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Hawk Blogger 2015 Power Rankings: Week 1

Formula-driven power rankings always have their toughest time in the first week. There is only one game to go on. It is no surprise that only 6 of the 10 teams who were ranked in the top 10 after week one last season made the playoffs. In fact, only one of the top four teams made the playoffs (Detroit). Take it with a grain of salt, then, that Tennessee tops the power rankings this season after one week. They were ranked #2 after a 26-10 win in Kansas City last year. On the flip side, five teams who were ranked #22 or lower after one week made the playoffs last year, including the Patriots (#22).

Two NFC West teams start in the top 10, with St. Louis and Arizona getting off to nice starts. Keep in mind that the “1-Week Diff” column references the difference between the team ranking this week and the last week of 2014.



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)

As of September 23, 2014, I have added a strength of schedule component to the rankings as well. 

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