NFL Power Rankings: Biggest Underachievers Entering Week 5

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistOctober 2, 2012

HOUSTON, TX- SEPTEMBER 30: Arian Foster #23 of the Houston Texans rushes against the Tennessee Titans on September 30, 2012 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. Houston Texans won 38 to 14. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

NFL teams are beginning to show their true colors as the season approaches Week 5.

With four weeks gone, some squads are overachieving, far exceeding all expectations, while others underwhelm and underachieve.

There's plenty of time to turn things around, but a few teams should be disappointed thus far.

Let's power rank the teams so far and pick out a few underachieving groups.

1. Houston Texans

The Texans don't really have a flaw, outside of their mildly explosive passing attack. That could be better, but this team has been dominant.

2. Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta finally got Michael Turner going with 171 total yards on Sunday, but he needs to be better as the year progresses.

3. Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals' defense has been outstanding, but the offense still has trouble getting the ball to one of the league's best receivers. Once they figure out how to find Larry Fitzgerald, this team may really be on to something.

4. Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia has been stellar, outside of the turnover bug plaguing them through the season's first three weeks. Finally, the team avoided those costly giveaways to earn a win over the Giants Sunday night.

5. San Francisco 49ers

Alex Smith still isn't stretching the field very often, despite his new weapons, but the 49ers are as sound as it gets. A slip-up against the upstart Vikings in Week 3 looks less and less like a bad loss.

6. Baltimore Ravens

Aside from Baltimore's 29th-ranked pass defense, this squad looks ready to contend for an AFC Championship.

7. San Diego Chargers

Perennial underachievers, the Chargers have managed to stay afloat, but in a different way than normal. A ferocious defense has taken the lead while Philip Rivers adjusts to a Vincent Jackson-less receiving corps.

8. Minnesota Vikings

How about overachievers? Minnesota has taken incredible strides behind Christian Ponder's superb efficiency and Adrian Peterson's healthy knee.

9. Green Bay Packers

Yep, this team is underachieving. The Packers should have beaten Seattle in that Monday night debacle that none of us will ever forget, but this team is still 2-2.

Aaron Rodgers appears to be finding his groove; however, the Packers' passing attack is No. 15 in the league. A 25th-ranked running attack isn't going to pick up the slack, leaving Green Bay without answers at times.

An improved defense has this team primed to improve, but this isn't the same explosive squad we saw last season.

10. Chicago Bears

Chicago is right on point with expectations so far. As long as Jay Cutler takes care of the ball, this team has the ingredients of a playoff squad. But, hey, what's new?

11. New England Patriots

A 2-2 record makes the Patriots look like they're underachieving, but I'm going to say they're not. If any team can bounce back, it's Tom Brady and his boys.

After looking lackadaisical for the first half against Buffalo, the Patriots ripped the Bills' secondary to shreds. New England's secondary is still allowing too many big plays, but this team will be just fine.

12. Cincinnati Bengals

Last year, the Bengals relied on their defense to win games. This year, a seventh-ranked passing attack and 13th-ranked ground game are leading the way.

13. Denver Broncos

Peyton Manning isn't getting excellent support from his run game, but he's bounced back nicely from a three-interception performance against Atlanta in Week 2.

Denver's No. 8 passing attack has them playing competitive football still.

14. Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys better find a way to get DeMarco Murray going if they want to start winning. Other than that, this inconsistent squad is exactly what one should expect.

15. Washington Redskins

Robert Griffin III has been outstanding, and rookie running back Alfred Morris hasn't been far behind. The Redskins have several pieces in place, but losing Brian Orakpo to injury tempers expectations this season.

16. New York Giants

New York can't stop the run, and they can't run the ball. Add in a shoddy pass defense, and Eli Manning's excellent season is barely relevant.

17. Seattle Seahawks

Seattle is a tough team to figure out. The run game and defense are still stellar, but Russell Wilson leads a passing attack averaging just over 130 yards per game.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers

This is a tough one. I'll call them an underachiever, because they're the Steelers, but all of this squad's weaknesses were easy to see coming.

The defense is a year older and a year slower. The ground game, without Rashard Mendenhall, struggles to muster any positive yardage, and the offensive line still can't protect Ben Roethlisberger.

All of these things have the Steelers at 1-2 entering their Week 5 tilt with the Eagles. It's a must-win for the limping franchise.

19. St. Louis Rams

St. Louis is back on the right track with Sam Bradford back behind center, but they don't have enough vertical weapons to make their offense truly dangerous.

20. Buffalo Bills

The Bills have one of the league's best rushing attacks, leaving Ryan Fitzpatrick's inconsistent arm as the weak link. That, and a rushing defense that's allowing 137 yards per game.

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Labeling Tampa Bay as underachievers last season would have been appropriate last season, but not now. Josh Freeman leads a passing attack averaging a paltry 185 yards per contest.

22. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars aren't terrible in every area, but a passing attack that can't muster 150 yards per game is.

23. Carolina Panthers

Outside of Cam Newton, this team wasn't ready to win this year. Now, Newton is proving that he isn't quite ready either. He's thrown five interceptions and fumbled the ball twice so far this season.

24. Detroit Lions

The Lions are underachieving by most people's standards, but who didn't see their decline coming? Outside of the league's most dynamic passing attack, this squad has very little to turn to.

25. Miami Dolphins

Miami was arguably the worst team in the league entering the 2012 season, so they're definitely not underachieving. Ryan Tannehill improves with every game, and two straight overtime losses show that this team can play competitive football.

26. Tennessee Titans

The Titans have struggled to stop the pass, but their lack of success comes down to their inability to run the ball. Chris Johnson has 58 carries for 186 yards, which doesn't come close to cutting it.

27. New York Jets

This team is underachieving, right? No, they aren't. New York's reputation was generated by media hype and nothing else. Mark Sanchez isn't anywhere near ready to lead this team, and the Jets' skill players aren't good enough to help him.

Throw an awful run defense and an injured Darrelle Revis on top of that, and you have yourself a long year.

28. Indianapolis Colts

Underachieving isn't possible for a squad that won two games last season, and improvements have been made. Andrew Luck needs some help from Donald Brown and the running game before he takes the next step with this squad.

29. Oakland Raiders

Is it possible for the Raiders to underachieve? Most NFL fans have a stock Raiders joke up their sleeve somewhere, and this year is no different.

Carson Palmer has a few weapons to work with, but Darren McFadden is being severely underused.

30. Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City has talent on both sides of the ball, but they can't get out of their own way. Matt Cassel doesn't have the explosive arm necessary to supplement a dynamic rushing attack.

31. New Orleans Saints

Ah yes, the underachiever of all underachievers. Throw their obvious defensive shortcomings out the window; this team is severely disappointing.

New Orleans has too much recent tradition to now be thrown in here. Drew Brees and that devastating offense is still intact, but the offseason turmoil has obviously impacted this group.

The Saints won't stay winless forever, but it's been an embarrassing start so far. Maybe they'll turn it around; until then they're the No. 1 underachiever.

32. Cleveland Browns

Yes, they're 0-4, but no one expected much from this squad. Currently caught between a spread quarterback and an I-formation running back, their offense has a lot of work to do.


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