It gets a little more crowded at the top this week as Seattle and New Orleans step forward and the Broncos continue their slow slide back. The drop-off after the top three teams is steep. The difference between the Saints and the Panthers is equivalent to the difference between the Panthers and the Bears or Dolphins. A few top teams will clash this week with the #1 Broncos facing the #5 Chiefs and the #3 Saints hosting the #6 49ers.
The most shocking team in the top 10 has to be the Eagles at #7. They do it on the strength of a solid passer rating differential (99.4 – 83.6) and a strong rushing efficiency advantage (5.1 – 4.0). They lead the NFL in rushing, and now have a quarterback playing efficiently. The rankings like that.
The Packers and the Cowboys are dropping like lead balloons, and the once-proud Colts have slid all the way to #16 after being a top ten team early in the season.
Note: If you are having problems viewing the rankings below, try this link. (Leave a comment if it doesn’t work for you!)
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.
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)