NFL Power Rankings: B/R's Expert Consensus Standings Heading into Week 5

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystOctober 6, 2015

NFL Power Rankings: B/R's Expert Consensus Standings Heading into Week 5

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    Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 5 of the NFL season already started with a bang. 

    The Miami Dolphins decided to dismiss head coach Joe Philbin after the team's 1-3 start, and he's not the only coach who entered this week's proceedings on the hot seat. 

    And there has been a major shift at the top of Bleacher Report's power rankings this week. 

    To make sense of it all, eight Bleacher Report NFL writers—Gary Davenport, Mike Freeman, Brad Gagnon, Matt Miller, Ty Schalter, Mike Tanier, Sean Tomlinson and myself—determined which teams are the best and the worst after four weeks of play. 

    To build a consensus for Bleacher Report's power rankings, each team's rankings from individual writers were added together. The lowest totals made up the best units, while the highest totals naturally fell on the other side of the spectrum. If a rare tie occurred, the club with the highest single vote got the nod. 

    Despite being on a bye week, the New England Patriots finally overtook the Green Bay Packers for the No. 1 spot. The Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills slipped because of losses.  

    Meanwhile, teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons continue to cruise along, and legitimate Super Bowl aspirations are starting to blossom now that we've reached the quarter mark of the season. 

    On the flip side, a new team fell to the bottom of the rankings with the Chicago Bears' victory over the Oakland Raiders. 

    Click through the slideshow to find out where the rest of the teams fell in Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Standings as Week 5 approaches.

32. San Francisco 49ers

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    Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Record: 1-3

    Highest Ranking: 27 (Miller)

    Lowest Ranking: 32 (4 voters)

    What's Good?: Well, there are very few positive things to pick from when a team loses its previous three games by the combined score of 107-28. However, there are a couple of promising signs on defense after holding Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to only 17 points this past weekend. In particular, outside linebacker Aaron Lynch and defensive end Arik Armstead look like legitimate building blocks for the long haul. Lynch sacked Rodgers twice, while Armstead continues to be active and applies pressure from the interior. 

    What's Bad?Where have you gone, Colin Kaepernick? The quarterback's rapid decline from a starter in the Super Bowl to his current state of confusion is startling. During the past two games, Kaepernick completed 50 percent of his passes for 227 yards, zero passing touchdowns and five interceptions. Obviously, some of the blame falls on the team's underwhelming offensive line and the coaching staff, but the quarterback also hasn't progressed as a passer like the 49ers expected when the organization offered him a six-year contract extension worth as much as $126 million. 

    What's Next?: The San Francisco 49ers offense is a run-first scheme that requires Carlos Hyde to be productive for the rest of the unit to properly function. This should prove to be a difficult task since the New York Giants, Sunday's opponent, are currently ranked No. 1 in run defense. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 31

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Record: 1-3

    Highest Ranking: 28 (Freeman)

    Lowest Ranking: 31 (Schalter, Tomlinson)

    What's Good?: To protect a rookie quarterback, a strong running game is a necessity. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren't one of the league's best running teams, but Doug Martin performed well against the Carolina Panthers' stingy defense. Martin gained 106 yards on 20 carries. It was only the running back's third 100-yard performance in the past three seasons. Larger doses of Martin should open up the passing game in the coming weeks. 

    What's Bad?: Jameis Winston is struggling. This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise since he's a rookie, but even rookies have bad days. Winston experienced an awful day against the Panthers, which started with a pick-six by cornerback Josh Norman on the quarterback's very first pass. Winston threw three more interceptions throughout the afternoon. Prior to his final drive in garbage time, this year's No. 1 overall pick completed 19 of 33 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown. 

    What's Next?: The Jacksonville Jaguars will be a difficult opponent for the Buccaneers to ride their newfound running attack against. The Jaguars are currently ranked fourth against opposing ground games. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 28

30. Houston Texans

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    David Goldman/Associated Press

    Current Record: 1-3

    Highest Ranking: 24 (Schalter)

    Lowest Ranking: 32 (Tomlinson)

    What's Good?: When the team's best player, J.J. Watt, describes the Houston Texans' play against the Atlanta Falcons as "pitiful," according to's Tania Ganguli, there are very few positive things about the performance to discuss. Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins continues to produce at a high level, though, despite major issues at quarterback. The former first-round pick is currently fifth in the NFL with 409 receiving yards. The Falcons jumped on the Texans early, and Houston played from behind throughout the contest. As a result, Hopkins became the team's primary offensive threat with nine receptions for 157 yards.  

    What's Bad?: The team's quarterback carousel continues. Ryan Mallett was pulled Sunday after completing only 44.4 percent of his passes. Brian Hoyer stepped in and played well by completing 17 of 30 passes for 232 yards and a pair of touchdown tosses. However, head coach Bill O'Brien still plans to start Mallett, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. 

    What's Next?: A change likely wasn't made at quarterback this week because the Texans host the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday Night Football. The short week of preparation is not conducive to yet another move at quarterback. Although, it's very likely Hoyer will once again be the team's starter at some point this season. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 25

29. Miami Dolphins

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Current Record: 1-3

    Highest Ranking: 22 (Freeman)

    Lowest Ranking: 32 (Tanier)

    What's Good?: When a team fires its head coach midseason, there are often numerous reasons, and none of them are good. At the very least, the Miami Dolphins staff finally started to integrate wide receiver Kenny Stills, whom the organization traded for in the offseason, into the offense. Stills caught a season-high five passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. Granted, his production came when the team was desperate and down in the second half, but at least Stills is no longer missing in action. 

