NFL Power Rankings: B/R's Expert Consensus Rank for Every Team Entering Week 5

NFL StaffContributor IOctober 1, 2018

NFL Power Rankings: B/R's Expert Consensus Rank for Every Team Entering Week 5

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    We've hit the quarter mark in the 2018 NFL season.

    After the Chiefs and Broncos wrap up Week 4, 30 of the league's 32 teams will have played one-quarter of the season. For some, all is going according to plan—the Los Angeles Rams were supposed to be good and haven't disappointed. The New York Jets weren't, and they have.

    However, some teams must not have read the script. The defending Super Bowl champions are 2-2 four games in—and lucky to even be that. The Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers are under .500 and trying to figure out how to turn things around.

    As the dust settles on another wild week of NFL action, Bleacher Report NFL analysts Brad Gagnon, Brent Sobleski and Gary Davenport have gathered to repeat a task they've undertaken every week since the preseason: ranking the league's teams from No. 32 to No. 1.

    The squads on either end remain unchanged from last week, but between them? Madness. Chaos.

    You know…football.

         

32. Arizona Cardinals (0-4)

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    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    High: 32

    Low: 32

    Last Week: 32

    Week 4 Result: Lost vs. Seattle 20-17

    If you're the glass-half-full type, then the biggest takeaway from Sunday's loss to the Seattle Seahawks is the first start for Josh Rosen. The 10th pick in the 2018 draft played pretty well, throwing for 180 yards and a score with a passer rating of almost 90. Rosen had the Redbirds in the game until the very end.

    However, at that end of the game, the result was the same as every other game for the Cardinals this season. Arizona now has the dubious honor of being the NFL's last winless team.

    The Arizona defense was solid against the Seahawks, holding Russell Wilson and Co. to just 331 total yards. But even with Rosen playing better than Sam Bradford did under center, the NFL's worst offense had just 263 total yards.

    In the 21st-century NFL, the number of games you're going to win with under 300 yards of offense matches the number Arizona presently has.

    The Cardinals are firmly entrenched as the worst team in the NFL.

31. Buffalo Bills (1-3)

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    High: 30

    Low: 31

    Last Week: 29

    Week 4 Result: Lost at Green Bay 22-0

    After watching the Bills get flattened at Green Bay, it's nearly impossible to believe Buffalo smoked the Minnesota Vikings the week before.

    It happened, right? There's video and everything, but it seems preposterous.

    The Bills were awful in just about every way an NFL team can be awful against the Pack. Rookie quarterback Josh Allen completed less than half of his passes—unless you count the two he threw to Packers. The Bills were outgained—we kid you not—423-145.

    One hundred and forty-five yards. Total. For the game.

    Either the win in Minnesota was the flukiest of flukes, or the Vikings are a much worse team than most people thought. Because the Bills we've seen in their other three games have been abysmal. Terrible. Yuck factor 38.

    Actually, after Sunday, make that yuck factor 48.

30. Indianapolis Colts (1-3)

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    High: 26

    Low: 30

    Last Week: 22

    Week 4 Result: Lost vs. Houston 37-34 (OT)

    Given all the hand-wringing regarding Andrew Luck over the last week, it's understandable that Colts fans would breathe a sigh of relief after Luck lit up the Texans for over 450 passing yards and four touchdowns.

    Of course, it's also the only thing they have to cling to after the Colts fell to 1-3 and dropped into the AFC South cellar.

    Indy's seven sacks Sunday say more about how bad Houston's line is than how good the Colts are at rushing the passer. The Colts had issues of their own in that regard, allowing four sacks and nine QB hits.

    It doesn't help that the Colts' nonexistent run game managed just 41 yards and less than 2.5 yards per carry.

    Davenport wasn't shy about his criticism of the Colts after the effort:

    "Fans may want to commit that Luck performance to memory, because if he keeps taking this many shots, he isn't going to survive until Thanksgiving. You cannot win in the NFL if you can't win at the point of attack, and right now the Colts can't with any consistency. Yes, the Colts are playing teams close. But that's little consolation when you keep winding up on the short end of the scoreboard."

