SB Nation

John Crean | September 9, 2015

2015 NFL Power Rankings Consensus, Week 1

Shaking off the Rust

It's the first week of the season, and that means the Power Rankings Consensus is back! Time to plug all the rankings into our Rankotron 5000 and get a sense for how all 32 teams stack up.

First off, I'd like to start by apologizing for abandoning these rankings in the middle of last season. I'm pretty sure I explained already, but for those of you who missed it, I got a new job and moved from California to Colorado with my wife and daughter. With such a major life change and a new job, these rankings fell by the wayside.

With that out of the way, football is back! The NFL season opener is upon us, and I couldn't be more excited! It's that magical time of year where every fan feels their team still has a legitimate shot at a Super Bowl title. We're all so full of hope and anticipation and nothing short of a catastrophic loss by our team of choice will bring us from this euphoria.

Just like most teams in the NFL, it takes the rankers a few weeks to shake the rust off and get up to speed. Because of that, we don't have the full complement of rankers, especially those on the "Objective" side of things. Well, we don't have any objective rankers. That's fine, since they rely on the actual game stats to make their rankings.

Since it's the start of the season, I'll give everyone a quick primer about how this works.

I troll the web for various NFL power rankings, load them up into my computer and crunch the numbers. I then make observations based on what the numbers tell me. Don't worry, it's nothing too complicated, and I'll walk you through the various displays, explaining as we go along.

Notable Quotes

Admittedly, this is a lofty ranking for a team with one playoff appearance, one playoff win and zero 10-win seasons since 2010. But one leap of faith begets another: The Chargers will live up to this billing if Melvin Gordon shows his lethargic preseason to be a fluke.

The San Diego Chargers of Carson of Los Angeles get ready for a season of hearing about how the Chargers are going to move out of San Diego during the commentary of every game.

If there is a team that analysts, league observers and football fans don't talk about enough -- at least when it comes to their on-field outlook -- it might be these little Chargers. Enough already about the potential move to L.A. -- Philip Rivers and company have the opportunity to put this San Diego group into the postseason. Love the young nucleus coordinator John Pagano is leading on defense, starting with the linebackers.

Division Averages

Before we get to looking at where all the teams rank, let's take look at the bigger picture in the NFL. This table takes the average rankings for each team, then averages the rankings of each team in the division. It's used as a way of showing where the tougher and weaker divisions lie each week.

Division Week 1 Average
AFC East 13.942
NFC West 14.154
AFC North 14.250
NFC North 14.558
AFC West 14.615
NFC East 16.769
AFC South 20.885
NFC South 22.827

Subjective Average

We'll start off with the Subjective Average. 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.

I then take all those rankings and average them together, then sort the table based on the average ranking. This method evens out the peaks and valleys and allows us to get a more reliable "big picture" view of the perception of where teams rank in the league.

