This Week In: The NFL – Week 6, 2013 and Political Footballs’ First Power Poll

Romo and Manning share a handshake after their two teams put up 99 combined points
Romo and Manning share a handshake after their two teams put up 99 combined points

Last weekend in the NFL, the Denver Broncos extended their run of regular season victories to 16 straight, dating back to Week 6 of the 2012 campaign, as they came from behind to win a high-scoring contest in Dallas, 51-48.  For the home team, Tony Romo became the first Cowboys quarterback to throw for over 500 yards in a game and he had five touchdown passes, but unfortunately for him the main thing that will be remembered is an interception he gave up in the final two minutes, which allowed Denver to move into field goal position, with Matt Prater converting the winning kick as time expired.  The intercepted pass was brilliantly caught by the Broncos linebacker, Danny Trevathan, but it provided further fodder for those who do not believe that Romo, no matter how well he has been playing up to that point, can continue to perform when the pressure is on.  For Denver, Peyton Manning continued his incredible record-setting pace to start the season as he threw four touchdown passes – giving him 20 in his first five outings in 2013 – and is still yet to throw an interception, while his offense has racked up 230 point, the most ever over the opening five weeks of an NFL season.

Alongside the Broncos, two other teams are 5-0 this campaign following victories last Sunday – the Chiefs defeated the Titans. who were without their first choice quarterback, Jake Locker, 25-17, with Locker’s replacement, Ryan Fitzpatrick, giving up two interceptions; and New Orleans won in Chicago, 26-18.  The loss for the Bears allowed Green Bay to close to within a half game of both them and Detroit at the top of the NFC North, as they beat the Calvin Johnson-less Lions 22-9 in Wisconsin – extending their home winning streak over their divisional rivals to 22 consecutive seasons.  One of the most impressive victories on Sunday was secured by the Colts, who inflicted the first loss of 2013 on the Seahawks with a 34-28 success in Indianapolis, as Andrew Luck rallied his team from an early 12-0 deficit.  Also in the AFC South, the Texans mustered only a field goal in their 34-3 defeat in San Francisco; while the Jaguars continued their quest towards 0-16 with a 34-20 loss in St. Louis.

Three teams are tied at the top of the AFC North with 3-2 records – with only the Steelers not joining the party, who remain on 0-4 following their bye week – as the Ravens edged the Dolphins in Miami, 26-23; Cincinnati prevented Tom Brady from throwing a touchdown pass, the first team to do so in 52 games, as they beat the Patriots 13-6; and the Browns won on Thursday night in Cleveland against the Bills, 37-24, in a game that saw both sides lose their starting quarterbacks – Brandon Wheeden and EJ Manuel – to injuries.  Elsewhere, the Raiders had to play their game against the Chargers late on Sunday evening, because their stadium had to be converted into a football setup following the previous day’s Athletics fixtures in the MLB playoffs, but the delay was worth it for Oakland who triumphed, 27-17; Arizona’s defense held Carolina to just 6 points as the Cardinals prevails 22-6; and Philadelphia were the victors in the meeting of two teams from the worst division in the league, the NFC East, as the Eagles beat the Giants, 36-21. Also, during their bye week, Tampa Bay cut their starting quarterback, Josh Freeman and he was later picked up by the Minnesota Vikings, though he is not expected to start this weekend.

Power Poll

There was one more game in week 5, the Monday night matchup between the Falcons and Jets in Atlanta, a fixture that, beforehand, I was confident would see the home team get back on track for 2013 and even thought they would cover the nine and a half point spread (as in, they would win by ten or more).  However, what transpired was a 30-28 success for the Jets and I realized it was time to throw out all of my pre-conceived notions of how this season might go.  As recently as last year, the Falcons at home seemed like a lock no matter who they were playing, while the Jets have been starting second-round rookie quarterback, Geno Smith, who had thrown 8 interceptions in his first four outings of the season.  I had expected the Giants and Steelers – who have won 4 of the last 8 Super Bowls between them – to come good at some point, but Eli Manning is the first quarterback to lead his team to a championship and then have an 0-5 start to a season, while Ben Roethlisberger could become the second this weekend.  With all of my preconceptions shattered, I decided it was time to re-evaluate the entire league but, as I did when I was trying to get a grasp on the 2012 election and worked it down state by state, rather than from national polls – in the end predicting 48 out of 50 states correctly – I know that I need to look deeper than simply ranking teams based on their win/loss records.  

