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This is a true and deep love. Perhaps even an everlasting love.

Let’s compare ESPN’s FPI projections to current market estimates:

Team Market ESPN
Alabama 74.13% 47.00%
Clemson 54.95% 67.00%
Ohio State 37.50% 37.00%
Georgia 32.05% 46.00%
Washington 26.97% 41.00%
Michigan 19.80% 8.00%
Wisconsin 15.29% 11.00%
Auburn 11.83% 17.00%
Oklahoma 16.16% 24.00%
Penn State 15.61% 16.00%
Michigan State 9.76% 15.00%
Notre Dame 9.14% 42.00%
Texas 9.14% 3.00%
Miami 8.39% 7.00%
Florida State 7.71% 1.00%
Stanford 6.75% 6.00%
USC 6.18% 2.00%
LSU 4.94% NL
Mississippi State 4.94% 3.00%
West Virginia 4.70% NL
Texas A&M 4.40% NL
Oregon 3.82% 0.01
Virginia Tech 3.21% NL
TCU 3.21% NL
Florida 2.82% NL
Nebraska 1.24% NL
Oklahoma State 1.24% 1.00%

Let’s start at the top: ESPN says Alabama is more likely to miss the playoff than make it. That’s seems bonkers. They are quite optimistic about Clemson’s chances. They are also quite high on Georgia, Oklahoma, and Washington. We’ll see how that goes for them. However, nothing compares to their confidence in Notre Dame.

The market price on Notre Dame allows some room for discussion, but 42% to make the playoff? 10% to win the National Title? You can shop around and find prices on Notre Dame at better than 50-1 to be crowned champions. This is a bold opinion.

Please note, if we count Oregon and Florida State at 1%, ESPN has a 5% chance someone not listed makes the playoff. Market estimates have a 4.1% chance that someone not listed will make the playoff. Of course, that’s with seven addition teams listed. Let’s give ESPN at $10K bankroll and limitless credit and see what they recommend:

Team Playoffs?! Risked To Win
Alabama Out 2933 8800
Clemson In 1915 1321
Ohio State Out 195 118
Georgia In 1600 1880
Washington In 1418 3120
Michigan Out 5320 1097
Wisconsin Out 2300 383
Auburn In 514 3600
Oklahoma In 748 3440
Penn State Out 400 80
Michigan State In 192 1250
Notre Dame In 3308 21500
Texas Out 6175 526
Miami No Bet 0 0
Florida State Out 8490 602
Stanford No Bet 0 0
USC Out 6300 360
LSU Out 7650 340
Mississippi State Out 2950 131
West Virginia Out 7525 317
Texas A&M Out 7325 284
Oregon Out 6850 225
Virginia Tech Out 6150 164
TCU Out 6150 164
Florida Out 5650 133
Nebraska Out 900 10
Oklahoma State Out 900 10

Please note, for wagering purposes I’ve capped the chances of a team missing the playoff at 99%. If I had an additional significant digit from ESPN, so of these wagers might be quite a bit larger.

Here are there projections with what they’ve written about them:

http://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/24310810/introducing-college-football-playoff-predictor-which-likes-clemson-better-alabama

And a video:

http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=24315236

 

 

 

 

 

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I ran the scout grades for the individual roster units to see how things were looking for the 2018 season and there were… some surprises. I’ll go division by division:

AFC East- Yes the Patriots are on top, but the the Bills aren’t nearly as far behind as I would have assumed. The Bills appear to have a reasonably competent roster, while the Jets and Dolphins have a lot of work to do. Note, this is just roster-based, so it doesn’t take the Patriots coaching edge into account.

AFC North- The Browns have been making progress, but it will take some time.

AFC South- I was surprised the Texans didn’t get more love. If Deshaun Watson stays healthy, they look like a scary team. Jaguars are loaded despite the constant Blake Bortles problem.