    What's Bad?: If anyone hasn't heard, the team dismissed head coach Joe Philbin on Monday after its 27-14 loss to the New York Jets in London. Any time a coach is fired at this point in the season, it's problematic. Obviously, something went so wrong the owner decided it was more important to immediately make the move instead of waiting until after the regular season ends. Tight ends coach Dan Campbell received the promotion to interim head coach. This is the point where the team can rally around its new coach or fall completely apart. 

    What's Next?The Dolphins are one of four teams—including the Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets—on a bye during Week 5.  

    Last Week's Ranking: 23

28. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Current Record: 1-3

    Highest Ranking: 23 (Sobleski)

    Lowest Ranking: 31 (Miller)

    What's Good?: Despite a 1-3 start and the team's recent overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts, signs of life are starting to emerge for the Jacksonville Jaguars. First and foremost, Blake Bortles looks like an ascending quarterback who continues to improve. While his overall stats weren't the most impressive Sunday, the Central Florida product made more than a handful of big-time, pinpoint throws. Bortles also received help from rookie running back T.J. Yeldon, who managed his first career 100-yard game. Plus, the defense shut down the Colts' running game. This young team simply needs to learn how to close out games when a victory is within its grasp. 

    What's Bad?: The team's leading tackler, linebacker Paul Posluszny, left the game Sunday after he suffered a high ankle sprain. The team announced the injury Monday. While his status for the team's Week 5 contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has yet to be determined, a high ankle sprain usually requires a few weeks of rest. If Posluszny is out of the lineup for an extended period of time, undrafted rookie Thurston Armbrister is expected to fill the void. 

    What's Next?: Both the Jaguars and Buccaneers are reeling after yet another loss. Both teams can benefit greatly from a victory as they continue to build toward the future. A win for Jacksonville actually keeps the Jaguars in the AFC South hunt since they're only one game behind the Colts. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 30

27. Chicago Bears

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    Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Record: 1-3

    Highest Ranking: 23 (Miller)

    Lowest Ranking: 29 (3 voters)

    What's Good?: For all of the flak quarterback Jay Cutler receives, credit should go his way when it's deserved. In fact, some teammates even think Cutler is criticized far too often, as the Chicago Sun-Times' Patrick Finley noted. Others might say he has a god complex. Whatever the case, Cutler played through a hamstring injury Sunday against the Oakland Raiders and helped lead the Chicago Bears to a 22-20 victory. The quarterback completed 65 percent of his passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns during the contest. After a week with Jimmy Clausen behind center, the Bears are vastly better when Cutler is on the field. 

    What's Bad?: Clearly, the Bears decided changes were needed prior to this past weekend's contest. Linebackers Jared Allen and Jon Bostic were both traded. Now, running back Matt Forte resides firmly on the trade block, according to's Jason La Canfora. The veteran is currently second in the league with 367 rushing yards. If the Bears decide to make a deal, the offense would need to be revamped since Forte is such a large part of the current scheme. 

    What's Next?: A quick look at the schedule would indicate the Bears might get a reprieve this weekend against another 1-3 team. But the Kansas City Chiefs aren't an ordinary 1-3 team with losses to three of the league's best teams in the Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals. Playing in Arrowhead Stadium is always a challenge. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 32

26. Cleveland Browns

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    Denis Poroy/Associated Press

    Current Record: 1-3

    Highest Ranking: 21 (Freeman)

    Lowest Ranking: 32 (Gagnon)

    What's Good?: The Cleveland Browns still haven't figured out their running game, but offensive coordinator John DeFilippo found ways to utilize the team's backs in his scheme. Rookie running back Duke Johnson led the team with nine receptions for 85 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown catch, against the San Diego Chargers. Johnson provides explosion as a runner and a very difficult matchup as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. 

    What's Bad?: Defensively, the Browns have seemingly gotten worse every week. As a team that was supposedly built around a talented defense, Cleveland failed miserably to stop opponents through the first four weeks of play. It currently ranks last in total defense, 31st against the run and 22nd against the pass. 

    What's Next?: A crucial contest looms for the Browns against a division rival, the Baltimore Ravens. After a 1-3 start, the Browns desperately need something positive to go their way, especially after the heart-wrenching loss the team suffered in San Diego on Sunday. The Ravens are very thin at wide receiver with Steve Smith Sr. expected to miss Sunday's game and Michael Campanaro out for the season. This should help a team with issues of its own in the secondary. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 27

25. Detroit Lions

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    Current Record: 0-4

    Highest Ranking: 20 (Schalter)

    Lowest Ranking: 32 (Freeman)

    What's Good?: Not much. Even when the ball appears to bounce the Detroit Lions' way, the officials miss an obvious call. After surrendering 83 points through the first three weeks, though, the Lions defense finally came alive against a struggling Seattle Seahawks offense. Eight different defenders registered sacks against quarterback Russell Wilson. Darryl Tapp's performance stood out when he created consistent pressure off the edge. 

