News & Analysis

2019 PFF Week 8 NFL Power Rankings

Now through Week 7 of the 2019 NFL season, we at PFF have updated our power rankings using PFFELO.

Like any ELO system, it adjusts the ranking of a team after each game based on what happened in the game and the perceived strengths of the team and its opponent prior to the game. As opposed to most other ELO systems, PFF ELO doesn’t use the final score to update the rankings. Instead, we compute what the final score should have been based on the player grades. Thus the predictive power of our grades carries over to a strong predictive power of our ELO rankings, though we should note that other variables go into our season-long or game-by-game projections.

1. New England Patriots

Last Week: 1st 

The Patriots are one of the two remaining unbeaten teams left in the NFL, and it’s been a relatively comfortable 7-0 start thanks to an absolutely suffocating defense. After subjecting Sam Darnold to ghosts on Monday night, they’re “allowing” – though the better term might be forcing – nearly -0.5 EPA per play as a defense. In other words, opposing offenses are losing almost half an expected point every time they run a play. For context, the Bears led the league with -0.169 EPA allowed per play last season.

2. New Orleans Saints

Last Week: 2nd

Teddy Bridgewater has performed well above expectations starting in place of the injured Drew Brees over the past few weeks, as he enters Week 8 as the NFL's 15th-ranked signal-caller in PFF passing grade (71.6) with seven big-time throws and just five turnover-worthy plays. Star wideout Michael Thomas and the team's two starting offensive tackles, Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk, have played their part in the Saints' success, as well. All three players rank inside the top-10 at their position in PFF overall grade.

3. Kansas City Chiefs

Last Week: 4th 

The Chiefs will be without star quarterback Patrick Mahomes for at least the team's Week 8 matchup against Green Bay and likely longer, but one reason for optimism in Kansas City is the secondary, which is exceeding expectations to this point in the season. They are allowing a passer rating of just 79.7 when the opposing quarterback has a clean pocket to work from this season (second-best in the NFL). They’ll need a big day from that secondary against the red-hot Aaron Rodgers on Sunday Night Football.

4. San Francisco 49ers

Last Week: 3rd

The 49ers' defense is legit. Adding Nick Bosa and Dee Ford this offseason has boosted the team's pass-rush significantly. Including Bosa and Ford, San Francisco has four edge defenders ranked inside the top-15 in PFF overall grade among those with 120 or more defensive snaps played through Week 7. The team also ranks ninth in pressure percentage (38.3%), second in yards per play (4.1) and second in EPA per play allowed (-0.365).

5. Minnesota Vikings

Last Week: 5th

Kirk Cousins is hitting his stride. He enters Week 8 ranked fourth in PFF passing grade (83.9) with 14 big-time throws and six turnover-worthy plays. The Cousins-led passing attack also ranks second in percentage of explosive plays (19.4%) among all NFL offenses.

6. Baltimore Ravens

Last Week: 7th 

Going into Seattle and beating MVP candidate Russell Wilson and the Seahawks on the road is a statement victory for this Ravens team, who have built a nice lead for themselves in the AFC North. The game-breaking ability that Lamar Jackson brings as a rusher both on designed runs and drive-extending scrambles is the primary reason that their rushing attack has seen so much success. The Ravens currently own by far the league’s best EPA per rushing play, adding over 0.1 expected points per rush on the season.

7. Los Angeles Rams

Last Week: 8th

Coming off a 37-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 7, the Rams move up a spot in our PFFELO rankings and enter Week 8 with the sixth-ranked defense in EPA per play allowed (-0.102). Aaron Donald has been a menace for the Rams so far this season, as he leads all defenders with 140 or more pass-rush snaps in PFF pass-rush grade (91.4). Los Angeles ranks seventh in pressure percentage (39%) through seven weeks of play.

8. Green Bay Packers

Last Week: 10th

Aaron Rodgers & Co. dismantled the visiting Raiders in Week 7 and have moved up two spots in our PFFELO model entering Week 8. Rodgers leads all NFL quarterbacks with 140 or more dropbacks this season in PFF passing grade (87.1), with 19 big-time throws and just four turnover-worthy plays. He and the Packers should continue to roll through the NFC, especially when a healthy Davante Adams returns to the starting lineup.

9. Houston Texans

Last Week: 6th

A loss to their primary competition in the AFC South—the Colts—was not an ideal result for the Texans by any measure in Week 7, but they are still well-positioned for a playoff run in an open AFC. With Deshaun Watson playing as well as he has in his young career, ranking fifth among quarterbacks in overall grade, there aren’t too many games that the Texans won’t find themselves in. His 16 big-time throws are fewer than only Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers this season.

10. Dallas Cowboys

Last Week: 16th

Dallas cruised to a 37-10 win over the visiting Eagles in Week 7 due in large part to the play of starting quarterback Dak Prescott. The fourth-year signal-caller earned his second-highest single-game grade of the season against Philly and now enters Week 8 ranked fifth in PFF passing grade (82.3). Dallas goes as Dak goes, and the wins will continue to stack up if he continues to play at a high level.

11. Indianapolis Colts

Last Week: 15th 

Victories over the Chiefs and the Texans, two of the bigger threats in the AFC, have the Colts demanding a certain level of respect heading into Week 8. Jacoby Brissett had one of his better games of the season against Houston with a 78.8 passing grade, but he still ranks just 26th out of 32 qualifying quarterbacks on the season in overall grade. Frank Reich is arguably the league’s best head coach, and the Colts have plenty of pieces in place around Brissett—namely one of the top offensive lines in the NFL—but moving forward, he’ll need more performances like the one against the Texans for the Colts to make some noise late in the season.

12. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last Week: 13th

The Steelers' continued presence in the top half of this list is one of the more interesting results of the PFFELO model, but after an ugly loss against New England in the opener, their other three losses have been narrow defeats to the 49ers, Seahawks and Ravens, which indicates they may not be as bad as their record would make it seem. The Steelers' defense has been a top-10 unit on the season, but if they want to climb back into the playoff picture, Mason Rudolph and the offense will have to show the ability to push the ball downfield in the passing game. His 6.7-yard average depth of target is tied for third-lowest in the NFL this season among qualifiers.

13. Seattle Seahawks

Last Week: 9th

After three consecutive wins, the Seahawks suffered a loss at home to Lamar Jackson‘s Ravens and drop to 5-2 on the year. Russell Wilson has been fantastic to start this season, but he earned the lowest single-game passing grade of the year against Baltimore. He threw a bad interception to Marcus Peters that he returned to the house for six points and averaged just 5.9 yards per attempt in the contest.

14. Carolina Panthers

Last Week: 14th

After a strong start to the year, Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen has crashed back down to earth in recent weeks. He earned an 86.5 passing grade in his first start against Arizona in Week 3 before earning sub-50.0 passing grades in Weeks 4 and 5. Allen's accuracy is starting to become a concern and will likely cost Carolina against the 49ers in Week 8 if he continues to struggle.

15. Chicago Bears

Last Week: 11th

Chicago is in a bit of a freefall with Mitchell Trubisky playing a lot like, well, Mitchell Trubisky. He is the lowest-graded quarterback in the NFL and should have the Bears' brass (and Bears fans) researching other options under center for the near future.

16. Philadelphia Eagles

Last Week: 12th

Losing badly to the Cowboys in Week 7, Philadelphia drops four spots to No. 16 in PFFELO. Quarterback Carson Wentz still ranks third in PFF passing grade (84.5) entering Week 8, but he simply hasn't had enough help from his supporting cast to live up to high expectations. Despite leading the NFL in pressure percentage (40.9%), the Eagles' defense ranks 24th in yards per play allowed (7.4).

17. Tennessee Titans

Last Week: 19th

The Titans took advantage of a floundering Chargers team and a botched opportunity on the goal line to secure their third victory of the season, and they did so with Ryan Tannehill at the helm for the first time. Tannehill rewarded their confidence with a 79.5 overall grade in the game, which was higher than Marcus Mariota had recorded in any single game this season. Also impressing in his debut was rookie interior defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons. He recorded an overall grade of 90.7 behind three quarterback pressures in 11 pass-rushing snaps.

18. Buffalo Bills

Last Week: 20th 

The Bills are out to a 5-1 start after victories over the #17, #28, #30, #31 and #32 teams on this list. Needless to say, that 5-1 start doesn’t hold as much weight as it would suggest. To be fair, their defense has been excellent. The Bills rank third in EPA allowed per play through the first seven weeks of the season. The issue is that quarterback Josh Allen has struggled even with their favorable early schedule. He ranks 27th among qualifying quarterbacks in overall grade, and 68% of his passes 20 or more yards downfield have been uncatchable (highest rate in the NFL).

19. Los Angeles Chargers

Last Week: 18th 

Over the past three weeks, the Chargers have lost to Joe Flacco, FCS undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges and Ryan Tannehill. Things are looking grim in Los Angeles. Across those three losses, Melvin Gordon has 36 carries for just 81 yards, 68 of which have come after contact. Only one of those rushes has gone for a first down. The contrast between the first four weeks of the season in which Austin Ekeler recorded a first down or touchdown on 27% of his rushing attempts is stark.

20. Denver Broncos

Last Week: 17th 

The Broncos had a golden opportunity to get a big win against the Chiefs on Thursday night after Mahomes went down early with his injury, and they proceeded to lose by 20-plus. It comes as no surprise that they are now a seller, sending Emmanuel Sanders to the 49ers for draft capital. On the bright side, Courtland Sutton has shown he is capable of stepping into the top wideout role this season. After finishing 2018 with fewer drops than only Michael Crabtree, Sutton has yet to drop a pass in 2019.

