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2020 NFL Power Rankings: Halfway Home

SB Nation logo SB Nation 11/12/2020 Matt Weston
a man standing in front of a crowd © Photo by Brett Carlsen/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: 0-9. Point Differential: -147 (32). DVOA: -38.1% (32). Previously 32nd.

So much Joe Flacco. Way too much Joe Flacco. Whenever you think things can’t get worse they always can. They’re geniuses for keeping Adam Gase around though. He’s the perfect tanking head coach. He can’t even win games when he’s trying. There’s no facade. It’s pure disaster.

31.) Dallas Cowboys—Record: 2-7. Point Differential: -86 (31). DVOA: -20.3% (27). Previously 19th.

Ezekiel Elliot has a nose ring for each fumble he’s lost this year, and that’s the most interesting thing about Dallas football. Hopefully Garrett Gilbert finally gets his first professional win, after spending seven years roaming practice squads and amateur football leagues, like a peg legged, cigarette stained, funhouse denizen.

30.) Jacksonville Jaguars—Record: 1-7. Point Differential: -68 (30). DVOA: -22.2% (30). Previously 26th.

THE END WAS NEAR. THE END IS HERE.

It isn’t Gardner Minshew’s fault this team is bad, but the Minshew era in Jacksonville is coming to a close. You have to take a quarterback when you have a top five pick, and this position is settled. Next year they’ll have two firsts, their dead money will be off the books, and they’ll have around $90 million in cap space. The stage is being built for the Jaguars team that is good once a decade.

29.) Washington Football Team—Record: 2-6. Point Differential: -35 (25). DVOA: -12.1% (29). Previously 30th.

Wooo football team! I love my football team! They have an incredible defense already. They just need a linebacker, and a quarterback, and it’s time to go.

I was rooting for Dwayne Haskins. He seemed like a good guy. He worked hard. He wanted it badly. But he doesn’t have the accuracy to play the position. A Kyle Allen snapped ankle prevented them from running the table.

28.) Cincinnati Bengals—Record: 2-5-1. Point Differential: -20 (22). DVOA: -23.1% (30). Previously 28th.

Joey Buckets is completely fine, extremely boring, and very proficient. Somehow he became my least favorite rookie quarterback. What a world.

Enjoy Jessie Bates III deep middle play before PFF ruins everything. The strangest part about this team is how uninteresting their defensive line play has been this year. It’s only Carl Lawson long arms. That’s it.

27.) New York Giants—Record: 2-7. Point Differential: -51 (29). DVOA: -16.6.% (25). Previously 31st.

The Giants are bad, but at least they care, and play hard. You can’t say that for most teams, and this business, is about winning football games.

Kevin Gates is my favorite B-Side NFL player. He plays guitar in Pantera. He blocks well in the open field. He’s always wet. An absolute custodian.

26.) Denver BroncosRecord: 3-5. Point Differential: -43 (T-27). DVOA: -21.7% (31). Previously 29th.

Drew Lock is a 4th grader at a talent show, who puts on an entire three and a half minute dance routine to Hit Me Baby and makes everyone uncomfortable. Someone call his parents. He still can’t throw the ball downfield.

I enjoy how their edge rushers continue to dress like Von Miller in his memory. Long sleeves. Big plastic mouthpiece. Squatty two point stance. Erect like a rattle snake. The Broncos aren’t the Broncos without him.

25.) New England Patriots—Record: 3-5. Point Differential: -28 (23). DVOA: -19.7% (26). Previously 11th.

Nobody wants to say it, because they’re cowards, but I’ll say it. Cam Newton was good for two weeks, and now he’s awful. He looks like how he did last season. Something is wrong with his body. It looks like he took too many hits in Carolina. His skeleton is ruined. I think he’s done.

The defense has struggled because they lack impact players. Chase Winovich is the closest thing they have to one. Everyone else is whatever. It’s hard to play cover one and cover for three and a half seconds, and they’ve been a bad tackling team.

THE MEDIOCRE

24.) Detroit Lions—Record: 3-5. Point Differential: -43 (T-27). DVOA: -7.8% (21). Previously 27th.

The Lions won two games and tried to go for it. Peace. Their entire offense relies upon Kenny Golladay.

23.) Houston Texans—Record: 2-6. Point Differential: -49 (28). DVOA: -6.5% (18). Previously 23rd.

I like numbers, I trust the numbers, but they paint only one section of the house. The Texans don’t numbers don’t make sense. I understand, I get it, I know how it works, but Houston being 18th in DVOA is fishy. The offensive numbers are overinflated by Bill O’Brien’s specialty to make games look closer than they are. They had redzone success against Tennessee. Every run play is a negative and a waste of a down. The defense does zero things well. Still, even with Watson playing well, it’s been underwhelming, and I don’t buy it.

