Power rankings are always debatable. I don’t buy into the gut feel methods most places use to determine their rankings, so I developed a formula a few years back that attempts to take at least some of the subjectivity out of the discussion. My approach is simple, I measure offensive and defensive efficiency based on the Yards Per Carry (YPC) and Yards Per Attempt (YPA), as well as points scored and points allowed. The formula to calculate “Team Strength” is as follows:
(YPC (offense) + YPA (offense) + Avg Pts/Game Scored) – (YPC (defense) + YPA (defense)+ Avg Pts/Game Allowed)
The formula has proven to be a pretty accurate predictor of success. Even in the first week of the 2008 season, 5 of the top 10 ranked teams were playoff bound. As with any statistic, it becomes more meaningful as the sample size grows. Usually, these become most meaningful after Week 3. In 2007, 9 of the top 10 ranked teams were playoff teams, with the lowest ranked playoff team coming in at #15. In 2008, 8 the top 10 were playoff teams, with Arizona being the lowest ranked playoff team at #19. I’m not sure any formula could have predicted their run.
If you’d like to see how teams rankings changed from 2008 to 2009, you can read more here.
Any team that truly can contend for a Super Bowl berth is in the Top 10. The Jets have trailed off a ton, but still represent a major threat. San Diego has been dismissed enough–for good reason–that they still can sneak up on people who underestimate just how good they are when they play the opponent instead of themselves. Any of the Top 8 teams are your best bets, with Atlanta still being my NFC pick. Seattle has settled in with the likes of Buffalo, Cincy and Washington. That’s who they are.
Scatter chart of the rankings. This view helps to give you a view of how teams are grouped together. You will generally see tiers of strength develop as the season wears on. Four horse race, perhaps, at the top.