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Sports Then and Now



Underdog Rankings: Rating the Davids and Goliaths of the NFL 2

Posted on October 11, 2009 by John Wingspread Howell
The heroics of David have become symbolic for sports success by teams and players generally seen as having little chance at victory.

The heroics of David have become symbolic for sports success by teams and players generally seen as having little chance at victory.

For those who are the tireless supporters of teams, towns and players who are forever against the odds, it might be helpful to have a formula for ranking underdogs. Normally no analysis is needed to sort the Davids from the Goliaths but what about sorting the Davids from each other?

Our criteria include more than just team statistics. They include demographics and subjective factors related to the market they represent.

First is team history. One point is given for each year since a given team has played in the Super Bowl.  Another point is given for each year since the team has qualified for post-season play. If the team has never advanced that far, points are doubled. For each Super Bowl championship, 10 points are deducted.

Next is market size.  The largest market in the league receives a zero score. In descending order, each smaller market receives a score equal to its numerical rank. For example, New York/New Jersey would receive zero, Green Bay would receive 32, Buffalo 31, Jacksonville 30, and so on.

Next is the overall degree of sports dominance in the respective markets. For instance, Boston has had world championships in professional basketball, baseball and football multiple times in its history and in all three sports within the past five years. Therefore, 10 points would be deducted from Boston’s score for each world championship the city has had within the past decade and one point for each championship in previous decades.
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