NFL Power Rankings Week 4
“This NFL season is the craziest one yet!”
The first month of the season follows an obvious pattern every single year. There is a seven-month buildup to Week 1. That is met with some odd opening week results thanks to some teams being overprepared and some underprepared. Following the opening week and prior to Week 2, there is a ridiculous overreaction to the Week 1 results. The reaction to Week 2 isn’t quite as bad but still enough to make everyone scramble to revise their preseason predictions after an 11-day stretch of football.
Week 3 is somewhat of an eliminator week, because only one team in the last 20 years has started 0-3 and made the playoffs (sorry Raiders). Then after Week 3, we start to see people making wild leaps of logic, abandoning all preseason predictions, and bobblehead media members start to make wild and ridiculous stat projections – “So-And-So is on pace for 8,000 yards!” – based on all of 18 percent of league games.
Heading into Week 4, people have either already given up – “The NFL is too crazy!” – or they think they have absolutely solved the league – “The Jaguars are going to dominate the AFC South for the next decade.”
Look, one of the toughest things about football handicapping is the limited sample size. Sports betting is a numbers game. And because of the limited number of possessions and games, there is a very limited data set in pro football. Outlying events are much more common and given greater weight than in sports like baseball or basketball.
That is why it is crucial not to get swept up in public perception. Most people are idiots! And when you get a bunch of idiots together and engaged in groupthink, it usually results in nonsensical reasoning and conclusions.
Just because you’re out of your eliminator pool doesn’t make this the wildest and wackiest NFL season in history. This isn’t even the weirdest opening month of an NFL season this decade.
Doc’s Sports offers NFL expert picks for every game on our NFL predictions page.
Here is Doc’s Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. Buffalo Bills (2-1) – The Bills ran 51 more plays – 51! – and gained nearly 300 yards more than the Dolphins. And they lost. That’s nearly impossible to do without a cavalcade of turnovers, which also didn’t happen. If I were Ken Dorsey, I would’ve freaked out too.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (2-1) – I will never understand why teams trust punt and kickoff returns to rookies. The upside is absolutely zero, and the downside is turnovers and costly field position mistakes. Mecole Hardman has been pretty much worthless. He’s experienced, though. Couldn’t that guy return kicks and spare the Chiefs fumbles like the one that set up Indy’s first score and set the tone for a sloppy loss by K.C.?
3. Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) – The Eagles and Bills were both off Monday Night Football games. They were both heading on the road to face division rivals and both in situational advantages. They both played dominating football, but only one of them earned a double-digit win. Not too shabby.
4. Baltimore Ravens (2-1) – Through three games, the Ravens have just eight penalties for 44 yards. That is the sign of a very well coached team. The Ravens are 4-1 ATS in their last five home games against the Bills, and Baltimore is absolutely not scared of Buffalo this week.
5. Miami Dolphins (3-0) – This team was battered, beaten, and bruised coming out of that upset win over Buffalo. Now they have to head on the road on a short week and take on a dangerous Bengals team. A win on Thursday night would be more impressive than taking out the Bills in a game Miami didn’t play particularly well in.
6. Green Bay Packers (2-1) – I trashed Green Bay’s receiving corps all week, and then they actually went out and played well in Tampa Bay against a very good Bucs defense. Credit where credit is due. The Packers are 8-2 ATS at home and they are 13-5 ATS following a straight up win.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) – At some point, there is going to be a massive scoring regression for this team. Defensively, their yards per point is a completely unsustainable 32.3. Offensively, they are scoring touchdowns on just 40 percent of their red zone drives. Both numbers are going to correct themselves, and this team should start being a solid ‘over’ play sometime in October.
8. Los Angeles Rams (2-1) – The Rams are a great team to in-game bet against. Los Angeles doesn’t really have that third gear that they use to just put teams away. So, when Los Angeles takes a two-score lead, that is the time to strike because it’s almost a guarantee the Rams are going to let their opponents back in the game. I have cleaned up against these guys each of the past two weeks.
