Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

13 Jul 2009

How the NFL Teams Ranked in the 7th Annual "ESPN: The Magazine Ultimate Standings"

In the July 13th issue of "ESPN: The Magazine", their 7th annual "Ultimate Standings" are published. The article is written by Peter Keating. The "Standings rank all 122 MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL franchises by how much they give back to fans for all the emotion, money, and time fans invest in their favorite teams." The "Standings combine results from fan surveys and from analyses of how efficiently teams use the money fans spend (see our methodology on page 44)."

I thought extracting the rankings of the NFL teams from the article and posting them here might generate a little discussion, debate, and irrationality to help get us the rest of the way through the off season. Since this does involve the use of copyrighted material from one of FO's business partners (ESPN), I ran the idea by FO first to make sure I wasn't going to do anything bad. Bill Barnwell emailed me back to say it was okay.

Here are the rankings. The second number is where in the "Ultimate Standings" the team placed.

1 (3) Pittsburgh Steelers
2 (13) Green Bay Packers
3 (14) Indianapolis Colts
4 (15) Tennessee Titans
5 (19) New England Patriots
6 (28) Carolina Panthers
7 (29) Baltimore Ravens
8 (33) Arizona Cardinals
9 (39) Houston Texans
10 (40) Seattle Seahawks
11 (43) Atlanta Falcons
12 (44) Philadelphia Eagles
13 (45) New York Giants
14 (52) New Orleans Saints
15 (61) Miami Dolphins
16 (62) Jacksonville Jaguars
17 (65) San Diego Chargers
18 (69) Chicago Bears
19 (73) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
20 (75) Denver Broncos
21 (76) Dallas Cowboys
22 (87) San Francisco 49ers
23 (89) Minnesota Vikings
24 (91) Buffalo Bills
25 (92) Washington Redskins
26 (103) New York Jets
27 (106) Kansas City Chiefs
28 (112) St. Louis Rams
29 (114) Cleveland Browns
30 (116) Oakland Raiders
31 (118) Cincinnati Bengals
32 (119) Detroit Lions

Recall that the "Ultimate Standings" rank 122 teams. So, the 2 teams ranked higher than the Steelers are the Los Angeles Angels and the Carolina Hurricanes while the 3 teams ranked lower than the Lions are the Toronto Maple Leafs, the New York Knicks, and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Being an NFL fan living in Alaska, I don't get to go to games very often. I found it interesting that the Cardinals, Texans, and Seahawks were 8, 9, and 10. I would have thought the Texans would be nearer the bottom 10 than the top 10 and that the Cardinals and Seahawks would be closer to the middle of the pack. (I'm a Seahawks fan.) I also found it interesting that San Diego, Chicago, Denver, and Dallas were in the bottom half of the rankings.

Let the fireworks begin.


Posted by: jayinalaska on 13 Jul 2009

3 replies , Last at 25 Jul 2009, 1:44pm by TomKelso

Re: How the NFL Teams Ranked
by Drunkmonkey :: Tue, 07/21/2009 - 6:47pm

Carolina Hurricanes? I really want to know what they offer that puts them so high. I live in NC, but not near Raleigh, and I can't for the life of me think of any real fans outside of the Raleigh-Durham area.

I'm surprised to see the Jets so far down. Sure they haven't done much lately on the field, but they are trying to get better, what with the trade for Favre last off season, the realization that Mangini sucks as a coach, and the hiring of a top defensive coordinator that didn't force them to dump the entire roster.

The Cardinals are ranked WAY to high. ESPN is taking their one year trick a little too far if they believe that a Super Bowl run is enough to rank them that high. Looking at their off season moves, I feel like the front office hasn't changed one bit, and that's not a good thing.

Re: How the NFL Teams Ranked
by DrewTS (not verified) :: Wed, 07/22/2009 - 3:37pm

I believe these rankings are meant to rate what a fan gets out of the team in relation to the investment they put in. So the number of fans a team has really doesn't come into play. It weighs things like ticket prices, how good the team has been and is expected to be in the near future, the stadium experience... stuff like that.

I honestly have no idea how that relates to the Carolina Hurricanes, because I actively avoid watching hockey. I assume they're probably pretty decent, they have relatively reasonable ticket prices, and the fans that they do have must like them.

As for the Jets, I'm not that surprised that they're ranked somewhat low. They haven't been very good in the recent past. Trying to get better is all well and good, but if they couldn't make the playoffs in a year when the Patriots didn't have Brady, they're not going to win any championships any time soon. And their ticket prices are probably pretty high, and getting higher with the new stadium.

Re: How the NFL Teams Ranked
by TomKelso :: Sat, 07/25/2009 - 1:44pm

From previous versions of this, the rankings are heavily based on responses of those willing to identify themselves as fans. So Drew's assumptions about the Carolina Hurricanes are basically correct. Let's see if Arizona's numbers stay as high if the Cardinals don't play as well this season.

As far as Jay's surprises, San Diego has had stadium issues and threatened moves, front office squabbling, and postseason failings over the past few seasons. Dallas fans are notoriously spoiled, with their own string of playoff flops. Denver has that, and an off-season from Hell. And even when the Bears have been good recently, the overall assumption is that there is much room for improvement -- in a city where the owners are regarded as disingenuous and cheap. The media climate around the Bears has always been curiously negative, based on my living in the city for 15 years.

I'm not blaming it all on the radio guys or papers, either; but the poor relationship colors the way the McCaskeys are perceived, and that comes out in fan attitudes towards the team. The widespread assumption is that an NFL team in Chicago is a "can't fail" operation, and that all they have done is settle for mediocrity.

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