NFL Power Rankings Week 1
At the end of March, just weeks after The World Shutdown, people were already asking me, “Do you think there will be football this year?”
My answer was always the same. And I’ve been unwavering in my belief that the NFL will absolutely, positively play and that we will have a full season.
Why this unshakeable confidence? Because if you’ve been living in on paying attention to anything in this country over the last four decades, you would have come face-to-face with one immutable truth: never doubt the willpower of greed.
The NFL owners are a group of scumbags, grifters and sociopaths unlike any in Western civilization. They will and have screwed over absolutely anyone standing in between them and their pursuit of wealth and power. They’ve stiffed sick, aging seniors and denied former players health insurance. They buried studies documenting brain damage. They’ve relocated franchises and left a trail of broken trust with fans. They’ve double-crossed local governments, business partners and anyone else that didn’t acquiesce to The Shield. And they did it all in the name of Profit.
I don’t care if you agree with that assessment. I know I’m right. I don’t care about your politics and I’m certainly not going to share mine. What I’m saying is a fact.
And the fact is that this year we, the football lovers in this country, are all the beneficiaries of the NFL owner’s rampant, unstoppable greed. It’s working in our favor. And without it, we wouldn’t have a 2020 NFL season.
I feel like the return of football will be a net positive for our country right now. We could all use a distraction. And we could all use a reminder of some of the things that unite us: violence, gambling, drinking, arguing and irrational fanaticism over sports.
It won’t all be positive. This bizarre NFL season will also be a weekly reminder of the realities of our current national situation, a reminder of all of the failures and betrayals and stupidity we’ve endured over the past nine months, and a reminder that for all the importance we ascribe to it, football is just a game.
But at least it is something. And you take the good with the bad.
Adaptability is the underlying theme of every NFL season. Each football betting season is a study in Chaos. Chaos is a constant. And each season is a test in one’s ability to withstand or harness this disorder and unpredictability and turn it into something positive or worthwhile. This season, every gambler needs to embrace it. It is about becoming part of the Chaos. It’s about forgetting stability and leaning into the danger. Do that, and you’ll make it through to the other side.
Adapt or die.
Here is Doc’s Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (0-0) – Continuity is key for the Chiefs, who welcome back 20 of 22 starters and 21 of 22 coaches back from last year’s Super Bowl winning squad. Andy Reid always has his teams prepared early in the season, and Kansas City has gone 10-1 against the spread in their last 11 September games. The Chiefs are 7-0 ATS in their last seven home games and 23-9 ATS in their last 32 games against the AFC.
2. New Orleans Saints (0-0) – The Saints have the best top-to-bottom roster in the NFL and no real weakness on either side of the ball. They have gone 26-6 the last two regular seasons and will be treating this Sunday’s matchup with Tampa Bay like a playoff game. The favorite in this series is 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings, and New Orleans is on a 5-2 ATS run against Tampa Bay.
3. Baltimore Ravens (0-0) – The Ravens have covered the spread in four straight season opening games, including their 59-10 thrashing of Miami last year in Week 1. That powerhouse effort led the way to the league’s best record (14-2) and biggest point differential (+249). However, one of those losses was at home as a 10-point favorite against the Browns.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0) – Pittsburgh’s foundation and established culture should be a massive benefit following the most bizarre offseason in NFL history. Their level of familiarity with one another will give this team an advantage early in the season. The Steelers are just 4-10 ATS as a favorite and 2-7 ATS in Week 1. They are 5-2 ATS in their last seven Monday Night Football games.
5. San Francisco 49ers (0-0) – If the 49ers weren’t worried about their receiving corps prior to this week, they absolutely should be now. Deebo Samuel is still trying to come back from June foot surgery, and rookie Brandon Aiyuk is dealing with a hamstring issue. Something tells me that Patrick Peterson will be able to lock down Kendrick Bourne, so look for the Niners to pound the ball on the ground and force feed George Kittle and Jordan Reed in the passing game.
6. Seattle Seahawks (0-0) – The Seahawks are 12-4 ATS in their last 16 road games and managed to go to Atlanta and handle the Falcons last year. Can they do it twice in a row? Seattle is 0-5 ATS in its last five Week 1 games, and this is the fourth season in a row that they’ve opened the year away from home.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0) – I know all the attention has gone to the offense. But if this team is going to reach its lofty goals, it simply has to get better at keeping opponents out of the end zone. They were last in total defense in 2017, second-to-last in scoring defense in 2018, and they were third-to-last in scoring defense last year. Tampa Bay’s defensive yards per point is in a regression range, which should lead to fewer points. But will they actually improve?
