Tuesday, October 4, 2011

This is my 1st set of power rankings for the year.  I wait at least a month until I have enough raw data to plug into my system.  I adjust the rankings slightly based on various qualitative factors (coaching, injuries, opinion, strength of schedule, etc), but the core of the ratings is based on my quantitative formula.  I use a set of 17 weighted statistics--some of them traditional and some of them custom.

Power rankings are good to have, but they only tell you where teams sit in relation to one another in the overall scheme of things.  A team lower in rank could easily defeat a team above it if they matchup well with them. 

Rank (LW) Contenders
1 Champs rolling. Rank near the top in 9 critical categories.
2 Not giving up as many points as the yardage would indicate.
3 Rank near the top in 7 critical categories, but need to improve in the red zone on both sides of the ball.
4 Ranked higher on defense in most categories than on offense despite the learning curve in New Orleans.
5 Still not a Flacco fan, but Ray Rice and the defense continue to compensate.
6 Still need a signature win vs a top team, but put themselves in contention for the time being.
7 Hanging onto their spot among the elite with their fingernails. Might not stay here due to injuries/O-line.
8 My Super Bowl pick never does things the easy way. Continues to dominate play in the face of injuries and finally survive September

Two new entries to the contenders list--DET and HOU. I picked both of them as dark horse Super Bowl winners before the season, so I'm not surprised at either team. PIT and SD are down the list due to some injuries and inconsistency.

Rank (LW) Pretenders
9 Defense seems legit and gives the offense a chance, but they still need a good test.
10 Defense is proving naysayers wrong and getting great play from both O/D lines.
11 Finding ways to win in the face of severe injuries to the starting lineup. O-line and ball control are concerns.
12 The clock on the Juan Castillo experiment is ticking. The talent is there..
13 More bark than bite. Sanchez is a backup quarterback. Still can't stop teams in the red zone.
14 A rough start or a sign of things to come? Line play on both sides of the ball is a huge red flag.
15 Giving credit where credit is due. Defense better than expected it to be without Washburn/Babin. Losing Britt hurts future potential.
16 Still a year away from being a serious threat. Young team that is far too inconsistent to challenge the elite.

3 teams have fallen from grace here--PHI, ATL, NYJ. I'm surprised by the 1st 2, but not the Jets. I never liked Sanchez and this team has many holes that the media doesn't talk much about. ATL and PHI can still turn it around, but it won't be an easy road. The entire NFC East is sitting in "wild card" status. TEN and WSH have moved up the ranks thanks to their defenses, but I'd be surprised if either are still here a month from now.

Rank (LW) On the Bubble
17 Problems on defense--including red zone, 3rd down, and D-line. They need someone like Rodgers or Brady to compensate.
18 O-line playing much better than expected, but defense has given up 100 points from long drives! Worst in the NFL.
19 Possibly the most overrated team in the NFL. Offense continues to rank low on every critical category, but still benefit from short fields and special teams.
20 Fluky comeback win against PHI, but wins are wins and they have 3 of them. Defense playing well in big situations (3rd down/red zone).
21 On the doorstep with solid play from the defense, but need to prove it against better competition. Dalton, AJ Green, and Gresham showing potential.
22 Not horrible, not good either. Ok stats are masked by an easy schedule. Will give them the benefit of the doubt for now..

The "All-Inconsistency" club sits in the Twilight Zone. Any of these teams could go up or down because it's hard to get a good read on them week to week.

Rank (LW) "Suck for Luck" Sweepstakes
23 Newton is putting up monster numbers and driving bettors crazy with his backdoor covers, but it won't be long until good D coordinators figure out the tape. Bad points per yard ratio killing both the O and D.
24 There are some bright spots (D-line, red zone D, special teams), but with 4 losses the Christian Ponder watch is on.
25 Tim Tebow will ensure this team contends for the 1st pick in the draft. Maybe he can play defense? Von Miller is a bright spot--could be RC of the year.
26 I keep saying Kevin Kolb is not what he's hyped to be. Are people finally listening? Hard to win games when your O-line and secondary suck.
27 Strange things going on in JAX. Sign veterans in the offseason, but throw in the towel and start Gabbert? Horrible play from their O/D lines has this team in limbo.
28 Defense not living up to their potential. The team ranks near the bottom in 9 critical categories.
29 Not enough quality depth to overcome key injuries. Bradford is frustrated with all the drops. Never out of it in this division.
30 Rice has really given this pathetic offense a much needed dimension. Team with the most roster turnover in the NFL and it's showing.
31 2 gritty efforts keep them out of the bottom, but they'll battle KC for that spot in week 5.
32 I give them props for playing hard for 6 straight quarters, but low rankings in 9 key categories and big injuries to key players are what they are.

A nasty group of teams at the bottom. All have huge problem areas that likely won't be sorted out this season. Most of them have young quarterbacks that they'll want to groom, but half of these coaches could be fired within the next 6 months.