Hawk Blogger 2013 Power Rankings: Week 14

the soccer stadium with the bright lights
Seattle drops some team strength this week, but maintains the top spot for the fourth straight week. New Orleans added a bit of dignity back after their steep drop versus Seattle, and San Francisco managed to lose nearly as much strength as Seattle in their grudge match, largely due to Seattle winning the passer rating differential.

Carolina, the “hottest team in the NFL” according to so many analysts for weeks, has actually been sliding for four weeks. No team in the NFL has shed more strength in these rankings the last three weeks than the Panthers. Meanwhile, the Jacksonville Jaguars have gained an astounding 20+ points during the same period, nearly pulling out of last place.

Arizona and Tampa are making nice strides, with the Cardinals almost cracking the top ten, after spending the early part of the season in the lower third of the rankings.

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)