NFL Combined Power Rankings Week 12 November 18, 2014

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!!

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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.


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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:

How Judges Judge A Lindy Hop Competition

If you want to read more about my NFL Combined Power Rankings, read my first post about it here:

NFL Combined Power Rankings Week 6 aka Inaugural Post

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.

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NFL Power Rankings used

  • NFL.com
  • SB Nation
  • ESPN.go.com
  • CBS Sports
  • FOX Sports
  • Yahoo Sports
  • Washington Post “Fancy Stats” **

** 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.

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Here are the individual NFL Power Rankings I used

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1. Patriots
2. Cardinals
3. Packers
4. Broncos
5. Cowboys

10. Seahawks (-3). Say what you want about Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, but we just saw how relevant defensive tackle Brandon Mebane — lost for the season in Week 10 — is in terms of team MVP conversation. Well, that is if you consider keeping opponents from racking up nearly two bills on the ground to be valuable.

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1. Cardinals
2. Patriots
3. Packers
4. Chiefs
5. Broncos

13. Seahawks (-3). Parity Rules. The Chiefs took down the Seahawks in a Sunday slugfest, showing incredible toughness late in the game to stuff two Seattle fourth-down attempts, including Seattle’s last-ditch effort for a game-winning 96-yard drive. Kansas City ran the ball well and wore out the Seahawks’ defense with Jamaal Charles and the run game. Alex Smith only needed to complete 11 of 16 passes for 108 yards to move the Chiefs into a 7-3 tie with the Broncos in the AFC West.

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1. Patriots
2. Cardinals
3. Packers
4. Broncos
5. Chiefs

11. Seahawks (-2). Jamaal Charles exploited the hole left by Brandon Mebane’s injury. The Chiefs had 6.3 yards per rush and 5.0 yards before contact per rush, most against Seattle since 2013.


1. Patriots
2. Cardinals
3. Packers
4. Broncos
5. Chiefs

14. Seahawks (-6). In its first outing without DT Brandon Mebane, Seattle struggled against the Chiefs’ ground game. Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson can run their way past most opponents but the Seahawks’ 2-3 road record stings. The three remaining road games are at San Francisco, Philadelphia and Arizona, which are a combined 22-8.


1. Patriots
2. Cardinals
3. Packers
4. Cowboys
5. Broncos

11. Seahawks (-1) The run defense took a major step back following the loss of Brandon Mebane. Although Russell Wilson made some incredible plays through the air and with his legs, the offense came up short on the last drive thanks to some great pass defense by the Chiefs.


1. Patriots
2. Packers
3. Cardinals
4. Broncos
5. Eagles

9. Seahawks (-1) A lot is being made of Marshawn Lynch, like he’s a reason for the Seahawks’ issues. Let’s think this through. Do we think Lynch debuted a new personality this year? No. And how were the Seahawks with all of Lynch’s “distractions” or whatever you’d like to call them the past few years?

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1. Cardinals
2. Patriots
3. Chiefs
4. Dolphins
5. Broncos

8. Seahawks (+1) 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, 1st, 2nd, 2nd

2nd: Arizona Cardinals (last week: 2nd)

VOTES: 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd

3rd: Green Bay Packers (last week: 6th)

VOTES: 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd, novote

4th: Denver Broncos (last week: 3rd)

VOTES: 4th, 4th, 4th, 4th, 5th, 5th, 5th

5th: Kansas City Chiefs (last week: 9th)

VOTES: 3rd, 4th, 5th, 5th, novote, novote, novote

6th: Dallas Cowboys (last week: 8th)

VOTES: 4th, 5th, novote, novote, novote, novote, novote

7th: Miami Dolphins (last week: unranked)

VOTES: 4th, novote, novote, novote, novote, novote, novote

8th: Philadelphia Eagles (last week: 8th)

VOTES: 5th, novote, novote, novote, novote, novote, novote


Fell Out Of Rankings:

a.k.a. no 1st through 5th Votes this week
Detroit Lions (last week: 5th)
Indianapolis Colts (last week: 7th)



What It Says…

The Rankings Shakers: Upset wins, games with two ranked teams playing, and more

  1. Packers (#6) demolish the Eagles (#4) 53-20 (ranked team loses big)

  2. Cardinals (#2) squeak by the Lions (#5) 14-6 (ranked team loses)
  3. Patriots (#1) whip the COlts (#7) 42-20 (ranked team loses big)
  4. Rams (unranked) surprise the Broncos (#3) 22-7 (UPSET WIN OVER RANKED TEAM!)
  5. Chiefs (#9) beat my Seahawks (unranked) 24-20 (two peripherallyr anked teams, winner slides up to top 5)

Natural Breaks From A Tally Perspective

Natural Break # 1 is 1st and 2nd. Patriots, while a clear 1st, have the Cardinals on their heels. Both teams win big, and at this point you could make an argument for either team.

