2020 NFL Power Rankings: Preview to Week 8
As we approach the midway point of the NFL season, let’s look at where I rank each team on the quest to Super Bowl LV.
32. New York Jets (0-7, 4th in AFC East)
The Jets are bad at a mind-blowing level. They are in the bottom five in nearly every offensive and defensive metric this season, all while being the only winless team in the league to this point. New York has failed to score more than 17 points in all but one game this season and head to Kansas City this week as 19.5 point underdogs, the largest spread of the year. However, this dumpster fire did cover its first spread of 2020 with an 18-10 loss to the Bills in Week 7, so I guess that’s good news.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6, T-3 AFC South)
Minshew-Mania had us fooled after Week 1, didn’t they? Since the Jags’ 27-20 win over the Colts, they have lost six straight games, with the last three coming by multiple scores. This puts them right where we thought they’d be at this point in the season: in the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes. This gutted defense has allowed the third-most points this season and gets a Week 8 match-up with Houston with sole possession of last in the division up for grabs.
30. Dallas Cowboys (2-5, T-2 NFC East)
Don’t harp on me just yet for having the Cowboys this low; it comes with a reason. Dallas is dead last in total defense, points allowed, and have the second-worst point differential (-67), besting only the Jets. Now without Dak for the season, this offense is in serious trouble. Mike McCarthy has lost this locker room, so much so that the team had zero intent to stick up for QB Andy Dalton when he took that outrageous shot to the head that caused him to be removed from the 25-3 loss Sunday to Washington. I’m not sure this team wins another game.
29. Houston Texans (1-6, T-3 AFC South)
Deshaun Watson is spectacular; we all know that. Even he can’t overcome what is going on right now in Houston. The Texans fired Bill O’Brien after an 0-4 start and rightfully so, but it doesn’t look to be getting much better. They currently rank dead last in rushing yards per game and second to last in rushing yards allowed. There’s not much you can do to help your linemen mid-season, so expect nothing more from this group for the foreseeable future. They will square off with Jacksonville (1-6) on Sunday in a game NOBODY cares about.
28. New York Giants (1-6, 4th in NFC East)
Now I know you’re going to say, “The Cowboys beat the Giants! And have a better record! How can they be lower than New York?” and the answer is simple. The Giants win that game if Andy Dalton plays all four quarters OR if it were played today. The defense ranks middle of the road, but the offense is digging this team’s grave. Lack of personnel and a brutal schedule to start the year have put the Giants in a deep hole. If Daniel Jones can limit the turnovers, this team can compete in most games as they did in their 22-21 loss to the Eagles on Thursday. I said compete, not win.
27. Minnesota Vikings (1-5, 4th in NFC North)
This is genuinely the biggest letdown of the 2020 NFL Season. A year ago, a team went into New Orleans and won a playoff game, and now is simply one of the worst teams in the league. When Dalvin Cook is healthy, Minnesota has run the ball effectively, but that’s about it. Kirk Cousins is average and being paid like he’s elite. They need help on defense, where they currently give up the third-most PPG (32).
26. Atlanta Falcons (1-6, 4th in NFC South)
Another year and the same ole’ gist in Atlanta: blown leads. The Falcons have blown now three 4th quarter leads this season. After firing the coach Dan Quinn, they quickly rebounded and won their first game over the Minnesota Vikings 40-23 thanks to an offensive explosion by their dynamic duo of the last decade; Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. The Falcons need significant help in the secondary and have been riddled with injuries for the better part of two years. Look for them to continue to be in the league’s bottom third.
25. Cincinnati Bengals (1-5-1, 4th in AFC North)
The Bengals have only mustered one win and a tie this season thus far, but damn are they fun to watch. The offense line has been lackluster, which has led to rookie QB phenom Joe Burrow being under duress for most of the season, and the defense is ranked in the bottom third in nearly every statistical metric. After a heartbreaking loss to the Browns Sunday, Cincinnati will not get a break as they host RB Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans.
