News & Analysis

2019 PFF Week 7 NFL Power Rankings

Now through Week 6 of the 2019 NFL season, we at PFF have updated our power rankings using PFFELO. The top-10 has shifted significantly after the top-two spots, including two new teams moving their way in..

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

One of the stories of the season for the Patriots has been the play of edge defender Kyle Van Noy. Now in his fourth season with the Patriots, he has produced a 90.4 PFF grade through six weeks, racking up four sacks, four hits, 18 hurries from 140 pass-rushing snaps.

2. New Orleans Saints

Last Week: 2nd

The Saints maintained their winning ways sans Drew Brees with a 13-6 victory over the Jaguars. Over that stretch, their defense has been one of the better units in the NFL, posting top-10 marks in EPA allowed per play and offensive success rate allowed. That charge has been led by improved play from their pair of former first-round Buckeyes at cornerback — Marshon Lattimore and Eli Apple — who have both allowed fewer than 60 percent of the passes into their coverage to be completed over the last four weeks.

3. San Francisco 49ers

Last Week: 6th

A week after they jumped from 11th to 6th in our rankings, the 49ers took another jump all the way to 3rd after making the Rams look like a high school offense this past Sunday. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has the 49ers making a case for having the top defense in the NFL. Opposing quarterbacks haven’t had any success testing their secondary deep this season, completing just 2-of-19 passes 20 or more yards downfield while throwing two interceptions.

4. Kansas City Chiefs

Last Week: 3rd

If there is a concern for the Chiefs, it’s that Patrick Mahomes is not playing at the level he did a year ago. Coming off the lowest graded game of his career (40.0 against the Texans on Sunday), Mahomes has had fumble issues, but remains one of the most talented passers in the league, so look for him to get back on track sooner rather than later.

5. Minnesota Vikings

Last Week: 7th

Kirk Cousins balled out against the Eagles on Sunday, getting the rid of the ball quicker than he has all season (2.44 seconds on average from snap to pass), yet posting his highest average depth of target (13.7 yards) and passing yards per attempt total (11.5) since joining the Vikings. His last two games have been the version of Kirk Cousins that the Vikings need as they head into an important divisional game against the Lions next week.

6. Houston Texans

Last Week: 13th

That was a statement win for the Texans, and they have a statement stat that should put fear into the rest of the teams around the league. Deshaun Watson hasn’t been sacked in either of the past two games and if he and his offensive line can limit the number of big hits he takes, the Texans are going to create plenty of big plays.

7. Baltimore Ravens

Last Week: 9th

Lamar Jackson has definitely taken a step forward in 2019, but the most impressive part of the Ravens offense is their ability to adapt. They have the ability to lean on designed runs from their quarterback. Through six weeks, 283 of his 177 yards have come on designed runs.

8. Los Angeles Rams

Last Week: 4th

It may be time to start hitting the panic button for the Los Angeles Rams after dropping another divisional game to the 49ers and falling to 3-3 largely due to another uninspiring performance by Jared Goff. Sure enough, last night they hammered that button with a trade for Jalen Ramsey that involved multiple future first-round picks. Ramsey is likely the most talented cornerback in the league, sporting an elite coverage grade of 90.0 since 2016, but unless Goff is able to find his form from the front half of last season, the Rams will be hard-pressed to return to the top of these rankings.

9. Seattle Seahawks

Last Week: 12th

Russell Wilson continued his MVP-caliber play last week against the Browns, posting a passing grade of 79.0 which ranked 4th among all quarterbacks. The most dangerous part about Wilson is that even when you pressure him, he is still very capable of making plays. In the game last week, Wilson was pressured on more dropbacks than he was kept clean and averaged three more passing yards per attempt on his pressured dropbacks. He is the definition of a playmaker, and for that reason the Seahawks have to be taken seriously in the NFC.

10. Green Bay Packers

Last Week: 8th

Speaking of big-time quarterback performances, Aaron Rodgers turned in a beauty on Monday Night Football with a passing grade of 86.0 and five big-time throws, trailing only Cousins on the week. It may have been overshadowed with the performance from the officials, but it was a huge divisional win for the Packers. With several very winnable games on their horizon, the Packers are in strong position to return to the playoffs.

