NFL Power Rankings: Breaking Down Where Each Team Stands Entering Week 4
After a convincing and dominating win by the San Francisco 49ers Thursday night over the St. Louis Rams, Week 4 is underway and has some great games on the slate.
Here are my power rankings, breaking down where each team stands entering the weekend.
1. Denver Broncos (3-0)
Peyton Manning is a near-lock for the MVP. If their secondary ever tightens up, they'll be unbeatable. Right now, the team gives up 327 yards through the air per game, which is 30th in the league.
2. Seattle Seahawks (3-0)
Seattle's defense is suffocating and it can run the ball as well as anybody. The key question is whether or not Russell Wilson is a big-time quarterback. If he is, the Seahawks could win it all.
3. Chicago Bears (3-0)
The Bears defense has more touchdowns than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars. The offensive line is improved and Jay Cutler hasn't made too many dumb mistakes. The defense will take them far, but establishing another receiving threat opposite Brandon Marshall will help.
4. Indianapolis Colts (2-1)
The trade for Trent Richardson will take this team far. The Colts now have two of the top three picks from the 2012 draft. Their dominating win in San Francisco was really impressive.
5. New Orleans Saints (3-0)
Is the Saints defense for real? It's held each opponent to 17 points or fewer and is the fourth-best pass defense in the league. If the Saints can keep this up for the rest of the season, they could end up representing the NFC in the Super Bowl.
6. New England Patriots (3-0)
The offense will find its footing. Kenbrell Thompkins scored twice and the impending return of Danny Amendola should keep the Pats on top of the AFC East.
7. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)
The Bengals showed a lot of moxie in their win over the Green Bay Packers. Giovani Bernard could be a game-breaker and really open up the offense. He's averaged five yards per carry.
8. Miami Dolphins (3-0)
The Dolphins are for real. Ryan Tannehill has thrown for 827 yards and only two picks. He has great chemistry with Brian Hartline. Their matchup at the Saints is a really good litmus test.
9. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)
The Chiefs defense is menacing. It is first in the league in sacks, with 15. Justin Houston is a star, and Dontari Poe is the next Haloti Ngata. The more Dwayne Bowe can get involved in the offense, the better. He has just nine catches this season.
10. Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
If you take away the game against the Broncos, the Ravens have not allowed a passing touchdown. Their defense is still solid, but Ray Rice needs to stay healthy and start producing.
11. San Francisco 49ers (2-2)
The Niners got back on track Thursday night with a convincing win over the St. Louis Rams. They need to keep sticking to the run. Frank Gore rushed for 153 yards on just 20 carries against the Rams. The more Gore, the better.
12. Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
Dallas has the inside track to win the NFC East, and it is being helped by DeMarco Murray, who rushed for 175 yards last week. The secondary still needs to improve if it wants to make a deep run. It gives up almost 275 yards per game through the air.
13. Green Bay Packers (1-2)
Green Bay is better than its record suggests. Aaron Rodgers is having an MVP-type season, but it's not enough since the defense is giving up nearly 30 points per game.
14. Houston Texans (2-1)
Matt Schaub has thrown pick-sixes in back-to-back weeks. He needs to take care of the ball better. The Texans could be 2-3 after the next two weeks when they face Seattle and San Francisco.
15. Detroit Lions (2-1)
The Lions defense is surprisingly decent, and their secondary, at least for now, is holding on. Reggie Bush and Joique Bell need to pick it up, though. Bush averages 3.8 yards per carry while Bell averages 3.5 yards per carry. That's holding them back.
16. Atlanta Falcons (1-2)
The injury to Steven Jackson really hurts, as Jacquizz Rodgers is not a feature back. Roddy White's injury doesn't help, either. The Falcons spent their first two draft choices on cornerbacks, but their pass defense is still ranked 25th in the league.
17. Tennessee Titans (2-1)
Jake Locker looked great last week, but he needs to be more consistent if the Titans want to contend. He threw for 299 yards last week, but just 148 the week before. He has not, however, thrown an interception. The Titans are 30th in passing yards per game—that needs to improve as well.
18. New York Jets (2-1)
Geno Smith looks pretty good and their defense is one of the best in the league. If Smith continues to improve and can avoid costly turnovers, the Jets could be a playoff team.
19. San Diego Chargers (1-2)
The Chargers could easily be 3-0. Philip Rivers is second to Peyton Manning in touchdown passes. But it's their defense that is letting them down, as it is near the bottom against both the run and pass.
20. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)
The Eagles can score as many points as they want, but they're going to need to improve their defense if they want to contend. They give up 323 yards through the air and 115.3 yards on the ground, good for 29th and 23rd in the league, respectively.
21. Carolina Panthers (1-2)
The Panthers obliterated the Giants, but that might have to do with the Giants being absolutely awful. They did stay close with the Seahawks, and their running game is going to keep them in a lot of contests. Steve Smith still needs help in the passing game.
22. Buffalo Bills (1-2)
EJ Manuel is showing a lot of promise, but C.J. Spiller needs to pick up the slack. He's averaging just 3.6 yards per carry. Last season, he averaged six yards per carry. If he can get back to that form, the Bills could make some noise.
23. St. Louis Rams (1-3)
The Rams really miss Steven Jackson. They average only 47.3 yards per game on the ground, which is 31st in the league. Daryl Richardson averages a miserable 2.7 yards per carry. That needs to improve—and fast.
24. Arizona Cardinals (1-2)
The Cards have a stingy run defense, giving up just 73.3 yards per game, good for third in the league. It's the pass defense where they struggle, as they give up 297 yards per game. The emergence of Tyrann Mathieu, however, is encouraging for the future.
25. Washington Redskins (0-3)
Forget about RG3's knee—the real reason the Redskins are winless is because of their defense. They are ranked 31st in both pass and run defense. Until that improves, it won't matter how good RG3 is.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3)
The Steelers have nine turnovers, which is third-most in the NFL. The return of Le'Veon Bell should help take some of the pressure off of Ben Roethlisberger. Entering this week, they have the 30th-ranked rushing attack, averaging a paltry 51.7 yards per game.
27. Cleveland Browns (1-2)
Did the Trent Richardson trade shake things up? Probably not. They barely beat the Vikings and they will get beaten badly by the Bengals. This is still a bad team in need of major upgrades at nearly every position.
28. Minnesota Vikings (0-3)
The real problem is at quarterback, and Matt Cassel is not going to make matters better. Could the Vikes be in the market for Johnny Manziel? They could use an upgrade at cornerback, too, as they give up over 315 yards through the air per game.
29. Oakland Raiders (1-2)
Terrelle Pryor has real promise and could end up being an actual long-term solution at quarterback. Once he becomes a more consistent pocket passer, the Raiders could begin a climb toward at least mediocrity.
30. New York Giants (0-3)
Injuries and age hit this team fast. The lack of protection for Eli Manning is forcing him to make bad decisions. It doesn't help that the secondary is leakier than an overused faucet.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3)
The change to Mike Glennon isn't going to do much for the Bucs. Their defense is only average and opposing teams are going to gang up on Doug Martin. Mike Glennon is being forced into an undesirable situation.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3)
There aren't too many redeeming factors for the Jags, but Cecil Shorts does average 14.5 yards per catch. They might be wise to trade him to a contender, since the train isn't going anywhere but toward the first overall pick.
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