As I like to do every year, I am putting out my first power rankings after four weeks, since I think this is a good time to reflect. To me this point always represents a moment at which it is possible to get somewhat of a clearer picture on the state of the league and where teams will go. Obviously there will still be teams falling down the ranks while others could establish themselves as contenders later on, but I feel like we know what most teams are.
I always think it’s ridiculous how everybody makes definite statements on any NFL teams after just a couple of weeks or refer to things as “all season long” when there have barely been any games played. So I like to wait until we have passed the first quarter of the season before I really try to put these teams in order. Unlike most power rankings out there, I don’t simply put all the teams in order of their record and at this point we have so many 2-2 squads, that you really have to go through the tape and rosters of all of them to be able to stack them up against each other.
Here is what I came out with:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)
Patrick Mahomes is ridiculous. You are never out of a game or really in a bad play with him. Even if he misses a few early on, some of the plays he makes are simply unfair. It seems like whoever the Chiefs put in on offense is are a threat to go all the way on any given play. That type of speed at the skill positions, combined with an elite pass-protecting offensive line and Mahomes’ rocket arm and willingness to push the ball down the field is the most frightening thing for any defensive coordinator out there. The KC defense might still not scare anybody, but they have guys to get after the passer, who they can turn loose as they are ahead in games, and opportunistic players to steal extra possessions for their explosive offense (or just return fumbles for 100 yards). Andy Reid is in the conversation for best play-designers of all time, I have liked what Steve Spagnuolo has done on the back-end and what is often forgotten are the Chiefs special teams under Dave Toub, who always makes sure that they put themselves in the plus with that department.
2. New England Patriots (4-0)
Separating themselves at the top of the NFL together with the Chiefs are the Patriots. Tom Brady and his offense looked anemic through three-and-a-half hours in Buffalo, but with Josh McDaniels drawing up plays and a multitude of backs, I think they will be fine going forward. The real story here is the defense, which Bill Belichick is coordinating this season. They are by far the best unit in the AFC and if the Bears weren’t continuing their ridiculous success from last season, I would call the Pats D the class of the entire league. Right now they are number one in yards allowed per game (243.0), points allowed (6.8), first downs allowed (13.8), takeaways (10) and third down percentage, which at 13.5 percent is almost half as low as the next-closest team. At 42 years old, I don’t see Tom Brady in the same group with Patrick Mahomes, but that offense will be running through their backs and Julian Edelman, with Josh Gordon being the one true outside threat and X-factor if he can stay clean. With the Redskins, Giants and Jets on the schedule next, look for them to be 7-0 very soon.
3. Green Bay Packers (3-1)
There were a few teams you could have gone with at number three, but I decided to pick the team with the best quarterback here. I know the Packers offense hasn’t quite broken through the way Matt LaFleur would like them to, but they still have a guy under center right up there on this side of Patrick Mahomes, who lit it up last Thursday Night. Had Green Bay found a way to beat the Eagles and stay undefeated themselves, I might have not moved them any higher, but I would have felt better about their ranking. Rodgers had never lost at Lambeau when the Packers are up by 10+ points until the Eagles came from behind against them, Aaron Jones was stuffed in the backfield routinely and Jimmy Graham is barely a starting tight-end in the league at this point. The defense, which I was really high on before the season under Mike Pettine, had a letdown game, but not every week do you face a talent like Carson Wentz. Miles Sanders looked amazing against Green Bay, even if Jordan Howard actually was the guy with three touchdowns. Up to that point the Packers D was leading the league with eight takeaways and gave up less than 12 points per game. This is still the most dangerous team in the NFC in my opinion.
