By Nate Weitzer
Fates change quickly in the NFL as teams rise and fall on a weekly basis. In an effort to keep you informed on the league’s changing landscape, TheLines will provide weekly Power Rankings every Monday throughout the season.
These power rankings look beyond records by predicting the actual potential of each team, thus helping fans think ahead when playing fantasy football or placing bets at sportsbooks.
During the season, we’re calculating these rankings based on roster construction, coaching, and intangible factors that may or may not motivate players and coaches to reach their potential. The NFL futures odds set by sportsbooks for teams also serve as a very useful guide in determining these rankings.
As the season progresses, we will incorporate more analytics to dive deeper into the actual performance and potential of each team. For example, we will often refer to DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) as an indicator of how well a team is playing. This metric measures a team’s efficiency on every single play when compared to a league average based on situation and opponent. It can be used to break down offense, defense, or even specific skill groups and specific situations for offensive or defensive lines. We may also refer to “Weighted” DVOA, a system that places more weight on plays and games during the second half of the 2019-2020 season.
Odds will change on sportsbooks and injuries are bound to play a huge factor in the NFL season (see: Andrew Luck, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger), so stay tuned for updates each week.
Week 3 NFL Power Rankings 2019
|Rank||Team||Prev. Rank||Super Bowl Odds|
1. New England Patriots (2-0)
Whether you hate them or despise them (or are from New England), the Patriots are apparently going to keep playing and keep featuring Antonio Brown as another addition to an elite passing attack. Complementing that fearsome defense with a balanced offense makes the defending champs the obvious team to beat.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)
Patrick Mahomes shredded the overmatched Raiders secondary in Week 2, proving that he can produce whether his top receivers are active or not. Kansas City’s defense has continued to show strides and now ranks a solid 18th in DVOA against the rush, compared to 32nd last season.
3. Los Angeles Rams (2-0)
The Rams found their stride defensively and handled the Saints after Drew Brees departed Week 2 with a thumb injury. Offensively, Sean McVay’s group will be just fine with Malcolm Brown adding a power element to their running game and Cooper Kupp rounding back into form.
4. Dallas Cowboys (2-0)
Another offensive explosion for the Cowboys under new OC Kellen Moore. Dak Prescott is playing lights out in a contract year and we know what Ezekiel Elliott can do behind his massive offensive line.
5. New Orleans Saints (1-1)
Drew Brees could miss up to six weeks with a thumb injury and that leaves Teddy Bridgewater to captain what suddenly looks like a predictable offense. While New Orleans will be vulnerable without their Hall of Fame quarterback, Sean Payton is fully capable of crafting game plans around Bridgewater.
6. Baltimore Ravens (2-0)
Once again, Lamar Jackson looked fantastic against inferior competition. The dual-threat QB may eventually come back to earth, but the Ravens rock solid defense will keep them afloat in the AFC playoff hunt.
7. Green Bay Packers (2-0)
Aaron Rodgers came out on fire in Week 2, leading touchdown drives on each of the Packers first three possessions. That indicates a growing rapport with new HC Matt LaFleur and the potential that’s led some bettors to lay big money on a Futures ticket for the Packers to win the Super Bowl.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
Bitten by the injury bug on Sunday night, the Eagles nearly still pulled one out in a tough road environment. Carson Wentz is a difference-making talent and he can take this team over the top if surrounded by the right weapons.
9. Houston Texans (1-1)
The end results weren’t there for the Texans offense in Week 2, but a renewed running game behind Carlos Hyde and a reinforced offensive line that can protect Deshaun Watson should help Houston turn the corner this year.
10. Los Angeles Chargers (1-1)
Melvin Gordon’s absence was felt in Week 2, as the Chargers managed just 10 points against an underrated Lions defense. After eeking out several close wins last year, luck might have run out for Philip Rivers and company.
11. Indianapolis Colts (1-1)
With Andrew Luck retired, the Colts identity now clearly lies on the defensive side of the ball. That revamped unit led the charge in a win at Tennessee in Week 2 and would’ve earned a road win over the Chargers in Week 1 if not for a few missed kicks.
12. Minnesota Vikings (1-1)
Dalvin Cook continues to carve up opposing front sevens and the Vikings speedy defense can do enough to keep them in any games. If Kirk Cousins can avoid losing games with his mistakes, the Vikes should be alright.
13. Chicago Bears (1-1)
Throw the Bears into the same category as the Vikings, a great defensive team with an obvious issue at quarterback. Mitchell Trubisky managed to make a few throws down the stretch to earn a last-second road win in Denver, but he’ll have to play better when Chicago’s schedule ramps up.
14. Atlanta Falcons (1-1)
The Falcons showed well in their home opener against a shorthanded Eagles squad. Atlanta’s defense remains very vulnerable and the Falcons are not a great team to back when playing on the road in tough spots.
