NFL Power Rankings: Which Teams Will Only Get Better?

J FCorrespondent IOctober 4, 2011

NFL Power Rankings: Which Teams Will Only Get Better?

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    It's no surpise that the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers are still riding the hot arm of Aaron Rodgers or that Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints' offense are averaging 34 points per game.

    But as these contenders are continually rising, several lesser teams are improving as the weeks pass as well.

    The NFL power rankings fluctuate weekly as teams catch fire and cool down over the course of the year, but here are the teams that can only get better until the playoffs roll around.

Carolina Panthers

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    The Carolina Panthers have to be happy with the direction their team is going after a 2-14 season. They have only won one game this season, but they've been competitive in every single matchup, losing only by as much as a single score.

    Cam Newton, who has shocked the nation with nearly 1,400 yards in four games, can only get better the more he plays, and the same goes for his team which certainly isn't void of talent.

Indianapolis Colts

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    Winless through four games, it should be obvious that the Indianapolis Colts can only get better. However, since getting blown out in Week 1 against the Houston Texans, the Peyton Manning-less Colts have played well enough to win.

    But they haven't. After losing to the Steelers by a field goal in Week 3, they let a win slip through their grasp in Tampa on Monday Night Football in Week 5.

    With a little confidence, the Colts should find their way into the win column with the Chiefs and Bengals coming up in the next two weeks, especially if Curtis Painter can improve after a solid debut.

Washington Redskins

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    Just as Rex Grossman predicted, his Washington Redskins are at the top of the NFC East. As the Eagles and Cowboys continue to struggle, they just may stay there.

    After a week off, the 'Skins will battle two consecutive three-loss teams in Philadelphia and Carolina.

    Their defense has played well, and the offense has certainly exceeded expectations. There's always the chance for a setback, but with their schedule, there's no reason they can't continue to rise.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    The Bengals' confidence should be high after handing the Bills their first loss of the season. At 2-2, they are tied for second in the AFC North with a slew of winnable games coming up.

    Cincinnati's offense is young and as the year goes on, QB Andy Dalton, should become more comfortable with experience. The defense has also been surprisingly good, meaning the sky's the limit for this team moving forward.

Tennessee Titans

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    The Titans have won three straight, including an upset of Baltimore in Week 2, thanks to their new quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and no thanks to running back Chris Johnson.

    After holding out prior to the season, Johnson has only averaged 2.9 yards per carry while Hasselbeck has thrown for over 1,000 yards and eight TDs.

    They will have their hands full with Houston in the AFC South, but if Johnson can get his act together, they could make some noise in playoff conversations.

Dallas Cowboys

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    The Cowboys could be 4-0, but then again, they are the kings of shooting themselves in the foot. In both of their losses, they have allowed opponents to come back from behind and claim the victory.

    Their wins weren't pretty either as they won in OT against the 49ers and managed only six field goals against Washington.

    The little things, such as penalties and poor snaps, have taken their toll on a Dallas team that is first in rushing defense and fourth in passing offense. Fortunately, these things can be improved upon.

Green Bay Packers

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    It's hard to imagine the best team in the league right now getting better, but while they're 4-0, the Super Bowl champions haven't been flawless.

    Their pass defense has been shaky, allowing too many big plays to say they've played solid. There was a problem in the secondary even before Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins was lost for a year, but if anyone can correct the issue it's Dom Capers, the Pack's top-notch defensive coordinator.

    If the defense can begin to play as good as their unstoppable offense, the Packers will never relinquish their No. 1 spot in the league.

San Francisco 49ers

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    The San Francisco 49ers haven't played all that well, but they're in the lead of the NFC West with a 3-1 record.

    If they can use their comeback win over Philly as a springboard to success, the playoffs are well within reach.

    The 49ers could be a ten win team if they can put it all together and Alex Smith shows his best stuff.

New York Giants

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    The Giants have won three straight since dropping their opener to the Redskins. However, they must capitilize on an easier stretch of games coming up before things get difficult towards the end of the season.

    They currently have the best shot to compete with Washington in the division and they have the potential to play even better football.

Seattle Seahawks

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    Things haven't been good for the Seahawks so far in 2011 after grabbing a playoff win last season. Their next to last in rushing yards, 28th in passing and have scored only seven touchdowns.

    The defense is the middle of the pack, but the offense has struggled mightily to get anything going.

    However, things changed in the second half against the Falcons in Week 4. Seattle scored 21 points, equal to their previous total for the season and nearly came back to win the game.

    They're not going to be great in 2011, but they showed they can only get better.

New Orleans Saints

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    Drew Brees has marched the Saints to three consecutive victories after falling to Green Bay in a shootout on opening night.

    In fact, the Packers may be the only squad that can outscore New Orleans' explosive offense. Looking at the rest of their schedule, there's no team they can't beat.

    Brees is becoming to the Saints what Peyton was to the Colts. If he stays healthy, he may be playing in Indianapolis in February.