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 was simple, I measured 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” was 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, but I am always looking for ways to improve it. I read a great article on ColdHardFootballFacts.com. There was one gem in there about predicting championship teams. The article mentioned passer rating differential as the “mother of all stats.” A full 69 of 72 champions have ranked in the Top 10 in this statistic. It is a stat after my own heart, as I believe offensive and defensive efficiency is the key measurable outside of point differential. Turnovers would factor in there as well, but I am not convinced a team has as much control over that. My power rankings use YPA and YPC differentials. I went ahead and replaced the YPA with offensive and defensive passer rating, to give me this:
(YPC (offense) + Passer Rating (offense) + Avg Pts/Game Scored) – (OPP YPC (defense) + OPP Passer Rating (defense)+ OPP Avg Pts/Game)
I love the results, and hope you do as well.
There is always a significant caveat to statistically-based power rankings after only one week of games. It generally takes 3-4 weeks before these rankings become prophetic. That said, guess who topped the rankings after one week last year? The Baltimore Ravens. Interesting to note that the Ravens finish dead last in the rankings this year after the first game. Denver takes the week one crown this time around. Seven of the teams that finished in the top 10 from week one last year did end up making the playoffs. Take that for what it is worth.
Seattle was one of the teams to defy their week one ranking, as they started 18th last year before finishing in the top spot. Despite playing a lackluster game in Carolina, they end up 9th to start this year, and will face a San Francisco team ranked two spots higher this week. The odds are favoring Seattle in the Sunday night football game, and the Thursday night game (NYJ @ NE) and DEN @ NYG should be an interesting test of the rankings. Note, that the Patriots come in at 25th, even after a win due to very poor passer rating differential.
Note: If you are having problems viewing the rankings below, try this link.
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.