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. Only 3 of the top 10 teams from week one of 2010 made the playoffs, and a team as low as #27 (Atlanta) was a league power. 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. In 2010 8 of top 10 teams from week 3 made the playoffs.
If you’d like to see final rankings from 2010, you can read more here.
History has shown the true Super Bowl contenders get strength scores above 10.0. A change at the top for the first time this in a loooong time. The Saints take over the #1 spot from the Packers. Four teams appear legitimate contenders this year, and three are on the NFC. There was also a change way down at the bottom where the Colts vaulted up out of the basement for the first time, leaving the Bucs and Rams tied for last. Seattle has remained steady at #17 with a 0.5 strength rating. They finished #28 last season with a -7.2 rating. I’ll do a comparison of which teams improved/declined the most from the previous season in a separate post.
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.