22.) San Francisco 49ers—Record: 4-5. Point Differential: +18 (13). DVOA: 4.6% (15). Previously 17th.

Put on FACEOFF. Pick up a liter of soup. Hang out until 8 p.m. so you can drink two more beers so you can get to bed. The Superbowl hangover continues. Would you move on from Jimmy Garoppolo after this season?

21.) Carolina PanthersRecord: 3-6. Point Differential: -16 (19). DVOA: 0.9% (16). Previously 18th.

The offense is here. The kids need one more year. I’ll gut you if you say Teddy Bridgewater needs to prove it in close games. My good friend Taylor is in my trunk right now for spitting this vile blasphemy.

20.) Minnesota Vikings—Record: 3-5. Point Differential: -17 (20). DVOA: 5.7% (14). Previously 20th.

Dalvin Cook has been the best pure running back this year when you don’t think about the passing game. Kirk Cousins winning games while being paid $30 million a year and attempting 12 passes a game is the ultimate grift and Gary Kubiak’s nirvana all at the same time.

19.) Los Angeles Chargers—Record: 2-6. Point Differential: -11 (T-17). DVOA: -6.8% (19). Previously 21st.

Philip Rivers isn’t cursed. The Chargers are. They beat the Bengals week one because Randy Bullock missed a 13 yard field goal. Since then they are 0-6 in one possession games. They’ve lost these 6 games by a total of 24 points. Unbelievable. It breaks my heart thinking about what Justin Herbert is about to spend his life toiling through.

18.) Atlanta Falcons—Record: 3-6. Point Differential: -8 (15). DVOA: -7.5% (20). Previously 24th.

Speaking of close games, look has won them since getting rid of the stank. They’re 3-1 since firing Dan Quinn, their lone loss was because Todd Gurley didn’t go down. That was a play from a mafia movie. The fix was in. I feel smart and vindicated once again for picking this team to make the playoffs.

Kaleb McGary is YEE-HAW country strong. Him and Chris Lindstrom is my favorite offensive line duo in the NFL, because this world exists for me, and only me.

17.) Cleveland Browns—Record: 5-3. Point Differential: -31 (24). DVOA: -10.5% (23). Previously 20th.

The Browns are phonies.

PLAYOFFS?

16.) Philadelphia Eagles—Record: 3-4-1. Point Differential: -19 (21). DVOA: -20.5% (28). Previously 25th.

The best team in the worst division. They’re going to win exactly one playoff game this year.

15.) Chicago Bears—Record: 5-4. Point Differential: -12 (18). DVOA: -7.4% (23). Previously 16th.

The Bears are phonies, but they at least have a great defense.

14.) Las Vegas Raiders—Record: 5-3. Point Differential: -11 (T-17). DVOA: -8.4% (22). Previously 14th.

The most lopsided team in the league. Great offense. Bad defense. It sucks how bad Cory Littleton has been this year.

13.) Los Angeles Rams—Record: 5-3. Point Differential: +41 (10). DVOA: 12.3% (9). Previously 12th.

Blitz Jared Goff. That’s it. That’s all you need to do.

12.) Arizona Cardinals—Record: 5-3. Point Differential: +54 (5). DVOA: 9.9% (11). Previously 13th.

Kyler is the Wartortle version of Russell Wilson. Kliff Kingsbury running the ball with his backs in important situations has hurt his team more than it should have. Look, Kliff, you’ve proved you’re a NFL coach. You don’t need to do this all the time. I’m glad Christian Kirk is back.

11.) Miami Dolphins—Record: 5-3. Point Differential: +61 (4). DVOA: 12.3% (10). Previously 22nd.

Love that Tu’a is left handed, and that I’ll never be able to say his last name.

Brian Flores has learned what previous New England coaches haven’t learned about New England. It isn’t the scheme they learned there, or the players they had there, it’s about understanding value, putting your players in the best position to succeed, and matching your scheme to the climate the game is played in. Flores has Miami blitzing a ton, and playing cover three. The scheme has morphed around its players. They still can’t stop the run though.

They’re 2-0 since they benched Ryan Fitzpatrick. When this decision was made it felt like they were punting on this season. I hope it works. I can’t take seeing Cleveland out there in January.

Free Juli’en Davenport.

10.) Indianapolis Colts—Record: 5-3. Point Differential: +48 (7). DVOA: 21.6% (6). Previously 10th.

