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AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

2020 NFL Power Rankings: Week 4

A handful of unbeaten teams have been very impressive through Week 3, but the top team in this week’s NFL power rankings is clear.


1. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) | Last week: 1

The Chiefs—as perplexing 3.5-point underdogs—playing like that in arguably the most anticipated game of the 2020 regular season is a scary sight for the rest of the league. But this weekend against the Patriots will be another tough test. It probably isn’t talked about enough the job that defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has done with the Kansas City defense over the past couple of seasons.


2. Seattle Seahawks (3-0) | Last week: 3 (+1)

The Seahawks were able to escape their matchup against a potent Cowboys offense with a victory, as D.K. Metcalf’s gaffe on a would-be touchdown that turned into a touchback did not come back to hurt them. As Pete Carroll said after the game, Metcalf’s incident will be a learning experience—and that’ll never happen again to the star receiver or anyone else on the team. Thankfully, running back Chris Carson escaped with a knee sprain after a dirty play by Cowboys defensive lineman Trysten Hill.


3. Buffalo Bills (3-0) | Last week: 4 (+1)

The Bills are in middle of an incredibly difficult stretch in their schedule, and they passed the first test with a thrilling win over the Rams last Sunday. Buffalo dominated in the first half before the Rams stormed back and took the lead, but Josh Allen again led an entertaining game-winning drive with a late touchdown throw to bring the Bills to 3-0. Allen is playing remarkably well, and he looks like an undeniable top-five quarterback early this season—he’s making a lot of people look bad for their pre-draft analysis.


4. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0) | Last week: 5 (+1)

The defense of the Steelers had a subpar performance in the first half, but they tightened up in the final 30 minutes and shutout the Texans in the second half of their 28-21 victory. Ben Roethlisberger continues to look sharp in a balanced offense with a healthy James Conner and a bunch of weapons that can beat a defense. Pittsburgh now might have an advantage this week (for a game that will be played on Monday or Tuesday) with the Titans currently out of the facility due to positive COVID-19 tests.


5. Green Bay Packers (3-0) | Last week: 7 (+2)

The Packers have point totals of 43, 42, and 37 this season, so the offense has basically been unstoppable with Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball about as well as ever. Green Bay’s offense is keeping opposing defenses off balanced, and the group didn’t even need stud receiver Davante Adams to light up the Saints on Sunday night. With a Week 5 bye coming up, the Packers are looking for a 4-0 start before regrouping and gearing up for a long stretch run without a break.


6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) | Last week: 9 (+3)

He only had 48 yards, but the talk about Rob Gronkowski not getting involved in a receiver was heard by the Bucs, and the All-Pro tight end caught six passes in Tampa Bay’s win versus Denver. Gronk and others will have to step up with Chris Godwin (hamstring) likely to miss the next couple of games, but Tom Brady has looked excellent the past two weeks after a rocky start in Week 1. Despite the loss to New Orleans in the season opener, the Bucs look like the best team in the division.


7. Baltimore Ravens (2-1) | Last week: 2 (-5)

Perhaps this is too big of a drop for the Ravens, who have had trouble against the Chiefs over the past few years (0-3 record). However, Baltimore has shown they have trouble beating teams when they fall behind—which doesn’t happen often but is more likely to occur in January when you’re in the postseason playing the best teams in the league. Look for Lamar Jackson and company to get back on track this Sunday at Washington.


8. New England Patriots (2-1) | Last week: 12 (+4)

Bill Belichick and his coaching staff have done an amazing job early in the season. New England lost players in free agency and due to opt-outs, but the defense continues to play like a major difference-making unit—and they are complemented by a versatile rushing attack that could not be stopped by the Raiders last week. The Pats have the ability to play keep-away against the best offenses in football, and this week versus the Chiefs should be fun.


9. Tennessee Titans (3-0) | Last week: 10 (+1)

Multiple positive COVID-19 tests put the Titans in a tough situation as they try to prepare to face the Steelers this Sunday, but teams understood the need to be as careful as possible to prevent situations like this. Tennessee appeared to get away from featuring Derrick Henry and the rushing attack early in Week 3, but they got it rolling in the comeback win over the Vikings—and Stephen Gostkowski was the game’s MVP with six made field goals on six attempts in the one-point victory.


10. Las Vegas Raiders (2-1) | Last week: 6 (-4)

The impressive overhaul of the Raiders offense has taken a hit over the past couple of weeks, with Henry Ruggs (hamstring) missing last week and now fellow rookie receiver Bryan Edwards out with an ankle injury. The Patriots did a good job of limiting tight end Darren Waller for Las Vegas, but Jon Gruden pointed out that there were times when Waller was open. Derek Carr has played fine through three weeks, but Marcus Mariota is someone to watch when he returns from injured reserve.


