The endless lists of preseason power rankings hold all the predictive power of Johnny Carson as Carnac the Magnificent. And they are almost as funny. (If you are old like me, and it’s been too long, treat yourself.)
I thought it would be worth a minute to look at just how accurate the collective football genius of the brain trust at ESPN was in their predictions last year.
Compare the first two columns. Not. Even. Close.
2011 Draft Order
|1. Indianapolis Colts||32. Green Bay Packers||1. Green Bay Packers|
|2. New Orleans Saints||31. Pittsburgh Steelers||2. New England Patriots|
|3. Green Bay Packers||20. New York Jets||3. Pittsburgh Steelers|
|4. Dallas Cowboys||29. Chicago Bears||4. Philadelphia Eagles|
|5. Minnesota Vikings||28. New England Patriots||5. New Orleans Saints|
|6. Baltimore Ravens||27. Atlanta Falcons||6. Atlanta Falcons|
|7. Atlanta Falcons||26. Baltimore Ravens||7. New York Jets|
|8. San Diego Chargers||25. Seattle Seahawks||8. Baltimore Ravens|
|9. New York Jets||24. New Orleans Saints||9. Indianapolis Colts|
|10. New England Patriots||23. Philadelphia Eagles||10. San Diego Chargers|
|11. Miami Dolphins||22. Indianapolis Colts||11. Houston Texans|
|12. Cincinnati Bengals||21. Kansas City Chiefs||12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|13. San Francisco 49ers||20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||13. Chicago Bears|
|14. Houston Texans||19. New York Giants||14. Dallas Cowboys|
|15. Philadelphia Eagles||18. San Diego Chargers||15. New York Giants|
|16. Tennessee Titans||17. Oakland Raiders||16. Detroit Lions|
|17. Washington Redskins||16. Jacksonville Jaguars||17. St. Louis Rams|
|18. Pittsburgh Steelers||15. Miami Dolphins||18. Kansas City Chiefs|
|19. New York Giants||14. St. Louis Rams||19. Jacksonville Jaguars|
|20. Arizona Cardinals||13. Detroit Lions||20. Minnesota Vikings|
|21. Chicago Bears||12. Minnesota Vikings||21. Arizona Cardinals|
|22. Denver Broncos||11. Houston Texans||22. Oakland Raiders|
|23. Carolina Panthers||10. Washington Redskins||23. Tennessee Titans|
|24. Oakland Raiders||9. Dallas Cowboys||24. Miami Dolphins|
|25. Jacksonville Jaguars||8. Tennessee Titans||25. Seattle Seahawks|
|26. Seattle Seahawks||7. San Francisco 49ers||26. San Francisco 49ers|
|27. Kansas City Chiefs||6. Cleveland Browns||27. Denver Broncos|
|28. Detroit Lions||5. Arizona Cardinals||28. Washington Redskins|
|29. Cleveland Browns||4. Cincinnati Bengals||29. Cleveland Browns|
|30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||3. Buffalo Bills||30. Buffalo Bills|
|31. Buffalo Bills||2. Denver Broncos||31. Carolina Panthers|
|32. St. Louis Rams||1. Carolina Panthers||32. Cincinnati Bengals|
My guess is that if you trained a monkey to move 32 mangets from one column to form a new one, it would probably come about as close as ESPN did. Maybe closer.
The formula for creating preseason power rankings works like this: begin with the draft order, adjust for how well/poorly you believe each team drafted, make a couple of shifts based solely on personal biases, and then move up a couple of east coast teams and a west coast team just to cater to their fans. TA DA! Power rankings on the easy.
Based on the monumental load of cow chips that column 3 represents, we can be sure of one thing. If the Bengals are picked to finish last, they won’t. For that, ESPN, we thank you. Bengals fans everywhere would be more than happy to be picking around #14 next year, just like the Rams (your whipping boy from last year) did this year.