Thursday, November 03, 2005

Google PageRank NFL Rankings

As both a web developer and an NFL fan and partly out of curiosity, I wrote a program that uses the basic Google PageRank calculation on the NFL teams. I wanted to see how the NFL teams would be ranked against each other using this iterative approach instead of the traditional power rankings that are based on records and basic statistics. To translate Google PageRank to the world of football, I treated a team as a separate page on the Internet and each loss as an outgoing link from the loser's "page" to the winner's "page".

Here are the Week 8 rankings:

1

Denver

Broncos

2

Jacksonville

Jaguars

3Indianapolis

Colts

4

Dallas

Cowboys

5

New England

Patriots

6

Seattle

Seahawks

7

New York (N)

Giants

8

San Diego

Chargers

9

Washington

Redskins

10

Pittsburgh

Steelers

11

Cincinnati

Bengals

12

Miami

Dolphins

13

Carolina

Panthers

14

Atlanta

Falcons

15

Tampa Bay

Buccaneers

16

Philadelphia

Eagles

17

Kansas City

Chiefs

18

Chicago

Bears

19

St. Louis

Rams

20

New York (A)

Jets

21

San Francisco

49ers

22

New Orleans

Saints

23

Oakland

Raiders

24

Buffalo

Bills

25

Detroit

Lions

26

Cleveland

Browns

27

Baltimore

Ravens

28

Arizona

Cardinals

29

Tennessee

Titans

30

Minnesota

Vikings

31

Houston

Texans

32

Green Bay

Packers



After Week 8, the results are fairly interesting. By record alone, we would expect the Indianapolis Colts, the only undefeated team, to be #1. Using the PageRank methodology, however, the Denver Broncos at 6-2 are kings of the hill. Interestingly, the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3) are #2. What's even more odd is that the Colts beat the Jaguars in Week 2! I dug a little deeper into this just to make sure this wasn't totally incorrect. Under the assumptions of the PageRank methodology, the rankings do in fact pan out. Let's examine further.

Jacksonville has defeated the following teams:
#6 - Seattle
#20 - New York Jets
#11 - Cincinnati
#10 - Pittsburgh

While Indianapolis has defeated:
#27 - Baltimore
#2 - Jacksonville
#26 - Cleveland
#29 - Tennessee
#21 - San Francisco
#19 - St. Louis
#31 - Houston

It's clear to see that although Jacksonville only has four wins, their wins carry more weight within the PageRank calculation than the seven wins Indianapolis is sporting. This may change if the Colts start to defeat higher ranked teams, but in the meantime, the Colts will have to put up with their easy schedule.