Before you sharpen your pitchforks, a short note on how we’ve come to rank the teams as we have: all NFLTR writers have compiled their own NFL power rankings, which we’ve compiled and averaged in the list below. We hope you enjoy the fruits of our labor, and feel free to agree, disagree, or roast us in the comments below.
#1) Denver Broncos
The Broncos are 4-0 and Peyton Manning is a quarter of the way towards securing his fifth MVP. Add in the fact that they’re playing without their two best defensive players and it’s just crazy to think how good this team can be. On the season, Manning has completed a staggering 75 percent of his passes for 1,470 yards, 16 touchdown and not a single interception. Denver has played three of their four games at home, so things will at least get a bit harder travel to Dallas and Indianapolis in two of the next three weeks.
#2) Seattle Seahawks
It’s hard to talk about this game without mentioning that awful Matt Schaub pick-six. Seattle deserves a good deal of credit for making the comeback that they did and ultimately winning the game in overtime. But they clearly have issues away from Seattle. Russell Wilson was hit while throwing or sacked on 47 percent of his dropbacks in this game. J.J. Watt clearly had an impact, but they’ll need to get their offensive line in better shape some time soon. The Seahawks get the Colts next weekend, which should be one of the best games to watch.
#3) New Orleans Saints ( 1)
Drew Brees was absolutely masterful in Monday nights win over MIA. I’m not sure that even a perfect game from Ryan Tannehill would have been enough to beat the Saints on this day. Brees finished 30-39 for 413 yards passing and four touchdowns, and it really could have been worse. I’m sure the Saints are more happy about the fact that their defense is now a respectable unit thanks to Rob Ryan running the show. New Orleans is clearly a contender at this point in the season.
#4) New England Patriots (1)
Veteran CB Aqib Talib really shined throughout this game and it’s safe to say he’ll be shooting up our Top 50 Free Agents list later this week. Undrafted rookie Kenbrell Thompkins seem to make both incredible and hugely disappointing plays throughout games, but there’s plenty of potential to work. Meanwhile, Tom Brady ranks 17th in total passing yards and is behind guys like Michael Vick, Cam Newton and Alex Smith in passer rating. His 2013 season has been disappointing, but you would have to think his production will pick up in the coming weeks. 4-0 is 4-0 after all.
#5) Kansas City Chiefs ( 4)
Jamaal Charles is not only the Chiefs leading rusher, but also their leading receiver through the first four games. Stats are fairly balanced — 289 yards rushing, two rushing touchdowns to 213 yards receiving and two receiving touchdowns. Meanwhile, KC leads the NFL in turnover differential at plus nine. The Chiefs schedule is as soft as they come. They get a Jake Locker-less Titans team and then the Raiders.
#6) San Francisco 49ers ( 1)
The commitment to the ground game paid for San Francisco. The 49ers ran a total of 43 runs against the Seahawks and Colts. On Thursday, they ran the ball 40 times. St. Louis looked to be over-matched throughout the game, which is actually surprising given how close these games were last year. The 49ers had 11 drives of 12 yards or less and still won 35-11. They get HOU, ARI and TEN in the next three weeks.
#7) Detroit Lions ( 8)
So much has been made about the Bears improved offensive line, but DTs Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley looked to have their way with Chicago’s o-line throughout most of the game. When the Lions signed Reggie Bush, it really seemed like a great fit, but it’s been ever better than that throughout their first four games. He looks like the guy from USC out there. Sunday’s game ended up being only an eight point different, but the Lions really dominated this matchup. DET gets GB, CLE and CIN in their next three games.
#8) Chicago Bears (3)
Just when you think Jay Cutler has gotten rid of his tendency to implode in tough games, he goes out commits four turnovers. Meanwhile, the Lions proved again that you can take away Brandon Marshall for the most part. Chicago was able to get TE Martellus Bennett and Alshon Jeffery involved, which is going to be very important for them moving forward. The Bears will have a good measuring stick game against the Saints this weekend.
#9) Green Bay Packers ( 1)
The Packers got good news on Monday with the return of RB Eddie Lacy, who was able to put in a full practice. James Starks, however appears to be doubtful for Week 5, which was evident by the team signing a new RB to their active roster. The bad news however is that TE Jermichael Finley and LB Clay Matthews both missed practice on Monday, so we’ll be monitoring their status throughout the week. GB takes on the 3-1 Lions in Week 5.
#10) Indianapolis Colts ( 1)
The Colts casually toasted the Jaguars on Sunday 37-3. The bad news, however, is that they lost first-round pick Bjoern Werner for 4-6 weeks due to a plantar fasciitis injury. While the team has proven to be much tougher than many expected, that will be tested against the Seahawks next weekend, which should be just the first of many quarterback battles between Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson.
