New for the 2018 season: True power rankings

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New for the 2018 season: True power rankings

Postby linchao » Thu Oct 25, 2018 2:16 am

For me — like many Arrowhead Pride readers — AP’s weekly rundown of power rankings is must-reading during the season.I know perfectly well that power rankings are meaningless since they represent nothing more than the opinion of some NFL pundit.But I can’t help myself.I read them anyway.Going into the 2017 season , I started wondering: Is there a way to do it better?Is there a way to make power rankings more meaningful? And wouldn’t it be nice if you could look at them side by side, and more easily compare rankings from different sources?So I spent the season collecting data and experimenting with it, revising my methods and calculations as I went along.You’ll see the results starting this season, as we present Arrowhead Pride True Power Rankings — a more complete look at the state of the NFL each week.Part 1: Pundit Power RankingsOn Tuesdays — just as we’ve always done — we’ll give you power rankings from a variety of sources, including each pundit’s comments about the Chiefs.But we’ll present the rankings side-by-side, so you can more easily compare how different sources view each NFL team.Then we’ll add an extra feature.We’ll aggregate the rankings into a single ranking based on the power rankings from ESPN, Sports Illustrated’s MMQB,, the Sporting News, and these particular six?All are well-respected national sources that we know will publish power rankings each week.The rankings published by two of them — ESPN and MMQB — represent the opinion of all their writers, rather than just one.Since we could consider their group opinion as more valid, our calculations will weight those two more heavily than the other four.As an example of what this will look like, here’s what the Pundit Power Rankings looked like going into Week 17 last season.Pundit Power Rankings for Week 17Chiefs AFC West Teams Other AFC TeamsLike all the tables we’ll show you each week, rows for the Chiefs will be in one color, rows for AFC West teams will be in another color, and rows for the remaining AFC teams will be in yet another.This immediately draws your eye not only to the information about your favorite team, but also to the teams that will most concern the Chiefs during the regular season: their division and conference opponents.We’ll also repeat the header row every eight rows, which will make it a little easier for you to read the table as you scroll through it, and also neatly divide the teams into quarters.Wait... did I say all the tables?I sure did.Part 2: Cruncher Power RankingsWe know, of course, there are other ways to evaluate the relative strength NFL teams — ones that do not depend on a sportswriter’s opinion, but instead on hard data.So on Wednesdays starting after Week 2, we’ll give you NFL rankings generated by four well-known methods used by number-crunchers: ELO from, DVOA from, SRS (for Simple Rating System) from, and PE (for Pythagorean Expectation — sometimes called expected wins) as originally adapted for pro football by Football Outsiders.All of these methods have strengths and weaknesses.All but DVOA use points scored (both for and against) as the base data for their calculations.All but PE take opponent strength into consideration.Only Elo includes how a team did in the previous season.Two of them — Elo and PE — were originally developed for different purposes, but have been adapted for pro football.There are other differences — if you’re really interested, click the links to learn more — but for our purposes, only one thing matters: they don’t depend on the personal opinion of a writer who doesn’t watch every game of every team.As you might expect, we’ll not only present these power rankings from the number-crunchers, individually, but average them together, too.Here’s what that looked like going into Week 17 last season.Cruncher Power Rankings for Week 17Chiefs AFC West Teams Other AFC TeamsYou may have noticed that the 2017 playoff teams are marked with asterisks in these first two tables.We’ve done this so you can see whether the pundits or crunchers better predicted the outcome of the 2017 playoffs.As you might expect, it’s a mixed bag.The pundits had the advantage of knowing which teams had the best shot of making the playoffs with one week to go.On the other hand, the crunchers predicted the eventual Super Bowl winner.You can also see the how pundits — in general — are influenced by quarterbacks.Going into Week 17 last year, they unanimously thought the Patriots — with Tom Brady — had the best chance to win the Super Bowl.The crunchers had more variance in their evaluations, but weren’t distracted by the