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.
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.
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|
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