Defensive backs take part of their traditional pregame huddle before taking the field for warmups.

Hawk Blogger 2015 Power Rankings Week 16: Top 10 Teams Struggle

Arizona regains top spot

Running the numbers on these rankings often reveals a surprise. The team you think should be on top is four or five spots down. No so this week. The Cardinals have earned the top spot in almost anyway your figure rankings. They have the best offense in football, which arguably is the best unit in the NFL overall, and a solid defense. They have been consistent throughout the year, and finally are seeing their strength of schedule rise late in the season. Their dominant win over the Packers combined with the Seahawks embarrassing loss to the Rams made it easy for the Cardinals to retake the pole position.

Tough week to be a Top 10 team. Every team besides Denver and Arizona lost team strength, and six of the ten lost their game. 

The ranking formula knows nothing about the Bengals loss of Andy Dalton, or possible loss of their backup quarterback as well. The Chiefs hold steady with a close win over Johnny Manziel and the Browns. Interesting to see the Patriots and Panthers hanging around the same team strength.

Of the three potential first round matchups for the Seahawks, the Packers are by far the strongest, and the Redskins by far the weakest. However, Minnesota is the most improved team over the past three weeks, and the Redskins are the 3rd-most improved team. There will be no gimmes.



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 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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