As Week 17 approaches, our Week 16 BES Rankings show some movement in the top-5 among division champions. Nevertheless, the BES Top-10 remains a cluster of playoff teams aside from the Baltimore Ravens (9-6) and Los Angeles Chargers (8-7) who’ve yet to clinch a berth.
Overall, the top-16 of the BES, with the exception of the Dallas Cowboys (8-7) at No. 15, is alive in the playoff hunt. Therefore, Week 17 will have plenty of meaning as there remains the NFC South title, three wildcard spots and home field advantage in the AFC still to be decided.
The BES emerged from Week 16 with a 14-2 (.875) record based on our Week 15 report. As a result, our record on the season improved to 149-76 (.662). Of note, the BES is 78-30 (.722) over the last seven weeks. Here’s an overview of how the BES has performed from week to week:
Rams Make Big Jump From No. 6 to No. 2 – After clinching the NFC West Championship in Week 16, the Los Angeles Rams (11-4) have shot up to No. 2 in our Week 16 BES Rankings. Winners of four games in their last five, the Rams are heating up (again) at the perfect time of the season.
Armed with the league’s No. 1 scoring offense (31 points per game) and the No. 9 BES Defense, the Rams are a viable threat in the playoffs. However, two of their losses came courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings (12-3) and Philadelphia Eagles (13-2), a pair they might have to face again en route to Super Bowl LII.
Eagles Take Alarming Dive to No. 5 – The Philadelphia Eagles (13-2) have fallen from No. 2 last week to No. 5 in this week’s report. The decline is due in large to the loss of starting quarterback Carson Wentz (knee) and uninspired play by their defense over the last four games.
Since the loss of Wentz in Week 14, the Eagles BES Overall score has decreased by -.30 points along with a -.39 point fall in BES Offense. Likewise, their defense has fallen from the No. 1 BES Defense with a score of 3.24 to No. 13 with a score of 2.56.
Although the Eagles clinched home field advantage after narrowly escaping the Raiders (7-8) 19-10 at home in Week 16, they’ll enter the postseason as arguably the coldest team among NFC contenders.
Ball Security: Carolina Panthers (3.54)
Pass Protection: Pittsburgh Steelers (3.19)
Point Yield: Pittsburgh Steelers (3.35)
Ball Control: Minnesota Vikings (3.23)
Point Suppression: Jacksonville Jaguars (3.54)
Pass Pressure: Washington Redskins (3.19)
Takeaways: Chicago Bears (3.50)
BES Games of Week 17
- Saints (No. 7) @ Buccaneers (No. 28): On the surface, this looks like a sure win for the Saints. However, the Buccaneers nearly defeated the Panthers (11-4) on the road in Week 16 were it not for final-second heroics from quarterback Cam Newton. They could prove an even greater threat at home against the Saints who must win to clinch the division title.
- Panthers (No. 8) @ Falcons (No. 12): Being played at the same as the Saints/Buccaneers contest, this game has playoff implications for both teams. With a win and a Saints loss, the Panthers could claim the NFC South Championship. However, for the Falcons, a win guarantees them the sixth seed.
- Raiders (No. 19) @ Chargers (No. 10): Our Week 16 BES Rankings mark the sixth straight week that the Chargers have hovered at or near the No. 10 spot. They first entered the BES Top-10 in our Week 11 report with a 4-6 record. Since then, the Chargers have gone 4-1 and positioned themselves to clinch the sixth seed in the AFC playoffs. However, they will need help. In addition to beating the Raiders, they’ll need the Titans (8-7) to lose to the Jaguars (10-5) and the Ravens to defeat the Bengals (6-9).