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
7. Seahawks Tweeted this on Sunday, and I’ll say it again: Marshawn Lynch is the most entertaining power back to watch since Earl Campbell. When his touchdown plunge put Seattle up 24-17 in the fourth quarter, you could just feel the crowd get energized. Not sure there is another running back like him in the game today. His lateral moves are awesome for a guy who runs with such brute force.
10. Seahawks: Don’t look now, but the defending champion Seahawks have rattled off three wins in a row and seem to have rediscovered the identity they rode to a Super Bowl win in 2013. The run game has taken back off, the defense has regained its swagger, and if Russell Wilson can get back to throwing the football like he was earlier in the season, Seattle could find itself back in the conversation as one of the favorites out of the NFC.
9. Seahawks: Seattle’s 350 rushing yards were more than the Giants’ total yards (324) Sunday. The Seahawks rushed for more yards than any team since the 2012 Chiefs in Week 16.
8. Seahawks: The Seattle running game is downright scary right now and it will have to carry the team until the defense gets healthy. A trip to Kansas City this week will be a real test.
10. Seahawks: With top two offensive linemen Russell Okung and Max Unger back, the Seahawks’ ground game was reborn. Going forward, this rushing attack can lead anchor the offense.
8. Seahawks: The Giants were in that game for almost three full quarters, until Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas combined on a great interception in the end zone. The game turned at that moment. Maybe that’s all to be ignored because the Seahawks dominated the fourth quarter, I’m not sure.
9. 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: 1st)
VOTES: 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 5th
2nd: Arizona Cardinals (last week: 2nd)
VOTES: 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, novote, novote
3rd: Denver Broncos (last week: 3rd)
VOTES: 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd
4th: Philadelphia Eagles (last week: 4th)
VOTES: 3rd, 3rd, 4th, 4th, 5th, novote, novote
5th: Detroit Lions (last week: 5th)
VOTES: 4th, 4th, 4th, novote, novote, novote, novote
6th: Green Bay Packers (last week: unranked)
VOTES: 4th, 5th, 5th, novote, novote, novote, novote
7th: Indianapolis Colts (last week: 6th)
VOTES: 4th, 5th, novote, novote, novote, novote, novote
8th: Dallas Cowboys (last week: unranked)
VOTES: 5th, 5th, novote, novote, novote, novote, novote
9th: Kansas City Chiefs (last week: unranked)
VOTES: 3rd, novote, novote, novote, novote, novote, novote
Fell Out Of Rankings:
a.k.a. no 1st through 5th Votes this week
Pittsburgh Steelers (last week: 7th)
Miami Dolphins (last week: 8th)
Seattle Seahawks (last week: 9th)
What It Says…
Some interesting points to be gathered reading the relative placement sheet
- Not a lot of “Rankings Games” this past week, meaning two ranked teams playing each other. So for the most part everyone was on cruise control. The biggest ones would have been Detroit beating Miami (after Miami had shut out the Chargers the previous week).
- “Rankings Shaker” Game aka the upsets. Jets beat the Steelers after the Steelers came off two huge wins in a row. Knocked the Steelers out of the rankings.
- Not surprising that placements 1st through 5th are exactly the same as last week (even with the Cardinals dropping with a few analysts because of the Palmer situation, more on that below). The “cruise control” week shook up more the good and great teams vs the elite teams.
- Extrapolated to my Seahawks, the Seahawks played a underwhelming Giants team. A convincing win not surprisingly kept them at about the same rankings on average
- Timing and Injuries: The Eagles: The Eagles lost their starting QB Nick Foles. The Eagles went into a “wait and see” pattern last week, but 2nd string QB Mark Sanchez has a pretty well known pedigree. With a convincing win, the Eagles quickly climbed back up the rankings.
- Timing and Injuries: The Cardinals: The Cardinals are now in the “wait and see” pattern with Carson Palmer of the Arizona Cardinals suffering a season-ending injury. 2nd string QB Drew Stanton does not have the same pedigree as the Eagles Mark Sanchez, and it was interesting to see how this played out with the different Power Rankings.
- The clean majorities (aka decisive placements) are 1st through 4th 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
- Eagles are a clear 4th with a majority of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th votes.