Subjective
ESPN Fox CBS SI PFT NFL SN SBN Reddit Average Change in Value
Patriots 2 3 2 1 1 4 1 3 2 2.111 -0.667 Falling
Seahawks 1 1 9 2 5 1 2 1 1 2.556 6.444 Rising
Packers 3 4 1 4 3 2 3 2 3 2.778 6.000 Rising
Colts 4 8 5 3 7 3 4 5 5 4.889 1.333 Rising
Broncos 5 2 8 7 4 8 6 4 4 5.333 -2.222 Falling
Cowboys 6 5 3 5 6 6 9 11 6 6.333 0.667 Rising
Ravens 8 6 7 6 2 14 7 7 8 7.222 8.000 Rising
Steelers 7 12 4 17 8 5 8 8 7 8.444 0.556 Rising
Cardinals 10 11 6 8 11 9 11 9 9 9.333 -7.777 Falling
Eagles 9 9 13 11 14 10 5 6 10 9.667 -5.445 Falling
Bengals 11 14 10 10 12 11 14 13 12 11.889 -0.667 Falling
Dolphins 15 7 15 13 16 15 10 16 13 13.333 -0.666 Falling
Lions 12 10 17 12 17 12 18 12 11 13.444 -7.333 Falling
Chiefs 14 16 18 15 10 7 17 10 14 13.444 -1.555 Falling
Chargers 13 17 16 9 18 13 16 15 15 14.667 2.000 Rising
Vikings 17 18 14 14 15 16 15 14 17 15.556 6.333 Rising
Bills 18 13 24 16 9 17 22 19 16 17.111 -1.555 Falling
Texans 20 15 20 18 13 20 19 18 18 17.889 2.889 Rising
Panthers 19 25 11 19 19 18 12 20 19 18.000 4.000 Rising
Saints 16 20 21 22 20 24 20 17 20 20.000 -4.111 Falling
Giants 21 21 12 23 23 22 13 24 22 20.111 3.222 Rising
Rams 22 19 19 21 21 19 24 23 23 21.222 1.889 Rising
Falcons 23 22 27 20 22 23 23 21 21 22.444 4.556 Rising
49ers 24 24 26 24 25 27 26 22 24 24.667 -8.000 Falling
Jets 26 23 28 26 27 21 21 26 25 24.778 5.444 Rising
Bears 25 29 22 25 29 25 25 25 27 25.778 -2.000 Falling
Raiders 28 28 29 28 26 26 29 28 28 27.778 4.222 Rising
Browns 27 32 30 27 24 31 28 27 26 28.000 -10.111 Falling
Jaguars 31 31 23 29 28 28 27 29 30 28.444 1.667 Rising
Buccaneers 29 26 31 30 31 29 31 31 29 29.667 -0.223 Falling
Titans 30 27 25 32 30 32 32 32 31 30.111 -2.000 Falling
Redskins 32 30 32 31 32 30 30 30 32 31.000 -4.889 Falling

Observations:

  • The "Change in Value" column is comparing these rankings to Week 10's rankings last year. So they don't really have much weight other than to show who's changed since WEek 10 last year.
  • Always amuses me when the defending Super Bowl champions aren't the consensus number-one pick. I know things change in the offseason, but these rankings were all done after Brady's suspension was lifted.
  • Rankers putting the Colts ahead of the Broncos amuses me too. The Manning era is officially over?
  • The top 12 is split 7-5 in favor of AFC teams.
  • Chargers and Chiefs neck-and-neck. I don't really see it, I don't trust that offensive line in Kansas City and it's hard to trust Alex Smith. I could be proven wrong but that's my gut feeling
  • Lions ranked just a bit ahead of the Chargers, Sunday's season opener seems like it'll be a close game (at least on paper).
  • Why the Redskins aren't the consensus worst team right now is beyond me.

Subjective Standard Deviation

Put simply, Standard Deviation is a tool in statistics to measure how much variance there is in a set of numbers. To put more simply: I use it to look at who's ranked the most- and least-consistently. In Standard Deviation, the lower the number, the more consistent the values in the set.

For our purposes, this means the lower the Standard Deviation, the more consistent the rankings. The opposite is true too: the higher the number, the less consistent the rankings.

This table is sorted by most-consistently ranked to least-consistently ranked.

