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 half of the 2020 NFL season.
32.) New York Jets—Record: 0-12. Point Differential: -173 (32). DVOA: -33.9% (32). Previously 32nd.
You ate an entire wheel of cheese, crapped in the fridge, gave up a game winning touchdown drive with :35 left because you ran cover zero and sent the house, I’m not even mad, I’m impressed. You have to admire the commitment to the bit. The Jets are the worst team in the league, the worst coached team in the league, have the most insane post-game conferences that are best titled a delegation of denial, and are still only one game up in the tankathon.
The best move the Jets made this year was keeping Adam Gase around. He should have been the first coach fired. He’s one of the worst coaches of all-time. He doesn’t have to purposely lose. He just has to be himself. Their remaining games are against Seattle, Los Angeles (R), Cleveland, and New England. They’re going 0-16.
31.) Jacksonville Jaguars—Record: 1-11. Point Differential: -101 (30). DVOA: -20.4% (28). Previously 30th.
We are at the stage of the season where the Jaguars are starting Luq Barcoo at cornerback, and have Josiah Scott and Greg Mabin rotating at the same position. I’m sure there’s some Jaguars account posting clips on Twitter of how Barcoo is a bright spot for the Jaguars this season, someone who could receive substantial playing time next year, only to be devoured by the Earth and never play again.
I do enjoy how long Mike Glennon’s neck is. Our universe resides in a marble attached to a pendant hanging around it.
30.) Cincinnati Bengals—Record: 2-9-1. Point Differential: -71 (27). DVOA: -27.4% (31). Previously 28th.
The Bengals are such a drag. Even before Joey Buckets tore his entire knee, he was pretty bland. Great accuracy. Nice pocket presence. Great understanding of the game. Watching him was like watching a version of Alex Smith. Fine. Whatever. None of it made me feel anything.
I’m even more disappointed by their defensive line. On paper I couldn’t wait to watch their front four as it rotated six. None of it has mattered much. The only thing this team has left are Carl Lawson long arms, and there is only so much time we have left.
29.) Dallas Cowboys—Record: 3-9. Point Differential: -125 (31). DVOA: -18.9% (27). Previously 31st.
When I think about the 2020 Dallas Cowboys, which is something I hope I never find myself doing, I’ll always think about this image. In a close game against Washington on Thanksgiving they ran the following fake punt. It’s an end around. The Cowboys need ten yards to convert. The ball carrier makes his turn fourteen yards deep into the backfield. He needs 24 yards at this place in time.
Not only was Dallas atrocious, but they were extremely dumb.
28.) Philadelphia Eagles—Record: 3-8-1. Point Differential: -54 (25). DVOA: -17.5% (26). Previously 16th.
The Eagles are 0-4 since we last spoke. Their scheme is bad. Tons of crossing routes, nothing vertical that opens up things underneath, nothing easy, lots of read-pass options Carson Wentz can’t read. Defensive gameplans that do things like leave Darius Slay one v. one against D.K. Metcalf without safety help for an entire game. They can’t block. They can’t run the ball. They don’t have linebackers. The only good thing about this team is their defensive line, but even that doesn’t matter much anymore.
27.) Denver Broncos—Record: 4-8. Point Differential: -95 (29). DVOA: -21.7% (31). Previously 26th.
Drew Lock now joins John Elway’s illustrious school of failed quarterback draft selections, which includes [NAME REDACTED], Zac Dysert, Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, and Chad Kelly. He murders his receivers with insane throws. He walks his way into sacks. He still can’t hit downfield. There’s no point anymore. This is a nice spot for a former veteran quarterback to land. Someone like Case Keenum. Oh, wait, they already tried that.
Their power run game is a blast though. Give me more of that.
26.) Los Angeles Chargers—Record: 3-9. Point Differential: -68 (26). DVOA: -23.4% (30). Previously 19th.