4. San Francisco 49ers (3-0)
Next up we have the only remaining undefeated team in the NFC. Despite being -1 in the turnover department, not having their top running back since the second half of the season-opener and Jimmy G still coming back from that torn ACL, this team has won their first three games. Granted, their opponents are a combined 3-9 at this point, but you have to feel good about what they have shown. Kyle Shanahan’s zone rushing attack and overall play-design has put them over the top every week so far. If you want a sign for how good the Niners ground game is – Jeff Wilson, who was only promoted to the active roster after Coleman was ruled out for week two, has reached the end-zone four times over those two weeks. And they have had about a hundred big plays called back because of holding penalties. The more surprising part has been the defense. All those first-round picks on the defensive line are finally starting to pay off and they are top five both in yards per play and first downs allowed, with most of the opposing team’s points set up by their own turnovers. I’m not a fan of the early bye though.
5. Chicago Bears (3-1)
That Bears defense was just unbelievable against the Vikings. Without Akiem Hicks and Roquan Smith while having to balance the loss of starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky, that group held Minnesota scoreless for 57 minutes and the league’s leading rusher Dalvin Cook ran into a wall over and over again, as he went for only 35 yards on 14 carries. With how things were setting up, it felt like there was no way Chicago would be able to win this game, but they did not allow their division rivals to get anything going whatsoever, as they didn’t get inside the Bears 30 until that lone late touchdown. That was coming off a game at Washington where the defense had scored more points themselves midway through the third quarter than the Redskins and intercepted Case Keenum three times. They also held Aaron Rodgers to ten points and didn’t allow a touchdown in Denver until half a minute left in that game. Khalil Mack is the best non-quarterback in the league right now. Having a team with Chase Daniel or Mitch Trubisky for that matter under center in the top five isn’t easy, but when you have a dominant defense like that, I can’t ignore it. Oh, I also thought it was curious that Matt Nagy finally got the ball to rookie David Montgomery against one of the toughest run defenses.
6. Dallas Cowboys (3-1)
That was a very disappointing showing by this Cowboys offense, that had been so successful through the first three weeks of the season. Dak Prescott and company had scored 13 touchdowns through three weeks before being held to only ten points in the Big Easy. Amari Cooper could not shake free from Marshon Lattimore and Zeke went for 35 yards on 18 carries, with the longest one going for six yards. With a healthier, more talented roster to go with a lot of momentum coming into the weekend. I expected Dallas to win with a similar gameplan to last year’s matchup, which included Drew Brees at quarterback. That resume for the Cowboys looks a lot different now with their three wins coming against the Eli Manning-led Giants, a now 0-4 Washington team that was within a touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter and the tanking Dolphins. With that being said, I still think they can be a complete team. They can get pressure on the quarterback with four people, nobody has faster linebackers and OC Kellen Moore will learn from a lesson by that Saints defense.
7. New Orleans Saints (3-1)
This was one of the most impressive and surprising victories of week four, despite being at home and a lot of people wanting to pick them. The Saints might have just won in Seattle the week before, but watching the tape it was a punt return and fumble return touchdown that really decided that game. Like I said in my last article on the new starting quarterbacks, Teddy Bridgewater was not asked to push the ball down the field and a lot of credit went to the guys around him. But who thought the Saints could win that Sunday Night matchup versus the 3-0 Cowboys without scoring a touchdown? Alvin Kamara might be the best running back in the game without Saquon Barkley and that defensive front is ferocious, holding Todd Gurley, Chris Carson and Ezekiel Elliott to an average of only 50 rushing yards over these last three weeks. Marshon Lattimore looked the elite talent he was as the Defensive Rookie of the Year and Will Lutz has been absolutely clutch for them with his only miss coming from 56 yards. This team, even with Drew Brees, is built around the run game and a physical defense.
