NFL Preseason SuperPower Rankings

In the same vein as my 100 Greatest Movies Project, here’s my NFL Power Rankings based on the Power Rankings of most of the leading sports sites. I include ratings from the following sports sites: ESPN, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, USA Today. I’m willing to take in NBC Sports, Yahoo, and Sporting News if they choose to take part in this excersize. One point per rank; #1=1, #2=2, so on. Lower scores score higher. The asterisk indicates a Lineal Title holder.

Note: The Fox Sports rankings occured at the start of this month; the others, right after the draft. Among other things, it explains why they rank the Falcons near the bottom when the others put them in the middle of the pack.

Team Name TW (LW) ESPN CBS Fox SI.com USAT Comments
Patriots 1-T 1 2 2 2 1 Should be a lot scarier with Randy Moss.
Colts 1-T 2 1 1 1 3 Don’t sleep on SB champs, or overstate impact of losses.
Chargers 3 3 3 3 3 2 Maybe the most talented team in the NFL.
Saints 4 6 7 4 4 4 One of the NFC’s best teams only improved. The D is still an issue.
Ravens 5 4 6 5 7 5 Expect McGahee to be an immediate help on offense.
Bears 6 5 5 7 5 6 A lot of question marks but the SB defense is still there.
Broncos 7 7 4 6 6 7 Made some impact additions in offseason. Will Cutler be enough?
Eagles 8 8 8 12 8 9 If McNabb’s healthy, they could be a powerhouse.
Seahawks 9 11 15 8 9 10 They need a healthy Alexander to remain top dog in a tougher division.
Bengals 10 10 10 9 17 8 Bengals underperformed last year, but D still an issue.
Cowboys 11 9 9 13 14 11 The good news is they dumped Parcells. The bad news is they dumped Parcells. All eyes on Romo.
Jets 12 12 16 10 11 12 Revis, Harris, Jones are impact additions, but still not enough D.
Steelers 13 13 11 15 12 13 Will Tomlin get the ’05 Steelers or the ’06 Steelers?
Jaguars 14 14 12 11 18 14.5 All eyes are on the QB position after a mediocre ’06.
*Rams 15 18 17 18 10 18 The Rams made sure to get better in the offseason. Will it be enough?
Panthers 16 16 21 16 16 14.5 Good draft, not much else. All eyes on Delhomme with Carr looking over shoulder.
49ers 17 15 19 14 22 16.5 With improving young players, could contend in West and win in ’08.
Giants 18 17 14 19 21 20 All eyes on Manning and Brandon Jacobs.
Falcons 19 19 18 30 20 16.5 Will probably stink without Vick, but they still have strong pieces.
Titans 20 21 29 22 15 19 Young will have a lot of weight on his shoulders without more offensive help.
Cardinals 21 22 13 20 30 22 “No, this really is the Cardinals’ year, really!”
Chiefs 22-T 20 26 17 26 21 The QB question still looms, especially with good but not SB-carrying D.
Bills 22-T 23 20 21 23 23 Went with youth by dumping vets and hoping Losman improves.
Vikings 24 25 23 29 31 25.5 Good defense and Peterson is good RB, but weak WRs and is Jackson ready?
Packers 25 24 22 23 25 24 Favre may be getting an absolutely awful offense. Retire already!
Dolphins 26 26 24 27 19 28 Will Green provide the pick-me-up the team needs?
Lions 27 30 27 26 13 29 The WRs are meeting their potential and Kitna can carry the team, so they could surprise.
Buccaneers 28 27 25 24 29 25.5 A boatload of QBs with other questions going ignored.
Redskins 29 28 28 25 24 27 Campbell must perform or Gibbs could be running back to NASCAR.
Texans 30 29 30 28 27 31 Schaub and Green will help but the OL is still nonexistent.
Raiders 31 32 31 31 28 32 D is good, but even with Russell they were likely to struggle.
Browns 32 31 32 32 32 30 Young team with two top draft picks that could be a big contender… in ’08.

Some sports musings

Couple of things:

*I’m seeing an international pool-play game in the Little League World Series on ESPN while Major League Baseball, a game between two playoff contenders, is on ESPN2. Please don’t tell me the former outdraws the latter.

