Power Ranking Rumblings: Week 5

Hello and welcome back for another week of us critiquing everyone’s favorite sports channel to hate, ESPN! Every week ESPN posts NFL Power Rankings that are generally terrible but not as bad as the commentary they provide to the rankings. So Jesse and I decided it is our duty to endlessly mock the low effort that ESPN put forth.

This year we are doing things a bit different by providing ESPN’s commentary right here on the blog with our personal commentary right below so you don’t have to click between the two articles. But for those of you who want to see the actual rankings, feel free to check them out here:

Week 5 NFL Power Rankings: Your defense looks…

And thanks for tuning in. Enjoy!

1. Kansas City Chiefs

2017 record: 4-0
Week 4 ranking: No. 2

ESPN: Kirk Cousins completed just 58 percent of his passes against the Chiefs on Monday night … which was still the best by any quarterback against them this season. Kansas City has allowed a league-best 51 completion percentage en route to a 4-0 start.

Jesse: As much as it pains me to say it, the Chiefs defense is pretty damn good. They’ve taken on Tom Brady, Carson Wentz, Philip Rivers and now Cousins, and they’ve beaten them all. I mean it still won’t matter when the Chiefs don’t win a playoff game in January, but it’s okay to be proud of that for right now if they want to.

2. Green Bay Packers

2017 record: 3-1
Week 4 ranking: No. 4

ESPN: Injuries have been an issue in Green Bay, but the pass rush has churned no matter who has been in it. The Packers have generated pressure at the fourth-highest rate this season — on 31 percent of dropbacks — even with injuries to Mike Daniels, Ahmad Brooks and Nick Perry.

Kevin: I’ll admit, the ESPN Bot is getting better at this. I struggled to find a joke and then I noticed they used the word “churned” and now I’m thinking the Bot is on some next level pun game because you churn cheese and the Packers are the cheese heads. Or do you churn butter? Or both? Ahh I don’t know.

3. Atlanta Falcons

2017 record: 3-1
Week 4 ranking: No. 1

ESPN: The defense forced two takeaways against Aaron Rodgers but failed to force any against Mike Glennon, Matthew Stafford or Tyrod Taylor. The offense has committed six turnovers the past two games, so if the defense can’t force any themselves, Atlanta will be facing an uphill battle.

Jesse: So let me get this straight: the defense is at fault for the team facing an uphill battle, but it’s the offense committing all the turnovers? That seems backwards to me. The Denver defense would kick the offense’s ass for even thinking something like that.

4. Denver Broncos

2017 record: 3-1
Week 4 ranking: No. 5

ESPN: The Broncos’ rush defense has allowed 2.4 yards per rush and 50.8 rush yards per game through the first four weeks — and that was done against backs such as Ezekiel Elliott, LeSean McCoy, Marshawn Lynch and Melvin Gordon (among others). Defense has won Denver a title before, and if it keeps this up, it might be able to do it again.

Kevin: Jesse was kind enough to remind us that last season the Broncos allowed the Raiders to run all over them with 218 yards. This year the Raiders added Marshawn Lynch and the Broncos held them to 24 total yards rushing. Sometimes football, like life, makes no sense.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers

2017 record: 3-1
Week 4 ranking: No. 6

ESPN: The offense was supposed to make all the headlines, but the Steelers have quietly allowed the second-fewest points per game (14.8) this season. It might not be the “Steel Curtain,” but it’s led to a 3-1 record and first place in the AFC North.

Jesse: And what a mighty division that AFC North is. You have the 0-4 Browns, the 1-3 Bengals and the 2-2 Ravens, who got blown out by the Jaguars a couple of weeks ago. I’ll remind you that the Steelers lost to the fucking Bears and are still somehow a top 5 team.

6. Seattle Seahawks

2017 record: 2-2
Week 4 ranking: No. 12

ESPN: Aside from a hiccup against the Titans in Week 3, the Seattle defense has held opponents to 18 or fewer points three times so far this season. The Seahawks are 45-7-1 (.858) when holding opponents fewer than 20 points during the Russell Wilson era, which is the most such games in that time.

Kevin: So basically, “Aside from the one game that they didn’t hold their opponents to 18 or fewer points, the Seattle defense has held their opponents to 18 or fewer points.”

7. New England Patriots

2017 record: 2-2
Week 4 ranking: No. 3

ESPN: It’s a great advantage having Tom Brady, but it’s not so great when your defense turns opponents into Tom Brady. The Patriots’ defense has allowed a higher completion percentage, more passing touchdowns and more yards per attempt than Brady has thrown this season.

