Power Rankings From Around the Web: Week 1

Do you smell that?  Football is back and the NFL seasons starts tonight! (And you thought I was going to make a joke about gas; shame on you.)  With the regular season kicking off tonight, the vast majority of sports sites have released their Power Rankings this week.  More good news: not only have most the subjective rankings come out, but 3 of the 4 objective sites have released rankings.

So, with all that rambling out of the way, let's jump into the rankings!

Subjective Average

We'll start off, as usual, with the Subjective Average.  If you're new to this post, these rankings are the ones that has actual people ranking the teams based on their gut feelings.  You'll see in a moment that some of these sites may even just throw darts at a board, or have a chicken pecking at numbers.  Regardless of method, there are rankings.

Before we take a look at the rankings themselves, I've gathered a few quotes of what the media is saying about the Chargers this week.

 

ESPN:

Philip Rivers is missing in too many young stud QB conversations.

 

Sports Illustrated:

In their opening six games, the Chargers face only one team that made the playoffs last year, so they're going to really have to work at it to pull off another one of their patented slow starts. No Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson weakens San Diego, but maybe not as much as some are projecting. It's a deeper, stronger AFC West this year, but the chances are very good indeed that a sixth division title in seven years is on the way in San Diego.

 

Pro Football Talk:

They've got an easy path back to the postseason.  Whether they can do a better job once they get there remains to be seen.

Okay, enough rhetoric, on to the pretty charts!

Power_rankings_-_subj_avg_medium

Observations:
  • For being the Super Bowl champion, the pundits sure are down on the Saints coming into this season.
  • Chargers are a lock as a top-10 team heading into the season.
  • I want whatever Sporting News is smoking.  Titans in 8th?  Chiefs 16th? Jets 1st?!
  • There is definite delineation between the top-10, the mediocre middle, and the lesser teams.

Subjective Standard Deviation

Real quickly: this shows how much in agreement the various pundit sources are.


Power_rankings_-_subj_stddev_medium

Observations:
  • Well then, the Bills and Rams are definitely some of the worst teams in the league.
  • The Saints and Colts are some of the best teams in the league.  Man, these pundits really are going out on a limb here.
  • Until Jeff Spicoli over at Sporting News weighed in with his choices, the Chiefs were right up there with the Bills and Rams as a consistently bottom-ranked team.
  • The Chargers are one of the more consistently-ranked teams.  They're a solid 7th-to-8th-ranked team.
  • On the other side of the spectrum, the Steelers and Falcons are all over the map.  The Steelers, for obvious reasons, but the Falcons are just difficult to gauge yet.  I guess that's why we play the games, and don't just decide who wins based on who's more liked.

Objective Average

Now let's take a look at the other side of the coin: the Objective Rankings.  These are rankings put out by geeks who come up with mathematical formulas that they all swear by as being the best way to say a team is good or bad.  This is supposed to be a more reliable way to determine where each team stands.

Let's see how the teams stack up, shall we?

Power_rankings_-_obj_avg_medium

Observations:
  • First off, holy big chart, Batman.
  • Secondly, you can see these aren't too far off from the subjective rankings (with a few exceptions of course).
  • I noticed this last year, but the stats sites seem to love the Patriots.  Even if they're not winning games, the objective sites seem to think the Patriots are built to win.
  • Just like with the subjective rankings, there's a clear delineation between the top 10, the mediocre middle, and the lesser teams.
  • A lot of arguments have been made lately about DVOA and their predictions and rankings.  You can tell by looking at the chart that some of their predictions are in line with other sites, while some other predictions are way off line.  More on that in the next chart ...

Subjective Standard Deviation

So, how far off the mark are the various formulas?

Power_rankings_-_obj_stddev_medium

Observations:
  • Hmmmm, would you look at that?  Not much variance on the Vikings there.  Or the Lions, or the Cardinals.
  • The Raiders don't seem to be built as well as we're afraid they are, and there's agreement about that.
  • Wow, the Panthers are all over the place.  So are the Chargers, but that'll happen when two formulas say you're 3rd and 4th, while another says 19th.

Overall Average

Now let's take all the sites together and look at their rankings overall.

Power_rankings_-_overall_avg_medium

Observations:
  • Not too many surprises here.
  • The delineation between the three groups has faded a bit.  The teams are more evenly distributed.
  • The top 10 is a good mix of AFC and NFC teams.

Overall Standard Deviation

This takes into account all the rankings, both objective and subjective, and looks at how in line they are with each other.

  Power_rankings_-_overall_stddev_medium

Observations:
  • Hmmm, the Rams are bad.  The Colts are good.  You can take those statements to the bank.
  • Who knows what to think of the Panthers.
  • The people seem to think the 49ers will be decent this year, science and math thinks they won't.
  • The Chargers were a lock as a 7th-ranked team until DVOA threw a wrench in it all.  Same thing with the Saints being a lock for a 1st or 2nd-ranked team.

Overall Difference in Average

This takes a look and compares the Subjective average ranking with the Objective average ranking.  This tells us just how far off people are from the formulas.  A positive number means people think they'll be better than the math indicates, a negative number means the math thinks they're better than what people think.  The closer to 0 this number is, the more in agreement the Subjective and Objective rankings are.

Power_rankings_-_overall_dif_in_avg_medium

Observations:
  • The 49ers are expected to far out-perform their statistics.  As are the Bengals and Raiders.
  • Pundits think the Chargers are slightly better than the formulas suggest.
  • Yep, the Rams are definitely bad.  The Chiefs are also not that good.
  • Maybe the Bills won't really be that bad this year.

That wraps it up for now. Look for another installment next week!

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