Upper middle class
The Eagles, Falcons, Steelers
Room for improvement
This week, we see the rankings compress a little bit more, a trend that should continue over the next few weeks as this year’s games stabilize. The Patriots remain #1 with a 14.73 rating after losing in a shootout with red-hot Buffalo (#13, 1.20). The Chiefs helped their fans get off the ledge by keeping the game with San Diego (#12, 2.02) to within a field goal, so despite their loss they climb out of the cellar to #30 with a rating of -8.26. The Rams now occupy the not-so-coveted #32 spot with a rating of -10.96 after a humiliating loss to #3 Baltimore (7.75).
What this means is that last week the range of ratings between #1 New England and then #32 Kansas City was 35.63, whereas this week the difference between #1 New England and new #32 St. Louis is 25.69. That’s not encouraging news for Rams fans, or for the entire state of Missouri. What is does indicate is what the scoreboards have shown this year: no team is utterly dominant (sorry, Mr. Brady) and no team is completely pathetic. Bad, maybe… but not insanely horrible as Kansas City’s -19.52 rating last week indicated.
The news is best for fans of the “upper-middle class” of the football teams. Not the dominant upper crust teams like New England (#1, 14.73, Green Bay (#2, 11.37), and Baltimore (#3, 7.75) with giant stretches of blue glory next to their names. No, this news is for the fans of teams between rank 4 and 16. The fans of teams that were supposed to come out with guns blazing, but have somehow tripped over the starting line. What happened to the free-agent force of the Eagles (#15, 0.82) that was so highly touted by the offseason hype machine? Wasn’t the return of Matty-Ice with Julio “the missing piece” Jones supposed to take the Falcons (#16, 0.62) from a playoff team to a Super Bowl favorite? Did the mighty Super Bowl runner-up Steelers really fall to #6 with a good but uninspiring rating of 3.97?
It is these teams who should take note of this week’s movement. Success in climbing The Power Rank ladder isn’t going to be as much about raising their rating from the 0-4 range up to the heights of Patriots in the teens. That just won’t happen. Because the outliers like the Patriots and Packers have little to gain (mathematically speaking) by crushing teams that The Power Rank expects them to crush. But they can lose a lot by falling to teams who are beneath them. Even close wins to inferior teams will lower their prestige. So Big Ben and the Steelers don’t have to worry about trying to hang 70 on the the Brown and the Bengals to catch up. The Eagles don’t need DeSean Jackson to return 2 punts for touchdowns every game to become elite. If they can just continue to win for a few more weeks, the over-inflated Patriots and Packers will fall to more reasonable and reachable positions.
*Interesting note: Running numbers from this year alone, the Bills would be The Power Rank’s chosen team with a rating of 14.28, with the Raiders not far behind with a 13.97 rating. St. Louis would still be in the cellar, but at an astounding -23.50 instead of their current rating of -10.96. While the Bills are definitely the hottest team in the NFL and a quickly growing fan-favorite, their official position of #13 suits them quite a bit better. The Bills have proven that they have the talent, but they still have yet to prove to the league and to the algorithm that they have the ability to be consistent. Because after all, that is the mark of a true champion. By considering last year’s data as well as this year’s, The Power Rank cuts through the knee-jerk reactions and keeps the Bills somewhat humble with objective mathematical analysis, while still allowing them room to continue climbing up the ladder if they continue their run of impressive wins.