24. Washington Football Team (2-5, T-2 NFC East)
Coming off their best win in nearly two years, Washington comes into Week 8 with a 2-5 record: which is just about where we thought they’d be. This is a team that competes with the lower half but has not shown the ability to produce enough offense to stay in games with the elite. Although they have had their problems moving the football, this defense is one of the leagues best. They come into their bye-week ranked in the top five in yards per game and top in scoring defense.
23. New England Patriots (2-4, 3rd in AFC East)
The Pats are in trouble. Since the return of Cam Newton from his absence due to COVID-19, he has thrown five interceptions to zero passing touchdowns and has a QBR under 12 in two embarrassing losses. This is a team that many had playoff hopes for a few weeks ago, and that seems to be a distant memory now. They have a potential season-altering matchup this week as they square off with the division-leading Buffalo Bills.
22. Denver Broncos (2-4, T-3 AFC West)
Ouch. Denver looks to regain momentum after an embarrassing 43-16 loss at the defending world champion Kansas City Chiefs’ hands. Many thought this Bronco team would make the leap into playoff discussion in 2020, but injuries and par QB play by Drew Lock (when healthy) have halted those plans. They currently rank in the bottom five in scoring offense, putting up more than 21 just once this season, and it was the Jets. Denver gets a very winnable matchup this week against the Los Angeles Chargers as they look to get back into the race in the playoff race in the AFC.
21. Los Angeles Chargers (2-4, T-3 AFC West)
It’s been the same old story in LA this year. The Chargers tied the league record last year for one-score losses with eight. This season they already have four, which accounts for every loss on their resume. Rookie QB Justin Herbert has looked ready for the task and has faced a brutal schedule to open his career. The Chargers losses include Kansas City, Tampa Bay, and New Orleans (all by one score). The fifth-ranked YPG offense has had their struggles scoring second-half points, but they get an eye-opening matchup with Denver, who’s allowed 28 PPG over their last three games.
20. Carolina Panthers (3-4, 3rd in NFC South)
This is the definition of an average team, despite their losing record to this point. They have been without star RB Christian McCaffrey for most of the season with an ankle injury. Despite that, Carolina has kept themselves alive by being ranked in the middle tier in total offense, defense, and turnover differential. After a heartbreaking loss to the Saints in which the team only rushed for 37 yards, they look to rebound at home on Thursday Night Football against the Atlanta Falcons with a chance to get to .500 at the midway point of the season.
19. Miami Dolphins (3-3, 2nd in AFC East)
The Miami Dolphins currently are one game out of the final wild-card spot in the AFC. Yes, you read that correctly. Despite outscoring their opponents 67-17 over their last two, the team announced they would be benching QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in favor of the No. 5 overall pick Tua Tagovailoa. This is a move that raises eyebrows and many questions, as Fitzpatrick currently sits top 10 in the league in QBR. Do they know something we don’t? We’ll find out in Tuas’ first start this week as the Dolphins host two-time Defensive Player of the Year DT Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams.
18. Philadelphia Eagles (2-4-1, 1st in NFC East)
This NFC East division is disastrous, but the Eagles remain on top (for now). Carson Wentz is head and shoulders the best QB of the four starters right now, so that gives them the edge thus far. Philly doesn’t rank in the league’s top 10 in any offensive or defensive metric, but they have found a way to win two games and still have four division games left in which they will be favored in all of them. If Wentz can continue to elevate this less than average offensive personnel and lower his interception total (where he currently has the most in the NFL), this team should be on track for a home playoff game. The Eagles will host the Dallas Cowboys this week as heavy favorites.
17. Detroit Lions (3-3, 3rd in NFC North)
This team has yet to find their identity or put together a consistent run, yet they sit at 3-3 through Week 7. The defense has been the weak link of this team, ranking in the bottom 10 in points allowed and total yards allowed. However, they bounced back in Week 7 on the heels of a 300-yard performance and game-winning touchdown from veteran QB Matthew Stafford. This offense will be tested this week as they host the No. 2 ranked overall defense in the Indianapolis Colts.