8. Indianapolis Colts (0-0) – Opening week road favorites are just 71-82 ATS over their last 153 attempts and are just 26-28 ATS over the last decade. Divisional road favorites in Week 1 are a putrid 5-15 ATS over the last 10 years and 2-5 ATS over the last five years.
9. Buffalo Bills (0-0) – For the Bills, this game is crucial. Buffalo has spent the entire offseason being lauded as An Up-And-Coming Sleeper Team. The Bills have had an excellent offseason in general. A Week 1 blowout of a division rival at home would make a statement that all the offseason hype was worth it. But a loss or a dud performance here would be like this franchise running face first into a wall at 110 miles per hour.
10. Tennessee Titans (0-0) – The Titans are the only team in the league that was posted as an underdog when Week 1 lines were released but have since become a favorite. Tennessee opened +2.0, but 70 percent of the public action has swung this spread to -2.0. Tennessee actually lost 16-0 last year in Denver, which led to Mike Vrabel benching Marcus Mariota and the Titans’ 9-4 late season surge.
11. Green Bay Packers (0-0) – At this point, it is almost a cliché to predict a regression from the Packers. The numbers don’t lie, though. Green Bay beat its expected wins by 3.3 and outscored opponents by just 64 points. They were 7-1 in games decided by seven points or less and posted a plus-11 turnover differential. Finally, their defensive YPP also fall in a retrogress range. Add it all up, and the numbers suggest a fall back to reality.
12. Minnesota Vikings (0-0) – The home team is 6-2 against the spread, and there have been just two straight up road winners in the series over the last four years. The low-scoring nature of recent meetings (only one of the last seven matchups has seen over 41 totals points) means that the margin for error for both teams in this game is slim. And you have to ask yourself: do you trust your money on Kirk Cousins or Aaron Rodgers?
13. Los Angeles Chargers (0-0) – The Chargers are notorious slow starters, going just 3-9 ATS in September the last few years. They are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 road games but just 1-5 ATS in their last six games as a favorite. They do get a slight boon this week with the 4 p.m. kickoff considering in the Eastern Time Zone.
14. New England Patriots (0-0) – There is no way that I would touch the Patriots this week. This team simply has too many new pieces and too many moving parts. You know they will be disciplined and well prepared to ground-and-pound. But is there any talent here? The home team is 13-3 ATS in the Miami series, and New England is 7-1 ATS at home against the Dolphins.
15. Dallas Cowboys (0-0) – The Sunday night game against the Rams is a rematch of a meeting in Dallas last December. This is also the third straight season in which the Cowboys and Rams have faced off. In January of 2019, the Rams handled the Cowboys for a 30-22 win in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. But Dallas got its revenge last year, throttling the Rams 44-21 in a game that all but ended L.A.’s postseason dreams.
16. Los Angeles Rams (0-0) – Los Angeles is missing 12 of the 22 starters they brought to the Super Bowl in January of 2019, and this group already looks like its best days are behind it. I think they are going to be fine offensively – they certainly were last year. Yet the Rams defense is definitely a work in progress, especially without Wade Phillips at the helm.
17. Cleveland Browns (0-0) – Cleveland hasn’t won a season opening game since 2004. They have a new head coach, offense and defense, and the roster turnover was a bit more than I thought they’d go through. The Browns are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games in Baltimore, with a win last year. Also, the road team is 15-5 ATS in the last 20 in this series.
18. Arizona Cardinals (0-0) – The Cardinals put up a pretty good fight with the 49ers last year despite being severely overmatched. In the first meeting, (28-25 loss) Arizona’s defense couldn’t get off in the field in the final five minutes. In the second (36-26), a San Fran touchdown with 31 seconds left followed by a fumble return for a touchdown led to a misleading 36-26 loss. The Cardinals have won seven of the last 10 meetings against the 49ers outright and are 4-0-1 ATS in their last five meetings.
19. Philadelphia Eagles (0-0) – The Eagles have beaten the Redskins six straight times, going 5-1 against the spread in those games. Five of the six wins have been by 10 or more points. The road team is 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings and 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings. Interestingly, last year’s Week 1 meeting was the only time in Philly's last six victories over Washington that they didn't beat the Redskins by 10 or more.
20. Houston Texans (0-0) – And now, like a victim being forced to return to the scene of a crime, Houston will unwillingly be marched back into Arrowhead to face the team that crushed its soul last January. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Texans respond, mentally. The road team is 9-3 ATS in the Chiefs series. The Texans are 2-8 ATS on Thursdays.
