NFL Week 4 AFC Rankings: Where Do The 3-0 Kansas City Chiefs Stand?
The Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers have both started 3-0, surprising most people around the NFL.
GM Scott Pioli has done a great job of building depth through the draft. First round pick Eric Berry has been a stabilizing force in the secondary, along with Brandon Flowers, who is developing into one of the best young cornerbacks in the league.
Add in the immediate impact of rookie return men Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas and the Chiefs look like a force to be reckoned with in the AFC West.
But, in a year full of surprises like the Houston Texans (2-1) and disappointments like the San Diego Chargers (1-2), where do the Chiefs rank among the AFC elite?
16. Buffalo Bills (0-3)
The Bills switched from Trent Edwards to Ryan Fitzpatrick to try to provide a spark to the offense. (They eventually released Edwards, who was then claimed by the Jaguars).
Well, the move seemingly worked, as the Bills put up 30 points on the Patriots defense in a 38-30 loss. However, that's probably more of an indictment of the Pats' defense rather than a cause for praise for the Bills offense.
15. Cleveland Browns (0-3)
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The Browns gave the Chiefs and Ravens a run for their money, but ultimately came up short in both games.
They seem to have found their next go-to running back in Peyton Hillis. Often an afterthought in Denver, Hillis exploded for 144 yards on 22 carries against a tough Ravens defense. He'll need to keep running hard to make up for the absence of Montario Hardesty, who suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason.
14. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
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What is David Garrard doing in this picture?
If you answered throwing an interception or an incomplete pass, you are most likely correct.
Ever since thowing for three touchdowns in Week 1, Garrard has thrown one touchdown pass to go with five interceptions. He is also averaging less than 150 passing yards per game. Not good for a team that needs to be able to pass so defenses won't stuff the box to stop Maurice Jones-Drew.
13. Oakland Raiders (1-2)
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What is Sebastian Janikowski doing in this picture?
If you answered missing one of three field goals in a 24-23 loss to Arizona, you are correct.
"Sea Bass" missed kicks of 58 yards (understandable), 41 yards, and 32 yards (not so understandable). The 32-yarder would have given the Raiders the win.
The Raiders pay Janikowski big money because he's supposed to be one of the best kickers in the league. That certainly didn't show on Sunday.
12. Denver Broncos (1-2)
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Kyle Orton has shown that he should be considered one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, and Brandon Lloyd is emerging as a threat at wide receiver.
Outside of that, not a lot has gone right in Denver.
After Laurence Maroney came up inches short of the goal line on a fourth down run against the Colts on Sunday, the Broncos lost their momentum. The Colts never looked back, handing Denver their second loss of the year.
11. San Diego Chargers (1-2)
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Philip Rivers has been doing everything humanly possible to keep his team from falling apart. He's already thrown for more than 1,000 yards and has seven touchdown passes.
He's given his team a chance to win every game they've played, but the Chargers have come up short in Kansas City and Seattle, failing to score on drives in the red zone late in the fourth quarter.
The Chargers are missing rookie running back Ryan Mathews. Without him, the Chargers haven't been able to find any consistency on the ground.
The Chargers will eventually bounce back like they always do, but for now, they certainly don't look like a team that can contend for the playoffs.
10. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)
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Carson Palmer was supposed to have a comeback year and return to Pro Bowl form. Let's just say that hasn't happened yet.
Also alarming has been the overall ineffectiveness of running back Cedric Benson.
The Bengals better hope Benson's 2009 campaign wasn't a fluke, or they'll start sinking fast, as they have one of the league's toughest schedules the rest of the way.
9. Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
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It looks like Joe Flacco has found a go-to receiver.
Anquan Boldin found his way to the end zone three times against the Browns, scoring the Ravens only three touchdowns.
Unfortunately for the running game, running back Ray Rice suffered a "significant bruise" on his right knee and is listed as questionable for this week's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They'll need him if they are going to have any chance of winning.