11. Los Angeles Rams (2-1) | Last week: 11

There appeared to be too many worthy top-ten teams, but I wanted the Rams to be higher in the power rankings last week—they remain at No. 11 despite their loss to the Bills. Aaron Donald took control in the trenches when LA fell behind, helping the Rams get back into the game while Sean McVay’s offense—including second-year running back Darrell Henderson having his best career game—operated at a high level during the comeback attempt. Jared Goff is playing very well through Week 3, with the Rams looking more like the team that won the NFC two seasons ago.


12. San Francisco 49ers (2-1) | Last week: 15 (+3)

There was some concern for the 49ers’ chances of beating the Giants last week while dealing with so many injuries, but Kyle Shanahan’s squad responded with the exact type of performance you’d like to see from a team many saw as in trouble. Nick Mullens again did a nice job of operating the offense, and Jimmy Garoppolo is expected to return after a one-game absence—with All-Pro tight end George Kittle also likely to return. Deebo Samuel may be a week away as he works his way off injured reserve, but the San Francisco offense is performing like expected against below average teams.


13. Chicago Bears (3-0) | Last week: 16 (+3)

I picked the Bears to win the NFC North with the expectation that either Mitchell Trubisky would show more consistency or that Nick Foles would take over at quarterback. It’s option B, and Chicago’s offense and entire team might have a new energy with the former Super Bowl champion under center. Before the game-winning touchdown against the Falcons, Foles told Anthony Miller to run to the “L” in the end zone if the defense all-out blitzes and it’ll be a touchdown, and that’s exactly what happened—Foles is pretty much just a baller.


14. New Orleans Saints (1-2) | Last week: 8 (-6)

It’s only been three weeks, but maybe we all overestimated the strength of the Saints roster this season. While I picked them to miss the postseason, I thought the roster was among the strongest in the league entering the season—they certainly haven’t played like it, particularly on defense, thus far. The offense has been OK without Michael Thomas (thanks in large part to Alvin Kamara), but the defense must improve for the Saints to turn things around.


15. Indianapolis Colts (2-1) | Last week: 18 (+3)

Former All-Pro cornerback Xavier Rhodes is still just 30 years old and was a wise pickup by the Colts after the Vikings cut him during the offseason—Rhodes is coming off an AFC Defensive Player of the Week performance for an Indy defense that’s been dominant over the past two weeks. This Sunday against a confident Bears team will be a tougher challenge, but Philip Rivers appears to be getting more comfortable himself while leading a new offense.


16. Arizona Cardinals (2-1) | Last week: 14 (-2)

Kyler Murray tried to force too much in Arizona’s loss to Detroit, and he now has five interceptions through three games—and the fear is that Lions head coach Matt Patricia’s gameplan might give other defenses something to work with as they figure out how to stop Murray moving the ball through the air to DeAndre Hopkins and company.


17. Dallas Cowboys (1-2) | Last week: 13 (-4)

At 1-2, the Cowboys are still tied for the lead in the NFC East, with a schedule that lightens up after facing the Rams and Seahawks in two of their first three games—Dallas gets three consecutive home games against the Browns, Giants, and Cardinals over the next three weeks. The defense needs to figure some things out after allowing a ton of yardage and points in Weeks 2 and 3, but Dak Prescott and the offense can probably keep up with anyone.


18. Cleveland Browns (2-1) | Last week: 22 (+4)

The Browns have an above .500 for the first time since 2014, so it’ll be huge if they can get two games over the mark with a win over Dallas this Sunday. Cleveland has followed the ideal formula during their two-game winning streak: limited pass attempts for Baker Mayfield in an offense that rides Nick Chubb (19 carries on Sunday) and Kareem Hunt (16 carries on Sunday). The Browns defense wreaked some havoc on an undermatched Washington offense last Sunday.


19. Los Angeles Chargers (1-2) | Last week: 17 (-2)

Justin Herbert recorded his second 300-yard passing performance in as many starts to begin his career, but he and rookie running back Joshua Kelley (one fumble lost) showed that the Chargers are relying on some inexperience to lead their offense, so there needs to be patience. With Chris Harris Jr. (foot) now out multiple weeks, the Chargers will need everyone to step up to contain the Bucs this weekend.


20. Atlanta Falcons (0-3) | Last week: 19 (-1)

I don’t get much into win probabilities created by a computer, but the Falcons were around 99% in each of the past two games but lost them both. Unfortunately, giving up late leads has become a trait for Atlanta, but it’s good to hear that the players are still strongly behind head coach Dan Quinn. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones (hopefully will be back after missing last week with a hamstring injury), and other leaders must play lights out at Lambeau Field on Monday night.


