NFL Power Rankings Week 4: Most Disappointing Teams so Far

Andy Liu@@AndyKHLiuCorrespondent IOctober 2, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 30:  Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints looks down during a time out in the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 30, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Saints 28-27. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Before any season begins, there are expectations, bold forecasts and wild proclamations. This season was no different. Many expected the New England Patriots to assert their dominance with all their offensive weapons and for the San Francisco 49ers to regress from their 13-3 season from last year. 

Then when the season begins, one can throw all of that out the window. There is no league more unpredictable that the National Football League. Strength of schedule may be the worst way to judge a team's forecast, considering how fluid each team's strengths and weaknesses are every year. 

For example, coming into the year, the NFC West was presumed to be one of the weaker divisions—even with the San Francisco 49ers in it—but the Arizona Cardinals have started 4-0, and the defenses of the Seahawks, Cardinals and 49ers are absolutely vicious. Even the Rams are trending up with a 2-2 record.

However, there have also been unpleasant surprises. Some teams headed into the year with playoff and even Super Bowl aspirations and have fallen spectacularly. A couple of them are highlighted here.

New Orleans Saints

In what was known as the "Desperation Bowl," Drew Brees and the Saints lost to the Green Bay Packers despite getting some help from the referees. At 0-4, it would take an absolute miracle for them to get into the playoffs, especially in the NFC South with the undefeated Atlanta Falcons, the improving Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the still-dangerous Carolina Panthers. 

The focus has been on the Saints' terrible defense due to a brand-new scheme, but the truth is that Drew Brees hasn't been in a good rhythm, just as Aaron Rodgers hasn't all season. The offensive line isn't protecting Brees well enough, thus rendering him unable to hit his favorite targets downfield. 

The schedule doesn't get any easier, but the bright side is that there is only going up, and they can do so against their closest competition. 

Dallas Cowboys

Despite being 2-2 and second in the NFC East, this is a pure expectation-meets-reality selection. After Monday night's interception debacle, the Cowboys have looked relatively terrible for three weeks after beating the defending champion New York Giants on opening night. One may point to the fact that they have been inconsistent for years, but after only playing well for one week followed by three terrible ones, it may be a trend. 

The offensive line is an issue, as DeMarco Murray has yet to get going. It is not surprising to see that the only game he went for more than 100 yards, they won. Granted, they've played very good run defenses in the Chicago Bears and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the Cowboys have to find a way to maximize their run game to stop from being a one-dimensional passing team. Ask the Saints how that's going.

According to ESPN stats, none the top five teams that pass the most currently own a winning record. If the Cowboys can't run, we'll see Tony Romo climb that list and climb down the NFC standings. 

Carolina Panthers

Like any other team, the Panthers came into the season with optimism. And why wouldn't they, considering they had one of the most athletic and explosive players in all of football at quarterback in Cam Newton?

However, they have yet to show improvement. The secondary has been unable to guard anyone, allowing the opposing team to run roughshod over them. Couple that with its offensive passing woes—Steve Smith's decline and lack of a No. 2 wide receiver—and Cam may be asked to do too much. It doesn't help that he appears to take every loss like he lost the Super Bowl

Week 5 Power Rankings

1. Houston Texans

2. Atlanta Falcons

3. San Francisco 49ers 

4. Baltimore Ravens 

5. Arizona Cardinals 

6. Green Bay Packers

7. New England Patriots

8. Philadelphia Eagles 

9. Chicago Bears

10. New York Giants

11. Cincinnati Bengals

12. San Diego Chargers

13. Minnesota Vikings

14. Denver Broncos

15. Pittsburgh Steelers

16. Seattle Seahawks

17. Dallas Cowboys 

18. St Louis. Rams

19. Washington Redskins 

20. Carolina Panthers 

21. Buffalo Bills 

22. Detroit Lions 

23. Tennessee Titans 

24. Miami Dolphins

25. Kansas City Chiefs 

26. New Orleans Saints

27. Indianapolis Colts

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

29. Jacksonville Jaguars

30. Oakland Raiders

31. New York Jets

32. Cleveland Browns


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