NFL Power Rankings 2012: Why Preseason Shouldn't Factor into Ranking

Mike Hoag@MikeHoagJrCorrespondent IIAugust 17, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 16:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers rolls out past T.J. Ward #43 of the Cleveland Browns during a preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 16, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

You’ve seen NFL power ranking lists as early as late February. There’s the pre-draft, post-draft, offseason, training camp and then final preseason power rankings.

If you can think of it, someone will probably write it. The fact of the matter, though, is that none of it really matters until the whistles blow on Sunday, September 9.

Beyond the ability for coaches to evaluate players and owners to cash in on selling out their stadiums four more times, there isn’t very much else you should take from these games.

Then there’s the excitement of the NFL returning; that’s something, the only thing, to take away from it all.


Preseason success does not translate to regular season success

Not only do preseason games not count in the win-loss columns, but they’re just flat out irrelevant in terms of translating success to the regular season. Sure, a team may gain confidence and improve through execution and rhythm, but that doesn’t mean the same team will show up once the games are real.

According to Dan Vergano of USA Today, NFL preseason games just don’t matter. He cited a study that analyzed the significance of winning preseason games in the big scheme of regular season success.

Preseason games have not mattered since 1994 was the end result of that study said.

Our main finding is that, although we confirm the significance of preseason winning as a predictor of regular season winning previously found in the 1970-1991 period, we are unable to find any statistical evidence that preseason winning percentage or winning the third game of the preseason provides any preview of NFL team performance in the regular season in the most recent 2002-2010 seasons.


Cleveland Browns (2-0) defeat Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers

A perfect example of preseason success not translating into the regular season is the 2008 Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns of the last decade. The ’08 Lions aced the preseason with a perfect 4-0 mark but failed to translate that success over to the regular season. They finished 0-16 that year, by the way.

Let’s take a look at last night’s Browns vs. Green Bay Packers game and see how it relates to the discussion.

At the beginning of the second quarter Thursday night, the Browns led the Pack 13-7. Does this mean the Browns' first-team is better and capable of beating them?

Should the Packers fall out of the top three because they ended up getting steamrolled by the lowly Browns? Do the Browns deserve to be out of the basement of the NFL after a solid team effort Thursday night?

No and no.

As the study suggests, this game, while a game for fans and coaches, isn’t indicative of things to come.


Teams hold back, Players don’t

It’s no secret that your favorite team will hold back during the preseason. Whether it’s offensive trickery, blitzes or even kick-off coverages, the things you see in preseason will not be the whole package come opening day.

At the same time, teams will be evaluating players and trying things to test them and make sure they are better than the guy behind them on the depth chart. Not every position is written in stone and the preseason hashes out the very small talent gaps that exist between the great competitors of the NFL.

If you’re in the NFL, or on the verge of making a roster, the margin for error is so low because there will always be competition behind you.

Teams may be holding back but players engaged in these battles won’t be. Second and third stringers will shine and display their talents with hopes of cracking or solidifying their roster spots.


There’s not much you should invest in these games other than what coaches do. Evaluate the players and their performances but always remember to keep it in context. The performances throughout preseason aren’t indicative of anything concrete in the regular season and should be used for entertainment value alone.



Big Hoagowski's Preseason NFL Power Rankings:

No. 1 New England Patriots
No. 2 Green Bay Packers
No. 3 Baltimore Ravens
No. 4 San Francisco 49ers
No. 5 New York Giants
No. 6 Houston Texans
No. 7 Detroit Lions
No. 8 Pittsburgh Steelers
No. 9 Atlanta Falcons
No. 10 Dallas Cowboys
No. 11 New Orleans Saints
No. 12 Denver Broncos
No. 13 Chicago Bears
No. 14 Philadelphia Eagles
No. 15 Cincinnati Bengals
No. 16 Kansas City Chiefs
No. 17 San Diego Chargers
No. 18 Seattle Seahawks
No. 19 Tennessee Titans
No. 20 Carolina Panthers
No. 21 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No. 22 Jacksonville Jaguars
No. 23 New York Jets
No. 24 Arizona Cardinals
No. 25 Miami Dolphins
No. 26 Washington Redskins
No. 27 Oakland Raiders
No. 28 Cleveland Browns
No. 29 St. Louis Rams
No. 30 Buffalo Bills
No. 31 Indianapolis Colts
No. 32 Minnesota Vikings



Follow me on Twitter @BigHoagowski


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