NFL Power Rankings: Where Each Team Stands Heading into Week 5
Four weeks into the NFL season, a clear pecking order is starting to take shape throughout the league.
The middle of the league may be a little muddled, but it's clear who the haves and have-nots are through four games. The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks have proven themselves as early favorites, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars should be heavily scouting Teddy Bridgewater and Jadeveon Clowney.
Here's a look at where everyone stands as Week 5's slate of games approaches.
1. Denver Broncos (4-0)
This Broncos team isn't perfect, but it's pretty close. The defense is 30th against the pass at 316.3 yards allowed per game, but Peyton Manning is on pace to put up better numbers this season than your best season on Madden.
His cold efficiency has the Broncos scoring 44 points per game. That's 12 more than anyone else in the league. Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay are scoring 32 points per contest.
2. Seattle Seahawks (4-0)
It would appear that the Seahawks and Broncos are destined to collide in the Super Bowl.
While the Broncos are getting it done with a high-flying offense, the Seahawks are running through their schedule with a defense that is equally dominant. The unit has given up no more than 20 points in a game and gives up just 191 yards per game through the air.
3. New Orleans Saints (4-0)
Everyone talks about Peyton Manning's incredible start, but Drew Brees is just 36 yards behind him. Combined with a surprisingly stout defense, the team looks like it could be the most complete team of the Sean Payton era.
For those keeping score at home, that includes a Super Bowl champion and three other playoff teams.
4. New England Patriots (4-0)
It felt like this would be a down year for the Patriots at the beginning of the season. Rob Gronkowski's health left Tom Brady with no proven targets to work with, and they were nearly upset by Buffalo in the season opener.
Yet, here we are. 4-0.
Brady has started to develop connections with his receivers, and Belichick is once again showing why he will be a first-ballot Hall of Fame coach.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)
The Chiefs were the trendy pick to make a turnaround this season with Andy Reid and Alex Smith's arrival. But who saw this coming?
Smith's efficient play (just two interceptions) has the Chiefs taking care of the ball, while the front seven has a league-leading 18 sacks. The competition hasn't been that strong—the Chiefs' opponents have a combined three wins—but this is as good a start as you can ask for.
6. Indianapolis Colts (3-1)
The Colts have now outscored opponents 64-10 in the two games since trading for Trent Richardson. While his numbers haven't been all that flashy, the Colts are fourth in the league in rushing at 150.3 yards per game.
Throw in Andrew Luck (91.8 quarterback rating) and an underrated defense (12.8 points allowed per game), and this is the league's best one-loss team.
7. Detroit Lions (3-1)
For the last few years, it's felt like the Lions were one quality running back away from having a truly unstoppable offense. It appears they have now found that running back in Reggie Bush.
His performance against the Chicago Bears in Week 4 was evidence of what he can do. After a disastrous 2012, the Lions are once again a playoff contender in 2013.
8. Miami Dolphins (3-1)
The Monday night blowout loss to New Orleans took some wind out of the sails down in Miami, but there's a reason the Saints are No. 3 on these rankings. Getting blown out by one of the league's elite teams isn't the worst thing in the world.
The Dolphins still hold road wins over Cleveland and Indianapolis (who both have winning records) and a home win against the Falcons.
9. Chicago Bears (3-1)
Marc Trestman has Chicago in the top 10 of the power rankings in the least Bears way possible: with an explosive offense that is third in the league in points scored per game (31.8).
The defense is about as far from the "Monsters of the Midway" as can be too. It has given up 28.5 points per game, as every week has been a shootout. Fans of the traditional Bears style of football may not be like how they've gone about it, but it's led to a strong start to the season.
10. San Francisco 49ers (2-2)
Someone may want to file a missing persons report for Colin Kaepernick. The 2012 version seems to have been replaced by a far less efficient quarterback. The third-year signal-caller has four interceptions to just five touchdowns and has only passed for more than 200 yards once this season.
The blowout win against St. Louis was vital. Frank Gore got things going on the ground, and the team got back to .500. The Niners must prove they are an elite team against Houston this week, though. Reputation doesn't count for much in the standings.