- The Detroit Lions by all rights should be a clear 5th as well. I’m surprised they did not get a majority. They have the #1 defense and now that the #1 wide receiver in the league, Calvin Johnson, is back, they should be a hard team to beat for anyone.
- I still put the strong natural break at 1st through 3rd with the “elite” teams.
- The second natural break I would put 4th through 7th. These are teams that are bordering on elite with something holding them back whether it is a possible key injury (Eagles), or a surprise over performer (Lions), or have played magnificently this season but have had one or two hiccups (Colts and Packers).
- Fancy Stats Outlier #1: Kansas City Chiefs If you’ve been reading along, it’s interesting to compare the Washington Post Fancy Stats rankings to the rest, since Fancy Stats is all numerical analysis vs the rest which are subjective. You’ll usually see some interesting outliers here. In this case, the Chiefs are on an impressive win streak. Big game coming up against my Seahawks. The Chiefs play at home, one of the toughest places to play and I believe are favored by Vegas betting odds, the first team I think all season the Seahawks have not been favored to win.
- Fancy Stats Outlier #2 Interestingly, the one non-subjective power ranking, is the only ranking that did not place the Patriots 1st or 2nd.
- RELATIVE PLACEMENT FUN: Fox Sports and Yahoo Sports did not place the Cardinals in the top 5. I am guessing it has to do with the season ending injury of starting QB Carson Palmer. Despite this, the other five power rankings placed the Cardinals 1st or 2nd. As a result, the Cardinals end up 2nd place again even though they got not just one, but TWO novotes. Again showing the idea of relative placement not giving too much power to any one judge.
My personal opinion on the Seahawks
I again have no problem with the Seahawks being where they are. They showed a dominant win over the struggling New York Giants. In that win, QB Russell Wilson still showed some problems in the passing game. The rushing game went on a tear. The defense did an alright job through three quarters, and then turned it on in the 4th quarter. The doubts would come that this was still a 17-17 tie game through three quarters against a sub .500 team.
With that said, quite a few analysts put the Seahawks up a spot or two, while others took them down one. So they basically stayed in the same spot
Huge game against Kansas City Chiefs this week. A decisive win will likely put them up in the rankings, but not likely into the top five. At this point they will likely need to beat a top 5 team to really break through. They definitely will get their chance because after Kansas City, they play top teams the rest of the way (and even with their poor showing this year, the 49ers are still considered a dangerous team that could win just about any game).
Team or Teams of Interest: Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions
Yup, that’s a lot of teams. There are a lot of interesting things going on and I think a lot of analysts are in a “wait and see” type mode for these guys
Dallas Cowboys: Starting QB Tony Romo is injured, but he still plays and they still get a huge win. Then again I think that win is a bit overblown because it was against the Jacksonville Jaguars. I don’t think they deserve any huge rankings bump from that victory. The next game is against the Giants. After that, the Eagles. It’ll be an interesting two weeks to see how Romo is doing.
Philadelphia Eagles: Starting QB Nick Foles is injured, and while Mark Sanchez had a great game, we’re waiting to see if he continues to have great games or starts suffering immaturity and turnovers. Huge game this week against the Packers. Good test for the Eagles.
Arizona Cardinals: Starting QB Carson Palmer is injured. If Carson Palmer were not injured, I think everyone was ready to give them #1. 2nd stringer Drew Stanton does not have a lengthy resume like Sanchez. Tough game this week against the #1 defense Detroit Lions. Excellent test for Stanton and the Cardnials.
Detroit Lions: No injuries. Team of interest because they have pretty much snuck into the rankings. They currently have the #1 defense AND are getting back the #1 wide receiver Calvin Johnson aka Megatron. It will be interesting to see how they do the next two weeks. They have not had the toughest competition in recent weeks (Vikings, Saints, Falcons, Dolphins). They definitely will get tested the next two weeks against the Cardinals and Patriots.
Rankings Games For Week 11 aka ranked teams playing
- Philadelphia Eagles (#4) @ Green Bay Packers (#6)
- Detroit Lions (#5) @ Arizona Cardinals (#2)
- New England Patriots (#1) @ Indianapolis Colts (#7)
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.