NFL Power Rankings 2020

Week 2 Glance At All 32 Teams

Week 1 of the NFL season kicked off with extremely limited attendance, but it provided the usual unexpected and wild finishes. Tom Brady dropped his debut with the Bucs, Philip Rivers couldn’t lead the Colts to a win, and Washington pulled off a comeback win in Ron Rivera’s first game as the head man in D.C..

There are tons of results and trends to sort through after a wild week, and in an effort to keep you updated throughout the 2020-21 season, TheLines is providing weekly updates to our Power Rankings.

The futures landscape is constantly changing, and after one week the Chiefs are now tied with Ravens as Super Bowl favorites with +550 odds at DraftKings Sportsbook. The Saints (+1000) and 49ers (+1200) are the favorites from the NFC. For a full breakdown of the futures betting landscape, check out our Super Bowl futures page.

The Power Rankings below look beyond futures odds and predict the actual potential of each team on a weekly basis, helping fans think ahead when placing bets at sportsbooks.

Odds are always changing based on results and teams are just getting warmed up after experiencing no preseason and a training camp without as many contact reps.

Here are Nate Weitzer‘s NFL Power Rankings, along with betting odds courtesy of online sportsbooks in the US.

ALSO READ: Updated NFL Week 2 odds – moneyline, totals, more

2020 NFL Power Rankings: Week 2

KC Chiefs
With Patrick Mahomes at the controls, there are no concerns regarding the Chiefs offense. Yet it’s their defense that appears to be taking another step this year as they limited a potent Texans offense to just 7 points through three quarters in the season opener. There are no holes on this roster and Andy Reid knows how to stay a step ahead of opposing coaches. 
BAL Ravens
Lamar Jackson picked up where he left off with yet another dominant regular season performance (20-for-25 passing, 275 yards, 3 TDs) and the Ravens defense made the Browns look like the same old hapless franchise. Baltimore’s three-headed backfield of Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, and rookie J.K. Dobbins could make their rushing offense even more potent.
NO Saints
Michael Thomas was nearly shut out and the Saints managed just 2.8 YPC against the Bucs fearsome front, yet their defense carried the day by flummoxing Tom Brady in his Tampa debut. With Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins on the outside, and newly acquired safety Malcolm Jenkins holding down the middle, the Saints have one of the best secondaries in football. 
SF 49ers
Chalk the Niners Week 1 loss to a talented Cardinals team up to the old Super Bowl hangover. They were playing in a smog-filled stadium, which limited Tevin Coleman’s availability, plus George Kittle got hurt and Deebo Samuel (foot) was inactive. They’re primed to bounce back with road games coming up against the Jets and Giants. 
SEA Seahawks
Russell Wilson (+700 odds at DK) could finally win MVP this year. Pete Carroll let him go to the air early and often and he demolished a weak Falcons secondary, finishing 31-for-35 passing for 322 yards and 4 TDs. They’re still a long way from the old Legion of Boom, but adding Jamal Adams and Quinton Dunbar should at least make Seattle’s secondary respectable again. 
BUF Bills
Granted it came against the lowly Jets, but Josh Allen looked like a far more efficient passer while completing 33 of 46 passes for 312 yards and two scores. Sure, he lost two fumbles and missed some wide open receivers in the end zone, but if the Bills can get anything close to consistent QB play out of Allen, they’ll become yet another contender in the AFC. 
DAL Cowboys
Sean McVay and the Rams had a masterful game plan in place to negate the Cowboys\' ferocious defensive line. Yet with Everson Griffen joining an already loaded front, Dallas will wreck plenty of games with its pass rush after Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott put them ahead.
TEN Titans
While the Titans don’t have a lot of offensive diversity, they do what they do best, and have a defense that can hold a lead, especially with Jadeveon Clowney added to the fold. That approach led to a 16-14 win over Denver on MNF that was far from pretty, yet effective all the same.
GB Packers
Instead of pouting about his situation, Aaron Rodgers seems ready to resume his superstar play and turn his unknown receivers into reliable options. Davante Adams (14 receptions, 152 yards, 2 TDs) is certainly reliable as a top option and Green Bay’s coaching staff did a masterful job moving Adams around the formation to baffle the young Vikings secondary. 
TB Buccaneers
Without a preseason or normal training camp, the first quarter of the NFL season might serve as extra time for teams to work out the kinks. The Bucs offense did not seem to be on the same page in Brady’s debut, which was partially due to how good the Saints are defensively. However, Tampa’s defense looks fierce and we trust Brady and Bruce Arians to figure it out with all the talent at their disposal.
NE Patriots
Despite all the changeover on their roster, the Patriots coaching staff continues to ensure that their squad plays simple, mistake-free football. Running Cam Newton in the red zone worked like a charm against the Dolphins, but will Newton be able to beat better teams with his arm?
PIT Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger shook off the rust and the Steelers stifling defense didn’t give an inch in their Monday night win. However, Pittsburgh may have lost lineman Zach Banner (knee) for the year and could be without James Conner (ankle) for a few weeks. 
LAR Rams
