clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2017 NFL Power Rankings: Halfway Home

Matt Weston ranks the NFL teams 32-1 through the first eight games of the season.

Denver Broncos v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

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 eight games of the season.

The Worst:

32.) Cleveland Browns—Record: 0-8. Point Differential: -83 (30). DVOA: -33.4.% (32). Previous (32).

According to Football Outsiders the Browns have a 54.9% chance to get the first pick in the NFL draft. They also have the Texans’ first round pick, which currently has a 13.3% chance to be a top five pick. In the second round they have three picks, Houston’s, Philadelphia’s, and their own. They should have been better this year than they were, but they are still a box of multi-colored puppies. Next year they are going to give birth to another enormous litter. As bad as they have been, it doesn’t matter.

31.) Indianapolis Colts—Record: 3-6. Point Differential: -98 (32). DVOA: -28.7% (30). Previous (31).

Quarterbacks are the most precious resource in the NFL, and they should all be cherished. The colossal reason for bad football is bad quarterback play. The Colts took a generational talent and ruined him with a bad offensive line that splattered his guts, and partnered him with a geriatric roster. A report came out that his shoulder is mangled because he played through it when he should have had surgery years ago. Jim Irsay says he’s having a drag and it’s all in his head, but I know deep down he thinks Luck injured it from Werewolf hunting. I hate the Colts. They are banal. Their jerseys are bad. They may have forever ruined Andrew Luck.

30.) San Francisco 49ers—Record: 0-9. Point Differential: -96 (31). DVOA: -28.4% (29). Previous (27).

Quick! Say something interesting about the San Francisco 49ers. Like apologies, I bet you have none. That’s right. They traded for Jimmy G!. The Pats botched that entire situation. You know some team would have given them a first this summer after they drank a bottle of scotch and watched all 63 of his passing attempts from last year. Instead they sat on him, and were forced to make a move because they couldn’t franchise tag him. Oh well. At least now there is a reason to watch the 49ers.

29.) New York Giants- Record: 1-7. Point Differential: -78 (29). DVOA: -26.2% (28). Previous (25).

Ben McAdoo is going to be the first coach fired. They are going to have a top five pick. I still can’t believe they are as bad as they are. They may draft a quarterback with Eli Manning being an average 36 year old quarterback. I’ve been dying for either Phillip Rivers, Drew Brees, or Tom Brady, to play for another team and look dumb as hell in different colors. Now, I’m hoping it will be Eli. I would love to see him in Jacksonville teal, pasty and sunburn with a little plastic shovel.

28.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Record: 2-6. Point Differential: -40 (25). DVOA: -21.8% (25). Previous (20).

This has been the best thing to come out of this insane, parity driven, 2017 season.

For the Bucs to not make the playoffs this year, and be this bad, with the investments they made, and the shoddy play engulfing the league, everyone making personnel decisions should be gone. It’s also time to be worried about Jameis Winston. If you try to eat a ‘W’ or lick the color orange, you may not be smart enough to read a zone blitz.

25.) Houston Texans- Record: 3-5. Point Differential: +21 (12). DVOA: 9.4% (12). Previous (8).

If it wasn’t for my undying love to waste my life writing about football for this site, and my love for hair of the dog, and Battle Red Radio, I would be living a more productive enjoyable life. I would be reading books, camping every weekend, finishing a collection a short stories, going back to school. Damn. That sounds so much better than watching Tom Savage for eight more weeks, and a defense that can stop the run, but will never be able to because their pass defense a colander. There are an infinite number of realities out there, and the one I am writing this article in is the worst one.

26.) Miami Dolphins—Record: 4-4. Point Differential: -63 (28). DVOA: -28.9% (31). Previous (30).

They are back on their bulls—. After being the team primed to regress this year, they are still holding on. They are 4-1 in one possession games. Their average loss is by 19.25 points. Their expected win loss record is 2.1-5.9. I can’t believe they are going to steal a playoff spot from a fun team like the Bills, and allow Kansas City to walk into the divisional round.

27.) Chicago Bears—Record: 3-5. Point Differential: -37 (25). DVOA: -23.2% (26). Previous (28).

The Bears are a lot of fun. Tarik Cohen is a red laser in humanoid form. Their offensive line is solid. Jordan Howard isn’t on my fantasy team so I still like him. The defense is commendable. But the best part by far are the Mitch Trubisky box scores. I mean just take a look at this. Put that Carolina one into orbit to show the aliens there is beauty on this planet.

The Mediocre:

24.) New York Jets—Record: 4-5. Point Differential: -16 (21). DVOA: -15.8% (24). Previous (26).

The Jets are the most surprising fun team in the NFL. Everyone thought they were going to go 2-14 and draft Sam Darnold. Life is always more interesting than the predictions we come up with. Instead they have a fun young defense: Leonard Williams, Kony Ealy, Darron Lee, Demario Davis, Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, and an offense that stars the silliest quarterback of all time, Josh McCown, who somehow has more fantasy points than Marcus Mariota this year.

