First Quarter NFL Power Rankings

The first quarter of the NFL season is in the books. I break down each division as they stand at the moment and list my Power Rankings. Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Ron Schwane

AFC East

The two best teams in the AFC East squared off on Sunday. Buffalo hosted the visiting New England Patriots in what was a really physical game. Had it not been for four Buffalo turnovers (all interceptions), the Bills might have been able to pull out the win. The Patriots, with some special teams help, were able to come away the victors 16-10. These two teams are clearly the best teams in the division while the Dolphins and Jets may just be the worst teams in the entire NFL. They are statistically anyway, as the Jets and Dolphins have the least productive offenses in the league. The Dolphins are also last in pretty much every defensive category as well. After four weeks, their point differential is -137! That means they have lost their first four games by an average of 34.25 ppg. Unfortunately, we will have to wait another month before either of these bottom teams play each other.

  1. New England Patriots (4-0)
  2. Buffalo Bills (3-1)
  3. New York Jets (0-3)
  4. Miami Dolphins (0-4)

AFC North

Another division in the AFC where the two teams at the top of the division right now, are clearly better than the other two teams. Cleveland manhandled a really good Baltimore team on Sunday, a Baltimore team that had been putting up tremendous numbers thanks to QB Lamar Jackson. Cleveland is also good offensively, but really struggled to get the ball in the end zone prior to Sunday’s game. Both teams are really good, but I have to think that the division title is going to run through Cleveland at this moment. The two teams at the bottom of the division are just awful. Pittsburgh is without Ben Roethlisberger for the remainder of the year, but even before his injury the offense looked terrible. Cincinnati’s offense and defense have been absolutely atrocious, and that was on full display last night when Pittsburgh finally got in the win column in a Monday Night Showdown between the Steelers and Bengals.

T-1. Cleveland Browns (2-2)
T-1. Baltimore Ravens (2-2)
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3)
4. Cincinnati Bengals (0-4)

AFC South

This is really a strange division this year, in which literally anyone can win this thing. All four teams enter Week 5 all tied for first at 2-2. I personally believe Houston is the best team, but have lost both of their NFC South crossover match-ups so far (New Orleans and Carolina). They all have really good, middle of the road defenses that don’t give up a lot of yards or points. Indianapolis has actually been very surprising so far. After Andrew Luck retired right before the season, the outlook in Indy was bleak. But a 2-2 start with wins over Tennessee and Atlanta, may just be giving Colts fans some hope. I still don’t think they win the division, but they might just compete for a wild card spot. Still a long way to go in the regular season, but if the first four weeks are any indication, the AFC South division race is going to be a fun one to watch.

T-1. Houston Texans (2-2)
T-1. Indianapolis Colts (2-2)
T-1. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2)
T-1. Tennessee Titans (2-2)

AFC West

Is anyone else surprised with just how bad Denver has been so far? I mean their defense hasn’t been awful, which you would expect from Denver. They always play good defense, but their offense has been horrid. They have absolutely no running game. Joe Flacco just can’t seem to get the offense going as they are averaging 17.5 ppg. No surprise though that Kansas City is 4-0 and is setting defenses on fire. Patrick Maholmes is looking like a league MVP right now and is putting up video game numbers. The defense they have there in KC isn’t bad either. This might be the only division in the AFC where there will be little to no drama in determining who gets the crown. With Denver being so bad and KC being outstanding, the Raiders and Chargers find themselves somewhere in the middle. They aren’t bad, but they’re not really any good either.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)
    T-2. Oakland Raiders (2-2)
    T-2. Los Angeles Chargers (2-2)
    4. Denver Broncos (0-4)

NFC East

Dallas looked really good through three weeks, but had a terrible night at New Orleans on Sunday Night. Dak and Zeke are serious offensive weapons, but couldn’t do much against that Saints defense. The Cowboys defense has been spectacular as they are only giving up 14 ppg. Philly got a good win over Green Bay this week, but has a weird loss to a really bad Falcons team a couple of weeks ago. Washington is just terrible and will compete for the “worst team in the league” spot this year. My biggest takeaway from this division is the Giants and the new life that they have after making the quarterback switch to rookie Daniel Jones. Offensively, they just look like a brand new team. There are still question marks on defense, but if Jones and the offense can continue their hot streak, they should at least compete for a playoff spot.