21. Atlanta Falcons (0-0) – Atlanta lost outright (27-20) against the Seahawks last year despite outgaining Seattle by 190 yards. The Falcons have covered four straight games against the Seahawks dating back to 2016, though they’ve won just two of those games.
22. Detroit Lions (0-0) – Well Matt Patricia – time to put up or shut up. Detroit doesn’t exactly benefit from a rowdy home crowd, so not having fans in the stands should really hurt them this week. The Lions are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games hosting the Bears, and the home team is 5-1 ATS in this series.
23. Chicago Bears (0-0) – I honestly have no idea how Matt Nagy could name Mitch Trubisky as the starter. I don’t care how he played during the preseason. He couldn’t have been that much better than Nick Foles to make Nagy overlook everything that these two players have done in their careers. Chicago has swept the season series each of the past two years. Only once in the last nine meetings has either team scored 30 points, and six of the last nine matchups between these two have gone ‘under’ the total.
24. Denver Broncos (0-0) – The big buzz about the Broncos was their aggressive offensive additions. I think they undercut that by bringing in Pat Shurmur to be the offensive coordinator. Shurmur is a loser. And in 11 years as a head coach or offensive coordinator, only two of his teams have finished in the Top 10 in total offense. The Broncos defense did hold the Titans to just 204 total yards in their meeting here last season, though, and Denver has gone 14-2 in September home games dating back to 2012.
25. Las Vegas Raiders (0-0) – When Jon Gruden took over the Raiders prior to the 2018 season, they had the oldest roster in the league. After fielding the No. 9 youngest roster last year, they are No. 11 this season. Las Vegas is just 17-36 ATS in its last 53 games as a favorite and 0-4 ATS in their last four games as a road favorite. The Raiders are 7-16 ATS in their last 23 road games.
26. Miami Dolphins (0-0) – Miami has had an undeniably successful offseason. They’ve accelerated their rebuild and appear to be pointed in the right direction. But they are not there yet. And I think that predictions of the Dolphins as AFC East contenders are way premature. Miami is 5-2 ATS in its last seven road games, and they went 3-0 ATS as a divisional road underdog last year. That includes a win in New England last December.
27. Washington Football Team (0-0) – Finally some football for this group. I don’t even know if a 56-0 win this weekend could completely overshadow the total dysfunction and off field issues in this organization. Last year Washington blew a 20-7 halftime lead in a 32-27 loss to the Eagles in Week 1. They actually only covered the spread thanks to a garbage time touchdown with six seconds left in the game.
28. Cincinnati Bengals (0-0) – It is great that everyone is so excited about Joe Burrow. But I guarantee you that he has never seen anything like the size and speed he’ll be matched up against when Joey Bosa, Linval Joseph, Melvin Ingram, Chris Harris and the rest of the Chargers defense comes to town this weekend. The Bengals are actually 6-1 ATS in Week 1 and 33-16 ATS in their last 49 games in September.
29. New York Giants (0-0) – The G-Men dive into the 2020 season with their fourth head coach in four seasons. After the disastrous tenures of Bob McAdoo and Pat Shurmur (with an interim gig for Steve Spagnuolo in between), the Giants are hoping that newly hired Joe Judge will lead them back to national relevance. The Giants are just 1-10 ATS as a home underdog and 3-13 ATS in their last 16 home games. New York is just 2-7 ATS in its last nine Week 1 games.
30. New York Jets (0-0) – The Jets defense finished No. 7 in yards allowed last year despite getting absolutely no help from the offense. I wouldn’t expect anything close to that production this year without their two best playmakers, C.J. Mosley and Jamal Adams. The Jets are just 3-10 ATS in divisional games and 7-17 ATS as a road underdog. One bright spot for Jets backers this weekend: the underdog is 8-2 ATS in the Buffalo series, and the road team is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings.
31. Carolina Panthers (0-0) – It will be interesting to see how Joe Brady adapts his offense to the NFL. Carolina’s 30-year-old offensive coordinator has some decent weapons to work with. But have the Panthers had enough preseason work to make up for their truncated offseason? And can Teddy Bridgewater prove to be the NFL triggerman that Burrow was at LSU last year? Those are just two of the 158 questions I have about this Panthers team heading into Week 1.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0) – Jacksonville has a whopping 17 rookies on its 53-man roster! They have by far the youngest roster in the NFL. Will their youth and energy be an advantage early in the season? The home team has dominated the Colts series in recent years, winning nine of the last 10 meetings and covering the spread five straight times. Further, the Jaguars have gone 9-1 ATS in the last 10 meetings with the Colts.
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