11. Chicago Bears

Last Week: 11th

Coming out a bye with their starting quarterback looking like he is set to return next week, the Bears should be feeling optimistic, right? If it was the version of Mitchell Trubisky that we saw earlier this season, perhaps not. To start the season, 24 percent of Trubisky’s passes were uncatchable, the third-worst mark of 32 qualifying quarterbacks. He simply has not been an accurate passer. Matt Nagy’s offense will do as good a job as any of masking his deficiencies, but the question for the Bears will be whether or not Trubisky can run the offense without making drive-derailing mistakes.

12. Philadelphia Eagles

Last Week: 5th

The Eagles take quite the tumble this week in the PFF ELO rankings after a 38-20 defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings. Their secondary was exposed by the combination of Cousins and Stefon Diggs, particularly when it came to play-action passes. Cousins went 10-for-12 for 230 yards and three touchdowns on play-action for a perfect passer rating of 158.3. It was only the third time this season that a team registered a perfect play-action passer rating on 10-plus attempts in a game. Those struggles will have to correct themselves for Philadelphia next week in Dallas in what is a critical NFC East matchup.

13. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last Week: 17th

The Steelers picked up a road win against the Chargers to take their record to 2-4 on the year, which is more than enough to stay competitive in the AFC playoff picture for now. They did suffer another key loss this week, though, with Stephon Tuitt’s season-ending injury. Through six weeks he was the sixth-highest graded player on the defensive interior.

14. Carolina Panthers

Last Week: 18th

Kyle Allen has still yet to lose as a starting quarterback for the Panthers after they rattled off their fourth consecutive win last week in London. Their defense deserves a big assist on those four victories. Since Week 3, the Panthers have had a top-five defense in terms of EPA allowed per play. They are one of two teams in the NFL to post run-defense, pass-rush and coverage grades of 75.0 or higher as a team over that span, joining the Pittsburgh Steelers.

15. Indianapolis Colts

Last Week: 15th

With a bye week in Week 6, we haven’t learned anything new about the Colts, but they still have arguably the best left side of the offensive line in football. Left guard Quenton Nelson has been the best in the NFL at the position, producing a 90.9 PFF grade through five games.

16. Dallas Cowboys

Last Week: 10th

Most of the optimism surrounding the Cowboys and their 3-0 start, particularly optimism around the new and improved offense, had faded prior to last week. If it hadn’t faded prior to last week, it certainly has by now after a loss to the previously winless New York Jets. A lot of things that the Cowboys did successfully early in the season (keeping Dak Prescott clean, running a lot of play-action, pushing the ball downfield, etc.) have taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks. Nevertheless, the Cowboys have a big opportunity on Sunday Night Football to right the ship against the Eagles and show that the first three weeks were not a mirage.

17. Denver Broncos

Last Week: 20th

After some bad luck in the first quarter of the season, the Broncos have put together a pair of wins to get back in the early playoff picture in the AFC. Linebacker Alexander Johnson has been one of the surprises of the season, delivering two games with a PFF grade above 80.0 in his first two career starts.

18. Los Angeles Chargers

Last Week: 14th

Sunday should have been a relatively easy win for the Chargers, going up against the Steelers’ third-string quarterback, so the loss definitely dents their playoff chances somewhat. The return of tight end Hunter Henry provided a boost on offense however, with six of his eight receptions resulting in a first down or touchdown.

19. Tennessee Titans

Last Week: 16th

The Titans officially have a quarterback crisis, with starter Marcus Mariota being benched for Ryan Tannehill during Sunday’s loss to the Broncos. Tannehill was solid in relief, producing a 64.1 PFF grade, and may yet take over as the team’s starter.

20. Buffalo Bills

Last Week: 19th

The Bills are already 4-1 and take on the Dolphins on Sunday. Good news for quarterback Josh Allen heading into this one, the Dolphins defense has seen three quarterbacks produce PFF grades of 88.8 or higher, and none of their five opposing quarterbacks have produced PFF grades of 68.0 or lower.

21. Detroit Lions

Last Week: 24th

Yes, the Lions lost another hard-fought, close game to drop them to 2-2-1, but the performance moved them up several spots in our rankings. Despite what Booger McFarland would have you believe, their improved offense from a season ago is spear-headed by Matthew Stafford letting the ball fly and pushing it downfield once more, not the running game. He’s able to throw to two of the better contested-catch receivers in the NFL on those deep balls. Kenny Golladay ranks fourth among all players with 50-plus contested targets since 2017 in catch rate (53.1%) and Marvin Jones ranks 5th (52.6%).

