I will start this off by getting my bias out in the open for you all…I am a passionate (but reasonable) fan of the Atlanta Falcons. I love the NFL but one thing that has become frustrating is the continuous coverage of the league. The NFL is a big business and virtually all of America pays attention – whether it is for the love of the game, love of one’s favorite team, love for fantasy football or the love of gambling – everyone is hooked on the NFL. A negative component of our obsession is that the sport is covered 24-7…whether there is something to report or not! One of my least favorite parts of NFL Football coverage is the daily (sometimes hourly) "POWER RANKINGS." Everyone has a different ‘formula’ for providing these rankings – you hear people talk about all the factors that go into making their POWER RANKINGS the most legit list available…a few of these factors often include:
Strength of Schedule, Defensive Stats, Offensive Stats, Turnover margin, Time of Possession, Quarterback’s Ranking, Overall Record, “In Conference” Record, “Out of Conference” Record, “In Division” Record, Home Record, Away Record, Margin of Victory, Blah, Blah, Blah and Blah.
Again, I am biased, but the fact that teams like Atlanta and Houston who are 10-1 and have the best record in the league don’t get more consistent love nationally is beyond me. The reason? The ‘talking heads’ will list 43 stats as to why they are ‘flawed’ but the reality is they don’t always “win pretty” and they aren’t one of the handful of markets that drive ratings. Below are the media’s “darlings” that are routinely identified as the best teams in the NFL:
- The New York Giants – I get it, they demolished a very solid Green Bay Team last night (November 25th) and now this team is getting all sorts of attention and talk that they may be the best team in the NFL. However, let’s look at their entire body of work. This team has lost 4 games, 2 of which are teams that ATL has beat - PHI and DAL (again, biased ATL fan here)
- The New England Patriots - ESPN’s favorite team…ever. They have lost 3 games, one of which was to Arizona, and they recently needed overtime to beat the NY Jets.
- The Baltimore Ravens – They have 2 losses but when they win ‘ugly’ (as they did vs. KC winning 9-6 and SD winning in overtime) the media says “Baltimore can win in a variety of ways.”
- The Denver Manning’s (Broncos) – They have also dropped 3 games and they struggled to notch wins against the Chiefs and Chargers. And due to my bias I will also add that the Falcons beat the Manning’s earlier this year.
- The Chicago Bears – This is a very solid team and a scary defense, but this team has dropped 3 games thus far.
- The San Francisco 49ers – They tied the St. Louis Rams…and have 2 other losses, one of which is to the Vikings.
I am not saying that the above teams are not deserving of attention and they all are great teams that could potentially win a super bowl. My point is that teams like Houston and Atlanta are often dismissed from the top few spots due “strength of schedule” or that they almost lose games…when the above teams have blemishes and 2-4 times as many losses but are given a pass. Since the cool thing to do is create your own personal “Power Ranking” for the NFL, we figured we’d give it a try. However, we will go ahead and tell you that our list is composed of 1 factor, wins and losses. I hope you enjoy:
- Houston Texans, 10-1: Houston is tied for the best record in the league but are #1 on this list because they have beaten tougher opponents than the Atlanta Falcons
- Atlanta Falcons, 10-1: Atlanta is tied for the best record in the league and has one of the most dangerous and high powered offenses in the NFL. They have found a way to win close games but their defense will need to pick up and stay healthy if they want to contend
- Baltimore Ravens, 9-2: The Ravens’ offense is anchored by the incredible Ray Rice who may be small in stature but is easily one of the best players in the NFL. They also find ways to win close games and their defense is getting healthier.
- San Francisco 49ers, 8-2-1: The 49ers have the best defense in the league and their offense is loaded with talent. With the conversion to the young, agile and strong armed 2nd year quarterback, this team is poised to be a serious contender.
- New England Patriots, 8-3: The Patriots have always had a high powered passing attack but this year they have added a top rushing attack and their defense is playing well.
- Chicago Bears, 8-3: The Bears’ defense is one of the top squads in the league and they are scoring a ton of points. Their offense has been up and down but this team can beat anyone.
- Denver Broncos, 8-3: Peyton Manning has been incredible and will likely be a frontrunner for both the NFL Comeback Player of the Year and the MVP. Great core of WR’s and DEF is stout. Their running game is a question.
- New York Giants, 7-4: The Giants are inconsistent, but when they are playing well they are virtually unbeatable.
- Green Bay Packers, 7-4: Injuries and quite possibly the most controversial call in the history of the NFL have kept this team from being higher on this list. If they get healthy…watch out.
- Indianapolis Colts, 7-4: The Colts are this biased Atlanta Falcons fan’s top story of the 2012 NFL Season. If you haven’t read about their head coach Chuck Pagano’s battle with cancer and how the organization and community have rallied around him do yourself a favor and get caught up. Andrew Luck has been incredible and taking the worst team in the league a year ago to serious playoff contender in '12.