I usually like to do my power rankings after the first four weeks, where I feel like I have a beat on who these teams are, and then with about four games left, because I can already look ahead to potential playoff implications and how I think these squads could perform down the stretch. At this point of the season the records of all these teams are pretty indicative of where they stack up against each other, but that makes it even more crucial to compare teams with the same records, because not all schedules are built the same and not all teams are as good or bad as they seem like on paper. For the purpose of this edition I wanted to focus on the teams in the actual playoff race, so the criteria for me to analyze them more exclusively was to have at least five wins on the record, because I think you have to be at least 9-7 in both conferences to earn a Wild Card spot. With that being said, here are my power rankings heading into a crucial week 14:
We live in a crazy world right now in which the Jets share the same record as the Patriots. Last week I published an article about how underdogs dominated week three of the season and that trend continued into last Sunday, most notably the Bills winning in Atlanta, the Rams defeating the Cowboys at Jerry World and the Panthers bringing down the reigning world champs at Gillette Stadium. With all that swirling around in the air, it’s hard to point out the teams that are for real, but I tried to rank all 32 of them as of how good (or bad) I think they are right now and going forward. After week six of last season, the Vikings were a team at 5-0 many thought could win the Super Bowl because of how dominant their defense looked and I had to as my number among my power rankings back then, but they went on to finish the year right at 8-8 and miss the playoffs. So you can never know how things will pan out in the NFL, especially with the way the start of the season has surprised us already.
Now six weeks into the season we have a pretty good picture of all 32 NFL teams. Sure, you never know what will happen over the rest of the year, but I tried to rank them by the way they’ve played so far and factor in how they’ve improved since the season started or what they can still get better at. As of right now the list looks like this:
Heading into week 5 and with a quarter of the season already in the books (!) there have been a couple of surprises. I predicted the Ravens to win the AFC, but they are 1-3 right now, the Falcons are two more wins away from their 2014 total and the Eagles right now are at the bottom of the NFC East standings. To find a way to figure out all this craziness, I decided to rank all 32 teams. But instead of ranking them only based on the record, I wanted to give my opinion on who I think has played the best and how they will play from here on out.
Instead of ranking teams, I decided to list what I think are the five best defenses in football right now. Statistics certainly do matter, but I don’t look at the number of yards allowed per game. The only four categories I think really matter are points allowed, turnovers forced, red zone touchdown percentage and third down percentage. Among those defenses are only groups that play a complete game, so they play the run and pass equally as well. Let’s take a look at the very best:
Other than the NFL.com experts I don’t rank teams almost only based on their record. I look at who they played and how they performed overall. That’s why the number one team isn’t one of the teams still unbeaten.