The return of Darius Leonard has coincided with the flip in schedule. Their defense was great partly because they had the easiest defensive schedule in the league. It’s changed. They have to actually play real NFL offenses now. I’m all on it though. This is a slam dunk top five defense. You can make the case Leonard is the best player in the AFC South right now. I’d still pick Watson, but I’d listen to the procedure.

The run offense has been their biggest issue. Philip Rivers is doing more than he needed to this year. Jonathan Taylor has fumbling problems, and isn’t seeing the game well. The latter is surprising since he played in an outside zone heavy offense in Wisconsin too. If they can get Rivers to do less, and have him be a compliment, instead of the focus of this offense they have a chance to do something. If the run game never materializes they’ll fall victim to the occasional spine sniping Rivers game.

9.) Tennessee Titans—Record: 6-2. Point Differential: +31 (T-12). DVOA: 8.9% (12). Previously 6th.

I still think this team will get better. Ryan Tannehill is bonkers. A.J. Brown is Andre Johnson. Their run game has survived without Taylor Lewan, and Ty Sambrailo has been more than good enough. Chicago is the first team that stopped their run defense.

The defense has survived because they force turnovers. Jadeveon still isn’t Jadeveon, and by releasing Jonathan Joseph, and trading for Desmond King, the Titans have learned they can play man coverage again. Cool. I think it will get better. Maybe I’m too close to it.

Jeffery Simmons is mine. I saw him first.

WE SHOULD BE CONTENDERS

8.) Buffalo Bills—Record: 7-2. Point Differential: +9 (14). DVOA: 6.9% (13). Previously 6th.

The problem with this team is everything but Josh Allen. What a damn world we live in. Like Tennessee, I think they’re only going to get better. They still haven’t found an offensive line combination that sticks, the run game has struggled and they haven’t really used Allen as a runner yet, Matt Milano has been hurt all season, and their defensive line hasn’t played up to its talent level yet.

7.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Record: 6-3. Point Differential: +47 (8). DVOA: 27.6% (2). Previously 5th.

Jameis Winston has taught them how to beat New Orleans. He’s going to make a great head coach one day.

6.) New Orleans Saints—Record: 6-2. Point Differential: +44 (9). DVOA: 31.7% (1). Previously 9th.

Can they throw the ball downfield this postseason? Can Alvin Kamara carry the entirety of this offense? Can they stop the deep passing game that has crushed them often enough? Find out this January.

5.) Green Bay Packers—Record: 6-2. Point Differential: +49 (6). DVOA: 19.8% (7). Previously 4th.

The Minnesota game was ooOOOOOooo very scary for Green Bay. Matt LaFleur called a 2019 Matt LaFleur game and the offense was stuck because of it. Toss plays, screen passes, empty play action, running the ball in silly circumstances, and their linebacker core devoured. If they utilize the game plans they should, the ones they have been calling for most of this year, and Aaron Rodgers is MVPish Aaron Rodgers, they’ll continue to be good.

It’s a damn shame they didn’t give up a second for Will Fuller V.

4.) Seattle Seahawks—Record: 6-2. Point Differential: +31 (T-12). DVOA: 16.3% (8). Previously 3rd.

Russell Wilson can throw interceptions who knew? You can blitz Seattle. Their passing game is efficient and effective, but it doesn’t create easy offense. Big blitzes get the ball out quick, and they aren’t prepared for it. The run game needs to act in this manner. Buffalo went up big on their crappy pass defense and they weren’t able to lean on it.

They traded for Jamal Adams so he can blitz every play. He isn’t a safety. He’s a defensive linemen, and he covers worse than one.

3.) Baltimore Ravens—Record: 6-2. Point Differential: +85 (2). DVOA: 24.5% (5). Previously 2nd.

Greg Roman hasn’t been able to get this offense out of the mud because they have one big problem, Lamar Jackson can’t throw the ball down the sideline. The offense needed to find another gear and expand upon what they did last year. They can’t this season, because of this fact. Everything is short and quick, or middle of the field. It’s just like last year. As long as this is occurring, and you have defensive talent, you can funnel the ball where you want it against them. Their run offense can be a little more vanilla though. Not everything has to be a power-read-pitch-counter-option.

2.) Pittsburgh Steelers—Record: 8-0. Point Differential: +74 (3). DVOA: 25.2% (4). Previously 8th.

Big Ben is a point god. Their front hurts my teeth. You can throw downfield on them if you can block long enough. They need 2019 Minkah Fitzpatrick back.

1.) Kansas City Chiefs—Record: 8-1. Point Differential: +103 (1). DVOA: 25.6% (3). Previously 1st.

This is what I said 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 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

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