For the first time in years, we are approaching midseason and the Cincinnati Bengals are not only in the thick of the playoff picture, they sit atop the AFC standings.
FiveThirtyEight uses an Elo-based model to forecast every NFL team’s chances to win their division, make the playoffs and win the Super Bowl. Much to the delight of Bengals fans everywhere, the current forecast shows high hopes for the men in stripes to be playing postseason football for the first time since the 2015 season.
The model also uses its formula to predict a team’s final record, based on a number of factors. As the NFL moves more and more to the analytical world, FiveThirtyEight uses a very interesting data to make their predictions. There is a standard adjustment built in for home field advantage, but it goes much deeper than that.
Factors such as days of rest before a game, distance traveled and an adjustment to a team’s Elo score based on their quarterback’s rolling performance grade on their scale. Meaning if Joe Burrow is coming off of a big game like this past week against the Baltimore Ravens, you can expect to see the Bengals get an overall Elo score boost for the following week. There are also ratings where the “quarterback adjustment” is removed.
Let’s look at the prediction for the Bengals heading in to Week 8:
The traditional forecast (without the quarterback adjustment) has the Bengals finishing with a top ten record in the entire NFL. With a predicted 11-6 record, Cincinnati is now projected to finish with the best record in the AFC North.
With the quarterback adjustment factored in, the record prediction remains exactly the same.
With the traditional forecast displayed, you will see the Bengals projected to finish atop the AFC North, with a 40% chance to win the division crown.
The division prediction is where we see the quarterback adjustment come into play. The Bengals’ odds go from 40% to win the North up to 41% based on the recent performances we’ve seen from Burrow.
With the forecast predicting a division crown, obviously they have the Bengals in the playoff picture. Traditional predictions have them sitting with a 75% chance to make the playoffs. This means that even if the team slips and doesn’t secure the division, the numbers point strongly to a postseason appearance.
Adding in the quarterback adjustment gives Cincinnati a two-percent bump, up to 77%.
Odds of a first-round bye currently sit at 15%. Does a first round bye count as snapping the streak of first round playoff exits? That is an objective question, so you decide for yourself.
Super Bowl Odds (No, really. Super Bowl Odds)
Looking at the non-quarterback adjustment rankings first again, your Cincinnati Bengals have a three percent chance of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at SoFi Stadium this coming February.
“Joey Franchise,” as they call him provided yet another boost to those odds this go around. Factoring in quarterback play brings the Bengals up to a four percent chance to be NFL champions this season.
*Insert “So you’re saying there’s a chance?” meme here*
However you look at this forecast, it is predicting a very exciting winter for one of the hottest teams in the NFL. As data, numbers and trends continue to be a huge part of football, this may be a forecast Bengals fans want to follow throughout the season.
If you take these numbers as gospel, I would suggest submitting your time off requests to your jobs now, because it looks like you have plans for Wild Card Weekend and beyond.