Thanks for checking out the latest edition of my NFL Power Ratings, which will be a weekly staple during the season. I’ll be sparse with updates to my power ratings for the remainder of the off-season since teams have wrapped up most of their big off-season moves during free agency and the draft. I’ll have more updates once training camp starts, hopefully in August.
My power ratings are designed to be a starting point for point-spread betting between two teams. During the season, they’ll take into account recent performances, long-term injuries, coaching, and strength of schedule. These ratings are intended to help predict performances in the present, but they’re not necessarily predictive for the rest of the season. I will take my Power Ratings into account when I make my weekly against the spread picks for the week, but I’ll also consider current injury reports, home-field advantage, weather, and other factors that may be relevant. I hope you find these ratings useful. Please @ me on Twitter if you have strong disagreements with any team’s rating. Good luck with your wagers!
Example: My top-rated team, the Ravens (+7.5), would be 11-point favorites on a neutral field over my worst-rated team, the Jaguars (-3.5). Using a typical three-point adjustment for home-field advantage, the Ravens would be 14-point favorites over the Jaguars at home and 8-point favorites over the Jaguars on the road. I’m planning on releasing my 2020 home-field advantages for every team in August, so stay tuned. Like the rest of you, I hope our country will be back and running by this fall so I’ll have to take into account those home-field advantages.
Power Ratings Observations
Ravens (7.5), Chiefs (7), 49ers (6.5), Saints (6.5)
The Baltimore Ravens kept their spot at the top of my power ratings by selecting a whopping six players during the first two days of the draft. They thumbed their noses at the analytics community by drafting an ILB (Patrick Queen) and RB (J.K. Dobbins) with their first two picks. The Ravens had one of the league’s deepest rosters before the draft and it got even deeper with their 10 selections.
The Kansas City Chiefs had the most prolific offense heading into the draft and it got even better when they netted the top receiving back in the draft. Patrick Mahomes and Clyde Edwards-Helaire will be tormenting opposing linebackers in coverage for years to come. The New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco Saints combined for just nine selections, but each team may have landed a pair of Week One starters. Javon Kinlaw should step into the lineup for DeForest Buckner (Colts) and Brandon Aiyuk will look to replace Emmanuel Sanders (Saints), while iOL Cesar Ruiz and OLB Zack Baun have paths to immediate playing time in New Orleans.
I had a major gulf between the top four teams in the league and the next set of contenders in my first power rating. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers continued to shrink that gap by trading for arguably the most dominant tight end of all-time. Rob Gronkowski, who turned 31 in May, spent last season out of the league, which may not have been the worst thing for him after he looked noticeably slower in 2018 after nine physically taxing seasons. The Bucs may not get the consensus top TE like he was early in his career, but he should be a major upgrade over O.J. Howard, who was the biggest fantasy flop at TE last season.
I may be on the conservative side with the Bucs right now, but we should find out early if New England’s offensive struggles last season were a product of Brady’s cast or a decline in his play. Brady’s cast won’t be the issue this season, especially with Gronk now in the fold. Tampa could have one of the more volatile ratings early in the season based on their early-season performances.
Seahawks (3.5), Cowboys (3.5), Eagles (3), Bills (2.5), Steelers (2.5), Colts (2.5), Vikings (2.5)
The Cowboys and the Vikings boosted their power ratings with strong drafts. The Dallas Cowboys had CeeDee Lamb fall into their laps before one of Greg Cosell’s favorite cornerbacks dropped to them in the second round in Trevon Diggs. They also landed one of the top centers in Tyler Biadasz before shoring up their backup quarterback situation by signing Andy Dalton. The Vikings selected 15 total players during the draft, and they filled needs and got some value at the same time with their first four selections in WR Justin Jefferson, CB Jeff Gladney, OT Ezra Cleveland, and CB Cameron Dantzler.
A pair of Pennsylvania squads made some questionable second-round decisions, which left their fans shaking their heads. The Philadelphia Eagles surprised most by drafting TCU’s Jalen Reagor over LSU’s Justin Jefferson on Day One before selecting Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts to be their backup QB and a gadget player. The Pittsburgh Steelers went with a big-bodied WR in Chase Claypool, who could be a project for a win-now team, before addressing bigger needs at running back and along their lines.
The Indianapolis Colts traded away their first-round pick for DeForest Buckner before the draft. They went to work beefing up the offensive weapons to surround Philip Rivers with when they finally went on the clock in the second round, selecting WR Michael Pittman and Jonathan Taylor. The Buffalo Bills also had to wait until the second round to pick, and they grabbed a first-round prospect in DE A.J. Epenesa before grabbing Frank Gore’s replacement in Zack Moss. The Seattle Seahawks addressed their defense with their early selections, adding Jordyn Brooks to their talented LB corps before drafting pass rusher Darrell Taylor in the second round.
Packers (2), Titans (2), Rams (1.5), Browns (1.5), Patriots (1)
The Green Bay Packers had one of the worst drafts in recent memory. They tried to reinvent a roster that made it to the NFC Championship last season instead of bolstering it for another title run with 36-year-old Aaron Rodgers. They traded up in the first round to draft polarizing QB prospect Jordan Love before selecting two-down back A.J. Dillon and H-back Josiah Deguara with their Day Two picks.
