One year ago, the Seahawks ranked 18th in these power rankings. This year, they find themselves in roughly the same place at nineteen. Their inept offense has dragged down a strong defense. Although, the lack of interceptions has led to a middling opponent passer rating of 80.1. When this defense is at its best, opponent passer rating is in the low 70s or 60s. Seattle would eventually finish atop these rankings when the year ended. They have a long way to go to repeat the feat.
The Cardinals are enjoying the fruits of a dominating win over the Bucs that helped all their offensive and defensive numbers. They are far and away the top team in these rankings after two weeks. A couple surprise teams in the top ten includ San Diego sitting at 3rd and the Titans at 10th. San Diego boasts the top-ranked offense by this formula while Tennessee has one of the best passer rating differentials (93.8 vs 74.9).
Miami probably shocks people at 7th on the list considering they are winless. The Dolphins are helped a lot by the #1 rank in strength of schedule. No other team is even close to their ranking there. Expect the Dolphins to fall over the coming weeks as their SOS advantage dwindles. They would need to drastically improve their on-field performance to stay highly ranked.
Another team that surprised me was the New York Jets. They had a pretty dominant statistical win over the Bills, but have yielded an unsightly 113.6 passer rating so far and 27 points per game.
NOTE: Strength of schedule has been added, so the one-week difference is not exactly apples-to-apples, but is at least consistent across all teams
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 (roughly 70% of the teams ranked in the Top 10 by week 3 make the playoffs), 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)