*The NFL Network is going to put its “Total Access” program on “My Network TV” Saturday nights starting in September. Which means it will now be on a “network” that as many people watch as the NFL Network reaches.

Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Preseason

(In case you haven’t noticed, it’s the dog days of summer. Normally, I would hold off on this until closer to the actual start of the season, but college football is still several weeks away from being useful, if I were to do TV ratings reports I would want to hold off on them until mid-September, and no one’s voting on any of my polls. Basically, there’s nothing to do, but I haven’t had any hits all day, so…)

NBC’s Sunday Night Football package gives it flexible scheduling. For the last seven weeks of the season, the games are determined on 12-day notice, 6-day notice for Week 17.

Last year, no game was listed in the Sunday Night slot, only a notation that one game could move there. CBS and Fox were able to protect one game every week each but had to leave one week each unprotected and had to submit their protections after only four weeks.

Now, NBC lists the game it “tentatively” schedules for each night, and by all appearances, CBS and Fox can’t protect anything. However, the NFL is in charge of moving games to prime time.

Here are the rules from the NFL web site:

  • Begins Sunday of Week 11
  • In effect during Weeks 11-17
  • Only Sunday afternoon games are subject to being moved into the Sunday night window.
  • The game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night during flex weeks will be listed at 8:15 p.m. ET.
  • The majority of games on Sundays will be listed at 1:00 p.m. ET during flex weeks except for games played in Pacific or Mountain Time zones which will be listed at 4:05 or 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • No impact on Thursday, Saturday or Monday night games.
  • The NFL will decide (after consultation with CBS, FOX, NBC) and announce as early as possible the game being played at 8:15 p.m. ET. The announcement will come no later than 12 days prior to the game. The NFL may also announce games moving to 4:05 p.m. ET and 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • Week 17 start time changes could be decided on 6 days notice to ensure a game with playoff implications.
  • The NBC Sunday night time slot in “flex” weeks will list the game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night.
  • Fans and ticket holders must be aware that NFL games in flex weeks are subject to change 12 days in advance (6 days in Week 17) and should plan accordingly.
  • NFL schedules all games.
  • Teams will be informed as soon as they are no longer under consideration or eligible for a move to Sunday night.

Throughout the season, I’m going to make predictions on what the NFL will do each week in the flexible scheduling scheme. Here are the current tentatively-scheduled games:

Week 11 (November 18): Chicago @ Seattle
Week 12 (November 25): Philadelphia @ New England
Week 13 (December 2): Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
Week 14 (December 9): Indianapolis @ Baltimore
Week 15 (December 16): Washington @ NY Giants
Week 16 (December 23): Tampa Bay @ San Francisco
Week 17 (December 30): Kansas City @ NY Jets

I will start putting up watches every week starting after Week 3 or 4. The Week 17 spot will double as a playoff watch. I will be paying close attention to what you think; I could extend the playoff watch concept to other pro sports if you do.

Introducing… The Football Lineal Title

On Friday night/Saturday morning, I gave you my college football rating system, which aims to bring some mathematical clarity to the world of college football. Well, now I have another idea, and I’m taking the “new method of determining champions” off the feature poll.

The idea is simple: The College Football Lineal Title. To pick up the title, beat the current title holder. To lose the title, lose a game; the team that beat you becomes the new titleholder. It’s a similar concept to that which exists for boxing and other combat sports.

It’s a very intuitive concept that applies well to college football, so much so that although I came up with the idea independently, I’m not the first to do so. David Wilson’s site links to two sites with the same idea: HeavyweightFootballChamps.com and CollegeFootballBelt.com.

I have elected to start the title with the famed “first college football game” between Rutgers and Princeton. Because Princeton, after winning the rematch of that 1869 game, went undefeated through 1876, I call this lineage “the Princeton Title” as a slang name. This is the same starting point used by HeavyweightFootballChamps.com.

I’ve done research on the subsequent history of the title using the scores of James Howell, sorted by date by Wilson here. Because I do not restrict who can hold the title, my records may be incomplete, because Howell’s scores only include games involving Division I-A or equivalent.

