NFL Playoff Upsets! What Upsets?

Donna CavanaghCorrespondent IJanuary 12, 2009

Pick up most sports pages and you would definitely think that this year was the “year of the upsets” in the NFL.  However, if you followed the Performance Rankings or RPM of, you would have seen a completely opposite view.   Why the big difference?


First of all, the Performance Rankings of are based solely on our proprietary in-game statistic which on a game-for-game basis indicates winners at a very good rate. No opinion or personal viewpoints go into these rankings.


By season end, there are enough games played that the average Performance Rankings are a great indicator of teams that can win in the playoffs. Thus, our company mantra: if you have a good PossessionPoints team, you have a good team!


So, we are not the least bit surprised that in our week 17 rankings, the No. 1, No. 3, and No. 4 teams are among the four teams still alive. If anybody knows of a traditional “opinion-based” Power Ranking that can say that, please let us know.


We said at the beginning of this article that there have been no upsets, and we guess if you just go by our ranking chart, we could force ourselves to find possibly one. The No. 16 Cardinals beat the No. 13 Falcons in the first week of the playoffs. That outcome could have been seen as an upset as that was the only time that a lower RPM team beat a higher RPM. However, if you look at an RPM of 12.66 vs. an RPM of 9.57, the upset is minimal at best. (See chart below)


As for the rest of the games, we saw nothing earth shattering at all: the No. 1 Eagles beat the No. 5 Vikings and the No. 2 Giants. The No. 3 Ravens beat the No. 12 Dolphins and the No. 10 Titans. The No. 16 Cardinals followed up their “upset” victory over the Falcons with a win over the No. 18 Panthers. The No. 7 Chargers beat the No. 20 Colts, but then they lost to the No. 4 Steelers.

So, other than a mild upset by the Cardinals, we think the playoffs have been pretty true to form.


Below is a reprint of the regular season-ending Performance Rankings. We took a lot of heat having a team that just squeaked into the playoffs at No. 1 and another No. 6 seed wild card team at No. 3, but guess what?  We are smiling a bit now.



The current rankings on our site include the two rounds of playoffs, the Eagles remain No. 1, but the Giants dropped to No. 4 with the Ravens and Steelers at Nos. 2 and 3, respectively. They are less than a single RPM point apart; however, by our measure that game is a real toss-up. The Cardinals have had a post season RPM over 30 and have moved up to No. 14 from their season ending No. 16.

If the Cardinals have another +30 or better PossessionPoints performance they could earn the first “real” upset of the postseason.