    What's Bad?: The Lions remain the NFL's only winless team. This becomes an even bigger issue when one takes into account how much talent is currently on the roster. Yet, players such as quarterback Matthew Stafford, tight end Eric Ebron, first-round guard Laken Tomlinson, cornerback Darius Slay and this year's top free-agent acquisition, Tyrunn Walker, continue to disappoint. They're not the only ones, but each was expected to make major contributions this season. Instead, the team continues to fall well short of expectations. 

    What's Next?: It may take two weeks or more for the Lions to get off the schneid. The Arizona Cardinals are this weekend's opponent and one of the NFL's best teams. The Cardinals are also coming off a disappointing loss after dominating teams through the first three weeks. Detroit better be ready, because Arizona will certainly have a chip on its shoulder for this contest. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 22

24. Tennessee Titans

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Record: 1-2

    Highest Ranking: 17 (Tanier)

    Lowest Ranking: 28 (Miller, Sobleski)

    What's Good?: While rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota demands attention, defensive tackle Jurrell Casey continues to work in relative anonymity. He shouldn't, though. Casey is one of the NFL's best defenders. As a 3-4 defensive end, Casey isn't in a position to post impressive statistics, but he's a constant presence in the opposition's backfield and leads the team with two tackles for loss. He also has two sacks. Pro Football Focus currently ranks Casey as the NFL's third-best 3-4 defensive end behind the Houston Texans' J.J. Watt and the New York Jets' Muhammad Wilkerson (who have each played one more game). 

    What's Bad?: The Tennessee Titans let one get away in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts. Instead of entering the bye week atop the AFC South, the Titans are 1-2 and now a half-game behind the Colts. As such, the Titans entered their off week on a two-game losing streak with a relatively difficult upcoming schedule. As one of the NFL's youngest squads, it's important to build confidence and learn how to win games instead of letting potential victories slip away. 

    What's Next?: The Buffalo Bills come to town. Rex Ryan's squad is likely frustrated after a sloppy loss to the New York Giants. His defense is one of the NFL's best, and it will prove to be a legitimate test for Mariota.

    Last Week's Ranking: 24

23. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Current Record: 1-3

    Highest Ranking: 14 (Schalter)

    Lowest Ranking: 30 (Tanier)

    What's Good?: Bennie Logan is an absolute load in the middle of the Philadelphia Eagles defense. The Baltimore Ravens' Brandon Williams receives plenty of credit as the game's best pure nose tackle, but Logan isn't too far behind him. While the LSU product (315 pounds) isn't a traditional 330-plus-pound nose tackle, his ability to stuff the run is among the league's best. In fact, Pro Football Focus ranks Logan fourth among the league's defensive tackles in stopping the run. 

    What's Bad?: The Eagles offensive line has enough problems without dealing with its current state of walking wounded. However, left tackle Jason Peters, left guard Allen Barbre and right tackle Lane Johnson all missed practice time this week, according to's Phil Sheridan. This comes on the heels of Andrew Gardner suffering a season-ending foot injury last week. If any of these veterans miss games due to their current ailments, the Eagles will only get worse on offense. Chip Kelly and his staff must find ways to protect Sam Bradford since the quarterback finally showed some signs of life against the Washington Redskins. 

    What's Next?: A 1-3 start already has pundits and Eagles fans wondering whether Kelly is on the hot seat. His vision this season certainly hasn't gone according to plan. This weekend's contest against the New Orleans Saints is an opportunity to get a win before facing the rival New York Giants in Week 6. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 16

22. New Orleans Saints

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    Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Record: 1-3

    Highest Ranking: 19 (3 voters)

    Lowest Ranking: 26 (Davenport)

    What's Good?: The New Orleans Saints may still struggle in certain areas on defense, but there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Cameron Jordan is already a Pro Bowl-caliber player, but the team added three defenders in this year's NFL draft who are playing at a relatively high level through the first four games. Outside linebacker Hau'oli Kikaha leads the team with 26 total tackles and three sacks. Stephone Anthony was all over the field Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. And Bobby Richardson has played well enough so far to allow the team to trade former starting defensive end Akiem Nicks to the New England Patriots. 

    What's Bad?: The offense obviously misses Jimmy Graham, and the Saints aren't getting much out of their tight ends this season. Ben Watson and Josh Hill have combined for 16 receptions, 126 yards and a touchdown. Even in offensive-challenged Seattle, Graham continues to produce more. With the tight ends not producing at a high level, Saints quarterbacks are relying far more on wide receivers Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks, as well as the running backs out of the backfield, as the team's top targets. 

    What's Next?: As the Saints finally broke through with their first win of the season, the team's next opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles, is trending in the opposite direction. Chip Kelly's squad continues to struggle on offense and has yet to find its way. With Drew Brees back in the fold, the Saints should continue to improve in the coming weeks. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 29

21. Washington Redskins

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    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    Current Record: 2-2

    Highest Ranking: 14 (Freeman, Tanier)

    Lowest Ranking: 26 (Schalter)

    What's Good?: The Washington Redskins' outside linebackers dominated Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. Trent Murphy played the best game of his career with a strong presence against the run and a sack. Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith each sacked Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford, too. The trio combined for nine total tackles and three sacks. These edge players are a very big reason why the Redskins are currently a top-five defense. 