9. Minnesota Vikings (2-1) – I think it is a good sign that the Vikings are the second-least penalized team in football through three weeks. This group isn’t kicking itself in the nuts like Vikings teams of the recent past. The Vikings are just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games after a win.
10. Cincinnati Bengals (1-2) – I’m not back on the Bengals bandwagon yet. Honestly, they are ranked this high more because of the inherent shakiness of everyone in the league ranked No. 10 to No. 20. You could put those 11 teams in any order, and I could get behind it. The Bengals are 7-0 ATS against a team with a winning record and 4-1 ATS in their last five home games.
11. New Orleans Saints (1-2) – Our only hope is that Jameis Winston embarrasses himself (again) this week in London and that Dennis Allen finally comes to his senses and benches him. It’s a stretch, I know. The Saints are 4-10 ATS against teams that are above .500.
12. Tennessee Titans (2-1) – This is still a team that I want nothing to do with. I hate betting against them because they have been a savage underdog under Mike Vrabel. However, I’m not betting on them, especially any time they are favored, because I just don’t think they are very good. Tennessee is 7-22 ATS on the road against a team below .500 and 1-6 ATS after a win. They are 0-4 ATS in their last four road games…but they are 4-1 ATS in their last five games in Indianapolis.
13. Cleveland Browns (2-1) – Nothing drives me more insane than watching teams on a 3rd-and-1 or 4th-and-1 line up in the shotgun. It sends me into a murderous rage. So, you can imagine my giddiness at watching the Browns successfully convert short yardage situations by using simple quarterback sneaks and straight ahead runs. When and why did that ever go out of style?
14. Los Angeles Chargers (1-2) – Why is it that the Chargers suffer more catastrophic injuries every season than any other team in the league? I swear, it is uncanny. This season has gone completely sideways. Justin Herbert is going to be ineffective for months. They lost their left tackle and another wide receiver, and you have to wonder where L.A.’s confidence level will be as they head to Houston as a road favorite. Woof.
15. San Francisco 49ers (1-2) – That’s why. That is the reason why the 49ers were ready to turn the reins over to Trey Lance – who is awful, but young – rather than stick with Jimmy Garoppolo, who is just awful. The 49ers are 5-0 ATS in their last five games against the Rams and 5-2 ATS in their last seven home games against them.
16. Las Vegas Raiders (0-3) – Josh McDaniels is now 5-20 SU in his last 25 games as a head coach. Because he is an arrogant clown, McDaniels came in and completely overhauled a Raiders offense that absolutely didn’t need to be overhauled. And in doing so somehow took an offense that ranked in the Top 11 in total yards three straight seasons and turned it into the league’s No. 24 group.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) – One of the biggest betting myths in the NFL is that teams that played on Thursday nights somehow have an advantage the following week because they have had “extra time to prepare”. Here’s the truth: anything that takes a team out of its normal routine – a bye week, a TNF game, a MNF game, a trip to Europe – has serious negative consequences on how that team plays the next week.
18. New England Patriots (1-2) – Things are looking bleak in Foxboro now that they are turning to Brian Hoyer as a stopgap while Mac Jones recovers from his ankle injury. This is also when Bill Belichick has historically done his best work, and the Patriots are 6-0 ATS in their last six games after a double-digit loss.
19. Detroit Lions (1-2) – Maybe meathead Dan Campbell should spend a little less time crushing his lats and a little more time doing some math. His decision to kick a field goal instead of going for the win late in that game will haunt this team all season. The Lions set a new NFL record by scoring a touchdown in 11 straight quarters. No one has been able to stop this offense. However, the Lions still can’t stop anyone, and they just lost their best safety.
20. Dallas Cowboys (2-1) – Mike McCarthy was very nearly rewarded for making absolutely the wrong call at the end of the first half on Monday, with his timeout with 10 seconds left and the Giants at fourth-and-two on the Dallas 47 nearly helping the G-Men get a field goal attempt of their own. Dallas is 3-9 ATS in its last 12 Sunday games after a Monday night game.
