Week 11 NFL Power Rankings 2012

I made some improvements to the power rankings this week. Let me explain some of my reasoning and method.

First, I decided that power rankings look at what teams have done and not what they will do so there is no projecting values. Second, these are totally unaltered rankings after I created a formula to judge a team’s “power” compared to other teams.

The rankings have four components. The first two are Pro-Football-Reference.com‘s offensive and defensive simple rankings. When combined they for PFR’s simple rating system. I chose to treat offense and defense separately for one reason: I think offense is far more important in today’s NFL.

How much more important? After playing with the numbers and seeing how teams landed using different numbers I decided on 25 percent. That is, offense is 25 percent more important than defense. This is arbitrary, but it gave me results that I looked fair to me. These are my power rankings after all.

I ordered each team by their simple rating system and gave them a point from 32 to 1. This effectively stripped the simple rating system out of the equation and gave me a rating, which is what I wanted. I didn’t want some measure of how good a team was based on margin of victory and strength of schedule because a 50-point win and one-point win are equal and a win against the best team and the worst team are also counted equally.

I also decided it wasn’t fair to punish an over-performing team that was winning. Unlike quarterbacks, I think you can judge a team on wins and losses so I included win percentage in the equation. This is weighted heavily, since record is what gets teams into the playoffs and ultimately what we care most about.

The resulting formula was Overall Power = (Offensive Ranking+ Defensive Ranking*0.75)*Winning Percentage

56.0 is a perfect score, 25.0 is a typical division winner (although there will be some that fall below this line and some wildcard teams that are above it) and a typical playoff team would be 18.0 plus. Realistically a team below 8.0 has a very slim chance of making the playoffs. For the teams below 18.0, the closer they can get the less luck they will need to get in. You will notice teams between 8.0 and 18.0 are are flawed in some serious way. They might be just starting a rebuild or something like that.

If you look at the teams below 8.0, almost all of them have a coach and/or GM on the hot seat. The Raiders are unique here because they just started a rebuild and had to do a lot of roster purging in the offseason. You would expect each year of a rebuild a team would jump up one tier. The Seahawks, Redskins, Vikings and Bengals are all good examples. In the case of the Bucs, they jumped faster because they already had a quarterback. The Colts jumped up quickly thanks to Andrew Luck.

If I stick with this, these rankings might be a good measuring stick of the progress of Oakland’s rebuild. By my estimation, by 2014 the Raiders should be in the upper white or lower light green area. For comparison sake, the Raiders were a 8.9 at the end last season so the Raiders really haven’t taken as much of a step back as it may seem.

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