NFL Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Stand Heading into Week 5?

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterSeptember 29, 2014

NFL Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Stand Heading into Week 5?

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    The NFL season hits the first quarter mark after Week 4, and there are already more than a handful of surprises to go along with it.

    No one expected the Arizona Cardinals to be undefeated, but here they are at 3-0 with a bye week taking them into the second quarter of the season. The 3-0 Cincinnati Bengals look like they boast the NFL's most explosive offense, and they too enjoyed a bye week to get stars like Vontaze Burfict and Marvin Jones healthy for Week 5.

    There are surprises—good and bad—across the league. This week's Power Rankings will take a look at where each team stands with four weeks behind us.

32. Oakland Raiders (0-4)

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    An injured Derek Carr might be the biggest problem for the Oakland Raiders this week, but that'll be a long flight home from London after getting thumped by the Miami Dolphins.

    A 38-14 score doesn't do this beating justice, as the Dolphins controlled the game from early in the first quarter. With the rookie quarterback Carr constantly under pressure from the Miami defensive line—and with no run game to speak of—the offense fell apart once it was asked to play from behind.

    The Raiders, thanks to a strong performance from the last week's last-ranked team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, fall to the bottom spot in this week's ranking.

31. Tennessee Titans (1-3)

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    A 41-17 blowout at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts means a move down in the rankings for the Tennessee Titans. And they're lucky the Oakland Raiders are so bad, or they'd be No. 32.

    The Week 1 win over the Kansas City Chiefs looks like a distant memory now that the Titans have lost three straight games. The offense looks completely out of rhythm, and with Jake Locker out, the play of Charlie Whitehurst exposed further issues with the wide receivers and quarterback position.

    The Titans look lost, and head coach Ken Whisenhunt has to be wondering why he didn't take the job with the Detroit Lions instead of this one.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4)

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    The Jacksonville Jaguars, as a team, did not look good on Sunday. And that's been the case for three-and-a-half-weeks now. But there were bright spots, and when you're at the bottom of the league, that's all it takes to move up a spot when teams like Oakland and Tennessee are embarrassed.

    The first start by rookie quarterback Blake Bortles showed promise. He was accurate, poised and confident. Yes, he threw two interceptions, but he did so in a game in which his Jaguars were overmatched against a strong San Diego team, with both Marqise Lee and Cecil Shorts hurt and the run game nonexistent. Bortles still needs some work, but Game 1 was what you want to see.

    Week 5 means hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers, and that game won't be easy, but it is winnable.

29. St. Louis Rams (1-2)

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    The St. Louis Rams enjoy a Week 4 bye, but must now go 12 weeks with no breaks for a squad that's been prone to injuries under Jeff Fisher's watch.

    That's not good news for a team that's in need of a bright spot.

    The Rams need quarterback Austin Davis to provide a spark on offense, as that entire unit has struggled behind an offensive line that, on paper, was supposed to be much improved. The Rams also need their vaunted defensive line to produce more than the one sack it has generated thus far.

    With games against Philadelphia and San Francisco coming off the bye, the Rams need to figure things out quickly. And with Tampa Bay getting its first win, that pushes the Rams down one spot even during the bye week.

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3)

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    One week after a complete beatdown by the Atlanta Falcons, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rebounded and showed some fight in their win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. For that, they move up.

    The Mike Glennon era got off to a good start, even if he wasn't perfect. But with the game on the line as the fourth quarter was winding down, Glennon was poised and smart with the football. That put the Buccaneers in a position to win the game—Lovie Smith's first in Tampa.

    Traveling to New Orleans in Week 5 will not be easy, but the Buccaneers have to look at it as a game they can win if both sides of the ball play like they did in Week 4.

27. Washington (1-3)

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    I was so ready to buy into Washington as an up-and-coming team with Kirk Cousins at quarterback, but then Thursday night happened.

    A four-interception performance by Cousins highlighted what was generally a terrible game from Jay Gruden's team. Offensively and defensively, there was nothing the team could do right. And if you were able to watch the entire game without falling asleep or turning the channel, you saw many players wearing the Washington helmet flat-out give up once the game was out of reach.