Playing to Jared Goff’s strengths with side-to-side motion and a much more reliable running game, the Rams got ahead of the Cowboys and hung on late. As long as Goff doesn’t hurt his own team with mistakes, McVay’s squad should remain competitive in a stacked division. 
MIN Vikings
The Vikings parted ways with three of their top CBs including studs in Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes, plus they lost elite linemen Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen. There will be some growing pains for Mike Zimmer’s defense, although not all QBs are as adept at diagnosing their new weaknesses as Rodgers was in Week 1. 
HOU Texans
The Texans defense fared about as well as you can expect against the mighty Chiefs offense last Thursday. Will Fuller caught 8 balls for 112 yards in his new role as top receiver, but Deshaun Watson had to be shaking his head while watching DeAndre Hopkins go off in his debut for Arizona. 
ARI Cardinals
Kyler Murray is making the proverbial leap and DeAndre Hopkins continues to prove that he’s one of the top three receivers in the game. Arizona’s defense, which never got right last season after Patrick Peterson served a six-game suspension, looked competent against the mighty 49ers and even executed a goal-line stand.
IND Colts
Philip Rivers and T.Y. Hilton couldn’t lead a comeback late after Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars shredded what is supposed to be an improved Colts secondary. Indy lost Marlon Mack (Achilles) for the season and will now turn to rookie Jonathan Taylor as their primary ball carrier.
ATL Falcons
With a porous secondary and explosive passing attack, the Falcons will be a team to target in DFS contests all season. Todd Gurley handled 16 touches and only played 45.5% of offensive snaps in his Falcons debut, so we’ll see if that lack of usage was due to gameflow, or his shaky health. 
CLE Browns
It might be too soon to cast judgment on this year’s Browns team considering they faced a Ravens juggernaut in Week 1. But if Kevin Stefanski doesn’t find ways to scheme Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry targets in space, he could join the long list of coaches fired by this hapless franchise.
PHI Eagles
Missing three starters on the offensive line, the Eagles couldn’t protect Carson Wentz or run the ball against Washington. Injuries always seem to pile up on this team and Alshon Jeffery (foot) is an early trade candidate as the front office looks to develop younger receivers.  
DEN Broncos
After making big moves in free agency for Jurell Casey and Melvin Gordon, the Broncos seemed ready to make a play for one of the (now 3) AFC wild card spots. Then Von Miller suffered a potentially season-ending injury in practice, decreasing expectations considerably. 
LV Raiders
Behind a revamped offensive line, Josh Jacobs looked a bit like “Walter Payton” according to HC Jon Gruden. That is certainly an exaggeration and we shouldn’t get too carried away with the Raiders offensive eruption against a gutted Panthers defense. 
NYG Giants
The Giants improved a vastly deficient defense by signing LB Blake Martinez and big DB James Bradberry. Their offense improved simply by getting Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram healthy for the start of the season. 
CHI Bears
Count the Bears in the crowded camp of teams that looked far from impressive in victory during a wacky Week 1. Mitchell Trubisky failed to convert his first 7 third downs and threw all three of his scores in the fourth quarter. He’ll likely hang on to the starting job for now. 
DET Lions
Signing 35-year-old RB Adrian Peterson after spending two early draft picks on RBs over the last three years is a head scratcher. So is Jamie Collins Sr. getting ejected for headbutting a ref. The one thing that isn’t surprising about the Lions debut is that they somehow found a way to lose a game that they controlled throughout.
LAC Chargers
The Chargers may need to shape their offense around Tyrod Taylor’s skill set rather than asking him to run a traditional offense. T-Mobile only completed 16 of 30 passes for 208 scoreless yards in his debut, but the Chargers found their power running game behind big rookie Joshua Kelley. 
MIA Dolphins
Ryan Fitzpatrick couldn’t continue his magic against the Patriots, finishing with 191 yards and three picks in a feeble effort. Yet he’s been named the Week 2 starter as the franchise looks to bring Tua Tagovailoa along slowly.  
CAR Panthers
It was an impressive debut for Matt Rhule’s offense with great performances from Teddy Bridgewater, D.J. Moore, and Jets castoff Robby Anderson. However, Carolina’s defense was just as bad as advertised while giving up 372 scrimmage yards and 34 points to a mediocre Las Vegas club. 
JAX Jaguars
Like the Falcons, the Jaguars should be chasing points a lot this season. Gardner Minshew has some explosive young receivers to work with and silenced some of his detractors by posting the most efficient line (19-for-20 passing, 193 yards, 3 TDs) in a Week 1 win. 
CIN Bengals
Joe Burrow looked sharp and A.J. Green looked relatively healthy, yet the Bengals were manhandled up front by the Chargers line and Joe Mixon fumbled at the most inopportune time, spoiling Burrow’s debut.
WAS Football Team
Ron Rivera certainly changed the culture in Washington and his smashmouth approach paid dividends against an Eagles squad that was short handed up front. 
NYJ Jets
Between Jamal Adams and Robby Anderson, former Jets were shining across the league in Week 1. Meanwhile, the current Gang Green looked atrocious against a tough Bills team and New York might become more of an easy target if Le’Veon Bell (hamstring) misses time. 

