Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Power rankings: How the voters voted
By Mike Sando
ESPN's NFL Power Rankings for Week 11 demand formal declaration of official tiebreaking procedures.
Which means I need to make the procedures official.
Consider it done.
- First tiebreaker: head-to-head results. It's what people point to first.
- Second tiebreaker: overall record. If the teams haven't played or if they've split the season series, let's check the standings.
- Third tiebreaker: which team won most recently. What have these teams done for you lately?
- Fourth tiebreaker: previous ranking. Sorry, no coin toss.
The Saints held off the Colts on the fourth tiebreaker after Jeff Chadiha and I moved the Colts into the No. 1 spot following their victory over the Patriots.
New England wound up ranked fifth, although fourth-and-2 seemed more appropriate.
A look inside the rankings ...
Rising: The Jaguars rose five spots to No. 17, the largest gain from last week. The Chargers rose four spots for the second week in a row. The Cardinals and Ravens each jumped three spots after the teams ranked sixth through ninth lost in Week 10. The Bucs and Redskins rose two spots each. The Panthers, Packers, Chiefs, Patriots, 49ers and Titans each rose one spot.
Falling: The Falcons fell five spots to No. 14, the largest drop from last week. The Bears fell four spots. The Jets fell three. The Lions, Broncos, Cowboys and Bills each fell two places. The Steelers, Eagles, Raiders, Giants and Dolphins each fell one.
Unchanged: Rankings for the Bengals, Browns, Texans, Colts, Vikings, Saints, Seahawks and Rams did not change from last week.
Deadlocked: We broke three ties this week. The Saints prevailed over the Colts on the fourth tiebreaker (previous ranking). The Eagles edged the Texans on the fourth tiebreaker. The Bucs edged the Rams on the third tiebreaker (won most recently).
Groupthink: All four panelists ranked the Vikings third, Bengals fourth, Patriots fifth and Cardinals seventh. They ranked the Jaguars 17th, the Dolphins 18th and the Chiefs 27th.
Agree to disagree: The Panthers again generated the widest gap between highest and lowest votes -- nine spots last week, 10 this time -- after beating the Falcons. Four other teams generated disparities of at least five spots:
- Panthers (10): Sando ranked them 13th, higher than any other voter ranked them. Clayton ranked them 23rd, lower than any other voter ranked them.
- Ravens (6): Sando ninth, Clayton 15th.
- Eagles (6): Clayton ninth, Chadiha 15th.
- Chargers (5): Chadiha sixth, Clayton 11th.
- Rams (5): Sando 27th, Kuharsky 32nd.
Power rankings histories: Check out these colorful layered graphs showing where each NFL team has ranked every week since the 2002 season.
Ranking the divisions: Teams from the AFC South claimed high ground as the top-ranked division on average. Every division but the AFC South has a team ranked lower than 22nd. 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 four spots since the Week 10 rankings:
For download: An Excel file -- available here or here-- showing how each voter voted this week and in past weeks.
- Sando: Falcons (-6), Cowboys (-4), Broncos (-4), Jaguars (+4), Chargers (+4)
- Clayton: Bears (-4), Cardinals (+4)
- Kuharsky: Chargers (+5), Titans (+4), Packers (+4)
- Chadiha: Falcons (-4), Jets (-4), Bears (-4), Chargers (+4), Cardinals (+4), Jaguars (+4)
The file includes a "powerflaws" sheet pointing out potential flaws in voters' thinking by showing how many higher-ranked opponents each team has defeated.
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.