NFL Power Rankings: Each Tuesday morning (after NFL Monday Night Football concludes the week’s activities) several media outlets come out with “NFL Power Rankings” to rate all 32 NFL teams from 1 to 32 (why the word “Power” and not just “NFL Rankings”? Interesting…)
And sometimes the rankings are similar, sometimes there is a lot of disparity. Which is why I like looking at a number of NFL Power Rankings and combine them to come up with…
NFL Combined Power Rankings!!
How do I come up with the NFL Combined Power Rankings?
This is something I’ve done on and off for awhile now. I figured maybe it would be fun to actually post this publicly.
I use a system called Relative Placement. The basics of it: majority rules. The strength of it: when you have something very highly subjective to rank (such as professional sports rankings), you grab a number of “votes” and compare and combine them to come up with a final ranking. This is commonly used in dance competitions, and I think it works very well for the NFL Power Rankings.
For more about relative placement, you can read about it here:
If you want to read more about my NFL Combined Power Rankings, read my first post about it here:
On with the show! First..the NFL Power Rankings
My resources and criteria
- Find 7 NFL Power Rankings. This was done googling “NFL Power Rankings” and selecting some links on the first page, not surprisingly they came from sources I already often read
- A team must be ranked in the top 5 in one ranking to be considered. Mostly to save time. I didn’t want to apply the relative placement system to all 32 teams for all 7 rankings
- Only top 5 scores are considered.. If a team is ranked in the top 5 by one ranking, they are eligible for this combined ranking. However, if they are not in the top 5 of a different ranking that I use, then for tallying purposes I assign them a “6th” place.
NFL Power Rankings used
** The Washington Post “Fancy Stats” is the only ranking that relies on analytics and pure number crunching. The rest of the power rankings are all based on subjective analysis by the respective reporters. That is why I like including the Fancy Stats rankings. Interestingly, they are often the outlier: sometimes including teams the other rankings do not, and sometimes excluding teams the other rankings include. Very curious then how subjective opinion relates to number crunching so keep an eye on the Fancy Stats rankings as compared to the others as well as the combined rankings.
Here are the individual NFL Power Rankings I used
8. Seahawks Another Seahawks win that proved to be harder-fought than people anticipated, and with the play of both Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, a small drop was necessary. Then again, we must remind ourselves that this club played plenty of surprisingly close games last year — including tight victories over the Titans, Rams and Bucs — and still went on to win the Super Bowl by 35 points. So, should we continue to believe in these ‘Hawks, Seattle fans? The ultimate litmus test might be when the Cardinals visit Nov. 23.
12. Seahawks: As we go down the list, we find teams like the Eagles, Packers, Colts, Bengals, Chiefs, Cowboys, Seahawks, Ravens, Dolphins, Bills, and Browns, a gaggle of very strong teams, either leading their divisions or contending in that race.
10. Seahawks: A six-point home win over the Raiders won’t exactly calm the nerves. Russell Wilson had a career-high 12 off-target passes Sunday, but Seattle escaped and hosts the Giants next.
5. Seahawks: The Seahawks are really beat up but still find ways to win, even if the most recent victory was the No. 32 Raiders. It’s going to be hard for Seattle to stay in the top ten if it doesn’t start getting healthy along the offensive line.
10. Seahawks: Led by a strong run defense, the Seahawks defense looked a lot closer to the one we saw in 2013. Issues in pass protection aren’t going away, however, and it showed.
8. Seahawks: I guess a win is a win and all, but at this point they stay up here because of what we know they’re capable of going back to last season. They haven’t looked like a title contender since Week 1. It’s in there somewhere, but it would be nice to see it soon.
8. Seahawks: (no comments on site)
Here are my NFL Combined Power Rankings
Remember, a non-top-five vote for a team is assessed “sixth” place for tallying, otherwise a “novote” for display.
1st: New England Patriots (last week: 3rd)
VOTES: 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd
2nd: Arizona Cardinals (last week: 2nd)
VOTES: 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd
3rd: Denver Broncos (last week: 1st)
VOTES: 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd, 5th
4th: Philadelphia Eagles (last week: 5th)
VOTES: 4th, 4th, 4th, 5th, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE
5th: Detroit Lions (last week: 8th)
VOTES: 4th, 4th, 4th, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE
6th: Indianapolis Colts (last week: unranked)
VOTES: 4th, 5th, 5th, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE
7th: Pittsburgh Steelers (last week: unranked)
VOTES: 5th, 5th NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE
8th: Miami Dolphins (last week: unranked)
VOTES: 3rd, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE
9th: Seattle Seahawks (last week: 9th)
VOTES: 5th, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE
Fell Out Of Rankings: Dallas Cowboys (last week: 4th), San Diego Chargers (last week: 6th), Kansas City Chiefs (last week: 7th)
a.k.a. no 1st through 5th Votes this week
What It Says…
Some interesting points simply from reading a relative placement sheet
- The clean majorities (aka decisive placements) are again 1st through 3rd this week:
- Patriots are a clear 1st with a majority of 1st votes
- Cardinals are a clear 2nd with a majority of 1st and 2nd votes
- Broncos are a clear 3rd with a majority of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd votes
- Analysis of 1st through 3rd: While the Patriots and Broncos victory decided their placements getting swapped, the Cardinals beat a Cowboys team with an injured Romo. Had he not been injured and the Cardinals won, I’m guessing the Cardinals would deserve 1st despite not having the “wow” “pow” marketable offense that the Broncos and Patriots have.
- The case for the Cardinals: Have we forgotten that the Cardinals played 3 games this year without their starting QB Carson Palmer?