    What's Bad?: It's hard to fathom how poorly center Kory Lichtensteiger continues to play this season. The former guard struggles to handle defenders at the point of attack. Through four weeks, Pro Football Focus graded Lichtensteiger as the worst center in the league by a wide margin. 

    What's Next?: After a somewhat surprising 2-2 start, the Redskins face their most difficult task so far this season when they travel to Atlanta this weekend to face the 4-0 Falcons. Washington has been stingy against the run this season, but Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones has been unstoppable, which will be a difficult matchup for the Redskins secondary. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 26

20. Oakland Raiders

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Current Record: 2-2

    Highest Ranking: 14 (Gagnon)

    Lowest Ranking: 25 (Tomlinson)

    What's Good?: Quarterback Derek Carr and wide receiver Amari Cooper receive most of the attention when it comes to the Oakland Raiders' overall improvement on offense. Guard Gabe Jackson deserves a little bit of recognition, too. The second-year blocker is currently ranked as the NFL's second-best guard by Pro Football Focus. Like Carr and Cooper, Jackson continues to be big part of the Raiders' improvement this season. 

    What's Bad?: If the Raiders want to earn legitimate respect around the NFL, the team cannot lose games like it did Sunday against the Chicago Bears. The Bears were 0-3 entering the contest and considered the worst team in the league, per last week's Bleacher Report Power Rankings. Instead, the Raiders let one slip away that was well within their grasp. 

    What's Next?: After a 2-2 start, the Raiders now enter divisional play against the Denver Broncos. The team's young offense took a step back against the Bears, and the degree of difficulty will only increase exponentially against the Broncos' No. 1-ranked defense. Carr has been impressive this season, but the Raiders offensive line needs to keep him upright, which will be a difficult task with Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware screaming off the edge. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 17

19. St. Louis Rams

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Current Record: 2-2

    Highest Ranking: 13 (Davenport)

    Lowest Ranking: 25 (Schalter)

    What's Good?: The St. Louis Rams offense found its identity Sunday during its contest against the Arizona Cardinals, and his name is Todd Gurley. The organization built its entire offseason around Gurley after the team selected the Georgia product 10th overall in this year's NFL draft. Gurley was set up to become the offense's focal point once he recovered from a last year's knee injury. He's now fully recovered, and the explosive back absolutely decimated the Cardinals defense with 144 rushing yards in the second half. Everyone will see plenty of Gurley in the coming weeks. 

    What's Bad?: While the Rams defensive line receives its fair share of attention, linebacker Alec Ogletree has been a key component to the team's overall success. He won't be for the foreseeable future, though. Ogletree suffered a fractured right ankle Sunday that required surgery, according to the team's official website. The organization is still considering whether he'll be placed on injured reserve with a designation to return or regular injured reserve. 

    What's Next?: After facing the 3-0 Cardinals in the desert, the Rams now get to travel to Green Bay to play the 4-0 Packers. The Packers should expect a heavy dose of Gurley to keep quarterback Aaron Rodgers off the field. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 21

18. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Frank Victores/Associated Press

    Current Record: 1-3

    Highest Ranking: 9 (Schalter)

    Lowest Ranking: 25 (Gagnon)

    What's Good?: Why use a picture of a kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs in this week's power rankings? Because Cairo Santos was the team's primary offensive threat Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. Santos converted all seven field-goal attempts he tried. In today's NFL, where kickers are missing field goals and even extra points at an alarming rate, the good ones need to be recognized more often, and the Chiefs have one of the best in the business. 

    What's Bad?: When a defense features Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Dontari Poe, Derrick Johnson and a healthy Eric Berry, it shouldn't be playing as poorly as the Chiefs currently are. Kansas City has allowed at least 31 points in each of its last three games. The unit is currently ranked 29th overall in total defense. It's particularly poor against the pass, surrendering 295.5 yards per game through the air. The Chiefs definitely need this side of the ball fixed quickly, because it doesn't resemble the unit that finished among the league's top 10 defenses a year ago. 

    What's Next?: Kansas City faced a brutal first quarter of the season. The combined record of its previous four opponents is 14-3. A favorable matchup finally presents itself when the 1-3 Chicago Bears come to town. The Bears, however, built some confidence Sunday with a victory over the Oakland Raiders. The Chiefs can't take this game lightly. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 13

17. Dallas Cowboys

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Record: 2-2

    Highest Ranking: 12 (3 voters)

    Lowest Ranking: 29 (Freeman)

    What's Good?: With all things considered, backup quarterback Brandon Weeden is playing well for the Dallas Cowboys. At the very least, the Oklahoma State product can't be blamed for the team's recent loss to the New Orleans Saints. Weeden finished 16-of-26 passing for 246 yards, a touchdown and no turnovers. Not much more can be asked of him. Unfortunately, the team's defense let it down during the 26-20 overtime loss. 