Justin Herbert was pressured 31 times last week. 31 times. The coaching has been insidious this year. Once Anthony Lynn is fired, and the entire organization has been wiped out, this will be the best coaching job available. Herbert is the best one-two year quarterback in the league. He’s better than Kyler Murray. He’s on his rookie contract. They have a nice skill position group. Top defensive talent. They just need an offensive line retool for the second season in a row. Plus, just by winning half of their close games instead of every single one, they’ll see an enormous improvement in their win total.
The Chargers are going to be a playoff team next year. I guarantee it.
25.) Detroit Lions—Record: 5-7. Point Differential: -72 (28). DVOA: -12.7% (25). Previously 24th.
The Lions have a uniform combination that is composed of gray pants and gray top, and it looks exactly like the sweats every middle school athlete receives across our great country, so they can run cross countries in snot dripping comfort before going to Algebra, well, at least that’s how it used to be. These jerseys are the perfect metaphor of the Matt Patricia era. Ugly. Gray. Sweats. Beanbag living. Cheetoh dust nose bleed. Crunchy stains. Lazy. Angry. Indifferent to everything. Everyone else’s fault except for my own.
24.) New York Giants—Record: 5-7. Point Differential: -34 (22). DVOA: -12% (24). Previously 27th.
The Giants are the most overall crappy team in the NFC East. They aren’t terrible at anything. They aren’t good at anything. They’re just kind of crappy at everything. Their run blocking really broke out v. Seattle, who has a fat belly front, the defense is difficult to run on and it feels like they have finally figured out how to play zone defense, and Daniel Jones is back this week. It’s a two horse race between them and Washington.
23.) Houston Texans—Record: 4-8. Point Differential: -35 (23). DVOA: -4.7% (20). Previously 23rd.
I’m proud of Tim Kelly to keep the empty sets going even without Will Fuller, Kenny Stills, and Randall Cobb. Chad Hansen has a game worn jersey he can hang up in office and always think fondly upon. David and Duke Johnson, Jordan Akins, and Kahale Warring are all wide receivers now. It’s vital he keeps this up. The next good Texans team will be built around Deshaun Watson empty sets. That’s the only thing that matters. It’s the only thing we have left.
22.) Atlanta Falcons—Record: 4-8. Point Differential: +9 (15). DVOA: -5.8% (22). Previously 18th.
Oh, look, it’s another second half Atlanta defensive renaissance. Can’t wait until it happens again next year, and the year after that, and the year after that. This has been going on since their Superbowl trip in 2016.
21.) San Francisco 49ers—Record: 5-7. Point Differential: -3 (17). DVOA: 2.0% (14). Previously 22nd.
Nick Mullens is a better version of Dwayne Haskins. They both care a lot, they both try really hard, they both work hard, and because of their commitment you’d like for each one to be good. They aren’t.
Put this in concrete. I don’t think Robert Saleh is a good head coaching candidate in Houston. His defense was based around an all-time pass rushing defensive line, an insane coverage linebacker core, two aspects that make playing cover three and cover four an easy thing to do. He isn’t a scheme master. He hasn’t cracked the code. His defense would be atrocious with what Houston currently has. The talent isn’t here for his defense to work in Houston.
20.) Chicago Bears—Record: 5-7. Point Differential: -38 (24). DVOA: -4.3% (19). Previously 15th.
One of the main subplots of the 2020 season was whether or not the Bears or Browns, both, or neither, would fall off this season. Each team is a big fat phony. It turned out to be the Bears.
19.) Carolina Panthers—Record: 4-8. Point Differential: -20 (20). DVOA: -1.9% (16). Previously 21st.
Carolina is a year away. The schedule was insane. They lost Christian McCaffrey. Their defense is a nursery. Hopefully Joe Brady stays for one more season and they give this thing a real shot next year.
18.) New England Patriots—Record: 6-6. Point Differential: +19 (14). DVOA: -5.1% (21). Previously 25th.
