Now that all 256 games of the 2020 NFL season have been played, we have all the statistical rankings we need to compile our rankings of all 32 teams this season from top to bottom.
Congrats to the New Orleans Saints, the top-ranked team in the NFL for 2020:
Again, these are comprehensive rankings that take into account 29 different statistical categories. They offer us a complete look at a team’s strengths and weaknesses.
I separated the teams into tiers based on their +/- from the median. Right now, the Saints, Packers and Bucs comprise the top tier. The Saints are the only team in the league that I have ranked in the top-5 on offense and the top-5 on defense. They have the #4 defense and the #5 offense. The Bucs come close, ranking 6th in offense and 6th in defense. The Packers rank #1 on offense and #14 on defense.
There are a lot of teams in the league that do one thing (offense or defense) very well, but don’t do the other well. These teams are going to take a hit in the statistical rankings because, again, they value completeness.
Your next tier of teams is the Ravens, Bills and Chiefs. The Ravens are one of just three teams (the Saints and Bucs are the others) that rank in the top-10 of both offense and defense. They have the #5 defense and the #9 offense. They’re not quite in that elite tier due to the fact that, while they have the top rushing offense in the league, they rank dead-last in pass yards per game in the league. That could become a problem in the playoffs.
The Bills are my #4 ranked offense and #16 ranked defense, while Kansas City is my #3 ranked offense and my #18 ranked defense. Now, Kansas City’s rankings may have slipped a bit because they rested starters in week 17 and got beaten pretty soundly by the Chargers. I don’t think they slipped by much, because these rankings are cumulative and take into account weeks 1-17. But I know Kansas City took a slight hit due to week 17. Though the rankings have the #6, I consider them to be higher than that personally. But that’s for the power rankings, which are supposed to be subjective. The statistical rankings are purely objective.
In tier 3 I have the Steelers, Colts, Rams and Seahawks. The Steelers have the top-ranked defense but the 19th-ranked offense. They’re unbalanced and so they get knocked for that. The Rams are a similar case: the #2 defense but the #16 offense. Seattle is my #15 defense and my #11 offense. Seattle’s weird: they started off as an offensive juggernaut with a terrible defense, but now they have a pretty darn good defense and an offense that seems to have lost its way. They may be having an identity crisis of sorts, but then again they’ve won 6 of their past 7 games. So whatever they’re doing, it’s working.
As for the Colts, they’re pretty balanced: #10 in defense, #12 in offense. I love that Indy’s run game has really come along as of late, but my issue with them is that they’re really not elite at any one thing in particular. They’re good-not-great in most every category, but I think you need to be elite at something in order to win a Super Bowl. You have to have that “bread-and-butter” you can go to in crucial moments. It has a lot to do with your team identity and who you are as a team. It’s your North Star. I don’t really know what that is for the Colts. Are they an offensive team? A defensive team? A running team? I just don’t know what their bread-and-butter is. What’s their edge over other teams? What do they do better than everyone else? I know the answer for the other playoff teams: for the Chiefs, it’s big plays but probably just offense in general. Same with the Bills. With the Packers it’s offensive efficiency and taking care of the football. With the Rams it’s defense, specifically Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald. The Ravens are the scariest rushing attack in the league. The Titans ride Derrick Henry and outscore you.
But I don’t really know the Colts’ bread-and-butter. I still think they’re a solid, well-rounded team and I would not be shocked if they pull the upset over the Bills. But I’m not counting on it.
The next tier you have the Cardinals, Titans, Browns and Dolphins. I’m going to only focus on the Titans and Browns since the other two have been eliminated, but the main thing here is that these teams are lopsided: the Titans are great on offense, terrible on defense. The Browns are similar, although not as far to the extremes on both sides of the ball. These two teams have significant weaknesses that can and will be exploited.
Washington is a slightly below-median team. They’re elite on defense but bottom-5 on offense. And the Bears come in as my worst team in the playoffs, statistically. They’re just not great at anything on defense and are quite bad in a lot of categories on offense.
So that’s it for the 2020 regular season statistical rankings. Super Bowl predictions coming soon.
Going purely by the statistical rankings, this is how I guess they’d project the playoffs to unfold:
Wild Card Round
- Bucs over Washington
- Saints over Bears
- Steelers over Browns
- Bills over Colts
- Ravens over Titans
- Rams over Seahawks
- Saints over Bucs
- Packers over Rams
- Ravens over Bills
- Chiefs over Steelers
AFC/NFC Championship Games
- Ravens over Chiefs
- Saints over Packers
- Saints over Ravens