Hawk Blogger 2015 Power Rankings: Week 12


These are interesting times in the NFL. The Patriots remain on top, but there is a tight bunch of three teams that are basically equivalent right behind them. The Bengals leapfrog the Cardinals into second place after a sluggish game against the 49ers, and the Chiefs are right behind them in fourth. The Seahawks rise to fifth with a performance the ranking formula loved. They increased their scoring margin and their passer rating margin by a good chunk. No team improved their team strength more this week than the Seahawks. Seattle owns the fourth-most efficient offense in the NFL, according to these rankings. Wild.

Carolina and Green Bay are right there with Seattle as what amounts to the second tier of teams. Buffalo is a bit behind those three, and then things really fall off. Minnesota, the Seahawks opponent this week, has risen over the past three weeks, and is probably playing more like third tier team than a fifth or sixth tier team (check the scatter chart below to see the visual tiers of teams).



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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