The Kansas City Chiefs start the season atop our power rankings by a wide margin. They have played well against two tough opponents and are strong across the board on defense and offense. The Ravens have allowed a total of 10 points through two games, and holding opposing quarterbacks to a ridiculous 35.0 passer rating. Detroit is a bit of a surprise to start the year, thanks in large part to the strength of a defense that is allowing just 16.5 points per game and an opponent passer rating of just 67.0.
Early season rankings tend to be less effective at predicting where teams will end up, but starting next week, there has been a high probability that at least 70% of the Top 10 teams will make the postseason.
The Seahawks currently rank 19th, which feels about right given their challenges on offense. They fly to Tennessee to face the 12th-ranked Titans this week.
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:
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 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:
As of September 23, 2014, I have added a strength of schedule component to the rankings as well.
As of November 22, 2016, I have increased the weighting of the run game and point differential. Yards per carry will be multiplied by 10 to make it more evenly weighted with the passer rating. It is still roughly half as important, but will have a greater impact. Point differential will be multiplied by two as it still should be among the most important aspects of measuring teams.