NFC West: power play

Power play: Help sought on rankings

September, 28, 2009
9/28/09
5:23
PM ET
Rank Team Mike Sando John Clayton Paul Kuharsky Jeff Chadiha
1 BAL 1 1 3 3
2 NYG 3 4 1 1
3 IND 2 2 4 8
4 ATL 4 6 2 5
5 MIN 8 3 6 2
6 PIT 5 5 5 7
7 NO 7 7 7 4
8 NYJ 6 8 9 6
9 PHI 10 10 11 9
10 NE 9 9 13 10
11 SD 12 13 8 15
12 GB 17 11 10 12
13 SF 13 15 12 11
14 CHI 11 12 14 17
15 DAL 18 14 18 13
16 TEN 16 17 16 16
17 HOU 15 16 15 20
18 ARI 14 18 17 21
19 MIA 19 21 20 19
20 DEN 20 24 24 14
21 BUF 23 22 22 18
22 SEA 24 20 19 23
23 WAS 22 19 23 25
24 CIN 21 25 21 24
25 CAR 26 23 26 22
26 OAK 25 27 25 26
27 JAC 27 26 29 27
28 TB 28 29 28 29
29 CLE 29 28 31 28
30 KC 30 30 27 31
31 DET 32 32 30 30
32 STL 31 31 32 32
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

My power rankings ballot is due late Monday night for publication here Tuesday.

As always, I'd appreciate your input.

Which teams deserve to climb, and how high? Which teams should fall?

The chart shows how each panelist voted last week (me, John Clayton, Paul Kuharsky and Jeff Chadiha, left to right). Red text highlights losing teams in Week 3.

The Bengals definitely need to climb. I will not knock down the 49ers. The Cardinals probably deserve to fall even though they lost to a good team.

Tampa Bay might drop to 32nd on my ballot after an abysmal performance against the Giants. The Rams aren't very good, but they might be better than the Bucs have proven to be so far this season.

Denver has to stand as one of the surprise teams. I'm not sure how good the Broncos are, but they're 3-0.

I'll move up the Vikings even though they almost lost. Brett Favre's performance convinced me he'll bring more to the Vikings than I once expected. Green Bay, one of the teams whose chances I liked heading into the season, hasn't been all that impressive.

The Monday night game between the Cowboys and Panthers probably won't affect my thinking unless Carolina pulls an upset.

Power play: Help sought on power rankings

September, 21, 2009
9/21/09
7:40
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Rank Team Mike Sando John Clayton Paul Kuharsky Jeff Chadiha
1 PIT 1 1 1 1
2 NE 2 5 2 2
3 NYG 3 4 3 4
4 PHI 4 6 6 3
5 IND 5 7 5 7
6 SD 6 2 8 13
7 ATL 8 9 7 6
8 MIN 10 3 13 5
9 TEN 7 12 4 9
10 BAL 11 8 9 8
11 GB 9 10 10 11
12 NO 13 11 12 12
13 DAL 12 13 17 10
14 SEA 16 15 14 15
15 CHI 14 14 15 21
16 NYJ 15 18 16 16
17 ARI 18 19 11 19
18 SF 17 17 22 14
19 MIA 21 21 18 18
20 WAS 22 16 20 25
21 BUF 19 24 24 17
22 CAR 24 20 19 22
23 HOU 23 22 21 23
24 DEN 20 26 28 24
25 JAC 26 23 25 26
26 CIN 27 27 23 27
27 OAK 25 30 30 20
28 CLE 28 25 31 28
29 TB 29 28 27 29
30 KC 30 29 26 30
31 DET 31 32 29 31
32 STL 32 31 32 32

Five of the six teams ranked highest in the Week 2 power rankings lost.

The 49ers are among eight 2-0 teams heading into the Monday night matchup featuring the 1-0 Colts and 0-1 Dolphins.

Should the Giants move into the No. 1 overall spot?

How high should the 49ers and Cardinals climb following impressive performances?

How far should the Seahawks fall after losing to the 49ers and possibly losing Matt Hasselbeck, among others?

Did the Rams do enough at Washington to move up from the bottom? If so, which team becomes No. 32? The five teams ranked lowest in Week 2 lost, perhaps making room for the Rams to advance among them.

The chart reproduces the rankings from last week. Red lettering signifies teams that lost Sunday. Black lettering signifies teams that won, plus the Colts and Dolphins.

I could see dropping Seattle well into the 20s until the Seahawks prove they can overcome the latest round of injuries. The Bears definitely need to climb after defeating the Steelers.

We're early enough in the season to justify some volatility from week to week as teams validate -- or fail to validate -- expectations.

I'll be filing votes after the Monday night game, with results posting here Tuesday. Fire away.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

ESPN's first power rankings for the 2009 season run on the site later this month. As usual, I'll ask for your help in putting together rankings that make sense based on what we know.

My final regular-season ballot from last season ranked NFC West teams this way:

  • 13th: Cardinals
  • 20th: 49ers
  • 28th: Seahawks
  • 31st: Rams

Arizona played much better than its ranking once the playoffs began. The 49ers played an easier schedule late in the season, but that wasn't their fault. They did finish strong. The Seahawks and Rams almost can't help but improve.

Where should we rank NFC West teams heading into training camps, and why? Special commendations for those who bring well-argued points of view. I'll go through the responses and offer my own thoughts upon returning from annual ESPN meetings in Bristol (I'm traveling much of Tuesday).

Note: The Excel file used last season to help with rankings remains available for download, featuring records and stats from last season, plus a record of which teams defeated which teams. Simply change the rankings in column Y and re-sort the column in ascending order. This tool becomes more useful during the season for reasons explained here, but it can still help with rankings.

Power play: Help needed on rankings

November, 10, 2008
11/10/08
11:30
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The pursuit of unassailable power rankings continues after Week 10, pending the outcome between the Cardinals and 49ers in the Monday night game.

Your input helped improve the final ballot I submitted a week ago. I've put together a preliminary ranking. Here's how you can shape my rankings for this week and do your part to reduce Wayward Voter Syndrome:

  • Download this Excel file and take a look at the information in columns Y and Z.
  • Follow the simple instructions listed in the first row of the file (shaded in light red).
  • Use the comments section associated with this blog entry to explain appropriate changes.
  • Extra credit for the person who puts together rankings with the lowest number of potential conflicts. My preliminary version contains 24 (listed atop Column Z).

We might have to make adjustments based on what happens in the "Monday Night Football" game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Here's a quick look at the rankings as I've put them together on a preliminary basis (numbers to the right of team names reflect how many times a team has defeated a higher-ranked opponent):

(Read full post)

Power play: Rankings take shape

November, 3, 2008
11/03/08
3:42
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The pursuit of the most defensible NFL power rankings continues. BanJ2573 improved my initial submissions through Week 9 by eliminating two cases that could have exposed your NFC West host to the worst kind of ridicule: the avoidable kind.

We're not going to rank the Rams ahead of the Redskins just because St. Louis won at Washington this season. But we should rank teams in ways that minimize those head-scratching moments when voters seem to forget what happened on the field. And so I put together a new weapon to help us do just that heading into Week 10. 

Here's how you can shape my rankings for this week and do your part to reduce Wayward Voter Syndrome:

  • Download this Excel file and take a look at the information in columns Y and Z.
  • 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 red atop the column).
  • The lower the figure in that red box, the fewer conflicts.

We'll have to make adjustments based on what happens in the "Monday Night Football" game. I'll run the order that produced the fewest number of conflicts so far, courtesy of BanJ2573. And we'll probably make a few other logic-based adjustments (moving down Tampa Bay, for example). I do like having this file to check for potential embarrassing oversights, though.

(Read full post)

Power play: Help needed on rankings

November, 3, 2008
11/03/08
12:17
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The pursuit of unassailable power rankings continues after Week 9. This is an impossible task, but I've developed a new weapon to help avoid the ridicule that inevitably comes from ranking one team behind a team it defeated earlier in the season.

This new weapon lets us rank teams and then instantly spot potential errors in judgment. For example, let's say we ranked the top six this way: Titans, Giants, Panthers, Redskins, Steelers and Cardinals. That order would produce no potential conflicts because none of those teams has defeated any of the teams ranked ahead of them.

But if we ranked the Eagles seventh, we could instantly see that Philadelphia indeed defeated one of those six higher-ranked teams, in this case the Steelers. We might choose to leave the rankings unchanged, but at least we would see the potential conflict before inviting ridicule.

I played around the with the rankings heading into the Monday night game and couldn't immediately produce fewer than 27 potential conflicts without ranking one team -- Dallas, for instance -- higher than that team seemingly deserved to be ranked.

Therein lies the challenge. I'll make available this file and challenge anyone to produce a lower total than 27 without sacrificing the integrity of the rankings. I'm certain more than a couple people can help improve my rankings for this week. We can adjust based on what happens between the Redskins and Steelers tonight.

Update: I've reduced the number of conflicts to 25 with further tweaking. New file here. You must re-sort column Y in ascending order for the recalculations to take effect.

The new order looks like this, with number of potential conflicts in parenthesis and note that could prove helpful for readjusting:

(Read full post)

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