NFL Week 17 Power Rankings

Welcome once again to the Princeton Sports Analytics NFL Power Rankings.

The rankings this week were compiled based on the votes of five of our writers: Julian HK, Jonathan Lack, Jay Hashop, Bruno Velloso, and Chad Horner.  For each team, we had the voter who was highest/lowest on that team give something good/not so good about them, to explain their decision.  Each team’s ranking from last week is in parentheses.  You can view last week’s rankings here.

Please don’t hesitate to comment and to share your thoughts on the overall rankings, or the individual opinions given by the voters.

2012 Power Rankings: Week 17
Rank Team / Record The Good The Not So Good
1 (2) Broncos The Broncos are 2nd in rush defense and 6th in pass defense, in terms of yards allowed, and 5th in the league in points allowed. The Broncos’ offense, meanwhile, is 2nd in points scored and 4th in total yards. It doesn’t get more well rounded then that. (Velloso) If you’re looking for flaws in a team on a 10-game win streak, they’re hard to find. But it’s worth mentioning that Denver is 2-3 in games against playoff teams, including losses to AFC rivals New England and Houston. (Lack)
12-3
2 (3) Patriots Last week’s poor performance against the Jags led to a fiery postgame speech by Tom Brady.  The Pats still boast the top ranked offense in terms of DVOA.  Sucks to be the Dolphins this week.  (HK) The close victory over the Jaguars shouldn’t have been too much of a shock – this is a team that lost to Arizona, and almost lost to both the Bills and the Jets at home.  (Horner)
11-4
3 (4) Packers Aaron Rodgers, who has reclaimed his usual spot at the top of the league in passer rating, hasn’t had a multi-interception game all year. He also has yet to have a game with a passer rating below 80.  (Horner) Apparently, by keeping the Packers at 4th, I am now lowest on them. The reason they stayed at 4? A 55-7 win over the Titans doesn’t really mean anything. Their offensive line struggles are still there, and until I see them beat a team with a good pass rush, that’s a huge concern. (Velloso)
11-4
4 (6) Seahawks With a 118 passer rating, Russell Wilson has been crazy good since Week 9. For perspective, over the same time period, Brady and Manning have managed 95.8 and 98.3 ratings respectively. With the number two rushing attack, number one scoring defense, and a top-3 pass defense to go along with Wilson, the Seahawks are thinking Super Bowl. (Velloso) The last three weeks were some of the strongest single-game performances ever, but the Seahawks will still likely need to win on the road in the playoffs without the “12th man”, unless the Cards knock off the Niners.  (HK)
10-5
5 (1) 49ers   It’s only one game, and the Niners won’t have to travel to Seattle in the playoffs unless they blow a gimme at Arizona. The return of Justin Smith would help buoy a defense that has allowed 70 points in the 1.5 games he has been off the field. (Lack) Perhaps losing Justin Smith was more significant than we anticipated. The 49ers defense simply couldn’t get off the field against Seattle on Sunday, allowing the Seahawks to convert on all 10 third downs with eight or fewer yards to go.  (Hashop)
10-4-1
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NFL Week 16 Power Rankings

Welcome to the first edition of the Princeton Sports Analytics NFL Power Rankings, a feature which will continue through the final few weeks of the season.

The rankings were compiled based on the votes of five of our writers: Julian HK, Jonathan Lack, Danny Lei, Bruno Velloso, and Chad Horner.  For each team, we had the voter who was highest/lowest on that team give something good/not so good about them, to explain their decision.

Please don’t hesitate to comment and to share your thoughts on the overall rankings, or the individual opinions given by the voters.

2012 Power Rankings: Week 16
Rank Team / Record The Good The Not So Good
1
The fact that the 49ers have a top-2 defense is not surprising. The fact that their offense is the 3rd most efficient in the league (averaging 6 yards per play) is just scary. (Velloso) The Niners are rolling on all fronts, but the Pats’ 28-0 run during Sunday night’s game should be cause for concern. If young QB Colin Kaepernick gets down big, it could be trouble for the NFC favorite. (Lack)
10-3-1
2
Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas are easily the top receiving duo in the AFC, and Knowshon has had over 100 total yards in 3 of his 4 games as a starter.  The defense is top 5 in the league, and Peyton Manning is their quarterback.  What’s not to love? (Horner) With upcoming games against Cleveland and Kansas City to close out the season, Denver should lock up a first-round bye. However, unlike the other top-four teams, this young Broncos defense has not played deep into the playoffs and that might prove to be the difference. (Lei)
11-3
3
The Patriots had 425 passing yards against the 49ers, who had yet to allow a 300-yard game. And they are on pace to score 578 points this season, which would be second all-time next to the 589 points scored by the undefeated 2007 Patriots. (Velloso) If last week’s shellacking of Houston counted as a “signature win” for the Pats this season, what does that make this week’s loss to the Niners? Interesting stat: This was the first Patriots loss in the month of December in the last 14 games.
(HK)
10-4
4
Aaron Rodgers has met or exceeded his career yards per attempt 4 times in his past 5 games, after doing so only twice in his previous 9 games. As the Packers get healthy, watch out. (Lei) How to describe the Packers this season… lackluster? With the second easiest strength of schedule, they’ve lost to the Niners, Seahawks*, Colts, and Giants, and their PPG and yardage (League ranks of 13 and 17, respectively) aren’t outstanding. (HK)
10-4
5
After exposing the Colts, the Texans need a home win against the Vikings to avoid the Broncos and Patriots until the AFC championship game. While their 5th-best rush defense may be up to the task, Adrian Peterson has a habit of impoverishing anybody who dares to bet against him. (Lack) They beat Denver way back in week 3, but since then the only elite teams they’ve played (GB and NE) have handled them easily – by a total of 46 points.  (Horner)
12-2
 

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