16. Las Vegas Raiders (3-3, 2nd in AFC West)
Coach Jon Gruden has done a reasonably decent job this season, getting the Raiders back to substantial relevancy. It seems Las Vegas’s problem currently is that all of their most talented players are on the offensive side of the ball. QB Derek Carr is having his best season as a pro, leading the Raiders to a top 10 ranking in scoring offense, total yardage, and yards per game. However, the defense has allowed the second-most points in the league this season, trailing only the Cowboys. The Raiders look to bounce back after a blowout loss to Tampa Bay this week as they travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns.
15. Chicago Bears (5-2, 2nd in NFC North)
This seems like the same old story in Chicago. A talented defense led by one of the league’s best players in edge rusher Khalil Mack is hindered by quarterback play. The Bears currently are sixth in scoring defense but a bottom-five team in scoring offense. The OLine was abysmal against the Rams, allowing QB Nick Foles to be hit eight times and sacked four. They need to get it together quickly, as they host the New Orleans Saints, whose front seven is coming off a stellar week against the Carolina Panthers.
14. Indianapolis Colts (4-2, 2nd in AFC South)
The Colts come off a bye with an exciting matchup in Week 8, as they visit the Detroit Lions. They rank in the top five in every defensive metric this season, culminating one of the leagues best defenses. QB Philip Rivers has struggled to move the ball this season, posting the league’s 21st best QBR to this point. If the Colts don’t move the ball down the field effectively this week against a lackluster Lions defense after nearly losing to the Bengals in their last effort, this team could be in trouble. Look for the defense to continue to lead this group.
13. New Orleans Saints (4-2, 2nd in NFC South)
Remember a few weeks ago when we were all ready to bury the Saints? When Drew Brees “couldn’t get it done” and was washed up? Well, now this New Orleans group sits just a half-game behind Tampa Bay for the division lead and are road favorites against the Chicago Bears this week. Michael Thomas is expected to play, so we could be in for some fireworks from this offense, which we haven’t exactly seen much of. Look for the front seven to continue to impact the game and RB Alvin Kamara to set the pace as the Saints get into the heart of their schedule.
12. Cleveland Browns (5-2, T-2 AFC North)
This ranking may go down soon after the season-ending injury last week to star Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr., but for now, the Browns are in the top 12 of the league. This team plays its best when it lets the running game take over, and QB Baker Mayfield manages the game. With that being said, Baker is coming off maybe his most complete game as a pro. He posted a career-high five touchdown passes, including a game-winning toss to rookie WR Donovan People’s-Jones in the final minute. Cleveland will host the Raiders this week with momentum and a chance for their best eight-game start over a decade.
11. San Francisco 49ers (4-3, 4th in NFC West)
This is a head-scratching team. The frustration level from fans is at a point that is excruciating because despite being COMPLETELY depleted by injuries, Head Coach Kyle Shanahan has gotten this team to 4-3 and put together a nice two-game stretch. This next two-game stretch, however, will tell the tale. They get Seattle and Green Bay, who are two teams that are lead by MVP candidates and are better at this point. Look for the 49ers to continue to run the ball, as Jimmy G is currently last among starting quarterbacks in yards per attempt.
10. Arizona Cardinals (5-2, T-2 NFC West)
This is a team that can go up or down from this spot. After losing a few weeks back to Detroit, many were ready to sell stock. Despite that, the Cardinals have managed to win back to back games over the Dallas Cowboys and the undefeated Seattle Seahawks. QB Kyler Murray is currently tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns and outplayed MVP front-runner Russell Wilson on Sunday Night Football. Arizona is on a bye this week and will have to chance to rest before taking on the Dolphins in Week 9.
9. Los Angeles Rams (5-2, T-2 NFC West)
Coming off a dominant win over Chicago, the Rams reminded everyone just how good this defensive line could be. They currently rank 2nd in the NFL in scoring defense and have held opponents under 20 five times this year. The rushing game has led the way on the other side, posting the leagues 7th best rank on a yards per game basis. Suppose LA can keep the turnovers to a minimum, this a team can compete down the stretch. They go on the road in Week 8 to face the Miami Dolphins in a favorable game considering Miami has two rookie offensive linemen and Tua making his first career start.
