NFL Power Rankings Week 8: 49ers and Pats on Collision Course

The Seattle Seahawks season has gone mostly according to plan so far, if you ask our power rankings. Seattle has lost to the good teams they have played in the top ten, and beat everyone else. Their only loss to a team below them in the rankings was to the Saints, who rank 9th and have a team strength roughly equivalent to the Seahawks.

If the rest of the season played out along these lines, the Seahawks would lose twice to the 49ers, once to the Vikings, and finish 11-5 on the year. Even if they win one of those game and all the rest, 12 wins would probably still not give them a home game in the playoffs with the juggernaut 49ers in their division.

San Francisco and New England remain in a class by themselves. Even with the easiest schedule by far in the NFL pulling their team strength down, the Pats are on top. There do not appear to be any teams capable of beating either the Pats or the 49ers.

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. Just doing a real time experiment here to see how the opponents have fared the week after they went head to head with the Seahawks. I’ve long had a suspicion that losing to the Seahawks in the Coach Carroll era usually amounts to two losses in a row. Running teams have to be stronger than passing finesse teams, but let’s see what happens…

    Wk1: Beat Cinci 21-20. Wk2, Bengals lost to the 49’ers 17-41. Point Differencial -24

    Wk2: Beat Pitt 28-26. Wk3 Steelers lost to the 49’ers 20-24. Point Differential – 4

    Wk3: Lost to N.O. 27-33. Wk4 Saints lost to the Dolphins 13-16. Point Differential -3

    Wk4: Beat Arizona 27-10. Wk5 Cards beat Bengals 26-23. Point Differential +3

    Wk5: Beat LA Rams 30-29. Wk6 Rams lost to the 49’ers 7-20. Point Differential -13

    Wk6: Beat Cleveland 32-28. Wk7 Browns Bye, Wk8 Lost to Pats 13-27. Pt Diff -14

    Wk7: Lost to Baltimore 16-30. Wk8 Ravens Bye, Wk9 plays the Patriots.

    Wk8: Beat Atlanta 27-20. Wk9 Atlanta Bye.

    Okay, now that we have our data, let’s concentrate on the first six games of the season for the opponents, as the bye weeks begin giving us zero data after that time frame. My AURORA HC 128 Dual Power Solar Calculator has this to say…

    In the weeks after having played the Seahawks, our opponents have a combined win/loss record of 1-5. That translates into a winning percentage of 16.7%. They have a total points differential of – 55 points through the first six games, and are losing games at an average of -9.2 points per game after having spent themselves playing against the Seahawks the week prior.

    Seahawks are 6-2 (winning 75% of their games), and have a point differential of + 22 over their eight games, winning by an average of about 4 points in each effort.

    I don’t know how this fits into anyone else’s power rankings, but when your team is winning 75% of the time, and the opponents go on to lose their following game by a whopping rate of 83% of the time…. (pause for laughter here)…. There’s got to be some sunshine to be gleamed from all of this!!!!

  2. There’s sunshine, Doug, but its 49 degree sunshine with a chill breeze, and Dissley is out for the year.

    In hindsight, the FO should have paid R. Sherman and not Bwagz.
    At the time, I thought they did the right thing. I think most fans did.
    Oh, well.

    I hope they try some new stuff, come Monday. Please, Pete, Ken and Schotty, be a brain trust. For example, try Carsonoma with shiny Penny in the same backfield. Penny goes in motion and their outside lb is effectively blocked. Or something else, something new. I mean, what good is watching film if you try to play smash mouth against a tougher team?

  3. Nice jest to be sure, but the 1849’ers are probably the only team old enough to have Richard Sherman on their roster.

    This Veteran’s Day evening, when the clouds part over San Francisco, the descending gleam will not be the Messiah coming down from the heavens, it will be DK Metcalf with the football.

    Watch Sherman’s eyes so you’ll know when it is happening!

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