News & Analysis

2017 PFFELO NFL Power Rankings - Conference Championships

Jan 13, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) runs with the ball against the Tennessee Titans during the second quarter of the AFC Divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Below is the 20th installment of our weekly PFFELO rankings. Like all ELO systems, PFFELO is an iterative system that updates each team’s rating after each game based on two things: how well they played against their opponent and how well they were expected to play against their opponent. The PFFELO rating system measures the former using our unique offensive, defensive and special teams grades, while the latter is determined by the PFFELO ratings leading up to the game and where the game is played.

For example, a heavy favorite playing at home is expected to outplay the visitor, so a victory would result in only a small rise in their PFFELO rating and a similarly-small decrease in the defeated team’s, but if an upset were to happen, the visiting team would see their PFFELO rating rise substantially, and the home team’s see a similarly-sized drop.

Sometimes in football the best team does not win, and PFFELO accounts for these oddities by using our grades. Hence there will be teams rated higher or lower in this system than their win-loss record would suggest.



What drama? The Pats took care of the listless Titans on Saturday, with Tom Brady completing 8-of-12 passes between 10-and-19 yards in the air, producing 105 yards and two touchdowns in the process. He was also effective throwing to the backs, with Dion Lewis and James White combining for 13 receptions on 17 targets for 114 yards after the catch and a touchdown. The Jaguars' defense (second in our rating system) will be the Patriots’ toughest test on offense all season but have exploitable holes for New England to target. For example, Steelers tight end Vance McDonald was able to turn 15 targets into 112 yards against Jacksonville last Sunday, meaning we might see another ‘Gronkoning' in store during the AFC Championship Game.



The game-winning catch and run by Stefon Diggs made us forget a bit about the Vikings' top-rated defense squandering a 17-point second-half lead against Drew Brees and Co. However, the late-game drama also made us forget about how dominant the Vikings' defense truly was during the opening two quarters and change, against what will end up being a Hall of Fame quarterback. With the Eagles' stout defense on the other side, the Vikings will need four quarters worth of Mike Zimmer’s best to make up for what has been inconsistent play on the part of Case Keenum (only a 5.1 passer rating when under pressure versus New Orleans) and the Vikings' running game (only 13 yards gained before contact against the Saints) down the stretch.



The Eagles escaped the Divisional Round with a win despite putting up only 15 points and committing two turnovers against the Falcons. Their defense generated three sacks, nine quarterback hits and 12 hurries against Atlanta and will present a real challenge against a Minnesota team that has had its struggles up front offensively of late. If they can pressure Keenum, Philadelphia can mask some of the mismatches that will occur on the back end when Ronald Darby (83.2) and Jalen Mills (75.0) match up on the outside with Diggs (86.2) and Adam Thielen (85.3). The real question is whether Nick Foles, who has completed just three passes (and two to Eagles) beyond 20 yards in the air so far this season, has what it takes to turn in another sufficient (if unspectacular) performance Sunday at the Link.



People (including us) doubt, and continue to doubt, the Jaguars each week, and they continue to produce above expectations. Their defense held the Steelers in check for long enough to give them a big lead in Pittsburgh, while their offense was efficient down the stretch to help them preserve their first berth in the AFC Championship game since the turn of the century. Blake Bortles was not asked to do a ton last Sunday — only 26 pass attempts, only three over 20 yards in the air) — but generated a 114.8 passer rating when kept clean. The Patriots do a great job of taking away what another team does well, forcing opposing players to play outside of their comfort zone, so don’t expect a ton in the way of points from the Jags. If Jacksonville’s defense doesn’t play up to their billing as a top-2 unit, the dream might die in Foxboro.

The rest of the NFL, by PFFELO Power Ranking:

PFFELO NFL Power Rankings

Know tomorrow, today. Western Southern Financial Group.

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