fact that backup quarterback Nick Foles would be under center for the Eagles in the postseason.This is not to say that the crunchers will always be more accurate.They won’t be.But it illustrates how much fun it was for me last season, as I watched how the pundits and the crunchers agreed — and sometimes Kansas City Chiefs T-Shirt , how they disagreed.Part 3: Combined Power RankingsEach week, we’ll make it easy for you to compare how the pundits and crunchers differ by presenting their rankings side-by-side — and, of course, give you a cumulative ranking that averages them together.Combined Power Rankings for Week 17Chiefs AFC West Teams Other AFC TeamsI should note here how these rankings will be averaged together.Sharp-eyed readers may already have noticed that some of these seem... wrong.Two and six for the Steelers averages to four, and five and one for the Eagles averages to three.So why would the Steelers be ranked ahead of the Eagles?This is because we’re not averaging the rankings from each table.Instead, we’re averaging the numbers behind those rankings.In the Pundit rankings for Week 17, the Steelers average ranking was 2.25, while it was 5.25 in the Crunchers rankings.That’s an average of 3.75.The Eagles Pundit average was 5.125, and their Crunchers average was 2.5.That averages out to 3.8125.Therefore, the Steelers ranked ahead of the Eagles in the Combined rankings.But we’re not done yet.Part 4: Cruncher GradesIf you’re familiar with my past writing, you may recall that I am not a fan of statistical rankings.They can be misleading because they can only show that one number is larger (or smaller) than another — not how close they are to each other.Statisticians have a trick to fix this problem.They calculate standard deviations from average for a set of values, which is used to tell if the difference between two values from the set is statistically significant.Standard deviations from average are expressed as a number that is almost always between -3 and 3, and is usually carried out to multiple decimal points.But you’re not going to have to compare -1.6875 to 1.3496.Instead, we’ll do the same thing your school teachers did: convert them to letter grades ranging from FF (less than -3) to AA (greater than 3) — like this:The key thing to remember is that only a difference of a full letter grade (or more) is statistically significant.So if one team has a B+ and another team has a B, the difference between them is measurable, but not significant.If one team has a C and another has a D+, the difference is a bit more measurable, but still not significant.But a team with a B+ grade is significantly better than one with a C+ grade.We can’t do this for Pundit rankings, because there is no numerical value behind each pundit’s opinion.But we can do it with the data underlying the Cruncher rankings, because they are numerical values.Since the Cruncher numbers are all based on entirely different systems, we can’t compare the raw numbers directly; that would be comparing apples to oranges.But by calculating standard deviations from average for each set of values, we effectively convert all of them to juicy red tomatoes — which we can compare directly.Here’s how that looked going into Week 17 last season.Cruncher Grades for Week 17Chiefs AFC West Teams Other AFC TeamsThese grades reveal an essential truth about ranking statistics of any kind: numbers that we spend a lot of time comparing sometimes don’t turn out to be significantly different from each other.While it might be true — for example — that one quarterback has a completion percentage of 60.1 and another has one of 60.4, the difference is measurable, but not necessarily significant.The same is true of ranked statistical values.We might assume — for example — that the top five rushers in the league are elite. But by grading the values this way, we might learn that only one is head and shoulders above everyone else.The other four might be merely above average.What we see here is that going into Week 17 last season, there were six teams that were roughly equivalent — at least in terms of how the crunchers evaluated them.So going into the playoffs, there really wasn’t one team that stood out as having the best chance to win it all.That might turn out to be the case in 2018, too.Or... it might not.It’s possible that when we reach Week 17, we’ll see that one or two teams are clearly above the rest of the field — or it’ll be anybody’s postseason to win.We’re looking forward to watching how it all unfolds, and hope that this weekly dive into what the pundits and crunchers think will be entertaining — and enlightening.Watch for it every Tuesday and Wednesday during the regular season on AP!Chiefs vs. Packers live updates: Chiefs lead 33-21 in fourth quarter Chiefs first down.That’ll do it.Chiefs win 33-21Two minute warning.Chiefs hold the ball at their 36, trying to run out the game.Packers start on their 22, and can’t get much done.Punt.After a tackle for loss and a penalty, Chiefs cannot convert and third down, and must punt.Chiefs take over at 31.9:06 remaining.Green Bay drives to the Kansas City 30, but third down pass is batted down.Packers go for it on fourth and 2, but the pass is incomplete under pressure.Packers start at 30.Dorleant interception return for touchdown.Chiefs lead 33-21.13:08 left. Packers start at 15.Drive stalls after Litton is chased from the pocket.Chiefs kick another field goal, and lead 26-21.Chiefs driving now.Two nice passes from Litton, and the Chiefs are in the red zone.After a couple of plays Kansas City Chiefs Hats , Armani Watts gets his second interception of the game on a deep pass.After a penalty assessed on the Chiefs, they start on their own 16.Packers start at 25.Chesson can’t quite hold on to a TD pass, and Chiefs settle for field goal to lead 23-21.Litton completes 40 yard pass to Pringle, and cross midfield.Ellis makes a catch for a tough third down conversion. Ball on Packers 22.On the punt, Tremon Smith fumbles, and the Packers recover.Play is under review.Call overturned, so Chiefs start at 27.Packers start at the 20, and go three and out.Litton is in at QB.On third an 9 at the 20, he overthrows a TD pass.Chiefs field goal, and trail 21-20.Pringle gets a 45 yard kickoff return to start the half for the Chiefs.Darrel Williams breaks loose for 12, and a couple of completions, and the Chiefs are in the red zone.Chiefs get the ball at the 40 with :22 left.Pass to Pringle good past midfield.Last timeout with :13 left.Sideline pass misses.:08 left.McGloin tries for the end zone deep, but is intercepted as time expires.Halftime.Packers start at 8. On second down, Chiefs sack Boyle.On third and 14, Chiefs hold.Third punt after the two minute warning.Packers stall with three incompletions, and punt.Chiefs start at 33, but miss on three passes and must punt it back.Packers start at 25.1:56 remaining.Nice touch pass to Darrel Williams on a wheel route.Touchdown.Chiefs trail 21-17.Now third down and 4 at the 7.Two minute warning.McGloin hits Pringle deep — beautiful throw and catch — for 61 yards, and the Chiefs are in business.Packers score, now leading 21-10.Chiefs start at 25.Packers complete for 15 yards, then try a deep pass that is caught out of bounds.On third down, Redmon is called for pass interference, and the Packers are in the red zone again.Chiefs force a fumble on punt, but Packers recover.Packers start at 35.Chiefs get the ball with 7:55 left in the second, starting at the 14.McGloin and Darrel Williams still in.Chiefs stall on third down, and must punt.Boyle tries for the end zone.Springs knocks it away.Thrid and goal.Ben Niemann saves a TD on a short pass. Fourth down inside the 1, and the Packers hit a TD pass.Packers lead 14-10.Boyle hits a 30 yard pass.Packers now inside the Chiefs 10.Boyle throws long, well defended by Wade.Incomplete.Third down and long, and Packers convert.Now at midfield.Packers start at 22.Boyle in at QB.Packers convert on third and 8.McGloin unable to connect with Robinson in the end zone.Chiefs settle for field goal, and lead 10-7.Robinson makes a great catch at the boundary.It is reviewed, and upheld.Chiefs driving.Two nice passes to Amaro.Chiefs in the red zone.End of the quarter.DAT makes a tough catch in traffic for a first down.Chiefs at 42.Daryl Williams in at running back, and has a gouple of nice runs.Chiefs start at 30.Matt McGloin under center.Chiefs hold on third and short.Springs does a good job of holding the receiver short of the sticks.But on 4th and 1, Kizer throws 31 yard touchdown pass.Game tied at 14.Chiefs get Packers to third and long, and nearly sack Kizer - but he escapes for a first down in Chiefs territory.Packers get a nice return on the kickoff, and start at 35.Chiefs lead 7-0.On third down, Henne hits Harris in the end zone.Henne TD pass to Robinson too low.Reception for Alex Ellis.Chiefs first and goal at the 5.Damien Williams looking good in this drive.Also a catch for Harris.Two running plays and a pass to Damien Williams, and the Chiefs are at the Packers 31.Chad Henne in at QB.Chiefs will start at their own 49.Armani Watts intercepts!Kizer in at QB for Packers.First pass good for a first down.Second pass gets to midfied, but is called back for holding.Packers start at 25.Chiefs win toss and defer.Will start on defense.No starters in tonight’s game - although they are dressed and on the sidelines.This happened just before 6:00 pmHere’s a prediction — and it turns out it was a good one.

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