8. New England Patriots (2-1)
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The Patriots acquired running back Danny Woodhead (of Hard Knocks fame) off the Jets' practice squad. This could end up being one of the best moves of the year, as Woodhead had 42 yards and a touchdown on just three carries this week.
If Woodhead can continue to perform in an expanded role, it will give stability to the Patriots running game that has been a mess since the early 2000s.
But what really needs stabilized now is the defense. The offense won't be able to put up 35+ points every week, so the defense needs to step up if the Pats are going to be playoff contenders. The last two weeks, they've made Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick look like Joe Namath and Jim Kelly.
7. Miami Dolphins (2-1)
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Young Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne thrives because he can rely on Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, and the Miami running game to carry the offensive load. That allows him to throw the ball with relatively little pressure.
On Sunday night, we saw what happens when the rushing attack safety net is stripped away.
The New York Jets' relentless defense held the Dolphins two headed running back attack to a very pedestrian day. That meant Henne had to make plays with his arm.
While he certainly had a good game and showed that he is a good NFL quarterback, he wasn't able to lead the Dolphins to a victory in the fourth quarter.
Eventually he will get to that point, but for now, he still needs the running game to be working in order to be effective.
6. Houston Texans (2-1)
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Arian Foster looks like the real deal, and we already know that Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson are studs, so the Texans are for real.
Their loss to Dallas on Sunday came to a team that was playing with the weight of the world on their shoulders. If the Cowboys lost that game, it was going to be the apocalypse in Dallas.
All that means for the Texans is that they caught the wrong team at the wrong time. They are still formidable and will still win plenty of ballgames.
5. Tennesse Titans (2-1)
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The Titans only slip-up so far came against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have been on a roll this year. They had a nice bounce back game on Sunday against the struggling New York Giants.
Chris Johnson is still the best back in the league, and this team is still good enough to compete for a wild card spot in the AFC.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)
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The Chiefs have shocked everyone around the league, not just with a 3-0 start, but the way in which they've won their games.
First off, the defense has improved by light years over last year's squad. Eric Berry and Brandon Flowers have made the secondary respectable, and Tamba Hali is evolving into a good pass rusher. Credit defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel for getting the most out of his unit.
Also give credit to offensive coordinator Charlie Weis for adding some creativity to the Kansas City offense. While Matt Cassel and the passing game still need some improvement, the running game is looking like one of the best in the league.
As of right now, the AFC West is the Chiefs' division to lose.
3. New York Jets (2-1)
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After looking atrocious in a Week 1 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the Jets offense has really stepped it up a notch. Mark Sanchez is looking like a quarterback who can take his team to the playoffs, and LaDanian Tomlinson is looking as old as his jersey number (21).
When Santonio Holmes returns from suspension, the Jets offense will have another deep threat to pair with Braylon Edwards, who, although disappointing off the field, has been impressive on it.
Oh, and the Jets have the best defense in the game, with or without Darrelle Revis. That's always a nice thing to have on your side.
2. Indianapolis Colts (2-1)
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Austin Collie is quickly becoming Peyton Manning's go-to guy.
What does that mean?
It means a ton of yards and a ton of touchdowns for Collie. Manning can put the ball wherever he wants to in the air, and right now, he wants to put it in Collie's hands. Their chemistry on the field is evident.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0)
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The Pittsburgh Steelers were supposed to struggle without Ben Roethlisberger, weren't they?
Well, they've struggled all the way to a 3-0 start behind a stout defense and a competent offense.
After Dennis Dixon went down with an injury, Charlie Batch stepped in at quarterback and led the team to their best offensive performance of the year so far. He threw two touchdowns to young receiver Mike Wallace, one being an impressive downfield toss.
As long as Troy Polamalu stays healthy, the Steelers will have the best defense in the league. Plus, they have just one more game until Big Ben's suspension is over. That means an already excellent team will get even better. It's just not fair.