Will Hunting attempts to work out the math behind my power poll
Will Hunting attempts to work out the math behind my power poll

The workings

What I thought, was that not every win is created equally – for example, beating the Jaguars, which everybody does, is not as impressive as a victory over the Seahawks – while some losses are more forgivable than others – the Cowboys losing to the Chargers is much more damming than their loss against Denver.  So I wanted to assign every victory and every defeat a points value.  To do this, I took a team’s win/loss record and – since some teams have had a bye week – if they had played four games already, I multiplied each column by 5, for those who had five fixtures complete, I multiplied by 4, so everyone has a record that adds up to 20.  As follows:

NFC

East

Cowboys 2-3 = 8-12

Eagles 2-3 = 8-12

Washington 1-3 = 5-15

Giants 0-5 = 0-20

North

Bears 3-2 = 12-8

Lions 3-2 = 12-8

Packers 2-2 = 10-10

Vikings 1-3 = 5-15

South

Saints 5-0 = 20-0

Panthers 1-3 = 5-15

Falcons 1-4 = 4-16

Buccaneers 0-4 = 0-20

West

Seahawks 4-1 = 16-4

49ers 3-2 = 12-8

Cardinals 3-2 = 12-8

Rams 2-3 = 8-12

AFC

East

Patriots 4-1 = 16-4

Dolphins 3-2 = 12-8

Jets 3-2 = 12-8

Bills 2-3 = 8-12

North

Ravens 3-2 = 12-8

Bengals 3-2 = 12-8

Browns 3-2 = 12-8

Steelers 0-4 = 0-20

South

Colts 4-1 = 16-4

Titans 3-2 = 12-8

Texans 2-3 = 12-8

Jaguars 0-5 = 0-20

West

Broncos 5-0 = 20-0

Chiefs 5-0 = 20-0

Raiders 2-3 = 8-12

Chargers 2-3 = 8-12

Next, I assigned these points values to each team based on their results so far – for a victory, they got the number of points in the win column for the adjusted record total, while a defeat meant the number from the loss column was taken.  For example, if a team lost to the Broncos – Denver’s loss column is 0 since they have not been beaten, so being beaten by them does not necessarily make you a bad team.  Here’s the math:

NFC

East

Cowboys – Wins: Giants (0); Rams (8); Losses: Chiefs (0); Broncos (0); Chargers (-12). Total = -4

Eagles – Wins: Washington (5); Giants (0); Losses: Broncos (0); Chargers (-12); Chiefs (0). Total = -7

Washington – Wins: Raiders (8); Losses: Lions (-8); Eagles (-12); Packers (-10). Total = -11

Giants – Wins: None; Losses: Eagles (-12); Cowboys (-12); Chiefs (0); Broncos (0); Panthers (-15). Total = -39

North

Bears – Wins: Bengals (12); Vikings (5); Steelers (0); Losses: Lions (-8); Saints (0). Total = +9

Lions – Wins: Vikings (5); Bears (12); Washington (5); Losses: Packers (-10); Cardinals (-8). Total = +4

Packers – Wins: Washington (5); Lions (12); Losses: 49ers (-8); Bengals (-8): Total = +1

Vikings – Wins: Steelers (0); Losses: Lions (-8); Bears (-8); Browns (-8). Total = -24

South

Saints – Wins: Falcons (4); Buccaneers (0); Cardinals (12); Dolphins (12); Bears (12). Losses: None; Total = +40

Panthers – Wins: Giants (0); Losses: Cardinals (-8); Bills (-12); Seahawks (-4). Total = -24

