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Basically, it's the AFC North's fault.  Pittsburgh's loss to the Jets and Cincinnati's loss to Arizona have pushed most of the AFC out of the top 10 teams on the Natural Power Rankings (NAPOs).  What are the NAPOs, you say?  Sigh... do I have to explain this every week?  I imagine so.

1st.  The goal of NAPOs is to gauge who in the league is most primed for a win and who is primed for a loss.  It's a ranking of the teams, from most likely to win to most likely to lose, only for the following Sunday.  It has no weight for the rest of the season or who I think will be in the playoffs.  This wasn't the original goal, but as they have proved surprisingly accurate at predicting "upsets," that's how the purpose has evolved.

2nd.  Again, I'm only looking at the past three weeks.  Some say this is short-sighted; I say a lot has changed since week 3.

3rd.  This is purely mathematical and my opinion has nothing to do with it. 

4th.  I have developed a formula to determine Strength Of Victory (SOV) that calculates who "won better."

Here's how the NAPOs are determined.  I progress through the following steps until everyone is ranked.

1) If team A beat team B, A is ranked higher.

2) If team A and team B both beat team C, the team with a higher SOV is ranked higher. If A and B both lost to C, the team with a lower SOV is ranked higher.

3) I follow similar logic progressing through degrees of separation. The next degree is 1.5, where team A lost to team D, and team B lost to team C, who lost to team D. I add up the D/C and C/B SOV and compare it to the D/A SOV. If D/A is lower, A is ranked higher than B. (Lost yet?) Same thing at 2 degrees, 2.5 degrees, 3 degrees, etc. But I only follow chains of all wins or all losses, otherwise it gets too complicated (gotta draw a line somewhere).

4) If team A and team B do not share a degree, I look at all of the scores involving either team.  I find the lowest SOV, and rank those two teams as close together as possible.  Then I do the same with the second-lowest until all the teams are ranked.

The first degree got a little crazy this week.  Since San Diego beat Baltimore by a higher SOV (6.99 to 6.67), they should have been ranked above Cincinnati.  Since Cincinnati beat Tennessee by a higher SOV (13.98 to 5.98), they should have been ranked above Jacksonville.  Jacksonville beat San Diego, so they definitely have to be higher.  So does Cincy go above the Jags or below the Bolts?  To resolve such situations, I basically followed rule 4 above, finding the lowest SOV and ranking those two teams (Jacksonville and Tennessee) as closely as possible, which meant putting Cincinnati on top. 

Clearly, switching to three games last week was a mistake - for the first time, the NAPOs predictions were defeated by my own, 11-5 to 12-4.  Interestingly, there was only one game we both got wrong (Jets over Steelers).  Oh, and I'd like to point out that I called the Cardinals-Bengals win perfectly.  35-27.  I am awesome.

All right, so here are the NAPOs after week 12, with their records over the past three weeks in parentheses. 

1) New England (2-0)

2) Tampa Bay (2-0)

3) Philadelphia (2-1)

4) Green Bay (3-0)

5) Seattle (3-0)

6) St. Louis (2-1)

7) Chicago (2-1)

8) San Francisco (1-2)

9) Arizona (2-1)

10) Cincinnati (2-1)

11) Jacksonville (3-0)

12) San Diego (2-1)

13) Denver (2-1)

14) Indianapolis (2-1)

15) Minnesota (2-1)

16) Dallas (3-0)

17) Washington (0-3)

18) Oakland (1-2)

19) NY Giants (1-2)

20) NY Jets (1-1)

21) Pittsburgh (2-1)

22) Cleveland (2-1)

23) Baltimore (0-3)

24) Tennessee (0-3)

25) Kansas City (0-3)

26) Detroit (0-3)

27) Houston (1-1)

28) New Orleans (1-2)

29) Buffalo (1-2)

30) Miami (0-3)

31) Atlanta (1-2)

32) Carolina (0-3)

That means that these are the NAPOs' predictions for the coming week, which we all know is the real reason for doing this:

Green Bay over Dallas (I don't normally do this, but check out Buddhasillegitmatechild's rant about NFL Network and Cable TV - it's a good read.)

Washington over Buffalo

San Francisco over Carolina

Jacksonville over Indianapolis

San Diego over Kansas City

NY Jets over Miami

Minnesota over Detroit

Philadelphia over Seattle

St. Louis over Atlanta

Tennessee over Houston

Arizona over Cleveland

Denver over Oakland

Chicago over NY Giants

Tampa Bay over New Orleans

Cincinnati over Pittsburgh

New England over Baltimore

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