Now that the first four weeks of the season are in the books and we have a pretty good idea about who all these teams are, I decided to put them all in order for the first version of my in-season NFL power rankings.
Interestingly enough, my No. 1 and No. 32 teams are still the same that I had when I put out my list a couple of weeks before the season kicked off.
Once again, I’m not trying to just put these teams in order by their record – for that you can check the official standings on NFL.com – but rather I tried to figure out how I would personally rank them based on the tape I’ve watched and with some stats to help me put it all in context.
This is my list:
NFL POWER RANKINGS
1. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)
The Chiefs are still the reigning champs, and without any losses there is no reason to put anybody else at the top. But after a Week 3 demolition of the Baltimore Ravens, I might have put them in a tier of their own. QB Patrick Mahomes is obviously out-of-this-world great, because not only does he have the ability to connect on throws nobody else would even attempt, but also because he has gotten even better at finding solutions on the fly to counter defenses. That talent was on full display when Mahomes shredded Baltimore’s blitz-happy gameplan. We all know about that arsenal of weapons around Mahomes, including rookie RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire giving them a physicality and balance they haven’t had. Credit also goes to the O-line for allowing only three sacks all year and for KC's offense being No. 1 on third down, converting 53.9 percent of those. What makes the Chiefs the clear-cut favorite right now is that they have the No. 2 scoring defense (17.5 per game) and are tied for fifth in takeaways (seven).
2. Baltimore Ravens (3-1)
I still have the Ravens at No. 2, which is where they were in my preseason NFL power rankings. That bad loss to the Chiefs was certainly deflating and I get why people are down on the them, but Baltimore has dominated everybody else over the last two years. Even with that 14-point loss to Kansas City, the Ravens are second in the league with a point differential of +12.3 per game and tied with KC with seven takeaways. They still have the second-highest percentage of run plays (51.7%) and the second-most yards per rush (5.2), while gaining 100-plus yards on the ground 27 games in a row. QB Lamar Jackson had one rough showing last week where he got too much into hero-ball mode, but outside of that he has looked much improved as a pocket passer.
3. Green Bay Packers (4-0)
After the Packers traded up for a quarterback in the first round of the draft and everybody talked about how the team would regress, future Hall of Fame QB Aaron Rodgers is carving up defenses and doing it with a smile on his face. A-Rod is on pace to beat his own single-season record for passer rating and Lamar Jackson's record for touchdown percentage. The Green Bay offense as a whole leads the league with 6.8 yards per play and an average 34:20 time of possession. They are also the only team without a turnover this season. The Packers' O-line has only surrendered three sacks through four weeks (tied for fewest in the league) and the team is averaging 5.1 yards per rush. Green Bay has scored 152 points through four weeks, which is 51 more than the teams they have played against, giving them the best differential league-wide. On defense, they have an absolutely dominant pass rusher in Za’Darius Smith, who they move around the front, and Green Bay has forced the highest percentage of three-and-outs (27.5%).
4. Buffalo Bills (4-0)
So where are the people who made fun of me for saying Josh Allen will be an MVP candidate? Of course it’s early and there have been a couple of moments where the Bills QB goes back into his old, wild ways, but his improvement in accuracy and as a deep-ball thrower has been remarkable. A lot of that goes back to his mechanics and adding WR Stefon Diggs to the mix, who has been absolutely phenomenal. Right now, Dallas' Dak Prescott is the only quarterback with more completions of 20-plus yards than Josh Allen. And unlike the Bills, Dak's Cowboys have trailed in every game and face prevent defenses often. The Bills are tied for fourth in yards per play (6.4) and average just over a field goal per drive. Their defense has not been great, but that only gives me more confidence in them, because I think it can and will improve.