Subjective
ESPN Fox CBS SI PFT NFL SN SBN Reddit STD DEV Change in Value
Packers 3 4 1 4 3 2 3 2 3 0.916 -0.558 Falling
Redskins 32 30 32 31 32 30 30 30 32 0.943 0.629 Rising
Patriots 2 3 2 1 1 4 1 3 2 0.994 0.497 Rising
Raiders 28 28 29 28 26 26 29 28 28 1.030 1.030 Rising
49ers 24 24 26 24 25 27 26 22 24 1.414 -0.641 Falling
Vikings 17 18 14 14 15 16 15 14 17 1.423 0.137 Rising
Bengals 11 14 10 10 12 11 14 13 12 1.449 -0.169 Falling
Cardinals 10 11 6 8 11 9 11 9 9 1.564 1.067 Rising
Buccaneers 29 26 31 30 31 29 31 31 29 1.564 0.399 Rising
Colts 4 8 5 3 7 3 4 5 5 1.595 -0.090 Falling
Rams 22 19 19 21 21 19 24 23 23 1.812 0.149 Rising
Falcons 23 22 27 20 22 23 23 21 21 1.892 1.421 Rising
Broncos 5 2 8 7 4 8 6 4 4 1.944 1.630 Rising
Bears 25 29 22 25 29 25 25 25 27 2.096 0.699 Rising
Cowboys 6 5 3 5 6 6 9 11 6 2.211 0.720 Rising
Saints 16 20 21 22 20 24 20 17 20 2.261 0.469 Rising
Texans 20 15 20 18 13 20 19 18 18 2.283 0.968 Rising
Jaguars 31 31 23 29 28 28 27 29 30 2.315 1.440 Rising
Titans 30 27 25 32 30 32 32 32 31 2.378 2.064 Rising
Jets 26 23 28 26 27 21 21 26 25 2.393 1.764 Rising
Browns 27 32 30 27 24 31 28 27 26 2.404 0.880 Rising
Chargers 13 17 16 9 18 13 16 15 15 2.539 1.048 Rising
Seahawks 1 1 9 2 5 1 2 1 1 2.587 1.644 Rising
Eagles 9 9 13 11 14 10 5 6 10 2.749 2.120 Rising
Lions 12 10 17 12 17 12 18 12 11 2.833 1.041 Rising
Dolphins 15 7 15 13 16 15 10 16 13 2.867 0.923 Rising
Ravens 8 6 7 6 2 14 7 7 8 2.936 1.186 Rising
Chiefs 14 16 18 15 10 7 17 10 14 3.468 2.019 Rising
Steelers 7 12 4 17 8 5 8 8 7 3.685 1.060 Rising
Panthers 19 25 11 19 19 18 12 20 19 3.972 2.558 Rising
Giants 21 21 12 23 23 22 13 24 22 4.175 2.842 Rising
Bills 18 13 24 16 9 17 22 19 16 4.228 1.773 Rising

Observations:

  • Pretty good consensus early on that the Packers are about the 3rd-best team in the league.
  • Pete Prisco at CBS hates the Seahawks and it's painfully obvious.
  • This chart is fun to see just which team is hard to pin down. The Bills are ranked anywhere from 9th to 24th. Giants 13th to 24th. Panthers right behind
  • Take out SI's 9th-place rank for the Chargers, the Chargers are actually a pretty consistent middle of the pack.

Objective Average

I call these rankings the "Objective" rankings because unlike the rankings above, these are rankings based on statistical models of some sort. I use the term "Objective" loosely here because there is still some inherent bias in how the various models are constructed. Each ranking site has their own criteria in what they feel is success in the NFL.

All that said, these rankings are more objective as they remove perception and bias and produce rankings based on how well teams actually play, not how they're perceived to play.

Objective
TR SAG Massey ARGH Average Change in Value
Seahawks 1 1 2 1 1.250 6.750 Rising
Patriots 2 4 1 2 2.250 3.150 Rising
Broncos 3 3 3 3 3.000 -2.000 Falling
Packers 4 2 4 5 3.750 4.750 Rising
Colts 5 5 6 10 6.500 -1.800 Falling
Eagles 6 8 9 6 7.250 2.150 Rising
Chiefs 7 11 8 4 7.500 0.000 No Change
Ravens 9 6 5 16 9.000 0.700 Rising
Cowboys 10 7 7 14 9.500 3.700 Rising
Bengals 11 14 13 9 11.750 1.350 Rising
Cardinals 15 12 15 7 12.250 -3.850 Falling
Dolphins 8 9 16 17 12.500 -5.000 Falling
Lions 18 13 12 8 12.750 -1.750 Falling
Steelers 13 10 11 18 13.000 0.700 Rising
Chargers 12 15 14 12 13.250 3.550 Rising
Bills 17 16 10 13 14.000 0.800 Rising
Vikings 14 17 21 19 17.750 5.650 Rising
Panthers 19 23 19 15 19.000 4.900 Rising
Texans 21 19 17 20 19.250 -0.550 Falling
49ers 24 25 18 11 19.500 -5.800 Falling
Saints 23 20 20 21 21.000 -8.200 Falling
Rams 16 21 23 24 21.000 6.100 Rising
Giants 22 18 22 23 21.250 -0.050 Falling
Jets 20 24 24 26 23.500 5.700 Rising
Falcons 25 22 25 25 24.250 0.650 Rising
Bears 27 26 27 22 25.500 -3.400 Falling
Browns 26 27 26 27 26.500 -8.100 Falling
Raiders 28 29 28 29 28.500 2.200 Rising
Redskins 30 28 30 28 29.000 -6.900 Falling
Buccaneers 29 30 29 31 29.750 0.950 Rising
Titans 31 32 32 30 31.250 -5.050 Falling
Jaguars 32 31 31 32 31.500 -1.300 Falling

