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2017 NFL Power Rankings At The Quarter Pole: Part Two

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Matt Weston ranks the NFL teams 16-1 through the first four weeks of the season.

Washington Redskins v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

Click here for Part One.

I don’t like traditional power rankings. They overreact to one HUGE win and one SAD! loss. Rarely do they take in account the entire season or even the last few weeks. To give a more accurate representation of what’s going on and where these teams stand, I will not equivocate or give into the quick tug of heartstrings the NFL season brings by default. Here’s my opinion on where these teams stand through the first four weeks of the season.

Playoffs?

16.) Tennessee Titans- Record: 2-2. Point Differential: -26 (26). DVOA: 3.8% (17).

Phew. That loss to Houston was the reason why Davy Crockett moved to Texas. It didn’t have anything to do with him being a sore loser at all. He foresaw that obliteration of all obliterations. As long as Marcus Mariota is healthy, Tennessee’s offense will be great. But man, that secondary is shoddy. There are two different corners who play substantial time, Leshaun Sims and Brice McCain, that quarterbacks can pick on. I love Adoree Jackson, but he , like all rookie cornerbacks not named Jalen Ramsey, need more time. Logan Ryan has been disappointing so far. Overall, they can’t cover when their blitzes don’t get there. They’ll continue to win games as long as the score is close, or they get a lead and can stick to their offense.

15.) Minnesota Vikings- Record: 2-2. Point Differential: +3 (17). DVOA: 11.2% (10).

I miss Sam Bradford. I feel gross writing that. A man who has made millions of dollars by playing mediocre football and being a number one overall draft pick was a great quarterback to start the 2017 season. I miss all those 15 yard crossing routes he throws on time and in stride. It’s magical. They have Case “Eff It, I’m Going Deep” Keenum for now. It’s going to be fascinating to see what happens if Bradford gets healthy and if Teddy Bridgewater can actually play football again.

Linval Joseph is my favorite defensive tackle in the NFL. The arm brace automatically makes each defensive player better. If I ever make enough money to quench my capitalist bloodlust, I’m going to coach a middle school football team, run the outside zone and boot legs, wear a suit every game, and give each member of the front seven an arm brace.

14.) Los Angeles Rams- Record: 3-1. Point Differential: +37 (2). DVOA: 23.4% (3).

It’s amazing what head coaching does. The Rams and Bills are in identical situations. They were talented teams underperforming because their coach believed the game should be played in a certain way instead of the correct way based on the talent at their disposal. Find out what your players do best. Run an offense and defense that maximizes their skills and minimize their weaknesses.

Now Jared Goff is the DVOA leader. Todd Gurley is a superstar again. Wade Phillips was put on this Earth to coach defense. I have them lower than their actual performance because of preconceived notions and sample size.

13.) Buffalo Bills- Record: 3-1. Point Differential: +19 (9). DVOA: 18.4% (6).

Rex Ryan just loooooves a 3-4 defense. His stubornness ruined the Bills’ defense. If they just stayed with the previous administration’s 4-3 with Tygod Taylor and their run scheme, they could have been a Super Bowl contender. Ryan blew it.

Now you see what happens when talent meets coaching. The Bills are first in defensive DVOA. It’s a defense that gets pressure with their front four, covers well in the secondary, tackles well, and masks the weaknesses they have at linebacker. It’s a slightly different version of Carolina.

Really, I stayed up late tonight just so I can post this GIF. With the demise of Philip Rivers, Taylor is my favorite quarterback in the NFL. Him juking out Von Miller is everything.

12.) Carolina Panthers- Record: 3-1. Point Differential: +8 (15). DVOA: 6.8% (16).

They are a weird team. Everything just seems off. I don’t know what’s up with Cam Newton. Christian McCaffrey is Tavon Austin. The defense is great, though. They have the deepest defensive line rotation in the NFL and are constantly swapping them in and out. They have the best coverage linebacker group. They’ll always mash. It’s all going to depend on the offense.

11.) Philadelphia Eagles- Record: 3-1. Point Differential: +11 (14). DVOA: 10.8% (12).

Is Carson Wentz good? I don’t know. He’s one of the worst short area passers I’ve seen. He at least takes shots down field now, but he doesn’t hit them consistently. Yet the best Dakotan not named Chuck Klosterman makes plays and has been able to do enough to win. Philly’s front seven is spectacular. I’m still surprised by the amount of blitzes Jim Schwartz has called this year.

10.) Washington Redskins- Record: 2-2. Point Differential: +2 (18). DVOA: 23.1% (4).

The Devil And Is Kirk Cousins Good Or Not Is Raging Inside Of Me. I’m starting to think he is good. It’s going to be beautiful when he gets franchise-tagged again. Ryan Kerrigan is the most underrated edge rusher in the NFL, and overall, they have the most underrated defense. This front seven can really rush the passer and stop the run.

9.) Atlanta Falcons- Record: 3-1. Point Differential: +15 (T-11). DVOA: 10.7% (13).

The Falcons’ offense was going to be worse this year by default. They needed their defense to step up to bridge this gap. The defense is 22nd in DVOA, up from 26th. Their offense has dropped from 1st to 8th in DVOA. This isn’t good enough. The defense is going to have to be better to not end up on the couch during the playoffs like previous teams that lost the Super Bowl.