11. Tennessee Titans (3-1)
If it weren't for the Chiefs' emergence as a serious threat in the AFC, the Titans' turnaround thus far this season would be a much bigger story. The defense is a top-10 unit (17 points allowed per game), and the offense has taken care of the ball (an incredible zero turnovers).
The loss of Jake Locker for a few weeks is a big blow, but Ryan Fitzpatrick is one of the most experienced backups in the league.
12. Green Bay Packers (1-2)
Much like the San Francisco 49ers, the Packers are this high in the rankings based mostly on reputation. They certainly haven't done much on the field to warrant the ranking.
The team's only win came against a 1-3 Washington Redskins team at home, while it lost to the Niners and Cincinnati Bengals on the road. There's still plenty of time for Rodgers and Co. to start clicking and roll up the wins, but at this point, they haven't impressed.
13. Houston Texans (2-2)
The Texans stand at just 2-2 with back-to-back losses, but fans should be encouraged looking ahead. Last week's overtime loss to Seattle proved that the team can still hang with anyone in the league and Arian Foster finally got over the 100-yard mark for the first time this year.
14. Baltimore Ravens (2-2)
Basically, if you're a team that played in either conference championship game last season, you're off to a rocky start this year.
The Ravens went from winning back-to-back games against the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans to getting beat by the Buffalo Bills. Despite Flacco throwing five interceptions, the Ravens still refused to go to the running game. The Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce-led attack is 28th in the league right now at 64 yards per game.
15. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2)
The Bengals are right in the middle of the mediocre trio atop the AFC North. Just one week after upsetting the Green Bay Packers, they turned in their worst performance of the young season in a 17-6 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Andy Dalton threw for just 206 yards in that loss. With the talent on both sides of the ball, this team will only go as far as Dalton is able to take it.
16. San Diego Chargers (2-2)
Mike McCoy should be an early candidate for Coach of the Year based on his work with Philip Rivers alone. Just last year, it looked like Rivers' career might be winding down; now, he's having the best year of his career. Only Peyton Manning has a higher quarterback rating than Rivers' 118.8.
The defense still needs some work, but with the Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars and Washington Redskins coming up in three of their next four games, this team could easily be 5-3 halfway through its season.
17. Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
For the third consecutive year the Cowboys appear to be right on the edge of either being a playoff team or a massive disappointment. DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant have paced the offense, but the offense remains decidedly mediocre.
On defense, Monte Kiffin's Cover 2 has done wonders for the run defense (77.8 yards per game), but it hasn't fixed a faulty secondary (304.5 yards per game).
18. Cleveland Browns (3-2)
For once, Browns fans have reason to still have hope at this point in the season. Ray Horton's defense is among the best in the league and has the Browns sitting at 3-2 after a win on Thursday Night Football.
Brian Hoyer's emergence as a capable leader of the offense and subsequent season-ending injury was the most Cleveland thing ever, but Brandon Weeden flashed the ability to move the ball against the Bills. He went 13-of-24 for 197 yards and a touchdown in relief of Hoyer.
19. Atlanta Falcons (1-3)
No one has been more disappointing through the first quarter of the season than the Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan and Co. are just 1-3 to start the season, one year after going to the NFC title game.
All is not lost, though. The team's losses have come against the Saints, Dolphins and Patriots. All three of those are in the top 10 of these power rankings. With the Jets, Buccaneers, Cardinals and Panthers all on the horizon, things could turn around quickly in Atlanta.
20. Arizona Cardinals (2-2)
It isn't the 4-0 start that Arizona got off to last season, but fans have to be encouraged by the Cardinals' progress last season.
The offense still needs to find a running game, but Larry Fitzgerald finally has a quarterback who can get him the ball in Carson Palmer. A stout run defense (75 yards allowed per game) should keep the Cardinals in a lot of games, as it forces teams to be one-dimensional.