15. San Francisco 49ers (2-0)
Are the Bengals and Bucs that bad? Or is the 49ers reloaded defense that good? We’ll find out more about San Francisco’s surging D in a home showdown against the desperate Steelers this Sunday.
16. Seattle Seahawks (2-0)
Russell Wilson continues to play out of his mind and that makes even a lackluster receiving corps dangerous. Seattle is starting to rebuild its defense with Jadaveon Clowney bolstering a middling pass rush.
17. Cleveland Browns (1-1)
Taking down an injury-depleted Jets team on Monday night didn’t tell us too much about the Browns. There is plenty of talent on this roster, but it will take rapidly developing leadership skills from Baker Mayfield to pull this franchise out of its decades-long futility streak.
18. Tennessee Titans (1-1)
While the Titans are one of the most well-coached teams in the league and have an extremely talented defense, their offense clearly isn’t dynamic enough to threaten elite NFL teams.
19. Detroit Lions (1-0-1)
A 13-10 home win over the Chargers proves what we already knew about the Lions: They have an underrated defense without any glaring flaws and a mediocre offense without a consistent running game or reliable offensive line.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)
Gardner Minshew II played well in his first start for Nick Foles (shoulder) and the Jaguars defense silenced early MVP candidate Deshaun Watson. Minshew could keep the Jags in the hunt in time for Foles to return around Week 11.
21. Carolina Panthers (0-2)
All the mileage on Cam Newton seems to be catching up the big QB and the Panthers offense will be in trouble if opponents can stack the box and sell out to stop Christian McCaffrey.
22. Buffalo Bills (2-0)
Beating the Jets and Giants in consecutive weeks is a nice start for the Bills. Buffalo has a loaded defense that won’t make many mistakes, but second-year QB Josh Allen could lose some games with his tendency to force the issue.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2)
The Steelers already struggling offense is now in dire straights with Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) out for the season and James Conner (knee) questionable. Pittsburgh’s reliable defense could collapse under the strain without having any sort of reliable offense as a complement.
24. Tampa Bay Bucs (1-1)
Tampa’s defense led the way in a wacky, wild, and poorly played Thursday night game at Carolina. Chris Godwin is breaking out for the Bucs offense, but the rest of the skill players are struggling to find their roles in Bruce Arians’ system.
25. Oakland Raiders (1-1)
The Raiders couldn’t keep pace with the high-powered Chiefs in Week 2. We will learn more about Jon Gruden’s squad in tough road games at the Vikings and Colts over the next two weeks.
26. New York Jets (0-2)
Trevor Siemian (leg) went down and Sam Darnold is still out a few weeks, so the Jets will have to use Luke Falk at QB for now. With prized acquisitions Le’Veon Bell (shoulder) and C.J. Mosley (groin) already injured, the Jets aggressive offseason could be for naught.
27. Washington Redskins (0-2)
Washington continues to compete against superior opponents but simply doesn’t have the horses necessary to compete with the top teams in the league. Perhaps Washington will find some consistency on offense if LT Trent Williams ends his holdout.
28. Denver Broncos (0-2)
Joe Flacco and Emmanuel Sanders nearly stole a win from the Bears in Week 2. Yet the final score doesn’t indicate the overall futility of this offense under the immobile Flacco.
29. Arizona Cardinals (0-1-1)
Kyler Murray did well in Baltimore to produce against an elite defense. The number one overall pick should only improve as the season progresses and that gives the Cardinals a bright future.
30. New York Giants (0-2)
The Giants simply don’t have any talent on the defensive side of the ball and have coughed up nine touchdowns through their first two games. Even with a game-changing talent in Saquon Barkley, the G-Men are clearly one of the most vulnerable teams in the league.
31. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2)
The Bengals got up for their opener on the road but could do little to challenge a 49ers offense that was keyed by Raheem Mostert in Week 2. Cincy is going to be an easy matchup and may even remain that way after A.J. Green (ankle) gets back into action.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-2)
Are the 1972 Miami Dolphins watching this team closely to see if their franchise will arguably have the best and worst regular season campaigns in NFL history? This year’s squad has looked an utter embarrassment while being outscored, 102-10, over their first two games.
How to use NFL Power Rankings
Reading these weekly rankings (or even creating your own Power Rankings) can significantly increase your odds of placing correct bets against the spread each Sunday. You may even be able to create your own formula based on win probability, results over the past couple of seasons, and current updates.
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 oddsmakers by sticking to your own process.
Sports bettors tend to overreact to transactions, such as Antonio Brown leaving the Steelers, and sportsbooks adjust the odds accordingly as money comes in. This creates opportunities to bet against the public as you see value appear in the market.
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.