News & Analysis

NFL Week 1 AWS Biggest Movers: Titans move up while Bears, Browns and Steelers fall

Week 1 was a war of attrition, with stalwarts like the Saints, Rams, Eagles and Chargers surviving one-score games and favored teams like the Patriots, Chiefs, Ravens, Vikings and Cowboys winning by multiple scores. 

Not everything went as planned. The Steelers, Buccaneers, Bears, Broncos, Jets, Lions and Browns all failed to win despite being the favorites. The AWS Biggest Mover of the Week is the team that throttled the aforementioned Browns, the Tennessee Titans.

Our preseason win simulations gave the Titans a 29.4% chance to win the AFC South, an increase from 20.1% prior to the Andrew Luck retirement. After beating Cleveland handily on the road in Week 1 (along with losses by Houston, Jacksonville and Indianapolis), we have Tennessee winning their division in a majority (52.7%) of our simulations, increasing their projected win total from eight wins to over nine wins.

Moving forward, the biggest question will be the health of Marcus Mariota, who despite throwing for more than two touchdowns from a clean pocket in Week 1, completed only 50% of such passes. From a clean pocket (where we derive the most-stable evaluations of quarterback play) over the last two years, the fifth-year player from Oregon has been 25th and 38th in passer rating generated. He’ll have to improve there moving forward for the Titans to realize the fruits of what looks like a pretty good defense.

Tennessee Titans

Win Projection: 8.0 -> 9.2

Chance to win the division change: 29.4% -> 52.7%

Honorable mention(s)

Chicago Bears

Win Projection: 8.1 -> 7.2

Chance to win the division change: 28.4% -> 11.3%

The Bears lost to Aaron Rodgers. This has not been news in quite some time. The Bears were already hoping for some continued luck with a defense that converted turnover opportunities at the highest rate last season and a quarterback who threw uncatchable passes at the fourth-highest rate in the NFL but maintained an above-average passing offense. 

Cleveland Browns

Win Projection: 8.4 -> 7.4

Chance to win the division change: 26.7% -> 16.9%

The Browns certainly win the dubious award for underperforming public anticipation more than any other team. Only the Redskins cost themselves more expected points lost because of offensive penalties than the Browns. Baker Mayfield played well for the majority of the game but tossed three unsightly passes, all of which earned turnover-worthy PFF grades and indeed were intercepted.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Win Projection: 9.3 -> 8.6

Chance to win the division change: 43.7% -> 35.0%

It’s easy to write off the Steelers' loss because they played what looks to be a Patriots team that is functioning on a different level in the two things that matter most, passing and covering the pass. However, the manner in which the Steelers lost hurts their team power ranking and thus causes a rather large drop in their chances at ultimately winning the division.

Know tomorrow, today. Western Southern Financial Group.
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