By HCR Staff | Oct. 5, 2018
Before the 2018 season began, HCR introduced a new metric for measuring success in the NFL: 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 does a team prevent 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.
Through four weeks of the 2018 season, GCI data continues to show a strong correlation to NFL success. It should come as no surprise that the only two unbeaten teams – the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs – are at the top of the rankings. Before presenting the complete rundown, here are a few key takeaways:
• The Pittsburgh Steelers are the only team with a losing record in the top 10. This indicates to us that they have the talent to control games. Therefore, they must improve on game management/game planning deficiencies.
• The Seattle Seahawks, despite a 2-2 record and much-discussed personnel; changes this season, rank sixth in the GCI rankings. While many have declared this will be a down year for Seattle, their GCI score suggests they may be an interesting sleeper the rest of the way.
• When we began ranking NFL head coaches in 2017, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was getting good grades despite an 0-10 start. Shanahan and the 49ers finished strong in 2017 but stand at 1-3 this season having lost QB Jimmy Garoppolo for the season. The fact that they are in the top half of the GCI rankings reinforces our belief that Shanahan is a top-tier coach.
• While the Jacksonville Jaguars are 3-1 and considered a serious AFC contender, their GCI ranking – 18th – indicates they are far from dominant and have a few things to work on.
• The Minnesota Vikings getting off to a 1-2-1 start has been one of the bigger surprises this season, given their high expectations. Their GCI rank of 31st indicates the disappointing record is not a fluke.
Here are the complete Game Control Index rankings through Week 4:
|GCI Rank||Team||GCI Score||2018 Record (W-L)|