I have made two modifications to the basic concept:

  • Due to the regional nature of college football’s early years, before the proliferation of the bowls, many of the best teams never got a shot at the Princeton title, which didn’t leave the Northeast until 1918. Michigan had a long undefeated streak at the beginning of the twentieth century but never got a crack at the Princeton title. I have decided to recognize a “Michigan title” during this streak that starts changing hands when the University of Chicago broke the streak in 1905. From 1908 on, every team that goes undefeated gets their own lineal title if they do not already hold one.
  • During the early 1910s, there are three main titles with, in my opinion, a claim to national status: the Princeton title; the aforementioned Michigan title, merged with the Princeton title in 1916; and a title I call the Lafayette-Navy-Pitt title, aka the Pop Warner Memorial Title, starting with Lafayette’s undefeated season of 1909, and marked by a long reign by Warner’s Pitt team from 1915 to 1918. The LNP title ended when Pitt lost to a WWI-created Cleveland Naval Reserves team. I give recognition to these titles due to the large number of other titles that ultimately merged with them.
  • There are also three titles with claims to national status in the 1920’s and 30’s: the Princeton title; a title I call the Knute Rockne title, created from the merger of the 1918 Virginia Tech title (aka Virginia Tech-Lafayette-Pitt) and the 1917 Texas A&M title (aka Texas A&M-Vanderbilt), and so called because Knute Rockne’s Notre Dame teams won this title more often than the single time they won the Princeton title, and because the 1919 Notre Dame title, Rockne’s first undefeated team as coach, had its lineage become part of it; and the Rose Bowl title, aka the 1916 Oregon title, so named because the first modern Rose Bowl was played with this title. The Knute Rockne and Rose Bowl titles merged in 1936, and the Knute Rockne title merged with the Princeton title on New Year’s Day 1939, when Knute Rockne holder Tennessee defeated Princeton holder Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl. Strangely, at both unifications the Princeton title was arguably the less prestigious title.
  • I’ve also extended the concept to the NFL, where the analogy doesn’t hold as well. Split titles are created when the title holder does not make the NFL Championship Game, and later the Super Bowl. By that defintion, the current title holder is the St. Louis Rams, not the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts do hold a separate Super Bowl XLI title.

The College Football Belt site starts its lineage with the 1971 Nebraska team, effective at the 1971-2 Orange Bowl; their later research shows that Nebraska did indeed come out of that season with the Princeton title (in fact Nebraska won the Princeton title off Alabama in that very Orange Bowl). The Belt site also considers starting with the first AP National Champions, the 1936 Minnesota team. However, although Minnesota came into the season coming off multiple unbeaten seasons and holding the Rose Bowl title, they did lose that season (their loss to Northwestern merged the Rose Bowl title with the Knute Rockne title), and not only did they never pick up another lineal title the rest of the year, the lineage the Belt site traces never overlaps with any similar title claim, right up to the point where they say it unified with the Princeton title, Halloween 1942, when Minnesota-holder Georgia picked up the lineal title off Alabama.

Research done by both sites shows that this year’s BCS National Championship Game had the Princeton title on the line, and Florida is the current Princeton title holder. Boise State also holds a new lineal title by going undefeated. My own research shows that the 2004 Utah undefeated team has their title in the hands of BYU, and the 2004 Auburn title is currently held by LSU. 2000 Oklahoma’s title was merged with Princeton in the 2003 Rose Bowl, after being merged with 1998 Tulane. I haven’t done research further back than that (I have done 1999 Marshall and 1998 Tennessee), partly because since the BCS started, 1998, 2000 (when Miami (FL) got snubbed) and 2003 (when USC got snubbed) are the ONLY years where the BCS Title Game was not for the Princeton Title. However, I strongly doubt any other split titles have remained split long enough to remain extant today.

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 4/28-29

All times PDT.

Saturday
9-5 PM: NFL Football, NFL Draft Rounds 1-2 (ESPN). Which will it be this year? Will the second round be actually treated with a little respect, or at the same level as the second-day rounds?

5-7:30 PM: NBA Basketball, San Antonio @ Denver (ESPN). Carmelo Anthony’s best chance of making it out of the first round is probably to have Joey Crawford officiating.

7:30-10 PM: NBA Basketball, Utah @ Houston (ESPN). What do you want, personalities, or good basketball? If the latter, this game is for you.

Sunday
10:30-3 PM: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Racing, Aaron’s 499 (FOX). Better than nothing.