8. Seattle Seahawks (3-1)
Russell Wilson is just so damn good. I expected the Seahawks to miss the playoffs this year because we saw what happened to the offensive line when their running backs could not get going and they were asked to protect Russ in the dropback pass game, but despite of how long they hold the ball, they are among average in quarterback hits. No team in the league outside of Kansas City has a more potent deep passing game, because Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf can absolutely fly and Wilson throws those perfect rainbows to them. Defensively they are also a little better than I expected despite being without Jarran Reed. That Jadeveon Clowney trade has already paid off big-time, which was pretty ridiculous from the start, and that pick-six yesterday must have been tough to watch for any Texans fan who just saw his team lose at home to Kyle Allen and the Panthers. Chris Carson finally started to get going and Will Dissly is emerging as a big target at the tight-end spot. For the last two years, I haven’t believed in this team, but as long as the Hawks have that quarterback and Pete Carrol, you can’t count them out.
9. Detroit Lions (2-1-1)
Man, these guys were so close to handing my top team their first loss of the season. With the game tied at 13 in the second half the Lions were a few inches away from the end-zone, but had a fumble returned 100 yards to completely swing the momentum of the game and they still went up 30-27 with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter. Week one Detroit had an 18-point lead to enter the fourth quarter, but time management issues and the decision-making by the coaching staff allowed the Cardinals to climb back and tie them in overtime. They found a way late against the Chargers to win in a game where they were outplayed, but took advantage of a stupid Philip Rivers interception. And then they won at Lincoln Financial Field by sending the Eagles off the field in four plays in the last two drives for that offense. This time could easily be 1-3, but they could also be 4-0 with wins over quality teams. I’m a believer in the Lions rushing attack now that they finally feed Kerryon Johnson, Matthew Stafford has quietly been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFC and that defense under Matt Patricia is creating problems for the opposition with all the different looks they present.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (2-2)
Since we were just talking about the Eagles, this is the highest 2-2 team I have in my rankings and it is because I just believe in what they have at quarterback, head coach and the offensive line. That Eagles rushing attack is really starting to get going and Carson Wentz looks as close as he has to his 2017 form, where I had him winning MVP. Obviously injuries among the offensive skill positions is a major issue right now and their pass defense is highly suspect, but those receivers should be back healthy soon and I think a lot of their issues on the back-end have come from the predictably aggressive play-calling by Jim Schwartz. With that I mean not shy away from going cover-zero with all-out blitzes constantly, even if teams have a solution for it and having an edge over them in receiver talent. That win at Lambeau was huge and I really think it could jump-start a run for Philly, especially with the Cowboys laying an egg in their big game versus the Saints. Right now the Eagles are taking on that underdog role again and we have all seen how dangerous they can be doing that.
11. Buffalo Bills (3-1)
I should not be applauding the Bills for hanging in there with the Patriots until the final moments, because they should have won that game and made it tough for themselves all game long, but man they were so close. Buffalo had four interceptions and their starting quarterback got knocked out for the fourth quarter by a ruthless hit to the head, which for some reason wasn’t flagged. Yet, they still had a first-and-goal at the Patriots eight and three more drives to potentially take the lead, Their rushing attack looks really strong, when you have a 36-year old Frank Gore go for over 100 yards on 17 carries and that defense is elite, with excellent players at every level, even if it doesn’t feature any real stars. Josh Allen’s reckless style of play could be the kryptonite to the Bills playoff hopes, but his talent could also prove to be the reason they can go on a run. I love their two rookies Devin Singletary and Dawson Knox, who haven’t even really gotten going yet, and Sean McDermott steadying the ship. I had this team earning a wildcard spot and right now I feel like those will go to them and whoever finishes second in the AFC North.
12. Los Angeles Rams (3-1)
Wow, what an ugly loss to a bottom-half team at home. Jared Goff turned the ball over four times and the Rams gave up a whopping 55 points to the Buccaneers. After watching the tape, I want to defend the Rams QB however. His first pick came after being hit on what should have been an easy completion for a first down, on the second one Lavonte David showed blitz and then dropped right underneath a slant route and the final one on fourth down, Shaq Barrett read a screen to the bunched up receivers perfectly and tipped it to himself. Brandin Cooks also dropped two passes, which should have resulted in about 50 yards, and a lot of the throws Goff did complete were tremendous, firing 20-yard out routes against tight coverage and perfectly placing the ball on stick or hook routes away from the defender. More concerning too many was the inability by the offensive line to pick up the pressures with different stunts and blitzes. Todd Gurley is clearly not the same player he was before injuring his knee and Sean McVay is limiting his touches. Defensively the Rams have one of the premier duos on the D-line with Aaron Donald and Dante Fowler, but the Bucs did a great job keeping them in base personnel by using 12 and 21 personnel and keeping them honest with the 29 rush attempts and a bunch of screens.
