The Patriots started with what looked like an insurmountable lead in these power rankings, but Baltimore has steadily climbed their way to the top while New England has shown weaknesses, especially on offense.

The Ravens three-week increase in team strength is greater than Seattle’s entire team strength. That is how well they are playing right now. Their offense is dominant. Their defense is very good.

Seattle remains steady at the fifth spot, and faces a terrific opponent in Minnesota this week. That is one of two battles between top five teams, as the 49ers travel to Baltimore. The Ravens have to be licking their chops looking at the 49ers 4.7 yards per carry allowed on defense.

The Seahawks have played the toughest schedule in the NFL to get to this point. The 49ers have played the second-easiest schedule. Seattle’s gets a bit easier after this week and San Francisco is in the midst of a historically tough stretch. Interesting times.

Rankings Visualization

This view shows tiers of strength that develop over the course of the season.

RANKINGS EXPLAINED

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) As of September 23, 2014, I have added a strength of schedule component to the rankings as well.   As of November 22, 2016, I have increased the weighting of the run game and point differential. Yards per carry will be multiplied by 10 to make it more evenly weighted with the passer rating. It is still roughly half as important, but will have a greater impact. Point differential will be multiplied by two as it still should be among the most important aspects of measuring teams.

One Response

  1. Uncle Bob

    I wonder if fans and media are talking “trap game” in Baltimore this week. After an absolute beatdown that looked oh so easy, and a short week, it’s not out of the realm of possibility…………………….though unlikely with Harbaugh. I’m getting a bit tired of that look on Nick Bosa’s face when he goes back to the sideline after a defensive stand. It’s one of those “man the NFL ain’t so tough” looks that overly cocky youngsters get. Nothin’ a good butt whippin’ won’t cure…………….for a while anyway. 🙂

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