As wild and crazy as Week 3 was, Week 4 brought something I’m not sure the sports world has ever seen: standing ovations for officials at nearly every stadium. On behalf of NFL fans everywhere, welcome back.
Week 4 did not disappoint as eight games were decided by a touchdown or less with a few games coming down to last second kicks. In Green Bay, the Saints made a 43-yard field goal with three minutes to go, only to be called for holding. They then attempted a 53-yard field goal, but never kicked it as the Packers were called for a penalty. Finally they attempted a 48-yarder that barely missed, wide left.
The Giants missed a game winning field goal from over 50 yards, but the Eagles had called timeout, so the G-men got another crack at it. This time, Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes kicked it as straight as could be, but it fell about five feet short.
All was not lost for kickers this week though, as Billy Cundiff of the Redskins and Matt Bryant of the Falcons each kicked game winners in the waning moments of their games against the Buccaneers and Panthers respectively.
Now, without any further rambling from me, here are the latest rankings as we head to Week 5!
Teams’ previous ranking in ( ).
1. Houston Texans (1): After appearing as No. 1 for the first time ever, all the Texans did was go out and blast the Titans 38-14. Houston continues to prove they are ready to make a long playoff run.
2. Atlanta Falcons (2): Atlanta absolutely pulled this game out of their you-know-what. Even two days later, I am still not sure I believe what I saw. Nonetheless, they pulled it out and remain undefeated and atop the NFC South.
3. Baltimore Ravens (3): Torrey Smith is quickly becoming one of the best young wideouts in the game. Opposite Smith is Anquan Boldin, who proved on Thursday night he’s still got a lot in the tank. The Ravens offense is starting to click on a more consistent basis.
4. San Francisco 49ers (4): The 49ers handed the Jets the third worst home shutout loss in franchise history. San Fran quickly showed their loss to Minnesota was simply a fluke.
5. Arizona Cardinals (6): For the first time since I’ve been writing weekly rankings, the Cardinals have cracked the top 5. In fact, prior to being ranked No. 6 last week, the last time Arizona was even in the top 7 was Week 13 of 2009. The Cardinals must stick with their winning ways though because things will get very tough starting in Week 8 as they will face the 49ers, Packers and Falcons in a three week stretch.
6. Green Bay Packers (5): The Packers fall one spot, despite getting a much needed win. Green Bay suffered a number of injuries against the Saints but it appears as if Aaron Rodgers’ eye injury will be just fine, and quite frankly, that’s the only one that matters.
7. Chicago Bears (8): The Bears picked off Tony Romo five times on Monday night and simply looked like one of the best defense in the NFL. If they continue to dominate the +/- in the turnover battle, they will be a very tough team to beat.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (9): The Eagles finally took care of the football, and narrowly escaped the Giants with a 19-17 victory. I believe this is a situation in which only one team can beat Philadelphia: themselves (oh, and I guess Arizona as well).
9. New England Patriots (10): Tom Brady and company put up 45 second half points to annihilate the Bills and end New England’s two game losing streak.
10. New York Giants (7): Eli Manning didn’t have his magic touch in the fourth quarter this week. Something tells me that Giants fans will forgive him.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (11): The Steelers had Week 4 off which gave them ample time to prepare for the battle of Pennsylvania as they host the NFC East leading Eagles in Week 5.
12. San Diego Chargers (15): San Diego has beaten all three below average teams that they have faced, but got trounced by the one above average team. This week, the play the 0-4 Saints but it just doesn’t feel right to consider the Saints a “below average” team. This may be one of the most intriguing matchups of Week 5.
13. Cincinnati Bengals (16): Cincinnati has won three straight and need to continue their winning ways as long as possible because their final five opponents of the season include the Chargers, Cowboys, Eagles, Steelers and Ravens.
14. Minnesota Vikings (20): Outside of Arizona, Minnesota has to be the surprise team of the season. In fact, in Week 7, those two teams will get to battle it out. For now though, the Vikings will look to stay in first place in the NFC North as they take on the Titans in Week 5.