How to use NFL Power Rankings

Stay tuned for updates to our power rankings all season long! These can serve as a valuable tool for placing NFL futures bets or planning how to bet on NFL games.

Of course, you have to account for factors such as travel time, home field advantage, and injuries as the season progresses. Yet early in the season, it’s possible to go against the betting public by sticking to your own process.

Bettors tend to overreact to recent results and are very reactionary in an “update league” like the NFL. Therefore, the betting market shifts to these reactions.

If you stick with the raw data, i.e. metrics on offensive line play, a quarterback’s record at home, and turnover differential, you might be able to cash big early in the season before oddsmakers and the betting public adjust. Trust your data and stay one step ahead with a comprehensive Power Rankings system.

How to handicap NFL games

What does it mean to “handicap” a game? At first, it might seem that you’ll be running advanced metrics and spitting out numbers and point spreads. In reality, handicapping is a fancy bettor’s term for preparing and researching. There’s dozens of game factors that need to be taken into account like injuries, matchups, and metrics but also market factors like line movement and public biases.

Surface-level factors

First are the surface-level factors that can determine a game like home field advantage (though in 2020, that is severely diminished), key injuries, and the weather. For injuries, don’t just browse the fantasy football injury report– a diminished offensive line or defensive secondary can be devastating to a team’s performance. For example, the Washington Football Team was able to record eight sacks on the Eagles’ Carson Wentz and overcome a 17-point deficit and underdog odds due to three key offensive line absences for Philadelphia in Week 1 of the 2020 season.

Traditionally, the home team is given a 2- or 3-point advantage for playing in their home city in front of their home fans. Even without fans in attendance, travel takes a toll on visiting teams and has some (albeit diminished) effect on the line. Also needed for consideration is the weather: rain, wind, and snow can hurt a pass-heavy offense and cold weather might hurt warm-climate teams. Teams playing at altitude (Denver) may also have an advantage over teams that don’t frequently play at altitude (Miami).

Strength of schedule is useful when looking at futures bet. For example, the Houston Texans averaged 23.6 points per game against the 13th-toughest schedule in the NFL in 2019. In 2020, the Texans were scheduled the 8th-toughest schedule in the NFL and traded away star receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Using this information, we can determine that the Texans are likely to see a negative regression in points per game. Strength of schedules are also broken down positionally and should be taken into consideration, as well.

Deeper factors

Beyond those easily-identifiable factors are matchups, schemes, and metrics. If you aren’t a film junkie, don’t worry– there’s plenty of Twitter follows and websites that can help you break it down and make it easily understandable.

Look for size advantages in receivers and defensive backs; players like Julio Jones can make life difficult for a 5’ 8” corner and the Falcons might gameplan to exploit that advantage. Other positional advantages to keep in mind: pass rushers against inexperienced/struggling offensive tackles and athletic pass-catching tight ends against linebackers who struggle defending receivers. Schematic advantages are also worth noting. For example, seasoned vets like Josh McDaniels (Patriots offensive coordinator) or Mike Zimmer (Vikings defensive coordinator) will have an advantage against a first-year play-caller.

Advanced metrics can be telling and expose weaknesses in teams, but with thousands of metrics out there, it can be difficult to tell which are really helpful. NBC’s Warren Sharp is a great resource for finding advanced metrics that make significant differences in outcomes. A quick tab on stats worth paying attention to:

  • Yards per play (rather than total yards)
  • Expected points per drive (rather than points per game)
  • Air yards per attempt (rather than passing yards thrown)
  • 3rd down conversion

These numbers will break down the efficiency and effectiveness of an offense (or defense, if you’re going with allowed) and remove the “garbage time” numbers plenty of players can pile on. Contrary to the belief that stats never lie, stats can actually be the best liars when used incorrectly.

