Over at FiveThirtyEight, when they aren’t previewing the NBA, they’re continuing to breakdown the NFL. One of the ways they’ve chosen to do that this year is by adopting “Elo Ratings” — more commonly used in chess and modified for Association Football — to the NFL, and using those ratings to predict wins, losses, and playoff odds. The rating takes into account past success, win margins, history, etc. (more is explained over here if you want to read into it).
In weeks one through four, the ratings had the Eagles favored to win the division. But in Week 5, the birds and Cowboys switched spots, though the Eagles have never dipped below a 36% chance to win the division or a 51% chance to make the playoffs since then. Also over that time, the Eagles raised their projected wins from 9.6 to 10.6 (now back down at 10.1), while the Cowboys, who peaked at 12.0, are now just above the Eagles at 10.8.
About those playoff odds, Neil Paine at FiveThirtyEight said:
At any rate, Dallas’s upset loss had real implications for the NFC East derby. Despite the Eagles’ loss, the Cowboys’ odds of winning the division dropped from 66 percent to 53 percent. Philadelphia’s chances jumped from 33 percent to 42 percent. Meanwhile, both teams lost ground in the wild card race — Dallas’s odds fell by 2 percentage points, and the Eagles’ chances dropped by 14 percentage points, more than any other team in the league. Much of that lost wild-card probability was soaked up by the NFC West, where Arizona, Seattle and San Francisco’s chances increased by a combined 22 percentage points.
If both teams continue on this path, it could set up a Thanksgiving Day showdown for the ages. With that in mind, a part of me would love to see a 9-2 Eagles team face off against a 9-2 Cowboys team, but that’s the thinking part. The feeling part of me wants to see Dallas at 6-5 by then.