With Monday Night Football between the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins in the books, the state of the NFL can be fully assessed with Week 5 on the horizon.
The matchup of the undefeated saw the Saints solidify their status as a Super Bowl contender as Drew Brees threw for over 400 yards. Miami begins the search for answers after a humbling outing.
Here's a full breakdown of where each team in the NFL stands through one month of action.
1. Denver Broncos (4-0)
Behind the arm of Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos are scoring at a historic pace. Denver was helped by a horrific Philadelphia defense that gave up 52 points, but the emphasis remains—there is not a team in the NFL that can line up and shut down Manning and his vast array of weapons.
2. Seattle Seahawks (4-0)
Seattle has proved in three weeks it can not only hang with the big boys, but down them as well.
The Seahawks took care of San Francisco in convincing fashion two weeks back before downing Houston in overtime last week. Not many teams can handle the extreme balance and precision Seattle fields on both sides of the football.
3. New Orleans Saints (3-0)
What more is there to say about the New Orleans Saints?
Head coach Sean Payton is back and Drew Brees continues to play at a high level. Taking down an undefeated Miami squad 38-17 on a national stage was a warning shot to the rest of the league. New Orleans has already notched two wins in the NFC South as well.
4. Houston Texans (2-2)
Houston has had a rough go of it so far at times, but outside of Seattle there is not a more balanced team in the NFL.
The backfield of Arian Foster and Ben Tate can wear down any defense and the pass rush led by J.J. Watt stifles most opponents. Expect Houston to improve as the season wears on toward the playoffs.
5. San Francisco 49ers (2-2)
Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers struggled through the middle portion of the first month, but bounced back over St. Louis in front of a national audience in Week 4.
Kaepernick needs to be more effective through the air for the 49ers to retain this high rank, but a convincing win over the Rams allows them to hang around for the moment.
6. New England Patriots (4-0)
No Danny Amendola or Rob Gronkowski, no problem.
Once again Tom Brady is doing a lot with very little, and it has allowed the Patriots to remain undefeated through the first month of the season. Brady has found a way to beat Tampa Bay and Atlanta with little support, so imagine what New England is capable of at full strength.
7. Green Bay Packers (1-2)
Green Bay suffered a fluky loss to the Cincinnati Bengals two weeks ago on a defensive touchdown. There are plenty of issues to shore up, but with Aaron Rodgers directing one of the NFL's most lethal offenses, Green Bay remains one of the top teams until further notice.
8. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)
Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs have made their money thus far by capitalizing on the weak defenses of Jacksonville (No. 22 overall), New York (No. 21) and Philadelphia (No. 32) while hardly escaping against Dallas.
Time will tell if the Chiefs can keep up their great play against quality competition, but so far Kansas City has done a great job of preying on a weak schedule.
9. Chicago Bears (3-1)
Marc Trestman has turned over a new leaf for quarterback Jay Cutler and Chicago's offense, but the unit could not keep up with the 40 points from Detroit in Week 4.
The defense led by elite corners Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings will not always surrender so many points, so expect Cutler and Co. to add more marks to the win column sooner rather than later.
10. Miami Dolphins (3-1)
Miami may not be as good as advertised after entering its bout with the Saints undefeated, but not many teams go to the dome in New Orleans and survive so it's hard to knock the Dolphins.
The Dolphins still have wins over playoff contenders and have plenty of time to right the ship after their first loss of the season.
11. Indianapolis Colts (3-1)
Let's ignore the fact Indianapolis brutalized Jacksonville in Week 4 and focus on the dominant showing over San Francisco from Week 3. The addition of Trent Richardson via trade has balanced an offensive attack compensating for a weak defense.
Indianapolis is the real deal and continues to improve.
12. Baltimore Ravens (2-2)
Is it panic time in Baltimore? Not quite, but quarterback Joe Flacco would be wise to never toss five interceptions in a contest again.
The Ravens were downed by a Buffalo squad led by a rookie quarterback in EJ Manuel in what can only be described as the definition of the season so far—inconsistency. Things need to be corrected before this ranking plummets.
13. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2)
Scratch that—inconsistency is the name of the game for the AFC North this year (outside of Pittsburgh, which just keeps losing).
Cincinnati notched a major win over Green Bay in Week 3 on a defensive touchdown only to turn around and fail to score a touchdown at all against Cleveland. The Bengals continue to play down to competition despite having one of the most talented rosters in the NFL.
14. Atlanta Falcons (1-3)
Matt Ryan and Co. have yet to defeat a credible opponent with three losses coming against quality opposition in the form of New England, Miami and New Orleans.
Regardless, the Falcons remain one of the more explosive rosters in the NFL. Receiver Roddy White needs to recover from his ankle issue and the Falcons' aerial attack will be flying high once more.
15. Buffalo Bills (2-2)
The Buffalo Bills have turned things around in a big way thanks to a quality draft class headed up by quarterback EJ Manuel. Buffalo gave New England all it could handle earlier in the year before intercepting Joe Flacco five times en route to a victory over the Super Bowl champions.
Did we mention that occurred without three starters in the secondary? Watch out for Buffalo.
16. Detroit Lions (3-1)
Detroit has been inconsistent at best, losing to a mediocre Arizona team but rallying last week for a victory over Chicago. The offense is elite thanks to the addition of tailback Reggie Bush, but it needs to show up to play in every game.
A total of 27 points against a miserable Washington defense was almost not enough in Week 3. Luckily 40 was over Chicago last week.
17. St. Louis Rams (1-3)
It seems most pundits had the wrong idea about how good St. Louis would be this year. The Rams played the NFC West tough last year but have fallen flat on their faces with three straight losses.
Quarterback Sam Bradford continues to struggle despite the presence of weapons such as Tavon Austin and Jared Cook, which does not bode well for his future.
18. Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
The Dallas Cowboys may once again be the definition of a .500 team and nothing more. Dallas has handled mediocre teams like the New York Giants and St. Louis, but struggled against teams such as Kansas City and San Diego.
Once again the defense in Dallas is the biggest issue.
19. Washington Redskins (1-3)
Robert Griffin III and Washington got back to their winning ways in Week 4, but it is nothing to write home about considering it came against the Oakland Raiders.
RGIII is without his typical running game for one reason or another, and it has hurt the Redskins offense in a big way.
20. San Diego Chargers (2-2)
San Diego has been a nice surprise so far this season. Danny Woodhead finally broke out for the team last week with two touchdowns as the Chargers moved past Dallas.
Like many teams in this area, there are plenty of small things such as consistency on defense (No. 29 against pass, No. 25 against run) required before the Chargers can be ranked any higher.
21. Arizona Cardinals (2-2)
Arizona managed a three-point victory over a rookie quarterback making his NFL debut against Tampa Bay last week, but the problems for Carson Palmer persist.
Palmer has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns and has been sacked far too many times. Until the Cardinals can win battles in the trenches the franchise will be stuck in purgatory.
22. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3)
Philadelphia is off to a questionable start in the Chip Kelly era courtesy of a defense that seemingly wants to just get off the field to watch its own offense play.
The one saving grace in town is running back LeSean McCoy, who leads the NFL in rushing. He's enough to keep the team in most games, but Philadelphia actually closing one out is another discussion entirely.
23. Tennessee Titans (3-1)
Yes, the Tennessee Titans are off to a hot start with three wins.
One problem—starting quarterback Jake Locker was taken off the field on a stretcher with a hip injury last week and will miss the next month or more.
Until the Titans get Locker back, the team will struggle with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center.
24. Carolina Panthers (1-2)
The defense in Carolina is one of the brightest young units the NFL has to offer thanks to Luke Kuechly and Star Lotulelei, but another year and the same story persists from Carolina—the front office refuses to give quarterback Cam Newton weapons.
Until that changes, the ranking won't either.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4)
What a basket case Tampa Bay and head coach Greg Schiano have become. The circus act has singlehandedly ruined one of the NFL's most talented defenses.
Running back Doug Martin is struggling to get anything going on offense and won't do any better with a rookie under center. Something has to change in Tampa.
26. Cleveland Browns (2-2)
Get this—Cleveland trades its best offensive player and starts a backup quarterback and rattles off two straight wins, one over a playoff contender in Cincinnati.
The Browns defense is one of the NFL's best and will keep Cleveland in a lot of games this season.
27. New York Jets (2-2)
Another rookie quarterback from the AFC East turning some heads is Geno Smith of the New York Jets, who has somehow been able to overcome the stunning lack of weapons around him to scrape out a few wins.
The inconsistency of Rex Ryan's defense is what is actually hurting the team as the unit allowed 38 points to Tennessee last week.
28. Minnesota Vikings (1-3)
Like many predicted, the Minnesota Vikings are a much better team with Matt Cassel under center rather than Christian Ponder.
The Vikings scored a big win over Pittsburgh last week and appear to be back on track with a capable player calling the shots.
29. New York Giants (0-4)
One team has to be the biggest disappointment of all each season, and this year it is Eli Manning and the New York Giants.
Manning cannot stop turning the ball over and the Giants defense has been horrific, giving up 31 or more points in all four games.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4)
Speaking of disappointments, Pittsburgh falls into the category as well, although it was easier to see coming thanks to a combination of horrific draft strategy and age.
Pittsburgh cannot protect Ben Roethlisberger and we are past the point of his doing it all on his own. Roethlisberger has been sacked 15 times and is not meshing well with coordinator Todd Haley.
31. Oakland Raiders (1-3)
The lone victory in Oakland (if it can even be called that) came for the Raiders in Week 2 over the No. 32 ranked team on this list.
Oakland gets quarterback Terrelle Pryor back this week, who gives the team a good chance to win each week, but he's too inexperienced to overcome the shocking lack of talent around him.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4)
It's going to be a long time before the Jacksonville Jaguars win a game. Jacksonville gets No. 1 receiver Justin Blackmon back from suspension next week, but numerous other problems plague the NFL's worst roster.
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