Power Rankings are subjective lists used to rank sports teams or athletes. Sports journalists use power rankings to engage fans in weekly conversations about which teams or athletes are playing the best. Although mostly used by media outlets, anyone can create NFL power rankings. Unlike cut-and-dry statistics, such as wins and losses, NFL power rankings combine subjective and objective criteria to arrive at an essentially made-up list of the best and worst in football.
The most important aspect of developing power rankings is to establish criteria. It's your power rankings, so you can get creative. However, power rankings based on statistics gain more credibility. Use official NFL statistics found on the league's website and power rank teams, divisions or individual players based on positions. You can also use such media-generated statistics as ESPN's Total Quarterback Ratings. Keep in mind that media-generated stats, such as the QBR, are not recognized by the NFL and even dismissed by many fans. You can list all 32 teams or limit your power rankings to the Top 10.
You could rank teams based on how much you like their jerseys. However, using statistics bolsters your power rankings' credibility. It also helps you maintain a consistent formula for measurement. When power ranking teams, start with wins and losses. Then, using NFL statistics, factor in total offense and total defense rankings. You can also include strength of schedule based on the won-loss record of each team's opponents. Team standings show winning and losing streaks, another statistic commonly used in weekly power rankings. Historical data, such as playoff record or even average margin of victory, can be used to determine end of the season power rankings.
The Eyeball Test
The eyeball test is the least scientific and most subjective way to develop a power ranking. However, the eyeball test is often incorporated in power rankings. Sometimes the eyeball test is used to determine the rank of two teams that have the same record and similar statistics, but haven't played each other. Without a head-to-head match-up, the eyeball test is used as a tie-breaker. Watch highlights of games to determine which team looks more impressive. Sports journalists who vote in college football polls rely on the eyeball test because it is physically impossible for them to view all the games played every week.
Consensus power rankings are created by pooling rankings from various sources. Bleacher Report, the sports section for CNN.com, compiles the power rankings from NFL analysts and sports writers to create its list. A consensus power ranking can include members of a fantasy football league, co-workers or power rankings from local media outlets. To create a consensus power ranking, assign a numerical value to each rank on each list. Then divide the total by the number of lists. The team with the lowest number is ranked No. 1.