WhatIfSports.com utilizes its NFL football simulation technology to present the most comprehensive, deterministic and unbiased ranking of all 32 teams. We have simulated every possible matchup in the NFL 100 times, and used the winning percentages from those nearly 50,000 games to evaluate every team. All 32 teams are ranked below with their average points for and against from the simulated games. Rosters and depth charts are up-to-date as of Monday night of each week.
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Having trouble trying to figure out if the Atlanta Falcons are a legitimate playoff contender? You're not alone.
Twice this season the Falcons have looked like challengers in the NFC, climbing up into the top 10 each time. Twice, a 16-point loss has erased all of that progress and plummeted in the rankings.
Atlanta opened up the season at #13, but with victories over Miami and Carolina that had many expecting Matt Ryan and the Falcons to match the success they had in the quarterbacks' rookie season they vaulted as high as #4. But just as some were ready to call them Super Bowl threats, Atlanta suffered a 16-point setback against New England plummeting 15 spots to #19 going into its bye week.
A dominating victory over upstart San Francisco coming off the bye week put the Falcons right back on track and jumped them right back to the #7 spot and Atlanta remained in the top 10 when it followed it up with a victory over Chicago. All of that work was wiped away again with a 37-21 loss to Dallas this past weekend.
Now the Dirty Birds, still sitting at 4-2 and firmly in the playoff race, find themselves back as just the 19th-best team in our latest power rankings, which simulate each team against every other team 100 times. The Falcons fall nine spots this week and are beating other NFL foes just 47% of the time.
And the climb back to the top 10 will be a much tougher challenge this time around. Atlanta goes on the road in three of the next four weeks, including a trip to top-ranked New Orleans this week.
The Cincinnati Bengals are right back into the top 10. A loss to Houston after four consecutive victories - including three on the road - set the Bengals back after they had risen to as high as #9 in the rankings, but Cincinnati got nearly all of those spots back with a big offensive day in a 45-10 rout of Chicago. The Bengals are beating NFL opponents nearly 66% of the time in our projections and jumped nine spots this week.
Honorable mention to some other NFC North teams, as the Packers use another big win over a less-than-average opponent to jump seven spots to #8. And the Lions had the bye, so they couldn't lose. That, along with some ugly losses by the teams around them, makes the Lions big winners this week as they jump five spots to #27.
The New York Giants aren't exactly reeling after back-to-back losses against top-ranked New Orleans and reigning NFC champion Arizona, but the schedule isn't getting easier. Sunday's loss to the Cardinals drops the Giants a whopping 11 spots to 18th. New York is now behind its cross-town rival Jets and is beating opponents just 47.2% of the time.
The Falcons are the second-biggest loser, followed by Kansas City, which dips six spots and is now the second-worst team in the league.
Teams Ranked by Winning Percentage(everyone plays everyone 100 times)
|1.||New Orleans Saints||-||83.7||32.1||17.0|
|5.||New England Patriots||-1||73.1||27.0||17.3|
|8.||Green Bay Packers||+7||68.2||25.5||18.6|
|11.||San Diego Chargers||+5||63.5||25.7||20.6|
|14.||San Francisco 49ers||-3||60.6||23.2||19.1|
|15.||New York Jets||+5||58.1||24.2||20.9|
|18.||New York Giants||-11||47.2||22.5||23.5|
|26.||St. Louis Rams||+3||25.2||17.0||27.2|
|31.||Kansas City Chiefs||-6||15.7||14.4||28.6|
|32.||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||-1||14.8||15.1||31.2|
Eric Schmoldt is a writer and Paul Bessire is the Product Manager of Content and Quantitative Analysis for WhatIfSports.com, a division of FOX Sports Interactive specializing in NCAA Matchup analysis and college football sim games. With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, Paul and Eric can be reached at BtB@whatifsports.com. Thanks!