2017 NFL Power Rankings: Week 4

A wild Week 3 in the NFL has produced even wilder results in our latest edition of NFL power rankings.

New England squeezed out a win at home against what we see as a mediocre Houston team, but was actually out-gained in the process. The performance was modest enough to knock the Patriots off their perch atop our nERD rankings (which measures how many points a team would be expected to win by against an average team on a neutral field. To learn more about nERD, visit our glossary).

So who replaced them? That would be the Denver Broncos, who are coming off a 10-point loss at Buffalo, but a closer look reveals they actually outplayed their opponents for most of the game.

They out-gained the Bills in terms of total yards (366 to 272) and yards per play (5.5 to 4.3) and also had 21 first downs to Buffalo’s 16. Since 2000, teams with a yardage differential of 94 or greater have won 79.5% of their games, while teams with at least 21 first downs who have allowed 16 or fewer have a 77.1% winning percentage. Teams who have done all three have won 82.9% of the time.

The Broncos were done in by a minus-two turnover margin, but while turnovers are tremendously impactful events, they are also rare and largely random. Their result was poor, but the process was good, which is why they rose to the top of our rankings.

Here are the rest of the rankings after the third week of the season.