Falcons – Wins: Rams (8); Losses: Patriots (-4); Saints (0); Jets (-8); Dolphins (-8). Total = -12

Buccaneers – Wins: None: Losses: Saints (0); Jets (-8); Cardinals (-8); Patriots (-4). Total = -20

West

Seahawks – Wins: Panthers (5); 49ers (12); Jaguars (0); Texans (8); Losses: Colts (-4). Total = +21

49ers – Wins: Packers (10); Rams (8); Texans (8); Losses: Colts (-4); Seahawks (-4). Total = +18

Cardinals – Wins: Lions (12); Buccaneers (0); Panthers (5); Losses: Rams (-12); Saints (0). Total = +5

Rams – Wins: Cardinals (12); Jaguars (0); Falcons (-16); Cowboys (-12); 49ers (-4): Total = -20

AFC

East

Patriots – Wins: Bills (8); Jets (12); Buccaneers (0); Falcons (4); Losses: Bengals (-8). Total = +16

Dolphins – Wins: Browns (12); Colts (16); Falcons (4); Losses: Saints (0); Ravens (-8). Total = +24

Jets – Wins: Buccaneers (0); Falcons (4); Bills (8); Losses: Titans (-8); Patriots (-4). Total = 0

Bills – Wins: Panthers (5); Ravens (12); Losses: Patriots (-4); Jets (-8); Browns (-8). Total = -3

North

Ravens – Wins: Browns (12); Texans (8); Dolphins (12); Losses: Broncos (0); Bills (-12). Total = +20

Bengals – Wins: Packers (10); Patriots (16); Steelers (0); Losses: Bears (-8); Browns (-8). Total = +10

Browns – Wins: Vikings (5); Bengals (12); Bills (8); Losses: Dolphins (-8); Ravens (-8). Total = +9

Steelers – Wins: None; Losses: Vikings (-15); Bears (-8); Bengals (-8); Titans (-8). Total = -39

South

Colts – Wins: Raiders (8); 49ers (12); Jaguars (0); Seahawks (16); Losses: Dolphins (-8). Total = +28

Titans – Wins: Steelers (0); Chargers (8); Jaguars (0); Losses: Texans (-12); Chiefs (0). Total = +8

Texans – Wins: Titans (12); Chargers (8); Losses: Ravens (-8); Seahawks (-4); Colts (-4). Total = 0

Jaguars – Wins: None; Losses: Rams (-12); Chiefs (0); Raiders (-12); Seahawks (-4); Colts (-4). Total = -32

West

Broncos – Wins: Ravens (12); Giants (0); Raiders (8); Cowboys (8); Eagles (8); Losses: None. Total = +36

Chiefs – Wins: Cowboys (8); Eagles (8); Giants (0); Jaguars (0); Titans (12). Total = +28

Raiders – Wins: Jaguars (0); Chargers (8); Losses: Washington (-15); Colts (-4); Broncos (0). Total = -11

Chargers – Wins: Eagles (8); Cowboys (8); Losses: Raiders (-12); Texans (-12); Titans (-8). Total = -16

So this gave me a points total on which I could rank all of the teams, but before I wanted to do the power poll I wanted to break it down further, since even these point values did not reflect everything.  For example, a win against the 3-2 49ers was given the same value as a victory over the Titans, who have the same record, but whose three successes have come against the Jaguars, Steelers and Chargers, three of the worst teams in the AFC.  Also, I was giving no credit for beating a team who had not won any games and while it should not be too high, they should be some value assigned to it, just like losing to a team with a perfect record should also negatively affect the ranking to some degree. So what I did next was rank each of the conferences based on the above point values, then recalculated each win and loss based on those rankings: if a team beat the number 1 ranked New Orleans (which of course, nobody has yet) then they would get 16 points, if they lost to them, it would be -1.  Let me demonstrate:

NFC (Value of win versus, loss versus)

1. Saints (16, -1)

2. Seahawks (15, -2)

3. 49ers (14, -3)

