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2020 NFL Power Rankings: The First Quarter

Teams ranked from 32-1 now that every team has played four games.

Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Traditional power rankings overreact to one HUGE WIN and one sad (!) loss. Rarely do they take in account the entire season. To give a more accurate representation of what’s going on, and where these teams currently stand, I will not equivocate or give into the yank of heartstrings the NFL season brings week to week.

Instead of living with such a short memory, here’s where all 32 teams rank after the first quarter of the 2020 NFL season.

THE WORST

32.) New York Jets—Record: 0-5. Point Differential: -86 (32). DVOA: -34.1% (32). Previously 27th.

The Jets are the worst team in the league. Everyone knows this. Riveting stuff. Last week’s Joe Flacco’s appearance looked to be the bottom, then they released Le’Veon Bell, and ate the $6 million dead hit cap after failing to get anything for him. How hard could it have been to give him a couple of decent screen passes, feed him 20 carries, and try to market him a little bit? Impossible. Whenever you think it can’t get worse it does. And it’s going to for New York.

Pray for Sam Darnold.

31.) New York Giants—Record: 0-5. Point Differential: -52 (30). DVOA: -28.5.% (29). Previously 30th.

The Giants are the Jets’ dizygotic twin of crappy football. At least they give a damn some. They have a fun run stopping defensive line, James Bradberry has been pretty good, and they pulled out every play they had to try and beat Dallas. It sucks that fake field goal touchdown pass was called off.

The worst part of his team is the lack of deep passing. Where’s your vertical deep passing offense Jason Garrett? Daniel Jones had thrown 7 passes over 20 yards entering the Dallas game. He completed 5 of them for 117 yards and 1 touchdown. He was 1 for 2 for 39 yards against Dallas’s piss defense. Cool.

30.) Washington Football Team—Record: 1-4. Point Differential: -53 (31). DVOA: -23.8% (28). Previously 32nd.

I want Dwayne Haskins to be good. He seems like a great guy, like he really cares, like he really wants to be really good, but the accuracy isn’t there, and the athleticism isn’t there either to expect for some future mystical potential to ever arrive. Hopefully he can carve out a cozy career as a backup. Geno Smith, Robert Griffith III, and even Kyle Allen all look pretty happy.

The only thing that matters is the defensive line. They’re already incredible. There’s no sitting and waiting. They’re a great linebacker group, and passable corners away from a top defense, then, from there, everything else will be easy.

I also hope they don’t every come up with a team name. I love saying football team. The football team is good. It’s like saying mom, or dad, or girlfriend. I love it.

29.) Denver BroncosRecord: 1-3. Point Differential: -16 (21). DVOA: -32.2% (31). Previously 18th.

Sometimes the season knocks your teeth out before you even get a chance to smile. Injuries derailed the Denver Broncos this season. Von Miller, A.J. Bouye, Courtland Sutton, and Mark Barron are all on injured reserve. It started with Miller, and from there, everything fell apart. They can’t rush the passer. And their backup quarterback play has been worse than expected.

It’s sour and sweet. Drew Lock still couldn’t throw the deep ball before he was hurt. Living underneath ten yards. Blah. He’ll get some more chances here pretty soon to make a case for himself for next year. The good news is their skill players are better than even the heaviest Coors Original drinkers thought they’d be. The skeleton is here for a great offense. They just need a quarterback. And they can always add defensive talent in free agency to give their old defense the boost it needs.

28.) Cincinnati Bengals—Record: 1-3-1. Point Differential: -24 (24). DVOA: -21.1% (27). Previously 26th.

Joe Burrow can do everything, but throw the ball deep. It’s a shame. He checks every other skill at the quarterback position. There’s this one hole. Maybe he’ll figure it out like Josh Allen figured it out, utilizing touch passes like Tom Brady, instead of lasers that turn receivers into goop. If he can’t, he’ll be Alex Smith. If he can, he’ll be, I don’t know, really good.

Carl Lawson is having a great year too. I love watching him long arm. It’s a shame D.J. Reader is out for the year, it’s always a fun 40 minutes hunched over in front of the computer watching him stuff the run. As a former fat guy who had trouble fitting in clothes, I always feel bad for the fat guys who have to wear tiger print. At least they’re paid millions for it.

27.) Detroit Lions—Record: 1-3. Point Differential: -28 (25). DVOA: -11.5% (24). Previously 25th.