If you’ve really got a handle on the NFL game, a popular focus recently has been on coaches’ understanding of analytics and their willingness to utilize probability factors in their gameplan. For example, failing to use analytics and probability both cost the Cowboys and Broncos opening-week wins (rushing on third and long, hoarding timeouts, settling for field goals inside the three yard line, etc.). Older coaches who’ve rejected the use of modern analytics can move lines (especially over/unders) and are worth keeping tabs on.

Market factors

Outside of the game itself, bettors should understand how lines move and react to sharp bettors and the general public. One thing to remember about public betting: they are easily and drastically influenced by recency bias and nonsequitur trends. For example, Sammy Watkins almost always comes out in Week 1 and dominates, but disappears for the rest of the year. Yet year-in and year-out, Watkins is picked up in thousands of fantasy leagues with hopes that he continues his streak. This affects statistical futures from the droves of public bettors that go and bet his over in receiving yards and moves the line up (say, from 405.5 yards to 425.5 yards).

Sharp bettors (professionals and those who prepare correctly) can take advantage of moving lines and get better odds for their wagers. Taking the Watkins example, bettors who take the under now have 20 more yards of breathing room and a higher probability of success. The same goes for good players who play a poor Week 1 (ex. Saquon Barkley). Their futures will decrease due to the public all betting under their totals, and gives sharp bettors more space to work with when betting overs.
This tactic is known as fading the public and has a long track record of success.

Power Rankings vs. Power Ratings

Everyone sees Power Rankings just about everywhere you look– SportsCenter, the Herd, just about every website– and those are useful in their own right. The concept is simple, just a 1-32 list of the best team to the worst team. Maybe it’s based on metrics, maybe it’s based on the eyeball test, maybe it’s both.

Power Ratings differ quite a bit despite sounding similar. Ratings quantify the numerical advantage one team has over another based on past scores and season performance. Ratings are drawn exclusively from quantifiable metrics (though those metrics may differ person to person) and are used to help predict future scores and outcomes, rather than saying Team X is just better than Team Y and should win.

How to build your own Power Rankings

For those looking to rank teams 1-32 based on last season, the games ongoing this season, and a looking quickly at the depth chart, you can do just that. However, it likely won’t serve as a useful tool when it comes to betting, especially against the spread; you’ll want to build (or find) a set of power ratings first. That way, you’ll have a more accurate and quantifiable justification to your rankings and remove potential biases.

To create these power ratings, begin with ranking the teams according to projected number of wins. This will give you a base to work with rather than working from scratch. Assign a number to each team, starting at the top with 16 and running down to the bottom where the last ranked team receives -16. From there, adjust the numbers– 16 through -16, with zero being the middle– based on projected point totals, defensive ranks, and personnel. If interested, look up formulas on expected point differentials to create a more pinpoint rating for each team.

Putting it together

Once you have your numbers, compare two teams (numbers in parentheses are hypothetical power ratings): Indianapolis (12) @ Los Angeles Chargers (-8).

The difference between these teams ratings, 4, is now your theoretical point spread. Add in a 2.5-point advantage for the home team (Los Angeles) for an adjusted point spread of 1.5 in favor of the Colts.

Now add in your factors (injuries, metrics, etc.) to fine-tune your spread. Derwin James is out for the season and creates a massive disadvantage for the Chargers’ defensive secondary (the numbers on this are worth looking up) and should benefit the Colts at least half a point. Your final spread for this game comes out to Colts -2 (-110) @ Chargers.

Now, take your projected spread of -2 and compare it to the Vegas lines. Say the opening line comes out to Colts -4.5 (-110) @ Chargers. That should be an easy bet, since our projected point total is -2 and we would take the Chargers to cover. The process will take some refining and new factors will emerge as the season goes on, but this is the basic process in handicapping your own NFL games.

Not only will this help you quantify point spreads and decide on feasible spreads, but it will help you dig deeper and find new metrics that create a new dimension of understanding for betting on the NFL.

2020 NFL Pre-season Power Rankings

RankTeamSuper Bowl Odds
1Kansas City+600
3San Francisco+1000
4New Orleans+1100
7Tampa Bay+1400
13Green Bay+3000
14New England+2200
19LA Chargers+4500
20LA Rams+4000
26NY Giants+8000
27Las Vegas+6600
31NY Jets+8000