    What's Bad?: Injuries are just a part of life in the NFL. The Cowboys seem to be a little worse off than any other team when it comes to injuries this season, though. As the team already deals with injuries to star wide receiver Dez Bryant and quarterback Tony Romo, the Cowboys might have lost two more key pieces—one for the short term and the other for the rest of the season. Linebacker Sean Lee has been absolutely outstanding this season, but he suffered a concussion against the Saints. Meanwhile, the team placed running back Lance Dunbar on injured reserve with a torn ACL, per's Todd Archer

    What's Next?: The New England Patriots are on a roll. Usually, a team needs its entire roster in place to compete with Bill Belichick's squad. Though defensive end Greg Hardy and linebacker Rolando McClain return this week after serving four-game suspensions, the Cowboys might still be too short-handed to compete with the rested Patriots.

    Last Week's Ranking: 11

16. Baltimore Ravens

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    Don Wright/Associated Press

    Current Record: 1-3

    Highest Ranking: 10 (Schalter)

    Lowest Ranking: 21 (Sobleski, Tomlinson)

    What's Good?: A win is a win, and the Baltimore Ravens escaped with one against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In doing so, Kamar Aiken continued his emergence as a legit weapon in the offense. Aiken caught five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. It's the second time this season the UCF product caught at least five passes for 77 or more yards. His presence will surely be needed in the coming weeks. 

    What's Bad?: The rest of the Ravens' wide receiver corps is absolutely decimated. Steve Smith Sr. suffered a back injury that will make his status week-to-week. Breshad Perriman continues to deal with a PCL strain and still isn't ready to play. And Michael Campanaro also injured his back and is out for the season. The offense will rely heavily on Aiken and Marlon Brown in the coming weeks. 

    What's Next?: Time to renew the team's rivalry with the Cleveland Browns. With running back Justin Forsett finally breaking through with 150 rushing yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Browns and their 32nd-ranked run defense should be a welcome sight. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 20

15. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Current Record: 2-2

    Highest Ranking: 11 (3 voters)

    Lowest Ranking: 23 (Schalter)

    What's Good?: Despite a couple poor decisions by head coach Mike Tomlin and his staff, the Pittsburgh Steelers were in position to win their recent contest against Baltimore Ravens. This is important on two levels. First, running back Le'Veon Bell continues to play at a very high level and can carry the offense. Second, quarterback Michael Vick didn't look completely lost and is expected to get better as he settles into the starting role until Ben Roethlisberger returns from injury. Of course, there were plenty of mistakes to go around, but the Steelers are still good enough to win games despite a major injury to the game's most important position. 

    What's Bad?: Ravens running back Justin Forsett gashed the Steelers defense. This came as somewhat of a surprise since Forsett hadn't run for more than 68 yards in any of Baltimore's first three games. Instead, the back ripped off 150 yards on 27 carries against the Steelers. As the Steelers attempt to find an identity on defense, they're caught in a situation where the defensive front and edge-rushers aren't consistently good enough to win one-on-one battles, and then they're forced to blitz, which offenses can counter for big plays. 

    What's Next?: A trip to San Diego won't be about the fun and sun found when playing the Chargers. Instead, the Steelers will face one of the league's top offenses. Quarterback Philip Rivers continues to play at a very high level, and Pittsburgh must exploit the fact that the Chargers offensive line remains banged up with multiple injuries to its starters. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 12

14. San Diego Chargers

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    Denis Poroy/Associated Press

    Current Record: 2-2

    Highest Ranking: 9 (Freeman)

    Lowest Ranking: 19 (Sobleski)

    What's Good?: San Diego Chargers running back Danny Woodhead doesn't receive enough credit for how good of a player he truly is. If not for Woodhead, the Chargers likely would have lost to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. The running back made multiple crucial plays throughout the contest and finished the game with 138 total yards. Woodhead is an elusive runner out of the backfield, and he's also one of the team's most reliable targets in the passing game. The 5'8" running back is currently second on the Chargers in rushing yards and third is receiving yardage. 

    What's Bad?: The Browns exploited the Chargers' lack of athleticism at linebacker. Manti Te'o and Donald Butler struggled in coverage. As a result, rookie running back Duke Johnson burned the Chargers defense with nine catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. Fellow back Isaiah Crowell also caught three passes for 62 yards. These are the types of mismatches the Chargers will have to manage each week.  

    What's Next?: The Pittsburgh Steelers' Le'Veon Bell certainly isn't the running back the Chargers want to face at the moment. Bell is a premier back and arguably the league's best receiver out of the backfield. With Michael Vick at quarterback, the Steelers will surely lean heavily on Bell on Monday night. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 19

13. Indianapolis Colts

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    R Brent Smith/Associated Press

    Current Record: 2-2

    Highest Ranking: 10 (Miller)

    Lowest Ranking: 25 (Tanier)

    What's Good?: Any time a team can muster a win after its backup quarterback is forced into the lineup, positives abound. While the Indianapolis Colts didn't manage a lot of points with Matt Hasselbeck behind center, the 40-year-old signal-caller moved the offense even though he didn't receive much help from his targets at times. The win should give the 2-2 Colts confidence as they sit atop the AFC South standings. 

    What's Bad?: Hasselbeck was forced to orchestrate the offense primarily through the air because the Colts couldn't establish much of a running game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The team only averaged 2.5 yards per carry Sunday. The Jaguars were, in part, selling out to stop the run and dared Hasselbeck to beat them over the top, which he proved capable of doing. Regardless as to whether Andrew Luck misses this week's contest, the Colts must find a way to balance the offense. 

