Sunday, December 8, 2013

Revised NFL Power Ratings (December 8, 2013)

Here are the updated power rankings and projected point spreads for Week 14. I gave a brief overview of some contenders and talked about their potential playoff chances. I also tried to help explain and justify my rankings.

As a reminder, I do not look at W/L records at all when making these ratings. I noticed that sites like ESPN and Bleacher Report basically just rank every team in order according to win/loss record to create their rankings, and these media sites are extremely influenced by what happened the week before. I'm pretty sure a fifth grader is capable of ranking teams in order according to their win/loss records. I prefer to take a big picture approach considering I understand you can't overreact to a single game of football.

84.0 Seattle, Denver
82.0 San Francisco
81.5 New Orleans
80.5 New England, Carolina
79.0 Cincinnati
78.0 Detroit
77.0 Arizona, Kansas City, Philadelphia
76.0 Baltimore, Dallas
75.5 Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, San Diego
75.0 Tennessee, Chicago
74.5 Miami, NYG
74.0 St. Louis
73.5 Cleveland
73.0 Minnesota
72.5 Buffalo, Washington
72.0 Tampa Bay, Green Bay, NYJ
71.5 Atlanta
70.5 Oakland, Houston
69.0 Jacksonville

One thing that jumps off the page to me is the significant drop off between the top 6 and the rest of the aforementioned teams. While the NFL is known for it's competitive parity, and the playoffs are synonymous with underdogs getting hot and crashing the party, I honestly don't see many legitimate contenders on this list.

If you really think about it, Seattle is probably the only team without a major weakness. If Percy Harvin doesn't play this year, then a case could be made that they lack offensive weapons, but aside from that I'm not sure. Denver has a sketchy defense to say the least and an early January exit could be on the horizon. Additionally, it would be tough to trust Peyton Manning in cold, windy weather if the Broncos did happen to appear in the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium.

Seattle couldn't have looked better during their route of the Saints on MNF, but I didn't want to overreact to one game, so I only bumped them up a half point. New Orleans isn't necessarily a good road team, especially in adverse weather conditions, so I wasn't too surprised to see a blowout. If the Seahawks had beaten the Saints by 27 points at the Superdome that would have been a different story.

If anybody wasn't convinced that Seattle has the strongest home field advantage in the league, all they have to do is watch that game. New Orleans fell behind early after a Drew Brees pick-six and basically everything went downhill from there. It's difficult to imagine an NFC team going into CenturyLink and winning in January, and hypothetically speaking the Seahawks will be giving at least 4.5 points in each postseason game leading up to the Super Bowl if they secure home field advantage.

I had San Francisco at an 82.5 prior to their victory over the Rams, but I'm afraid I overrated them. Realistically, San Francisco hasn't beaten anybody so it's difficult for me to rank them third overall. However, Crabtree is back and the 49ers are getting healthy at the right time. I honestly can't get a read on this team.

I'm a fan of Cincinnati's defense (even with the injuries), but Andy Dalton simply cannot be trusted to win a playoff game. The red-headed QB has an abundance of offensive weapons but he hasn't been able to string it together consistently. It's not like the Bengals need Dalton to go out and throw for 300 yards every game; they simply need him to manage the game and abstain from committing egregious turnovers.

Projected Week 14 Point Spreads
Kansas City (-3 EV) @ Washington
Minnesota @ Baltimore (-5.5)
Cleveland @ New England (-9.5)
Oakland @ NYJ (-3)
Indianapolis @ Cincinnati (-7)
Carolina @ New Orleans (-4)
Detroit @ Philadelphia (-2)
Miami @ Pittsburgh (-3 -120)
Buffalo @ Tampa Bay (-3 EV)
Tennessee @ Denver (-12)
St. Louis @ Arizona (-5)
NYG @ San Diego (-3 -120)
Seattle @ San Francisco (-1.5)
Atlanta @ Green Bay (-3.5)
Dallas @ Chicago (-1)

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