No, Your Team Isn’t Better Than Their Record

I don’t know about the rest of y’all out there in NFL Fan Land, but the Power Rankings put out weekly by supposedly smart football writers drive me absolutely nuts! It is obvious that many of these writers have personal biases, if not outright having axes that they grind weekly against or for certain teams, which is fine I guess. It’s their article and their opinion, so they can write what they want. But they should at least try to base what they’re writing in some sort of reality.

So, I’ve decided it’s time to put together a power ranking based on analysis of the relative power of each team AS EVIDENCED ON THE FIELD OF PLAY EACH WEEK. What you won’t find in my power rankings, moving teams up or down based on them being better or worse than their record indicates. Sorry honey, your team is NOT better than their 4-5 record. I also won’t base my rankings on my feelings for a head coach, system, quarterback, or on past performance. In fact, I won’t base my rankings on feelings whatsoever. Each team gets what they earn.

What you will find is a ranking based on wins and strength of schedule (also based on wins), followed in the case of a tie by who puts a bigger whooping on their opponents, week after week. All of my opinions will be in the writeups for each team. The rankings speak for themselves.

It’s taken me a little while to work out how to analyze the metrics (apart from my #1 metric, win percentage), which is why I’m in week 9 and am only now publishing my first power ranking. I also had to figure out how to set up a spreadsheet to do the maths for me, so I (hopefully) won’t screw it up in public. This, of course, is very different from what other power ranking pundits do. Their method appears to be 1) look at the standings, and 2) disregard anything you don’t like to push your favorite teams as far toward the top as you can possibly justify.

I did, however, work up all my past weeks’ power rankings once I figured the system out (which took me two weeks – hey, I have a full-time job!). They are appended below the rankings for anyone who is interested. Like any ranking system, there will be folks who disagree with this (that’s the whole basis of my doing it in the first place – I disagreed with most of the other power rankings out there), but I think this may also provide some interesting insights. I have decided, in addition to ranking teams 1 to 32, to create tiers denoting the elite teams, good teams, those still fighting, and those who are likely out of the playoff hunt already.

Tier 1 – Elite Teams

These teams have only one or two losses on the season, making them the cream of this year’s NFL crop.

1. Phliadelphia Eagles: The only one loss team in the league, and hence the BEST team in the league – at least until they lose and have to compete with other teams that have the same win percentage. But they are playing great football and getting the job done, week in and week out.

2. Kansas City Chiefs: KC has mostly taken care of business and performed as you would expect Andy Reid’s crew to do. Their one letdown was a week 8 loss to the Denver Broncos, a divisional game. Their only other loss was to the #5 Detroit Lions.

3. Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens are currently ranked third and are playing the best ball in the league. If they keep playing the way they have the past three weeks, they will continue to climb the power rankings.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jacksonville slipped two spots this week while on a bye, as the Chiefs and Ravens both moved a half game ahead of them with wins this week.

5. Detroit Lions: The Lions also slipped while on a bye for the same reason as the Jags.

Tier 2 – Good Teams

These are the 3 loss teams, who should all be in the playoffs by the end of the season, barring second half meltdowns.

6. Miami Dolphins: This team has shown they can beat up on bad teams, but so far haven’t beaten a good team, but hey, you can only play the games you’re scheduled, right?

7. Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers have mostly won the games they should win and lost the one they should lose. The Houston Texans are the lone exception to that, and we may find that the Texans finish in a higher tier than they currently occupy.

8. Cleveland Browns: The Browns have a pretty darn good defense but have struggled on offense. They have, however, found ways to score just enough points to beat even good teams.

9. Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals seem to have found themselves after a horrible start to the season. Definitely trending in the right direction at the halfway point.

10. San Francisco 49ers: San Fran started the season on fire, and looked like the most complete and dominating team in the NFL until three weeks ago. Their bye came at a perfect time for them, and should have given them some time to self-scout and right the ship.

11. Seattle Seahawks: The defense is worlds away from where it was last year. The Ravens ended the (premature) talk of those who were declaring the advent of LOB 2.0 however. That being said, this is a talented and aggressive young defense. If Pete Carroll can get them to draw the right lessons from last week’s embarrassment and if Geno can recover a little bit of his former swagger (maybe reducing his turnovers per game to one for the time being?), this team is poised to make the playoffs for a second straight year.

12. Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys have had the second easiest schedule of any team that would be in the playoffs if they started today. They, like the Dolphins, have mostly beat up on bad teams and lost to good teams, including gifting a win to the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Tier 3 – Teams on the Cusp

Some of these four loss teams are currently still in a playoff seed, and others are on the outside looking in. The margin for error for these teams is very narrow.

13. Minnesota Vikings: Another team with a terrible start who have played better of late to keep themselves in the postseason hunt. But can Josh Dobbs lead them to a playoff berth?

14. Buffalo Bills: Currently on the outside looking in as a result of an up-and-down season to date that has them beating good teams and then losing to bad ones.

15. New Orleans Saints: The Saints currently hold onto the final NFC playoff spot. Can they hold onto it for ten more weeks though?

16. Los Angeles Chargers: If the current pattern holds, they’ll lose the next two games to the Lions and Packers, then beat the Ravens and Patriots. Any takers?

17. New York Jets: It is a testament to this teams Defense and coaching staff that they are at .500 despite losing Aaron Rodgers in week one to a torn ACL. Many teams might have mailed it home after that.

18. The Texans have climbed to .500 and a fairly innocuous stretch of games over the next month could allow them to climb the standings. However, they seem to have a harder time beating bad teams than good ones.

Tier 4 – All but out.

These teams are not mathematically eliminated, but it would take several miracles in series for them to get to the playoffs. Might want to start plotting to get a higher draft pick at this point. I’ll list them in power ranking order, but they don’t even deserve their own blurbs.

19. Indianapolis Colts

20. Washington Commanders

21. Atlanta Falcons

22. Las Vegas Raiders

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

24. Tennessee Titans

25. Denver Broncos

26. Green Bay Packers

27. Los Angeles Rams

28. New England Patriots

29. New York Giants

30. Chicago Bears

31. Carolina Panthers

32. Arizona Cardinals