ITB’s NFL Power Rankings
Cards Perched Atop, For Now
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In our weekly NFL team rankings, we’ll grade them by:
Caplan’s Note: We don’t subscribe to the theory that a team with a lesser can be ranked higher than a team with a better record.
1) Arizona Cardinals (4-0): I’m sort of surprised the Cardinals are this good so far. Their offense has been lights out (only team to score
30+ each week). But their defense actually has been better than expected, which will be key as the season progresses.
2) Buffalo Bills (3-1): The reason why they may make it to the Super Bowl this season resides on the defensive side — they finally
have a sustainable pass rush. The offense will dominate most weeks, but defense will take this team where it wants to go.
3) Los Angeles Rams (3-1): Give the Cardinals credit for last week’s dominating victory over the host Rams. But let’s just call it a one-week
aberration for the Rams. They’ll still push the Cardinals for the division crown.
4) Cleveland Browns (3-1): The big story for this team is the big jump the defense has made through four weeks. While most observers
want to discuss their offensive personnel, it’s time to talk about their defense.
5) Los Angeles Chargers (3-1): An impressive victory over the Raiders on Monday night. And let’s not forget they lost at least 2 TDs
during their only loss this season (to the visiting Cowboys). This team is for real and is very well coached.
6) Green Bay Packers (3-1): I’m still a little concerned about their defense at this point, but the Packer offense will be able to put up big
points most weeks. Hopefully we won’t be still discussing defensive concerns during the 2nd half of the season.
7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1): Their offense will be top 3-to-5 this season in terms of the passing game. But the one issue they have now
is the injuries in the secondary.
8) Dallas Cowboys (3-1): Their offense is on fire, but the real story here is how well DC Dan Quinn has his guys playing the past 3 games. After Week 1’s performance against the host Buccaneers, the Cowboy defense has gotten better each week—even though they’re missing a lot of players on their defensive line.
9) Kansas City Chiefs (2-2): The Eagles seem to be the “get well defense” for opposing offenses lately, and the Chiefs embarrassed the Eagles’ defense last week. No one should be concerned about the Chiefs offense this season. The issues are on defense. And DC Steve Spagnuolo usually gets things going later in the season.
10) Las Vegas Raiders (3-1): While they’ve certainly been a surprise so far, their defense has probably overachieved a bit under DC Gus Bradley. They’ll be in the Wild Card hunt, but just don’t have enough talent on defense to be a solid playoff team. The offense, however, will carry the team most weeks.
11) Cincinnati Bengals (3-1): While their schedule has been somewhat favorable so far, let’s not discount how much better their
defense has been through four games in comparison to last season.
12) Carolina Panthers (3-1): Injuries in their secondary are concerning, but the Panthers should be able to hang around in most
games once they get star RB Christian McCaffrey back from injury. QB Sam Darnold has been better than expected, which is one of the
reasons why they’re over .500 in addition to their much-improved defense.
13) Baltimore Ravens (3-1): You likely won’t find a more resilient team than the Ravens. Right when you think they might regress a bit
due to injuries situation, HC John Harbaugh has them playing very competitive football.
14) Denver Broncos (3-1): The reality is that this team has overachieved a bit so far. They’ll hang in most games due to their
running game and defense, but the QB situation is going to be the reason why they don’t wind up making the playoffs.
15) Tennessee Titans (2-2): They had an up and down first four games; Derrick Henry has been great, but injuries at WR and their
defensive deficiencies will keep them going far this season. Can the Colts catch them?
16) Seattle Seahawks (2-2): The offense is a total work in progress with OC Shane Waldron and their defense, which has been
disappointing so far. At least showed some positive signs in last week’s win over the host 49ers.
17) New Orleans Saints (2-2): My expectation for this team was 8-9 wins this season and nothing that has happened so far would make me
18) San Francisco 49ers (2-2): If QB Trey Lance has to start Sunday, you have to expect the Cardinals to bring the heat
against the rookie. My expectation was that they would be around 9-10 wins this season and that’s where they’re headed.
19) Chicago Bears (2-2): This team is hard to figure out. The QB position has not been playing at a high enough level and part of that is
their OL. Let’s revisit them again around mid-season and see if they’re performing at a higher level.
20) Minnesota Vikings (1-3): Their defense finally showed up last week, but this team has underachieved so far. I still believe they’ll
push for 9-10 wins by the end of the season, but it doesn’t look good now.
21) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3): It has been very hard to watch their passing game so far. It’s only 4 games, but if we’re being honest here,
the expectation was that their offense would make a jump and that hasn’t happened. There are lots of reasons why for that.
22) New England Patriots (1-3): By the end of the season, the Patriots will be around where most of thought they’d be (around 8-9
wins). The good thing is that rookie QB Mac Jones has shown some promise so far.
23) Washington Football Team (2-2): Journeyman QB Taylor Heinicke has their offense playing at a surprisingly high level so far, but it’s hard to believe how bad their defense has been. Can they turn it around on that side of the ball?
24) Indianapolis Colts (1-3): They had a great win last week over the host Dolphins. Can it be a start of a good run?
25) Miami Dolphins (1-3): What a disappointment they’ve been so far. So many players are underachieving.
26) Philadelphia Eagles (1-3): After a dominant performance in Week 1, this team has been in somewhat of a free fall. The Eagle offense has
shown some progress this season, while it’s still inconsistent. The defense now is now the problem after giving up back-to-back 40+ point performances.
27) New York Giants (1-3): This team has underachieved this season, make no mistake about it. But they had a terrific win over the
host Saints last week. And their much-maligned OL has actually held up better than expected so far. But the defense has dropped off from last season. That side of the ball needs to get back to where it was.
28) New York Jets (1-3): HC Robert Saleh has his guys playing hard each week and while they’re generally undermanned, they may wind
up having a few more upsets this season like they had last week against the visiting Titans.
29) Atlanta Falcons (1-3): Like the teams below, the Falcons roster has major issues, particularly on defense. It will take some time to get
this roster where GM Terry Fontenot wants it to be.
30) Detroit Lions (0-4): I’ll say this: HC Dan Campbell has his team playing hard, competitive football each week. They just have the talent
on the roster to win more than 4-5 games.
31) Houston Texans (1-3): This team is a total mess. 9 points in the last two games, getting shut out 40-0 last week. Yikes.
32) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4): They’re exactly where I thought they would be this season—in the midst of a total rebuild. At least they
finally have their franchise QB.
– Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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