Sep 9, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) looks on following the game against San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
The first week of the 2018 NFL season has come and gone, and what an interesting week it was. Teams like the Jets, Chiefs, Buccaneers, Dolphins and Washington won outright as underdogs, while the Browns escaped week 1 without a loss for the first time in over a decade. These certainly shook up our ratings going into Week 2, and provide an interesting look into what to expect with respect to handicapping the upcoming slate.
Like all ELO systems, PFF ELO 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 PFF ELO rating system measures the former using our unique offensive, defensive and special teams grades, while the latter is determined by the PFF ELO 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 PFF ELO rating and a similarly-small decrease in the defeated team’s, but if an upset were to happen, the visiting team would see their PFF ELO rating rise substantially, and the home team’s see a similarly-sized drop.
Check back weekly for college spread picks using this model (as well as other information) and check out PFF Greenline for our NFL version of the product.
[Note: for Week 2, we’ve adjusted the ratings slightly to incorporate the return of players like Aaron Rodgers to the Packers. These adjustments will be rare but will reflect the output of other quantitative models we use as a part of Greenline – in which PFF ELO is just one.]
2018 Week 1 Ranking: 1st (-)
The Eagles escaped last Thursday with a win, despite the fact that Nick Foles was able to generate a 47.8 passer rating when clean. Tampa Bay was a surprise team in Week 1 – so the Eagles will likely have to be more explosive Sunday to keep up.
2018 Week 1 Ranking: 2nd (-)
Questions about the Pats’ receiving corps were answered Sunday, with Phillip Dorsett catching all seven of his targets and scoring a touchdown against the Texans. They’ll face a stiffer test in Jacksonville, a team with the league’s fourth-best defense according to our rating system.
The Vikings took care of business Sunday against an upstart 49ers team by virtue of their strong play up front. Newcomer Sheldon Richardson teamed with Danielle Hunter to generate a combined 15 pressures against the 49ers at US Bank Stadium.
Despite the fact that Jared Goff threw zero big-time throws Monday against the Raiders, the Rams got going offensively in the second half, generating 127 yards on a league-high 16 play-action dropbacks. The defense slammed the door on the Raiders and should have an easy time of it at home against the Cardinals this Sunday.
Woof. After allowing a 14-point, fourth-quarter lead slip through their fingers, the Steelers afforded a tie to the longtime punching bag of the AFC North Sunday, in large part due to the ineffectiveness of Ben Roethlisberger, whose clean-pocket passer rating of 64.5 was in the bottom five among quarterbacks throughout Week 1.
It has not been a great week for PFF’s analytical darlings, with an ugly loss in Philadelphia followed by the news that their top two defensive players, Keanu Neal and Deion Jones, would be heading to IR before Week 2’s matchup with Carolina in the dome. Their defense came out of Week 1 ranked No. 1 in our rating system, so it will be interesting to see how much of that quality they can maintain in a tough NFC South moving forward.
After outside cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley were roasted to the tone of 11-of-14 for 244 yards and three touchdowns to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bucs, the Saints all of a sudden do not look like as good a Super Bowl pick as they were going into last weekend.
The moment Chiefs fans have waited for a while came Sunday, with second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes generating 100 yards and a touchdown on deep passes in his second career start. Their defense, last in our rating system, will always be a concern, however, and will need to slow a Steelers offense looking to rebound if they are to start the season 2-0 for the second-straight year.
A big riser in this rating system, the Ravens handled the Bills Sunday in Baltimore, allowing zero positively-graded throws to Nathan Peterman and three total points overall. Thursday represents a big test this week as Joe Flacco will likely see pressure on more than the six dropbacks he faced in Week 1 against Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and a stout Cincinnati defense.
Green Bay looked destined for another season like 2017 when DeShone Kizer was throwing interception-touchdowns to Khalil Mack en route to a 20-0 deficit. But Aaron Rodgers returned, the Packers adjusted, and suddenly the Week 2 matchup between Minnesota and the Pack is one of the more compelling matchups of the young season.