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How the Ravens are the NFL’s Top-Rated Team Heading into the Playoffs

By: Taylor Bechtold

With a former MVP at quarterback and a Super Bowl coach on the sideline, they’re the top team in Stats Perform’s adjusted team rankings heading into the NFL playoffs.

No, it’s not Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid and the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

The club we’re looking for enters this weekend’s wild-card round as one of the hottest in the NFL, having averaged 37.2 points while allowing just 17.8 over a five-game winning streak.

Lamar Jackson has the Ravens on top of Stats Perform’s adjusted team Ratings. (AP Photo/Emilee Chinn)

It’s not the AFC East champion Buffalo Bills or the NFC North champion Green Bay Packers, though both clubs are riding six-game winning streaks into the postseason.

Behind late-season resurgences by Lamar Jackson and the defense, the Baltimore Ravens headline the final regular-season adjusted team ratings (ATR). Jackson ran for 97 yards in the Week 17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals to become the first quarterback in NFL history with multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons (he had a QB-record 1,206 yards last season).

The Ravens open the playoffs on the road Sunday against the AFC South champion Tennessee Titans, who defeated Baltimore 30-24 in overtime in Week 11 and 28-12 in last year’s divisional playoff.

To calculate its ATR, Stats Perform analyzes game situations like down, distance, yards to go, score, time remaining and quarter to create an expected yardage output for that particular play. That data is then measured against how the team actually performed on the play.

From there, values accumulate that represent how many yards over or under the expected a team has performed on its plays. The ATR reveals how that club has done over the totality of its plays on both sides of the ball.

Adjusted Team Ratings


Something to note is that while the Los Angeles Rams rank 13th heading into the playoffs, they would jump all the way up to fourth behind only the Ravens, New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers if Jared Goff is able to play over backup John Wolford.

Los Angeles was 18th in ATR offensively, but its rating slips all the way down to 31st with Wolford under center. Goff’s playing status against the 10th-ranked Seattle Seahawks on Saturday is uncertain due to his thumb surgery almost two weeks ago.

It might be surprising to see the San Francisco 49ers sitting fifth overall in the ATR after finishing with a 6-10 record. The 49ers had many of the same faces back from their Super Bowl team, but was ravaged by tough luck and injuries. Their star-studded injury list was staggering this season; at one point it was enough to field an entire team on its own.

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are set to defend their Super Bowl title. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

If they’d had a little luck and been a whole lot healthier, the defending NFC champs likely would have been even higher in the ATR and probably would have been a playoff team.

While the defending champion Chiefs and red-hot Bills have to be considered the favorites to reach the AFC title game, Kansas City is just ninth in the ATR and Buffalo comes in at No. 12. The Chiefs are rated fifth offensively with Mahomes under center (0.817), but they have Stats Perform’s 16th-ranked defense and their last seven wins have been by six points or fewer.

The Bills are an interesting case study at No. 12 behind AFC teams like Baltimore, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Tennessee, Kansas City and even 7-9 Minnesota in the NFC. As expected, they’re rated in the top 10 offensively after averaging 47.3 points over its last three games. Buffalo also allowed just 18.3 points per game over its winning streak, but overall it ranked 13th in total defense at 366.3 yards allowed per game and comes in at No. 15 in defensive ATR.

The Chicago Bears and Washington Football Team are not the lowest-rated playoff teams this weekend. That honor goes to the 20th-ranked Pittsburgh Steelers, who have dropped four of their last five games and hardly resemble the team that opened the season 11-0. The 10-6 Miami Dolphins nearly owned that distinction as they fell just short of a playoff spot despite coming in at No. 30 overall in the ATR.


Data modeling provided by Kyle Cunningham-Rhoads.

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