In the NFL, Performance Means Everything

Donna CavanaghCorrespondent IJanuary 31, 2009

Now that the season is almost done, we have one last run-through of our performance rankings before the big game.  At, we find it fitting that one of the teams in this Super Bowl contest, the Pittsburgh Steelers, has risen to the no.1 position in our performance rankings. 

As always, let us to state that PossessionPoints Performance Rankings are based strictly on the PossessionPoints stat. We allow no room for opinion or emotional factors.  Yes, we may sound cold and unfeeling, but we are a numbers crew!

On the other side of the ball from the Steelers are the Arizona Cardinals who got there by deposing the other team which had been in No.1 in our rankings, the Philadelphia Eagles.  If you look at the chart below, you will note the Relative Performance Measure (RPM) column which is the average of our individual game RPMs. 

Notice that the top six teams on our chart are only separated by about four points.  This explains why the Cardinals’ victory over the Eagles dropped the Eagles to the fifth position on the chart from No. 1 spot.  In their game, the Cardinals managed to attain a +54 RPM which obviously gave the Eagles a -54 RPM prompting their tumble. 

While this win also moved the Cardinals up no.12 on our chart, it did not get them to one of the top spots.  It will literally take a Super Bowl upset and a similar double-digit positive performance measure to get Arizona to the top ten of our chart.  In all honesty, if the Arizona Cardinals win the Super Bowl, we do not think they will care where they fall on anyone’s chart! 

Last year, the New York Giants were ninth on our chart with a +19 RPM when they beat the no.1 Patriots.  This game was a bigger upset to us than if the Cardinals succeed this year since the Patriots had an unbelievable RPM of +83.  In PossessionPoints world, a +40 RPM is excellent and our chart would show it in green.  Notice this year, our chart has no teams in green. We have lots of yellows for average performance and some reds which signify poor performance, but no greens. (for more on the Super Bowl go to our article Need a Few More Reasons to Like the Steelers?)

Another thing we highlighted on this chart are the teams who changed coaches either during or after the 2008 season.  These teams are highlighted in purple and seem to be stuck together at the bottom of the performance chart.  In fact, eight out of the ten teams, outside of the Colts, who changed coaches finished in our bottom 11 of our performance rankings.

Let’s face it.  The NFL is a “what have you done for me lately?” league.  One slip up during a season can throw a coach down the proverbial shaft and straight to the unemployment line while one great season can propel a coach to the Super Bowl and possibly beyond.