5-7:30 PM: NHL Hockey, Anaheim @ Vancouver (VS.). Actually, if I had chosen the NHL game yesterday I would still have the other NBA game that day and the NBA doubleheaders today. But today’s NBA games, well, suck.

The NFL schedule story no one’s reporting on

I noticed something interesting about Year 2 of NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

Not the introduction of Keith Olbermann to the studio show, but rather, something about the schedule.

It still consists of the first ten weeks being pre-assigned, while Weeks 11-17 are “flex schedule” weeks, with games being chosen two weeks in advance (one week in the case of Week 17). But last season, the primetime spot on the schedule was simply left blank for the flex weeks.

This year, the primetime spot actually has a game listed, even though it could still be moved to an afternoon spot to make room for a better game.

As I intend on prognosticating on what games will be shown in prime time in this space, that brings up a bevy of questions that I’m not finding the answers to. Will CBS and Fox be able to “protect” the game listed in late night and keep it in the afternoon, or indeed, will they still be able to protect games at all? How closely will NBC hew to the game chosen for late night? Will a game have to be a complete dud for NBC to move away from it, or is the game just a placeholder for something close to the status quo last season, when NBC chose the games it thought best given the restrictions they had to work with (though they seemed to have certain perplexing biases, and choosing Packers-Bears Week 17 seemed to defeat the purpose of moving games only one week prior)?

All of a sudden, I’m dazed and confused and don’t know where to go.

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 1/20-21

This is an experiment that, should the topic of Da Blog ultimately fit it (and maybe even if it doesn’t), will become a regular feature every Friday. I’ll hand out my picks for the go-to sports to watch for the weekend. I choose only one game between competing games, and choose as many sports as possible within those parameters. All times PST.

Saturday
12:30-3 AM: Tennis, Australian Open, 3rd round play (ESPN). Assuming you don’t need too much sleep, of course.

9-11 AM: College Basketball, Louisville @ DePaul (ESPN). Combine for a 5-4 conference record. Really just a warmup for the next two parts of the tripleheader.

11 AM-1 PM: College Basketball, Wisconsin @ Illinois (ESPN). What the hell is Wisconsin doing with a power basketball program? This is their best record in over ninety years.

1-3 PM: College Basketball, Arizona @ UCLA (FSN). Arizona’s Marcus Williams not only is a Seattle product, he went to my high school. I never saw a game, only heard of him secondhand before last year, don’t like the idea of being a fan of whatever school you went to, and loathe many of my old high school traditions with a passion, yet I still find myself following the Wildcats. (Did I mention that this is a matchup of the top two RPI teams in the country?)

4-7 PM: College Football, East-West Shrine Game (ESPN2). One of college football’s many all-star games. What exactly is it? I don’t have a clue.

7-10 PM: Tennis, Australian Open, octofinal play (ESPN2). If tennis was as huge in this country as it is in some others, networks would be falling over themselves to put this in primetime. Especially with the new and improved Andy Roddick and Serena Williams likely to show up either here or in the insomniac session.

Sunday
12:30-3:30 AM: Tennis, Australian Open, octofinal play (ESPN2). Insomniac Special time!

10-11:30 AM: PBA Bowling, Dick Weber Open (ESPN). The football just barely overlaps with the basketball, so why not watch people roll really heavy balls around? Here’s one thing I might say about the PBA: When 9-spare is considered heartbreaking, maybe the competition is too good. That’s the problem with the pro versions of stuff a significant number of ordinary people do.

12-3:30 PM: NFL Football, New Orleans @ Chicago (FOX). Clearly the same teams go to the Super Bowl year after year in the NFL. Sure, 3 of the last 4 NFC champions were going into their first Super Bowls ever, but these two teams combine for a whopping 1 Super Bowl appearances. Yeah, I know, but that one appearance was only, oh, 20 years ago.

3:30-7 PM: NFL Football, New England at Indianapolis (CBS). Yes, the Colts under Manning have never been to the Super Bowl, yes, they’ve never beaten the Patriots in the playoffs, and yes, Peyton Manning is not the Manning we’re used to in these playoffs. But they’re at home!

After Football: Let two weeks of unending Super Bowl hype begin…