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
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: Denver Broncos (last week: 1st)
VOTES: 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st
2nd: Arizona Cardinals (last week: 6th)
VOTES: 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 4th, NOVOTE
3rd: New England Patriots (last week: 9th)
VOTES: 3rd, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd, 4th, 4th, NOVOTE
4th: Dallas Cowboys (last week: 2nd)
VOTES: 3rd, 4th, 5th, 5th, 5th, 5th, NOVOTE
5th: Philadelphia Eagles (last week: 3rd)
VOTES: 3rd, 4th, 4th, 5th, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE
6th: San Diego Chargers (last week: 7th)
VOTES: 3rd, 5th, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE
7th: Kansas City Chiefs (last week: 8th)
VOTES: 2nd, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE
8th: Detroit Lions (last week: unranked)
VOTES: 4th, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE
9th: Seattle Seahawks (last week: 9th)
VOTES: 5th, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE, NOVOTE
Fell Out Of Rankings: Indianapolis Colts (last week: 4th), Green Bay Packers (last week 5th)
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 only 1st through 3rd this week:
- Broncos are a clear 1st with a majority of 1st votes
- Cardinals are a clear 2nd with a majority of 1st and 2nd votes
- Patriots are a clear 3rd with a majority of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd votes
- 4th and 5th (Cowboys and Eagles) are very close to each other, having to go to one tiebreaker to place them (more on that later)
- Fancy Stats, the one non-subjective power ranking, again is an outlier. Placed the Chiefs 2nd (only vote) and Seahawks 5th (only vote) which is how the Chiefs and Seahawks got into this ranking. Without this judge, the Chiefs and Seahawks would not be here. Not only that, but placing a 4-3 team (the Chiefs) in 2nd? They also excluded the Cowboys, Eagles, and Patriots. That’s some interesting numbers crunching
- The Cardinals finally get their due: being the only other one-loss team (the other being the Broncos) certainly helps, as did a amazing victory over the Eagles
- Tom Brady and Peyton Manning: still the league’s shiznit: Was it only four weeks ago we were proclaiming the Patriots and Tom Brady as last year’s team and past their time? And in fact last week only ONE ranking had them in the top 5. They have jumped all the way up to a unanimous 3rd place. It helps that the other teams have fallen off (Cowboys lost, Eagles lost, Chargers lost). And congrats to Manning on a record breaking few weeks not to mention their defense is really getting scary. The Broncos are still the team to beat.
- Second Outlier alert: SB Nation: Ranking the Lions 4th, and the only ranking to bring the Lions into the fold
- IN GENERAL: Some big movers and shakers, mostly because teams that were doing well lost. The first-tier teams that lost: Cowboys, Eagles, and Chargers and made way for the Cardinals and Patriots that had big wins. The second-tier teams that lost: the Colts and Packers, put them right out of the rankings while a few second tier teams won and maintained (Chiefs, Seahawks, Lions)
- RELATIVE PLACEMENT FUN: More on the Cowboys vs Eagles: The Eagles got a better “vote” with 3, 4, 4, 5 than the Cowboys with 3, 4, 5, 5, 5, 5. However, when it comes to majority, the majority didn’t come until tallying 1st through 5th votes and the Eagles only got FOUR total votes (1st through 5th) while the Eagles got SIX total votes (1st through 5th) so the Cowboys get ranked higher at 4th place overall. This also means that 4th and 5th are not a clean majority since one tiebreaker had to be used.
My personal opinion:
I was curious to see where the Seahawks would end up. Considering it was a close game to the Panthers, a very good team that is also struggling, I am thinking that the dust is starting to settle and I do put the Seahawks right outside the top 5: basically between 7 and 10.
In “Relative Placement” we see things called “Natural Breaks” in placements. In this case, I wholeheartedly agree with the natural placements here:
- Broncos are the clear 1st
- Cardinals are the clear 2nd
- The third “group” is a mix of: Patriots, Eagles, Cowboys, Chargers
- After that you have a mishmash of teams that you would expect to have a worse record that are outperforming, and those you’d expect to have a better record and underperforming: Seahawks, Saints, Lions, Packers, Colts, Chiefs
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.