8. Buffalo Bills (5-2, 1st in AFC East)
Buffalo is the league’s biggest mystery to this point, posting a 5-2 record despite having a bottom-five rush offense and a middle of the road defense in nearly all metrics. Could it be QB Josh Allen’s jump to being a top 10 player at his position? The acquisition of WR Stefon Diggs has helped their offensive tremendously. However, two of the Bills five wins have come against the winless Jets, and they’ve lost to the two best teams they’ve played thus far (Titans and Chiefs). We will find out much about this team heading into the heart of their schedule, starting with a favorable matchup in Week 8 against New England. With that being said: Beware of Bill. Still.
7. Seattle Seahawks (5-1, 1st in NFC West)
Defense. Wins. Championships. Seattle needs to remember what got them their only SB victory in franchise history. This defense has been historically bad, allowing the most 500 yard games through the first six (three). They rank dead last in passing and overall defense, and not a single player has more than two sacks. Without a pass rusher added at the deadline, Seattle can’t compete in the postseason.
Russell Wilson sure has been remarkable, hasn’t he? He sits atop the league in passing touchdowns (22), tied for the most in league history through six games. Losing their first game of the season this late is incredible considering how bad the defense has been and even still was one special team blunder away from being 6-0 to this point. They look to rebound this week in an important divisional game against the 49ers.
6. Green Bay Packers (5-1, 1st in NFC North)
QB Aaron Rodgers is doing it again. Aaron has thrown 17 touchdowns outside of the Tampa meltdown, without an interception and currently leads the league in QBR. This is a solid defense, although it’s not impressive. The real tale will be when the Packers play physical playoff teams, an area they have struggled the last two years. They struggled mightily against Tampa Bay but outside of that have started fast and are still the only team in the league to score on every opening possession this season. They host Minnesota this week, a game they will be heavy favorites after defeating Houston pretty easily in Week 7.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2, 1st in NFC South)
Listen. This is a current list, not a projection list. We all know Antonio Brown is coming, and it looks like Brady is turning this thing into the Tampa Bay Warriors. For now, however, this is where they are. They have pulled off back to back dominant wins over the Packers and Raiders while Brady has been lights out. This team is best No. 1 in the league in point differential and top five in sacks on defense. They have the best offensive personnel in the league and now add AB. They get a mouth-watering matchup with the Giants in Week 8, where they will be heavy favorites. If Tom can remember the down, this team will be a legitimate Super Bowl threat.
4. Baltimore Ravens (5-1, 2nd in AFC North)
For those selling stock on the Ravens: Don’t. Top-ranked rush offense. Top-ranked scoring defense. Legitimate head coach. Top Tier Quarterback. This is a good football team and outside of the Kansas City Chiefs are 24-1 in the Lamar Jackson era. They are in a perfect position to upset the undefeated Steelers this week and take over control in the AFC North as they come off a bye.
3. Tennessee Titans (5-1, 1st in AFC South)
Head coach Mike Vrabel has figured it out. After a plethora of 9-7 seasons, the Titans have exploded out of the gates in 2020. This group is No. 1 in the league in turnover differential and knows who they are, which is a real thing. Outside of a pass rush, there’s no weakness to this team, and they are a missed field goal away from taking the undefeated Steelers to overtime and potentially being 6-0. The Titans will travel to Cincinnati this week and look to get back in the win column.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (6-1, 1st in AFC West)
I mean, is there anything these guys can’t do? Reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes is all world; we know that. However, this week showed that this team is utterly reliant as they went run-heavy with their RB duo of rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire and veteran newcomer (former All-Pro) Le’Veon Bell. The Chiefs currently sit atop the league in turnover differential and look to carry momentum into Week 8 for their matchup with the winless Jets. Through and through, this is a viable Super Bowl team.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (6-0, 1st in AFC North)
As of right now, this is the league’s best team. They currently are the only team ranked in the top five in total defense and total offense after defeating the undefeated Titans 27-24 in Week 7. This team has perhaps the best front seven in the league, weapons on the perimeter, a consistent running game, a veteran coach, and a veteran QB. They face perhaps their toughest matchup yet in Week 8 as they square off with reigning MVP QB Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens.