NFL Power Rankings: Biggest Risers and Fallers After Sunday's Week 4 Action

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2013

Sep 29, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) gets hit by Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Alan Branch (90) after a throw during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

The NFL can be a fickle thing to figure out, but Week 4 provided strong insight into how the league as a whole is shaping up.

For example, look at the polar opposites. Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos are scoring at a record pace and easily moved to 4-0, while the reeling Pittsburgh Steelers lost yet again and moved to 0-4.

Outside of the obvious, the week once again proved not everything is a given. Risers and fallers pepper this week's power rankings thanks to shocking outcomes. Enjoy.

1. Denver Broncos (4-0)

At this point it's not even fair.

Peyton Manning and Co. dropped a 52 burger on Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles, a team supposedly potent on offense in a revolutionary manner. With Manning backed by a sound defense, Denver is far and away the best team in the NFL.

2. Seattle Seahawks (4-0)

Joining the Denver Broncos in the realm of the undefeated are the Seattle Seahawks. After embarrassing San Francisco under the national microscope, Seattle came out a bit flat in Week 4 against Houston.

Credit Houston for also being one of the best teams in the NFL, but all attention here goes to Seattle, which pulled out a stunning overtime victory, 23-20.

3. Houston Texans (2-2)

The beat goes on for the Houston Texans.

Yes, Houston lost in overtime to the No. 2 ranked team, but that does not change the fact the Texans are the most balanced team in football. The team needs consistency, but the stellar defense paired with a rushing attack led by Arian Foster spells trouble against any team.

4. New Orleans Saints (3-0)

Drew Brees and the resurgent New Orleans Saints are the star of the show on Monday Night Football against the Miami Dolphins, but it's the new-look defense under Rob Ryan that makes the Saints a Super Bowl contender. 

Watch out.

5. San Francisco 49ers (2-2)

Sep 26, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) throws against the St. Louis Rams during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. San Francisco defeated St. Louis 35-11. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

A 35-11 beatdown of the St. Louis Rams on Thursday Night Football sure looks good on paper, but the evisceration at the hands of Seattle a few weeks ago and a letdown against Indianapolis last week should weigh heavily on the minds of fans. 

San Francisco is good, but consistency against top-tier competition is a must.

6. New England Patriots (4-0)

Forget for a moment New England struggled in the opening weeks against Buffalo and the New York Jets, teams (much better than initially thought) led by rookie quarterback. 

Now Tom Brady and Co. have notched important victories over Tampa Bay and Atlanta, proving the offense can play with any team and the defense is good enough for the Patriots to contend. 

Did we mention New England doesn't have Danny Amendola or Rob Gronkowski back yet?

7. Green Bay Packers (1-2)

Bye week time for Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay after a stunning loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on the road a week ago.

It's business as usual for Green Bay—elite offense, but the defense needs to keep up in order for the Packers to be taken seriously. So far both sides have not played at a high level together.

8. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)

It's official—the Andy Reid era in Kansas City has made the Chiefs a contender.

The Chiefs and Co. handed a beatdown to New York in Week 4, which meshes well with consecutive dominant showings over Dallas and Philadelphia in previous weeks. A balanced defense led by a borderline top-10 rushing attack with Jamaal Charles means the Chiefs are a tough out for any team.

9. Miami Dolphins (3-0)

It's time to take Miami seriously regardless of the outcome on Monday Night Football. 

Miami has defeated playoff contenders in consecutive weeks with wins over Indianapolis and Atlanta thanks to a quality defense and a sneaky-good passing attack led by second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

The Dolphins are playoff contenders through four weeks.

10. Atlanta Falcons (1-3)

Atlanta is in some serious trouble, with all three losses so far coming against legitimate opponents in Miami, New Orleans and now New England.

The offense is elite, but a defense that gives up over 300 yards per game means most contests will devolve into shootouts.

11. Chicago Bears (3-1)

Every team has to lose at least once (right?), and this week it was Chicago's turn to experience a letdown against Detroit.

The defense finally experienced a hiccup and allowed the Lions to go off for 40 points. Luckily for Chicago, that's an anomaly, not a regular thing. The Bears are still a top team thanks to Marc Trestman.

12. Indianapolis Colts (3-1)

A win is a win, even if it was an easy 37-3 victory over the laughably-bad Jacksonville Jaguars. More impressive is the dominant showing over San Francisco in Week 3.

The addition of back Trent Richardson has done nothing but help things in Indianapolis as the team looks poised to head back to the postseason.

13. Baltimore Ravens (2-2)

The defending champs are sluggish. After a convincing win over Houston in Week 3, Joe Flacco and Baltimore came out flat against Buffalo in Week 4 and were downed 23-20.

Inconsistency seems to be the name of the game for the Ravens this year, and that won't be enough for the team to make a playoff push at this pace.

14. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2)

Like much of the AFC North, Cincinnati seems set to dabble in mediocrity thanks to wild inconsistency in large part thanks to quarterback Andy Dalton.

Cincinnati notched an impressive win over Green Bay in Week 3, only to turn around and drop a game to Cleveland (without a starting running back or quarterback) while not scoring a touchdown.

Now New England comes to town and should send Cincinnati in a tailspin down the rankings.

15. St. Louis Rams (1-3)

St. Louis is not ready to take the next step despite the presence of exciting offensive weapons such as Tavon Austin and Jared Cook.

Week 1 was fun as the Rams notched a close victory over Arizona, but it's been downhill ever since and quarterback Sam Bradford's legitimacy has rightfully been called into question.

16. Buffalo Bills (2-2)

Don't look now, but the Buffalo Bills are legit after an outstanding draft class including quarterback EJ Manuel, receiver Robert Woods and linebacker Kiko Alonso.

Buffalo played New England tough in Week 1 and just took down the defending champs. The rebuilding process in Buffalo is moving along quickly.

17. Detroit Lions (3-1)

Winning free agency does not make a team a contender, but finding one player who makes a difference can. 

Thus is the case with Detroit and running back Reggie Bush, who propelled the team to a victory in Week 4 thanks to his 139 rushing yards. 

18. Dallas Cowboys (2-2)

Dallas has struggled against legitimate teams such as Kansas City and now failed to take care of business against San Diego this past week.

Receiver Dez Bryant (two touchdowns in Week 4) keeps Dallas in any game, but a .500 record sounds about right the rest of the way.

19. Washington Redskins (1-3)

Sep 29, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) walks on the field during a break in the action against the Oakland Raiders in the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Redskins defeated the Raiders 24-14. Mandatory
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Washington and Robert Griffin III finally notched its elusive first victory of 2013, but it came against a hapless Oakland squad that played the Redskins tough all game.

Simply put, it's too little, too late for the Redskins. RGIII looks mediocre at best in his sophomore year and a swiss cheese defense is not helping the matter.

20. San Diego Chargers (2-2)

The San Diego Chargers do not do any one thing particularly well, but new coach Mike McCoy has quarterback Philip Rivers playing well enough to win games.

Despite a lack of weapons at receiver and a questionable offensive line, San Diego is a scrappy squad that will give any team trouble.

21.  Arizona Cardinals (2-2)

Arizona moved to 2-2 in Week 4 with a win over Tampa Bay, but it was a close game against a team that has lost all sense of identity.

A three-point victory over a rookie quarterback making his NFL debut does not inspire confidence, and quarterback Carson Palmer's erratic play will cause issues all year long.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3)

The Chip Kelly experiment is off to a rocky start with Philadelphia sitting at 1-3. LeSean McCoy leads the NFL's top rushing attack, but the defense is the one of the worst in the NFL.

Philadelphia's only win this year came against a reeling Washington squad when Kelly's offense was new to the league. It's going to be a long year for Eagles fans.

23. Tennessee Titans (3-1)

The Tennessee Titans have looked solid with three wins so far this season, the most impressive coming against a tough San Diego squad.

Now the problem holding back the team is the extent of Jake Locker's hip injury. Until more details are known, it's hard to place Tennessee any higher, especially without a serious win on the resume.

24. Carolina Panthers (1-2)

As expected, the defense in Carolina keeps the team in games, but the franchise's refusal to give Cam Newton quality weapons plagues the offense.

Carolina will remain in games thanks to Newton, but actually winning is something that seems to be a few years out.

25. New York Giants (0-4)

Sep 29, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) walks off the field after the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 31-7. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are one of the NFL's worst squads and it's hard to imagine head coach Tom Coughlin sticks around after the season at this rate.

New York was embarrassed by Kansas City in Week 4, one week after losing miserably to Carolina 38-0.

Panic time in New York.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4)

What needs to be said about Tampa Bay? Elite defense is the name of the game for the Buccaneers, but so is a head coach in Greg Schiano, who has lost his team and starting quarterback.

Tampa Bay lost to Arizona and the upcoming schedule is jaw-dropping in its difficulty. Expect this ranking to decrease.


27. Cleveland Browns (2-2)

While we're on the topic of elite defenses, let's talk some Cleveland Browns.

Cleveland notched a major win over Cincinnati in Week 4, its second in a row after trading star back Trent Richardson and starting backup quarterback Brian Hoyer.

Joe Haden and Co. held A.J. Green in check and proved it can win on the heels of its elite defense. Cleveland will shock a few more teams this year, and maybe Cincinnati again.

28. New York Jets (2-2)

Bumps are expected with a rookie quarterback, and Geno Smith and Co. have experienced just that through the first four weeks of the season.

Most recently the Jets struggled to contain Tennessee and were routed, 38-13. New York now heads into a brutal stretch including Atlanta and New England. The ranking will continue to drop.

29. Minnesota Vikings (1-3)

Sep 29, 2013; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bo
Bob Martin-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota notched its first win of the season over Pittsburgh in Week 4 by going with Matt Cassel at quarterback over Christian Ponder.

The offense looks much improved as a result, but a serious win is needed as a victory over Pittsburgh means next to nothing this season.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4)

Speak of the devil, Ben Roethlisberger and Co. are in some seriously hot water. 

Pittsburgh clearly doesn't have enough talent on either side of the football to compete against most teams, and Roethlisberger is past the point where he can do it all on his own.

31. Oakland Raiders (1-3)

Oakland remains competitive with Terrelle Pryor at quarterback, but he simply is not good enough to overcome the stunning lack of talent on the Raiders roster.

The Raiders are the type of team that will remain in most games, but actually winning is another conversation entirely.


32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4)

Not much to say here.

Jacksonville has scored more than 10 points in a contest just once and looks lost on both sides of the football. The No. 1 pick in next year's draft belongs to Jacksonville.

Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling