The Bills could have concluded last season with a coin flip and heartbreakBut according to ESPN's Football Power IndexThey enter the 2022 NFL seasonas the best football team and Super Bowl favorites.
ESPN's FPI preseason ratings released Tuesday show Buffalo leading the pack. It is approximately half-point ahead of Green Bay which is the model's No. 2 team. FPI projections show a very even field with the Bills leading the pack with a 7% chance of winning Super Bowl LVII. Close behind are the Rams (7%), Packers (6%), Chiefs (6%), Chargers (6%).
But what exactly is our Football Power Index, you ask? It is our predictive model, which includes ratings projectionsFor every NFL team, this includes everything from their defense ability to their chances of winning their division. ESPN Analytics completed a complete overhaul of the model during this offseason. found at the bottom. A key difference to note is that FPI's preseason version has been freed from betting markets. These markets were previously heavy drivers of FPI's offseason model.
We'll get to the football, not the math. Here are eight key takeaways from 2022 ratings, along with a detailed explanation about changes to the model. Let's start with the league's top team.
Complete team-by-team FPI ratings
Chances to make the playoffs
FPI joins Bills Mfia
Given the team's performance, it's not surprising to see the Bills at top of the rankings. They ended the year looking like the best football team, and quarterback Josh AllenIn Buffalo's playoff win over the Patriots, 47-17, had one of his greatest games. But No. 1, is the No. 1. So what made Buffalo the best FPI affiliate?
It all starts with Allen. In our predictive quarterback rating, the fifth-year QB is ranked third, behind only Allen. Tom Brady Aaron RodgersHowever, it is ahead Patrick Mahomes. He is a clear threat in the air and on ground. That's why the Bills win over 31 other teams.
We saw it in Buffalo last season. But, it doesn’t stop with Allen. Bills boast a high quality No. 1 receiver Stefon DiggsThey have an above-average offensive line and were the league's leader in defensive efficiency last year. They did this before signing Von MillerThis offseason will be a boon for the cause. This team has no holes.
Rankings and ratings for 2022 Football Power Index
This rating indicates how much better or worse the team is expected to be relative to an average NFL team playing on a neutral field.
It is a predictive rating. pic.twitter.com/9oDRKm8nKR
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) May 17, 2022
So, even though the Bills are favourites to win Super Bowl, why only 7 %? Last year's top-ranked team, the Chiefs, was at 19% in 2021 preseason. We changed our methodology to better reflect the differences between teams' actual and expected abilities. A lot of contenders are close to Buffalo's talent level. There are many other teams that could be better than Buffalo. And, of course, each team must still win at least three postseason games to earn the Lombardi Trophy.
A middle class for contenders
There is a flip side to a lower probability that favorites will win the Super Bowl. Those percentage points have to be used somewhere. This year they moved to the second tier of teams. It's not just the immediate favorite group, but the collective of teams that could win it all, if luck, player development and injuries go their way.
The Colts upgraded their quarterback in trading for Matt RyanThe AFC South is instantly favored by, with a 50% chance of winning it.
Last season, the Cardinals appeared to be a contender before they fell apart. However, they still have a solid team. Kyler Murray under center.
The Broncos have Russell WilsonGood offensive line and at the helm
Although the Ravens suffered injuries last year, they are now in a good place. Lamar JacksonHealthy secondary, they could be quite a threat.
Each of these teams has a 4% chance to win it all.
Assessment of the AFC West stacked team
The division ranks all four teams between No. The division ranks between No. 4 and No. 4 and No. 14 in ESPN's FPI. The model agrees that it's a close contest. The projections indicate that the Chiefs will be the best AFC West team again.
Even without Tyreek HillWR1 is a clearly deficient area. FPI considers the Chiefs to have an average defense. However, Mahomes and a strong Kansas City pass offense are helping them to win. Because offense, especially the passing offense, is the most important component of team construction, the model believes that a superior passing team will always win over a better rushing, rush defense, pass defense or passing team.
The interesting thing is that ESPN's FPI does not favor the Chiefs winning the AFC West. The Chargers AndThe Chiefs and Broncos are slightly more likely than the Chiefs to win the division — while the Chargers have a greater chance of winning the conference's No. 1 seed.
Why? It comes down mostly to scheduling. The Kansas City has a 17-game schedule that is worse than any other team in terms of FPI ratings. The Chiefs' three division-mates are not facing tough matchups. They will be taking on Tampa Bay, Buffalo, and Cincinnati. Instead of the Chargers facing the Falcons Dolphins and Browns in the division, the Chargers face the Falcons Dolphins and Browns. The Broncos are up against the Jets and Ravens. This is a large difference and a great equalizer, even though Kansas City is believed to be the best of the trio.
Post-Super Bowl, no Bengals love?
It isn't. FPI, ESPN's FPI, didn't buy in to the Bengals' last season. Even with a model revamp in 2022, they still remain skeptical. With a FPI rating of 16th, Cincinnati has the 18th best chance at winning the Super Bowl with 3%.
The model is still not fully in place on the quarterback Joe Burrow. He was 12th in Total QBR for the season. His QBR, however, was still average during the playoffs, despite him leading a successful postseason run. The Bengals have an outstanding receiving corps and an improved offensive line. However, the defense of the team is expected to be just okay.
Our FPI model, which is 24% below Baltimore (35%), gives Cincinnati the lowest chance of winning a close-contested AFC North.
Chicago at the hour
The race for the No. 1 pick is extremely close. The Bears were the No. 1 draft pick in 2023, but the Jets won the title.
ESPN's FPI is down Justin FieldsAfter a very difficult rookie season, he was the worst QBR among qualified quarterbacks in the league. Edge rusher Khalil MackBoth the receiver and sender Allen Robinson IIThey are both gone. However, there are still a few quality players left in the defensive line — including an edge rusher Robert QuinnLinebacker Roquan SmithThere aren't many other strengths on the Bears roster.
FPI ratings indicate that the Bears are 14% likely to be picked first in April next year, followed by the Jets (14%), Texans (1%), Jaguars (9%), and Falcons (9%)
Cowboys are No. 6
Last year's 12-5 season was ended in an unceremonious loss to the 49ers. Who could forget the spike? Our model predicts strong Cowboys follow-up. FPI believes that they are the best-rated team and have a better chance of winning Super Bowl (6%) than the odds at Caesars Sportsbook (18-1).
Why all the love? It recognizes the strength of both sides of a ball, ranking Dallas sixth in offensive FPI rating but fourth in defensive FPI rating.
Our model for predictive expected points increased (EPA), is not surprising. Dak PrescottDespite a disappointing 2021 season, he continued to perform well. He has been a strong performer in the past, finishing fourth in QBR in 2017 and 2019. He is still in his prime. Dallas also boasts two reliable wide receivers. CeeDee Lamb Michael GallupWe are still working with the assumption that Gallup is healthy.
The Cowboys' defense is strong, coming off a remarkable season that saw them rank third in efficiency. Stars like Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence Trevon Diggs.
The result? Dallas has a chance of winning the NFC East with a 45% win rate and a 16% chance to be the No. 2nd only to the Packers, the NFC's No. 1 seed.
NFC South is closer than expected
FPI of ESPN likes the Buccaneers as they rank No. 5 in the model’s rating system and just 0.2 points and 0.3 points per games behind the Chiefs (and Rams), respectively. FPI projections do not seem to like Tampa Bay's chances for this season. This means that we are expected to finish in the NFC South race closer than we thought. FPI by ESPN puts the Bucs at 43% and the Saints at 32% respectively for the division. Why is New Orleans so close to New Orleans? Two major factors explain why New Orleans is so close to it:
Three solid teams will be facing the Bucs: the Chiefs and Packers, Cowboys and Cowboys. In the same slot, the Saints get the Raiders Vikings Eagles.
The model assumes some regression in that offensive-minded Bruce Arians no longer serves as the team's coach. The model assumes that there is some continuity, as Byron Leftwich continues to be the offensive coordinator. However, that's how it works.
Are the 49ers too underrated?
The short answer is that our FPI states yes. It depends on the quarterback.
ESPN's FPI assumes for the moment that it is. Trey Lance under center. San Francisco had to pay a heavy price to trade up in order for Lance to be selected at No. 3. It would be a huge failure for him to become the starting quarterback by year 2. The model can't see how the 49ers could justify a win total 10 and still be considered one of best NFC teams.
QBs who aren't playing get a lower quarterback rating. It assumes that not playing is an indication of injury or incompetence. Our model recognizes Lance's strength as a prospect but, after only 71 pass attempts in his rookie year, it rates Lance in the same range of players as others. Matt Corral, Joe FlaccoJustin Fields Zach Wilson, Andy Dalton Nick Foles. There are upsides to this, of course. Maybe he stars as a starter in his first season. The mean expectations for Lance are not high.
Also, the receiver Deebo SamuelEdge rusher Nick BosaThey are great players, and the run defense is strong. Kyle Shanahan, a good coach, is hard to overcome as a quarterback liability. That's what we think Lance is thinking at the moment. The 49ers currently rank No. 2 in the FPI rankings. 24 — behind the Giants & Lions — with a 39% chance to make the playoffs.
Wondering how the 49ers would rank in a league where they are not? Jimmy GaroppoloWere to be the starter in 2022? They would rise to 13th place in the FPI rankings. This is a huge jump, thanks to Garoppolo's solid QBRs throughout his career. It is also a lot more than what the model assumes Lance will get in 2022.
Methodology updates 2022
This offseason, ESPN's FPI was updated and modified. The most significant change in the preseason version, which we will discuss here is the removal of gambling lines as an input. Preseason ratings were previously driven by win totals, which were paired with the schedule. However, betting markets have been removed from the model. Instead, preseason ratings will be determined by past team performance and our predictive EPA/play metric that all backup and starting quarterbacks use. A predictive rating for non-QB starters is based on an ensemble number of player ratings, including Pro Football Reference. approximate valueOur own win rates for offensive linemen and defensive linemen.
FPI now also includes predictive unit ratings which can be broken into run and pass (e.g. rushing offense, pass defense, etc.). Each unit rating and factor is considered when predicting how often an offense will score above or below the expectation in a given game situation. After controlling for game scenarios, it is evident that the Chiefs have a slight offensive advantage by passing. The model now dynamically adjusts to reflect the current level of home-field advantage.
Our projection system's uncertainty handling was also improved. Although each team's FPI rating represents our best estimate of their strength relative to an average league opponent, the model acknowledges that there is a lot of error in that estimate. The model recognizes that there will be a range of estimates. Some teams will have a rating higher than others. Others will have a lower rating. It gives you a more realistic simulation, and allows you to make projections that are more realistic for your particular scenario. The simulations that show the Jets winning the Super Bowl if they start at 4-0 will be more realistic than those whose ratings are lower than what we would expect. These simulations and ratings determine the Jets' Super Bowl odds after a 4-0 start.