21. Buffalo Bills (2-3)
As is the case with most young teams, the Bills have been extremely unpredictable. They've looked great in a close loss to New England and in wins over Baltimore and Carolina. But they've also looked bad in losses to the New York Jets and the Browns.
Injuries to C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson and E.J. Manuel will slow down the offense, but when they're all healthy this is a dangerous unit. Consistency should be Doug Marrone's biggest goal as the team continues through the season.
22. New York Jets (2-2)
The Jets have made a somewhat impressive leap from unmitigated disaster to intriguing team this season. Rookie quarterback Geno Smith has just four touchdowns to eight interceptions, but he has the offense looking much more efficient than Mark Sanchez did last season.
Rex Ryan's defense has been the real story, though. The unit has looked like a typical Ryan defense, as it ranks in the top 10 against the run (fourth) and pass (eighth).
23. Carolina Panthers (1-2)
It's hard to get a feel for the Panthers at this point. Their two losses weren't egregious. One came against the Seahawks (No. 2 in these rankings), and the other was a one-point loss to the Bills.
Their lone win was a 38-0 blowout victory, but it may be a testament to how bad the Giants are rather than a statement about how good the Panthers are. Cam Newton and Co. still have a lot to prove, especially when it comes to winning the close ones.
24. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3)
The Chip Kelly experience got off to a promising start, but it has sputtered in recent weeks. After picking up a strong win to open the season against the Washington Redskins, the team has lost in increasingly ugly fashion every week.
The up-tempo offense looks great, but the defense has to improve if the Eagles are going to compete in the NFC East this season. It has given up 33, 26 and 52 points in the team's last three games.
25. Washington Redskins (1-3)
The bye week couldn't have come at a better time for the Redskins. After going 0-3 to start the season, the Redskins got a big win over the Raiders to get some confidence with a full two weeks to prepare for NFC East rival Dallas in Week 6.
If the Redskins can fix their woeful run defense (31st in the league), they may still compete in the porous NFC East. If not, it could be a long season in Washington.
26. St. Louis Rams (1-3)
The Rams don't get a bye in Week 5 to regroup after a tumultuous start, but they get the next best thing: a home game against the Jaguars.
Sam Bradford needs to show that he is the quarterback of the future quickly. His numbers are strong (7 TDs, 3 INTs, 82.1 QBR), but ultimately, quarterbacks are judged on wins and losses. The Rams aren't winning many games right now.
27. Minnesota Vikings (1-3)
There isn't much good to say about this Vikings team other than that Adrian Peterson is still really good at football. The defense has surrendered at least 27 points in each game, and the team's lone win came in London against the 0-4 Steelers.
It's safe to say that the Vikings have taken a step back after making the playoffs last season.
28. Oakland Raiders (1-3)
The good news here is that the Raiders aren't the clear-cut worst team in football. That was the expectation at the beginning of the season. Terrelle Pryor has flashed potential of being a good quarterback.
The bad news is that they're still a bad team. A 10-point loss to the previously winless Washington Redskins shows that they still have a long way to go to climb out of the bottom third of the league.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4)
The Steelers just can't seem to put everything together.
First, the offense struggled, as Big Ben and Co. scored just 19 points in the first two games. Then, the defense faltered, allowing 74 points over the last two weeks. It's not often that you see the Steelers play this bad, but it certainly looks like they are in for a long season.
30. New York Giants (0-4)
The list of things that are wrong with this Giants team is long and depressing. The running game is non-existent, the defense has surrendered at least 31 points in every game and the Giants have the worst turnover differential (-9) in the entire NFC.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4)
The Buccaneers are a seriously flawed franchise right now, and cutting quarterback Josh Freeman isn't going to do much to fix that. Third-round pick Mike Glennon isn't prepared to take the reins, and that was made painfully clear in the team's loss to the Cardinals.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4)
The Jaguars have quickly become the favorite team of everyone who is in a survivor pool. Picking against them is a nearly fool-proof strategy. Neither Blaine Gabbert nor Chad Henne have been able to provide a spark on offense, and the Jags have the worst run defense in the league.
"Unmitigated disaster" is really the best way to describe this team.
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