Can we have Roger Goodell to sign an executive order to have Adrian Peterson moved to New York (J)? He still is kind of fun to watch, the fact that he’s 35 and still spinning around linebackers to the tune of 4.5 yards a carry is hilarious. But him getting 54 carries should be a prison sentence. In New York (J), he could do the same thing, with Frank Gore backing him up, the nursing home equivalent of NBA JAM, and it would be enjoyable, rather than drag down an offense that should be better. Give the ball to Kerryon Johnson and D’Andre Swift, who have 33 carries for 93 yards, and are younger than 23 years old.

I have no idea what happened to Darrell Bevell’s offense from last season. It’s not as vertical. Criss cross. They’re running it too much. It probably has to do with whatever the idea Matt Patricia has in his head of what winning football looks like. This idea doesn’t exist, because this idea includes Bill Belichick.

It’s also hilarious when teams like Detroit, invest in their front seven to stop the run, because they are going to be a tough and physical football team, and play the game the right way, and then they end up giving up 5.2 yards a carry (29th) and have a run defense DVOA of 14.1% (31st). Patricia just needs a little bit more time to get his guys in here! I’m sure. The problem is they all play in Miami now.

26.) Jacksonville Jaguars—Record: 1-4. Point Differential: -38 (28). DVOA: -17.1% (26). Previously 31st.

Gardner Minshew isn’t the problem. Their offense has been effective, well designed, well executed, and really a joy to watch. Jay Gruden’s west coast offense filled with open crossing patterns, and manufactured deep shots has been great, paired with a zone run scheme that has gotten the most out of their offensive line.

This is what happens when you shed the entirety of an all-time great defense and rebuild. They have the worst pass rush in football composed only of Josh Allen. Their front seven is built entirely around Myles Jack, who’s been great now that he no longer has to play middle linebacker thanks to the Joe Schobert signing. And their bad cornerbacks are all hurt. They’re last in net yard per attempt and defensive DVOA. It’s so bad that even the Houston Texans were able to put up 30 on them.

25.) Philadelphia Eagles—Record: 1-3-1. Point Differential: -32 (27). DVOA: -30.0% (30). Previously 15th.

Doug Pederson is at his best when he’s playing Survivor Man. Salvaging the wreckage. Sifting through rubble. He can turn a magnum condom, a microscope slide, and two Popsicle sticks into a submarine. Travis Fulgam, John Hightower, Richard Rogers, Deontay Burnett. You don’t know these names. Even Greg Ward is a stalwart of this offense now.

Carson Wentz has thrown 9 interceptions. He’s entered the Jameis Winston zone. He’s struggling finding the balance between making plays happen behind a terrible offensive line with parking lot skill players, and knowing when to throw the ball away and live for another day. It’s fun rooting for him to throw another one. He has 11 games to throw 21 more. I believe in him. I know he can do it. It’s almost like the universe itself is goading him into it.

The defensive line is still good enough. The division is still stupid. I can’t believe it’s going to come down to week 16 against Dallas all over again.

24.) Atlanta Falcons—Record: 0-5. Point Differential: -39 (29). DVOA: -15.5% (25). Previously 16th.

When the Falcons blow their nose their brains come shooting out. After two disastrous losses, games they were up by two plus possessions in, the 28-3 stink has been washed out. While they’re at it they should brighten up their turf. It’s so gray. A home Falcons game is like watching Nick at Night. Getting Julio Jones back should add some color to their life.

At 0-5, they could become the team to tank for Trevor. Then Matt Ryan could move to Denver (John Elway loves veteran quarterbacks), or San Francisco, like a divorced dad who finds a new middle management job in Omaha, after not being able to stand Oklahoma City anymore.

THE MEDIOCRE

23.) Houston Texans—Record: 1-4. Point Differential: -30 (26). DVOA: 2.1% (13). Previously 14th.

The Texans shouldn’t have started 0-4, but they did, and they’re better for it in the long run. Bill O’Brien sucked so much. They’re the best 0-4 team I’ve ever seen, and I turn 37 this year. The rest of the season will be fun. Big Dog shirts with the sleeves cut off. Chili for breakfast, dinner, and lunch. Live, laugh, love being a Texans fan again. The only thing worth caring about is if former non Bill O’Brien guys get some playing time and Deshaun Watson throwing the ball downfield.