13. Cleveland Browns (2-2)
It only takes one big win against the number one team in the division to completely flip the script. Coming off a week where Freddie Kitchens had to defend a draw call on fourth-and-nine and not handing the ball to Nick Chubb inside the ten once, Baker Mayfield getting into arguments with former coaches on TV and being questioned for their only victory coming against a Jets team down to their third quarterback, people wanted to completely write them off already. Instead the Browns came out with a different mind-set against the AFC North-leading Ravens and put up 40 points against them. Nick Chubb went off for 165 yards on the ground and three touchdowns, Jarvis Landry could not be slowed down with eight catches for 167 yards and the defense sacked the elusive Lamar Jackson four times. I said it before the season started and I still believe that this is one of the most talented teams in the league and they just won in Baltimore despite Odell Beckham Jr. not catching a single pass until the fourth quarter. Their defensive front is nasty and if they let the offense run through Chubb, they could be a dangerous player in the AFC.
14. Baltimore Ravens (2-2)
It hurts me to put this Ravens squad so low, because as of last week I would have probably put him third behind the Chiefs and Patriots as that next tier of AFC contenders. With the Bills putting up a good fight against Tom Brady and company as well as owning a better record and that direct loss to Cleveland, I had to put them this low, but just like I talked about people overreacting to the Browns’ early season struggles, everybody just seeing the highlights or looking at the numbers is way too down on the Ravens defense and Lamar Jackson. While the defense could not stop Nick Chubb all game, a lot of that had to do with Brandon Williams being out as the leader up front and they are still without starting cornerback Jimmy Smith. On the other hand, they still rushed for 173 yards, averaging six yards per carry themselves, Marlon Humphrey looked like a star shutting down OBJ and Lamar’s two picks came on a deep ball to Mark Andrews, where the defense should have been called for pass interference, and a tipped ball by a defensive lineman. Lamar is still phenomenal as a dual-threat, the defense should get healthier and this team won’t hang their heads after one bad performance.
15. Minnesota Vikings (2-2)
At this moment every Vikings fan feels like Kirk Cousins stole 84 million dollars from the team and people even believe Adam Thielen low-key took a shot at his QB with post-game comments about how they needed to get the passing game going. While I would have defended him for most of last year, when the O-line was atrocious and he was blamed for several losses that really were not on him, I can’t really defend him so far. I said it right after the season-opener – Dalvin Cook is as explosive a back as we have in the league. He had no room whatsoever against the Bears without their top interior D-lineman in Akiem Hicks and a talented young linebacker in Roquan Smith. Still, this zone rushing attack directed by Gary Kubiak is for real and it’s now about Cousins making a few plays off those bootlegs and extending drives with crucial passes on third down. Until he does so, I don’t think the Vikings are quite there with the playoff contenders, but their ceiling is very high. The defense is loaded at every level with several great veterans and an emerging young safety in Anthony Harris. Right now the Vikes are at the bottom of the NFC North, but still in the top half of the league considering this right now is the best division in football.
