The NFL season is a quarter way finished, and we are down to only two unbeaten teams: the Rams and the Chiefs. Those teams were 1-2 in last week’s rankings, and there isn’t any good reason to change that this week. But as for positions 3-10, a little shakeup this week as per usual, and some surprising entrants into the top five and top ten. Will the Patriots or Packers re-enter the list after dominant performances against AFC East competitors? Which teams crack the top ten for the first time in 2018? Full list:
1) The Los Angeles Rams 2018 Record: 4-0 Previous Week: 1 ( – )
The Rams took down the Vikings last Thursday to move to 4-0 this year. Jared Goff racked up over 450 yards and five TDs, finishing the game with a perfect passer rating. The Rams defense was finally tested, but their high powered offense proved too much for Minnesota to overcome. The Rams rank 2nd in the league in points per game (35.0) and also have the most 1st downs (105) through the first four weeks. The Rams are tied for 3rd in the NFL with a +4 turnover margin, and are also T-2nd best in the league at converting on 3rd down (48.8%).
2) The Kansas City Chiefs 2018 Record: 4-0 Previous Week: 2 ( – )
The Chiefs appeared to be on their way to their first loss this week at Mile High. That was before Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs down the field for two fourth-quarter TD drives, the second of which was the game-winner capped off by a Kareem Hunt four-yard rushing score. In the process, the Chiefs broke the Broncos‘ streak of 65 straight wins when leading by at least ten points in the 4th quarter. It was also the first time in 37 games that the Broncos had surrendered over 300 net passing yards; which had been the longest streak in football. A full quarter into the 2018 season, it is hard to argue that Patrick Mahomes isn’t the front-runner for NFL MVP.
3) The Chicago Bears 2018 Record: 3-1 Previous Week: 6 ( +3 )
For most of the year, the buzz surrounding the Bears has been focused on their new look defense. This past Sunday, the defense again was dominant, as they held the fiery Buccaneers offense to only ten points. But the bigger story was Mitchell Trubisky’s six TD passes en route to putting up a near 50 burger on the Bucs. The Bears currently rank T-3rd in scoring defense (16.3 PPG) and 8th in scoring offense (27.8 PPG). Perhaps more impressive, the Bears have forced 11 turnovers already on defense while only coughing the ball up five times. That +6 turnover ratio ranks 2nd in the NFL to the Browns.
4) The Jacksonville Jaguars 2018 Record: 3-1 Previous Week: 4 ( – )
The Jags dominated the Jets this past Sunday, nearly doubling them up in time of possession. Blake Bortles was able to connect with Dede Westbrook nine times for 130 yards. Bortles also found Donte Moncrief five times for 109 yards, most of which came from a big 67 yard TD pass late in the 3rd quarter. I don’t think we learned a whole ton about the Jags this week that we didn’t already know. Four games in, the Jags have the best scoring defense in the league (14.0 PPG). They also commit too many penalties and have turned the ball over seven times already. Their -4 turnover margin is tied for worst in the NFL.
5) The Cincinnati Bengals 2018 Record: 3-1 Previous Week: 8 ( +3 )
The Bengals beat the Falcons this last week in a shootout 37-36. Andy Dalton led a 75 yard game winning TD drive that was capped by a 13 yard score to AJ Green. This Bengals offense has been electric thus far, ranking 4th in the league in scoring (31.5 PPG). They are also the most efficient team inside the 20 yard line, scoring on 11/13 attempts (84.6%). The Bengals are also T-3rd in first downs (98) and are the 5th best team converting 3rd downs (46.5%). The upcoming schedule for this red hot offense looks promising. They play a Miami team next week that was just routed by the Patriots. After that, their next four opponents all are among the bottom eight teams in points allowed (PIT, KC, TB, and NO).