New England found their defense again with wins over Arizona and Los Angeles. I know no one wants to say it, so I’ll say it, Cam Newton is a great guy, he’s wonderful and beautiful, his attitude is infectious, his spirit is everlasting, but he isn’t a good quarterback. His shoulder is mangled. He can’t get anything to the sideline. There’s not an intermediate throw he can consistently hit. The Patriots are a rugby team. They aren’t a football team.
17.) Washington Football Team—Record: 5-7. Point Differential: +4 (16). DVOA: -3.2% (17). Previously 29th.
Washington is 3-1 the last month. They have an easier schedule than the Giants with San Francisco, Seattle, Carolina, and Philadelphia left. They have the best defense in the division. It’s Alex Smith, but slower, and they exist to not be as dumb as the other team. They will probably wins weeks sixteen and seventeen. Seven wins is more than enough to win this stupid division.
16.) Cleveland Browns—Record: 9-3. Point Differential: -15 (19). DVOA: -6.7% (23). Previously 17th.
The Browns are phonies. They won last week because Kevin Stefanski is a better playcaller than Mike Vrabel, they hit wide receivers against linebackers in the slot—throws opened up by their run game—and Breon Borders was Tennessee’s outside starting cornerback. This is their first and only good win. Aside from that, all they’ve done is beat bad teams by close games.
15.) Las Vegas Raiders—Record: 7-5. Point Differential: -24 (21). DVOA: -4.1% (18). Previously 14th.
Derek Carr has never changed, he’s like the 47 year olds who still go to Warped Tour and listen to Coheed and Cambria, shop at Hot Topic, and drive a hearse around. Carr is one of the best quarterbacks in the league when the pocket is comfy and cozy. When there’s pressure he can’t operate. It’s been like this since he was in college. It’s still like this today.
14.) Minnesota Vikings—Record: 6-6. Point Differential: -15 (18). DVOA: -1.3% (15). Previously 20th.
Gary Kubiak has changed so much since his time in Houston. He’s learned the value of having two great wide receivers, instead of merely one great wide receiver. Innovation. Get him a TED Talk. If Jefferson was an integral part of the offense in week one their season might have gone slightly different. Instead they have had to admirably fight back into the postseason.
Mike Zimmer has been incredible at getting this defense back to acceptable, and teaching his young cornerbacks how to play his zone defense, and stay on top of their routes. Erik Kendricks is the best linebacker in the game no one cares about.
13.) Arizona Cardinals—Record: 6-6. Point Differential: +36 (10). DVOA: 2.9% (13). Previously 12th.
Blitz a lot, but don’t generate much pressure. Throw a lot, but their passing game is ineffective. Their best play is a Kyler scramble, but defenses have been better at corralling him. New England did a great job at keeping Kyler in front of them, using arms and length to take away his throwing lanes, and waiting for the rest of the defense to swarm. The Kliff Kingsbury revolution has been a marketing campaign. I’m so tired of DeAndre Hopkins speed out routes.
12.) Indianapolis Colts—Record: 8-4. Point Differential: +55 (9). DVOA: 15.9% (7). Previously 10th.
Tennessee kicked their ass because they lost the majority of their defensive line due to injury and COVIID. Teams can spread them out and pick apart their zone defense some. They are always a bad Philip Rivers throw away from losing. They’re really good, not great. It’s weird how they still can’t run the ball.
11.) Miami Dolphins—Record: 8-4. Point Differential: +91 (4). DVOA: 12.4% (10). Previously 11th.
The most aggressive defense in the league is still riding high. Losing to Denver really hurt them though. They’re going to be a wildcard team. I’m glad its Ryan Fitzpatrick’s team again after Tu’a had his cup of coffee. The future can wait. It’s Fitzpatrick’s time to finally get his own playoff run.
10.) Baltimore Ravens—Record: 7-5. Point Differential: +85 (5). DVOA: 15.4% (8). Previously 3rd.
The Ravens are stuck offensively. Lamar Jackson can’t throw to the sideline. He’s the purple Tetris piece. Greg Roman’s offense can’t evolve because of this. He’s having to run the same plays, the same offense as last year, without his two best offensive linemen, the snake and the lion from his tight end chimera, and a skill position group that has depreciated.
