2011 NFL Power Rankings: Ranking The League's Best Offenses, Defenses
Week 4 of the NFL season is over, and we now have a decent sample size of each team's talent level and an idea of which teams are going to be this year's surprises and disappointments.
This NFL season, like almost all others, has been filled with surprises and parody, and further proves why football, and more specifically the NFL, is the country's most popular sport.
This list will rank the league's top 10 offenses and top 10 defenses so far this season and maybe help to figure out which teams are contenders and which are pretenders.
Offense 10: Atlanta Falcons
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One of the "sexy" Super Bowl picks this offseason, the Atlanta Falcons have struggled through the start of the season.
The Falcons have been inconsistent so far this season, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
After four weeks they rank 11th in passing yards per game and ninth in rushing yards per game, but only 16th in points per game.
The Falcons have weapons all over the field, and as the season moves forward, I see them only improving on the offensive side of the ball and getting back to contending for the NFC South.
9. Carolina Panthers
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Cam Newton was one of the most polarizing first overall picks in the history of the NFL, and he has already proved he was worthy of the high pick.
Newton is clearly the start of a bright future for the Carolina Panthers, and he is putting up record-setting numbers for a rookie.
The quarterback currently has the Panthers ranking third in passing yards per game and 17th in rushing yards per game and is exactly what the franchise needed.
As long as Newton is leading the Panthers, Carolina will have a potent offense for years to come.
8. Oakland Raiders
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The Oakland Raiders are off to a surprisingly solid start to the season, and their offense has a lot to do with that.
The Raiders lead the NFL in rushing yards per game with 178.8, and Darren McFadden is proving that last year was no one-hit wonder.
The Raiders passing game hasn't been great so far, but the top rushing team in the country deserves a top 10 spot on an offensive rankings list.
7. Philadelphia Eagles
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The Philadelphia Eagles are off to a nightmare start this season, but it isn't due to their offensive numbers.
The Eagles rank ninth in passing yards per game and second in rushing yards per game and statistically are dominating the league.
The only problem is they have only won one game and are having major problems scoring in the fourth quarters of games.
Michael Vick is banged-up, but with the amount of weapons on that team, they shouldn't have a problem scoring points or gaining yards, perhaps just winning games.
6. Detroit Lions
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The Detroit Lions are easily the best story in football, and their 4-0 start is something even their highest praisers couldn't have predicted.
The Lions are currently seventh in the NFL in passing yards per game and second in points per game.
They have the best current quarterback-to-receiver combination in the NFL with Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson, and if they can start running the ball more effectively, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
5. Buffalo Bills
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Easily the most surprising story of the year, the Buffalo Bills are 3-1 through four weeks and have a potent offense.
The Bills are currently ranked fifth in rushing yards per game, 12th in passing yards per game and are scoring the fourth most points per game in the league.
Fred Jackson, one of the most underrated players in the NFL, is running the ball very well and that, combined with the passing attack and arm of Ryan Fitzpatrick, gives the Bills one of the most balanced offenses in football. Yes, I said the Bills.
4. San Diego Chargers
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The San Diego Chargers are off to a quiet 3-1 start and have not choked their season away in September like they have in years passed.
A loaded Chargers offense is a big part of why they have been so successful, and a team with as many weapons as San Diego has should be this high in offensive rankings.
Ryan Matthews is having a great sophomore season so far, and even with Antonio Gates missing a few games with injuries, Philip Rivers has been able to spread the ball around the passing game and get everyone involved.
The Chargers rank sixth in passing yards per game and 18th in rushing yards, and those numbers should only go up as the season progresses.
3. New Orleans Saints
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The New Orleans Saints have one of the most balanced offenses in the NFL and have really run the ball well to start the 2011 season.
The Saints rank 10th in the league in rushing yards per game and second in passing yards per game and continue dominating opposing defenses with the arm of Drew Brees.
Brees and the Saints seem to be right back into contention for the Super Bowl after a disappointing playoff loss last season, and if they can lock up a top seed in the NFC, they will be tough to beat at home.
2. Green Bay Packers
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The Green Bay Packers could have easily landed first on this list and have arguably the most potent passing attack in the NFL.
Aaron Rodgers is making his case for NFL MVP, and combining his skills and athleticism with the skill players they have will make Green Bay a very hard team to stop.
Green Bay is playing better than they did all last season, and that should be scary for the rest of the league.
