NFL Power Rankings Week 6 — Saints Go Marching Up, Seahawks Gain By Standing Still



It should come as no surprise in this wacky NFL season that the Seahawks make their first appearance in the top ten by doing absolutely nothing at all. Teams like Detroit, Green Bay, and Denver plummeted down the list with various levels of dismal performance. If a rising tide lifts all boats, a sinking tide makes the one sitting in dry dock look pretty darn high.

While Kansas City finally lost, they have been steadily regressing back to the pack. No team has lost more team strength in the last three weeks (-66) than the Chiefs. Lucky for them, they had plenty to spare. The more interesting story is the rise of the Texans (+51.8) and the Bengals (+44.9) during that same stretch. The Texans now have one of the most efficient offenses in football, behind only the Chiefs, Patriots, Saints, and Redskins. They likely would jump a spot or two if that first week of Tom Savage against Jacksonville was wiped off the books.

The Bengals were left for dead after their slow start, but that defense is keeping them afloat. Pittsburgh will have their hands full this week.

New Orleans surprised this week with their explosion against the Lions. Detroit had been one of the stronger defenses this year, but were no match for the Saints offense. Drew Brees has a reliable running game that is making them hard to stop. The defense has even been closer to NFL average instead of historically terrible. Their strength of schedule bumps them up a few spots, ahead of teams like Minnesota, Buffalo, Houston, and Washington. Each of those teams have more solid fundamentals, but beware the Saints.

Seahawks fans will be thrilled to know the Giants made the largest one-week jump of any team. There will be no gimme on the road in New York this week.




Rankings Visualization

This view 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.
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.
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  1. Tobin should play more guard and tackle. Pocic should play more guard and tackle. Roos should play more guard. Battle should play more tackle. Glow should be cut or at the least be inactive. We have seen enough Glow we know what he is. Hawks must see what we have in these others so we can fish or cut bait. Not playing back ups has made a already sad o line situation even worse. Now Pocic starts with out any snaps. One could literally rant for a endless amount of time on why coaching is the reason the o line is horrid. While ranting more information would come up to allow for more ranting. After a few days of ranting a game would be played and performance would allow for more ranting. Wilson is going to get hurt and it’s so sad. Just take the punch. Go hawks. A new talent evaluation person is needed for o line players this is what the front office should be doing. Trying to woo players who don’t want to play football is not the answer. Make a move with scouting and or coaching because it’s all about competition right. Maybe a pass protection specialist to start with. But please do something . Oh and cut Lacy.

  2. Thank you, Wingman. A few more echoes like your post and mine, and the Status Quo Gang will jump in, saying we shouldn’t judge the Front Office, because we are merely fans, and we should all take a deep breath and remain calm. Reminds me of all the “level-headed” supporters that Tim Ruskell used to muster, before it became okay to acknowledge that he was blatantly
    incompetent at evaluating NFL talent, and had,
    apparently, stepped in some beginner’s luck his first draft.

    I mean, come on, 8 million dollars for a frequently
    injured bust? Good for you, Luke Joekle (sp), but when your incomprehensible deal went down, I was hoping that maybe JS&PC knew something the rest of the league didn’t. “In JS&PC we trust.” Not so much, not anymore. (Remember, keep CALM Russell Wilson while you run for your life 1.8 seconds after the ball is snapped).

    To think the Hawks could, right now, have Donald Penn and Joel Bitonio at the tackle spots, if only J.S.&P.C had pulled that trigger when it was so very available.

    But, hey, anytime I get worried about the Seahawk’s
    closing SB window, I just dial up a Tom Cable press conference to hear how well him and our OL are doing, despite the actual results.

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