Tuesday, October 4, 2011
NFL Power Rankings: How they voted
By Mike Sando
Stability at the top marked ESPN's NFL Power Rankings following Week 4.
The top five teams, led by Green Bay, remained unchanged. The Packers have been No. 1 all the way, and that's not likely to change while they remain undefeated.
Much has changed since our preseason rankings were published Sept. 6, however. A quick look at the five teams whose standings have fluctuated by at least 15 spots in the past month:
- Buffalo (24 spots): high of sixth, low of 30th, currently ninth. No one around here or virtually anywhere foresaw the Bills winning their first three games. Voters showed some respect for the Bills by dropping them only three spots following a defeat at Cincinnati.
- Indianapolis (21): high of ninth, low of 30th, currently 29th. Curtis Painter's 87-yard touchdown pass Monday night was longer than any Peyton Manning has ever completed, but the Colts are 0-4. Yeah, we saw this coming.
- Philadelphia (17): high of third, low of 20th, currently 20th. Dream Team? Our Philly-based voter, Ashley Fox, dropped the Eagles to 21st, lower than anyone else ranked them. She must have been watching Sunday.
- Tennessee (17): high of eighth, low of 25th, currently eighth. Matt Hasselbeck was the NFL's lowest-rated passer with at least 35 starts from 2008 to 2010. Looks like the Seattle Seahawks had something to do with that.
- Washington (16): high of 12th, low of 28th, currently 12th. The Redskins' victories aren't inspiring much confidence, but they have three of them thanks to a couple of dates with the NFC West.
- St. Louis (15): high of 17th, low of 32nd, currently 32nd. Speaking of the NFC West, weren't the Rams favored to win the division? They were. Not now. Not with Sam Bradford on pace to take 72 sacks.
And now, a closer look at the rankings heading into Week 5 ...
Rising (10): Tennessee Titans (+7), Cincinnati Bengals (+6), Washington Redskins (+4), San Francisco 49ers (+4), Kansas City Chiefs (+4), Tampa Bay Bucs (+3), San Diego Chargers (+2), New York Giants (+2), Houston Texans (+2), Indianapolis Colts (+1).
Falling (14): New York Jets (-7), Dallas Cowboys (-6), Buffalo Bills (-3), Philadelphia Eagles (-3), Pittsburgh Steelers (-3), Carolina Panthers (-2), Miami Dolphins (-2), Minnesota Vikings (-2), Oakland Raiders (-2), Cleveland Browns (-1), Denver Broncos (-1), Jacksonville Jaguars (-1), Seattle Seahawks (-1), St. Louis Rams (-1).
Unchanged (8): Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints.
Deadlocked: We broke one tie this week. Miami prevailed over St. Louis at No. 31 based on the fourth and final tiebreaker (previous ranking). The first three tiebreakers -- head-to-head results this season, overall record this season and which team won most recently this season -- proved indecisive.
Like minds: All five voters ranked the Packers first. Four ranked the Patriots second. Four ranked the Chiefs 28th.
Agree to disagree: Nine spots separated highest and lowest votes for the Chargers and Raiders, the biggest gap this week. A look at the five teams generating gaps of at least seven spots between high and low votes:
Power rankings histories: These colorful layered graphs show where each NFL team has ranked every week since the 2002 season.
- Raiders (9): Paul Kuharsky ranked them 11th, higher than any other voter ranked them. James Walker ranked them 20th, lower than any other voter ranked them.
- Chargers (9): Clayton and Fox sixth, Kuharsky 15th.
- Jets (7): Walker 11th, Sando 18th.
- Steelers (7): Sando and Kuharsky 10th, Clayton 17th.
- Buccaneers (7): Kuharsky seventh, Sando 14th.
Ranking the divisions: The NFC North held onto the highest average ranking (13.1) despite dropping from 11.8 last week. The NFC South overtook the AFC East for the second spot. The chart below shows how each voter ranked each division on average. Highest votes in red. Lowest votes in blue.
A voter-by-voter look at changes of at least five spots since last week:
For download: An Excel file -- available here -- showing how each voter voted this week and in past weeks.
- Sando: Jets (-10), Cowboys (-7), Bills (-6), Eagles (-5), Giants (+5), Titans (+5), Bengals (+6).
- Clayton: Cowboys (-6), Broncos (-6), Jets (-6), Raiders (-6), Ravens (+5), Chiefs (+5), Titans (+5), Bengals (+6), 49ers (+7).
- Kuharsky: Jets (-7), Titans (+5), 49ers (+7).
- Walker: Vikings (-7), Steelers (-5), Eagles (-5), Bengals (+7), Titans (+8).
- Fox: Steelers (-10), Cowboys (-9), Jets (-9), Eagles (-6), Bengals (+7), Titans (+9), Texans (+10), Redskins (+10).
The file includes a "powerflaws" sheet pointing out potential flaws in voters' thinking by showing how many higher-ranked opponents each team defeated this season.
A quick primer on the "powerflaws" sheet:
- Column Y features team rankings.
- Column Z shows how many times a team has defeated higher-ranked teams.
- Change the rankings in Column Y as you see fit.
- Re-sort Column Y in ascending order (1 to 32) using the standard Excel pull-down menu atop the column.
- The information in Column Z, which reflects potential ranking errors, will change (with the adjusted total highlighted in yellow atop the column).
- The lower the figure in that yellow box, the fewer conflicts.