FIFA style NFL Power Rankings

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Chris Saunders (Sub-Packages)
Chris Saunders is a lazy writer and when Chris can be bothered he is writing about NFL and occasionally Crystal Palace. Or twitting rubbish @golongfootbawl

By adopting the FIFA men’s ranking calculation I have ranked all thirty-two teams. In the past, I have been critical of the FIFA men’s ranking. FIFA be reviewing their process after the world cup. So if apply the rankings calculations to NFL to see if maths works for another sport.

Method

Basically, it’s an average of the below formula for the season with prior year adjustment added.

P=M x I x C x T

M – Match

This number of points for the result. In FIFA ranking it’s three points for a win and a point for a draw. If the game goes to penalties then two points for winning team and a point for losing the team. For my NFL method, I am using three points for a win and one point for a draw.

I – Importance

For FIFA they use one for friendly, two-point-five for the qualifiers, three for confederation level cup and the confederations cup, and four for the world cup. For the NFL method, I have used two for a regular season game, three for Wildcard and Division Playoff games, and four for Championship and SuperBowl games. I thought about including friendlies in the rankings with a value of zero-point-five. But ultimately there so few starters get much game time and with a lot of players don’t make the roster for the season it’s more open training exercise.

C – Confederation

For FIFA they use CONMEBOL (South America) at 100%, UEFA (Europe plus Israel) has 99% and the rest have got 85%. Not sure how OFC (Oceania minus Australia) has the same ranking as the rest. Only four times has an OFC team qualified for a world cup and two of those times it was Australia that has now left.

T – Team Ranking

Team ranking is based on two-hundred mins the teams ranking. If teams ranking is lower than hundred and fifty then the value is fifty. So in a friendly drawing against Germany (1x1x199x0.99) 197.01 but in a friendly beat Kazakhstan (3x1x83x0.99) 246.51. The draw against Germany is a harder result but a team gets more points for a win against Kazakhstan.

To recreate this measure I have ranked the teams based on this ranking measure starting in 2011. Once I had three years of data then used the full prior year adjustment. I have made there ranking each season as a percentage and multiplied by 200. For example, last season Steelers were ranked 5th in NFL. (33-5)*200/32=175. Now if that number was below 50 then I would just use 50.

Championship game points

This season Jags got to the Championship game. Last season they were ranked thirty first in the league. So when the Patriots beat them they got 480 points (3x4x0.8×50) but for Eagles that beat Vikings, they got 1,211.25 points (3x4x0.95×106.25). I don’t think it was much harder to beat the Vikings than beat the Jags. There were 140 games in the regular season that gave out more ranking points than Patriots win against Jags.

Prior Years

Each season has a different weighting in the average. This season is weighted at 100%. Then 50% for 2016 season then decreasing to 30 % for 2015 and finally 20% for 2014. This has a big effect on the ranking. This means teams like Jags that had a good 2017 but poor seasons before that. So based only 2017 they would be 8th and 22nd on the current power rankings. I think that Jags are under-ranked them using the prior year’s figures but look at Broncos and Seahawks. They are booth talented sides that had a bad year. If the method only used this season they would be 27th and 18th. That’s too low for there talented rosters. I think that actual rankings of 8th for Seahawks was fair. Maybe Bronco’s being 17th is generous. But them being above Bengals, Ravens, and Dolphins seems fair as they are middle of the road roster that had a bad season. For the NFL method, I have used the below table of wins since 2011 to 2017.

[table id=NFLpowerrankingsdetailed /]

NFL vs FIFA

So based on the NFL power rankings calculation where would the Browns rank. Browns with 97.63 points are between Singapore and St. Lucia. That would put them 170th out of 211. Shockingly there are six teams within FIFA that have zero points over four years (Turks and Caicos Islands, Anguilla, Bahamas, Eritrea, Somalia, and Tonga). Although to be fair most of these teams have not played much football. For example, Tonga has only played 8 games since 2015.

So where would New England rank within FIFA? They would be worst than England but above Uruguay in fourteen. This would mean that they wouldn’t get seeded in a world cup group. But worth noting that this is a bit silly due to that format and the teams that both play against is very different. As it’s an average New England play allot of games against teams that have low team ranking. That makes it very hard to get the same amount of points as a team like England.

NFL Power Rankings 2017 vs 2016

[table id=2016vs2017 /]

Biggest Drops

The biggest falls in the rankings come from Broncos (15), Colts (10), and Giants (9). With the Broncos having more points included from Superbowl winning season at 30% than there points for this season. All these teams had problems in the quarterback position. Colts had 263 offensive points 30th in NFL down by 178 points and Giants had 246 offensive points 29th in NFL down by 131 points, a touchdown per game. But Bronco’s had 22 interceptions 2nd in NFL and double the previous season.

Big Rise

Let’s finish on a good note. The biggest risers are Eagles (19), Vikings (10), and Rams (10). Eagles ranking points for this season was the 2nd highest score in the last five seasons. Only beaten by Denver’s Superbowl winning team.

Worth noting that second-year quarterbacks have made the difference for Rams and Eagles. Goff at the Rams has gone from 5.3 yards per passing attempt to 8.5 and 7 interceptions from 7 starts to 7 interceptions from 15 starts. Goff has been remarkably improved. Last season Wentz had 2.6% touchdown per passing attempt and 2.4% interception per passing attempt. That’s almost as likely to score as get intercepted. This season touchdown rate is now 7.5%. Over double the chance as last season then the interception rate is down to 1.6%.

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