The Los Angeles Rams also had a frustrating draft, doing little to help their 2020 chances with their first two picks of the draft. They doubled down at running back by using a Day Two pick at the position for the second straight year — Cam Akers in 2020 and Darrell Henderson in 2019. The Rams then picked a soon-to-be 24-year-old WR in Van Jefferson five picks later, who I primarily see as a backup to Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp early in his career.
The New England Patriots surprised most by completely bypassing the quarterback position with their 10 draft picks, indicating that Jarrett Stidham will get his chance to be the man. The Cleveland Browns continued their second straight strong off-season by finding a Day One starter at left tackle in Jedrick Wills with the 10th overall pick. He played right tackle at Alabama, which was actually the blindside for southpaw Tua Tagovailoa. Cleveland plucked away RT Jack Conklin from the Tennessee Titans at the start of free agency, and the Titans addressed the loss by drafting Isaiah Wilson. The Georgia tackle has a chance to step right into the right tackle spot, and he should be a run-game monster for Derrick Henry at 6’6”, 350 pounds.
Texans (.5), Cardinals (.5), Bears (.5), Falcons (0), Chargers (0), Broncos (0)
The Texans, the Bears, and the Falcons failed to significantly improve themselves this off-season and in the draft. In the case of the Houston Texans, Bill O’Brien significantly hurt themselves with the DeAndre Hopkins trade. The Texans had just five picks overall, including only two picks inside the top 125, but they did well to nab DT Ross Blacklock at #40 overall.
The Chicago Bears started the NFL new year too aggressively by trading for Nick Foles, giving him $21 million guaranteed. Andy Dalton, who is a better player than Foles, became available at the beginning of May and the Cowboys snagged him for just $3 million guaranteed. The Bears added yet another TE in Cole Kmet with their first selection in the draft. Chicago’s biggest need coming into the draft was along their offensive line, and they didn’t spend a pick on the unit until the seventh round.
The Atlanta Falcons started the draft reaching for CB A.J. Terrell instead of improving their incredibly thin WR corps with CeeDee Lamb. The Denver Broncos took advantage of the depth of this year’s WR class by nabbing WRs Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler with their selection in the top-50. Sophomore QB Drew Lock will have every chance to take a step forward this season.
Kliff Kingsbury and The Arizona Cardinals continued to crush it this off-season by filling two huge needs with LB/S Isaiah Simmons and OT Josh Jones. Simmons will immediately help a Cardinals defense that really struggled in coverage against TEs last season, and Jones has a chance to start immediately at right tackle. The Los Angeles Chargers landed their potential franchise QB in Josh Herbert and their starting ILB Kenneth Murray in the first round, but they had to wait until Day Three to further improve their roster after those Day One selections.
Raiders (-.5), Lions (-1), Bengals (-1.5), Jets (-1.5), Giants (-2), Dolphins (-2)
The Bengals and the Dolphins selected their potential franchise quarterbacks at the top of this year’s draft. The first overall pick, Joe Burrow, will step right into the lineup after the Cincinnati Bengals cut Andy Dalton a week after the draft. The cupboard certainly isn’t bare in Cincinnati, especially if A.J. Green can return anywhere close to his pre-2019 form. The Miami Dolphins started last season “Tanking for Tua,” and they still landed their guy even after they finished with the fifth-worst record. Once Tua enters the lineup, he’ll throw to some intriguing young (and big) receivers in DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, and Mike Gesicki, and he’ll play behind a revamped O-line.
The New York franchises went to work protecting their young quarterbacks by selecting a pair of offensive tackles in the first round. The New York Giants surprised many by drafting Georgia’s Andrew Thomas to play left tackle, while the New York Jets grabbed the most intriguing tackle prospect in Louisville’s Mekhi Becton. The Detroit Lions left the draft with a solid haul, netting arguably the best cornerback (Jeff Okudah), the best running back (D’Andre Swift), and one of the best guards (Jonah Jackson). The Las Vegas Raiders were hell-bent on fixing their broken WR corps after Antonio Brown left them in tatters last season. They selected Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, and Lynn Bowden to add some juice for Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota in this passing game.
Panthers (-2.5), Redskins (-3), Jaguars (-3.5)
The league’s worst teams each went to work to fix their brutal defenses, which included new Panthers HC Matt Rhule using all seven of his picks to repair a dreadful 2019 unit. Per ESPN Stats and Info, Carolina Panthers became the first team to use all seven picks on defense since the AFL-NFL merger (1967) — the 1985 Browns used all seven picks on offense. The Panthers specifically attacked their D-line with three picks, including Derrick Brown with the seventh overall pick, and their secondary with four picks.
The Washington Redskins landed the most-prized defender available in this year’s draft in Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young. They also were finally able to trade away standout LT Trent Williams but, oddly enough, they didn’t upgrade their weak tackle spots during the draft for second-year QB Dwayne Haskins. Jacksonville Jaguars spent the last year trading away defensive talent (Jalen Ramsey, Calais Campbell, and A.J. Bouye), and Yannick Ngakoue could be the next guy shipped out of town. Jacksonville did at least infuse some new defensive talent in CB C.J. Henderson, EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson, and DT Davon Hamilton in the first two days of the draft.