NFL Power Rankings Week 4: Where Every Team Stands Heading into Quarter Mark
There was no way to predict the way the 2013 NFL season has unfolded through three weeks.
Seven teams are undefeated, and six have yet to win a game—and there are some shockers on both ends of the spectrum.
The Seattle Seahawks surprised nobody by opening up 3-0, which makes this next bit of information, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info, all the more stunning:
Last year's NFC playoff teams are 6-12 (1 over .500). Last year's AFC playoff teams are 13-4 (all over .500). AFC: 11-3 vs NFC this season.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 23, 2013
At least the AFC is performing up to snuff.
Thankfully for fans of teams in holes early on, there is plenty of time to fix what's not working and rebound with a strong showing the rest of the way.
Equally as salient, players on teams that are flying high right now could be watching the playoffs from home in January.
Nearing the quarter mark of the 2013 NFL season, this is how the league stacks up.
1. Seattle Seahawks (3-0)
To this point in the season, Seattle is the king of the hill in the NFL.
Opposing offenses are getting absolutely smothered, and Seattle's offense doesn't turn the ball over often. This is a recipe for success at any level.
2. Denver Broncos (3-0)
Peyton Manning is playing at a different level than anyone else in the NFL.
It helps that he has one of the league's top receiving corps, and the emergence of tight end Julius Thomas has given him an added weapon nobody saw coming at the beginning of the year.
Surprisingly, Denver's defense has been downright dominant against the run, which has forced teams to become one-dimensional on offense—and that's never a good thing.
3. New Orleans Saints (3-0)
Rob Ryan is doing a superb job with his new defense in New Orleans. Opposing quarterbacks are only gaining 184.3 yards per game, which isn't hardly enough to compete with Drew Brees and his high-powered offensive attack.
On a related note, the return of Sean Payton has already been abundantly evident. He and Brees flow like water.
4. Chicago Bears (3-0)
Chicago's defense is always formidable, and this year's team is no different.
The biggest difference between this year's squad and last year's is the way Jay Cutler is playing. He's getting the ball out of his hands more quickly, which has improved his productivity.
Marc Trestman is beginning to look like one of the best hires of this season.
5. New England Patriots (3-0)
It hasn't been pretty, but the Patriots are undefeated.
Tom Brady has been working with a group of young receivers that would be the doom of most signal-callers in the league, but he's making the best of his situation.
By the time the playoffs roll around, these rookies will be on the same page as Brady, and New England's offense will be a clock-eating, points-scoring machine.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)
If Andy Dalton could just stop making rookie mistakes, then the Bengals will be a lock to win the AFC North.
Rookies Giovani Bernard and Tyler Eifert are both explosive playmakers. Combined with A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham and Mohamed Sanu, this is one of the most talented young groups of skill-position players in the NFL.
Mike Zimmer has assembled a dynamic group of defenders who can get after opposing quarterbacks and create turnovers. There's no doubt Cincinnati is going to make some noise in the playoffs this year.
7. Miami Dolphins (3-0)
Ryan Tannehill continues to make the Dolphins look smart for drafting him in the first round last year. The second-year signal-caller has beaten Andrew Luck and Matt Ryan in consecutive games, and he appears to be getting better every week.
On the other side of the ball, Miami's defense has played well so far. It will be interesting to see how well it performs without Cameron Wake, who is expected to sit out the next two to three weeks with an MCL strain, as noted by Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel.
8. San Francisco 49ers (1-2)
After being hailed as Super Bowl favorites by many in the media before the season began, the 49ers have gotten a harsh dose of reality the past couple of weeks.
Nothing's easy in the NFL, and it won't be easy for the 49ers to crawl out of this 1-2 hole.
Aldon Smith is headed to rehab, as noted by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, who says the 49ers expect him to be out for a month or so. Making matters worse, All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis injured his groin in Week 3 and is not expected to play on Thursday night in St. Louis, as noted by Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com.
Frank Gore only received 11 carries against the Colts in Week 3, gaining 82 yards. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman needs to get his head examined if he doesn't feed Gore on a regular basis this Thursday night.
9. Atlanta Falcons (1-2)
Injuries have plagued Atlanta early on, but this is still one of the NFL's premier teams.
Matt Ryan has too many weapons on offense not to succeed, and he'll lead his team back to the postseason after missing the Super Bowl by just one play last year.
10. Green Bay Packers (1-2)
Rookie running back Johnathan Franklin opened up some eyes on Sunday in the game against the Bengals, rushing for 103 yards and a touchdown—playing mostly in the second half.
If Franklin—or any other running back, for that matter—can generate a consistent rushing attack, then the Packers will be a difficult team to beat in the second half of the season.
11. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)
Alex Smith doesn't turn the ball over, and the Chiefs feature one of the stingiest defenses in the league.
This team doesn't win pretty, but pretty doesn't matter in the NFL.
With the New York Giants on the schedule for Week 4, nobody should be surprised to see the Chiefs start the season with a 4-0 record.
12. Indianapolis Colts (2-1)
Andrew Luck and the Colts demoralized the 49ers in Week 3, playing with the focus and fervor of a champion.
If Indy's defense can continue shutting down the run and getting after the passer, then the Colts will overtake the Houston Texans for the AFC South title.
13. Houston Texans (2-1)
Houston will go as far as Matt Schaub takes it this year, which isn't a good thing for Texans fans.
With a powerhouse defense and clock-eating running game, the Texans have nearly every piece in place for a championship run, but Schaub doesn't look like the answer at the most critical position on the field.
14. Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
The way the NFC East is shaping up, Dallas should win this division easily.