16. Carolina Panthers (2-2)
Two weeks for Kyle Allen – two wins for the new starting quarterback. I loved what I saw from him against the Cardinals, where he showed a lot of composure and play-making ability. With three lost fumbles against Houston there is some reason for concern, but he did come through for them late by shaking off J.J. Watt and setting up that final field goal. With skill position talent led by Christian McCaffrey, the second-year QB has plenty of talent around him and a defense to rely on. Right now Carolina leads the league with 18 sacks and they rak first in passing yards allowed, while having gotten better every single week. Donte Jackson is turning into a star at the cornerback position to go with James Bradburry, who has done really well watching up with the bigger-bodied guys, and their linebackers can really fly around. I thought all along that this defense could be one of the best in the league and I had CMac as a finalist for Offensive Player of the Year. If they can keep this up and get a few big plays from Allen, I think they could still make the Wildcard even without Cam.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2)
Gardner Minshew is the truth. Like I have already talked about with some other guys, I evaluated the new starting quarterbacks around the league and said my confidence level in Minshew was high. He has done nothing but lead the Jags to a potential game-tying drive against the Texans, put up 20 points against one of the better defenses in the league in Tennessee and take them down for a game-winning field goal in Denver. He has completed almost 70 percent of his passes with several shots down the field, thrown seven touchdowns and his only pick came off a defensive end tipping the ball to himself. Versus the Broncos however, it was Leonard Fournette finally re-emerging as the like the workhorse power back I always expected him to be, as he went for a career high 225 yards on 29 carries and just refused to go down. The Sacksonville defense has six guys who can get after the passer, if Jalen Ramsey decides to stay with the team they have two of the top five corners in the game and Ronnie Harrison is turning into a really good safety, after I thought he was a steal in last year’s draft.
18. Houston Texans (2-2)
Deshaun Watson is the man, but he can’t pull a rabbit out of a hat every single week. He has been sacked 18 times, as the offensive line is still coming together. Carlos Hyde simply shouldn’t be anybody’s leading rusher and Houston invested a third-round pick for Duke Johnson and they simply haven’t used him enough. I have never been a fan of Bill O’Brien’s predictable play-calling with a few stupid trick plays sprinkled in. J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus have looked great, but the Houston secondary has struggled mightily when the pass rush didn’t get home. And even Ka’imi Fairbairn has already missed two field goals and an extra point. So there is definitely reason for concern with the Texans, but they might have the best quarterback-receiver connection in the league, even if it was off a little last week, the O-line should get better and they are 2-2 despite not intercepting a pass since the season-opener. With the AFC South all tied up at 2-2 that division title is up for grabs and Houston has the best quarterback among the four teams.
19. Los Angeles Chargers (2-2)
Had you asked me a good month before the season, who I thought were the top teams in either conference, I would have probably had the Chargers right behind the Chiefs and Patriots, but with Russell Okung and Derwin James missing extended periods of time, as well as Melvin Gordon holding out, I had them missing the playoffs altogether in my season predictions. After barely surviving the Colts’ late push in week one and being tied 10-10 shortly before halftime against the Dolphins, you can certainly question what they have done so far. Their starting five on the offensive line is among the worst in the entire league and they allow more than half of third downs to be converted against their defense – third-worst behind only the Redskins and Dolphins. However, Keenan Allen has been playing like the best receiver in football, with Melvin Gordon coming back the Chargers will have the most impressive three-headed monster in the backfield, considering how great Austin Ekeler has been for them, and the defense has surrendered just 66.3 rushing yards per game since that week one debacle, in which Marlon Mack went off on them.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2)
I don’t think anybody really saw the Bucs win at Los Angeles to the undefeated Rams last Sunday. As I mentioned already, they kept L.A. in base defense with their personnel sets, but their pass-protection was on point in general and their plans for using tight-ends and backs to slow down Aaron Donald and Dante Fowler were excellent. Defensively, they are ranked number one in the league with big Vita Vea and Ndamokung Suh on the inside and they held Todd Gurley and the Rams to just 28 yards on the ground. Shaquil Barrett is leading the league with nine sacks, they are tied for second with nine takeaways and scored off those twice themselves. However, as long as Jameis Winston is the quarterback and does his best to throw away games late, I can’t fully buy into this team. That aerial attack can be lethal with Mike Evans as a consistently forgotten superstar, one of the best #2s in Chris Godwin and two seam-stretching tight-ends to go with a former Heisman trophy winner with a big arm. When they go max-protect off play-action with those two receivers being the only two in the pattern, they are tough to cover. Yet, I have already watched Jameis throw away a game versus San Francisco by refusing to throw the ball in the dirt on a covered screen and almost allowing the Rams to come back with a stupid throw towards the sideline with Marcus Peters squatting on that route in cover-two and taking it to the house to get within five points with eight minutes left in the game.