As great as tanking sounds on paper, it doesn’t look like fun. I’d rather be a Jets fan watching this team march their way to a 12th overall pick, than the Browns every Sunday. This defense is something that can be great if they upgrade at the cornerback position, and then like always, they will just be a quarterback away.

23.) Cincinnati Bengals—Record: 3-5. Point Differential: -29 (24). DVOA: -8.8% (23). Previous (22).

The Bengals are never going to happen. Burn the ship. Raze the crops. Slaughter the innocent. Let’s move on.

22.) Los Angeles Chargers—Record: 3-5. Point Differential: -2 (T-17). DVOA: -7.6% (21). Previous (29).

Checks the peripheral stats. Looks at the talent on the roster. Stares down at the tattoo on my upper thigh—IGNORE THE CHARGERS.

21.) Arizona Cardinals—Record: 4-4. Point Differential: -62 (27). DVOA: -25.2% (27). Previous (23).

The Cardinals traded for Adrian Peterson. I want them to keep doing things like this. Stop trying to build an androgynous defense that is fluid with eleven athletes that are all positionless. Stop trying to be young and cool. Like the state they play in, the Cardinals should embrace the retirement home. Trade away all the picks. Make this a 30+ year old team filled with 90+ overall players from Madden 2010.

20.) Baltimore Ravens—Record: 4-5. Point Differential: +19 (14). DVOA: 10.5% (10). Previous (24).

Joe Flacco needs to retire. He’s the least valuable player in the NFL. I want the Browns to trade for him so they can buy a first round pick off the Ravens, and then use him to teach young quarterbacks what not to do. Somehow they still play a certain brand of football that works them into at least seven wins every year. This team is going to be like this until 2020 when they can actually get rid of him. I wish Zach Orr was still in the NFL.

19.) Green Bay Packers- Record: 4-4. Point Differential: -10 (19). DVOA: 7.4% (15). Previous (5).

Losing Aaron Rodgers for the season has made the world a darker place. It’s the Daylight Savings equivalent of the NFL. That being said, I don’t feel bad. Packers’ fans should know what the horror that the rest of the league has lived through for so long. They have no idea what reality actually is. This will help them.

18.) Denver Broncos- Record: 3-5. Point Differential: -48 (26). DVOA: -8.7% (22). Previous (4).

The Broncos’ pass defense falling to mediocre is one of the great surprises of this season. They have an average pass rush. Teams are throwing the ball downfield against them, they are 31st in pass defense DVOA against deep passes. It’s all very strange. Although what made them must watch is gone, they still are as long as that giraffe with tape stuck to the bottom of his feet is playing quarterback.

17.) Oakland Raiders—Record: 4-5. Point Differential: -18 (23). DVOA: -3.9% (20). Previous (21).

I don’t understand this team at all this year. But of all the ones who are outside of playoffs right now, and below .500, this is the one with the best odds to wriggle in.


16.) Atlanta Falcons- Record: 4-4. Point Differential: -2 (T-17). DVOA: -2.2% (19). Previous (9).

The Falcons said all the right things, at exactly the right time, to try and convince people they were over last year’s Superbowl loss. That’s not something regarding attitude or something they can control. You don’t get over that in a year. They have been valiant, and have played hard, but in the end they are going to end up 7-9.

15.) Washington Redskins- Record: 4-4. Point Differential: -17 (22). DVOA: 6.2% (16). Previous (10).

They are 4-4. Their entire team is injured. They have gotten nothing out of Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder, or Jordan Reed. They have played the toughest schedule in the NFL up to this point. Based on the circumstances this is as good as it gets.

14.) Detroit Lions- Record: 4-4. Point Differential: +20 (13). DVOA: 10.2% (11). Previous (7).

No team changes as dramatically from one year to another quite like the Lions. Last season they were led by their ability to win one score games. The year before that they were mired in mediocrity. The year before that it was their defensive line. This year it’s their defense, their ability to force turnovers, and Matthew Stafford being a MVP candidate.

13.) Tennessee Titans- Record: 5-3. Point Differential: -12 (20). DVOA: -0.2% (18). Previous (16).

Exotic Methmouth has been to the dentist office for a cleaning this year. Offensive schemes that surprise the league usually work out for a year, and then defenses catch on if the team doesn’t keep evolving. The Titans have. The offense is far from stagnant. They just have to get better in the redzone and throw the ball downfield. These two things are their key to winning the division, and making the playoffs.

12.) Buffalo Bills- Record: 5-3. Point Differential: +25 (11). DVOA: 1.5% (17). Previous (13).

This team tackles well. They play hard. They run the ball. Tyrod Taylor is a joy. There issue is they don’t have any receiving talent. The Kelvin Benjamin trade is going to allow Tygod to throw the ball down the sideline, his best trait as a thrower. The key for them is the ability to hit deep passes. Hopefully, Benjamin can make this happen.

11.) Carolina Panthers- Record: 6-3. Point Differential: +9 (15). DVOA: 8.0% (14). Previous (12).