    There's talent here, but poor decision-making from Cousins and a lack of fire on both sides of the ball contribute to a big drop this week.

26. Buffalo Bills (2-2)

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    We can officially write off the Buffalo Bills as two-week pretenders. 

    With a 2-0 start, many fans in Western New York got awfully chippy on Twitter about their favorite team's merits and potential. The Bills, though, are still a very young team with a very inconsistent quarterback. That usually leads to losses, not wins.

    With that young talent, prepare to be frustrated by the Bills no matter if you're a fan or an opponent. We can expect some big games from them when everything clicks, but when the offense is asked to play from behind (as they have been the last two weeks), continued struggles are more likely.

25. Houston Texans (3-1)

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    Don't look now, but the Houston Texans have already won more games in 2014 than they did in all of 2013. With a 3-1 record they also sit atop the AFC South at the quarter mark of the season.

    With one of the league's best records, why aren't the Texans ranked higher? It mostly has to do with the offense and the lack of faith in quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and a run game that struggled to produce against Buffalo. They can prove me wrong by continuing to win, but Houston's lack of offense has to catch up to it at some point.

    Still yet, a 3-1 record is much better than I expected from this team.

24. New York Giants (2-2)

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    After an 0-2 start, things looked bleak for the New York Giants. Two weeks later, after two straight wins, the panic in New York is quieting.

    That's largely in part to Eli Manning and the offense getting on track. It helped that they were able to beat up on a very bad Washington secondary, but Manning's last two weeks have been more of what was expected in the Ben McAdoo offense.

    If the defense can make plays in the secondary and move enough pieces around to get a pass rush going, they could make a surprise run up the rankings.

23. Miami Dolphins (2-2)

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    A long road trip to London has been a thorn in the side of many NFL teams, but the Miami Dolphins flourished in the foreign environment over the Oakland Raiders.

    After a week in which head coach Joe Philbin refused to name quarterback Ryan Tannehill as the starter, the former first-round pick was the difference as the Miami offense rolled to 435 yards against an outmatched Oakland defense. 

    Miami's own defense was brilliant as well, but that's too be expected when facing a rookie quarterback in Derek Carr. Still, getting to 2-2 and busting the slump that Tannehill was in gets this team a move up the board.

22. Cleveland Browns (1-2)

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    The Cleveland Browns see no change this week with a bye scheduled in. That will change in Week 5 with a winnable game against the Tennessee Titans on the schedule before a decisive divisional game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 6.

    The Browns need to continue the balanced play we saw from them before the bye week. And while an early bye may be a bad thing for some teams, a young team like Cleveland can use the next 13 games to find chemistry and come together more on both sides of the ball.

21. New York Jets (1-3)

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    The New York Jets have lost three games, and each of them were lost by one score. That tells me that this is a talented, well-coached team, but that there are holes they simply cannot cover up right now.

    The lack of talent and depth at cornerback is glaring, but the offense must be smarter, namely quarterback Geno Smith. His Week 4 play against the NFL's No. 1 ranked defense, the Detroit Lions, was simply not good enough. When the run game did bail him out, Smith struggled by locking on to receivers and missing targets.

    The Jets have a very good head coach in Rex Ryan, but without the right pieces on the field, he can do only so much. 

    A loss moves this team down, and right now the Jets are in danger of falling behind in the division and wild card races.

20. Minnesota Vikings (2-2)

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    The Teddy Bridgewater era began with an impressive win over the Atlanta Falcons, and it came in a game where Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings were non-factors. Bridgwater found Jarius Wright early and often for big gains, and the run game of Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon did the rest.

    Mike Zimmer's team looks good, with safety Harrison Smith making a huge impact on defense and rookie linebacker Anthony Barr making early contributions on the edge. It's easy to see why the Vikings move up six spots after beating a top-10 team in Atlanta.

    It's a short week for Minnesota before they play the Green Bay Packers on the road Thursday night, but the team has momentum and must look at Green Bay as beatable.

19. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2)

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers officially rank as one of the most confusing teams to watch in the 2014 season.

