NFL Power Rankings, Week 1: The top 15 teams
15) Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers won the NFC North with a 13-3 record. But they only outscored their collective opponents by a combined 63 points over those 16 games.
14) Minnesota Vikings
Sack differential, a very telling stat to how good a team truly is, was one of the Vikings strengths last year. Only the Rams, Saints, and Steelers were better.
13) Los Angeles Rams
Much has been made about the Rams offensive line being a weakness. However, Los Angeles has the best sack differential (+28) in the league and was amongst the best in producing sacks and not allowing them.
12) Buffalo Bills
There are high hopes for the Bills this year, who will be led by third-year quarterback Josh Allen. And, that seems warranted. But it should be noted that Buffalo’s opponents in 2019 only won 45.7% of their games, a very low percentage.
11) Indianapolis Colts
The Colts were +370 in penalty yards last year. That led the league by a pretty wide margin and is unlikely to keep up. One season removed from Andrew Luck retiring, Philip Rivers is now under center. Let’s see if the Colts can make it back to the playoffs in 2020.
10) Tennessee Titans
Considering the style of play that Tennessee employs on an offense that goes through Derrick Henry, it is somewhat alarming that their time of possession was amongst the worst in the NFL last year. Only Washington, Arizona, the New York Giants, and Miami were worse.
9) Philadelphia Eagles
When factoring in the final win/loss percentage of all of Philadelphia’s opponents in 2019, only the Giants faced a more manageable schedule than the Eagles.
8) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay finished the 2019 season with a losing record but were winning by four points on average at halftime throughout their 16 games. Now, let’s imagine the Bucs not turning the ball over so much. After making several moves in free agency, including Tom Brady, can Tampa Bay be the first NFL team in history to play in their home stadium in Super Bowl LIV?
7) Seattle Seahawks
When factoring in the final win/loss percentage of all of Seattle’s opponents in 2019, the Seahawks ended up playing the most challenging schedule in the league last year.
6) Pittsburgh Steelers
On a per play basis, only the Steelers and Raiders averaged the same yardage they produced on offense as they allowed on defense. Pittsburgh’s number was 4.7 yards per play, while Oakland’s was 5.9. In this metric, only the Jets offense was worse than Pittsburgh’s, while the Steelers defense tied with New England’s and San Francisco’s as the best in the league. Ben Roethlisberger is back and healthy. Let’s see if Pittsburgh’s offense can get back on track.
The top 5 NFL teams
5) Dallas Cowboys
Many would assume that the Chiefs produced the most yards per play on offense last year, but it was Dallas, and it wasn’t particularly close. The Cowboys’ 6.5 yards per offensive play was .3 yards better than Kansas City’s, which is a considerable number for an entire NFL season.
4) San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers and Cowboys were far and away from the best teams in the league last year in yards per play differential at +1.3. No other team in the NFL was better than +.9.
3) New Orleans Saints
The Saints won 13 games last year despite losing the penalty yardage differential by 349 yards in 2019. Only the Raiders were worse.
2) Baltimore Ravens
There are many remarkable numbers associated with the 2019 Ravens, including Lamar Jackson’s numbers. Still, the most impressive and maybe most important is that Baltimore, on average, went into the locker room at halftime with a whopping 7.2 points lead and lead by 5.3 points on average after the first quarter. Can they finish first in the AFC North again in 2020?
1) Kansas City Chiefs
Last year, the Chiefs held the lead on the scoreboard for 37:23 of clock time per average. Only the Ravens were better at 38:54. Remember, games start at 0-0. The Chiefs begin their season on Thursday night against the Texans. They’re number one in my Week 1 NFL Power Rankings. Can they stay there in Week 2?
Matt Williamson is a Senior NFL Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @WilliamsonNFL.