With only 3 weeks of data in the books, I’m going to call this week’s update premature infatuation.
As Ed’s well crafted haiku suggests, the dominant Pittsburgh Steelers start at the top of our rankings this season. They helped cement their position by beating Atlanta (currently ranked #2) and Tennessee (currently ranked #6) in their first 3 weeks, in addition to absolutely crushing a weak Tampa Bay team.
Pittsburgh’s wins over both Tennessee and Atlanta were not completely dominating victories. They beat Tennessee by 8 and Atlanta by 6 in overtime. So why would The Power Rank suggest that Pittsburgh with a rating of 18.25 would beat a 2-1 Indianapolis team, ranked surprisingly low at #19 with a rating of -1.23, by a margin of 19.5 points at a neutral site?
For new fans of the The Power Rank, this is a great example of how the system works. Pittsburgh’s wins over Tennessee and Atlanta were not dominant but these teams have crushed their competitors. Other than the loss to Pittsburgh, Tennessee has crushed both the Raiders and the Giants by a combined margin of 44 points. In Atlanta’s other two games, they crushed a 2-1 Arizona by 34 points and edged out reigning Super Bowl champs New Orleans on their home turf.
So Pittsburgh gets credit for beating teams that have beat other teams that have in turn beat other teams. This actually goes on and on around the league to consider the relative strength of every team and then the value of each week’s victories.
A surprise in The Power Rank this week is my 2-1 Packers (#3) being ranked higher than the 3-0 Bears team (#5) that beat them on Monday night. The Packers come out on top in the rankings because of the strength of their victories against a tough Philadelphia team and their blowout of the Bills. Chicago on the other hand barely beat Detroit by a controversial call on Calvin Johnson’s non-TD catch in week 1, and then edged out a stalled Cowboys team by a score in week 2 before taking a win in week 3 from a Packers team that did everything in their power to lose the game.
Cleveland is another surprise, ranked at #15 with a positive rating of 0.63 in spite of their 0-3 schedule. With no wins yet they are ranked higher than twelve teams that have at least one win, including five teams that have two wins. Cleveland achieved this odd week 3 feat by losing all of their games by a combined margin of 12 points, and two of their close losses were against 3-0 Kansas City (#9) and 2-1 Baltimore (#7).
I hope these odd cases help illustrate the nature of the The Power Rank and how it functions beyond the actual records and total point differentials. Cases like these and the margin between the best and worst teams in the league will self correct as more data is entered every week and the ranking becomes a more reliable predictor of the true strength of each team.
Until then, avoid premature infatuation with both the early rankings here at The Power Rank as well as the current league standings. There’s a lot of football left to play and a lot of data to be processed.