Cam Newton is having fun playing football again. He’s laughing and dancing. He’s no longer petulant and dour. This is good. Cam having fun and dunking on defenders and running like a thresher through a corn field is a great time. Christian McCaffrey finally did something as a runner, and has broken through the Tavon Auston wall. As long as Luke Kuechly is on the field this team is a contender. I wish his mother was part woodpecker.

10.) Dallas Cowboys—Record: 5-3. Point Differential: +48 (5). DVOA: 14.7% (8). Previous (17).

I have read nothing about the Ezekiel Elliot trial. I read nothing about Deflategate. My life is better for it. But just make up your mind. I think it’s too late. The Buick has sailed. I wish we were talking about Demarcus Lawrence instead.

9.) Jacksonville Jaguars—Record: 5-3. Point Differential: +89 (3). DVOA: 24.9% (4). Previous (19).

Week 17. Jaguars v. Titans. AFC South Championship game. Put it on your calendar folks. It’s finally going to happen. It’s manifest destiny. Both these teams are on a collision course with each other like two toothless degenerates locking eyes on a stained dollar bill from across the parking lot. Hillbilly tailgate. Logan’s Roadhouse in stadium lunch. Country cover band night. I can’t wait to spend my New Year’s Eve in Nashville.

The Contenders:

8.) Seattle Seahawks- Record: 5-3. Point Differential: +40 (8). DVOA: 13.5% (9). Previous (6).

I wish the Seahawks could make things easy. There is so much uncertainty in this NFL season. There are eight actual contenders. The Rams, Vikings, and Saints have been the best teams in the NFC. It’s nice to have some comfort, and some things to be known in a chaotic and absurd universe. The Seahawks could be this. But instead they love to be 5-3 instead of 7-1.

7.) Minnesota Vikings- Record: 6-2. Point Differential: +44 (7). DVOA: 19.2% (6). Previous (15).

I thought I hated football after Watson shredded his knee. But actually, I love it. Teddy Bridgewater is back. Shout out to the losers and haters when he takes the throne from Case Keenum and the Vikings make it to the NFC Title game. I knew this day would come.

6.) Kansas City Chiefs- Record: 6-3. Point Differential: +45 (6). DVOA: 15.2% (7). Previous (1).

It was too good to be true. The Chiefs have lost three of their last four after starting off the season 5-0. It happens. You can’t play that great forever. The offense is still the future of football where every play has multiple options, and stems like a choose your own adventure novel. The skill players are still CrAzY. But the defense has legitimate issues stopping the run after the first level. They are going to lose in the Divisional Round, I guarantee it.

5.) Los Angeles Rams- Record: 6-2. Point Differential: +108 (1). DVOA: 33.0% (1). Previous (14).

This is what happens when you improve your head coach and your quarterback. To go from peak step-dad to millennial head coach has transformed this team and Jared Goff, who has made the biggest leap from rookie year to second season of any quarterback to play the game. I’m happy for him. He was in a terrible offense, behind a gross offensive line, with shoddy skill players, and everyone said he was a bust. Situation and context matters. Also, Wade Phillips should never coach the same defense for two years in a row. He should just go from bad defense to bad defense like a white person on a home-remodeling show.

4.) New England Patriots- Record: 6-2. Point Differential: +37 (9). DVOA: -8.2% (13). Previous (2).

Despite having one of the worst defenses in the league, they are still incredible, and are still 6-2. Nothing is ever going to change. The glaciers will be gone, the poles will flip, cars will be electric, and Tom Brady and the Patriots will still win the AFC East.

3.) Pittsburgh Steelers- Record: 6-2. Point Differential: +36 (10) DVOA: 29.3% (2). Previous (3).

Pittsburgh is the most well rounded team in the AFC.

2.) New Orleans Saints—Record: 6-2. Point Differential: +66 (4). DVOA: 23.8% (5). Previous (18).

The Saints are a Superbowl contender now that they have a defense. They can hold teams to 20 points, they can run the ball to finish games. Drew Brees must be bored as hell not having to score 49 and shoot rockets for them to go 7-9. I bet he hates the way this season is going. He’ll say he’s excited to be chasing a postseason berth, but you know he’d rather be throwing for 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns and going home as soon as the season ends.

1.) Philadelphia Eagles- Record: 8-1. Point Differential: +104 (2). DVOA: 29.2% (3). Previous (11).

I don’t think this Carson Wentz, 30 yards after the catch, and blown coverage touchdown offense is going to work forever. I see them falling off. But it is for now. Him being able to throw downfield has been a revelation. Jim Schwartz learning to love the blitz has been awesome. Jay Ajayi baby breaking 50+ yard touchdown runs is going to be perfect too. The Eagles are the team through the first eight games.

Midseason Awards

MVP: Tom Brady—Quarterback New England Patriots

Offensive Player of the Year: Kareem Hunt—Runningback Kansas City Chiefs

Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald—Defensive Tackle Los Angeles Rams

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Deshaun Watson—Quarterback Houston Texans

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Marshon Lattimore—Cornerback New Orleans Saints

Comeback Player of the Year: Keenan Allen—Wide Receiver Los Angeles Chargers

Superbowl: New Orleans Saints Over New England Patriots