Welcome to the first edition of my 2013 NFL Power Rankings. One word of caution before you proceed, though: unless you are a fan of either the Denver Broncos or the San Francisco 49ers, you will disagree with this, I guarantee it. Heck, even if you are a Broncos or 49ers fan, you still might not like this.
But that’s kind of the point. The key to any decent ranking article (and system) is to generate a conversation. I fully expect – and fully want – any/all comments to just complete rip me apart here. But, before you unleash your potential furor, let me at least try to explain how I came to these conclusions.
First and foremost, this is not to be indicative of how I think each team will end the season. Do I honestly think that the New England Patriots are just the 21st best team in the NFL? Absolutely not. But, based on the ranking system I have devised, they only had the 21st best performance in week 1.
I have to absolutely stress this point: This is not based solely on wins and losses, and does not take preseason expectations into consideration. These rankings factor in the following: wins/losses, points for/points allowed, margin of victory/margin of loss, and degree of difficulty. This last one is the key to it all, and will explain some of the more “questionable” rankings. For instance, why is San Diego is ranked higher than Houston, even though the Chargers blew a 21 point lead in the second half and lost to Houston 31-28?
Well, we expected Houston to play well against a lesser opponent (and they really didn’t), but we didn’t expect San Diego to be as competitive as they were playing a team that is considered a strong Super Bowl contender. Because of that, the Chargers get a bigger boost from the DOD bonus than do the Texans, and thus the higher ranking. This also explains why I have the Oakland Raiders ranked higher than my Indianapolis Colts, even though the Raiders lost to Indy in week 1.
These rankings are going to be very fluid throughout the season. We can expect big increases and huge drops on a weekly basis, and the Degree of Difficulty bonuses will change based on factors such as overall records/strength of schedule, injury, and offensive and defensive rankings. I will also show the points granted each team in my system, and the points will accumulate each week.
So in closing, please be aware that just because I have your team ranked lower (or higher) than you think they should be, it doesn’t mean they aren’t a good team. They just weren’t that good in week 1. On to the rankings (author’s note: In the case of a tie, rankings are determined based on points scored):
1.Denver Broncos (71 points) – The unquestioned #1 team after week 1. That’s what happens when “Peyton Elway” throws 7 touchdowns.
2. San Francisco 49ers (60 points) – Kaepernick-to-Boldin is giving me serious reasons to switch my NFC Super Bowl pick to the 49ers.
3. Detroit Lions (44 points) – They allowed more points than they probably should have, but did basically bottle up Adrian Peterson on the ground after his first huge carry.
4. New Orleans Saints (43.5 points) – A big win against the division rival Falcons, who are also considered a favorite in the NFC, bumps the Saints up this high.
5. Dallas Cowboys (41 points) – The Cowboys defense looked ridiculous, forcing six Giant turnovers and scoring twice.
6. Baltimore Ravens (40.5 points) – The defending Super Bowl Champs didn’t look great in week 1, but they get a small pass because they lost to Denver.
7. Philadelphia Eagles (39 points) – Chip Kelly’s offense looked good and fast, but lets not forget the Redskins couldn’t do anything on offense in the first three quarters.
8. San Diego Chargers (37.5 points) – Philip Rivers, you are the bane of San Diego’s existence. Losing 31-28 after being up 28-7 is unacceptable. Only ranked this high due to the degree of difficulty they had against the Texans. Expect them to fall precipitously from here on out.
9. Houston Texans (34 points) – Why are they ranked lower than the team they beat this week? They didn’t play especially well against a lesser team.
10. Green Bay Packers (33 points) – There’s no shame in losing to San Francisco in San Francisco.
11. Buffalo Bills (31.5 points) – Rookie head coach FAIL. Poor clock management kept them from overtaking a struggling New England team that many still expect to be major players in the post season. But the fact they had the Pats on the rope is an encouraging sign.
12. Kansas City Chiefs (27 points) – They dominated the Jaguars, yes. But they dominated the Jaguars. I expect this team to slide down more spots during the season.
13. Chicago Bears (27 points) – Jay Cutler had nice protection for once, leading Da Bears to a come from behind victory against Cincy.
14. Washington Redskins (27 points) – Ugh. That’s the best we can say about the Redskins offense against Philly on Monday night.
15. New York Giants (26 points) – Six turnovers? Really, G-men? That won’t happen again.
16. Minnesota Vikings (24 points) – Its only been one week, but to hit his goal of 2,500 yards, AD has to average over 160 yards a game from here on out.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (21 points) – The defense didn’t show up in Chi-Town, but the Bengals can boast an impressive week 1 performance by WR A.J. Green.
18. Miami Dolphins (18 points) – Mike Wallace needs to understand a win is a win, and the comfort level QB Ryan Tannehill has with Brian Hartline supercedes his contract. Given enough time though, the chemistry between those two should only get better.
19. Oakland Raiders (17 points) – Terrelle Pryor was impressive, but the Colts defense is suspect. However, they get the benefit of the doubt since they were massive underdogs, and still kept it close.
20. St. Louis Rams (15 points) – Sam Bradford had a decent game for once in a close win over the Cards.
21. New England Patriots (12.5 points) – Listen, I know a win is a win and all. But the Pats really had a tough time against a far inferior team. This ranking reflects that.
22. Indianapolis Colts (12.5 points) – See above.
23. Arizona Cardinals (12 points) – Carson Palmer to Larry Fitzgerald is going to be big this year, especially with Bruce Arians at the helm. It just wasn’t big enough in week 1.
24. Tennessee Titans (11.5 points) – Titans-Steelers was undoubtedly the stinker of week 1. Terrible football for both teams.
25. Atlanta Falcons (11 points) – This seems pretty low for an NFC favorite, right? Well, the Falcons couldn’t close against a Saints defense that was the worst in NFL history last year. However, you can expect this ranking to climb as the weeks go on.
26. Carolina Panthers (10.5 points) – Cam Newton has to step it up for the Panthers to take it to the next level. That didn’t happen against Seattle.
27. New York Jets (9.5 points) – Yep, they beat Tampa Bay. Yep, they still suck.
28. Seattle Seahawks (8.5 points) – Not the greatest offensive outing for year 2 of the Russell Wilson era, but he didn’t get much help from Beast Mode either. The D is still tight though.
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8.5 points) – I have never liked Josh Freeman as a legitimate NFL QB, and he’s proven me right every year. 2013 will be no different.
30. Cleveland Browns (5 points) – Weeden continues the turnover fest he started last year. Can the Browns ever get right? Maybe they should try actually running the ball.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers (1 point) – Pittsburgh added insult to injury (literally) with the loss of 3 starters for the season against Tennessee. But they were bad before that anyway.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (-12 points) – Jag fans, strap in and get ready for a rough ride. Teddy Bridgewater, anybody??
Stayed tuned for week 2’s rankings.
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