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CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Power Rankings or statistical analysis? Go with my gut


Bengals yardage differential? Tenth in the NFL? Seriously? (US Presswire)  
Bengals yardage differential? Tenth in the NFL? Seriously? (US Presswire)  

Man vs. numbers.

In a world of stat freaks, number geeks, sabermetrics and books that become bestsellers based on dissecting it all, I ask you this: Is any of it more decisive than your own eyes?

We here at CBSSports.com have come up with a way to use data combined with my Power Rankings to try and predict the future for all 32 NFL teams.

Here's what I say to that: Data be damned.

Take a look at some of what we have. The data says the Atlanta Falcons, based on projected yardage differential, won't be as good as I think they will be, which is one of the league's best.

I know the Falcons weren't good in 2010 in terms of yardage differential, but this is a new year. They finished 13-3 last season, despite lacking in that department.

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Some will say they hid their flaws in getting to that mark.

I say they've fixed them this offseason by drafting receiver Julio Jones and signing defensive end Ray Edwards. The number geeks also can't account for what I see as growth of several key young players.

Prisco 1, Stat Geeks 0.

Another thing that stood out to me in the difference of my rankings to the stats comes with the Cincinnati Bengals. I have the Bengals ranked 32nd. You don't need a computer to know that's last in the NFL.

Yet the stat geeks have the Bengals projected to be 10th in yardage differential this season. That means they think the Bengals will be good.

Just as I thought: The computer doesn't have eyes.

You can stick all the data, all the numbers, all the things you want into a computer and run it 500,000 times. There's no way the Cincinnati Bengals can ever be considered the 10th-best team in the NFL.

Prisco 2, Stat Geeks 0.

But enjoy what we have here. The data combined with my Power Rankings should help you get an idea of where teams might finish this season.

Man vs. numbers.

I win. But go ahead and decide for yourself.

You can't replace me with data.

You wouldn't want it anyway. Unlike me, the computer can't read all those nasty e-mails you send or the vile comments you put on the bottom of my Power Rankings every week.

Turnover and yardage differential predictions courtesy of Accuscore.
Accuscore is a company that provides statistical analysis and predictions, forecasting season outcomes based on available data. Accuscore data used above is current through Aug. 29, 2011.

Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.

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