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.
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:
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:
(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.