21. Arizona Cardinals (1-2) – Arizona has been outscored 31-0 in the first quarter of its three games, meaning they have been down double-digits by the end of the first 15 minutes. The Cardinals have been outscored 56-13 (an average of two touchdowns) in the first half, and Arizona has not held a lead in regulation of any of its three games.
22. Denver Broncos (2-1) – This has been by far the worst team in football to watch. They are in the top four in both offensive and defensive yards per points, and the Broncos have seen an average of just 26.3 combined points per game. Denver is also the most penalized team in football with 30 flags in three games.
23. Atlanta Falcons (1-2) – This team could be 3-0 and should be 2-1. Atlanta isn’t just playing well, they are playing very hard. This team is overmatched, physically, and they have a talent deficit against almost everyone they face. But they aren’t scared, and they are playing faster and more physical than any Falcons team I’ve seen since the 2017 version.
24. Washington Commanders (1-2) – After years of success in the Cowboys series as the underdog, Washington has fallen on hard ATS times against its hated rivals. The Commanders are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven against the Cowboys and are just 1-4 ATS in their last five meetings in Dallas.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1) – Yes, the Jaguars deserve some love for having the second-best point differential in football. They have a Top 10 offense and a Top 10 defense right now. I’m still not ready to go all-in with this group, though, and there is much tougher sledding ahead. Jacksonville is 6-13 ATS after a win of 10 or more points and they are just 1-5 ATS on the road.
26. Indianapolis Colts (1-1-1) – This Titans-Colts series really is a weird one. The favorite is 14-5 ATS in the last 19 meetings. However, the road team is 6-1 ATS in the last seven, and the Colts are just 1-4 ATS in their last five home games against the Titans. Tennessee has been the better team through three weeks. Yet the Colts are favored. It’s nice to be able to scratch a game off the board on Tuesday morning.
27. Carolina Panthers (1-2) – Another week, another terrible performance from Baker Mayfield. Honestly, if he beat out Sam Darnold, what does that say about how pathetic Darnold is? For all the talk about how awful Justin Fields has been this year, Mayfield has been even worse! Baker is completing just 48 percent of his passes and has an 18.8 QBR. He only has one interception, but we all know those are coming.
28. New York Giants (2-1) – Terrible situational spot for the Giants this week. They are demoralized after taking their first loss of the season in an emotional Monday Night Football affair against their hated rivals. They are also looking ahead to a trip to Europe and a game against the Packers. Smack in the middle is a game against a Bears team that no one gets excited for.
29. Chicago Bears (2-1) – I will give Chicago and Matt Eberflus credit: they have a style. The Bears are winning by running the ball and playing good defense. It’s a tried-and-true approach. The Bears, who still have one of the worst rosters in the league, could be 3-1 after this week despite a quarterback with a 50.0 rating and a 23.0 QBR.
30. Seattle Seahawks (1-2) – The Seahawks rush defense needs to get a lot better in a hurry. They are allowing an average of 157 yards per game on the ground, and they weren’t even close to stopping the Falcons last week. Seattle is going to see an avalanche of inside zone traps from the Lions this week, and how the Seahawks hold up at the line of scrimmage is going to determine how they fare on Sunday.
31. New York Jets (1-2) – San Francisco’s defense finished ranked No. 5 and No. 3 in total defense the past two years, and they are currently No. 2 in the NFL in total defense. They have done all of that since Robert Saleh left. So maybe it is safe to say he had very little to do with their success and it was more a function of him having great players?
32. Houston Texans (0-2-1) – Everyone keeps applauding how hard the Texans are playing. “They are playing so hard for Lovie Smith!” It is the media equivalent of a participation trophy. These guys still suck. Period. The end. They have played one of the easiest schedules in the NFL and have zero wins to show for it. Fade away.
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