Power rankings are a fickle thing and will change week to week in huge swings largely reflective of the individual biases of the persons releasing them. They are also enormously subjective and don't necessarily account for the myriad of permutations, calculations, perhaps misused word-ations that they probably should.
Some crazy folks do try to account for all those things, and my hat's off to them. Statistics are cold and unbiased. As a result, they are free from subjective biases and error and better reflect what happens on a field than, say, Pete Prisco.
Football Outsiders releases weekly their complicated statistical DVOA -- or Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. The VOA, or Value Over Average measures each individual NFL play against similar situations to determine the success of that play. It should be noted that the newest ranking do not take into account the "D" part of DVOA, or defense-adjusted. These ranking do not take into consideration strength or weakness of schedule.
With that said, on to the Week 4 DVOA rankings!
The Washington Redskins enjoyed the greatest increase in their ranking of any team, jumping 8 spots from 21st to 13th. New Orleans was 2nd, jumping 6 spots (from 11th to 5th). My gut reaction is that whatever team happens to play the Texans will enjoy a large or the largest jump per week, though this isn't necessarily true since Houston isn't even the worst, or 2nd worst team in VOA rating. Oakland and Tennessee enjoy those laurels.
Amazingly, if playoff berths were handed out by Football Outsiders, the Redskins would currently have the 2nd NFC Wild Card spot. This will likely change as soon as they include the Defense-adjusted aspect as the Houston Texans are unquestionably the worst defensive team in the league according to the DVOA ranking. Over twice as bad as the 31st ranked Titans.
They also have a new rating called DAVE (DVOA Adjusted for Variation Early).
I think it is trying to correct for early season variation. Obviously this rating aids the Redskins even more, as our team is playing well below early season expectations: 4th in NFC, 11th in the NFL. I tend to favor the first ranking, as it is based off of actual preformance as opposed to early season perceptions, but there are legitimate reasons to think that the Redskins are doing better than their record suggests. Key injuries, namely to Clinton Portis and Shawn Springs, have hampered the Skins severely. Most teams must suffer injury hiccups, but few have played the first two weeks without their starting RB. Shawn Springs untimely injury happened to occur at the position we were weakest in, depth-wise. His absence has limited our ability to blitz thus throwing off Gregg Williams' entire gameplan. This combined with virtually no push by our front four has given opposing QBs far too much time to heave the pigskin.
In any event, I'll be bringing you frequent updates on the DVOA rankings at Football Outsiders, as they are an excellent measure of how good a team is minus all the bias or human error. Mostly I like them because they had Washington ranked much higher than anyone else at the end of last year (7th overall, 4th best Defense).
Question readers: Are the Washington Redskins better or worse than the Football Outsiders' current ranking?