At the beginning of the season, I took Las Vegas’ odds, formulated them as power rankings, and said whether or not I agree with them. Surprise! They were so, so very wrong about most of the teams! They only got one out of 32 right, and while getting even one right is pretty impressive, some of their misses were pretty dramatic.
2019 NFL Power Rankings (According to Las Vegas) Revisited
The first thing we’ll do is show who all 12 playoff teams were supposed to be, according to Las Vegas, and then show who they actually ended up being. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the first team is the team that actually made it and the team in parenthesis is who Vegas picked.
1. Baltimore Ravens (New England Patriots)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (Kansas City Chiefs)
3. New England Patriots (Indianapolis Colts)
4. Houston Texans (Cleveland Browns)
WC. Buffalo Bills (Los Angeles Chargers)
WC. Tennessee Titans (Pittsburgh Steelers)
1. San Francisco 49ers (New Orleans Saints)
2. Green Bay Packers (Los Angeles Rams)
3. New Orleans Saints (Chicago Bears)
4. Philadelphia Eagles (Philadelphia Eagles)
WC. Seattle Seahawks (Green Bay Packers)
WC. Minnesota Vikings (Dallas Cowboys)
32. Cincinnati Bengals (25)
It’s never fun to be the worst team in football, but if it’s a choice between 32 and 25, are you really going to pick 25? At least now, Zac Taylor can draft LSU’s wunderkind, Heisman winning National Champion quarterback, Joe Burrow.
31. Washington Redskins (30)
The Redskins were about as bad as we thought they’d be. If there was ever a franchise in sports that sums up how important good management is, it’s the Washington Redskins under Dan Snyder. This team doesn’t even have a bright future, despite having a great coaching staff and good talent, because inevitably, Snyder will screw it up.
30. Detroit Lions (26)
Detroit is such a confusing team. During the first half of the year, they were actually a lot better than their record indicated. Then… things got out of hand. Losing Matthew Stafford obviously hurt, but at some point, you’ve got to point the finger at Matt Patricia, someone that was brought in as a “defensive mastermind” and led the team to the 31st ranked defense.
29. New York Giants (27)
The New York Giants were never going to be great this year, and Saquon Barkley‘s injury was the final nail in this team’s coffin. He came back, but was very obviously not the same player. Another year, another top ten draft pick, we’ll see if the Giants can reverse their fortunes in 2020.
28. Miami Dolphins (32)
I almost feel bad for Miami. At the start of the season, it looked like they were going to be the third 0-16 team in the modern era, with the first round picks of the dreadful Pittsburgh Steelers and underwhelming Houston Texans. Instead, the Steelers went on a run, the Texans won the division, and the Dolphins inexplicably won five games. I say almost, because they still have three first round picks, and if Reggie McKenzie hits on one of them, it could immediately reverse the fortunes of the franchise.
27. Los Angeles Chargers (10)
Another year, another underwhelming Chargers team. They were projected to compete in the AFC, and instead they were among the conference’s worst teams. Philip Rivers took a big step down this year, and that ultimately hurt the team worse than anything else. I don’t know, maybe the franchise is just cursed.
26. Carolina Panthers (19)
Cam Newton was never really healthy, and neither Kyle Allen or Will Grier proved to be a very good substitution. Throw in a coaching change mid-season, and not even a superhuman effort from Christian McCaffrey could save this squad.
25. Arizona Cardinals (31)
Give all the credit in the world to Kliff Kingsbury and undeserving Offensive Rookie of the Year, Kyler Murray, they did a lot with very little this year. Chandler Jones also had a monster season, but it wasn’t enough to save a porous defense. The future looks bright for Arizona, even if I’ll never forgive Murray for stealing an award that very obviously belonged to Josh Jacobs.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars (20)
It’s hard to be positive about this year’s Jaguars. The other Josh Allen had a good rookie season, and they will forever be the last team to win a NFL game in Oakland, but that’s about it. Gardner Minshew had a great mustache, but an underwhelming campaign, they traded Jalen Ramsey mid-season, and Leonard Fournette was perfectly acceptable.