#11) Atlanta Falcons ( 3)
The Falcons had their chances to that game Sunday night. Matt Ryan stands out as one of the more disappointing performances. He was surprisingly erratic on a few throws that could have very well led to touchdowns. TE Tony Gonzalez managed to set a career-high 149 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
#12) Miami Dolphins ( 2)
Miami’s o-line started really strong and was able to get some good push upfront against a quality d-line, but all of that changed once they got down by double digits. You can see the Dolphins have weapons to work with on offense, but they have to be mistake free to compete with the top-tier teams and that wasn’t the case Monday night. The Dolphins get the Ravens next week, which should be a pretty good game and a bye afterwards in Week 6.
#13) Cincinnati Bengals ( 7)
How do you go from beating the Packers to losing to the Brian Hoyer-led Browns? No idea, but this Bengals remains an enigma for the most part. Andy Dalton put forth a forgettable performance and Gio Bernard was ineffective against a very underrated defense. As disappointing as the Bengals were in this game, I’d rather just give the credit to the Browns. CIN gets NE, BUF and DET in the next three weeks.
#14) Dallas Cowboys (1)
The Cowboys had a 21-10 lead in the second quarter, but managed to lose this game after they gave up the game’s final 20 points. The Cowboys offense got off to a pretty good start this season, but they haven’t been as effective in recent weeks. They rank in 19th in both passing and rushing yards per game. Meanwhile, their pass defense has dropped to 27th in the league allowing 304 yard per game. First-round pick Morris Claiborne has played poor enough that you have to wonder whether or not he’ll be a bust. The Cowboys will take on the Broncos at home in Week 5, which will be a huge test for this team.
#15) Baltimore Ravens ( 3)
Here’s what $120.6 million buys you nowadays. Joe Flacco had as many interceptions (5) as Ray Rice had carries in Sunday’s loss to the Bills. Flacco has turned the ball over nine times in four games, which is more than half way to his 2012 total of 17. Clearly, not having Rice at 100 percent impacted their offensive gameplan, but they still hard their chances to walk out of Buffalo with a win. BAL gets MIA, GB and PIT in the next three weeks.
#16) San Diego Chargers ( 2)
How about Phillip Rivers? Mike McCoy’s impact on the Chargers offense has been quite significant to say the least. SD is 8th in total yards and tied for 7th in points per game this season. They’ve always managed to be in every game they played, so they have to be one of the toughest 2-2 teams in the entire league. They get a favorable stretch of games in the next three weeks when they take on the Raiders, Colts and Jaguars.
#17) Houston Texans (1)
Here’s a good stat that will inspire hope in a quarterback. Matt Schaub is only the second quarterback since 1940 to throw a pick-six in three straight games. A report on Monday mentioned that HOU can get out from under Schaub’s contract following the season with only a minimal cap impact. Quarterbacks are hard to find, even average at best players, so I think it’s safer bet that they keep Schaub in place as their starter. It only gets harder for HOU as they travel to SF and KC in two of the next three weeks.
#18) Tennessee Titans (1)
The Titans are 3-1 and could very well have started the season 4-0. They have to be the most surprising team in the league, but losing their starting quarterback for 4-8 weeks will most likely bring them back to Earth. Ryan Fitzpatrick will be under center when they take on the Chiefs, 49ers and Seahawks the next three weeks. If they can come out of that stretch with just a single win, I’d say that was probably a victory.
#19) Buffalo Bills ( 4)
The Bills have to be the current favorites to win the best rookie class award at the end of the season. LB Kiko Alonso, a Joe Garcia favorite, leads the NFL in interceptions as crazy as that is. Another Joe Garcia favorite, WR Robert Woods looks like he could be another quality second-round pick after totaling 93 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. You can’t forger about first-round pick QB E.J. Manuel who has done enough in his first four games to keep the Bills in games and pull out some fourth quarter wins. BUF gets CLE, CIN and MIA the next three weeks.
#20) Carolina Panthers ( 2)
The Panthers had their bye in Week 4, which will hopefully be enough to get their 32nd ranked passing offense turned around. CAR will on the road against a Cardinals team who’s dealing with plenty of issues of their own. Look for the Panthers d-line to be a difference maker throughout this game.
#21) Arizona Cardinals (2)
Arizona was down 10-0 after the first-half, but managed to fight back and leave Tampa Bay with an ugly win. Those count too. The Cardinals offense has really been disappointing to say the least. Currently, they rank 25th in points per game and 27th in total yards. Obviously they’re dealing with some offensive line issues, but this is nothing new for a Bruce Arians team. They have a pretty tough stretch of games as ARI gets a CAR team coming off of a bye and then SF and SEA in back-to-back games.
