NFL Power Rankings: Examining How Teams Stack Up After Week 4
Four weeks into the 2013 NFL season, the Denver Broncos have established themselves as the team to beat.
Only five undefeated teams remain while four teams are still looking for their first win.
The NFC looked like the tougher conference in the preseason, but the records don't back that up. There are only four teams above .500 in the NFC. In the AFC, only three teams are below .500.
Yes, it's still early in the season. Determining which teams are for real and which ones are pretenders is not easy. Most of the league is packed together, so there can be a lot of debate as to which teams are legit.
These rankings aren't based purely on records or head-to-head meetings. They are based on who has looked better overall this season and who has the ability to make some noise this year.
Keep reading to see how each team ranks through four weeks.
1. Denver Broncos (4-0)
Just an unbelievable start to the season for the Broncos. Peyton Manning has 16 touchdowns, which was the most through the first month in NFL history. The Broncos are averaging an incredible 45 points per game through four games.
After an early exit in the playoffs last season, Manning wants to do everything he can to win a second ring. The veteran is on pace to shatter just about every offensive record on his way to a fifth NFL Most Valuable Player award.
2. Seattle Seahawks (4-0)
Which team has the best chance to go undefeated?
The Seahawks looked bad in the first half against the Texans, but a fourth-quarter rally helped them escape with a victory. At home, the Seahawks look unbeatable. Seattle looks like a completely different team on the road, so teams have a chance to pull off an upset. Home-field advantage will be incredibly important for the Seahawks, and it could lead them to the Super Bowl.
3. New England Patriots (4-0)
The most impressive victory of the week belongs to New England. Tom Brady continues to work his magic for the Patriots. Without Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski, Brady led his team to 30 points in the Georgia Dome. Atlanta rarely loses at home, so it was an impressive victory for the Patriots.
New England didn't look great through the first two weeks, but that has changed in its last two victories. The Patriots look like serious contenders in the AFC.
4. New Orleans Saints (4-0)
The Saints won the battle of unbeatens, and the defense has made an incredible improvement. New Orleans no longer has to win in shootouts because the defense has been able to hold opponents in check. Coach Sean Payton has led his team to a commanding lead in the NFC South.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)
Although it is still undefeated, Kansas City still has something to prove. The Chiefs beat up on Jacksonville in their opener and have beaten three NFC East teams the past three weeks. It has been an impressive run, and the defense has been incredible. The Chiefs are allowing only 10 points per game and have one of the best point differentials in the league.
6. Indianapolis Colts (3-1)
Andrew Luck continues to look impressive. With Trent Richardson now getting more involved, the Colts will be balanced on offense. Indianapolis has scored 105 points and allowed only 51, so this team isn't winning just with offense.
7. Miami Dolphins (3-1)
Yes, the Dolphins beat the Colts in Indianapolis a few weeks ago. However, Indianapolis didn't have Richardson. Miami is for real thanks to an improved passing game. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been much better this season, thanks to new receiver Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline.
8. Detroit Lions (3-1)
Reggie Bush looks like the best acquisition of the offseason for any team. The veteran has 254 rushing yards and 179 receiving yards with two total touchdowns in three games. Bush has averaged 14.7 yards per touch, including 5.3 yards per carry. He has led the Lions to a fast start and could lead them to the playoffs.
9. San Francisco 49ers (2-2)
No team needed a victory more than the 49ers. After losing two straight games, San Francisco responded with a big win on a short week. It was a dominating performance that should get the team back on track.
10. Chicago Bears (3-1)
Jay Cutler made too many mistakes on Sunday and couldn't find a way to lead the Bears to another comeback. Chicago could very easily be 1-3, but strong fourth quarters have kept the team in contention. Cutler needs to limit his mistakes the next three weeks leading up to the bye because the second half of the schedule will be full of tests.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2)
Does anyone know what to make of the Cincinnati Bengals? They have blown big leads against two NFC North teams but managed to make a comeback to beat the Green Bay Packers in Week 3. After that big victory, the Bengals couldn't find the end zone against the Cleveland Browns. The banged-up defense gave the team chances to come back, but the offense couldn't get going.
