Everyone has their own set of NFL power rankings, but not all of them take computer-driven, algorithmically-derived approaches that look at underlying data to figure out true team strength.
But numberFire's power rankings do just that.
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Using our nERD metric, which indicates the expected point differential against an average opponent on a neutral field, here is how our model ranks and rates all four remaining playoff teams.
numberFire's NFL Power Rankings
|Team||Record||nERD||nERDRank||RankChange||Super BowlOdds||xWin%This Week|
Only four teams remain, and they actually make up the top four teams in numberFire's power rankings. To clarify, that's not simply because they are the final four teams. It's because they're the four best teams in the NFL based on our analytical power rankings once accounting for data through the divisional round.
The Cincinnati Bengals' 17-point win over the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round bumped Buffalo from first to fifth, so Cincinnati's inclusion in the championship game is very warranted. We just don't have any teams remaining that are an outlier in any sense.
With such a tight dispersion in nERD scores, the remaining Super Bowl odds are about as flat as can be -- but the top-ranked San Francisco 49ers actually hold the lowest odds in the playoffs due to the fact that they travel to play the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that our nERD scores rank just 0.56 points worse than San Francisco.
Again, nERD indicates the expected point differential against an average team -- at a neutral site. The Eagles are 7-2 at home, and the NFC Conference Championship will be held at 3:00 p.m., a fairly early start for the visiting team from the west coast, a squad that is 5-3 in road matchups on the season.
Of course, a lot in the AFC picture hinges on the efficiency of Patrick Mahomes, who sustained a high-ankle sprain in the Kansas City Chiefs' divisional round win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. It feels like a foregone conclusion that he'll suit up to start, but there's no guarantee of that.
That more than leaves the door open for the Bengals to return to the Super Bowl for a second straight season.
One thing is for certain, the upcoming week of games will accurately include the four best teams in the NFL this season through the divisional round. Only two other teams (the Bills and Dallas Cowboys) ended the season with a nERD score better than 1.78. This has been a top-heavy season after all, and we'll see who is the best of the best soon enough.