By HCR Staff | Nov. 9, 2018
There’s a new No. 1 in the updated Game Control Index, Head Coach Ranking’s exclusive new metric for measuring success in the NFL, and it may come as a surprise: the Chicago Bears.
Before the 2018 season began, HCR introduced the Game Control Index. A proprietary metric combining key factors that we believe are indicative of winning football games, the Game Control Index results from the 2017 season fell into place with how the teams finished: Eight of the top 10 teams made the playoffs, and only one of the 12 playoff teams did not finish in the top 15.
As a reminder, here’s how it works:
The Game Control Index tracks how often a team comes away with points via long drives (starting at their own 30-yard line or deeper) and short drives (starting at the 50 or in opponent’s territory). We do the same for each team’s defense, i.e., how well a team does preventing long drives and short drives. We calculate total points scored on these drives and average points per drive – for both offense and defense. “Throwaway drives” – if a team is kneeling at the end of a half or just running out the clock – are not counted.
That’s eight different factors to rank, and the average of the eight factors produces the Game Control Index. The lower the number, the better that team did in converting opportunities to control games.
Looking at the current Game Control Index, it remains apparent the metric is quite correlated to success. Only one of the top 13 teams has a losing record. Before looking at the overall GCI rankings, here are some observations:
• The Bears coaching staff deserves tremendous credit; this clearly is a balanced team. More experienced game management would have closed out two additional wins (vs. Green Bay in the home opener and on road vs. Miami).
• The Houston Texans, winners of six straight games, are up to fifth in GCI. They have shown increasing balance all year; they are a solid, developing team very capable of winning in the playoffs.
• The Seattle Seahawks, even with a close loss last week, have shown excellent balance as well. At 4-4, they are tied with the Patriots for sixth in the GCI rankings. This bodes well for Seattle going forward, especially for 2019.
• These numbers were compiled after Week 9 games, so they do not include Pittsburgh’s 52-21 win over Carolina Thursday night. Until that game, the Steelers’ games had been fairly uneven (opening tie vs. Cleveland, early home loss vs. Baltimore, poor home loss to Kansas City, close game vs. Tampa Bay). Pittsburgh is middle of the pack here — we’ll see how far they move up the list next week.
• The Minnesota Vikings’ record is improving, yet they rank 21st in GCI. This indicates there still is some vulnerability at the moment. The Atlanta Falcons, tied for 18th, are in a similar situation.
• The Rams were dominant in this metric for most of the season — first through Week 8 and second behind the Chiefs in Week 9 — but as the quality of their opponents has increased, their GCI has decreased. Of course, they still rank fourth and are obviously still a Super Bowl contender.
Here’s a look at the overall GCI rankings through Week 9:
|GCI Rank||Team||GCI Score||2018 Record (W-L)|