1. New England Patriots
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The case for the New England Patriots having the best offense in the NFL is an easy one to make.
They currently lead the league in passing yards per game and total yards per game and are third in points per game. The Pats have arguably the best quarterback in the game and easily the best coach in the game.
The scariest part is that the Patriots are starting to run the ball very well and currently rank ninth overall in rushing yards per game.
Tom Brady combined with a quality running game and solid position players around him is a deadly recipe, and if everyone stays healthy, this team should only improve.
Defense 10: Green Bay Packers
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The Green Bay Packers defense isn't dominating the league statistically like it did last season, but numbers don't tell the entire story in any sports.
The Packers defense is still capable of shutting down an opponent and winning a game for the team, if the offense ever needed it.
The Packers defense is loaded with talented, playmakers, and even with injuries, they remain one of the top defenses in the league.
9. San Francisco 49ers
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The San Francisco 49ers are another one of the NFL's surprise teams this season, and it is in large part due to their dominant defense.
The 49ers currently have the NFL's fourth best run defense and give up the 10th fewest points per game.
New head coach Jim Harbaugh is clearly turning that team around and giving them a new identity, one of physical play and hard-hitting defense.
The 49ers have a huge lead in the weak NFC West division and could have it all but locked up if they keep playing the way they are.
8. San Diego Chargers
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Like the San Diego Chargers offense, the defense appears to be top 10 in the league also, and proves why the Chargers are going to be competing for a Super Bowl.
The Chargers' defense currently ranks fifth in the league in pass yards allowed and 12th in the league in rush yards allowed, per game, both numbers showing how well they play defense.
The Chargers defense has a lot of talent molded into it, and it's no fluke why they rank so high in statistical categories.
7. Tennessee Titans
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The Tennessee Titans have been another pleasant surprise this NFL season, and their defense is proving to be better than most thought they would be.
While they haven't played against any great offensive teams, the Titans defense has held strong against opponents and there are stats to prove it.
The Titans defense currently ranks seventh in passing yards allowed and eight in rushing yards allowed and are also giving up the fewest points per game so far this season.
We will see how long this numbers hold up as the Titans begin playing teams with better offenses, but for now, the Titans seem to be a dominant defense team.
6. Washington Redskins
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Another surprisingly good start for a team, the Washington Redskins are currently tied for first place in the NFC East and are holding strong due to their defense.
Washington's defense ranks eighth in the NFL in opposing passing yards per game and sixth in opposing rushing yards per game.
The Redskins will need to continue to be a balanced team if they want to continue competing for the NFC East, and their defense will need to continue its fabulous play if they are going anywhere.
5. Chicago Bears
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The Chicago Bears' defense doesn't rank well against other teams in statistical categories but made this list because of the quality opponents they've played against.
The Bears' first four games were against some of the strongest offenses in the league, and their road should only get easier from here.
The Bears defensive stats will climb in the rankings and by the end of the season, the Bears defense will rank among the best in the league like they have the past few years.
4. Cincinnati Bengals
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The Cincinnati Bengals defense is off to a great start this season, and despite playing against a few weak offensive opponents, I still have them high on my list of the leagues best defenses.
The Bengals rank third in passing yards allowed per game and seventh in rushing yards allowed per game.
Being that high in both those categories can't simply come from playing bad teams, but it also must mean you are at least a solid defense.
The Bengals may not make the playoffs this year, but their defense is something to build around in the future.
3. New York Jets
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The Jets offense has been terrible so far this season, and while the defense has struggled at times, it's overall been the reason they have stayed in games and why they are 2-2 and not any worse.
The Jets rank second in opposing passing yards per game and have one of the best secondaries in football.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
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The Pittsburgh Steelers are still one of the most talented defense teams in football, and while some of their stats have been off, they are still a top defense in the NFL.
The Steelers have the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL and are giving up the fifth fewest points per game.
The Steelers are stacked with talent on the defensive side of the ball and will contend for their division as long as they can continue to dominate in that phase of the game.
1. Baltimore Ravens
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The Baltimore Ravens have the best defense in football, and that was proven Sunday night against the New York Jets.
The Ravens defense won that game by themselves, and the amount of turnovers and scoring opportunities they created was enough to give them the No. 1 spot.
The Ravens rank ninth in pass yards allowed and third in rush yards allowed per game, but numbers cannot describe how dominant that group has been so far this season.