NFL Power Rankings: Week 4 Breakdown Before Monday Night Football
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots capped off the weekend with a 30-23 victory over the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on Sunday night, proving they didn't need tight end Rob Gronkowski or Danny Amendola to beat a respectable team.
Brady went 20-of-31 for 316 yards and two touchdowns in the win, while the Patriots racked up 132 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
But New England was not the only impressive team this week. Let's take a look at where the NFL stands headed into Monday night's matchup between the Miami Dolphins and the New Orleans Saints.
1. Denver Broncos (4-0)
The Broncos are one of four 4-0 teams in the NFL right now. They have a league-best point differential of plus-88 after dismantling the hapless Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, 52-20.
2. Seattle Seahawks (4-0)
The Seahawks won a thriller in Houston on Sunday, 23-20. They were trailing the Texans by 14 points late in the third quarter, then scored 14 unanswered points to force overtime, highlighted by Richard Sherman's 58-yard interception return for a score. This team can do no wrong right now.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)
It's time to give Andy Reid, Alex Smith and the rest of the Chiefs some big-time credit. They beat up on the New York Giants on Sunday, pulling away in the second half with three-straight touchdown drives.
4. New Orleans Saints (3-0)
The Saints appear to be getting stronger as the season continues, just in time for the Monday night showdown against the Miami Dolphins. Whether it's their passing attack or pass defense, this is a team that was built to do big things this season.
5. Miami Dolphins (3-0)
The improved play of quarterback Ryan Tannehill cannot be overlooked. But beyond that, everybody seems to be contributing in one form or another. Joe Philbin has this team working in unison.
6. New England Patriots (4-0)
The Patriots pass defense isn't perfect, but it's worlds better than what we've been used to seeing. This running game continues to churn out yardage, and Tom Brady appears to be getting into a rhythm—with or without Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola. Rookie wideout Kenbrell Thompkins and Julian Edelman are benefiting in their absence.
7. Detroit Lions (3-1)
The 40-32 victory over the Bears on Sunday was impressive. Reggie Bush gave the running game a spark, and the defensive pressure got to quarterback Jay Cutler.
8. Chicago Bears (3-1)
The Bears forced three turnovers on Sunday. Unfortunately, they also turned the ball over four times and allowed the Lions to build a big lead that they were never able to overcome. This team wins and loses based on turnover differential.
9. Indianapolis Colts (3-1)
The Colts rolled over a miserable Jaguars team on Sunday, as expected. Behind an improved pass defense and the heady quarterback play of Andrew Luck, the Colts have a top-10 team.
10. San Francisco 49ers (2-2)
The 49ers got back on track against the Rams. More importantly, the ground game got back on track, highlighted by the sterling performance of Frank Gore.
11. Tennessee Titans (3-1)
Minus an overtime loss to the Texans, the Titans have taken care of business under the improved play of quarterback Jake Locker. Unfortunately for Tennessee, Locker was injured on Sunday, which could have a crippling effect on the team. He was just beginning to build a rapport with rookie Justin Hunter.
12. Houston Texans (2-2)
You have to give the Texans credit for pushing the Seahawks to the limit on Sunday. Unfortunately, you also can't ignore the meltdown at the end. That's not what true contenders do.
13. Green Bay Packers (1-2)
On a bye this week, the Packers remain in the top 15. The offense still gives me hope, but the defense needs to be better.
14. Atlanta Falcons (1-3)
I expected the Falcons to lose to the Patriots on Sunday, so I'm not going to drop them too much. They've suffered one-possession defeats to the Saints, Dolphins and Patriots, all top-10 teams in my book. It shows that Atlanta is not a top-10 team, but is not far outside.
15. San Diego Chargers (2-2)
The good version of the San Diego Chargers showed up on Sunday, coming back from a 21-10 deficit to shock the Cowboys, 30-21. Philip Rivers can be great and he can be awful. On Sunday, however, he was great. Also, Antonio Gates is still a good player.
16. Baltimore Ravens (2-2)
The Ravens have some good wins, and they have some bad losses. Sunday against the Bills marked a bad loss. Joe Flacco has tossed a combined seven interceptions in Baltimore's two losses this season; that's not a coincidence. The defending champs are currently a middle-of-the-road, up-and-down team.
Will the Browns finish .500 or better this season?
17. Cleveland Browns (2-2)
After consecutive losses to start the season, Brian Hoyer and the Browns have bounced back against the Vikings and Bengals. There are some sentences I never thought I would write in my lifetime, and that was one of those sentences. This defense isn't half-bad either.
18. Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
It's hard to trust a team that gives up a big advantage down the stretch. Actually, it's always been hard for me to trust the Cowboys. After DeMarco Murray exploded against the Rams in Week 3, the Cowboys decided to let Tony Romo throw 37 times on Sunday. Smart.
19. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2)
The Bengals depend on Andy Dalton to make them a dangerous playoff team. Dalton didn't exactly look dependable in the team's 17-6 loss to the Browns on Sunday. Cleveland's Brian Hoyer looked good in comparison.
20. Buffalo Bills (2-2)
The Ravens may not be at their best these days, but the Bills' victory over the defending champs on Sunday was a statement game. The one-two punch of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller is helping young quarterback EJ Manuel tremendously.
21. Arizona Cardinals (2-2)
The Cardinals have bounced back since their Week 1 loss to the Rams. You can't blame them for losing to the Saints either. Even if it was against the Buccaneers, battling back from a 10-point deficit on Sunday showed grit.
22. New York Jets (2-2)
Geno Smith will have his ups and downs during his rookie season. On the other hand, there is no excuse for the defensive display put on by the Jets against the Titans. I still have little faith in New York's running game, as well.
23. Carolina Panthers (1-2)
The Panthers were lucky enough to face the New York Giants in Week 3. After a bye, they face Arizona in Week 5.
24. Minnesota Vikings (1-3)
The Vikings beat the Steelers on Sunday behind impressive performances by Adrian Peterson and...Matt Cassel? One thing's for sure: Christian Ponder wasn't getting the job done. Perhaps Cassel can help the Vikings climb out of the gutter. Heck, Brian Hoyer is appearing to work for the Browns.
25. Oakland Raiders (1-3)
Terrelle Pryor gave this team some hope in the first three weeks of the season. When he wasn't available on Sunday, the Raiders suffered.
26. Washington Redskins (1-3)
The win over the Raiders was much-needed on Sunday. Rookie David Amerson recorded his first interception of the season. Still, you can't be thrilled about a win over the Raiders, no less when they are without their starting quarterback.
27. St. Louis Rams (1-3)
Sam Bradford hasn't exactly been stellar lately, but it doesn't help when the offensive line is getting blown up. Plus, the running game is awful, and the Rams can't stop the run.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4)
The Steelers are 0-4, but at least they've played three of their opponents close. That's more than can be said about some of these other bottom-feeders.
29. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3)
A new, cool offense doesn't mean anything when your defense can't stop anyone. The 52 points allowed to the Broncos on Sunday was inevitable.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4)
Scoring 10 points against the Cardinals is pretty pitiful. Rookie Mike Glennon isn't ready, but Josh Freeman certainly isn't going to work out in Tampa. This has all the makings of a long road to respectability.
31. New York Giants (0-4)
This defense can't stop anyone, and Eli Manning appears to falling apart before our very eyes. And when you start giving up huge punt returns for touchdowns, it's a sign that things are unraveling.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4)
The demolition at the hands of the Colts was just another week for the Jaguars. Blaine Gabbert looked awful, and so did the running game.
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