2019 NFL Power Rankings: Week 2
The NFL is officially back, and Week 1 was filled with entertaining games and team surprises. The New England Patriots look unbeatable. The Baltimore Ravens seem to have a real quarterback in Lamar Jackson, and the Miami Dolphins might not win a game all season.
It’s a long season, though, and we’re just getting started. But here’s how our models rank all 32 NFL teams after Week 1.
32. Miami Dolphins
The debate for the worst team in the league isn’t much of a debate at all. The Dolphins looked like a college team playing against the Ravens last Sunday, showing little signs of hope for this season. After Week 1, the Dolphins rank dead last in schedule-adjusted defense and 29th in Adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) per play on offense, per our metrics. It’s way too early to start tanking for the 2020 draft, but the Dolphins may be looking towards April already.
31. Arizona Cardinals
There was a sense of relief when the Arizona Cardinals took the field in the second half of their home opener, when Kyler Murray led the team back from a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions. While Murray ultimately struggled with a 39% Passing Success Rate, the Cardinals were able to force overtime with the Lions, which eventually ended in a tie. While there are some bright spots on this Cardinals squad, they’ll have their work cut out for them to be a winning team this season.
30. New York Jets
The New York Jets had a promising start in their home opener against the Buffalo Bills as they got out to a 16-point lead in the third quarter. But football is a game of four quarters, and the Jets seemed to have forgotten that as the Bills made a 17-point comeback to win the game. This Jets team is young and has a lot of promising talent, but they will need to learn from games like this and turn the page quickly if they want to make a playoff run. They'll also need to improve their offensive line play, which ranked 21st in pass protection and 26th in run blocking after Week 1, per FootballOutsiders.
Washington almost pulled off the victory on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles after taking a commanding 17-point lead in the first half of the game. They collapsed in the second half, though, as Carson Wentz and company took over the game. Washington lacks talent and depth on their roster as well as offensive line strength. Per FootballOutsiders, Washington's offensive line ranked 31st overall in both pass protection and run blocking after Week 1.
28. New York Giants
The New York Giants opted to roll out veteran quarterback Eli Manning in their opening contest against the Dallas Cowboys as opposed to starting their rookie, Daniel Jones. Manning played cautiously and limited turnovers but didn’t make any significant plays to help this team win. That’s a trend I think we’ll continue to see as long as Manning remains quarterback for the Giants.
27. Oakland Raiders
After an Antonio Brown drama-filled pre-season, the Oakland Raiders moved on from the star receiver by cutting him just three days before their game against the Denver Broncos. The Raiders had a short memory of Brown and put their focus on the Broncos, coming out victorious in their Monday night matchup. This team has a lot of unproven talent, but the future with this team may be brighter than it seems -- particularly with their rookie running back, Josh Jacobs. Per ESPN, Jacobs was the first player since Ladainian Tomlinson (2001) to post 100 yards from scrimmage and two rushing touchdowns in his NFL debut.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars took a significant hit on Sunday when they lost their starting quarterback, Nick Foles, to a broken left clavicle. While backup quarterback Gardner Minshew looked impressive in filling in for Foles, he couldn’t find enough time to catch-up to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs' offense. Minshew finished Week 1 with the fourth-highest Passing NEP (11.67) total on throws made 16-plus yards down the field, where he went 4-for-4 for 141 yards. This Jaguars' defense is elite and will help them win games this season, but all eyes are now on the offense and Minshew.
25. Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons had a tough matchup to kick off their season, playing on the road against the Minnesota Vikings. Their offensive line continues to be the downfall of this team, as Matt Ryan was sacked four times in this game. Per FootballOutsiders, Atlanta's offensive line ranked 20th overall in pass protection and 19th overall in run blocking in Week 1. Outside of that, their offense is loaded with playmakers. Their defense has also been a negative of this team in recent years, and it looked mediocre once again on Sunday as the Vikings ran as they pleased.
24. Cleveland Browns
One of the biggest Week 1 disappointments was the Cleveland Browns. All of the offseason hype this team carried may have gone to the heads of the players. They took a good beating at home against a Tennessee Titans team they were favored to beat by 4.5 points. This may have been a great wake-up call for the Browns, but only time will tell. Baker Mayfield will need to step up in Week 2 after having the fourth-lowest Passing NEP (-0.27) per drop back clip in Week 1.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came out flat in their home opener against the San Francisco 49ers. Jameis Winston looked lost at times in this game and showed some serious signs that he might not be a starting-caliber quarterback in this league. He finished Week 1 with the worst Passing NEP total (-21.99) of any quarterback. The Bucs will be in for a long season with Winston driving this train yet again unless he improves his play.
22. Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals had every opportunity to start the season 1-0 against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday but fell just one point short of doing so. Third-year Bengals receiver John Ross was spectacular in this game. He finished with seven receptions, 158 yards and two touchdowns. That lead to him having the third-best Reception NEP (14.25) of any wide receiver in Week 1. While this team will have ups and downs this season, the young talent on this roster is promising, and it was a solid coaching debut for Zac Taylor, who might be able to get the best out of Andy Dalton.
21. Indianapolis Colts
We all wondered what the Indianapolis Colts would look like without Andrew Luck as their quarterback this season. We found out pretty quickly that this is a team that isn’t going to dig their grave just because they lost one (important) player. Jacoby Brissett showed that he is going to put this team in situations to win this season, and Marlon Mack looked like he picked up where he left off last year – rushing for 174 yards and a touchdown against the Los Angeles Chargers. He finished as the top-rated running back in Week 1, checking in with the highest Rushing NEP of the week at 9.95. This Colts team is going to have its fair share of struggles this season, but it’s safe to say they aren’t going to roll over after losing Luck.
20. Buffalo Bills
The Bills were another team to make a fourth-quarter comeback after being down 13 points through the first three quarters. Bills quarterback Josh Allen looked shaky at times against the Jets but found John Brown for a 38-yard touchdown pass to take the lead with three minutes left in the game. Allen has a cannon of an arm and can make the deep-ball throws, but he will need to work on his deep-ball accuracy as he finished Week 1 with a 33% Success Rate on throws made 16-plus yards down the field. This may not be a playoff season for the Bills, but they certainly have a lot to look forward to with the young talent on this team.
19. Detroit Lions
The Lions enter their second season under head coach, Matt Patricia, who led them into Arizona Week 1 to face the Cardinals. They had a 16-point lead heading into the fourth quarter until Kyler Murray stepped up and made a comeback to send the game into overtime. The Lions walked away with a tie in a game they should have locked up after leading for first three quarters of the game.
18. Denver Broncos
The Broncos ranking inside the top-20 is largely due to the talent they have on this roster -- not by the way they played on Monday night versus the Raiders. The Broncos' defense didn’t have a single sack on Derek Carr, which is likely an outlier for a D run by Vic Fangio. The Broncos' offense remains a huge question, however, as Joe Flacco looked like a mediocre quarterback with his new team. There are some kinks that need to be worked out with all the new pieces added to this roster, but it could be another long season for the Broncos.
17. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers showed a lot of promise in their home opener against a team that just played in the Super Bowl last season, the Los Angeles Rams. While Carolina ended up losing by three points, Panthers fans have a lot to look forward to this upcoming season. Christian McCaffrey is a true bell-cow in this league and will be a big reason why Panthers win games this year. He finished Sunday's game with the third-highest Rushing NEP total (8.26) -- just behind Mark Ingram and Marlon Mack -- and we know what CMC does as a receiver.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers
It’s hard to judge the Pittsburgh Steelers after their Sunday night performance against the Pats, where they looked completely lost at times. The coming weeks will help us determine if the Patriots were just that good or if the Steelers were just that bad. Particularly this Steelers offense -- will they be able to overcome the loss of Antonio Brown? Time will tell.
15. San Francisco 49ers
The Niners are one team I had little expectations for in 2019, but they got off to a nice start on the road against the Buccaneers to start the season with a win. Their defense was lights out against the Bucs and had the second-best schedule-adjusted per-play clip in the league after Week 1. The D also intercepted Jameis Winston three times in this game, taking two of them for touchdowns. I think we can temper expectations on them scoring two defensive touchdowns every week, but this team may just have a few more surprises for us this season.
14. Houston Texans
The Houston Texans are one team you’ll likely see climb up the rankings rather quickly over the next few weeks. They gave the New Orleans Saints a run for their money on Monday Night Football -- up until the Saints hit a game-winning field goal at the very end. Deshaun Watson and the Texans' offense looked great, and their defense showed signs of being stout, as well. Their biggest downfall is their offensive line, which gave up six sacks in Week 1, the most allowed by any team.
13. Seattle Seahawks
Talk about a nail-bitter to start your season -- the Seahawks held off their Week 1 opponent, the Bengals, by one point to start their campaign 1-0. It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but the Seahawks found a way to get it done. Russell Wilson targeted only two receivers throughout the entire game, Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. The lack of wide receiver depth on this team is concerning and may be the cause of this team’s demise in 2019.
12. Chicago Bears
The expectations are high for the Chicago Bears this season as they return with one of best (if not the best) defenses in football. They sacked Aaron Rodgers five times in their Week 1 matchup against the Green Bay Packers and finished the week with the seventh-best schedule-adjusted defense, per our numbers. Offensively, this is their second year in head coach Matt Nagy’s system -- a system which showed signs of excellence in 2018. Those expectations may have been tempered after Week 1 as they finished with the third-lowest Adjusted NEP per play clip. While their defense is as elite as it gets, the Bears' offense needs to improve for this team to be a real title contender.
11. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles made their 2019 home opener an interesting one as they fell behind 17-0 early in this game versus Washington. Carson Wentz struggled in the first half of this game but was lights out in the second half. The Eagles made their impressive comeback largely due to Wentz linking up with DeSean Jackson for two long touchdowns. Wentz finished the game with the sixth-best Passing NEP on throws made 16-plus yards down the field. This Eagles offense looks to be a major threat this season, but their passing defense remains in question, as they finished 26th overall in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play in Week 1.
10. Minnesota Vikings
One of the more unique wins in Week 1 was from the Vikings. They handled the Falcons with ease and did so by establishing the run offensively and playing stout defense. Kirk Cousins threw the ball only a total of 10 times in this game, while the Vikings ran the ball 38 times. This may not be a sustainable offensive game plan, but for the time being, the Vikings are playing simple football, and it proved to be a success to start the season.
9. Green Bay Packers
After a disappointing season in 2018, the Packers had a lot of question marks surrounding their team, both offensively and defensively, going into 2019. They answered some of those questions in their Thursday night game against the Bears, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, as they held the Bears to just three points. Offensively, they’re still trying to solidify their number-two wide receiver, but the unit did just enough against a tough Chicago D to get the win.
8. Tennessee Titans
One of the more surprising victories in Week 1 was the Titans beating the Browns in Cleveland. The hype in Cleveland was real this offseason, with the likes of Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Denzel Ward and Odell Beckham looking to take this team to the playoffs for the first time since 2002. The Titans crushed the spirits of this Browns team and their fans on Sunday, as their defense played lights out. They finished with the best Adjusted Defensive NEP per play in the league after Week 1. Titans running back Derrick Henry also looked like a machine and could have one of the best seasons a running back has had in Tennessee since Chris Johnson in 2009.
7. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys were able to eliminate all drama before the Week 1 kickoff, signing their star running back Ezekiel Elliott to the biggest contract at his position in NFL history. They got off to a hot start against a division rival, the Giants, with Dak Prescott leading the team to victory -- throwing for 405 yards and four touchdowns. Of all the quarterbacks who started this week, Prescott finished Week 1 as the best quarterback in terms of Passing NEP (31.79) and Success Rate (75%). This Cowboys team has taken significant steps forward the past couple of seasons and will look to take a step further in 2019.
6. Los Angeles Chargers
This may be a bit generous, ranking the Chargers in the six spot after Week 1, but the Chargers are loaded with talent. They’ll miss the presence of defensive back Derwin James, who suffered a right foot fracture in August and will likely be out for a few months. That was evident last week, as the Chargers gave up 24 points to the Colts and were forced into overtime before claiming victory.
5. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams kicked off their season traveling to the east coast to face the Panthers. The Rams seemed to grab a hold of this game early, but the Panthers got back in it late in the game before the Rams put things away. The Rams did use somewhat of a running back committee in Week 1, but starting back Todd Gurley still saw 70% of the teams snaps, per our own Ian Goldsmith. This is a team that has an abundance of talent on their roster and has the potential to make another Super Bowl run in 2019.
4. New Orleans Saints
The Saints and Texans gave us the game of the week on Monday Night Football as Drew Brees and Deshaun Watson went back and forth the entire game, taking the lead from one another. Brees and the Saints ended up victorious in this game and showed why they are one of the best teams in the league. This may be the most well-rounded team in the NFL, and they will cause problems for every team they face this season.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes picked up where he left off last season, throwing for three touchdowns and 378 yards in Week 1 against a stout Jaguars defense. Sammy Watkins exploded with a stat line of nine receptions, 198 receiving yards and three touchdowns. The Chiefs did take a big hit in this game and will be without their number one receiver, Tyreek Hill, who is expected to miss a few weeks with a collarbone injury. While they’ll miss Hill’s speed in this offense, the Chiefs are still loaded with talent and should continue to thrive in his absence.
2. Baltimore Ravens
No team had a more convincing win last week than the Ravens did in their 59-10 victory against the Dolphins. From start to finish, the Ravens controlled the game in a dominant fashion. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson had 1.41 Passing NEP per drop back -- meaning he added 1.41 expected points on every single drop back -- and threw for over 300 yards and five touchdowns. Yes, it was an easy matchup, but a 59-10 score in the NFL speaks volumes.
1. New England Patriots
The rich got richer this past week, when the Patriots signed Antonio Brown to a one-year deal. Brown is still an elite talent at receiver and will give to boost a Patriots offense that didn't look like it needed one in an easy win over the Steelers, finishing sixth in Adjusted Passing NEP per play in Week 1. Even without Brown, this Pats team is the class of the league. With him, they could be terrifying.