Wednesday, January 04, 2012

NFL Computerized Power Ranks: Week 17

I think I need to kick off this post by saying I can't believe we've been doing this for 7 years now! We started this site (well, the old site) on January 5, 2005. Here we are, 3,505 posts later! (mostly by Ryan)

The NFL season has reached the playoffs, and the regular season power ranks are complete, but fear not, just like in previous seasons, the ranks will continue through the playoffs.

One downside to the power rank formula is that it has no way of accounting for teams that play poorly in Week 17 because their playoff spot is locked in. This happened to the Packers this week. Even though they won the game and scored a ton of points, the Lions offense made the Packers bad defense statistically worse and despite finishing 15-1, it cost them the #1 spot in the ranks going into the playoffs. Replacing them is none other than the Patriots, the #1 seed of the AFC. The remaining top 5 teams remained the same (49ers #3, Saints #4, Ravens #5).

In the bottom 5, the Buccaneers managed to swap places with the Rams despite the fact that they got destroyed by Atlanta this week. The rest remained the same (Vikings #28, Redskins #29, Colts #30)

The biggest gainers this week were the Bears, who got a win too little too late and jumped 6 spots to #16, while the biggest losers were the Seahawks, who dropped 6 spots to #15 after losing to the Cardinals and finishing with a 7-9 record. Unlike last year, when that was good enough to make the playoffs, this year it put them 6 games out of first place in their division.

So, now that we are into the playoffs, let's have the power ranks make some predictions! First, let's mention the teams with byes then look at the matchups:
Byes: #1 Patriots, #2 Packers, #3 49ers, #5 Ravens - Ranks pretty much aligned with real life standings here. The Saints were #4 but unfortunately for them were the 3rd best team in the NFC

#11 Texans over #12 Bengals - The difference between these 2 teams is razor thin in the ranks, but the Texans' better overall record and stronger defense gives them the edge

#8 Steelers over #26 Broncos - Wow. This year's Broncos team could be the worst playoff team of all time. They somehow backed into a playoff spot in Week 17 AND finished 8-8. They are currently the lowest ranked AFC West team. A probable first round loss to the Steelers could actually drop them into the bottom 5 next week.

#4 Saints over #6 Lions - This is the highest rated first round matchup, but the edge goes to the Saints due to a better record and recent success. Both of these teams are similar in that they have high powered offenses and weak defenses.

#7 Falcons over #10 Giants - This is another close matchup but the Falcons have the edge for being just a little better than the Giants in every category.

Just like in previous years, I decided to challenge my formula against my dog taking interest in 1 of the 2 mini-helmets. Here are my 3 year-old Golden Retriever's picks. (He picked the whole playoffs, but I'll let him re-pick each round):
Texans over Bengals
Steelers over Broncos
Saints over Lions
Giants over Falcons

Ravens over Texans
Patriots over Steelers
Packers over Giants
49ers over Saints

Ravens over Patriots
49ers over Packers

Ravens over 49ers in Har-Bowl II. (He loves the Ravens, he also picked them in 2008)

Not to be outdone, I also let my 3 month-old son make playoff picks, by putting the 2 helmets in front of him while sitting in his Bumbo seat and having his pick be the one he touches first. Here are his picks:
Texans over Bengals
Broncos over Steelers
Lions over Saints
Giants over Falcons

Ravens over Texans
Broncos over Patriots
Packers over Lions
49ers over Giants

Broncos over Ravens
49ers over Packers

49ers over Broncos - He knows his parents favorite teams apparently. He picked mine over my wife's.

Full Ranks:

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