21. Indianapolis Colts (2-2)
The Colts have kind of been a mixed bag, even throughout games. They almost rallied back against the Chargers week one, then beat a Titans team that looked amazing against the Browns, they went up early against the Falcons but could not stop them once in the second half and now they lost a game against the Raiders, where they were favored by a touchdown. The strength of this football team is the offensive line with four top-40 picks and a veteran guard, who really established himself once he entered the starting lineup last season. After Marlon Mack erupted for 174 rushing yards in the season-opener, they couldn’t really get the run game going against the Titans or Raiders, even though that last one had a lot to do with Oakland going ahead early on. Jacoby Brissett has been excellent for the Colts up to this point, even if he was jumped for the game-sealing pick-six by the Raiders, but Indy definitely missed T.Y. Hilton versus the Raiders. Defensively, they are giving up 5.5 yards per rush and they have allowed opponents to convert 49 percent of their third downs. While I like some of the pieces they have on that side of the ball, they have surrendered seven touchdowns over the last six quarters without Darius Leonard.
22. Tennessee Titans (2-2)
I just don’t know how you can’t rust this Titans. No one is more up-and-down, crushing a great team one week, but then not being able to win games where they are the favorites. Their defense right now is fourth in points allowed with 15.5 despite having faced potentially high-scoring offenses like the Browns, Falcons and to a lesser degree the Colts. I have always been a big fan of Dean Pees and his ability to use a variety of defensive schemes to keep opponents off balance, plus Jayon Brown and Harold Landry are two young stars nobody really talks about. Tennesse has the third-best turnover differential behind only Chicago and New England at +5, with Marcus Mariota being the only quarterback to start all four games and not turn the ball over. With that being said, the quarterback is also the biggest reason I can’t put this team any higher. In his fifth year as a pro, Mariota is still primarily a one-read passer, who can run a simple offense but won’t stress defenses with his ability to scan the field. Second-round pick A.J. Brown has looked like a beast, Corey Davis is trying to find that consistency and I like Adam Humphries working the slot. However, Derrick Henry has not really been able to carry that late-season success from a year ago, with the exception of that 75-yard touchdown on a screen pass in week one.
23. Oakland Raiders (2-2)
With a lot of the teams in this range it is very similar – I just don’t know who they are. On paper I don’t see a Raiders squad that should be 2-2. Tyrrell Williams has looked pretty good after being a number two receiver for his entire career, Darren Waller has been one of the most-heavily targeted tight-ends in the league and Josh Jacobs looks like a true feature back with dual-threat qualities. While Derek Carr’s number have looked pretty good, he is a really streaky passer at this point, including almost throwing a pick-six at Indy and missing an open Williams badly in the end-zone to put that game away. When the offense has been successful, it has gone through the run game and short dump-offs within five yards, plus a few gadgets plays like end-arounds and reverses. Defensively Oakland has been better than they were in 2018, but they are still average at best in my opinion. They have allowed an NFL-worst 21 passes of 20+ yards and they still only sit at five sacks for the year after being dead-last by a wide margin last season. Surprisingly enough, they have matched matched up pretty well with the big offensive lines of the Broncos and Colts.
24. New York Giants (2-2)
The Danny Dimes hype has taken over the Big Apple. After being named the starter over Eli Manning, Jones has won his last two games while being without superstar running back Saquon Barkley for most of that stretch. The Giants offensive line has really improved, especially as a run-blocking unit, and I actually always liked Wayne Gallman, who I had as a day two prospect back in 2017. Jones’ two interceptions against Washington came on those deep crossers he loves, with one being jumped by the safety and the other one thrown slightly behind Sterling Shephard. Opposing teams will continue to make him go away from those, but his ability to avoid the rush and pick up first downs with legs to go with a few big downfield throws, have made the difference. Evan Engram is about to blow up with the way he has already shown to be able to run away from people after the catch and Golden Tate is only coming back now. The Big Blue defense plays with a different energy as well, with Markus Golden and Oshane Ximines getting after the quarterback and those big guys on the interior plugging up lanes against the run.
25. Atlanta Falcons (1-3)
This is the most disappointing team in the league to mem right now. It was good to see something from Devonta Freeman against Tennessee, because he has been a shell of himself, but the running game simply has not been present with only 70.2 rushing yards per game. All those investment into the O-line haven’t really paid off, especially with injuries playing their part. The trio of Julio, Ridley and Sanu might still be the best in the league and Austin Hooper is really emerging under new OC Dirk Koetter, who loves to feature his tight-ends, but I liked them to target Ridley more in particular. Now with Keanu Neal headed to IR due to a torn Achilles, the defense won’t get much better any time soon, but I like the thought of Damonte Kazee seeing the field even more. Only three players have recorded a sack for them and Grady Jarrett is leading the charge with two, plus they lack some size and have struggled defending the power run game. With all that being said, the score versus the Titans could have been much closer, but Matt Bryant missed a 32-yard field goal at the end of the first half, Mohamed Sanu dropped a touchdown on third-and-20 early in the third quarter and the Falcons failed to convert on two fourth-and-one attempts. Next up is a must-win matchup against another AFC South team in the Texans, whose secondary should not be able to cover Atlanta’s weapons.
26. Arizona Cardinals (0-3-1)
As I said in my latest article, talking about the new starting quarterbacks, Kyler Murray has looked really good for the most part, even though he probably had his worst showing so far against Seattle. I still think his dynamic arm and quick feet will make him a tough guy to face. David Johnson has been as close to that 2016 season when he led the league in touchdowns as we have seen and Larry Fitzgerald is as good a 36-year old receiver as we have seen since Jerry Rice, who now is the only guy he is trailing in career receptions. The more disappointing part about this offense has been scheme, which is nothing we haven’t seen before. The Arizona defense was surprisingly moderate early on considering how much more the opposing team possessed the ball, but they have surrendered too many explosive plays with 17 passes for 20+ yards. Chris Carson finally got going against them and they just got stupid penalties called against them late in that game to take away any chance of a late comeback attempt.
27. Denver Broncos (0-4)
This team could easily be 2-2, as they have led games at home versus the Bears and now the Jaguars with less than two minutes left. They have an excellent running back duo behind an improved offensive line, Courtland Sutton is turning into that number one receiver and Emmanuel Sanders defying medicine by how quickly he came back from that torn Achilles. However, Joe Flacco is incredibly immobile to give them more on that bootleg play-action game and he has turned the ball over four times over the last three games. The Broncos defense I thought was actually better than the numbers indicated, especially with no sacks for Von Miller or Bradley Chubb until last weekend. However, they could not slow down Leonard Fournette whatsoever in their most recent matchup and they just took a huge hit by losing Chubb for the season to a torn ACL. At 0-4 I don’t see them be in the run for any playoff contention and if Flacco has a couple of games, I could easily see them throw Drew Locke into the action to get him some playing time.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3)
In the first ever Monday Night matchup of two 0-3 teams, the Steelers dominated their division rival Bengals, but I just can’t move them up too high considering how bad Cincinnati has been. I talked about how most of Mason Rudolph’s yardage has come from passes behind the line of scrimmage and that he hasn’t been able to extend drives recently. While the second-year QB definitely had his best showing of the season, 16 of his 28 completions went to running backs, with a bunch of them coming on those touch pass sweeps, and a deep ball to rookie Diontae Johnson, who was open by like 20 yards. I like that little wrinkle they put in with six wildcat snaps using both Jaylen Samuels and James Conner for 43 yards. That is something they can build on and utilize Samuel’s versatility going forward, even though they clearly don’t trust Rudolph to run the show. The defense showed up big time as well, getting after Andy Dalton all game long and causing turnovers. With that being sad, that is the same unit that allowed Russell Wilson to play almost a perfect game against them and that surrendered 168 yards on the ground to the 49ers. I just don’t see them finishing above .500 without Big Ben.
