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NFL Power Rankings heading into the fourth quarter of 2019

  • Here is how all 32 NFL teams stack up against each other with four weeks left in the regular season.
Top 5 / Top 10
Modified 01 Apr 2020, 17:29 IST

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As crazy as it may sound, there are only four weeks left in the regular season and as we are heading into the final stretch of what has been a very exciting year, it is time to rank these teams one through 32 once again.

This order is based on what I see when I watch the games or put on the film afterwards, in terms of pure talent on the roster, schematic advantages, situational success and overall team chemistry. So obviously teams who have already faced a tough schedule will be given more credit, but these aren’t college football rankings, where we bring up the strength of record or what not, yet instead, I am trying to tell you who I think are the best teams in the league.

A lot of these have already played each other and I consider that as well, but just because one team beat the other eight weeks ago, doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be ranked above – we are trying to assess the situation at this very moment.

Note: All stats and records updated till the end of Week 13.

#1 Baltimore Ravens (10-2)

San Francisco 49ers v Baltimore Ravens

Alright, I don’t think we need to see anything else from this team to put them at the top for now. The only real question I had with the Ravens was if they could beat one of the elite NFC teams since Seattle hadn’t quite been there when these two faced off, and they won that heavyweight fight against the 49ers. They also beat down on the aforementioned Seahawks, Rams, Texans, and Patriots.

On offense, Baltimore is borderline impossible to defend, because they just have so many different types of reads, kick-outs and lead blockers coming across the formation to go with the play-action and vertical shots off that. Even if their opponents are right, Lamar’s ability to pull a rabbit out of the hat can change the complexity of a game just like that. With that being said, the Ravens defense is starting to catch up with the offense over the last few weeks. Over their eight-game winning streak, they have recorded 20 sacks and 15 takeaways.

Lamar is obviously an MVP front-runner, but John Harbaugh is also my coach of the year and they have made some great moves before and now in-season, especially with the acquisition of Marcus Peters. Traveling to Buffalo this weekend will be tough after the Ravens just won that tough battle, but we have seen plenty of teams run up the middle on them, which is a bad matchup against Mark Ingram coming right up the gut.

#2 San Francisco 49ers (10-2)

49ers v Baltimore Ravens

Somehow the 49ers have gone from the NFC’s number one seed to being a Wildcard team in just one weekend. However, that is only the case because they lost to my top team and the Seahawks have had a great season themselves. San Francisco’s only two losses have come against two other top-five teams – Seattle and now Baltimore – and they could have easily won both those games.

Kyle Shanahan is the premier offensive play-caller in the game and some of these playmakers are starting to emerge for them – whether that is Emmanuel Sanders giving them a number one option in the passing game, rookie Deebo Samuel becoming a physical YAC-guy for them or Raheem Mostert rushing for almost 150 yards in Baltimore. Their gameplan on a weekly basis makes it tough for anybody to prepare and they have shown the ability to adjust as defenses lock into something. Moreover, their defensive front four is the most dangerous in the league, with a multitude of first-round picks and the ability to rotate guys through as the game progresses.

I know he got NFC Defensive Player of the Week just recently, but linebacker Fred Warner is turning into a star for this defense and on the back-end, they communicate and pass guys on very well. The Niners still control their own destiny with a trip to the Pacific Northwest in the season finale. Another tough road test in New Orleans is coming up, however. I know it took a while for people to get familiar with my idea of San Francisco winning the NFC West, but if they truly make it through that gauntlet, they will have earned it.

#3 New Orleans Saints (10-2)

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons

I think you could argue which of the next three teams deserves to be in this spot, but I gave the Saints the edge because I think they have the best combination of offensive and defensive line among that group and maybe overall in the league. New Orleans doesn’t have a very explosive vertical passing attack, but Sean Payton is the best at drawing up easy completions at the short and intermediate level and Alvin Kamara has the potential to go off in any game.

Defensively, they are a completely different group with Marshon Lattimore in the lineup, because they can put him on the opponent’s top receiver and play different coverages around him. I felt bad for Falcons rookie tackle Kaleb McGary for having to line up against Cam Jordan that much because that kid could barely put hands on him.

As weird as it sounds with most of the stars being on the offensive side of the ball, this really is more of a defensive team with a great play-caller to go with it. In a funny way, the Saints could have a lot of interest in that 49ers-Seahawks matchup themselves in case they lose to San Fran this weekend, which would affect who they have the tiebreaker against in the race for the number one seed, as the already won in Seattle. If the NFC has to come through the Superdome, the Saints would immediately be a whole lot more dangerous.

#4 New England Patriots (10-2)

New England Patriots v Houston Texans

There are two ways you can look at the Patriots right now – They are on their way to another first-round bye and home playoff game with an elite defense and we have seen them overcome deficiencies many times only to be the last team standing. On the other hand, you could also say the two things they could always depend on – great quarterback play and kicking – are now two of the three biggest question marks, with the other one being the play on the perimeter.

For me to put them any lower than the second team in the AFC, I have just seen this story too many times, but they are not as dominant as we thought they were earlier in the year and they have struggled against the two best quarterbacks they have faced – Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson. That doesn’t bode well for the next guy they face – Patrick Mahomes, who can sling it around quite a bit himself. Still, the defense is so well-coached under Belichick and that secondary has the capability to fulfill different gameplans on a weekly basis.

I think the offense could be fixed if fullback James Develin comes back and those young receivers step up a little, but being on your third/fourth kicker for a team that wants to win in low-scoring affairs is concerning. So I do understand some of the concerned Patriots fans, but this is still a 10-2 football team with the greatest coach of all time and a quarterback, who we have seen get it done in the playoffs time and time again.

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Published 06 Dec 2019, 14:06 IST
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