While the Washington Redskins, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles are scrambling to fix what's wrong, Dallas appears to be headed in exactly the right direction.
DeMarco Murray's 175-yard outburst against the Rams in Week 3 is precisely what offensive coordinator Bill Callahan wants to see from his offense. If Murray can continue running well, then Tony Romo will have a better time of passing the ball late in games.
15. Detroit Lions (2-1)
Detroit's defensive line is legit, and it is playing well against both the run and the pass, which hasn't been the case in recent years.
Matthew Stafford has only thrown two interceptions through three games, and if he can continue taking care of the football, then the Lions will win more games than they lose.
16. Tennessee Titans (2-1)
So far, 2013 looks to be Jake Locker's coming out party.
Of course, it helps that he has a strong running game and a solid offensive line to work behind.
The real surprise, however, has been Tennessee's improved defense. This is a team that appears to be headed in the right direction all around.
17. Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
Not surprisingly, John Harbaugh's Ravens have bounced back with two wins after getting embarrassed by the Broncos in Week 1.
The team's win over the Texans in Week 3 was truly impressive, as the Ravens dominated the AFC South powerhouse at home 30-9, thanks to two non-offensive touchdowns.
18. New York Jets (2-1)
Geno Smith has been one of the early pleasant surprises of the 2013 season.
The rookie has made some egregious mistakes, but he has also consistently made plays you'd expect from an elite quarterback.
New York's defense has been downright dominant. The young men up front are winning their individual battles and making life difficult on opposing quarterbacks and running backs.
19. St. Louis Rams (1-2)
Surprisingly, St. Louis' defense has been getting torched this season.
The Rams still have time to meet expectations, but so far, this team looks over hyped.
20. Carolina Panthers (1-2)
Cam Newton finally had a breakout game in Week 3 against the Giants, and the Panthers rolled 38-0.
This team has plenty of potential on both sides of the ball. In order for the Panthers to become a playoff team, however, Newton must play well on a weekly basis.
21. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)
Chip Kelly's offense is fun to watch, but Michael Vick is still the same turnover-happy quarterback he's always been.
More troubling than the turnovers, however, is the horrid Eagles defense.
The Chargers and Chiefs both dominated the time of possession the past two weeks, keeping Kelly's offense on the sidelines.
Until the Eagles learn how to stop someone on defense, and until Vick learns how to stop turning the ball over, Philly won't win many games.
22. Buffalo Bills (1-2)
The Bills are more competitive than I thought they would be when the season started, but this is still a team that will struggle to win half its games.
Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel has shown plenty of promise, and he may well be a franchise quarterback for the Bills. But he's not ready to carry the team just yet.
23. Arizona Cardinals (1-2)
The Cardinals are playing about as well as I expected.
Carson Palmer is much better than any of the quarterbacks on last year's team, but he's just as turnover prone as ever.
On the other side, Arizona's defense is struggling without Ray Horton calling the shots.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3)
The Steelers still feature one of the league's more impressive defenses, but it spends far too much time on the field, thanks to Pittsburgh's anemic offense.
Ben Roethlisberger has zero protection up front, and he has absolutely no running game to speak of playing behind him. The Steelers won't win many games this year with this formula.
25. San Diego Chargers (1-2)
Philip Rivers has looked better this year than he did in 2012, but the Chargers are horrible on defense—particularly on the back end.
San Diego's secondary is a sieve—pure and simple.
You know it's bad when Jake Locker passes for 299 yards, which is exactly what happened in Week 3's loss to the Titans.
26. Washington Redskins (0-3)
Speaking of bad defenses...
No team has given up more yardage through three games than Washington.
Making matters worse, Robert Griffin III hasn't looked remotely comfortable running the offense. Things could get worse for Washington before they get better.
27. New York Giants (0-3)
From one downtrodden NFC East team to another, the Giants were utterly humiliated by the winless Panthers in Week 3, losing 38-0.
Eli Manning has thrown eight interceptions and has been sacked 11 times, playing behind an atrocious offensive line and without a semblance of a competent rushing attack.
New York's defense hasn't been doing its job, either, allowing 382.3 yards per game.
Is this finally Tom Coughlin's last season as the head coach of the Giants, or will his team rally? At this point, it doesn't look like a rally is forthcoming.
28. Cleveland Browns (1-2)
Credit to Rob Chudzinski for getting his team ready to play in Week 3 after the Trent Richardson trade. The Browns played with passion against the Vikings, winning a tough road game with a third-string quarterback.
Cleveland's defense is formidable, and though nobody should expect the Browns to win many games, this team won't go down easily.
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3)
Over/Under on Greg Schiano getting fired before midseason?
I'm taking the under.
The Bucs are a complete mess. Schiano's militaristic approach isn't flying in an NFL locker room, and it won't be long before he's back coaching in the college ranks.
30. Minnesota Vikings (0-3)
Before the season, many analysts warned Vikings fans about putting their faith in Christian Ponder.
Through three games, it appears those warnings were warranted.
Ponder has five interceptions to his credit with only two touchdown passes, and the Vikings' offense is about as predictable as the rising sun.
31. Oakland Raiders (1-2)
Which team is the worst in the NFL?
Oakland plays with fire, but there simply isn't much talent on this roster.
Terrelle Pryor has been awfully fun to watch, and he may have a bright future with proper coaching and better mechanics.
But that's about all you can say in a positive light about the Raiders.
There's always next year.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3)
The Jaguars won't win a game this year unless it's by accident.
But the upside to this scenario is that Jacksonville will be in position to draft the player of its choosing in April of 2014 with the No. 1 overall pick.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78
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