For your pleasure and edification, I’m comparing my own all-numeric power rankings with Joe Fortenbaugh’s power rankings.
My rankings are based solely on 2013 football game results. Mr. Fortenbaugh is allowed to look at coaching and player changes since the end of the 2012 season. I’ll try to note Mr. Fortenbaugh"s record of these changes, especially when his results differ considerably from mine.
Both of us use our numeric rankings as a baseline to determine the point spread between any two teams on the list, with factors such as home field, bye weeks and so on factored in. As many of you remember, my rankings and point spread numbers tend to get seriously accurate between week 3 and week 16 of each season, as good as you'll see anywhere in the world, and free to you. This is my fifth season of all-numeric prediction. Joe isn't exactly chopped liver himself.
My rank / team / my power rating / Mr. Fortenbaugh’s power rating / Mr. Fortenbaugh's rank
1 sea 13.5 88 3
2 ne 13.1 85.5 7
Fortenberg: The losses of pass-catchers Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez, the absence of a vertical threat on the outside and the injury concerns surrounding Rob Gronkowski are all reasons to dismiss the Patriots in 2013. As is the fact that the defense ranked 25th in the league in 2012.
Me: An entirely new pass-catching unit seems to have materialized out of nowhere. Philadelphia’s defense was being completely shredded in two practices, and not for lack of effort. The vertical threat has suddenly appeared and it’s not just one player. An ace tight end suddenly appeared. Don’t ever look at the Patriots’ defensive yardage and smirk -- Bill Belichick has a perfectly legitimate defensive philosophy that gives up not too many points and that generates large numbers of interceptions. Joe, you're toast here.
3 sf 12.6 88.5 2
4 den 11.7 89 1
Me: I expect Manning to continue to go downhill. Denver gets my “old” moniker.
5 gb 11.2 87 5
6 bal 10.5 82.5 12
Fortenberg: Players don’t work as hard during the offseason following a Super Bowl win, complacency sets in and before you know it, somebody else is hoisting your trophy. The Ravens will be tough in 2013, but won’t be a serious threat to repeat at any point.
Me: I’m with Fortenberg! Plus, Baltimore is way old and that spells trouble in December as the grandpas get injured. I have a theory that teams who outperform themselves in the playoffs will revert to their regular season form next regular season, and this team finished their season on a 1-4 bender.
7 atl 10.3 86.5 6
8 nyg 10.1 83.5 10
9 min 10.0 78.5 26
Fortenbaugh: one of our top-2 teams headed for a regression in 2013.
Me: Why? Your say-so? They were a pretty tough team in 2012. I'll listen to sound reasons.
10 car 9.8 79.5 21
Fortenbaugh: It’s the Panthers, not the Buccaneers, who should be considered the dark horse to win the NFC South this season, after the team won five of their final six games in 2012 when they had every reason to throw in the towel.
Me: My numbers reflect those wins. So if you want to make them the dark horse, why are they #21 in your rankings?
11 chi 9.8 81 16
Fortenbaugh: under new head coach Marc Trestman,
Me: Given the coaching change, #16 is reasonable.
12 was 9.5 82.5 13
13 hou 9.1 86 6
Fortenbaugh: But the organization will need to take its game to a new level and avoid another late-season meltdown in order to make that possibility a reality.
Me: Did you see how this team melted away against Indy? Against other teams too? I’m sticking with #13.
14 cin 9.0 83 11
15 stl 8.7 80 20
Fortenbaugh: Could be on the rise in a hurry under head coach Jeff Fisher,
Me: Already has been on the rise, Joe, already was there last year. All that St. Louis really lacks is a public reputation in Vegas.
16 mia 8.1 80 19
17 dal 8.0 82 14
18 no 7.9 84 9
Fortenbaugh: It would take one hell of an effort out of Rob Ryan for this defense to play worse then it did in 2012. Improvements on that side of the football coupled with the return of head coach Sean Payton should see the Who Dats return to form this season.
Me: I’ll grant some argument that N’orleans will play better this year. However, there’s always a possibility that the loss of a first round pick is an impediment only in the second year and that the coach got his ears permanently clipped by the commish.
19 pit 7.7 84 8
Fortenbaugh: The Steelers ranked first in the league in total defense last season,
Me: Then why couldn’t they rank first in point differential? Offense wins championships too. For starters, where is Pittsburgh’s all-star quarterback? Is Joe’s rating partly based on Pittsburgh’s excellent front office which manufactures good players from nowhere each year?
20 sd 7.6 78.5 24
21 tb 7.0 79 22
22 ind 6.5 81.5 15
Fortenbaugh: Too low? Well then consider the fact that last year Indianapolis became the first team in NFL history to win 11 or more games during the regular season while being outscored by its opposition. In addition, the Colts posted negative numbers in both the sack differential (-9) and turnover differential (-12) departments last year. That’s unheard of and, in our opinion, signals that a regression is on the horizon for 2013.
Me: This team played so many fuzzy bunnies last year it got a tickle fit. I think that Fortenbaugh caved into the Indy optimists a bit so that he’s still too high. On the other hand, Indy is a young team and they'll grow a bit this year.
23 az 6.2 76.5 28
Fortenbaugh: Yes, Carson Palmer is an upgrade over everything else that Arizona has thrown under center over the last few years, but the guy will turn 34-years-old in December, completely flamed out in Oakland and is playing behind an offensive line that will likely be destroyed by San Francisco, Seattle and St. Louis.
Me: Sounds logical. #28 it is.
24 det 6.2 81 17
Fortenbaugh: Was the team’s 2011 playoff run the anomaly or was it last season’s 4-12 clunker? We side with the latter and believe that the Lions’ front four will pave the way for a return to the happy side of a .500 record in 2013.
Me: NFL stands for Not For Long, and if Detroit didn’t have their mojo in 2012 they won’t magically go back to 2011. I'll stand by my 6-10 prediction.
25 cle 5.9 77 27
26 buf 5.9 76 29
27 nyj 5.1 76 30
Me: who says that my numbers aren’t ever kind to Rex Ryan? Well, just a bit kind.
28 phi 4.3 79 23
Fortenbaugh: The Chip Kelly era in Philadelphia is off to a less then glamorous start. This team could win 11 games or they could flame out and win only four.
Me: New coach with radically new offensive philosophy meets old players with old skills and old conditioning level. At least this year, go with the four, or even less. Andy Reid wasn’t that horrid a coach last year.
29 ten 4.3 78.5 25
30 oak 2.8 75 32
31 jac 1.8 75.5 31
32 kc 1.4 80.5 18
Fortenbaugh: The switch at quarterback from Matt Cassel to Alex Smith should cut down Kansas City’s sack and turnover numbers, while the transition from Romeo Crennel to Andy Reid gives the Chiefs a much-improved position from a tactical standpoint.
Me: Can’t have it both ways department: jumping from Philly to KC, Fortenbaugh is running the very same Andy Reid up to the heavens and I’m running Reid down. It’s a new coach and a new quarterback getting installed, which is inherently bad for production across the NFL. Plus, KC probably has most of the same old porous team that it had last year. Did they fire last year’s bozos this spring and start with brand new bozos, or did they keep the old ones? Same difference.