Jesse: The Patriots were already assholes, but now they’ve gone and created more Tom Brady’s in a league where one is already too many. Thanks a lot, dicks.

8. Philadelphia Eagles

2017 record: 3-1
Week 4 ranking: No. 13

ESPN: The Eagles have allowed the fewest points in the first three quarters of games this season but have allowed the second-most in fourth quarters. Philadelphia has three wins, but the past two were by a combined five points. If the Eagles can tighten up in the fourth quarter, they could start winning more comfortably.

Kevin: I’m sorry ESPN Bot, is there a new column in the win record for comfortable wins? We could call them comfys! And we could call close wins scarys! It could be Comfys-Scarys-Losses like, “The Eagles are 1-2-1 with their only comfy win against Washington in week 1 and two scarys against the Giants and Chargers”.

9. Detroit Lions

2017 record: 3-1
Week 4 ranking: No. 8

ESPN: The best offense is sometimes a good defense. The Lions are tied for the league lead with 11 takeaways, which has led to 47 points off turnovers. Last season, Detroit had 14 takeaways, leading to only 28 points off turnovers.

Jesse: I mean, that just makes it sound like the offense is scoring more touchdowns off of turnovers than they did last year. So the best offense is sometimes a good defense that leads to good offense? I’m confused.

10. Houston Texans

2017 record: 2-2
Week 4 ranking: No. 17

ESPN: J.J. Watt doesn’t even have a sack this season, but it hasn’t mattered much for Houston thanks to rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson and a still-potent defense. They struggled to stop Tom Brady — who hasn’t? — but in all other games, they’ve allowed just one passing touchdown with four picks.

Kevin: The first part of ESPN Bot’s blurb sounds like some terrible trash talk from a college bro, “Watt doesn’t even have a sack this season!” he would yell over and over again while his Texans’ buddy tries to defend their top ten placement in these rankings.

11. Oakland Raiders

2017 record: 2-2
Week 4 ranking: No. 7

ESPN: The Raiders are bending this season, but the defense has yet to really break. Oakland has held opponents to just three touchdowns on 12 red zone trips through four weeks, the lowest touchdown percentage allowed in the red zone so far in 2017.

Jesse: Meanwhile, Marshawn Lynch did plenty of bending while he was dancing on the sideline back in week 1, but he has also yet to break anything other than the hearts of Raiders fans who thought he’d still be productive.

12. Dallas Cowboys

2017 record: 2-2
Week 4 ranking: No. 9

ESPN: DeMarcus Lawrence has been a force so far this season with an NFL-leading 7.5 sacks. Unfortunately for Dallas, no other defensive player has been nearly as disruptive; the rest of the team has combined for just 4.5 sacks and two picks.

Kevin: “ESPN Bot, we need you to analyze defenses this week!”

“Computing…will exclusively discuss sacks since they are the only true indicator of defensive success <end script>”

I don’t know any programming so I apologize for the terrible <end script> joke.

13. Carolina Panthers

2017 record: 3-1
Week 4 ranking: No. 22

ESPN: There’s no place like home. The 37-year-old Julius Peppers, a North Carolina native, is playing like he’s 27 with a team-leading 4.5 sacks through four games. Opponents are still completing 71 percent of their passes against Carolina, but Peppers is at least knocking them back a bit.

Jesse: Wait, Peppers is back on the Panthers? How did I miss this? I feel like this should’ve been a bigger story. I mean, not as big as the whole “Cam Newton is a sexist” story, but still pretty big.

14. Washington Redskins

2017 record: 2-2
Week 4 ranking: No. 14

ESPN: The Redskins entered Week 4 with the third-best opponent Total QBR. Alex Smith’s big Monday night knocked Washington down a few pegs, but Josh Norman’s injury could knock them down even further if he ends up out for an extended period.

Kevin: Wait, wasn’t it just last week when I was complaining about using the “third-best opponent Total QBR” metric? *Checks out last week’s post* Yes it was! What happened to just saying the third worst passing defense? Wouldn’t that flow better?

15. Buffalo Bills

2017 record: 3-1
Week 4 ranking: No. 15

ESPN: One. That’s how many pass touchdowns the Bills have allowed through four games this season. It’s no wonder Buffalo has allowed the fewest points per game this season and currently owns sole possession of first place in the AFC East.

Jesse: One. That’s how many Bills games I have watched, and will watch, this season. I’m glad they are in first place though. Not glad that they beat the Broncos.

16. Los Angeles Rams

2017 record: 3-1
Week 4 ranking: No. 16

ESPN: If you think Todd Gurley is off to a great start, then you should see what opposing running backs have done against Los Angeles. The Rams have allowed 4.9 yards per rush and a league-worst seven rushing touchdowns so far this season. They’ll have to shore up the rush defense if they have want to contend.

Kevin: Hot damn the Bot has some hot takes on the Rams’ hot start! Sorry…But for real the Rams are 3-1! They haven’t been 3-1 since…uh this time last season. And they finished 4-12? Are you sure? That’s not a typo? Well shit. Maybe the Bot is right, the Rams are a bunch of phonies.

17. Minnesota Vikings

2017 record: 2-2
Week 4 ranking: No. 11

ESPN: Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook are hurt, which means the Minnesota offense might not be as explosive moving forward, but the defense is still intact. The Vikings are allowing 19.0 points per game this season and 19.8 since 2014, sixth-best in that time.

Jesse: Pulling out stats from 2014, huh ESPN Bot? Well I’ll do ya one better. The Vikings have finished with the following records the past three seasons: 7-9 (2014), 11-5 (2015) and 8-8 (2016). Probably going to take more than an intact defense to get the Vikings back to the playoffs, but what do I know? I’m no ESPN Bot.

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2017 record: 2-1
Week 4 ranking: No. 19

ESPN: The Buccaneers might have cause for concern considering their defense has just one sack through three games. Perhaps even more concerning is the pass rush has generated pressure on just 16 percent of dropbacks, the worst in the NFL. This probably won’t bode well against Tom Brady and the Patriots on Thursday night.

Kevin: You know what doesn’t bode well for the Bucs against the Patriots on Thursday night? The Patriots. And Thursday night games. Preach it T.J. Ward!

19. Tennessee Titans

2017 record: 2-2
Week 4 ranking: No. 10

ESPN: Pass defense was one of the Titans’ biggest weaknesses last season, and it doesn’t appear much has changed in 2017. Tennessee has allowed 11 passing touchdowns this season, tied for most in the NFL, including eight in the past two games. If Marcus Mariota’s injury is serious, the burden will fall even more on the defense for Tennessee to compete.

Jesse: Why do I get stuck with the Titans every week? It’s a constant reminder that the real Titans are mediocre, the Kevin-controlled Titans in our Madden franchise are really good and yet I have lost in both fantasy football and Madden recently thanks to both of them. Stop rubbing it in my face, Titans!

20. New Orleans Saints

2017 record: 2-2
Week 4 ranking: No. 24

ESPN: The Saints entered Week 4 with the second-worst defense, according to FPI, and then pitched its first shutout since 2012. FPI isn’t buying into the one-off performance, though, as it only slightly improved New Orleans to the fourth-worst defense.

Kevin: I don’t know Bot, my mama always said if you can’t be first you might as well be fourth-worst because it’s better than second-worst. She had strange advice.

21. Arizona Cardinals

2017 record: 2-2
Week 4 ranking: No. 21

ESPN: The Cardinals allowed Total QBRs of 75 or better to Matthew Stafford and Dak Prescott, and QBRs of 25 or worse to Jacoby Brissett and Brian Hoyer. In other words, they’ve struggled against the good and thrived against the not-so-good. Carson Wentz, Jameis Winston and Jared Goff are up next for Arizona.

Jesse: Ah yes, Total QBR. A fancy way of presenting the blatantly obvious as your own in-depth analysis. Based on that, the Cardinals will probably do okay against the average Wentz and Winston, then struggle against the suddenly really good Jared Goff. See? I can do it too!

22. Baltimore Ravens

2017 record: 2-2
Week 4 ranking: No. 18

ESPN: After recording eight interceptions and eight sacks between the first two games of the season, the Ravens have recorded just one pick and one sack in the two games since. With the offense sputtering, Baltimore will need the defense to be as disruptive as possible going forward.

Kevin: This is asinine. “In the extremely small sample size of two games, the Ravens had an incredible and unsustainable eight interceptions and eight sacks. In another extremely small sample size of two games, the Ravens had an incredibly low and unsustainable one interception and one sacks.”

23. Cincinnati Bengals

2017 record: 1-3
Week 4 ranking: No. 25

ESPN: Cincinnati’s three-loss start can’t be blamed on its defense. The Bengals have allowed 16.8 points per game through four weeks, the third-best in the NFL. The problem is the offense has scored a paltry 16.0 points per game.

Jesse: Because there was no way of knowing that putting a bad offensive line around Andy Dalton would backfire, right? Or that the Bengals wouldn’t score many points with that set-up, right?

24. Jacksonville Jaguars

2017 record: 2-2
Week 4 ranking: No. 20

ESPN: The Jaguars have shown flashes of good and bad this season, and the defense is no exception. The pass rush has generated a league-best 18 sacks through four weeks, but the rush defense has allowed a league-worst 5.7 yards per rush.

Kevin:  Only the Jags could follow up a dominating 44-7 victory with a loss to the tanking Jets. I feel bad for the Jaguars fan.

25. Los Angeles Chargers

2017 record: 0-4
Week 4 ranking: No. 27

ESPN: Tackling has been an issue for the Chargers’ defense so far in 2017. It has allowed 2.6 yards per rush after first contact, the worst in the NFL. To put it in perspective, the Broncos have allowed 2.4 yards per rush overall.

Jesse: Don’t worry Chargers. Your fans are completely oblivious to this stat because A) Only fans of the opposing team come to your home games and B) Well, how many fans do you even have in Los Angeles? Like 20? Not even?

26. New York Jets

2017 record: 2-2
Week 4 ranking: No. 31

ESPN: Raiders quarterback Derek Carr lit up the Jets with an 82 completion percentage in Week 2 with three touchdowns and no picks. All other quarterbacks who have played the Jets this season? Four touchdowns, four picks and a 53 completion percentage. New York is already halfway to matching its interception total from 2016.

Kevin: So what you’re saying is that the Jets were grounded by the Carr? The Carr puns are going to be around all season folks.

27. Miami Dolphins

2017 record: 1-2
Week 4 ranking: No. 26

ESPN: Jay Cutler is struggling, but so is the pass defense. The Dolphins have allowed opponents to complete 76 percent of their passes, the worst in the NFL. Miami is also one of four teams without a pick this season.

Jesse: That’s right, Dolphins fans. Your quarterback is bad, your defense is bad and you should feel bad! Oh wait, you’re Dolphins fans. You guys have basically felt bad since Dan Marino retired.

28. Chicago Bears

2017 record: 1-3
Week 4 ranking: No. 23

ESPN: Mitchell Trubisky will make his NFL debut on Monday Night Football against the Vikings, and if he wants to win, he’ll have to put a bunch of points on the board. FPI has the Bears with the fifth-worst defense so far this season.

Kevin: Wasn’t it just last week that some idiot blogger was telling the Bears fans to stop pining for the Trubster to play?

“Okay I try to ignore the Bears as much as possible. But I’m confused why Bears fans are pining for Trubisky to play. Y’all aren’t going to win anything this year. Just coast to a good draft pick, grab another stud and start Mitch next season after he acclimates. Plus you will shed yourself of John Fox’s apathy. Triple win.”

Oh, that was me.

29. San Francisco 49ers

2017 record: 0-4
Week 4 ranking: No. 29

ESPN: The 49ers are building for the future. The good news is all the young pass-rushers San Francisco has drafted appear to be paying off. The Niners are pressuring quarterbacks at the sixth-highest rate through four weeks. They did so at the fifth-lowest rate last season. Progress.

Jesse: In related news, I still had cream in my coffee this morning, but had oatmeal for breakfast instead of donuts from the convenience store. Progress.

30. New York Giants

2017 record: 0-4
Week 4 ranking: No. 28

ESPN: The blame for the Giants’ start should extend well past the offensive struggles. The defense has faced the most passes (129) without an interception this season and has generated just two takeaways, tied for second-fewest in the NFL.

Kevin: Good point Bot! We should being blaming the entire team for their 0-4 start not just the sensitive offensive players who have feelings and families they love. How rude of us.

31. Indianapolis Colts

2017 record: 1-3
Week 4 ranking: No. 30

ESPN: The Colts have allowed the most points so far. But to the defense’s credit, the offense was on the field for four of the 16 touchdowns allowed. Take those out, and the Colts defense has allowed the fourth-most points.

Jesse: So the Colts’ defense is not the worst one in the league, but to its credit, it’s still pretty damn shitty? Got it. Thanks for your wisdom, ESPN bot.

32. Cleveland Browns

2017 record: 0-4
Week 4 ranking: No. 32

ESPN: Maybe when first overall pick Myles Garrett takes the field, things will improve for the defense. But for now, the Browns rank 31st in defensive FPI and last in opponent QBR. Hang in there, Cleveland.

Kevin: Alright, I typically try to avoid the, “that’s the most Cleveland thing ever” trope because 1. I live in Cleveland and 2. It’s way over done at this point. But the sentence , “Maybe when first overall pick [blank] takes the field, things will improve…” is the most Cleveland thing I have ever read.

Also all of my Cleveland friends took a look at the schedule after week 2 and said, “Colts, Bengals, Jets, heck we could get two or three wins here!”. Eek…

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