22.) Miami Dolphins—Record: 2-3. Point Differential: +23 (11). DVOA: 2.5% (12). Previously 28th.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is good enough. Brian Flores added enough of his guys to his defense, and by going from inept to acceptable, the defense has made the jump from worst in the league to below average. The numbers are wonky though. Don’t trust them. Last week’s win over San Francisco was a lot of go routes against Brian Allen, who allowed 5 catches on 6 targets for 124 yards, and Jamar Taylor, who allowed an easy 70 yard reception. Football can be as complicated as landing on the moon; it can also be as simple as throwing the ball far against bad players.

21.) Los Angeles Chargers—Record: 1-4. Point Differential: -15 (20). DVOA: -6.3% (22). Previously 24th.

Justin Herbert is a complete CHAD. Play the highlights. Nothing else matters, not even Joey Bosa and Jerry Tillery pass rushes, or Linval Joseph two gapping, or Desmond King leg sweeping tackles, or esoteric cover three language, or Mike Williams one handed catches where he goes flying out of the windshield, or Keenan Allen hitches at the break point. Herbert is the best one-two year starter in the league right now.

20.) Minnesota Vikings—Record: 1-4. Point Differential: -20 (23). DVOA: 6.5% (11). Previously 11th.

The offense has taken off now that Gary Kubiak has realized what everyone knew, Justin Jefferson is really good. Like the Jaguars, they’ve turned over the entirety of the defense, and the results have been worst than expected. Great coaching can only get you so far. Talent is money.

19.) Dallas Cowboys—Record: 2-3. Point Differential: -17 (22). DVOA: -1.3% (16). Previously 5th.

Everything this team does has to be stupid. Nothing can ever be easy. Maybe this is the result of every season being SUPERBOWL or bust. Dallas will never allow themselves to be pleasantly surprised.

They could be 0-5. They could be 4-1. They’ve played horrendous defense and have turned the ball over too often. The skill player collection is the best in the league though. It’s so good that Andy Dalton can get top ten offensive production of them. The one concern is Dalton goes as far as the rest of the offense can take him. He doesn’t lift. He rides. And the Cowboys’ offensive line is a wreck composed of three tackles and a center on the injured reserve. At least Zach Martin and Connor Williams are still here. Dalton has struggled playing behind bad offensive lines before.

18.) Carolina PanthersRecord: 3-2. Point Differential: +4 (16). DVOA: 0.1% (14). Previously 29th.

Personally, I was ecstatic for this offense this year. Joe Brady. Great crossing pattern running receivers. Christian McCaffrey. And Teddy Bridgewater back as a starting quarterback. So far he’s proved he’s more than good enough, and that last year in New Orleans was the result of managing, instead of leading. He did it. New Orleans went 5-0 in Drew Brees’s absence. And even up against a tough schedule Carolina is 3-2 and playing great offensive football.

They can’t stop the run at all though. Any team that realizes this can run them out of the stadium. See Las Vegas week one. See Atlanta last week when they actually ran the ball. They love to play nickle with Tahir Whitehead as one of their box linebackers, the defensive line is young and has plenty of welcome to the NFL moments.

It feels like they’re a year of maturation and a free agency face lift away from the defense being good enough. Hopefully Joe Brady stays for one more season, so they can give this thing an honest go at it.

17.) San Francisco 49ers—Record: 2-3. Point Differential: +10 (12). DVOA: -1.8% (17). Previously 9th.

Check out their injured reserve: Solomon Thomas, Richard Sherman, Deebo Samuel, Jalen Hurd, Tevin Coleman, Nick Bosa, and Tavon Austin. Starting center Weston Richburg is on the PUP list. And Dee Ford, Dre Greenlaw, George Kittle, and Raheem Mostert are all either injured or have missed time.

Jimmy Garoppolo is a fine quarterback. He doesn’t make his team better. He’s a gear turning with the other gears, he just happens to be the biggest gear. They have the toughest remaining schedule with games against Los Angeles (R), New England, Seattle, Green Bay, New Orleans, Buffalo, Dallas, and Arizona. He isn’t carrying this corpse anywhere.

Head throbbing. They’re at the just swallowed two Alieve stage of their hangover. Sometimes you only get one chance to make the big throw.

PLAYOFFS?

16.) Chicago Bears—Record: 4-1. Point Differential: +5 (T-15). DVOA: -7.4% (23). Previously 23rd.

