5 ColdHardFootballFacts for Week 15

Cameron Smith

How the mighty have fallen. Through eight weeks, it looked like the Patriots might be untouchable in the Quality Stats all season. Now, it appears they may not finish the season atop any category.

New England's latest loss to Kansas City both dropped them further in the Power Rankings and also significantly boosted the Chiefs, who now might even have a chance to slide in and steal the No. 2 overall seed along the rail if they can run the table and New England falls to Buffalo. That's suddenly a much more realistic possibility than the Quality Stats made it appear before.

Here are the other big takeaways we gleaned from all the ColdHardFootballFacts Quality Stats following Week 14:

5) The Ravens' latest quality victory reinforced what most who have been watching closely probably already knew: Baltimore is the league's best team. The Ravens leapfrogged both the 49ers and Patriots in the Power Rankings by edging out Buffalo. The 49ers' narrow win in New Orleans, as impressive as it was, also included enough allowed points to ding their defensive superiority, opening the door wide for Baltimore. That's feels about right at the moment, though Ravens fans (and bettors) may have one eye on Lamar Jackson's tweaked hamstring right about now. If Jackson loses his explosiveness on the ground, Baltimore's offense changes substantially.

4) The big losers in the Power Rankings following Week 14? The Bills and Seahawks, who each fell three spots following tough losses to the Ravens (expected) and Rams (mostly unexpected!) respectively. Yes, the Jaguars actually dropped four spots, but even the reintegration of Gardner Minshew at quarterback couldn't make Jacksonville relevant again. The real question is whether the 49ers stirring walk-off win combined with Seattle's lackluster loss to the Rams reaffirms the hierarchy we'll see in the NFC West for the rest of the season, or whether it's a blip that Seattle can make up for when they host San Fran in Week 17 (keep in mind: the 49ers also still have another date with the Rams, too). As for the Bills, dropping three spots because of a loss to the top-team in the Power Rankings feels harsh. Then again, if Josh Allen could complete a pass to an open receiver, they might not have lost ...

3) The erosion of Patriots dominance in the Quality Stats is all but complete, but New England fans do still have one critical stat to call their own: the Intelligence Index! To be fair, the Pats defense still represents as the league's best in most defensive Quality Stat categories – Bendability, Defensive Passer Rating, Defensive Real Quarterback Rating — but even the defense has dropped to fourth in Defensive Rusher Rating. It's fitting that the Patriots continue to lead in Intelligence Index since it's the stat most tightly connected to successful coaches, but that success is also based largely on their strength in Bendability (the defense's knack for stiffening as an opponent nears the red zone). An offensive glimmer? The Pats' Scoreability ranking in the top-five would likely surprise many of their current offensive critics. One more impressive raw stat from the New England defense and special teams: They continue to lead in Total Team Yards Allowed, by more than 250 yards. Second place on that list? The Buffalo Bills. Schedule the rock fight for Week 16 already. 

2) Don't look now, but Ryan Tannehill's Tennessee Titans are coming, and they're charging hard. It's not just the 6-1 record since Tannehill deposed Marcus Mariota as the starting quarterback, it's the way the team's offensive quality stats have completely transformed with him under center. The Titans rose two more spots in Offensive Passer Rating to No. 4 on the list. They remain farther down at No. 11 in Real Quarterback Rating, but that's largely a function of Marcus Mariota's interceptions before his benching. The Titans are third in the Intelligence Index, ahead of teams like the Chiefs, Packers, Vikings, 49ers and plenty of other playoff contenders. And their defense is now up to No. 2 in Bendability, fitting for Mike Vrabel, former Bill Belichick charge. The point? The Quality Stats show that the Titans are good, and the deeper you dive, the better they may actually be. This could all change with two remaining games against their prime competitors for the division in Houston sandwiched around a meeting with the Saints, but if the Titans win one or more of those games, they could prove to be a very dangerous playoff team.

1) Was it a bad night, or did the Rams expose the real Seahawks? Seattle still seems like a legitimate contender in the NFC, but took an enormous beating in the Quality Stats on the heels of a 28-12 loss in Los Angeles. Seattle and Russell Wilson dropped four spots in Real QBR Differential. Wilson's play was solid enough that they only slipped one spot in Passer Rating Differential, but also fell three spots in Rusher Rating Differential. The end result is that Seattle is inside the top-five in just one of the three key indeces (Passer Rating Differential) and all the way down at No. 11 in the Power Rankings. Those aren't numbers you typically see for a legitimate Super Bowl contender this late in the season, so it will be fascinating to see if Seattle shoots back up where the NFL cognoscenti seem to think they belong after games against the Panthers and Cardinals in the coming two weeks.