NFL standings ordered by point differential: Steelers fraudulent, Bills underrated

Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

When it comes to evaluating and comparing football teams, nothing beats the eye test. However, it's never a bad idea to use a collection of statistics to make sure that your eyes aren't being deceived for that biases are coming into play. As much as we want to believe that the Pittsburgh Steelers are a good football team because of their 7-6 record, they haven't passed the eye exam this year.

There are dozens of raw numbers and plenty of advanced analytics out there that you can use to gauge how well a team is performing compared to the competition. One of the best metrics to use is point differential. This usually separates the elite teams from the riffraff.

The discrepancy between the top and the bottom teams this year is monumental. Here's a look at every NFL team's point differential and their rank heading into Week 15 of the 2023 season, per ESPN

NFL point differential entering Week 15:

1. Dallas Cowboys: +188
2. San Francisco 49ers: +175
3. Baltimore Ravens: +143
4. Miami Dolphins: +117
5. Buffalo Bills: +104
6. Kansas City Chiefs: +64
7. Detroit Lions: +26
8. Minnesota Vikings: +24
9. New Orleans Saints: +24
10. Jacksonville Jaguars: +22
11. Philadelphia Eagles: +21
12. Cleveland Browns: +17
13. Green Bay Packers: +13
14. Los Angeles Rams: +9
15. Houston Texans: +8
16. Los Angeles Chargers: 0
17. Cincinnati Bengals: -7
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: -8
19. Indianapolis Colts: -16
20. Atlanta Falcons: -18
21. Denver Broncos: -22
22. Seattle Seahawks: -38
23. Chicago Bears: -39
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: -40
25. Tennessee Titans: -41
26. New York Jets: -56
27. Las Vegas Raiders: -57
28. Arizona Cardinals: -101
29. New England Patriots: -103
30. New York Giants: -131
31. Washington Commanders: -134
32. Carolina Panthers: -144

Unsurprisingly, two NFC juggernauts -- the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers -- currently claim the top two spots when it comes to point differential. These two teams have combined to outscore their opponents by a whopping 363 points entering Week 15. This shouldn't come as a huge surprise as both teams even beat up the 10-3 Eagles in recent weeks.

Despite their impressive record, Philadelphia has a point differential of just +21 on the season. This makes for an average scoring margin of just +1.6 per game for the Eagles. Philly's unimpressive point differential suggests that this team has taken a big step back from where they were a season ago and that they aren't as good as their record would suggest.

However, there might not be a team out there that has a more fraudulent record than the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mike Tomlin's team recently lost back-to-back games against two-win football teams and they have a point differential of -40 on the season. Somehow, they still have a winning record and would earn the 6th seed in the AFC playoffs if the season ended today.

The Buffalo Bills have been just the opposite. While they also share a 7-6 record in the AFC, the Bills have an impressive point differential of +104 on the season. This is because they have lost some very close games while occasionally blowing teams out. Their point differential suggests that they would be far more dangerous in the postseason than the Steelers.

Scraping the bottom of the barrel in a tier of their own are the Panthers, Commanders, and Giants -- each accounting for -131 or worse in point differential this season.

Like any statistic, point differential isn't a 'say all, end all' number that is a direct representation of which NFL teams are the best. However, this gives a very clear depiction of which teams belong in which tiers and shows the ugly talent gap between NFL clubs. It's very likely that the teams at the top and those at the bottom will be even further apart by the end of the season.