    What's Next?Luck's status for Thursday's game against the rival Houston Texans remains uncertain, but Hasselbeck doesn't expect to play, per the Indianapolis Star's Zak Keefer.  

    Last Week's Ranking: 14

12. Buffalo Bills

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    Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Record: 2-2

    Highest Ranking: 9 (Tomlinson)

    Lowest Ranking: 21 (Schalter)

    What's Good?: The Buffalo Bills cornerbacks are certainly living up to their billing. This past weekend, in the Bills' contest against the New York Giants, proved to be the perfect example. Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby held Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle to a combined total of eight catches for 69 yards. However, the Bills were gashed by slot receiver Dwayne Harris and running back Rashad Jennings out of the backfield for 105 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Right now, Buffalo's starting outside cornerbacks are playing as well as any duo in the league. 

    What's Bad?: Running back depth is quickly becoming a major issue in Buffalo. LeSean McCoy continues to deal with an injured hamstring. Rookie Karlos Williams is currently in the team's concussion protocol. And the organization signed Daniel "Boom" Herron on Tuesday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter (h/t Eleven Warriors). Boobie Dixon and Cierre Wood might be the Bills' top options for Sunday's contest against the Tennessee Titans. 

    What's Next?: Fortunately for Buffalo, the Titans are 19th overall against the run. Tennessee is far better defending the pass so far this season, and the Bills shouldn't give up on the run simply because McCoy and Williams might not be in the lineup. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 7

11. New York Giants

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    Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Record: 2-2

    Highest Ranking: 8 (Freeman)

    Lowest Ranking: 17 (3 voters)

    What's Good?: After an inauspicious start to the season, the New York Giants have played very well over the past two weeks. The team handled its business against the rival Washington Redskins and the talented Buffalo Bills. Three offensive performances stood out for the Giants this past weekend, as the team's offense appears to be more than just Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. Rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers more than held his own against the Bills' overwhelming defensive line. Wide receiver Dwayne Harris proved to be a legit target with five receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown. And running back Rashad Jennings showed his value in the passing game with 51-yard touchdown reception. 

    What's Bad?: While the offense continues to improve, the team lost a key contributor this week when it decided to place veteran tight end Daniel Fells on injured reserve due to a staph infection, according to's Dan Graziano. Fells played in two of the first three games and even started the season opener. He provided quality depth to the tight end position. The team will now rely more heavily on Will Tye and Jerome Cunningham (when healthy). 

    What's Next?: The Giants claim the NFL's No. 1 run defense. On Sunday, the team will face the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers offense employs a run-first approach and struggles to throw the ball. If the Giants successfully stop the run, they could be the fourth straight team to beat the 49ers by two touchdowns or more. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 18

10. Minnesota Vikings

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    Tom Dahlin/Getty Images

    Current Record: 2-2

    Highest Ranking: 8 (Schalter)

    Lowest Ranking: 18 (Freeman)

    What's Good?: Anthony Barr is developing into a sensational linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings and head coach Mike Zimmer. The second-year linebacker contributes to every area of the defense. He currently leads the team with 26 total tackles. He also has a sack, a forced fumble, two pass deflections, and he intercepted Peyton Manning during Sunday's meeting with the Denver Broncos. The UCLA product is currently the NFL's second-best 4-3 outside linebacker, according to Pro Football Focus

    What's Bad?: When Phil Loadholt suffered a torn Achilles tendon during training camp, it forced rookie T.J. Clemmings into the starting lineup. The Pitt product had all of the necessary physical tools to become a first-round pick in April's NFL draft, but he slid to the fourth round due to inexperience and raw technique. Both of those issues have been apparent throughout the season. And when a young player with issues such as Clemmings faces the Denver Broncos' ferocious pass rush, Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is in trouble. The rookie gave up two quarterback sacks and multiple hurries.  

    What's Next?The Vikings are one of four teams—including the Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets—on a bye during Week 5.  

    Last Week's Ranking: 10

9. New York Jets

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Record: 3-1

    Highest Ranking: 8 (3 voters)

    Lowest Ranking: 13 (Freeman, Gagnon)

    What's Good?: With Marshawn Lynch dealing with a hamstring injury, Chris Ivory is the NFL's most violent runner. The New York Jets running back is a legit workhorse back. His 166-yard performance against the Miami Dolphins in London propelled him among the league's best. The Tiffin product is currently third in the NFL with 314 rushing yards, and he's averaging 5.0 yards per carry, which is also third best among any running back with 50 or more carries. With a major question mark at quarterback, Ivory provides the Jets with an offensive identity.  

    What's Bad?: Despite a decisive victory Sunday against the Dolphins, the Jets suffered multiple key injuries, particularly to their defense. Both linebacker David Harris and defensive end Leonard Williams might not be ready for the team's meeting with the Washington Redskins after this week's bye. 

    "I hope so but it is too early to tell," head coach Todd Bowles said, per's Ohm Youngmisuk, about the Week 6 availability of Harris, Williams, Calvin Pryor and Bilal Powell. "As long as they get treatment and everything heals, hopefully that is the process. But I won't be able to tell until next week right now."