Nick Foles is a demon, he’s an Archon, like the Judge from Blood Meridian, some gnostic source of evil that has been around since the Earth has been created. The love of cloth is a forked tongue lie. Everyone talks about what’s in between Foles’s legs, but I want to know what’s above his rear. I guarantee you there’s a tail writhing around back there. I want to see the hoofed feet hidden under those socks. It’s the only thing that can explain how he can get away with terrible throw after terrible throw with zero repercussions, and grind his way to some absurd win.

The defense is great again. They’re record is overblown. Hopefully light wins and their performance matches their record eventually.

15.) Cleveland Browns—Record: 4-1 Point Differential: +7 (13). DVOA: -1.9% (18). Previously 20th.

Baker Mayfield can roll right, he can roll left, but he can’t win from the pocket. He sees the game too late. He’s too afraid of pressure, even playing behind a top tier offensive line. It hasn’t mattered just yet, since their outside zone game has been among the league’s best, and their receivers have made up for Mayfield’s mistakes. Nearly every Odell Beckham Jr. catch is a catch of the year candidate.

Like Chicago, I don’t trust them.

14.) Las Vegas Raiders—Record: 3-2. Point Differential: -1 (18). DVOA: -3.5% (21). Previously 21st.

The Raiders have one of the best offenses in the league when their speed receivers are healthy, and they can run their play action vertical passing game. This, in addition to a near pick six, were why they put 40 on Kansas City last week. Jon Gruden has been masterful calling games and designing these plays.

Similar to Carolina, the defense is horrendous. Cory Littleton isn’t close to the player he was in Los Angeles. Maxxx Crosby is there, and Clelin Ferrel is getting there. The safety play is pretty good. But they don’t have acceptable at too many positions.

Still, with this offense, they can play keep away and shorten the game. The defense is less of a problem than it would be for other teams.

13.) Arizona Cardinals—Record: 3-2. Point Differential: +26 (10). DVOA: -2.0% (19). Previously 17th.

Arizona should have gone 4-1 or 5-0 to start the year. Kyler Murray was hungover against Detroit, and Arizona is the only team that can’t run the ball against Carolina. The offense still isn’t as advertised. It’s DeAndre Hopkins outs and curls and that’s about it. They need to get others involved. They can only run the ball on pitch plays and the offensive run blocking has been disastrous. These are easy problems to fix though.

3-2 is fine, but the schedule was easy, and they blew an enormous opportunity by hiccing up.

12.) Los Angeles Rams—Record: 4-1. Point Differential: +46 (3). DVOA: 25.5% (4). Previously 22nd.

They can always beat teams with bad linebacker play, and nearly every game on their schedule has provided that. I still don’t entirely buy their pass defense. If it’s real, than they are.

11.) New England Patriots—Record: 2-2. Point Differential: +5 (T-15). DVOA: -2.3% (20). Previously 13th.

They lost one game because they tried to run the ball at the goal line against Seattle, a team who should have run the ball at the goal line against them in February 2015, and another because of Brian Hoyer. Cam Newton is healthy. He can play the power run quarterback, and New England can screw with fronts because they can run the outside zone as well, never allowing teams to feel certain about their run fits. Everything is better than it could have been, even despite dealing with COVID-19.

10.) Indianapolis Colts—Record: 3-2. Point Differential: +38 (5). DVOA: 23.7% (7). Previously 12th.

They’re similar to Cleveland, in the sense they win with, not because of their quarterback. Philip Rivers is better than Baker Mayfield, even if Rivers killed them with a pick six, an intentional grounding call in his own endzone, and another interception. These plays aren’t going away. They’re here for ever.

The defense doesn’t have a hole though. They have competent players at every position. Great coaches can scheme open throws against them, but it’s hard to do it over 55 plays. And when Rivers isn’t hilarious, the offense creates easy throws, and the run game has too much talent to not be better.

9.) New Orleans Saints—Record: 3-2. Point Differential: +3 (17). DVOA: 18.4% (8). Previously 3rd.

The Saints have the best roster when you put your finger over the quarterback position. Drew Brees wins with his brain and throwing less than fifteen yards, and Michael Thomas will be back after this week’s bye. If he doesn’t get better with his arrival, could we see a [NAME REDACTED]-Peyton Manning situation with him and Jameis?

WE SHOULD BE CONTENDERS

8.) Pittsburgh Steelers—Record: 4-0. Point Differential: +31 (8). DVOA: 16.5% (10). Previously 8th.