- Nice clear first “natural break” in relative placement is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. If it wasn’t obvious. Even with the clear majorities, those three teams are right in the thick of it at the top.
- The second “natural break”: 4th, 5th, and 6th. Lions, Eagles, and Colts. The Eagles lose starting QB Nick Foles to injury, but many analysts do not think the Eagles will take a step back as Mark Sanchez is more than a capable quarterback (despite his “butt-fumble” legacy). The Lions defense continues to be amazing, and just wait until the offense starts clicking again with both Calvin Johnson and the under-valued Golden Tate. You could almost make a case for the Steelers being in this mix. If Big Ben continues to have some record breaking weeks, they will be.
- The third natural break this week is 7th, 8th, and 9th. Though when you look at actual rankings, it pretty much is 7th through 15th or so. In other words, while the Seahawks, Steelers, and Dolphins are in, don’t be surprised to see this rotated out next week with the rest of this natural break: Packers, Chiefs, Bengals, Cowboys, Chargers, Ravens, even the Browns. And I definitely expect one of these teams to jump into the 2nd natural break as they keep winning and possibly the 2nd natural break starts losing.
- Fancy Stats, the one non-subjective power ranking, again is an outlier. However, it is only one team that is the outlier which is the Miami Dolphins at 3rd place. I’m sure the numbers are helped by their winning against a previously ranked Chargers team by a whopping 37-0 shutout score win. Otherwise, as the season goes on, I do expect the Fancy Stats to start matching the actual rankings much more closely. Gone are my Seahawks from here (close game to the winless Raiders).
- AFC Quarterbacks: they are starting to shine. We have Brady vs Manning (and you knew the loser was going to take a bit of a hit, in this case the Broncos go from #1 to #3). You have Andrew Luck back in after falling out last week (losing to the Steelers). You also have Big Ben Roethlisberger with three AMAZING weeks of quarterbacking for him to finally get into our rankings here (ranked 5th by SBNation).
- NFC Quarterbacks: Compare those AFC studs to the group of under-performing, slow-out-of-the-gate, and injured QBs of the NFC: Russel Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Nick Foles, Tony Romo, Robert Griffin III, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, and Cam Newton. Looks like the AFC is the power house division. Do you remember when Seattle and San Francisco were the two beat teams in the NFL? And close behind them arguably were the Packers and Saints with the Broncos and Patriots?
- RELATIVE PLACEMENT FUN: What’s the complete story? How close are the Patriots and Cardinals? You could almost make a case for the Patriots: best record, most complete “team” not dependent on one specific star (heck: their starting QB was out for 3 games this year!). This is a good example of judging and relative placement. While the scores give you more of the story behind the final rankings, talking to judges gives you more of a complete story. How decisive or indecisive their placements ended up being gives you an even better picture of how close (or not close) the 1st and 2nd team rankings are.
As an example, take the Fox Sports analyst that says this about the Cardinals which he ranked 2nd:
“Carson Palmer has undergone a late career renaissance under coach Bruce Arians, and one could make an argument that the Cardinals are the best-coached team in the NFL. “
If for whatever reason, Fox Sports decided that best-coached team were a more important criteria (and won-loss record) he could have flipped this score. Two more judges do that and the Cardinals are the clean majority 1st place winner.
My personal opinion on the Seahawks
I again have no problem with the Seahawks being where they are.
That group of teams in the third natural break (7th through 15th or so) are a big mix and I believe they are getting the benefit of the doubt for being last year’s Super Bowl Champions. In other words, the analysts are not “haters” and do want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Those are a lot of “3-loss” teams in that third natural break category, I’m curious to see how that will shake out next week. They have an “easier” week next week with the New York Giants (*apply “Any Given Sunday” disclaimer here) before having their toughest stretch of the season starting with Kansas City. This is then followed by a stretch of games that will likely decide the NFC West and possibly the NFC playoff spots:
- Week 10: New York Giants
- Week 11: Kansas City Chiefs
- Week 12: Arizona (NFC West)
- Week 13: San Francisco (NFC West)
- Week 14: Philadelphia (NFC East)
- Week 15: San Francisco (NFC West)
- Week 16: Arizona (NFC West)
- Week 17: St Louis (NFC West)
Team or Teams of Interest: New England Patriots
Our new #1 NFL Combined Power Ranking team: The Patriots: Do the Patriots hang on to their #1 ranking?
Have to think so with Rob Gronkowski back who looked nigh unstoppable.
The Patriots previous win streak has been against “average” teams. Pounding the Broncos the way they did, though, is a great way to kick off their first place ranking. Not bad for a team that was almost left for dead some weeks ago.
Looking ahead for them: they have a very very tough schedule ahead, facing teams that are ranked or previously ranked, so it will also be interesting to see how this develops. This week they have a bye. Following that, they next face:
- Week 11: Indianapolis Colts
- Week 12: Detroit Lions
- Week 13: Green Bay Packers
- Week 14: San Diego Chargers
- Week 15: Miami Dolphins.
About Me and About Relative Placement
I come from a background of doing a lot of swing dance competition judging. Without getting into it, there are a lot of styles to swing dancing and at an elite level you have to basically compare apples to oranges and decide which you like better. So you have to combine the scoring of seven different judges and come up with a final placement.
For that reason, I’m always interested in scoring and rankings of any sort. Especially when it is subjective like NFL football. In this case, instead of taking any one specific ranking into account, I like taking them all into account to come up with a “final” power ranking (combined power rankings)
Believe it or not, my wife and I use relative placement for a lot of different tallying, not just for swing dance judging, from ridiculous situations to sometimes very important critical decisions.