The Contenders:

8.) Houston Texans- Record: 2-2. Point Differential: +22 (7). DVOA: 16.6% (7).

“If only the Texans had a quarterback” was the “if only he/she lost 50 lbs.“ of the NFL. Well, the Texans finally had enough and now have a quarterback.

It’s horrifying. I’m beside myself. I don’t know what to do with my hands. J.J. Watt still hasn’t had a box score stuffing, classic game yet. The defense is fourth in DVOA and it just feels like it hasn’t come close to reaching their potential.

7.) Detroit Lions- Record: 3-1. Point Differential: +29 (5). DVOA: 21.7% (5).

The Lions are actually winning games by more than one score! They beat Arizona by 12 and the Giants by 14. A correct late game call stole a win over Atlanta from them, and last week they hung on against Minnesota.

The defense is all turnovers. They have forced 11, tied with Baltimore for first, and they’re first in turnover differential at +9. The quick pass offense hasn’t been super efficient or effective, but it has gotten the job done. I want some more deep tosses to Kenny Golladay so badly. As the season progresses, they will probably fade out from great to a solid playoff team.

6.) Seattle Seahawks- Record: 2-2. Point Differential: +17 (10). DVOA: 8.4% (15).

With Russell Wilson under center, an offensive line isn’t as important. Seattle’s offensive line is bad every year, yet every pass attempt has been a crawl out of the rubble. The biggest difference is they aren’t a top ten running team anymore. Since Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls’ wing-melting season, they haven’t had a back who can break enough tackles to make up for the offensive line issues. If Rawls can get back to his pre-broken ankle form, or if Eddy Lacy can look like a different Eddy Lacy, this offense will be capable. If not, it will continue to be middling, and Seattle will be very good, not great.

5.) Denver Broncos- Record: 3-1. Point Differential: +24 (6). DVOA: 9.2% (14).

One of the narratives entering this season was that the Broncos’ defense can’t be great forever. Well, it’s great again this season, and it’s great in a flip-flopped way. Previous seasons, their pass defense was the best in the NFL, flirting with the greatest of all time label. This season they are 13th in pass defense DVOA and first in rush defense DVOA. Strange times we are living in. What’s going to happen next? A good Blade Runner movie comes out?

I also love me some damn Trevor Siemian. He’s the best version of a limited athletic quarterback you can have. He’s the pinnacle of game managing quarterbacks like Brian Hoyer. I don’t want to see anyone get injured. But I really want to see [Name Redacted] on the field in Denver sometime this year in a perverse way. Hopefully, Siemian has a kid or gets the flue. We all need to see [Name Redacted] have a terrible start in a different set of colors.

4.) Green Bay Packers- Record: 3-1. Point Differential: +21 (8). DVOA: 11.0% (11).

The NFC is weak this year. The best teams in the conference, the Rams and Lions, still don’t have enough of a track record to go all in on. Aaron Rodgers is still here. He’s still incredible.

3.) Pittsburgh Steelers- Record: 3-1. Point Differential: +31 (4) DVOA: 29.8% (2).

Shoutout to all the other Le’Veon Bell fantasy owners who finally had a great Bell game. David DeCastro is the best guard in the NFL now that Marshall Yanda is out for the year. He makes blocks in the screen game that make your brain melt. It still feels like this team hasn’t completely clicked yet either and still is a top five squad. It’s strange that Ben Roethlisberger and his big dumb bowling ball head is the biggest question mark on a stacked team.

2.) New England Patriots- Record: 2-2. Point Differential: +1 (19). DVOA: -2.5% (22).

By DVOA, the Pats have the worst defense in the NFL. Their front seven is soft and malleable. They can’t get a pass rush. I don’t know why Kony Ealy didn’t fit in here. Stephon Gilmore is overrated and New England is probably going to end up regretting that contract if they don’t already. It’s surprising the amount of Cover Three they have played, especially when their inside linebackers aren’t good enough to cover the center of the field and they can’t get a pass rush. I’m sure Bill Belichick will eventually make this defense work with some barbershop hair and stray squirrel tails, and they’ll add more talent somehow someway. It will end up being the 16th best defense, which is more than good enough.

But whatever. Tom Brady is having one of the best seasons of his career. This version of him has him throwing a lot more deep passes, which is fun. Their running backs are fun and offer a variety of different skills. I’m sick and tired of Chris Hogan taking touchdowns away from Mike Gillislee.

1.) Kansas City Chiefs- Record: 4-0. Point Differential: +45 (1). DVOA: 43.3% (1).

Andy Reid’s offense is the ultimate conclusion of all those years of screen passes, quick passes, options, zone reads, shovel passes, and pitches to get the most out of his team with Alex Smith at point guard. It’s now evolved into its final form. It really is amazing what Reid has done to put his speedy skill players in space to get the most out of his players.

Kareem Hunt is amazing. He may run for 2,000 yards this season. He is first in DVOA at 56.1%. Jamaal Charles is second at 28.5%. Hunt is first in DYAR with 171. Donta Freeman is second with 82. That’s absurd. Watching Hunt play hurts my brain.

The Chiefs have been the best team. They have played a tough schedule, and they have blown the roof off the beginning of the season.

They are 100% going to lose in the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs again.