22. Cleveland Browns

Last Week: 21st

Baker Mayfield’s interception numbers are deceiving, and we saw that again on Sunday with another slightly inaccurate throw bouncing off his receiver’s hands and resulting in a pick. The number one overall pick in 2018 might not be as bad as his interception numbers suggest, but he hasn’t been as accurate in 2019, and it’s hurting the Browns right now.

23. Oakland Raiders

Last Week: 23rd

We might not have liked the value of drafting him in round one, but it’s hard to argue that running back Josh Jacobs has been performing well for the Raiders so far. He has produced the highest rushing grade among players at the position, forcing 23 missed tackles on just 88 carries through five games.

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last Week: 22nd

Ladies and gentlemen, if you needed an example of what bad Jameis Winston looks like, look no further than last week’s performance. Winston coughed up five interceptions and six turnover-worthy plays in all to move his total on the season to 18, six turnover-worthy plays clear of the next closest players. Winston was always going to bring some of the bad with the good, but the bad has been coming in spades in recent weeks with not enough good to offset it.

25. Atlanta Falcons

Last Week: 25th

The Falcons are an enigma. It does not stand to reason that they could be this bad with talent on the offense like Matt Ryan and Julio Jones in key positions. Yet, here we are at 1-5 after a loss to the Arizona Cardinals, with Dan Quinn’s firing seeming like a formality at this point. The Falcons defense has been a sieve all year, allowing over 0.1 EPA per play to opposing offenses (a figure lower than only the Dolphins have allowed).

26. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last Week: 26th

The Jaguars will be looking to bounce back this week, and the Bengals struggling run defense should provide the perfect tonic for that. Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette has seen 458 of his 584 yards come after contact so far this season.

27. Washington Redskins

Last Week: 29th

The Redskins won (lost?) their first game of the season in the Tank Bowl against Miami, despite Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s heroics to bring the Dolphins back late in the game. There is a bright spot to this lost season, however, and that is Terry McLaurin. The rookie wide receiver has been a revelation to this point, recording a passer rating when targeted of 139.4 which ranks third among qualifying wide receivers in the NFL this season. Whoever the Redskins end up with at quarterback on a given week, it’s clear that they’ll have a legitimate weapon to throw to in McLaurin.

28. New York Jets

Last Week: 30th

Sam Darnold’s return makes the Jets a completely different team to handle. Darnold has thrown for 92 yards on throws 20+ yards downfield in just two games. In his absence, Luke Falk and Trevor Siemian threw for just 36 yards on those downfield throws.

29. New York Giants

Last Week: 27th

The Giants made things interesting for a stretch against the Patriots in Foxborough last Thursday, but ultimately Daniel Jones and their injury-depleted offense were suffocated by New England’s secondary. Since taking over against the Buccaneers, Jones’s overall grade has dropped every subsequent week, finishing at just 44.9 last week against the Patriots. There are certainly things to work with for Jones, but it’s clear that he is not the pro-ready player that some were proclaiming him to be after one game.

30. Arizona Cardinals

Last Week: 28th

Don’t look now, but Kyler Murray is beginning to hit his stride. Yes, the last two games were against the Bengals and the Falcons and that certainly has had an effect, but Murray is the fifth-highest graded quarterback in the NFL over those two games — both wins for the Cardinals. Their defense continues to be a major issue, however. Opposing quarterbacks have combined for a 16-to-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio against Arizona. Those 16 touchdowns allowed through the air are the most in the NFL, and they are the only team in the league without an interception.

31. Cincinnati Bengals

Last Week: 31st

The Bengals are Dolphins are on a collision course for the number one pick in the draft, with the Bengals struggling against mobile quarterbacks in each of the past two weeks. Kyler Murray ran for 49 yards on designed runs in Week 5, before Lamar Jackson ran for 99 yards on designed runs this past week.

32. Miami Dolphins

Last Week: 32nd

The Dolphins came within a two-point conversion attempt of picking up their first win of the season on Sunday, but it will be interesting to see what happens at quarterback moving forward. Josh Rosen, who has produced a PFF grade of 46.0 so far this season was benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick, who no has a PFF grade of 64.5 on the year.

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Cris Collinsworth

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