Natural Break # 2 From a tally perspective it’s the Packers all by themselves. They make a big jump with a huge win over Philly, but they still don’t really break into the group which tells you how far and away the Patriots and Cardinals really are right now. It’s hard to make an argument of putting Green Bay above those two, at least for another week.

Natural Break # 3 Denver, all by itself. Previously an elite team with the Patriots and Cardinals, but a stunner loss drops them. They could have conceivably dropped even further with three losses now, but you can’t really make an argument of the teams under them being in the same group (Chiefs, Cowboys, Lions, etc)

Natural Break # 4: All the ranked and previously ranked teams fall into here. Some teams on the upswing (Chiefs), some on the downswing (Eagles), some holding status quo (Cowboys with a bye, Miami with a win against a .500 team). Not quite good enough to be up there with the Broncos but knocking on the door.

I really like these natural breaks, and think this is probably the most clear cut rankings so far with what’s been going on. Not really much else to say about that.

Fancy Stats Outliers

Since Fancy Stats is the non-subjective ranking, I like seeing how it matches up with the others. And if you’re the curious type you can reverse-engineer a bit the algorithm used to determine these rankings.

The outliers in this case:

Green Bay Packers, not placed. The only ranking to NOT place them. I’m surprised to because they had a huge win over a very good team. I’m guessing then whatever algorithm is used, it considers the entire season so far of the Packers and the win just was not enough to put them in the top 5. They did get #6.

Miami Dolphins, placed #4. Only ranking to place the Dolphins, and they got in at #4

Relative Placement Fun

Really no interesting relative placement fun. Clean majorities, and votes and rankings as you’d expect after what’s gone on with the season. If anything, I want to say I am surprised that the Lions got NO votes at all. They lost a very close game to Arizona, compared to the Cowboys had a bye week and the Eagles lost also. I expected them to still be in it.

Week 12 Potential Rankings Shakers

These are the games to watch

Dolphins (#7) vs Broncos (#4): Any time two ranked teams play, one ranked team is guaranteed to lose which will shake up the rankings. Considering the Broncos have injuries to major payers on their offense to contend with, Dolphins are up and down with a demolishing of the Chargers, a close loss to the Lions, and a convincing win against the Bills. Miami has a pretty good chance which will knock the Broncos down even further.

Lions (unranked) vs Patriots (#1): While the Lions are unranked, this is almost as good as a ranking game. The Lions have got to be smarting from the loss to the Cardinals. The Cardinals shocked them with two touchdowns early, and after that the Lions D shut the Cardinals out. However, the high octane Lions offense did nothing all game, being held to only 6 points in the first game this season the Cardinals did not allow their opponents to score a touchdown.

Coming up, the Lions D will have a huge challenge against the Patriots offense. Not unreasonable to think they can handle it. Now it’s a matter of if the Lions O comes out hungry enough. Possible upset right here in New England. The Lions have a puncher’s chance, I don’t see the Patriots falling to them and beating the Lions soundly (Tom Brady is on a roll) will solidify their #1 ranking even if the Cardinals pull out a victory.

Seahawks (unranked) vs Cardinals (#2): while the Seahawks are injury-riddled and some say may not have shown that killer instinct they showed the last half of last year, they still keep games within striking distance no matter the opponent. If they are able to kick it into a higher gear in more of those games, it’s conceivable they could be undefeated.

They are going up against a rolling Cardinals team with everything going for them. Possible coach of the year, best record of the NFL. And coming off a HUGE win with 2nd string QB against a very good Lions team. The Cardinals D has got to be feeling really good. And while I want to say the D won the game for them, Stanton getting two quick TDs early deserves some respect.

In other words, if any game is to put a chip on the Seahawks shoulder, it will be this one. Not unfathomable that the Seahawks can reach down deep and get this. But I also do not think the Cardinals will come in here without focus and underestimate the Seahawks either. This one will be a grind. A strong Cardinals win keeps them in the conversation at the top with the Patriots. On the other hand, a strong Seahawks win will likely not move them into the top 5 without a lot of other things going on because analysts can point to it likely being more a turning point for the Cardinals starting on a downward trend without their starting QB

My personal opinion on the Seahawks

I’ve said it mostly up above. The Seahawks have lost their swagger. I like they can keep it close, but the team with swagger last year closes those games out and the Seahawks are possibly a 9 and 1 team instead of 6 and 4. Arizona has been finding ways to win (like the Seahawks last year).

The leadership on the team really needs to refind its own swagger and help the team get theirs on. If they can, they win this game at home. If this were an away game, I’d almost signal this the end of the season, not sure the Seahawks win away.

It being a home game, if the Seahawks crowd brings it, I think the team brings it, and the Hawks escape with a grinding defensive battle.

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.

That’s this week’s NFL Combined Power Rankings! Have a great week!

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