They have an easy remaining schedule. They’ll go on a run and make the postseason. Don’t let this team trick you. They’re underwhelming. This isn’t a contender.
9.) Seattle Seahawks—Record: 8-4. Point Differential: +32 (12). DVOA: 11.5% (11). Previously 4th.
This team is as good as Russell Wilson is. He hasn’t played at a MVP level this past month. And because of that, Seattle is at where they are at.
WE SHOULD BE CONTENDERS
8.) Tennessee Titans—Record: 8-4. Point Differential: +33 (11). DVOA: 5.2% (12). Previously 9th.
Arthur Smith is a God. He’s my favorite offensive coordinator in the league, and the Titans have a top three offense. I still think their defense can get better once Adoree Jackson is back, and maybe if Jadeveon Clowney ever looks really like Clowney this year, but that ship looks like it’s fire and flames. The offense is incredible, and can carry them against any opponent. It’s just going to come down fourth down conversions, the turnover differential, genius in game decisions, and Derrick Henry wearing down defenses as the game goes on.
7.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Record: 7-5. Point Differential: +64 (7). DVOA: 26.0% (3). Previously 7th.
They’re great, but not elite. They struggle against teams that can take away the middle of the field from Tom Brady, since he doesn’t have the arm to hit the sideline in a straight line anymore. If you can pass protect for just long enough, this secondary can be torched deep, and no, this isn’t a Patrick Mahomes specific weakness.
6.) Los Angeles Rams—Record: 8-4. Point Differential: +58 (8). DVOA: 18.6% (6). Previously 13th.
The defense is really good. Aaron Donald is the greatest defensive player I’ve watched in my lifetime. Any and every edge rusher can pick up ten sacks a season just by cleaning up the mess he makes. As long as Jared Goff isn’t under duress the offense is more than capable enough, but with a ragtag offensive line, creating pressure isn’t all that difficult to do. It’s just been fun to see the Rams offense being the offense of the future, switching to their defense being the defense of the future.
5.) Buffalo Bills—Record: 9-3. Point Differential: +27 (13). DVOA: 12.6% (9). Previously 8th.
The rest of the team is finally starting to catch up to Josh Allen. If they get home playoff games, they can ride their way to the AFC Championship game. Allen has the arm to play outside in Buffalo. Most quarterbacks don’t.
4.) Green Bay Packers—Record: 9-3. Point Differential: +80 (6). DVOA: 19.5% (5). Previously 5th.
Aaron Rodgers is sick. He’s second in DYAR and DVOA, has thrown for 3,267 yards, and 36 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. All while playing for a team that didn’t improve their offense at all last offseason. I’m proud of Matt LaFleur. He learned from last year’s mistakes, and his previous playcalling sins.
3.) New Orleans Saints—Record: 10-2. Point Differential: +106 (3). DVOA: 34.2% (1). Previously 6th.
The Saints have the best overall roster. The question is at the quarterback position. Drew Brees was starting to get better before his rib cage was splayed open, but still, even on the verge of returning after taking his yearly midseason siesta, he’s struggled in the postseason the last few seasons.
2.) Pittsburgh Steelers—Record: 11-1. Point Differential: +123 (1). DVOA: 26.6% (2). Previously 2nd.
Bone crushing defense. Ben Roethlisberger spreading it around. The run game is really holding this team back.
1.) Kansas City Chiefs—Record: 11-1. Point Differential: +116 (2). DVOA: 25.8% (4). Previously 1st.
This is what I said eight weeks ago. This is what I said again four weeks ago. It stands, here, now, then, always and forever.
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 Simmons
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Patrick Mahomes
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Myles Garrett
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Alex Smith
MVP: Aaron Rodgers
COORDINATOR OF THE YEAR: Brian Daboll
COACH OF THE YEAR: Matt LaFleur
EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR: Brandon Beane