of the season, a light slate right off the bat.

Try this out full strength of the schedule leaderboard here.

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