Objective Power Rankings? Fun With Numbers!

I have always had two main pet peeves with regard to the ubiquitous NFL Power Ranking: (1) the adhere too closely to the standings, and (2) variations from that order seem equal parts subjective and arbitrary. I'm not one to simply complain about the problem, so I decided to try my had at a solution. And so I set out to find a new way to determine the NFL's pecking order! It just so happens that it also overcomes a pair of other power ranking pet peeves of mine: preconceptions and momentum!

Legendary NFL man Bill Parcell's famously said "you are what your record says you are," but I obviously think there's more to it than that, and most would likely agree. Record may be all that matters in determining playoff seeding (that, along with the lamentably arbitrary and altogether too-loosely geographic/historical divisional/conference alignment, but that's another matter altogether) but we all take other things into consideration when we consider how good teams are and how strong their seasons have been relative to one another. I've always thought of point differential as a powerful indicator of a team's strength, and strength of schedule as a critical factor of a record's worth.

With that in mind, I came up with the three variables to be considered for my power rankings: wins, opponents' wins, and point differential. I decided they should be equal parts of a final power score. I had to use some math tricks to make the components comparable (largely comprising of eliminating negatives and a lack of gradation by adding constants across the board, and dividing all totals by the single highest figure in the group) but nothing to compromise the integrity of the results. Remember: I'm limited by a complete lack of resources in the mechanics of this! I applied this method to the current NFL season and the results are as follows:

Rank Team Record Schedule Differential Score
1 New England Patriots 0.81818182 0.85248714 1 0.69748947
2 Houston Texans 1 0.77358491 0.88235294 0.68257492
3 Denver Broncos 0.81818182 0.8593482 0.80882353 0.56868631
4 San Francisco 49ers 0.77272727 0.83361921 0.84705882 0.54564167
5 Atlanta Falcons 1 0.66723842 0.75882353 0.50631621
6 Chicago Bears 0.72727273 0.86963979 0.78235294 0.49481109
7 Baltimore Ravens 0.81818182 0.79759863 0.67941176 0.443371
8 Green Bay Packers 0.72727273 0.90566038 0.60882353 0.40100898
9 New York Giants 0.63636364 0.84219554 0.72941176 0.39092285
10 Seattle Seahawks 0.63636364 0.8593482 0.61764706 0.3377652
11 Pittsburgh Steelers 0.63636364 0.80960549 0.57058824 0.29396905
12 Cincinnati Bengals 0.63636364 0.73927959 0.62352941 0.29333982
13 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0.54545455 0.77358491 0.64117647 0.27054788
14 Washington Redskins 0.54545455 0.87650086 0.53235294 0.25451335
15 Dallas Cowboys 0.54545455 0.88164666 0.45588235 0.21923299
16 Minnesota Vikings 0.54545455 0.82847341 0.47058824 0.21265628
17 Indianapolis Colts 0.72727273 0.73927959 0.37941176 0.20399373
18 New Orleans Saints 0.45454545 0.88679245 0.48235294 0.19443043
19 Miami Dolphins 0.45454545 0.87650086 0.43529412 0.1734253
20 St. Louis Rams 0.5 0.91766724 0.36470588 0.16733932
21 San Diego Chargers 0.36363636 0.84562607 0.50294118 0.15465461
22 Detroit Lions 0.36363636 0.91766724 0.45588235 0.15212665
23 New York Jets 0.45454545 1 0.3 0.13636364
24 Cleveland Browns 0.36363636 0.89365352 0.39411765 0.12807441
25 Buffalo Bills 0.45454545 0.85248714 0.32352941 0.12536576
26 Arizona Cardinals 0.36363636 0.9348199 0.35882353 0.1219765
27 Carolina Panthers 0.27272727 0.90566038 0.33235294 0.08209061
28 Tennessee Titans 0.36363636 0.95368782 0.17352941 0.06017923
29 Philadelphia Eagles 0.27272727 0.8593482 0.19705882 0.04618422
30 Oakland Raiders 0.27272727 0.84562607 0.08529412 0.01967098
31 Jacksonville Jaguars 0.18181818 0.98799314 0.1 0.01796351
32 Kansas City Chiefs 0.18181818 0.86963979 0.10588235 0.01674173

Notes of particular relevance: our Broncos rank third, but are behind two AFC teams that beat Denver earlier this year. Our other loss came to the 5th ranked Falcons, meaning that all three of our reverses this season came against elite competition. Our best wins came against the 13th and 14th ranked teams, solid but not spectacular. Our current projected Wild Card guest (the Colts) rank 18th, very comparable to the 19th ranked Saints that we also beat. The Chargers (22), Raiders (30), and Chiefs (32) firmly anchor the West into AFC Worst territory.

So, what do you guys think? Am I on to something, or am I on something?? Share you thoughts below and I'll be happy to discuss this with you! Cheers, and go Broncos!

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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