Observations:

  • This is just a small preview of the objective rankings. Very few of the objective models release predictive ratings, but we at least have some!
  • Seahawks top the charts here. Patriots a solid second.
  • Broncos unanimous third, neat.
  • Chargers again setting up shop in the middle of the pack.
  • Sharp delineation between the Bills and Vikings.
  • 10 of the bottom 16 teams are NFC teams, including former powerhouses such as the 49ers, Saints, and Giants.

Objective Standard Deviation

Objective
TR SAG Massey ARGH STD DEV Change in Value
Broncos 3 3 3 3 0.000 0.000 No Change
Seahawks 1 1 2 1 0.433 -2.567 Falling
Jaguars 32 31 31 32 0.500 -1.333 Falling
Browns 26 27 26 27 0.500 -2.731 Falling
Raiders 28 29 28 29 0.500 -0.987 Falling
Titans 31 32 32 30 0.829 -1.771 Falling
Buccaneers 29 30 29 31 0.829 -0.176 Falling
Redskins 30 28 30 28 1.000 -4.941 Falling
Packers 4 2 4 5 1.090 -2.966 Falling
Patriots 2 4 1 2 1.090 -2.465 Falling
Saints 23 20 20 21 1.225 -3.060 Falling
Falcons 25 22 25 25 1.299 -2.061 Falling
Chargers 12 15 14 12 1.299 -4.477 Falling
Eagles 6 8 9 6 1.299 -4.721 Falling
Texans 21 19 17 20 1.479 -1.421 Falling
Bengals 11 14 13 9 1.920 -1.350 Falling
Giants 22 18 22 23 1.920 0.384 Rising
Bears 27 26 27 22 2.062 -0.486 Falling
Colts 5 5 6 10 2.062 0.110 Rising
Jets 20 24 24 26 2.179 1.102 Rising
Chiefs 7 11 8 4 2.500 -3.537 Falling
Vikings 14 17 21 19 2.586 -1.025 Falling
Bills 17 16 10 13 2.739 -1.180 Falling
Panthers 19 23 19 15 2.828 0.203 Rising
Cowboys 10 7 7 14 2.872 -0.187 Falling
Steelers 13 10 11 18 3.082 -0.553 Falling
Rams 16 21 23 24 3.082 0.534 Rising
Cardinals 15 12 15 7 3.269 -3.246 Falling
Lions 18 13 12 8 3.562 1.773 Rising
Dolphins 8 9 16 17 4.031 -1.284 Falling
Ravens 9 6 5 16 4.301 -0.217 Falling
49ers 24 25 18 11 5.590 0.075 Rising

Observations:

  • Broncos with a unanimous #3 ranking, giving them a standard deviation of 0. What's interesting is their deviation didn't change from Week 10 last year, because then they had a unanimous #1 ranking.
  • There's greater consensus about which team is bad than which is good.

Overall Average

Now let's compare the two sets of data. We'll start with the "Overall Average" chart. This takes the Subjective Average and the Objective Average, and then averages those two numbers. This way it gives equal weight to both averages so that even though Subjective Average has a larger sample size, it doesn't drown out the Objective Average.

