A couple of unexpected Week 1 results shook up the initial Top 10 in the Post’s weekly NFL Power Rankings, most notably the San Francisco 49ers – the defending NFC champions – going down at home against Kyler Murray and upstart Arizona.
There are five AFC teams and five NFC squads in our Top 10, with several would-be contenders – especially Tom Brady’s revamped Tampa Bay Buccaneers – already looking to rebound from an opening-day defeat.
1.Kansas City Chiefs, 1-0
It looks like the defending Super Bowl champs and their $503 million quarterback Patrick Mahomes have added another potent offensive weapon in rookie first-round running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who registered 138 rushing yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut in Thursday’s win over Houston. Next: Sunday at Los Angeles Chargers.
2. Baltimore Ravens, 1-0
Lamar Jackson isn’t quite ready to relinquish the MVP award he copped last season, throwing for three TDs and leading the Ravens in rushing yards (45) in Sunday’s 38-6 rout of the Cleveland Browns. Next: Sunday at Houston.
3. Seattle Seahawks, 1-0
Russell Wilson spread the ball around, completing passes to nine receivers, and was close to perfect (31-for-35) with four TD tosses against Atlanta to get off to a strong start in what promises to be a wide-open NFC West. Next: Sunday night vs. New England.
4. New Orleans Saints, 1-0
The Saints’ defense blew up Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay debut, highlighted by ex-Giants corner Janoris Jenkins’ third-quarter pick-six. Record-setting receiver Michael Thomas’ high-ankle injury bears watching for Drew Brees’ still-potent offense. Next: Monday at Las Vegas.
5. Green Bay Packers, 1-0
Even with the drafting of future quarterback Jordan Love in the first round, Aaron Rodgers can still put up gaudy numbers and a ton of points, as evidenced by his 364 yards and four TDs in a 43-34 NFC North win Sunday over Minnesota. Next: Sunday vs. Detroit.
6. New England Patriots, 1-0
As you have heard, Bill Belichick and the Pats have made a quarterback change this season. Cam Newton got off to a nice start in the post-Tom Brady era, including 15 rushes for 75 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in a 21-11 win over Miami. Next: Sunday at Seattle.
7. Buffalo Bills, 1-0
The Bills made Adam Gase’s Jets look like Adam Gase’s Jets, holding Sam Darnold and Gang Green’s offense to 267 total yards in a 27-17 Buffalo victory. Next: Sunday at Dolphins.
8. Los Angeles Rams, 1-0
The Rams missed the playoffs last season (9-7) following a Super Bowl appearance the previous year, but their Aaron Donald-led defense held the high-powered Cowboys to 17 points in a Week 1 victory. Next: Sunday at Philadelphia.
9. Arizona Cardinals, 1-0
Last year’s No.1-overall draft pick Kyler Murray is an emerging star with an electrifying performance through the air and on the ground in an impressive road win Sunday in San Francisco. Next: Sunday vs. Washington.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1-0
Big Ben Roethlisberger returned for the first time since suffering an elbow injury last September and picked apart the Giants for three aerial TDs Monday night. Next: Sunday vs. Denver.
11. San Francisco 49ers, 0-1
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 0-1
13. Los Angeles Chargers, 1-0
14. Washington Football Team, 1-0
15. Dallas Cowboys, 0-1
16. Minnesota Vikings, 0-1
17. Las Vegas Raiders, 1-0
18. Tennessee Titans, 1-0
19. Chicago Bears, 1-0
20. Jacksonville Jaguars, 1-0
21. Houston Texans, 0-1
22. Carolina Panthers, 0-1
23. Indianapolis Colts, 0-1
24. Denver Broncos, 0-1
25. Philadelphia Eagles, 0-1
26. New York Giants, 0-1
Daniel Jones did some nice things to start Year 2, but his end-zone pick to conclude a 19-play third-quarter drive was a game-changer. And the offensive line left Saquon Barkley nowhere to run against the Steelers. Next: Sunday at Chicago.
27. Atlanta Falcons, 0-1
28. Cincinnati Bengals, 0-1
29. Cleveland Browns, 0-1
30. Miami Dolphins, 0-1
31. Detroit Lions, 0-1
32. New York Jets, 0-1
Ugh. Gase and the Jets at least made Sunday’s final score appear more acceptable after falling behind 21-0, but Darnold and their offense need to be much sharper to avoid a fifth straight losing season. Next: Sunday vs. San Francisco.
Sean Payton admits surprising ‘truth’ behind Saints’ poor start
The New Orleans Saints lost back-to-back games for the first time since an 0-2 start in 2017 after falling 37-30 to the Green Back Packers on Sunday night.
Following the loss at the Superdome, which dropped the Saints to 1-2, head coach Sean Payton laid out the truth regarding his team’s sluggish start to the 2020 season.
“It’s been a while since we felt that, but three years ago, we were 0-2. A little bit of a gut check, and yet we aren’t playing well enough. Let’s not fool ourselves,” Payton told reporters. “We’re making too many mistakes. We aren’t playing disciplined enough on both sides of the ball. That’s really just the truth.
“You’re frustrated as a coach because that starts with us. We have to do a better job. We have to get ready to play a better game against Detroit [on the road next week].”
Running back Alvin Kamara put in a valiant effort with a career-high 139 receiving yards on 13 catches, for a total of 197 yards from scrimmages with two touchdowns. New Orleans had given up only two passes of more than 30 yards all season before Sunday, when Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard pulled down a 48-yard pass from quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the second quarter before he broke open for a 72-yarder three plays into the second half on third-and-10.
The game got away from the Saints early in the fourth quarter when, with the score 27-27, backup quarterback and gadget player Taysom Hill fumbled away the ball on a quarterback keeper. The Packers turned that into a field goal and followed up with a touchdown on their ensuing drive to take a 10-point lead with two minutes left.
“Talent really doesn’t get you much in this league on paper — especially when you’re as undisciplined as we’ve been playing, mainly on defense,” said veteran safety Malcom Jenkins, who returned to the Saints in free agency this year. “Whether it’s been penalties, assignments here or there. … It’s early in the season, and those are things we can correct, but we gotta do it if we want to be the team we set out to be.
“For me personally, I feel like that was what I was brought here to do. So up to this point, I feel like I’ve been failing in that regard. But I think it’s definitely something, between myself and other team leaders on defense, [we] can get fixed.”
Remembering the time Lamar Jackson leaped over a Syracuse defender in college
The loudest collective gasp I’ve ever heard came courtesy of a Louisville quarterback by the name of Lamar Jackson. He’d just leaped over an entire human.
It was Sept. 9, 2016, in the Carrier Dome. Syracuse was hosting the Cardinals and Jackson, who before that game hadn’t been in much conversation about the best players in college football. I was a student at SU at the time, sitting in the student section aligned with one of the 20-yard lines. I didn’t know Jackson much more than the rest of the country did. All it took was one half to change that.
Lamar Jackson’s Syracuse leap
Louisville already led 28-7 when the Cardinals lined up on first-and-goal just inside the Syracuse 10-yard line. Jackson ran a familiar read option play with his running back, Jeremy Smith, who didn’t get the handoff and was blown up by an SU lineman. Jackson took off in a race for the left pylon, but his path appeared to be blocked by Syracuse defensive back, Cordell Hudson. Hudson went low, and Jackson rose up.
I was at the opposite end of the field, about 80 yards away. That didn’t take away any of the majesty of what Jackson had just done. Jackson flew over Hudson and landed on his feet before having a pretty smooth final few steps to the end zone. The gasp took place in that middling moment, as Jackson hung in the air. He’d already taken all the energy out of the Dome with a big early lead. But for one moment, Syracuse fans were just fans of the most impressive athletic feat to take place in an SU football game in a long time.
That was Jackson’s fourth rushing touchdown of the game – he’d already scored from 72, 13 and seven yards on runs. That all came after Jackson threw a 72-yard touchdown over the top to James Quick on Louisville’s opening drive. Within less than five minutes, Louisville led 21-0, and that Jackson leaping touchdown put the Cardinals up 35-7 in a first half that didn’t even feel that close.
The week before, Jackson had thrown six touchdowns against Charlotte, but it was his monster game against Syracuse — 411 passing yards, 199 rushing yards and five total touchdowns — that began the true Heisman Watch in Louisville.
Lamar Jackson’s Heisman season
After Jackson lit up Syracuse, he didn’t slow down. The next week, he ran for 146 yards and four more touchdowns on the ground in a win over Florida State. Two weeks later, he ran for another 162 yards and two touchdowns in a highly anticipated matchup with Clemson.
The highlights didn’t stop coming, either. He threw for more than 300 yards against North Carolina State and Virginia. He continued breaking the century mark on the ground, against Duke, Boston College, Wake Forest and Kentucky.
By the end of the season, Jackson was lifting the Heisman Trophy. He finished the year with 3543 passing yards and 30 touchdowns to go with 1571 rushing yards and 21 more touchdowns. The Cardinals finished 9-4.
A year later, Jackson finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting as Baker Mayfield took home the award. The Ravens picked Jackson with the 32nd overall pick in 2018, and the rest is pretty much history. And while by no means did Jackson’s career begin on that September night in Syracuse, his first true Heisman moment was one that made the whole Carrier Dome gasp collectively and still blows my mind four years later.
Week 4 Fantasy QB Rankings: Must-starts, sleepers, potential busts at quarterback
We have a bit of a good news/bad news situation for quarterbacks heading into Week 4. The good: Most of the big-name QBs are staying healthy (and, thus, maintaining their spots in our Week 4 fantasy QB rankings); the bad: A lot of their WRs are getting hurt. Three weeks into the season, we’re starting to get a better read on which veterans might be washed up (Drew Brees? Tom Brady?) and which youngsters could be the real deal (Joe Burrow?). Correctly diagnosing these busts and sleepers going forward could make the difference in your fantasy football season.
For the second straight week, Patrick Mahomes gets to face an exciting quarterback counterpart, this time the Patriots and Cam Newton. Just like with the Ravens in Week 3, this matchup poses a much tougher defensive test for Mahomes than it does for his opponent. Hopefully, the strong QB dual leads to a high-scoring shootout, but either way, you’re not going to sit Mahomes, regardless of matchup.
WEEK 4 STANDARD RANKINGS:
Running back | Wide receiver | Tight End | D/ST | Kicker
One of our biggest risers this week was supposed to be Joe Burrow. The Bengals haven’t been shy about letting the rookie sling it, and we saw what the Dolphins did to Jacksonville’s defense in Week 3. The only risk with Burrow is an early lead could dampen some of his late-game production, but there should be enough throwing and running room early for Burrow to have a big game regardless. After seeing Burrow come right back in after taking a huge blow to the head in Week 3, we’re believing the rookie can do pretty much anything.
WEEK 4 PPR RANKINGS:
Running back | Wide receiver | Tight End | D/ST | Kicker
Gardner Minshew disappointed us in a big way against the Dolphins on Thursday Night Football last week. He forced a few too many passes after the Jaguars fell behind, and it certainly looked like the absence of DJ Chark (chest) hurt him, too. We still feel good about Minshew in two-QB and superflex leagues, especially against a mediocre Bengals defense this week, but Chark’s status certainly impacts Minshew’s playability, and it’s fair to expect the occasional clunker from the second-year sixth-round pick.
For now, we’ve left Nick Mullens in as San Francisco’s quarterback while Jimmy Garoppolo’s return from a high-ankle sprain remains uncertain. The Sunday Night Football nature of the 49ers’ Week 4 game against the Eagles makes things even trickier for Garoppolo owners. Philadelphia has been vulnerable enough through the air that Garoppolo probably checks in around QB20 if he plays this week. If you had been playing Jimmy G before his injury, nothing about the Eagles is scary enough to change course if Garoppolo returns this week.
We’re also leaving Justin Herbert in the rankings with the latest Adam Schefter report indicating Tyrod Taylor will likely miss Week 4 as he recovers from his punctured lung. Los Angeles takes on a tricky Tampa Bay defense in Week 4 that’ll probably cause the rookie Herbert some trouble, relegating him to the bench in single-QB leagues.
Note: Check back throughout the week, as we’ll continue to update our QB rankings and provide analysis up until kickoff based on the latest news and injury updates.
Week 4 Fantasy QB Rankings
These rankings are for four-point passing TD leagues.
|1||Lamar Jackson, BAL @ WAS|
|2||Russell Wilson, SEA @ MIA|
|3||Kyler Murray, ARZ @ CAR|
|4||Josh Allen, BUF @ LV|
|5||Dak Prescott, DAL vs. CLE|
|6||Aaron Rodgers, GB vs. ATL|
|7||Patrick Mahomes, KC vs. NE|
|8||Cam Newton, NE @ KC|
|9||Deshaun Watson, HOU vs. MIN|
|10||Matt Ryan, ATL @ GB|
|11||Jared Goff, LAR vs. NYG|
|12||Joe Burrow, CIN vs. JAX|
|13||Drew Brees, NO @ DET|
|14||Ben Roethlisberger, PIT @ TEN|
|15||Gardner Minshew, JAX @ CIN|
|16||Matthew Stafford, DET vs. NO|
|17||Tom Brady, TB vs. LAC|
|18||Ryan Tannehill, TEN vs. PIT|
|19||Ryan Fitzpatrick, MIA vs. SEA|
|20||Kirk Cousins, MIN @ HOU|
|21||Baker Mayfield, CLE @ DAL|
|22||Carson Wentz, PHI @ SF|
|23||Derek Carr, LV vs. BUF|
|24||Nick Foles, CHI vs. IND|
|25||Justin Herbert, LAC @ TB|
|26||Philip Rivers, IND @ CHI|
|27||Daniel Jones, NYG @ LAR|
|28||Teddy Bridgewater, CAR vs. ARZ|
|29||Jeff Driskel, DEN @ NYJ|
|30||Nick Mullens, SF vs. PHI|
|31||Dwayne Haskins, WAS vs. BAL|
|32||Sam Darnold, NYJ vs. DEN|
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