15. Denver Broncos (17): Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady. It just never gets old. New England will be favored, but I anticipate another great game between these two future Hall of Famers. Oh and did I mention Manning has thrown for nearly 670 yards in his last two games? He’s licking his chops to get a shot at that young Patriot defense.
16. Seattle Seahawks (13): At this point, even Seattle must be sick and tired of hearing how they were given the biggest gift of all time. Regardless, they played extremely well against the Packers but kind of laid an egg against the Rams. Tough to get a read on Seattle after the first quarter of the season.
17. Dallas Cowboys (12): I’m not sure what’s more impressive. The fact that Tony Romo managed to throw five interceptions on Monday Night Football, or the fact that he’s now accomplished that undesirable feat twice.
18. Washington Redskins (24): Robert Griffin III has propelled the Redskins to No. 1 in the NFL in rushing. RB Alfred Morris has been a huge help as well with 376 yards on the ground through the first four weeks. Though this may not be the year the Skins get over the hump, they have a bright future.
19. New York Jets (14): In case you missed it, this is all you need to know about the Jets after their Week 4 performance. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmD5n5FPVZw
20. Buffalo Bills (19): The Bills led 14-7 after two quarters. Then halftime came and went. One team made adjustments, the other did not, and subsequently the Bills were outscored 35-0 in the span of 15 minutes of game time, and 45-14 overall in the second half. Yikes.
21. St. Louis Rams (31): St. Louis jumps up 10 spots with their win against the Seahawks. Mostly due to the fact that they were likely ranked a little too low prior to Week 4. Nonetheless, the Rams are 2-2 and have a chance to make a statement for themselves this week as they host the undefeated Cardinals.
22. Tennessee Titans (21): The Titans have allowed 34 points or more in every game so far this season, which ranks dead last in the league. They get the Vikings this week and should be able to lower that average at least a little bit.
23. Carolina Panthers (23): Carolina is still learning how to win the close ones. They lost five or six games last year by less than a touchdown, and so far this year, two of their three losses are again by six points or less.
24. Detroit Lions (18): The Lions simply look like a different team from last year. They have a bye in Week 5 but things will not get any easier for them as four of their next five games are on the road.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (22): Tampa has lost three straight, all to NFC East opponents, and all by an average of just five points. It sure seems like they have straightened things out after a miserable year last year, but are having a hard time getting completely over the hump. They too have a bye in Week 5 and they will prepare to get back in the win column against the Chiefs in Week 6.
26. Oakland Raiders (25): The Raiders are 1-3 this year and in the three losses, RB Darren McFadden has a combined total of 88 rushing yards. In their lone win, he went for 113—against the Steelers of all teams. Seems pretty obvious to me; give him the ball.
27. New Orleans Saints (26): No team has ever reached the post season after starting at 0-4. And it would seem safe to say that no team has ever quite faced the off-the-field distractions that New Orleans faced in the off-season. Nonetheless, I’m not buying that they are done. I’m not saying they will finish the year by winning 10 of 12, but I also wouldn’t bet against Drew Brees. Perhaps if Brees breaks the record this week for most consecutive games with a TD pass, it will jump start the Saints.
28. Miami Dolphins (27): The Dolphins seem to be able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory more often than any other team. Nonetheless, I believe this is a good learning experience for Ryan Tannehill and will only benefit him in the future.
29. Indianapolis Colts (29): The Colts had a bye in Week 4, giving them plenty of time to discuss a strategy for how to beat the Packers. I expect this game to be much closer than people think. In fact, I will make the bold prediction that this is the upset game of the week.
30. Kansas City Chiefs (28): The Chiefs have allowed 35+ points in three of their four games, but the one game they didn’t was against the Saints. This week they must face a tough Ravens team and quite frankly, I expect another lopsided defeat.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (30): Someone told me that Blaine Gabbert had showed dramatic improvement in the pre-season, to which I replied something along the lines of “since when has pre-season ever meant anything?” In Gabbert’s last three games, he’s averaging 133 passing yards per game. Looks like another brutal season is in store for Jaguar fans.
32. Cleveland Browns (32): Cleveland is 0-4 but their average margin of defeat is only six points per game. They are probably not the worst team in football, but until they can get something in the win column, they will remain at the bottom.