Subj vs Obj
Subj Avg Obj Avg Average Change in Value
Seahawks 2.556 1.250 1.903 6.597 Rising
Patriots 2.111 2.250 2.181 1.241 Rising
Packers 2.778 3.750 3.264 5.375 Rising
Broncos 5.333 3.000 4.167 -2.111 Falling
Colts 4.889 6.500 5.694 -0.233 Falling
Cowboys 6.333 9.500 7.917 2.183 Rising
Ravens 7.222 9.000 8.111 4.350 Rising
Eagles 9.667 7.250 8.458 -1.647 Falling
Chiefs 13.444 7.500 10.472 -0.778 Falling
Steelers 8.444 13.000 10.722 0.628 Rising
Cardinals 9.333 12.250 10.792 -5.814 Falling
Bengals 11.889 11.750 11.819 0.342 Rising
Dolphins 13.333 12.500 12.917 -2.834 Falling
Lions 13.444 12.750 13.097 -4.541 Falling
Chargers 14.667 13.250 13.958 2.775 Rising
Bills 17.111 14.000 15.556 -0.378 Falling
Vikings 15.556 17.750 16.653 5.991 Rising
Panthers 18.000 19.000 18.500 4.450 Rising
Texans 17.889 19.250 18.569 1.170 Rising
Saints 20.000 21.000 20.500 -6.156 Falling
Giants 20.111 21.250 20.681 1.586 Rising
Rams 21.222 21.000 21.111 3.995 Rising
49ers 24.667 19.500 22.083 -6.900 Falling
Falcons 22.444 24.250 23.347 2.603 Rising
Jets 24.778 23.500 24.139 5.572 Rising
Bears 25.778 25.500 25.639 -2.700 Falling
Browns 28.000 26.500 27.250 -9.106 Falling
Raiders 27.778 28.500 28.139 3.211 Rising
Buccaneers 29.667 29.750 29.708 0.364 Rising
Jaguars 28.444 31.500 29.972 0.184 Rising
Redskins 31.000 29.000 30.000 -5.894 Falling
Titans 30.111 31.250 30.681 -3.525 Falling

Observations:

  • Seahawks take the top spot from the Patriots
  • Chargers just holding on in the "good teams" group, with the Bills falling in to the "average" group.
  • Chargers and Lions remain pretty evenly-matched.
  • Chiefs a top-10 team?

Overall Standard Deviation

The Overall Standard Deviation does not average anything out, it just takes the Standard Deviation across all the rankings. Yes this will even things out slightly, but it goes to show which teams have consensus across the board.

Subj vs Obj
Subj Avg Obj Avg STD DEV Change in Value
Raiders 27.778 28.500 0.961 -0.298 Falling
Patriots 2.111 2.250 1.026 -2.241 Falling
Packers 2.778 3.750 1.071 -2.045 Falling
Redskins 31.000 29.000 1.332 -3.425 Falling
Buccaneers 29.667 29.750 1.380 0.128 Rising
Bengals 11.889 11.750 1.610 -1.173 Falling
Colts 4.889 6.500 1.903 -0.079 Falling
Falcons 22.444 24.250 1.922 -0.751 Falling
Broncos 5.333 3.000 1.943 0.867 Rising
Saints 20.000 21.000 2.053 -1.630 Falling
Bears 25.778 25.500 2.090 -0.155 Falling
Titans 30.111 31.250 2.098 -0.027 Falling
Vikings 15.556 17.750 2.118 -0.748 Falling
Browns 28.000 26.500 2.135 -0.446 Falling
Texans 17.889 19.250 2.162 -0.352 Falling
Seahawks 2.556 1.250 2.248 -0.077 Falling
Rams 21.222 21.000 2.282 -0.666 Falling
Chargers 14.667 13.250 2.326 -1.989 Falling
Jets 24.778 23.500 2.403 1.374 Rising
Jaguars 28.444 31.500 2.403 0.942 Rising
Cardinals 9.333 12.250 2.606 -3.236 Falling
Eagles 9.667 7.250 2.645 -2.449 Falling
Cowboys 6.333 9.500 2.839 -1.106 Falling
Lions 13.444 12.750 3.092 0.065 Rising
Dolphins 13.333 12.500 3.293 -1.535 Falling
Ravens 7.222 9.000 3.512 -0.937 Falling
Giants 20.111 21.250 3.671 1.877 Rising
Panthers 18.000 19.000 3.688 1.348 Rising
49ers 24.667 19.500 4.085 -0.409 Falling
Bills 17.111 14.000 4.092 0.763 Rising
Steelers 8.444 13.000 4.092 0.127 Rising
Chiefs 13.444 7.500 4.216 -0.782 Falling