#22) Philadelphia Eagles (1)
The Eagles has consisted of an extraordinary first-half performance against Washington followed by 14 quarters of horrible football. PHI’s defense is allowing a ridiculous 34.5 points per game as opposed to just 24.8 points per game from their offense. The good news is that they can really rack up total yards, but until they start stopping teams consistently, it’s just hard to see them winning many games. Thankfully for them they get two reeling 0-4 teams in the Giants and Buccaneers in the next two weeks.
#23) Cleveland Browns ( 3)
Brian Hoyer’s performance the past two weeks has been nothing short of amazing. Now I’m not saying he’s been perfect, but I clearly didn’t see this coming. They have managed to rattle off back-to-back wins over 2012 playoff teams and their defense cannot be overlooked. The Browns can probably compete with almost any team as long as they can limit the turnovers. Ray Horton will hopefully get a head coaching job next season.
#24) New York Jets (4)
New York’s best team just got beaten handedly by the Titans. Even when Jake Locker went down, Ryan Fitzpatrick stepped in tossed a touchdown like it wasn’t that hard. Rooke QB Geno Smith had four turnovers on Sunday, including a behind-the-back fumble. He now has 11 turnovers for the season, which ties him with the other New York quarterback. The Jets will be up against ATL, PIT and NE in the next three weeks.
#25) St. Louis Rams (1)
The Rams ground game is nonexistent. They are averaging a total of 2.64 yards per carry through four games, which is good for 31st in the league behind only the Jaguars. Meanwhile, Sam Bradford seems to be incapable of moving the ball beyond five yards. Thursday’s game was the tenth time Bradford threw had over 35 passing attempts and averaged less than five yards per pass. That’s more than twice as many as any other QB since 2010. Clearly something is wrong with the Rams offense and it’s hard to not blame OC Brian Schottenheimer. They’ll try to rebound against JAX, HOU and CAR in the next three weeks.
#26) Minnesota Vikings ( 1)
Matt Cassel leads MIN to their first victory of the season while playing in London. Of course that’s how it happened. Cassel didn’t look great to be honest, but he was up against a reeling Steelers team and has luxury of having Adrian Peterson to keep opposing defenses honest. We’ll have to see if MIN elects to stick with Cassel over Christian Ponder in the coming weeks. They have their bye in Week 5.
#27) Washington Redskins ( 1)
Congratulations to the Redskins for getting their first win over the Raiders. I think that’s worth half a win. Thankfully for them the Raiders started Matt Flynn and were forced to hand the ball off to Rashad Jennings or this could have been another disappointing loss. WAS ranks 7th passing yards this season, but even positive offensive stats are offset by their horrible defense. They’re on bye in Week 5, so hopefully they’ll get things turned around in time for their Week 6 matchup against the Cowboys.
#28) Oakland Raiders ( 2)
HC Dennis Allen did his best to throw Matt Flynn under the bus for their loss to the Redskins. Terrelle Pryor is clearly their starter as long as he’s fully recovered from his Week 4 concussion. It appears as though they could be without Darren McFadden for a few weeks, which means we’ll likely be seeing more of Rashad Jennings. OAK gets SD and KC before heading into their bye in Week 7.
#29) New York Giants (4)
The Giants have been outscored 69-7 the last two weeks and 110-30 the past three. This has to be rock bottom right? When Hakeem Nicks isn’t making snarky comments about not getting the ball, he’s dropping passes that are bouncing off his hands. Eli Manning is averaging close to three turnovers per game. New York gets PHI, CHI and MIN the next three weeks so we’ll have to see if they can somehow get refocused and walk away with their first win of the season.
#30) Pittsburgh Steelers (2)
The Steelers are 0-4 for the first time since 1968 and probably more surprising than that, they have yet to force a single turnover. Rumors are already circulating that OC Todd Haley could be replaced at some point in the near future. For as bad as things have been, Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown have at least looked capable of making a difference. They just need to put it all together. PIT gets a bye in Week 5, so we’ll have to see if they’re capable of righting the ship against the Jets in Week 6.
#31) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Josh Freeman situation has quickly spiraled out of control. At this point, you have to wonder whether it’s even worth holding out for a late-round pick given the distraction the situation has produced. Rookie Mike Glennon started strong, but did little in the second half, which was highlighted by his two interceptions in the final four minutes. I mean Freeman could have done that. Thankfully they get a bye in Week 5 and will have time to prepare for an Eagles team that’s capably of dropping a game to bad team like the Bucs.
#32) Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars have been outscored in first half of games this year 75-8. If that wasn’t bad enough, Jacksonville has scored a meager 31 points in their first four games of the season. HC Gus Bradley told reporters his support for Gabbert was “stronger now after watching the tape” Monday. What the hell is this guy watching? I know it’s “coach speak,” but how dumb does he think we are? Gabbert has a QBR of 1.4. That’s out of 100! You can make a better case of this team going 0-16 than winning a single game over a remaining opponent.