Cincinnati sits in a three-way tie atop the AFC North. It may still win the division, but it's clear Andy Dalton isn't the long-term answer. He routinely misses key throws, and it came back to cost him in a game the team should have won.
12. Green Bay Packers (1-2)
The bye week gave the Packers time to try to get healthy. Running back Eddie Lacy will look to get back on the field after suffering a concussion against Washington, but Green Bay's running backs have done a good job of stepping up. Now the team must find a way to beat good teams.
13. Atlanta Falcons (1-3)
Each of Atlanta's first four games have been decided by less than one possession. Once again, the team couldn't find a way to come out on top. The Falcons made a strong comeback against the Patriots on Sunday night, but they came up a few yards short of tying the game.
Now Atlanta has an extra day to prepare for the New York Jets before a bye week. The team will try to get its offensive weapons healthy during that time. Roddy White and Julio Jones have battled injuries, and Steven Jackson is out for at least another week. The schedule is favorable until the second week of November, so look for the Falcons to pull it together.
14. Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
The Cowboys are the only team in the NFC East that is at .500, so they have got to be thankful that they are in that division. Now they will have to go to Denver to take on the Broncos, but the Cowboys will still be leading the division even at 2-3 next week.
Dallas is 0-2 against the AFC and has beaten a pair of last-place NFC teams. The Cowboys are clearly the team to beat in the division, so it will be interesting to see what is good enough to win the NFC East.
15. Houston Texans (2-2)
The Texans escaped their first two games with victories thanks to fourth-quarter rallies. They were beaten up in Baltimore in Week 3, but they responded with a 20-6 lead at halftime against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. It's a tough loss for Houston to swallow.
After being viewed as the team to beat in the AFC South in the preseason, the Texans sit in third place. The schedule doesn't get any easier. Trips to San Francisco and Kansas City in the next three weeks could define their season.
16. Tennessee Titans (3-1)
Tennessee has beaten a couple of bad teams and survived a tough test against the Chargers a few weeks ago. Now the Titans must find a way to keep winning without Jake Locker. The 25-year-old will miss some time with a hip injury, so Ryan Fitzpatrick will need to make plays. He has done a good job on previous teams, but Locker's production will be tough to replace. The third-year quarterback has six touchdowns to zero interceptions, which has helped the defense.
17. Baltimore Ravens (2-2)
Five interceptions by Joe Flacco against the Buffalo Bills is unacceptable. The Ravens needed this game before the schedule began to heat up, and they let one get away. Baltimore is in a three-way tie atop the division, but it could look back at this game at the end of the season and realize this was a costly loss.
18. San Diego Chargers (2-2)
San Diego could be 4-0 right now. It has blown a couple of games in the fourth quarter and is 1-2 in three-point games.
The biggest reason the Chargers are 2-2 is Philip Rivers. After underachieving for the past few seasons, the veteran has been great this season. Rivers has completed 73.9 percent of his passes and has thrown for nearly 1,200 yards this season. He has completed at least 76 percent of his passes in each of the last three weeks. Although interceptions have cost him in the past, he has taken care of the football this season. Rivers has 11 touchdowns to only two interceptions in 2013.
Unfortunately for San Diego, Denver and Kansas City are both 4-0. The Chargers have a lot of work to do if they want to make the playoffs.
19. Arizona Cardinals (2-2)
The offense has been underwhelming the last two weeks, but Arizona is making some noise this year.
Patrick Peterson came up with two interceptions late in the fourth quarter to help the Cardinals overcome a 10-0 deficit.
Had the Cardinals held on Week 1, they could be 3-1. Instead, they sit at 2-2 and are tied with the 49ers for second place in the NFC West. They get to host the Carolina Panthers this week before a big showdown with San Francisco in Week 6.
20. Buffalo Bills (2-2)
EJ Manuel has been impressive through his first four weeks. He has exceeded expectations with two wins, but it has been the running attack that has led the offense. C.J. Spiller has battled injuries this season, but Fred Jackson has been a solid replacement. Both running backs have rushed for at least 230 yards this season, and Jackson has averaged 5.3 yards per carry.
Rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso has been a great addition to the defense. He has been a tackling machine. The rookie has forced a fumble and picked off four passes, including at least one in three straight games.