6) The Baltimore Ravens 2018 Record: 3-1 Previous Week: 9 ( +3 )
The Ravens secured a huge win Sunday night in Pittsburgh, downing the Steelers and holding them to only 47 second-half yards. The Ravens defense stepped up huge down the stretch, and Joe Flacco was able to handle the not so elite Steelers defense for 363 yards and two TDs. He also connected with the speedy John Brown three times for 116 yards and a score, including a 71 yard catch and run in the 2nd quarter. The Ravens are one of two teams, the other being the LA Rams, to rank within the top five for both scoring offense (5th; 30.8 PPG) and scoring defense (T-3rd; 16.3 PPG). The Ravens defense is also 2nd best in the NFL at getting off the field on 3rd down, allowing conversions on just 27.8% of attempts.
7) The Philadelphia Eagles 2018 Record: 2-2 Previous Week: 3 ( -4 )
I do not see a three-point OT loss to a better than expected Titans team as a dagger to this Eagles season. And most weeks, it wouldn’t cause them to slip this far at all. What does worry me slightly is the Eagles rank T-26th in scoring (20.5 PPG) through the first four weeks. Another troubling stat about this Eagles team is they have put the ball on the ground 11 times so far, losing five of those fumbles. Their -3 turnover ratio is T-2nd worst in the league. Defensively, Philly has been solid. They rank 3rd in the league in defensive 3rd down conversions allowed (28.3%) and have only allowed seven scores on 16 red zone attempts. Their 43.8% defensive red zone percent ranks 6th best in the NFL thus far.
8) The Tennessee Titans 2018 Record: 3-1 Previous Week: NR
Last week, I mentioned the Titans were tied with the Jags stout defense for best red zone percentage and best at keeping teams out of the red zone entirely. This past Sunday, they found themselves backed up in the red zone at the end of regulation, but held tough forcing a FG to take the game into OT. Again in OT, the Eagles had a 1st and 10 inside the Tennessee 20, but had to settle for a FG. The Titans defense has come up big inside the 20, allowing a league-best 20% of drives inside the red zone to result in a score. They also rank 6th best in the NFL in overall scoring defense (18.3 PPG). Marcus Mariota led the Titans from 14 points down midway through the 3rd quarter. Mariota finished with 344 yards and three total TDs (1 rushing). He also found his #1 target, the 5th overall pick of 2017’s draft Corey Davis, nine times for 161 yards that included the ten yard score in OT.
9) The New Orleans Saints 2018 Record: 3-1 Previous Week: NR
The Saints took down the Giants this week to move to 3-1. Drew Brees leads this offense that ranks 3rd best in the NFL at 34.3 PPG. Brees has been extremely solid to begin 2018, he has 1295 yards, eight TDs, and zero INTs through the first quarter of 2018. The Saints have also added seven rushing TDs so far, five of those by the 2nd year man Alvin Kamara. Defensively, the Saints haven’t gotten off to as hot of a start this year. They rank 29th in the NFL in points allowed (30.3 PPG) and have surrendered the 3rd most yards through the air through four games.
10) The Green Bay Packers 2018 Record: 2-1-1 Previous Week: NR
The Packers rebounded from a tough loss to the Washington Redskins by blanking the Bills 22-0. That shutout was the Packers’ first in eight years, and included a total of seven sacks of Buffalo rookie QB Josh Allen. The Pack defense also forced three turnovers and held the Bills to just 3/16 on 3rd down. Aaron Rodgers, still suffering the lingering effects from a Week 1 knee sprain, wasn’t his normal self. However, RB Aaron Jones was effective on the ground, running 11 times for 65 yards and a score. He could prove to be a real difference maker going forward for this Packers offense. At the least, he could take some pressure off of Green Bay’s all-pro QB until his knee is 100%. This Packers defense is playing better than last year’s team that ranked 26th in scoring. So far in 2018, they rank 11th in scoring defense (20.8 PPG), are T-9th with five takeaways, and also rank T-4th in the league in sacks (13.0).