Observations:

  • Raiders continuing their trend of being consistently bad.
  • Patriots and Packers consistently good.
  • 5 of the 8 least consistently ranked teams are AFC teams.
  • Chiefs holding the crown of least consistent

Difference in Averages

This 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 will be or are better than the stats indicate, 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.

Generally speaking, the Subjective Rankings tend to be more reactionary to a team's performance than the mathematical models are. You'll often end up with major peaks and valleys for a team in the Subjective rankings, where the Objective rankings are more steady.

Subj vs Obj
Subj Avg Obj Avg Diff. in Avg Change in Value
Steelers 8.444 13.000 4.556 -0.144 Rising
Cowboys 6.333 9.500 3.167 -3.033 Rising
Jaguars 28.444 31.500 3.056 2.967 Rising
Cardinals 9.333 12.250 2.917 -3.927 Rising
Vikings 15.556 17.750 2.194 0.683 Rising
Falcons 22.444 24.250 1.806 3.906 Rising
Ravens 7.222 9.000 1.778 7.300 Rising
Colts 4.889 6.500 1.611 3.133 Rising
Texans 17.889 19.250 1.361 3.439 Rising
Giants 20.111 21.250 1.139 3.272 Rising
Titans 30.111 31.250 1.139 3.050 Rising
Saints 20.000 21.000 1.000 4.089 Rising
Panthers 18.000 19.000 1.000 -0.900 Rising
Packers 2.778 3.750 0.972 1.250 Rising
Raiders 27.778 28.500 0.722 2.022 Rising
Patriots 2.111 2.250 0.139 -3.817 Rising
Buccaneers 29.667 29.750 0.083 -1.173 Rising
Bengals 11.889 11.750 -0.139 -2.017 Rising
Rams 21.222 21.000 -0.222 -4.211 Rising
Bears 25.778 25.500 -0.278 1.400 Rising
Lions 13.444 12.750 -0.694 -5.583 Rising
Dolphins 13.333 12.500 -0.833 4.334 Rising
Jets 24.778 23.500 -1.278 -0.256 Rising
Seahawks 2.556 1.250 -1.306 -0.306 Rising
Chargers 14.667 13.250 -1.417 -1.550 Rising
Browns 28.000 26.500 -1.500 -2.011 Rising
Redskins 31.000 29.000 -2.000 2.011 Rising
Broncos 5.333 3.000 -2.333 -0.222 Rising
Eagles 9.667 7.250 -2.417 -7.595 Rising
Bills 17.111 14.000 -3.111 -2.355 Rising
49ers 24.667 19.500 -5.167 -2.200 Rising
Chiefs 13.444 7.500 -5.944 -1.555 Rising

Observations:

  • This can be a fun chart to look at as the year goes on. It's been pretty good at predicting which teams will have preseason success, and who will flame out. But, this early in the season it's just fun to look at.
  • Generally, when a team has a much higher subjective average than objective average, I would call them "Overrated." So in this instance, the Steelers and Cowboys would be "overrated." I'm not ready to slap that label there yet.
  • Same story on the opposite end, the 49ers and Chiefs would generally be called "Underrated." Not yet.
  • As the season progresses, generally the subjective rankings will be quicker to react to something changing on a team. For instance, a key player gets injured? Drop them a few positions. A lot of times though, the subjective rankings care more about record than anything else.

Sources

Subjective Objective
ESPN Team Rankings
Fox Sagarin
CBS Massey
Sports Illustrated ARGH
ProFootballTalk
NFL.com
SportingNews
SB Nation
Reddit

About the Author

Follow @creanium

Loading comments...