Opening Weekend Features Best Second Half NFL Team

The goal is for the NFL’s best four teams to enjoy a bye this weekend. However, an analysis of Jeff Sagarin’s ratings over the 2nd half of the season indicates Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III will have to work his magic against what has been by far the hottest team in the NFL during the second half of the season -- the Seattle Seahawks, who are led by rookie standout quarterback Russell Wilson and a stout defense. The worst team in the playoffs – by far – is the Indianapolis Colts who are actually in the bottom half of the league, while the other six teams playing this weekend have all played well in the second half of the season. Below is where each team this weekend would rank based only on the second half of the season.

 

Rnk City Team RATING
  Seattle Seahawks (2ndH) 39.22
1 New England Patriots 30.71
2 Denver Broncos 29.99
3 Seattle Seahawks 29.76
4 San Francisco 49ers 29.74
  Cincinnati Bengals (2ndH) 29.41
  Green Bay Packers (2ndH) 27.59
  Minnesota Vikings (2nd) 27.36
5 Green Bay Packers 27.25
  Houston Texans (2nd) 27.19
6 Atlanta Falcons 26.62
7 Chicago Bears 25.83
  Baltimore Ravens (2nd) 25.51
8 New York Giants 24.98
  Washington Redskins (2nd) 24.91
9 Houston Texans 24.65
10 Minnesota Vikings 24.04
11 Washington Redskins 22.95
12 Baltimore Ravens 22.69
13 Cincinnati Bengals 22.57
14 New Orleans Saints 21.13
15 St. Louis Rams 20.92
16 Carolina Panthers 20.81
17 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20.15
18 Dallas Cowboys 19.94
19 Pittsburgh Steelers 19.66
  Indianapolis Colts (2nd) 18.10
20 Miami Dolphins 17.86
21 Detroit Lions 17.39
22 San Diego Charges 17.33
23 Indianapolis Colts 17.32
24 Arizona Cardinals 16.42
25 Buffalo Bills 14.76
26 Cleveland Browns 14.49
27 New York Jets 14.19
28 Tennessee Titans 11.64
29 Philadelphia Eagles 11.21
30 Oakland Raiders 10.02
31 Jacksonville Jaguars 7.23
32 Kansas City Chiefs 5.74

Cincinnati is the second-hottest team playing this weekend, followed closely in order by Green Bay, Minnesota, Houston, Baltimore and then Washington. These second half totals are derived through a game-by-game equation of taking the rating of the opponent (e.g. Seattle played San Francisco, which had a 30 rating rounded), adding the margin of victory (Seattle won 42-13 for a 29 point win, so 30 + 29 = 59) and finally adjusting by three points for home advantage (Seattle was at home so they get three points less credit (30+29-3=56) for the game). 

Seattle actually had three of the best four performances in the second half with a 71 score against Arizona, and a 51 score against Seattle, with only Green Bay’s 57 against Tennessee keeping Seattle from a clean sweep. For the final 8 games combined, Seattle’s average score was 39.22, almost 9 points better than New England’s No. 1 rating for the season. At the other extreme, Indianapolis ranked 23rd for the season at 17.32, and were just slightly better during the 2nd half at 18.10, which would have made them the 20th best team in the NFL.


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