The best unit in the league is Pittsburgh’s front. They create so many negative plays, and throwing the ball against them is like disarming a bomb while driving into oncoming traffic. If the quarterback can hold on long enough intermediate and deep shots can be found. Usually they can’t. Usually this ends in broken bones and smushed skulls.

I like this version of Big Ben. He’s drunk and fat and eating hot dogs and playing cornhole in his backyard. The arm isn’t there. He moves the ball telepathically in Pittsburgh’s quick passing offense. He’s like a dumber version of 2014 Peyton, but with the ability to escape the pocket like an elephant with 17 tranquilizers in its side.

It will be interesting to see if his downfield throwing ability improves. If he’s just testing the waters. Figuring out how to play football again. If so, this team can hit the championship contender level of performance in a league lacking a truly dominant team.

7.) Tennessee Titans—Record: 4-0. Point Differential: +32 (7). DVOA: -1.1% (15). Previously 6th.

They finally beat a team by a lot of points after three stupid one score games. COVID-19 picked the wrong team to try and tear apart. You can’t hinder this team, not with Mike Vrabel, the ultimate leader of men.

The offense has maintained their same redzone production somehow because Arthur Smith has found IT, whatever IT is, something no one has ever found before. I’m still waiting for Jadeveon Clowney to be in football shape.

6.) Buffalo Bills—Record: 4-1. Point Differential: -3 (19). DVOA: 17.5% (9). Previously 10th.

Josh Allen did it. He turned from an all-time entertaining quarterback into a great quarterback, playing at a similar level as Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers to start this season. Not even, I, lover of this cantaloupe picker, could imagine this.

The injuries to Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds really hurt this defense, and they need to get more out of their defensive line—they’ve only had one really good game, and it was against Vegas two weeks ago. The defense is going to get better, and even if it doesn’t get that much better, the offense can more than make up for it.

5.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Record: 3-2. Point Differential: +27 (9). DVOA: 26.4% (2). Previously 4th.

The Buccaneers is more enjoyable than I thought they’d be entering this season. They have five running backs they have no idea what to do with, an incredible and aggressive defense that blitzes more than any team in the league, Tom Brady touch passes, play action from heavy formations, and this version of Brady is human. He’s more endearing. He’s not an android. He dyes his hair chestnut and can’t throw to the sideline.

I also like how coordinated their jersey numbers are. Wide receivers wear 10s. Safeties wear 30s. Guards wear 60s. Tackles wear 60s. Tight ends wear 80s. Defensive linemen wear 90s.

4.) Green Bay Packers—Record: 4-0. Point Differential: +51 (2). DVOA: 23.7% (6). Previously 19th.

Matt LaFleur made the leap. The offense has been spectacular and efficient this season. Focusing more on deep passing, play action, and pre-snap motion. Everything else is the same. LaFleur found another level. That’s the difference in Green Bay this year.

3.) Seattle Seahawks—Record: 5-0. Point Differential: +34 (6). DVOA: 25.7% (3). Previously 7th.

Russell Wilson should have been the MVP last season. He’s going to win it this season. He’s the best quarterback in the league, and does more with less than any quarterback in the game, and their entire roster is based around his ability to win without great pass protection, make plays on the move, and throw the ball downfield. They’ve won four one possession games. Regression to the mean is a lie Bill Barnwell told to you to sell podcast ads to trim your pubic hair with.

2.) Baltimore Ravens—Record: 4-1. Point Differential: +73 (1). DVOA: 33.9% (1). Previously 2nd.

The run game is getting there. Until it does, it’s hard to figure out what this offense is. Lamar Jackson has stagnated as a pure passer, even with the receiver options they have. The defense, special teams, and coaching is among the league’s best. They’ve only crushed bad teams so far, but great teams crush bad teams, and for a team that’s 16-2 in their last 18 games they get the benefit of the doubt. We’ll know more about their run game in three weeks when they have to play Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, New England, and Tennessee.

1.) Kansas City Chiefs—Record: 4-1. Point Differential: +39 (4). DVOA: 25.4% (5). Previously 1st.

Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback in the league, playing the most important position, carrying the most important aspect of the game, and at the end of the day, that’s really what matters.

DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Chase Young

OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Justin Herbert

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Alvin Kamara

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Myles Garrett

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Cam Newton

MVP: Russell Wilson

COORDINATOR OF THE YEAR: Brian Daboll

COACH OF THE YEAR: Matt LaFleur

EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR: Brett Veach