NFL Power Rankings: Tiers Week 3
Hello and welcome to my NFL power rankings, tiers version. In this version of my very own power rankings, I divide teams not based so much on their individual standing in the league, but rather what group of teams would be similar to them. I use it to help me find value in Vegas spreads, which can also lead to DFS success. I have also entered the BetDSi handicapping contest this year, which is much like the Super Contest hosted by the West Gate Sports Book in Las Vegas, only much cheaper and done online. I have, in parenthesis, listed where I had each team the previous week, as well as what tier they were in.
For the first few weeks it’s a bit of a catch 22, as you need to be able to quickly adjust to teams that you were wrongly high or low on as to not get buried the first half of the season, but also need to not over react to the tremendous recency bias we see year after year. I will do my best to not remain stubborn while not over reacting, but I’d be lying if I knew where to draw the line. Without further ado, here is how I view the landscape of the league after week 2.
Tier One: These are the teams that are favorites to be in the Super Bowl. Each one of them are viable contenders, and it would be to the surprise of no one to see them playing in February.
1. Philadelphia Eagles (1, T1): Carson Wentz is back, and while he may be a bit rusty, I don’t think there is any reason to believe he is anything less than 100% healthy, considering how they handled the situation.
2. Los Angeles Rams (2, T1): Some may knock LA for “only” defeating Oakland and Arizona, but great teams demolish inferior competition, and that is exactly what the Rams have done the first two weeks.
3. New England Patriots (3, T1): People make too much of all of New England’s wide receiver transactions. Brady and Bellichick are all that matter. Congratulations to Jacksonville for winning their September Super Bowl.
4. Minnesota Vikings (8, T1): So far the offensive line is ranked 17th in Pro Football Outsider’s adjusted sack rate, which is well ahead of where I thought they’d be. Cousins has so far proven to be worth every penny.
5. New Orelans Saints (4, T1): I’m not going to knock them out of this tier just yet. They have gotten off to slow starts the past six years or so, so 1-1 must feel like a head start for the Saints.
6. Green Bay Packers (5, T1): Green Bay getting screwed out of a game by a bad QB related call is ultimate karma. That said, it was a terrible call.
Tier Two: These teams are favorites, to make the playoffs and could make a run at the Super Bowl come January with some luck or amidst a hot streak.
7. Atlanta Falcons (7, T1): So much for the red zone woes. I have to move them down a tier due to all of the injuries they have suffered. I just cant see them being a Super Bowl favorite without Deion Jones and Keanu Neal. That will change if Jones can return to full strength this season.
8. Kansas City Chiefs (9, T2): Depite Mahomes’ torrid pace, I can’t move this team into Tier 1 until Eric Berry is 100%, and who knows, that might not be enough to save their defensive unit.
9. Los Angeles Chargers (11, T2): Despite the competition, it was an impressive cross country win. The coaching staff has held true in getting Melvin Gordon the ball more. They will provide the Rams with their first true test of the season this Sunday, where we will undoubtedly see Philip Rivers yelling at his receivers after tossing a pick-6.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (6, T1): I knew their defense was terrible without Ryan Shazier. What I dont know is why I still had them in Tier 1 to start the season. This is an adjustment, not an over reaction, and quite honestly, 10 might be too high. A loss against Tampa Bay will really severly hinder their playoff chances.
11. Baltimore Ravens (10, T2): The loss of C.J. Mosely will hurt, especially considering they dont get Jimmy Smith back until week 5. The good news is Flacco seems to be clicking with all of his new weapons, namely John Brown, who leads the team in air yards the first two weeks.
Tier Three: Teams who will contend for the playoffs and are capable of winning one game in January, but not much else.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (17, T3): The offense continues to impress in the early parts of the season, and the defense will only get better once Vontaze Burfict returns from suspension in week 5. Tyler Eifert continues to up his snap count, while Tyler Boyd (with his 20% target share) has emerged as the #2 WR for Andy Dalton
13. Carolina Panthers (14, T3): Cam Newton completed the most passes of his career this past Sunday, yet it wasn’t enough. The secondary and offensive line is what is going to be the downfall of this team.
14. Indianapolis Colts (18, T3): Rookie Linebacker Darius Leonard has played extremely well for Indianapolis in the early going, and if not for a Jack Doyle fumble week 1, this team could be 2-0. This week’s match up with the Eagles could be a classic.
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (19, T3): It was definitely an impressive victory over New England, but I can’t move them any higher than this tier as long as Blake Bortles is their quarter back. I don’t care how many points they average with Leonard Fournette out of the line up.
16. Washington Redskins (13, T3): Jim Harbaugh told us when he traded Alex Smith to Kansas City. Andy Reid told us when he traded him to Washington. Washington clearly wasn’t listening. Alex Smith will never win a Super Bowl. Alex Smith hate aside, this is only the 4th time the top two quarterbacks of the 2005 NFL draft will face each other.
17. San Francisco 49ers (15, T3): Jimmy Garappolo was bailed out of a late interception with a holding call on the other side of the field against Detroit. Lucky breaks aside, Reuben Foster returns this week. As long as he can stay on the field he provides a huge boost to this defense.
18. Chicago Bears (12, T2): The early returns on Mitch Trubisky are not promising. The defense and Matt Nagy will have to carry this team if they want to be at all post season relevant, because as of right now, Trubisky has not shown he is capable of doing that. He does not deserve to be a 6 pt road favorite over anyone, even the Bills…maybe.
19. Dallas Cowboys (16, T3): It is quite alarming that Dallas won by just a touchdown against New York despite playing a seemingly great game by their standards. The defense will be under rated all year, but the offense remains stuck in medieval times.
Tier Four: These are teams who will be competitive from time to time, but are no real threat to reach the playoffs.
20. Denver Broncos (22, T4): We will see how the Broncos handle playing outside of Mile High this week. It is nearly impossible for opposing teams to win there in September.
21. Detroit Lions (21, T4): I didn’t get to see if Matt Patricia was still scribbling on his lamenated sheet with a No. 2 pencil. What is the deal with that anyways? The defense is just bad, which puts a lot of tax on the offense. The offense has what it takes, but the defense will bogg them down in a stacked NFC.
22. Houston Texans (23, T4): What an absolute blunder by Deshaun Watson at the end of last week’s game. Is it safe to say Bill’O Brien is another failure in the Bill Bellichick coaching tree? The offensive line will peak opposing defenses rushing numbers all year.
23. Miami Dolphins (26 T4): This team could be 3-0 entering their matchup with New England week 4. Frank Gore is now 4th ALL TIME in career rushing yards.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (31, T5): How could you not root for Fitzmagic? Jamies Winston gropping an Uber driver (allegedly) was a blessing in disguise for this team.
25. Cleveland Browns (28, T4): Their defense is for real. If not for Hue Jackson they could contend for a playoff spot in the soft AFC. It is simply unbelievable how they continue to find ways to lose. Side note: I dont blame them at all for getting rid of Josh Gordon. They stood by him time and time again and he just continued to let them down. At what point do we consider this kid a lost cause? If he doesn’t work out in New England, I think it is safe to say he is done.
26. New York Jets (25, T4): The Jets are the prime example of week 1 over reaction. The schedule makers did them no favors giving them 3 games in 11 days to start the season.
27. Seattle Seahawks (24, T4): What a dumpster fire in Seattle. Pete Carroll calling for more runs is just egregious. Welcome to 1972 NFL folks.
Tier Five: These are the bottom feeders, mouth breathers, 14 point road dogs of the league.
28. Tennessee Titans (20, T3): I think the two tier drop is warranted, considering sports books did nothing to the number despite reports of Blaine Gabbert starting over Marcus Mariotta. That tells me all I need to know.
29. New York Giants (27, T4): Eli Manning is done. In fact, he is beyond done. If only they had a top prospect waiting in the wings to replace him. Oh wait…
30. Oakland Raiders (30, T5): Derek Carr stat line was truly amazing week 2. This is all from Warren Sharp’s periscope Monday evening. Carr went 29/32 with a 9.0 yards per attempt. Only 7 other teams in NFL history have had a 90% completion rate and at least 6 ypa on 20 attempts. All won by an average blowout margin of 35-11. Whats more, none of them had more than 23 attempts; Carr had 32. That is on a Cleveland Browns level of finding ways to lose games.
31. Arizona Cardinals (29, T5): This offense is just dreadful. I think Mike McCoy would be fired mid season first before Steve Wilks, but it is a train wreck none the less.
32. Buffalo Bills (32, T5): Vontae Davis retiring at half time. I think we have seen it all now.
Both Atlanta and Pittsburgh dropped out of Tier 1 into Tier 2. I should have been lower on the Steelers coming into the year considering they did absolutley nothing to replace Ryan Shazier after his terrifying injury towards the end of last season. As for Atlanta,they are just too banged up to be considered a Tier 1 team right now. Hopefully Deion Jones can come back to full strength later on in the season. I feel Chicago dropping a tier is warranted due to the limitations and bad decisions we have seen so far from Mitch Trubusky. I still want to be a believer, as this team could challenge for the NFC crown with above average QB play, but as of now, I just don’t see it.
Tampa Bay moved up from tier 5 to Tier 4. I am not a full believer as of yet, but maybe a convincing win over Pittsburgh will change my mind. Joining the bottom of the barrel are the Titans and Giants. The lack of line movement despite the Mariotta news last week was pretty telling in my eyes, while Eli Manning just looks washed. He will have a game or two where he looks competent, but make no mistake, this franchsie made an egregious error in taking Saquon Barkley over a QB with the second overall pick.
Thank you very much for reading. Any suggestions, gripes, moans, complaints feel free to leave them in the comments section.