21. Cleveland Browns (2-2)
After supposedly giving up on the season by trading Trent Richardson, the Browns have won two straight games. They are tied atop the AFC North and have surprised many with their recent turnaround. The defense is extremely talented, but Brian Hoyer won't be able to lead this team to a winning record.
22. Carolina Panthers (1-2)
Carolina had a huge blowout victory against the New York Giants in Week 3 after a pair of close calls to start the season, but a bye week has stopped the momentum. Now the Panthers will play three of their next four games on the road. It will be a tough stretch for a team that is looking to grow.
23. New York Jets (2-2)
Rookie quarterback Geno Smith has turned the ball over 11 times in four games. Through the first three weeks, Smith led his team to a 2-1 record in games decided by one possession. However, his four turnovers over the weekend led the Jets to being blown out in Tennessee. He has plenty of time to improve, but he needs to cut down on the turnovers in a hurry.
Four of the next five games are against contenders, so New York will get a good look at how Smith handles the pressure against top competition.
The Jets have been strong on defense this year, but the defense won't be enough to keep this team competitive all season.
24. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3)
Chip Kelly hasn't had much success since winning in his debut. During Philadelphia's three-game losing streak, each outcome has gotten progressively worse. Good news for Eagles fans: Three of the team's next four games are against 0-4 teams.
The Eagles lead the NFL in rushing, thanks to LeSean McCoy. If the explosive running back can keep it up and help his team beat the Giants (twice) and the Buccaneers in the next four weeks, Week 7 against the Cowboys will be huge.
Kelly has four very winnable games in the next five weeks. The Eagles could take control of the division by taking care of business, including if they can knock off Dallas.
25. Minnesota Vikings (1-3)
After blowing the Steelers off the field through the first three quarters, the Vikings almost let one slip away. Matt Cassel was good enough to lead his team to a victory in his first game. Adrian Peterson led the way. The star ran the ball 23 times for 140 yards and two scores. If he can keep it up, the Vikings could salvage their season.
26. St. Louis Rams (1-3)
A three-game losing streak has the Rams in last place, but a date with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday should end their troubles. Each of the losses turned into blowouts, so this week will rebuild the team's confidence. St. Louis needs to take advantage of this game. If not, it could be a very long year for the Rams.
27. Washington Redskins (1-3)
Things almost took a terrible turn for Washington over the weekend. The team fell behind Oakland 14-0 in the first quarter before scoring 24 unanswered points. A bye week will let the team regroup, but it's not going to be able to pull off a miracle run like last year. Washington's next three games, including two on the road, come against tough teams.
28. Oakland Raiders (1-3)
Playing without Terrelle Pryor was a tough task. The young quarterback adds another dimension to the offense. When Pryor returns to the lineup, the Raiders will have a chance to pull off some upsets. Until then, Matt Flynn will be trying to show that he can be an NFL quarterback.
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4)
Tampa Bay is a tough team to figure out. The Buccaneers have lost three games on late field goals. Mike Glennon was decent in his first NFL start, but he made a couple of costly turnovers late in the game as his team blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.
There is plenty of talent on this team, but Tampa Bay hasn't been able to finish off teams.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4)
Not a good start to the season. The Steelers haven't been able to run the ball or stop teams on the ground. It's the perfect time for a bye week, but there are a lot of problems for the team to fix.
Despite losing four straight games to start the year, the Steelers are only two games out in the division. Given Pittsburgh's history, the team is more than capable of making a run at the AFC North.
31. New York Giants (0-4)
New York was tied with unbeaten Kansas City 7-7 near the end of the first half. The Giants trailed only 10-7 with only a few minutes left in the third quarter, but three touchdowns in the final 17 minutes turned this game into a blowout.
The Giants have been blown out in three straight weeks, so there are a lot of issues to work out. Like the Steelers, the Giants are only two games out in their division. They have the talent on offense to make a run, but the offensive line must improve.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4)
There's no argument for this spot. Jacksonville could finish the season without a win, and it has had a hard time staying competitive in any game. The Jaguars managed to stay within 10 points of the Raiders, so that is saying something.
Jacksonville has been outscored 129-31 this season. Tampa Bay (44) is the only other team that has scored fewer than 60 points this season. Jaguars fans won't have much to look forward to this season.
*All stats are courtesy of NFL.com
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