4. Bears (13, -4)

5. Cardinals (12, -5)

6. Lions (11, -6)

7. Packers (10, -7)

8. Cowboys (9, -8)

9. Eagles (8, -9)

10. Falcons (7, -10)

11. Rams (6, -11)

12. Washington (5, -12)

13. Panthers (4, -13)

14. Vikings (3, -14)

15. Buccaneers (2, -15)

16. Giants (1, -16)

AFC (Same points values based on position:

1. Broncos

2. Chiefs

3. Colts

4. Dolphins

5. Ravens

6. Patriots

7. Bengals

8. Browns

9. Titans

10. Jets

11. Texans

12. Bills

13. Raiders

14. Chargers

15. Jaguars

16. Steelers

After I had placed the ranking points into the win/loss results for each team, I then multiplied the total by either 4 or 5, depending on the number of games that had been played by that franchise so that proportionally, already having had a bye week will not negatively or positively affect the placement of any side.  With all that calculated, this is how my NFL Power Poll looks going into week 6, with the total points they recorded in my system in brackets.

1. New Orleans Saints (+188)

2. Denver Broncos (+136)

3. Indianapolis Colts (+124)

4. Kansas City Chiefs (+104)

5. Miami Dolphins (+96)

6. Seattle Seahawks (+92)

7. Baltimore Ravens (+60)

8. New England Patriots (+56)

9. San Francisco 49ers (+40)

10. Detroit Lions (+36)

= Cleveland Browns (+36)

12. Green Bay Packers (+30)

13. Chicago Bears (+28)

14. Arizona Cardinals (+20)

15. Cincinnati Bengals (+12)

16. Houston Texans (+4)

17. New York Jets (-4)

18. Tennessee Titans (-20)

19. St. Louis Rams (-28)

20. Buffalo Bills (-32)

21. Dallas Cowboys (-40)

22. Philadelphia Eagles (-44)

= Oakland Raiders (-44)

24. Atlanta Falcons (-60)

25. San Diego Chargers (-64)

26. Minnesota Vikings (-85)

27. Washington (-90)

= Carolina Panthers (-90)

29. NY Giants (-92)

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-110)

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (-124)

32. Pittsburgh Steelers (-170)

A couple of notes from these rankings:

  • The Texans are 2-3, but rank above the Titans and the Jets who are 3-2, suggesting an improvement should be coming from Houston
  • Miami are only 3-2, but according to my standings have performed better so far than two 4-1 teams, the Patriots and Seahawks, mainly because they are the only team to have beaten the Colts and one of their losses came against the perfect Saints.
  • The NFC East does not have any team higher than 21st in these rankings (the Cowboys) which sounds about right for the worst division in football.
  • Denver, who rank 2nd, take on Jacksonville (31st) this Sunday, with the spread opening up at a record -28 (listed below as -27.5 as the ESPN game I use does not allow pushes).
  • Somehow I managed to get my team, Green Bay, to rank above the Bears, even though they are below them in the standings (for now!).
  • Jacksonville not being bottom of my poll might be the best thing that happens to Jaguars fans this season (at least the one of them who might read this post)

Week 6 Predictions

Last week, 9-5; Season, 42-35

Home teams in bold

Bears -7.5 over Giants

Bills +7.5 over Bengals

Browns +2.5 over Lions

Ravens +3.5 over Packers

Chiefs -9.5 over Raiders

Rams +7.5 over Texans

Panthers +2.5 over Vikings

Steelers +2.5 over Jets (Only because NY on short week after Monday night game, while Pittsburgh had a bye)

Eagles -1.5 over Buccaneers

Broncos -27.5 over Jaguars

Seahawks -13.5 over Titans

Saints +2.5 over Patriots

49ers -11.5 over Cardinals

Cowboys -5.5 over Washington

Colts -1.5 over Chargers

 

 

 

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “This Week In: The NFL – Week 6, 2013 and Political Footballs’ First Power Poll

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s