NFL Team Rankings: How Accurate Are They, Really?

Greg Nolen

Staff Reporter

So, the Florida Gators defeated Oklahoma in the college football title game at the end of last year. The Baltimore Ravens are number one in the NFL power rankings right now. But what do these rankings really mean?

In sports, America is obsessed with a Number One. But, does the fact that the Ravens are atop the power rankings mean they are the best team in the NFL? No, it’s just what a couple of people think. Just because Florida won the national championship game, it doesn’t mean that they are the best. In college football, the polls pick who they want to be in the title game, and they are not necessarily the best teams.

And just who is the best team? Ask a lot of fans and you will get a lot of different answers.

“USC because they produce the most pro players, and have won so many Pac-10 titles, produced a lot of Heisman candidates and have had a lot of national titles,” said freshman Alec Farrell.

By those standards, it’s hard to argue against USC. So how is it with all those credentials, are they not in the top five and Florida, Texas, LSU, and Boise State are? It’s all because of the rankings.

While the rankings do a pretty good job reflecting the order in college football, they are no where near a perfect representation. At the end of the season, there is always a controversy over which teams deserve to get into the Bowl Championship Series.

Now, most of that only applies to college football, where polls reign supreme. But that dosen’t mean that other leagues are excluded from the debate of “Who’s number one?”

Today, almost every league has “Power Rankings,” where experts pick their top teams, but again the fans will often disagree. Ask many NFL fans and they won’t agree that the Ravens are the best.

“The best team is either the Steelers or the Patriots because they play well as a team,” said freshmen Lisa Vasapollo.

In the NFL and every other major sport, the best team is regarded as the team that wins the championship every year, but even that has come under debate. Consider the 2007 Patriots, who won 18 of 19 games, but won’t be remembered as the best because they lost the most important game of all.

In the early years of sport, when the Packers and Yankees won the championship every year, and even just recently with the Patriots dynasty, there was no question that they were the best teams, but with polls, power rankings, etc, that is changing. The debate has already begun.