21. Cleveland Browns

Last Week: 22nd 

Cleveland will be hoping that the bye week gave them a reset on a season that to this point can be classified as nothing but disappointing. The most important part of that reset is quarterback Baker Mayfield. After a promising rookie season, Mayfield has clearly regressed in Year 2. He hasn’t been as bad as the surface level numbers would indicate (11 interceptions yet only eight turnover-worthy plays), but he has been inaccurate. Mayfield’s accuracy rate of 56% ranks 26th among 32 qualifying quarterbacks.

22. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last Week: 26th 

The Jaguars got the gift that is a game against the Bengals this past weekend, raising their record on the season to 3-4. It was their first game in a world without star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, but they were still able to easily take care of Andy Dalton and the Bengals' passing attack. The Jaguars had three interceptions in the game, and in all honesty, that number should have been even higher considering they dropped two additional picks. They’ll look to see similar results against Darnold and the Jets this upcoming weekend.

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last Week: 24th

The Jameis Winston era may be coming to a close in Tamp Bay. Winston's roller-coaster play has too many downs and not enough ups for the Bucs to be successful even with Bruce Arians pulling the strings. Winston enters Week 8 ranked 22nd in PFF passing grade with more turnover-worthy plays (19) than big-time throws (9).

24. Oakland Raiders

Last Week: 23rd 

Coming off back-to-back wins against the Colts and the Bears, the Raiders promptly halted any momentum they had by allowing Aaron Rodgers to have a field day against their defense. They weren’t able to generate any pressure on him despite Rodgers recording an average time to throw of 3.0 seconds, his longest mark of the season. On the offensive side of the ball, Darren Waller had another strong showing. He has now caught 44-of-50 targets this season for 485 yards and two touchdowns. 

25. Detroit Lions

Last Week: 21st

After a promising start to the 2019 season, Matt Patricia and the Lions find themselves ranked fourth in the NFC North at 2-3-1 coming off back-to-back division losses. Quarterback Matthews Stafford has played better than he has in previous years, but the defense enters Week 8 ranked 24th in EPA allowed per play (0.051).

26. Atlanta Falcons

Last Week: 25th

Despite having a roster loaded with talent in Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Deion Jones, Atlanta has drastically underwhelmed to start the season and enters Week 8 with just one win in seven games. The defense ranks 30th in EPA per play allowed and is showing no signs of life in recent weeks. Dan Quinn's defense has allowed 20 or more points every game this year and 30-plus points in each of the past three games.

27. Arizona Cardinals

Last Week: 30th

Kyler Murray and the Cardinals' offense has shown signs of life in recent weeks, but it will take much more than Murray's efforts to climb the team's defense out of the pits of despair. The Murray-led offense enters Week 8 ranked 11th in EPA per play, but the team's defense ranks just 29th in EPA per play allowed.

28. New York Jets

Last Week: 28th 

Things were looking up in New York with the return of Sam Darnold bringing a win against the Cowboys, but that quickly took a turn for the worse on Monday night against the Patriots. Darnold had just about as poor a game as you’re ever going to see, consistently coughing up the ball to New England with ugly turnovers. His 23.7 overall grade for the game was the lowest of any quarterback with 25 or more snaps since the start of last season. 

29. Washington Redskins

Last Week: 27th

The lone bright spot for the Redskins this season has been rookie wideout Terry McLaurin. He leads the team in overall grade (81.4) and ranks eighth at his position in PFF receving grade (83.0).

30. New York Giants

Last Week: 29th

The hype surrounding rookie quarterback Daniel Jones following his comeback win over the Bucs has faded. He ranks 26th among the 29 NFL quarterbacks with at least 140 dropbacks through Week 7 in PFF passing grade (62.0). Jones and the Giants are still a ways away from competing in the NFC.

31. Miami Dolphins

Last Week: 32nd 

Moving up from 32nd to 31st in these rankings is perhaps the only win that the Dolphins will see come their way this season. A Ryan Fitzpatrick-led group did put up a valiant effort against the one-loss Bills last week, but ultimately, they fell short for their seventh consecutive loss. Whether they actually want to win or not, Fitzpatrick does give them a better chance of stealing a game with his volatile play. Josh Rosen’s PFF grade of 46.6 since the start of last season is easily the worst in the NFL among qualifying quarterbacks.

32. Cincinnati Bengals

Last Week: 31st 

There isn’t much going right for the Bengals this season, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that the time to move on from Andy Dalton is going to come sooner rather than later. With the trade deadline approaching, it will be interesting to see the Bengals’ approach on several of their valuable veterans — A.J. Green, Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap to name a few. Green, particularly, holds significant value when healthy as one of the premier wide receivers and deep threats in the league. Since 2010, Green’s 31 touchdowns on passes 20 or more yards downfield fall behind only Desean Jackson.

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