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2015 NFL Power Rankings, Week 6: freeland1787 edition

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Bill Belichick could care less about Power Rankings. As far as he's concerned, we're on to Indianapolis.
Bill Belichick could care less about Power Rankings. As far as he's concerned, we're on to Indianapolis.
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

This is simply an exercise with playing around with numerical data you can find on Pro Football Reference. In my opinion, Power Rankings are BS, but I thought I would try to rank teams based on rate stats on offense, defense, and special teams. I took the data from PFR and took the difference from league average and set it to a percentage rate with league average being 50%. Scheduling involves the team's own W-L record and the W-L record of their opponents in other games. On offense and defense, I used Points Per Drive, Turnover %, Scoring %, and Yards Per Play. Special Teams is a very long and ugly computation that involves Field Position, Return TDs, Net Punting Average, Touchback %, and Return Average.

After performing the calculations and averaging the percentiles of each category used in the Scheduling, Offense, Defense, and Special Teams, I ranked the teams by averaging the four scores. Here is the final product.

After adding up the data and sorting it, the next objective was establishing the tiers for the teams. The average and standard deviance came in handy. The average Power Sum is 50.6 with a Standard Deviance of 14.0. So the tiers were separated into Great, Good, Average, Bad, and Awful. The Great Team is AVG + 2 STDEV to 100, Good is AVG + 1 STDEV to AVG + 2 STDEV, Average is AVG to AVG + 1 STDEV, Bad is AVG - 1 STDEV to AVG, and Awful is 0 to AVG - 1 STDEV.

Separating the Teams into the Established Categories, we get:

Great (Blue): Patriots
Good (Green): Packers, Cardinals, Bengals, Broncos, Falcons
Average (Yellow): Eagles, Seahawks, Bills, Steelers, Rams, Giants, Vikings, Panthers, Jets
Bad (Orange): Browns, Raiders, Chiefs, Colts, Saints, Dolphins, Ravens, Cowboys, Buccaneers, Chargers, Redskins, 49ers
Awful (Red): Jaguars Texans, Titans, Bears, Lions

For fun, I decided to turn the Power Sum into winning percentage and make a projected record for the 2015 season. I took the Power Sum, divided it by 100 and multiplied by 16 to get the number of projected wins. The Patriots projected record came out as 13-3, which means the Patriots would have to go 9-3 for the rest of the regular season. Based on the ranks, I also came up with the projected playoff picture instead of using each team's record. Surprisingly, the Falcons actually finish ahead of the Packers, who everyone is pretty much coronating as the NFC's best team.

It's only Week 6 and there are a lot of things that can happen between now and the end of the regular season. The sample size in Special Teams is small enough to greatly affect the rankings and there are instances where the individual categories will break the 0-100 scale. That has led to outliers, such as the Eagles qualifying as good despite not passing the eye test, which can cause problems and for people to question this ranking system. For the most part, the Rankings will become more reliable as the season progresses with a larger sample size where a single game outburst doesn't skew the data.

It's no surprise to see the Patriots be #1, with an average margin of victory of 7.5 against average teams, 24.0 against bad teams, and 34.0 against awful teams. The Patriots had established leads of 28-14, 37-13, 51-10, and 30-6 going into garbage time. That's an average of 19.0 against average teams, 24.0 against bad teams, and 41.0 against awful teams. The next Patriots opponent that is considered good by the rankings is the Philadelphia Eagles, although it could be interesting to see how the change at Left Tackle affects the Patriots numbers. In Week 6, the Patriots faced the 19th ranked Indianapolis Colts, who play in a division with 3 teams that classify as awful. Let's see if New England exposes the Colts on national television.