    Week 1 saw the Steelers narrowly escape the Cleveland Browns, but their Week 3 win over the Carolina Panthers (who were undefeated at the time) looked like a signature win. But when facing tough teams (Baltimore and Tampa Bay), the Steelers have fallen apart.

    The late loss to Tampa and quarterback Mike Glennon falls on the secondary. Their struggles to bottle up Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins was the difference in a very close game. Ben Roethlisberger and the offense produced, but allowing 27 points and surrendering five sacks is a recipe for a loss.

    The up-and-down Steelers move down this week, with a chance for redemption in Week 5 against Jacksonville.

18. Carolina Panthers (2-2)

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    It is safe to say that I overrated the Carolina Panthers after their 2-0 start. Since that time the team has dropped games to the Pittsburgh Steelers (37-19) and Baltimore Ravens (38-10) in blowout fashion. That makes their first two wins against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions look a little less impressive.

    The preseason thoughts on Carolina are coming true as the season stretches out. The offensive line is getting Cam Newton destroyed, and the secondary cannot cover better receivers and shut down explosive passing attacks. And while the young receivers in Carolina are stepping up, it's not enough with the running back corps being depleted by injuries.

    The Panthers have a make-or-break stretch coming in their schedule. The next five games look like this—Chicago, at Cincinnati, at Green Bay, Seattle and New Orleans.

    We'll know very soon just how good this team is.

17. Kansas City Chiefs (2-2)

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    The Chiefs were amazing in beating the New England Patriots on Monday night. Not only did they set a new sound record for an outdoor stadium, but the team completely took apart my AFC Super Bowl pick. It was as impressive a win that Andy Reid has had in Kansas City.

    The Chiefs were dominant running the ball and in stopping the Patriots' offense with an aggressive pass rush. That's the recipe for success here, and if Reid sticks to the script, it's easy to see the Chiefs starting to challenge in a wide-open AFC.

16. San Francisco 49ers (2-2)

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    Jim Harbaugh's San Francisco 49ers desperately needed a win in Week 4 after a crushing 1-2 start to the season. In losses to the Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals the 49ers had the lead, only to see the offense completely fall asleep after halftime. 

    Week 4 brought the 49ers their first fourth-quarter points of the year, though, and saw the defense put the team on its back for the win over the previously undefeated Philadelphia Eagles. With the Eagles scoring 21 points on defense and special teams, it was the 49ers defense that stood out for key stops in the red zone (including a late series from the 1-yard-line) and in attacking Nick Foles.

    How good are the 49ers? That remains to be seen after another week of mistakes from quarterback Colin Kaepernick. But we know this much, the defense is good enough to win games when the offense struggles.

15. Chicago Bears (2-2)

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    The Chicago Bears looked like the real deal after beating the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets in back-to-back weeks. Their hot start against the Green Bay Packers in Week 4 seemed to indicate another great performance for Marc Trestman's team.

    And then Aaron Rodgers took over and Jay Cutler reverted back to his old self with two interceptions in the second half.

    The Bears are very capable on offense, but the defense isn't quite ready for the likes of Rodgers and the Packers receivers. Rookie Kyle Fuller was picked on and beat up, and the safety play from Chicago was a constant problem throughout the home loss to Green Bay.

    The Bears are still a potential NFC North champion, but that just got a lot harder to accomplish with a loss to their division rivals.

14. New Orleans Saints (1-3)

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    The 2014 New Orleans Saints are like the girlfriend you know you should dump, but every now and then she's great and you think "maybe this can work." The Saints have lost three games—one of them to the Cleveland Browns—and may have the NFL's worst defense. But, they do have Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham and a cast of receivers good enough to cause problems for defenses.

    The 1-3 start is a big concern, and the Saints move down again this week, but they're still one of the more dangerous teams in the NFL if everyone can get on the same page. The defense has talent, but coordinator Rob Ryan hasn't figured out how to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks and the run defense is being carved up on the inside.

    Brees, Graham and Co. are good for a few wins alone, but can the rest of the team rise to the challenge?

