NFL Power Rankings – Falcons Rise, Vikings Remain On Top



The Seattle Seahawks bye week could not have come at a better time for a team that needed to heal, but also to prepare for what has become the defining part of their schedule. No team in the NFL has a tougher remaining schedule than the Seahawks, per The toughest part of that schedule comes over the next six weeks as the Seahawks face, by ranking:

  • #3 Atlanta
  • #11 @ Arizona
  • #20 @ New Orleans
  • #5 Buffalo
  • #8 @ New England
  • #4 Philadelphia

Atlanta will come to town as hot as any team outside of undefeated Minnesota. Their win over Denver on the road was impressive, even with Paxton Lynch at the helm for the Broncos. Buffalo’s rise in the ranking is one of the bigger surprises, but they are aided greatly by the third-ranked SOS thus far.

Seattle, on the other hand, would be ranked third if SOS was removed from the equation. Their 29th-ranked SOS so far is pulling down their team strength.

Chargers fans have every right to be upset as their team is actually putting together a good season, but they have found ways to lose over and over again. The AFC West looks like the class of the NFL with three of the four teams in the top ten.

The Bengals have been a disappointment this year, and fell further after their flop in Dallas. The Cowboys, despite their 4-1 start, are further down in the rankings due to being dead last in SOS and fielding a porous defense. Things do not get all that much tougher for them as they have the 18th ranked SOS the rest of the way.


Scatter chart

I like this view as it shows tiers of strength that develop over the course of the season.


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 (roughly 70% of the teams ranked in the Top 10 by week 3 make the playoffs), 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.