29. New York Jets (0-3)
Let’s start with the positive here – The Jets did not lose this weekend. Of course that only was because they didn’t play anybody and right now it seems like half their wins will come in divisional matchups against the Dolphins. This is the first time I can remember an NFL quarterback being out with mono. So the circumstances are very uncommon, but in general this season simply has been disappointing for the Jets. They have scored just one touchdown on offense and most of the big names on defense haven’t been healthy. For a team a lot of people thought would be competing for a wildcard spot with all the additions they made through the offseason, it feels like their season is over already. With that being said, Sam Darnold has just been cleared for non-contact drills and his tight-end Chris Herndon will be coming back from his suspension in week six. The offense will kick in a completely different gear soon and despite facing some pretty good teams at less than full strength, the defense has forced seven turnovers. I never thought this was the year to turn things around for Gang Green, but they should win a few games here going forward.
30. Cincinnati Bengals (0-4)
Whoever was excited about the Bengals with the new coaching staff and after almost winning in Seattle in week one, all the air is out now with that 27-3 loss at Pittsburgh. The Bengals offensive line is an absolute mess right now with 19 sacks allowed, they are dead-last in rushing yards despite having a talented back like Joe Mixon in the backfield and they won’t have A.J. Green for another couple of weeks. On defense they have surrendered 20 plays of 20+ yards and they are tied with a few other teams behind the Dolphins with a turnover differential of -5. On Monday Night they could not stop the outside run game by the Steelers with all those jet sweeps, they turned the ball over both times the fought their win into the red-zone and their only score was set up by a Pittsburgh fumble. Right now the Bengals are favored by 3.5 points at home versus the Cardinals in the battle of winless, but I would actually go Arizona at this point. I think they need to draft a quarterback next year if Ryan Finley doesn’t show signs and get that O-line back together.
31. Washington Redskins (0-4)
I understand that Jay Gruden should be scared about losing his job and that he has to do everything to extend his stint in DC, but putting Dwayne Haskins in that game against the Giants midway through the second quarter was just wrong. It was unfair to expect anything from the rookie being thrown in the fire, when he clearly needed some more time on the bench or at least be able to prepare for being a starter. I know Haskins’ stat line doesn’t look good with those three INTs, but if Jabrill Peppers wasn’t so physically superior to Jeremy Sprinkle, it should have been one touchdown more and a pick less. The other two came on a jump-ball at the sideline and off a dropped ball by Vernon Davis. So nothing to make the fans get nervous about, if they handle the young QB accordingly going forward. More disappointing to me the is the 31st-ranked rushing attack and the defense being dead-last in third down conversion percentage. This season is pretty much over for Washington, but two things they should be excited about – the emergence of rookie Terry McLaurin as a WR1 and a good group of potential new head coach candidates, The bad part? – The Patriots are coming to town. Ouch.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-4)
This is the most egregious tanking job we have seen in pro football. The Dolphins don’t even really deserve to be talked about at this point, ranking 31st in offensive yards and 32nd in yards allowed. Obviously, they are also dead-last in both points scored and suffered, that point differential is leading the way by a hefty margin and have the worst plus-minus in turnovers. Not saying it’s the players’ fault, but it is just a horrible sighting and I hope they win a game accidentally to make that whole project go to waste.+
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