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Checkdowns: Elo-Ratings for NFL teams

So we're going to pretend all my losses were by 1 point?

So we're going to pretend all my losses were by 1 point?

Just a quick Friday night checkdown post. By now, you’re very familiar with the Simple Rating System. I used the SRS to create college football ratings every week this season and used the SRS to grade NFL teams earlier this year. Pro-Football-Reference.com calculates SRS ratings every week and they are always available on their Standings page.

The first S in SRS stands for Simple because the SRS is simply the sum of two variables: a team’s average margin of victory (or points differential) and a team’s strength of schedule.

But what if we only care about wins and losses? Even in that case, we still care about strength of schedule. The BCS mandates that the computer systems used to provide the official BCS ratings ignore margin of victory. Essentially, that’s what I’m doing here. To provide Elo-style ratings for NFL teams, I made each win a one-point win, each loss a one-point loss, and each tie worth 0 points. Therefore, a team’s MOV perfectly matches its record, leaving just the SOS to shuffle the deck.

Is this useful for anything? No. That’s why it’s a Friday night checkdown.

1Houston Texans130.6920.0110.70411-2-0
2New England Patriots130.5380.1160.65410-3-0
3San Francisco 49ers130.4620.0810.5439-3-1
4Green Bay Packers130.3850.1070.4929-4-0
5Atlanta Falcons130.692-0.2730.4211-2-0
6Denver Broncos130.538-0.1660.37310-3-0
7Chicago Bears130.2310.1210.3528-5-0
8Seattle Seahawks130.2310.1140.3458-5-0
9Indianapolis Colts130.385-0.0530.3329-4-0
10Baltimore Ravens130.385-0.1350.2499-4-0
11New York Giants130.231-0.040.1918-5-0
12St. Louis Rams1300.1750.1756-6-1
13Minnesota Vikings130.0770.0670.1447-6-0
14New York Jets13-0.0770.1720.0956-7-0
15Washington Redskins130.077-0.0030.0747-6-0
16Dallas Cowboys130.077-0.0120.0657-6-0
17Cincinnati Bengals140.143-0.203-0.068-6-0
18Pittsburgh Steelers130.077-0.138-0.0617-6-0
19Miami Dolphins13-0.2310.126-0.1055-8-0
20Buffalo Bills13-0.2310.067-0.1645-8-0
21Arizona Cardinals13-0.3850.203-0.1814-9-0
22Detroit Lions13-0.3850.188-0.1974-9-0
23Tampa Bay Buccaneers13-0.077-0.162-0.2396-7-0
24Tennessee Titans13-0.3850.134-0.254-9-0
25New Orleans Saints13-0.231-0.035-0.2665-8-0
26Cleveland Browns13-0.231-0.125-0.3565-8-0
27Carolina Panthers13-0.3850.014-0.3714-9-0
28San Diego Chargers13-0.231-0.165-0.3965-8-0
29Philadelphia Eagles14-0.429-0.048-0.4764-10-0
30Jacksonville Jaguars13-0.6920.141-0.5512-11-0
31Oakland Raiders13-0.538-0.112-0.6513-10-0
32Kansas City Chiefs13-0.692-0.148-0.842-11-0
  • George

    Elo is definitely an interesting concept. I think in it’s traditional chess style format, it can definitely work for professional leagues. The Carl Meyer book, Neil referred to a couple of months ago has a chapter on it. I set up a spreadsheet to work up College Football in an Elo Style taking into account scores, but now realise that you can’t really apply it to College sports because of the wide variety in strength of opponents.

    It makes the assumption everyone starts from 0 and that everyone is equal (which in the College game really isn’t the case but I would expect is more appropriate for the NFL) so hence best example FSU got about 14 or 15 points for wins over Murray St and Savannah St, yet A&M only got about 5 points for beating Alabama (incidentally overall for the season it put Alabama first, from FSU who had an unrealistic score based on their first two games and then Notre Dame so it was generating the right kind of ranking).

  • herbertd

    As a tournament chess player for 50 years and having a keen awareness of the ELO rating system, I can tell you that statistically it is an invalid concept for a any pro or college analysis. There are too many variables to a game, whereas in chess, scrabble, checkers or go you have 2 people sit down face to face with known strengths which can be statistically predicted. This is a joke to think the ELO system can be adopted for sports with multiple players. Get Real !!!!!!!! The Elo rating system was not designed for this.