13. Atlanta Falcons (2-2)

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    The Atlanta Falcons looked like the real deal coming off a Week 3 drubbing of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A 56-14 final score didn't even show how one-sided that game really was, either. So Week 4 against the Minnesota Vikings—with a rookie quarterback making his first start—should have been nothing for this team.

    But it was.

    The Vikings put up one heck of a fight and put up points on the Falcons with smart, precise passing and explosive open-field running. They also protected Teddy Bridgewater well, exposing one of the Falcons' biggest weaknesses: their lack of a pass rush.

    The Falcons offense will keep them in games, but when Atlanta encounters an opposing offense also capable of scoring points, it could be in big trouble.

12. Green Bay Packers (2-2)

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    The Green Bay Packers started the year 1-2 and with an offense that barely resembled the powerful group seen in recent seasons. A switch was flipped in Week 4, though, and Aaron Rodgers seemed to take the ball into his hands and remind everyone that he's in charge.

    Rodgers found Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and rookie tight end Richard Rodgers to carve up the Chicago Bears secondary. Bears rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller had picked on opposing quarterbacks the first threee weeks, but Rodgers went right at him for big gains and scores and showed no fear of anyone in Chicago's defensive backfield.

    The Packers aren't quite ready for a big move up the board, but they're a team worth watching heading into their Week 5 tilt against the Vikings. With Philadelphia, Atlanta and New Orleans struggling, the Packers could benefit greatly.

11. New England Patriots (2-2)

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    What the heck happened to the New England Patriots?

    Arrowhead Stadium is no easy place to play on Monday night, but the Patriots looked like their pre-Tom Brady edition and nothing like what anyone covering the NFL has become so accustomed to over the last 14 years. 

    The Patriots aren't the consistent, ever-present force I expected them to be this year. You can blame it on the offensive line, the lack of targets or the aging of Tom Brady, but something is very wrong with this team. And a matchup against the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals in Week 5 is not likely to be a great cure for their problems.

10. Dallas Cowboys (3-1)

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    My goal as a writer is to always quickly admit when I'm wrong about a player or team.

    I was wrong about the Dallas Cowboys.

    Rod Marinelli has been a visionary for the team as the defensive coordinator. Players like linebackers Rolando McClain and Bruce Carter looked like they were done before the 2014 season began, but now they're key contributors on this defense. Even with cornerback Morris Claiborne continuing to struggle, Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick are making plays at corner in his stead.

    The offense here is good enough to win the NFC East, without question. Tony Romo is playing smart, the offensive line is playing better than any in the league and DeMarco Murray looks like the best running back in the NFL through four weeks.

    The Cowboys are quickly becoming the team no one can afford to overlook.

9. Detroit Lions (3-1)

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    The Detroit Lions continue to move up the rankings thanks to strong defensive play and an offense that finds a way to get the job done every week.

    With Calvin Johnson hobbled by injury, the Lions found big plays from Jeremy Ross and rookie first-round pick Eric Ebron, while quarterback Matthew Stafford scrambled and ran for yardage when his receivers couldn't find space in coverage. To do that against a tough New York Jets defense is impressive from Jim Caldwell's team.

    If the Lions can take care of the Buffalo Bills at home in Week 5, another rise up the rankings wouldn't be a surprise.

8. Indianapolis Colts (2-2)

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    The Indianapolis Colts started the year with a nearly impossible schedule against the Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles. Since that 0-2 start, though, the Colts have been the impossible team to stop.

    Andrew Luck was rolling in the last two games, against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans, respectively, but now he must do that against better competition.

    The Colts will get that test in Week 5 against the Baltimore Ravens.

    Luck is the heart of this team, and his targets are very capable of making plays and being a nightmare for defenses. That said, for the Colts to win, their own defense must step up and be a thorn in the side of opposing offenses. To date, they've only done that against low-level offenses.

7. Baltimore Ravens (3-1)

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    The Baltimore Ravens leave Week 4 with a three-game winning streak. Their Week 1 loss to Cincinnati would be a fading memory except the setback and Baltimore's recent success sets up an epic rematch with the presently undefeated Bengals on Oct. 26.