    What's Next?The Jets are one of four teams—including the Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings—on a bye during Week 5.  

    Last Week's Ranking: 15

8. Seattle Seahawks

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    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Record: 2-2

    Highest Ranking: 6 (Tomlinson)

    Lowest Ranking: 11 (Schalter)

    What's Good?: The Seattle Seahawks' Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril deserve more attention as one of the league's best pass-rushing duos. While the Seahawks offense continues to sputter, the team can always rely on its defense. Seattle only surrendered 256 total yards to the Detroit Lions on Monday night, and the aforementioned defensive ends were the catalysts to the strong performance. Bennett registered one tackle for loss and three quarterback hits, while Avril deflected a pair of passes. Pro Football Focus currently ranks Bennett and Avril first and second overall, respectively, among the league's 4-3 defensive ends. 

    What's Bad?: "Just about everyone is going to have the reigning NFC champion Seattle Seahawks in the top 10, now that they're 2-2 and just one game out of first place in the NFC West. And just about everyone is going to have the Detroit Lions at or near the bottom, since after four weeks they're the NFL’s only winless team. But if you watched Monday Night Football, you know there's very little separating these two teams right now—so either the Lions aren't that bad, or the Seahawks aren’t really that good." – Ty Schalter

    What's Next?: Seattle's defense continues to play at a very high level, but the offense's performance is beyond troublesome. The league's No. 2 defensive unit will have its hands full Sunday when the Seahawks travel to Cincinnati to face the 4-0 Bengals. Seattle continues to remain high in these rankings due to potential and past success, but this contest will be a telltale sign of how good this year's team really is. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 8

7. Carolina Panthers

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Current Record: 4-0

    Highest Ranking: 6 (5 voters)

    Lowest Ranking: 10 (Tomlinson)

    What's Good?: Six days after the Carolina Panthers traded for the NFL's active sack leader, Jared Allen, defensive end Ryan Delaire made his presence known in the team's defensive line rotation. The Towson product produced two sacks and two quarterback hurries Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While Josh Norman continues to dominate at cornerback, Delaire's emergence alongside Allen and (eventually) Charles Johnson will create an even more formidable defense. 

    What's Bad?: The beat goes on and the Panthers still need more production from the wide receiver position. This past weekend, Brenton Bersin led the team with four receptions for 54 yards. The rest of the team's wide receivers combined to make three catches for 21 yards. Without much help from the team's outside receivers, Cam Newton is currently completing only 55.4 percent of his passes. He's completed under 50 percent of his passes in two of his four games. 

    What's Next?: The Panthers are one of four teams—including the Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets—on a bye during Week 5.  

    Last Week's Ranking: 9

6. Arizona Cardinals

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    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Record: 3-1

    Highest Ranking: 4 (Schalter)

    Lowest Ranking: 7 (6 voters)

    What's Good?: Mike Iupati's debut didn't go exactly as planned, as the Arizona Cardinals lost 24-22 to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. The Pro Bowl guard played well in his first bit of game action in red and white, though. And he did so against a talented Rams defensive front. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald was more than a handful. Iupati, however, provided a steady and physical presence at guard, which is something Ted Larsen didn't do through the first three weeks. 

    What's Bad?: After an electric start to the season, the Cardinals faltered against the rival Rams. More importantly, Arizona's talented defense couldn't slow rookie running back Todd Gurley in the second half. The defense held Gurley in check through two quarters of play with only two yards on four carries. But the 10th overall selection in this year's NFL draft exploded for 144 yards on 15 carries in the third and fourth frames. The fact that Gurley ran for nearly 10 yards per carry when the game was on the line is simply unacceptable for a defense as talented as the Cardinals'.  

    What's Next?: The Cardinals stomped their first three opponents and finally met some resistance this past weekend. While the 0-4 Detroit Lions are next on the schedule, Bruce Arians' squad would be wise not to overlook the NFC North opponent after it gave the Seattle Seahawks everything they could handle on Monday night. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 3

5. Denver Broncos

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Current Record: 4-0

    Highest Ranking: 4 (4 voters)

    Lowest Ranking: 6 (Schalter)

    What's Good?: The Denver Broncos defense is downright fearsome. Its intimidating front features two of the games best pass-rushers in Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. But safety T.J. Ward continues to make a massive impact. Against the Minnesota Vikings, Ward registered six tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss and a pass deflection. The safety ended the game with his second sack when he stripped Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater of the football. And this defense is only going to get better when defensive end Derek Wolfe returns to the lineup after being suspended for the first four games. 

    What's Bad?: As if the Broncos offensive line wasn't bad enough, the organization is now trying to hold its current starting group together with duct tape and bubble gum. Rookie left tackle Ty Sambrailo is dealing with a shoulder injury and didn't play against the Vikings. Veteran Ryan Harris moved to the blind side and surrendered two quarterback hurries, according to Pro Football Focus. Michael Schofield made his first career start at right tackle and gave up a sack. The team also signed Tyler Polumbus last week as an emergency starting option. The offense isn't going to drastically improve until this group finds some continuity. 

