NFL Power Rankings after the first quarter of the 2019 season
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. 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 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 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 anaemic 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 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 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 NFL. 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 turnovers. I’m not a fan of the early bye though.