    With a complete thumping of the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, the Ravens asserted themselves again as a top-tier team in the AFC. And if they can get Steve Smith Sr. to play that fired up every week, the rest of the NFL is in big trouble.

    With so much negativity surrounding the Ravens due to the Ray Rice incident, it's easy to forget how well they're playing on the field. But right now, few teams present the balance that John Harbaugh's team is showcasing on both sides of the ball.

    A Week 5 game against Indianapolis will prove quickly whether the Ravens belong this high in the rankings.

6. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1)

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    Chip Kelly was hired from the University of Oregon with the idea that his up-tempo offense and fast-paced practices would change the NFL. And in some ways, Kelly's offense has been a revolution for the Eagles.

    But equally important, the play of the team's special teams and defense have changed.

    Through three quarters of the team's Week 4 game against the San Francisco 49ers, it looked like Kelly's defense and special teams would be the difference thanks to the 21 points the two units generated. And then the 49ers started running the ball and pressuring Nick Foles.

    And that's when the game changed.

    With so many offensive linemen hurt and the team forced to change up its game plan, Kelly's run-first offense has been slow to respond. And with Foles struggling all season, they can't pass their way out of ruts this year. 

    The Eagles are still a very talented team, and an NFC East contender, but there are weaknesses in their armor.

5. Arizona Cardinals (3-0)

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    Teams normally won't move up on a bye week, but with the Philadelphia Eagles losing and the top three teams also on bye this week, the Arizona Cardinals move up the board. 

    As the NFC's only undefeated team heading into Week 5, the Cardinals are in great shape to not only make the playoffs but to put distance between themselves and their division rivals in Seattle and San Francisco. A healthy Carson Palmer after the bye will definitely help the cause.

    Traveling to Denver to face the Broncos—who are also coming off a break—will tell the world whether or not the Cardinals are ready to challenge the rest of the NFL.

4. San Diego Chargers (3-1)

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    Don't look now, but the San Diego Chargers are legit. 

    Wins over the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills are quality wins, and the team handled the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars like you would expect a quality team to do. Even their Week 1 loss to the Arizona Cardinals (an undefeated team) was only by a single point.

    With a top-five defense and Philip Rivers playing as well as any quarterback in the NFL, the Chargers can overcome injuries at running back. That might be an issue moving ahead, but their depth in the backfield and the big plays from Keenan Allen and other receivers look to be good enough so far to overcome injuries.

    A home game against the New York Jets is waiting in Week 5, and so is another chance for the Chargers to continue their move up the rankings.

3. Cincinnati Bengals (3-0)

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    A bye week—plus the two teams ranked ahead of the Bengals not playing—means no movement in the rankings for Cincinnati. 

    The Week 4 bye may not be welcomed by fans who loved the hot streak the team was on, but this does give them a chance to get players like Vontaze Burfict and Marvin Jones healthy heading into the meat of the schedule. 

    With a road trip to play the New England Patriots in Week 5 and the Carolina Panthers visiting in Week 6, the Bengals will have a chance to quickly prove after the bye whether or not they're really a top-tier team.

2. Denver Broncos (2-1)

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    Fresh off a brilliant comeback and tough overtime loss, the Denver Broncos got the week off to rest up. Because of their bye—and with Seattle also off this week there's no room to move up—the Broncos head into Week 5 with their ranking unchanged.

    The next matchup will be a big one, though, as Denver hosts the Arizona Cardinals. Even with quarterback Carson Palmer sidelined due to a shoulder injury, the Cardinals have taken down the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers in consecutive weeks. They shouldn't be overlooked by Denver in Week 5.

1. Seattle Seahawks (2-1)

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    A Week 4 bye may be a bad thing for many teams, but after facing the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos in back-to-back weeks, the Seattle Seahawks are likely happy for the chance to rest up this week.

    With no game for Seattle, Denver or the Cincinnati Bengals, our No. 1 team stays the same this week. Come Week 5, though, the Seahawks must travel to Washington for a Monday night game. That's nearly two weeks off the field and a long trip across the country.

    It's a very winnable game on paper, but it also has all the makings of a trap game for Seattle.


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