AFC West- Not a whole lot separating the teams in the division. I’m surprised the Broncos roster grades out as well as it does. The Chargers are considered dark-horses to take the AFC, but their roster might not be up to snuff.

NFC East- The Eagles are in great shape. The only major problem for them is that they’ll face some tough competition in the playoffs.

NFC North- WHAT??? The Vikings graded out with a slightly better roster, but the Lions have the easier schedule. The Packers roster, apart from Rodgers, is garbage. The Vikings and Packers implied Pythags¬†are well beyond those of the Lions, so I’m pretty skeptical. Of note is the gap between the Eagles and Vikings, which is quite a bit larger than I was expecting.

NFC South- The Saints have been getting a lot of love as their offense is expected to dominate. The Falcons are right there with them though. The Panthers defense looks solid, but the offense isn’t as stacked.

NFC West- The Rams look like monsters. The Seahawks roster has fallen off considerably (imagine the offense without Russell Wilson). The 49ers roster has been improved, with Jimmy G. being the key.

These are a lot less important than the previously mentioned implied Pythags, but they do provide a distant-early warning that some teams lack the depth that’s required over a season of attrition.

One final note: The NFC as a whole looks quite a bit stronger than the AFC. We’ll see how that plays out during the regular season.

New England Patriots 10.54
Buffalo Bills 7.81
New York Jets 5.12
Miami Dolphins 4.74
Pittsburgh Steelers 10.87
Baltimore Ravens 7.76
Cincinnati Bengals 6.03
Cleveland Browns 4.97
Jacksonville Jaguars 9.93
Tennessee Titans 8.23
Houston Texans 7.87
Indianapolis Colts 6.09
Los Angeles Chargers 8.86
Denver Broncos 8.17
Kansas City Chiefs 7.89
Oakland Raiders 7.37
Philadelphia Eagles 11.39
Dallas Cowboys 8.2
New York Giants 6.12
Washington Redskins 5.98
Detroit Lions 9.31
Minnesota Vikings 9.27
Green Bay Packers 8.47
Chicago Bears 6.41
New Orleans Saints 10.66
Atlanta Falcons 10.5
Carolina Panthers 8.55
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6.16
Los Angeles Rams 10.76
San Francisco 49ers 8.19
Seattle Seahawks 7.46
Arizona Cardinals 6.47

These were taken from the NFL Season Win Totals and then adjusted by schedule. Since the Patriots have the easiest schedule in the NFL (again), they took the largest hit. That wasn’t enough to knock them from the top spot though. Apart from the Steelers, no one in the AFC is close. Of course, they own the Steelers, so yes, the Patriots remain the AFC favorites.

The NFC has three elite teams, with the Saints and Packers nipping at their heels.

Despite going 1-31 over the past two seasons, the Browns are not at the bottom of the Pythags. That spot belongs to the woeful Jets. The Bills and Dolphins also sit in the bottom six. Sigh.

New England Patriots 0.6693
Philadelphia Eagles 0.6439
Pittsburgh Steelers 0.6335
Los Angeles Rams 0.6264
Minnesota Vikings 0.6258
New Orleans Saints 0.5948
Green Bay Packers 0.5901
Los Angeles Chargers 0.5633
Atlanta Falcons 0.5632
Jacksonville Jaguars 0.5569
Houston Texans 0.5295
Carolina Panthers 0.5201
Dallas Cowboys 0.519
Kansas City Chiefs 0.5188
Baltimore Ravens 0.5004
San Francisco 49ers 0.4983
Oakland Raiders 0.4887
Tennessee Titans 0.4877
Seattle Seahawks 0.483
Detroit Lions 0.4658
New York Giants 0.4622
Denver Broncos 0.4529
Cincinnati Bengals 0.4398
Washington Redskins 0.4322
Indianapolis Colts 0.4289
Chicago Bears 0.4189
Miami Dolphins 0.4124
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0.3942
Arizona Cardinals 0.3929
Cleveland Browns 0.3736
Buffalo Bills 0.3598
New York Jets 0.3495