    What's Next?: While it's still early in the season, the Broncos face an important divisional game Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. At 4-0, the Broncos own a two-game lead in the AFC West. The Raiders are currently 2-2 overall, and this weekend's contest will be an opportunity for Denver to widen that lead. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 5

4. Atlanta Falcons

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    Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

    Current Record: 4-0

    Highest Ranking: 3 (Schalter)

    Lowest Ranking: 5 (4 voters)

    What's Good?: The Atlanta Falcons' Devonta Freeman continues to develop into a legitimate top-shelf running back. The second-year runner's emergence came after he dealt with a running back rotation earlier in the year alongside rookie Tevin Coleman. With Coleman injured, Freeman took advantage of the situation and became the team's new workhorse back. His impact goes beyond simply running the football. Against the Houston Texans, Freeman accounted for 149 total yards. The running back caught five passes for 81 yards, but that doesn't take away from the fact he also ran for three scores. 

    What's Bad?: With Freeman and Julio Jones now clicking on all cylinders, as well as Leonard Hankerson's emergence, the Falcons offense grows more dangerous each week. But Kyle Shanahan's offensive scheme relies heavily on the tight end position and often lines up in two-tight personnel. Veteran Jacob Tamme didn't play against the Texans due to a concussion. Levine Toilolo isn't much of a threat in the passing game, and he's not a strong run-blocker. Mickey Shuler Jr. played Sunday, but he didn't contribute much. In total, the threesome has recorded 10 receptions for 114 yards through four games. 

    What's Next?: Freeman's life will become far more difficult this week when the Falcons host the Washington Redskins. Washington owns a big and physical defensive front that currently ranks second overall in run defense. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 6

3. Cincinnati Bengals

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    Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Record: 4-0

    Highest Ranking: 3 (7 voters)

    Lowest Ranking: 5 (Schalter)

    What's Good?: With all of the discussion centering on the Houston Texans' J.J. Watt and the St. Louis Rams' Aaron Donald, the Cincinnati Bengals' Geno Atkins often gets overlooked when it comes to the argument over the NFL's best defensive lineman. Now a full season removed from major reconstructive knee surgery, Atkins once again looks like one of the NFL's most dominant defenders. Against the Kansas City Chiefs, the defensive tackle registered a sack, two more quarterback hurries and a quarterback hit, according to Pro Football Focus

    What's Bad?: The Bengals' biggest issue has been defending their opponent's No. 1 wide receiver. The Baltimore Ravens' Steve Smith Sr. caught 13 passes for 186 yards two weeks ago. This past Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs' Jeremy Maclin registered 11 catches for 148 yards. It's not a coincidence that cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick didn't play well in either game. 

    What's Next?: Just how good are the Bengals? The combined record of the team's first four opponents is 6-10. A lot will be learned when Cincinnati hosts the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 4

2. Green Bay Packers

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    Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

    Current Record: 4-0

    Highest Ranking: 1 (3 voters)

    Lowest Ranking: 2 (5 voters)

    What's Good?: Each week, tight end Richard Rodgers becomes a bigger part of the the Green Bay Packers offense. The former Cal wide receiver was targeted eight timeswhich tied for second during Sunday's contest with James Jones and Ty Montgomeryand caught five passes for 45 yards and a touchdown. As Davante Adams continues to deal with a sprained ankle, Rodgers should remain a big part of the Packers' plans. 

    What's Bad?: Bryan Bulaga can't return to Green Bay's lineup soon enough. Don Barclay has been a disaster at right tackle, and the situation is only getting worse. Barclay surrendered three sacks against the 49ers, according to Pro Football Focus.'s Rob Demovsky reported Bulaga might return sooner than expected from knee surgery. 

    What's Next?: On Sunday, one of the NFL's most dominant teams, the Arizona Cardinals, met the St. Louis Rams and left the contest with their first loss. The Packers will be physically challenged by the Rams' talented defense and their emerging star at running back, Todd Gurley. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 1 (tie)

1. New England Patriots

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Current Record: 3-0

    Highest Ranking: 1 (5 voters)

    Lowest Ranking: 2 (3 voters)

    What's Good?: As the New England Patriots enjoyed their bye week, Bill Belichick and his staff were certainly coming up with new and inventive ways to keep their opponents off balance. For example, the Patriots are rotating offensive linemen this season, which clearly veers from the NFL norm. The coaching staff does so to create confusion in the defense and build certain advantages based on the personnel. 

    "It's not done just randomly," offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo said, per the Boston Herald's Jeff Howe. "There's a specific reason why we rotate guys when we do, where we rotate them. There’s a rhyme and reason to everything."

    Surely, the Patriots will have something new up their sleeve for later in the season. 

    What's Bad?: One area where the Patriots need to perform better after this week's layoff is against the run. New England currently ranks 22nd in stopping the opposition's ground game. Outside linebacker/defensive end Rob Ninkovich and 2015 first-round pick Malcom Brown have both struggled this season and need to play at a much higher level over the next 13 weeks. 

    What's Next?: Belichick and his staff had two weeks to prepare for the decimated Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys offense, in particular, continues to suffer injuries, with running back Lance Dunbar the latest victim. He's out for the season with a torn ACL and MCL, per NFL Media's Ian Rapoport (via's Dan Hanzus). The extra week to prepare only seems to make this a bigger mismatch in favor of New England. 

    Last Week's Ranking: 1 (tie)


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