23. Cleveland Browns (9)
The Cleveland Browns were one of the league’s more disappointing teams this year. The Freddie Kitchens hire turned out to be a disastrous one, as the squad failed with the basics all year long. They struggled with turnovers, penalties, and after an incredibly strong rookie season, Baker Mayfield had a hellacious sophomore slump. Here’s hoping next year is the year the Browns finally get out of the NFL’s cellar.
22. New York Jets (22)
I think it’s actually really impressive that Vegas got one right. I wouldn’t know where to begin with setting the odds for this, but it feels wildly unlikely, especially when you consider that Leonard Williams was traded, Sam Darnold got mono, and the Le’Veon Bell signing was ultimately a bust.
21. Oakland Raiders (23)
Look! The Raiders are better than they were supposed to be! Take that, last-twenty-years-of-no-good-dirty-rotten-very-bad-football! All jokes aside, the Raiders have a bright future. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and hopefully they bring some good football to Las Vegas. Then again, sometimes, the light at the end of the tunnel is just a train.
20. Indianapolis Colts (5)
No surprise here, the significant dropoff between Andrew Luck and Jacoby Brissett killed this team. They flirted with playoff contention in a relatively weak conference, but ultimately losses against teams like Jon Gruden’s Raiders at home held them back.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (28)
Bruce Arians did what he could with Jameis Winston. He broke 5,000 yards passing, and like the man himself said, if you just erase all the turnovers, he had a great year. Watch Tampa Bay get a decent quarterback, sign David Johnson, and make a respectable run in 2020.
18. Denver Broncos (21)
Who knows what could’ve been if Drew Lock had gotten a chance to play sooner? He wasn’t spectacular, but he did galvanize the Broncos. The team ended the season on a hot note, and probably elevated them those three spots above where Vegas had them originally.
17. Atlanta Falcons (15)
Back in August, I thought the Falcons should’ve been rated higher. They were finally healthy, and I thought they’d return to 2017 form. I was wrong. Very, very wrong, and they were borderline unwatchable, if unpredictable, all year long.
16. Dallas Cowboys (12)
I honestly thought the Cowboys were going to be so much better than what they ended up being. On paper, this squad was just stacked. They had so much talent. What they didn’t have was competent coaching, and ultimately, they couldn’t win the NFL’s worst division. This will probably come back to haunt me, but I don’t think the Dallas Cowboys will win a championship as long as Jerry Jones is as involved as he is.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers (11)
I think it’s a testament to Mike Tomlin’s coaching that the team finished this close to their original ranking. When they made these rankings, they assumed JuJu Smith-Schuster would be catching passes from Ben Roethlisberger all year long. Instead, they lost their quarterback after one game, and neither Mason Rudolph or Devlin Hodges played well in his stead. Yet they’re only four spots off where Vegas had them in August.
14. Chicago Bears (6)
Oh no! Everyone’s off-season pick not only failed to reach the Super Bowl, they missed the playoffs altogether! After being projected to be a division champion, they ended up being pretty mediocre. Oh well, it’s not like they traded multiple picks to the Raiders for a pass rusher, only to end up with exactly as many sacks.
13. Los Angeles Rams (4)
In all fairness to the Los Angeles Rams, they were the defending NFC Champions this time last year. Sean McVay was the wunderkind, Jared Goff was on the way up, Aaron Donald had won consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards, and Todd Gurley was a generational talent at tailback.
Then Gurley’s arthritis showed up, and he was hardly the same back. Jared Goff looked borderline mediocre, and while Aaron Donald still showed out, it wasn’t like it was in 2017 or 2018. They still won nine games, but they hardly looked like the team that tore up the NFC last year.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (8)
Man, the Eagles were hard to watch this year. They didn’t have weapons for Carson Wentz, and they barely won a NFC East that probably didn’t deserve a playoff team. The Super Bowl win over the Patriots drifts further and further into the past, and barring a really strong off-season, they probably don’t break the top ten in next year’s rankings.
