Hawk Blogger 2014 NFL Power Rankings: Week 1

Week one power rankings are in the books. As always, these rankings become far more predictive of team strength after 3-4 weeks. That said, seven of the top ten teams in week one rankings last year made the playoffs. The table below shows each teams strength rating and how it compares to where they ended in Week 17 last year.

One of the more striking results is the Seahawks finishing within 0.1 of where they were last year. Detroit in the top spot looks very odd. Then again, they were 5th in the rankings this time last year, and were one of the three top ten teams that did not make the playoffs. Denver was the top team after one week last year.

You will find my rankings compare favorably to the ones published at FootballOutsiders.com, and are published far sooner.


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)

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