21. Houston Texans (0-3) | Last week: 21

Bill O’Brien had Houston come out strong at Pittsburgh last week, but the offense faltered in the second half as the team dropped to 0-3. Houston isn’t panicking, but they need to take advantage of a couple of home games coming up against the winless Vikings and one-win Jaguars—getting to 2-3 before a Week 6 matchup at Tennessee would be big.


22. Philadelphia Eagles (0-2-1) | Last week: 20 (-2)

It’s been several years since things have been this bad in Philadelphia, and Eagles head coach Doug Pederson sounds dejected after an 0-2-1 start in which he was widely criticized for punting to end overtime against the Bengals—but Carson Wentz simply has to play better, and the 0-5-1 start the Eagles are looking at with their tough schedule coming up might lead to Jalen Hurts getting a chance to give the team a spark at some point despite Pederson calling that a “knee-jerk reaction”.


23. Detroit Lions (1-2) | Last week: 29 (+6)

Matt Patricia desperately needed that win over the Cardinals, and I’m interested to see the type of strategy he employs against a Saints team that’s done a lot of its damage on underneath passes (to Alvin Kamara in particular). Not to look too far ahead, but if Detroit can beat New Orleans and get to 2-2, they have a promising matchup with the Jaguars on deck.


24. Minnesota Vikings (0-3) | Last week: 23 (-1)

The Vikings were expected to take a slight step back this season because of the revamped defense during an offseason and summer hugely impacted by a global pandemic, but not many saw an 0-3 start coming for a team coached by Mike Zimmer. One promising takeaway from Week 3 is the play of the offense, as Kirk Cousins and the passing attack got going, and first-round receiver Justin Jefferson broke out with 175 yards and a touchdown.


25. Miami Dolphins (1-2) | Last week: 28 (+3)

Veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was having as much fun as anyone last Thursday night against the Jaguars, and the Dolphins have an opportunity to sling the ball around more this Sunday against the Seahawks. Getting in the win column paired with the mini bye week could have the Dolphins in position to surprise this Sunday as they look to get to .500 through a quarter of the season.


26. Carolina Panthers (1-2) | Last week: 30 (+4)

Matt Rhule is on the board for his first career win, and the Panthers will probably continue to compete and win more games than expected this season. Mike Davis played well while filling in for All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey, leading an offense that didn’t need to put up a bunch of points against the Chargers in a low-scoring game. The defense is tough and will fly around, and we’ll see how they fare against Kliff Kingsbury’s offense this weekend.


27. Washington Football Team (1-2) | Last week: 25 (-2)

The Week 1 victory over the Eagles doesn’t look all that impressive for Washington anymore, and now the Football Team must deal with no Chase Young (groin) for at least this week against an angry Ravens squad. Dwayne Haskins did a good job of taking care of the football in the first two games, but he threw three interceptions versus the Browns—multiple turnovers from the quarterback will make it especially hard for Washington to win games.


28. Denver Broncos (0-3) | Last week: 24 (-4)

Like many teams this season, injuries have hit the Broncos very hard—and they’re in a tough spot right now, having to start second-year undrafted quarterback Brett Rypien on a short week. Ignore people that are complaining that the Broncos didn’t sign Cam Newton this offseason. Newton would not have signed as a backup, and Denver is giving Drew Lock an opportunity to be the long-term quarterback after a promising rookie season—any argument otherwise is disingenuous or attention-seeking.


29. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) | Last week: 27 (-2)

D.J. Chark’s absence hurt Jacksonville’s passing attack last Thursday, as Gardner Minshew couldn’t get much going. However, undrafted rookie running back James Robinson continues to be one of the great stories from early this season—the Jags certainly made the right move parting ways with Leonard Fournette before the season.


30. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2-1) | Last week: 31 (+1)

Ties in the NFL are always weird, and it probably felt odd for Joe Burrow to have his first non-loss in the NFL come as not a win either. Burrow is showing exceptional toughness behind a struggling offensive line, but hopefully he can stay healthy—Cincinnati wants Burrow to take fewer hits, but they also need the offensive line to help him out a bit more. The Bengals face the Jags this Sunday as they look to get in the win column.


31. New York Giants (0-3) | Last week: 26 (-5)

Many expected the Giants to have a legit shot at beating the depleted Niners, but they were instead blown out. The bright side is the NFC East looks so bad again this season that the Giants are still just one game out of first place and can quickly climb out of this No. 31 spot if they can turn things around.


32. New York Jets (0-3) | Last week: 32

The stance has been that the franchise will be patient with Adam Gase, but it feels like tomorrow night against the Broncos is a critical point for Gase with the Jets. Gregg Williams and the New York defense will be looking to feast on an inexperienced quarterback making his first career start.


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