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Final 2017 NFL Team RODS Rankings

Jaguars hold on to become 2017 champs

Houston Texans v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The RODS rankings are my self-developed statistical analysis of NFL team performance, looking at all three phases of the game. The ratings are based purely on what happens on the field, taking into consideration no outside factors (such as strength of schedule and home/road games). Additionally I have taken the standard fantasy point scoring from ESPN and aggregated each team’s total fantasy output so we are able to compare actual performance with their fantasy output. For a further breakdown of how the ratings are derived, you can find the full breakdown of the RODS rankings here.

That’s it then. The 2017 NFL regular season is done and dusted and the playoff order decided. That means its time for me to finalize my end of season rankings and let you know just who is the best team in the NFL and therefore is going to win the Lombardi Trophy on the 4th February in Minneapolis. OK maybe not, but I’ve updated my RODS rankings for the final round of matches and without further ado, can reveal the 2017 champion. Just before I do, if you would like to learn more about my rankings and how they are derived, you can find a link back to the detail here.

And so despite losing back to back games at the end of the season, the Jacksonville Jaguars are officially my number one team in the NFL for 2017. Over the course of the 8 seasons I have been running the RODS data for, the Jaguars have previously not finished higher than 22nd in any one year, with them ranked dead last from 2012 to 2014 and 27th for the last two years. Their success has been driven by the number one defense in the NFL and the highest rated pass defense. The Jaguars' defense’s -20.2% rating makes them the 9th rated overall defense since 2010, and their pass defense has only been bettered by the historic 2013 Seahawks, who have the best defense I have ever graded. Its been the perfect blend of high end free agents (Campbell, Jackson, Bouye) and quality draft picks (Ngakoue, Smith, Ramsey) that has left the Jags with premier talent at all three levels.

The offense played its part too, finishing as the 8th rated offense, improving from 28th last season and an average of 31st since 2010. Their game plan at the start of the season worked as they leant on the run with rookie first round draft pick Leonard Fournette leading the way, with the Jaguars running the ball on a higher percentage of offensive plays than any other team (48.9%). Their rushing offense was rated 4th overall, with the Jaguars second in fantasy rushing scoring. What they really needed was league average play from Blake Bortles at quarterback and that’s exactly what they got. Per my quarterback ROPE Index, Bortles finished with a rating of 49.1% this season, against the league average of 48.9%, and he was my 20th rated quarterback of those to attempt more than 100 passes in 2017, out of a list of 43 qualifying passers. The major question is whether the Jaguars can continue to get league average play from Bortles now the lights are shining brighter as the playoffs begin.

RODS Rankings Winners: 2010 to 2017

After the Jaguars, we saw a late season surge from the Vikings who took second place during the last round of matches. A top 4 offense and defense, the Vikings look the most balanced team heading into the playoffs and whoever travels to Minnesota for the Divisional round will be a big underdog. Its the Vikings' highest finish in the rankings since they began, with their previous best being 10th in 2015 when they last made the playoffs.

The Saints finished in third place and were my number one ranked offense this year, and by quite a margin. The Saints' +54.8% rating was the second highest rated offense in the history of the RODS rankings, finishing behind only their own 2011 mark of +55.0% and ahead of the historic 2013 Broncos' +52.9%. The defense pulled their weight also, finishing 12th overall, which is a massive improvement on recent years where they have been 31st, 32nd and 29th over the past three seasons.

The worst rated team award goes to the Giants, who will now pick second in this year's draft, their highest draft pick since 1981 when they selected Lawrence Taylor second overall. The Giants finished with a -26.4% rating in 2017, which is the 'best' bottom place rating I've ever graded. However, few can argue the Giants have been a hot mess for most of this season and fully derserve their bottom place.

The 0-16 Browns somewhat incredibly finished outside the bottom 3 teams in 29th overall. The defense was somewhat competitive this year, finishing 23rd overall thanks to a 7th ranked run defense that led the league in tackles for loss with 76, 17 more than the next best team (Eagles). However the offense, led by rookie DeShone Kizer finished bottom of the league with a season-long rating of +19.8%, a +0.1% improvement on last year for the Browns. Like the Giants and their bottom rated defense, it was the highest rated last place offense I've ever rated.

In terms of the final standings and the 2017 playoff teams, the top 10 teams in the RODS rankings have all made the post-season, with the Titans coming in 14th and the Bills a lowly 22nd. Based purely on the final RODS standings, that means the unlucky teams to miss out on the playoffs are true to life in that the Ravens and Chargers were both ahead of the Titans and Bills. The Broncos, Raiders and Bengals also finished higher than the Bills, suggesting the Bills are mighty fortunate to be playing their first playoff football in 20 years.

FINAL RODS Rankings: 2017

Final RODS Rankings: 2017

2017 Playoff Form Rankings

Heading into the playoffs, I thought it would be interesting to look at the recent form of the twelve playoff teams and have therefore run the RODS numbers for weeks 13-17 below. Looking to the wild card round and all four home teams have the edge over their opponents heading into the weekend's games, with the Saints vs Panthers matchup scheduled to be the closest on paper.

The Eagles without Carson Wentz have nosedived in the rankings and go into the playoffs with the worst form of the remaining teams, with whoever they play is likely to be a road favourite.

My Super Bowl prediction? I'm sticking with my mid-season projection of the Chiefs vs Saints.

 
2017 Playoff teams - RODS Form Weeks 13-17