  1. Dallas Cowboys (3-1)
    T-2. Philadelphia Eagles (2-2)
    T-2. New York Giants (2-2)
    4. Washington Redskins (0-4)

NFC North

This might just be the best and the toughest division in the NFL. All four teams are at least .500 and have been giving other teams fits. Detroit nearly pulled off an upset by beating Kansas City this week. This Lions have been great on offense, but are very suspect on defense giving up over 400 yards a game and almost 24 ppg. The Green Bay Packers already have good division wins over Chicago and Minnesota, but a non-existent running game was the cause of their lone loss to Philadelphia. If the Packers can get that figured out, they will be hard to beat. Chicago might have one of the best defenses in the league, but they really struggle to move the ball and score, ranked 30th in total offense and 28th in ppg. Thankfully, they can lean on that defense, but don’t expect them to win to many high scoring games. The Vikings are sort of in the same boat as Chicago. Good on defense, but not great on offense.

T-1. Green Bay Packers (3-1)
T-1. Chicago Bears (3-1)
3. Detroit Lions (2-1-1)
4. Minnesota Vikings (2-2)

NFC South

Carolina has now run off two straight wins on the road. The offense is finally starting to come together with back-up Kyle Allen behind center. Kicker Joey Slye has been fantastic for the Panthers through the first four weeks. Their defense is one of the best in the league ranked 5th in total defense and 11th in ppg. New Orleans continues to roll, even without star QB Drew Brees. Teddy Bridgewater has come in as more of a game manager and the Saints are leaning heavily on RB Alvin Kamara and that defense right now. The biggest surprises to me from this division are the Bucs and the Falcons. The Falcons have just looked awful, with their only win coming at home to Philadelphia in a close game. The Buccaneers, on the other hand, are rolling offensively, putting up a bunch of yards and a bunch of points. Solid wins over Carolina and the L.A. Rams have the Bucs at 2-2 right now, which a lot of folks thought they’d probably be 0-4. With Brees out in New Orleans, this is the perfect opportunity for Tampa or Carolina to sneak in and win the division. Still plenty of football to go though.

  1. New Orleans Saints (3-1)
    T-2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2)
    T-2. Carolina Panthers (2-2)
    4. Atlanta Falcons (1-3)

NFC West

This is a division that features three really good teams and one really bad team. San Francisco is off to a hot start at 3-0. Jimmy Garoppolo has been really good for the 49ers, but the big thing has been their defense which is 3rd in total defense and 8th in ppg. The Rams have good wins over Carolina, New Orleans and Cleveland. Jared Goff has already put up over 1,200 passing yards and the offense if 5th in the league for most points scored. Seattle’s three wins are all to three bottom dwellers in the league with a close loss at home to New Orleans. Meanwhile in Phoenix, the Cardinals are being outscored by an average of 10 points per game and the defense is next to last in yards given up. The NFC West appears to be a three horse race this season.

  1. San Francisco 49ers (3-0)
    T-2. Seattle Seahawks (3-1)
    T-2. Los Angeles Rams (3-1)
    4. Arizona Cardinals (0-3-1)

Power Rankings

  1. Kansas City
  2. New England
  3. New Orleans
  4. San Francisco
  5. Dallas
  6. Green Bay
  7. Chicago
  8. Buffalo
  9. L.A. Rams
  10. Cleveland
  11. Seattle
  12. Detroit
  13. Tampa Bay
  14. Carolina
  15. Jacksonville
  16. Baltimore
  17. Houston
  18. Philadelphia
  19. L.A. Chargers
  20. Oakland
  21. Minnesota
  22. Indianapolis
  23. Tennessee
  24. N.Y. Giants
  25. Falcons
  26. Cardinals
  27. Steelers
  28. Broncos
  29. Cincinnati
  30. N.Y. Jets
  31. Washington
  32. Miami

Let me know what you think about my power rankings, where I’m right and where you think I missed the mark. Check out The Spread podcast on Soundcloud.com. Like and follow us on Twitter @SpreadTarrant. You can also check us out on Facebook at The Spread w/ Cameron Tarrant.

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