11. Buffalo Bills (24)
I liked the Bills in August, and on a couple of different occasions, referenced their weak schedule and good defense as reasons they could succeed. And for a while, they did! But ultimately, Josh Allen limited their ability to win meaningful games. Hopefully Buffalo’s success doesn’t encourage a commitment to a mediocre quarterback ala Blake Bortles in Jacksonville.
10. New England Patriots (1)
The decline of the New England Patriots wasn’t graceful. Protected by a weak division and an overrated defense, an underwhelming season by Tom Brady, featuring non-existent weapons, and a huge hole in the offense where Rob Gronkowski used to be, the Patriots failed to escape the wild-card round. Facing a future without Tom Brady (potentially), it’ll be interesting to see where Vegas puts the Patriots in August.
9. New Orleans Saints (3)
I don’t think anyone really expected the New Orleans Saints to lose as early as they did. They were the odd man out in the first round bye conversation, and overlooked Mike Zimmer and the Saints. I think they probably would’ve made it close to the top three if they’d taken their first playoff opponent seriously.
8. Minnesota Vikings (13)
Minnesota is never as good, nor as bad, as anyone thinks they are. Perfectly good, if not great, across the board. They were expected to hover around the wildcard picture, and ultimately, that’s what they did. Man, the Vikings are starting to become a real pest for the Saints, but I suppose that karmically, that’s what they get for what they did to Brett Favre.
7. Houston Texans (16)
The Texans benefited from Andrew Luck’s retirement about as much as the Colts suffered. They jumped from potential wildcard team to division champion overnight. Deshaun Watson overcame horrendous offensive line play and questionable coaching/management to lead the Texans into the playoffs… even if it ended pretty horribly.
6. Seattle Seahawks (17)
Why do people continuously doubt Pete Carroll’s Seahawks? They haven’t had a losing season since 2011, and they’ve only missed the playoffs once since Russell Wilson arrived. This wasn’t one of the best teams in recent memory, but they still gave it a real shot, and I bet they’ll be dangerous yet again in 2020.
5. Baltimore Ravens (18)
In the preseason version of this article, I said I didn’t quite buy Baltimore’s offense, but I knew too well to bet against them. Well… I’m glad I didn’t. Lamar Jackson is the league’s Most Valuable Player, and the Ravens had the best regular season of any team. It’ll be interesting to see if they can repeat that success in 2020.
4. Tennessee Titans (29)
Now this is the one that absolutely nobody expected. I would’ve picked literally any other AFC South squad to make a deep run. I would’ve justified Nick Foles galvanizing the Jaguars, Deshaun Watson coming into his own in Houston, and at one point, Andrew Luck’s Colts making a run at the Super Bowl.
But the Tennessee Titans? I never would’ve guessed it. But when you control the line of scrimmage and your defense is well coached? A lot can happen. The Titans are 25 spots higher than Vegas projected, and that’s the biggest disparity on here.
3. Green Bay Packers (7)
The Green Bay Packers never really felt legit, did they? They kinda surfed through the regular season without beating anyone of note, and then they took care of business against Seattle to get a shot at the NFC Championship game. This off-season is going to be interesting for Green Bay, as they try to stay atop a competitive NFC North.
2. San Francisco 49ers (14)
Las Vegas had San Francisco just barely missing the playoffs back in August, but they came about as close to winning it all as you can… without actually doing it. Before Kyle Shanahan’s blossoming choking habit reared it’s ugly head, the boys from the bay almost won it all!
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2)
Vegas was pretty close on this one, they had Kansas City as the AFC’s second best squad, with New England winning it all. Instead, Patrick Mahomes is Super Bowl MVP, Andy Reid finally has a ring, and I’m painfully aware that this won’t be the last time Kansas City will frustrate Las Vegas.