    Never mind the, um, dubious wisdom of Frank Reich's decision to go for it on 4th-and-4 from his own 46-yard line with 24 seconds left in OT.

    Yeah. That was...something.

29. Houston Texans (1-3)

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    Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

    High: 27

    Low: 29

    Last Week: 30

    Week 4 Result: Won at Indianapolis 37-34 (OT)

    To be clear, it's most assuredly a good thing that the Houston Texans earned their first win of 2018 in overtime Sunday in Indy. And there were positive takeaways from the win. Deshaun Watson had his best game of the year with 375 passing yards. J.J. Watt's hot streak continued with two more sacks—giving him five over the last two games.

    But Houston's troubles are far from over. While the run defense was stout, the pass defense was whatever the opposite of stout is. Andrew Luck looked like the Pro Bowler of years past and not the quarterback who has struggled this season, shredding the Texans for 464 yards and four touchdowns without an interception.

    With the win, Houston climbed out of the cellar in the division. But given how the team has played over the season's first month, it's hard to imagine these Texans can challenge the Jaguars (or even the Titans) in the AFC South.

28. New York Jets (1-3)

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    High: 23

    Low: 31

    Last Week: 28

    Week 4 Result: Lost at Jacksonville 31-12

    Remember when the New York Jets looked so impressive in dropping 48 points on the Detroit Lions in Week 1?

    Neither do we. Actually, Gagnon does...sort of.

    "I'll admit I made the mistake of buying into the Jets after that unreal Week 1 victory in Detroit, but they've been pushed around ever since," he said. "The defense will eventually be good, and maybe Sam Darnold will too, but this team isn't ready to compete yet. I can't keep Gang Green ahead of a Raiders team that has consistently hung in there or a Bills team that crushed the Vikings a week ago."

    Since that Week 1 win, not a lot has gone right for the Jets—and those struggles continued in Sunday's loss to the Jaguars. The Jags dominated the Jets on both sides of the ball. Offensively, New York managed just 178 yards of total offense. Defensively, the Jets were gashed to the tune of 503 total yards.

    You won't win many games when you get outgained almost 3-to-1.

    Sam Darnold continues to struggle with accuracy. He's also not getting much help—New York gained only 34 yards on the ground against the Jaguars.

    This isn't to say Darnold doesn't have a bright future. It just may take a while for him to realize it.

    Because right now, this team isn't very good.

27. Oakland Raiders (1-3)

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    High: 26

    Low: 28

    Last Week: 31

    Week 4 Result: Won vs. Cleveland 45-42 (OT)

    Well, he finally got it: Jon Gruden has the first win of his second stint with the Oakland Raiders.

    There were positives in Sunday's overtime thriller against the Cleveland Browns. Quarterback Derek Carr, tailback Marshawn Lynch and wide receiver Amari Cooper all had big games. And after being outscored 37-3 in the fourth quarter of three losses to open the season, the Raiders rallied late to first tie the game in regulation and then win it in overtime.

    But it's hard to get too excited about the Raiders needing OT to beat a mistake-prone Cleveland team that has two wins over their last 36 games. The Raiders tried to lose this game and fall to 0-4. The Browns just tried harder.

    Oakland has a chance to turn the season around. The team's next six games all feature opponents that missed the postseason in 2017. But the Raiders are going to have to play light-years better before they can be taken seriously in the AFC West.

26. San Francisco 49ers (1-3)

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

    High: 24

    Low: 28

    Last Week: 25

    Week 4 Result: Lost at Los Angeles Chargers 29-27

    There's no such thing as a moral victory. A loss is a loss. And the 49ers' two-point defeat in L.A. caps a rotten stretch that started when starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo went down in Week 3 with a torn ACL.

    However, that the 49ers were able to give the Chargers all they could handle says something about the players in San Fran, and none were more surprising than CJ Beathard.

    After struggling mightily as San Francisco's starter for part of last season, Beathard was pretty good against the Chargers—298 passing yards and two scores.

    Beathard also committed two costly turnovers, but at least the 49ers were competitive. In a 2018 season that has quickly devolved into a lost year, that's about all the team can hope for.

    Besides, a win would just mess up San Francisco's draft position.

25. New York Giants (1-3)

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    High: 23

    Low: 26

    Last Week: 24

    Week 4 Result: Lost vs. New Orleans 33-18

    Had you said before Sunday's game with the New Orleans Saints that Giants quarterback Eli Manning would have more passing yards and more touchdown passes than Drew Brees, odds are many people would have declared that the path to a New York win.

    Of course, when you throw in the 134 rushing yards and three touchdowns from Saints tailback Alvin Kamara, it changes the dynamic.

    The Giants drew first blood in this game, led for much of the first half and held the Saints out of the end zone over the first 30 minutes. But after intermission, the Giants had no answer for Kamara, and the offense sputtered. By the time New York found pay dirt again, the G-Men were down 16.

    The Giants can't seem to put a full 60-minute effort together. If the offense is playing well, the defense falls apart. When the defense holds, the offense sputters.

    The notion of a quick return to contention under Pat Shurmur has gone from possible to unlikely to you have to be kidding.

    The notion of another top-five draft slot, however, is another story.

24. Detroit Lions (1-3)

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    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    High: 24

    Low: 25

    Last Week: 26

    Week 4 Result: Lost at Dallas 26-24

    With their surprisingly impressive win over the New England Patriots last week, the Detroit Lions offered some hope to their fans that they weren't as bad as their consecutive losses to open the season made them look.

    For a time, it appeared the Lions were going to follow that up with a win in Dallas. But against one of the league's most anemic offenses, the Detroit defense couldn't prevent Dak Prescott from driving Dallas into position for a game-winning kick.

    It was an alarming performance from a Lions defense that came into Week 4 seventh in yards allowed, only to give up over 400 yards of total offense to a Dallas team that was averaging well under 300, with no answer for tailback Ezekiel Elliott.

    Guess the Lions couldn't abide the Vikings' taking control of last place in the NFC North.

23. Cleveland Browns (1-2-1)

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    High: 15

    Low: 29

    Last Week: 19

    Week 4 Result: Lost at Oakland 45-42 (OT)

    Part of the maturation of an NFL team is learning how to pull out close games.

    The Cleveland Browns just can't get that lesson down.

    For the second time this season, the Browns took a team to overtime. And for the second time this season, the Browns were unable to secure a win.

    Some might point to a tie with Pittsburgh in Week 1 as a moral victory. Blowing a 14-point lead in the second half and an eight-point lead with two minutes left against a winless Oakland Raiders team is—something else.

    Baker Mayfield's first NFL start didn't go as well as his debut in relief against the Jets. He threw for 295 yards and two scores, but he also was intercepted twice and lost a pair of fumbles.

    There were too many turnovers. Too many defensive lapses. Too many of the same mistakes that have dogged the Browns for years.

    Sobleski said the following:

    "Cleveland keeps finding ways to lose. Everyone can argue about whether the officials took a victory from the Browns, but the team held a 14-point lead over the Oakland Raiders with 5:50 remaining in the third quarter and couldn't put the game away. Sure, they should be 4-0, but they're not. There's no one to blame but themselves."

22. Dallas Cowboys (2-2)

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    Roger Steinman/Associated Press

    High: 22

    Low: 22

    Last Week: 27

    Week 4 Result: Won vs. Detroit 26-24

    The Dallas Cowboys aren't dead yet.

    In beginning the season 1-2, the Cowboys looked mostly awful on offense. It was especially true through the air—Dallas headed into Week 4 averaging a miserable 145 passing yards a game.

    That's not an especially good half for Drew Brees.

    Sunday against the Lions, that passing game finally got going a little. Dak Prescott had easily his best game of the season, throwing for 255 yards and two scores. Tailback Ezekiel Elliott also had a huge day, posting an eye-popping 240 total yards with a touchdown.

    The game was a blueprint for success for this Cowboys team: Bang away on the ground and use that to set up play action. It was also a desperately needed win for a Cowboys team that was in danger of having the season get away from them early.

    But even then, the Cowboys needed a last-second field goal to beat a one-win Lions team at home. Dallas' problems didn't disappear—the Cowboys were just able to overcome them this week.

21. Miami Dolphins (3-1)

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    High: 16

    Low: 25

    Last Week: 20

    Week 4 Result: Lost at New England 38-7

    Despite their 3-0 record, the Miami Dolphins didn't get a ton of respect from the analysts here at Bleacher Report last week—the team barely made it inside the top 20 in these rankings.

    As it turns out, the fellas were on to something.

    Presented with the opportunity to open an unthinkable three-game lead over the Patriots in the AFC East, the Dolphins laid a big fat egg at Gillette Stadium. The Dolphins got blasted. Waxed. Embarrassed in every way imaginable.

    Name a category, and the Dolphins were dominated in it. The team was outgained 449-172 and lost the time-of-possession battle by almost 13 minutes. Miami's pass rush couldn't get close to Tom Brady, and the 'Fins spotted New England a 24-0 lead at intermission.

    Ryan Tannehill was 11-of-20 for just 100 yards. His 10 drives under center resulted in seven punts, two turnovers and the end of the half. None of those drives were longer than five plays.

    About the only thing the Dolphins had more of than the Patriots was penalties—10 for 89 yards.

    As Gagnon said, it was a sobering reality check.

    "That dud performance in New England was a stark reminder that the Dolphins are still a bridesmaid at best in the AFC East," he said. "Their reputation was inflated by three one-score victories over beatable teams, with two of those wins coming at home. We were reminded on Sunday that this is a team that was so-so even before losing/waving goodbye to its best offensive player in Jarvis Landry and its best defensive player in Ndamukong Suh."

20. Seattle Seahawks (2-2)

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    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    High: 19

    Low: 21

    Last Week: 23

    Week 4 Result: Won at Arizona 20-17

    After downing the Arizona Cardinals with a game-winning field goal as time expired, the Seattle Seahawks have clawed their way back to .500 after a miserable start to the season. Seattle had a 100-yard rusher for the second straight week, with Mike Davis filling in admirably for the injured Chris Carson.

    The Seahawks also got veteran wideout Doug Baldwin back, and while he only had five catches for 41 yards, Russell Wilson was no doubt giddy to have his No. 1 receiver out there.

    Momentum is shifting. The Seahawks have turned the corner and are about to put it all together!

    Or not.

    The Seahawks trailed for a good portion of this game. Against the winless Cardinals—a team with an offense posting numbers straight out of the '70s.

    Seattle didn't light it up, either. Russell Wilson threw for just 172 yards without a touchdown, and after two more sacks Sunday, he's going down an average of four times per game.

    The Seahawks got the win they needed, but if they play like this at home next week against the Rams, things are going to get ugly—quickly.

19. Washington Redskins (2-1)

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    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    High: 17

    Low: 20

    Last Week: 17

    Week 4 Result: Bye

    The Washington Redskins aren't an easy team to get a read on.

    In Week 1, the Redskins looked fantastic in throttling the Arizona Cardinals. But the Cardinals are awful.

    The following week, in their home opener, the Redskins looked listless in a loss to an Indianapolis Colts team that isn't anything special. The following week, the Redskins played their best game of the season in a decisive win over a tough Green Bay club.

    It shouldn't take long to figure out whether the Redskins are legit. They play in prime time next Monday night against the New Orleans Saints and follow that up with a home tilt against the Carolina Panthers.

    Splitting that NFC South double-dip would go a long way toward dispelling the skepticism that surrounds this team.

18. Atlanta Falcons (1-3)

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    High: 14

    Low: 21

    Last Week: 14

    Week 4 Result: Lost vs. Cincinnati 37-36

    The Atlanta Falcons are in trouble. Serious trouble.

    For the second straight week, the Falcons lost a shootout at home in soul-crushing fashion. Last week, Drew Brees drove the length of the field in overtime. In Week 4, Andy Dalton ripped Atlanta's heart out with a game-winner to A.J. Green with seven seconds left in regulation.

    Yes, the Falcons have played a brutal schedule to open the season. And all three of Atlanta's losses are by single digits against good teams.

    But 1-3 is 1-3, and Davenport doesn't see how things will magically improve any time soon:

    "It's not exactly Atlanta's fault the defense is horrible. They've been savaged by injuries on that side of the ball. But the Falcons can't even slow opponents down right now, much less stop them. And for all the talent the Falcons have on offense, the whole shootout thing doesn't appear to be working out for them. This team isn't making a return to the postseason this year. Not with that D."

    Sobleski isn't ready to write Atlanta off though.

    "The Falcons are far better than their 1-3 record indicates," he wrote. "Those three losses were by a total of 13 points against top-shelf competition in the Cincinnati Bengals, New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles. As long as Atlanta's defense can be held together by bubblegum and chicken wire, the offense has been exceptional, especially in the red zone."

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2)

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    High: 14

    Low: 20

    Last Week: 12

    Week 4 Result: Lost at Chicago 48-10

    Over the season's first three weeks, Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Buccaneers on a wild ride. He was the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for over 400 yards in three straight games.

    In Chicago, that ride went from wild to terrifying.

    To say that "Fitzmagic" is over is a bit like saying that the Grand Canyon is a ditch. It's technically true, but it doesn't convey scope.

    The scope of Fitzpatrick's meltdown Sunday was depressingly impressive. Fitzpatrick completed just half of his 18 pass attempts for 126 yards with a pick before giving way to Jameis Winston.

    The Buccaneers have a bye next week, but in Week 6 we'll all but surely see Winston draw the start.

    If Tampa's defense continues to be shredded the way it's been over the past two weeks (including allowing 483 yards to the Bears), it isn't going to matter who the quarterback is.

16. Denver Broncos (2-2)

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    High: 16

    Low: 19

    Last Week: 18

    Week 4 Result: Lost vs. Kansas City 27-23

    For a moment on Monday night, it looked like the Denver Broncos might be on the verge of what could have been a season-defining win. The Broncos had hung in blow for blow with Kansas City's buzzsaw of an offense and then some—with 12:47 left, the Broncos made a field goal to go up by 10.

    But Denver couldn't hold the lead. Couldn't stop the Chiefs from scoring. Couldn't move the ball and chew clock. Couldn't stop KC from taking the lead. And then couldn't mount a last-second comeback drive.

    The Broncos aren't a bad team. They pounded the Chiefs for 159 yards on the ground, averaging over seven yards per attempt. Case Keenum's total of 245 passing yards isn't that impressive, but he also avoided the bad interceptions that have plagued him early in the season.

    But in the end, the scoreboard is all that matters. For the second week in a row against a quality opponent and sixth time in a row against Kansas City, Denver came up short.

    No, the Broncos aren't a bad team.

    But they aren't an especially good one, either. 

15. Tennessee Titans (3-1)

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    High: 14

    Low: 18

    Last Week: 21

    Week 4 Result: Won vs. Philadelphia 26-23 (OT)

    At some point, we're going to have to start taking the Tennessee Titans seriously.

    One week after traveling to Jacksonville and winning an ugly contest with the Jaguars, the Titans went one better—downing the defending Super Bowl champions in overtime to move to 3-1 on the season.

    The Titans won the game despite allowing 348 yards to Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. Despite averaging just 3.2 yards a carry on the ground. And despite being outgained 432-397.

    Davenport confessed that he's not sure what to make of the Titans.

    "These Titans have a bizarre talent for becoming a doppelganger of their opponent. Last week the offense was horrible, but the defense played just as well as Jacksonville. This week the defense backslid, but Marcus Mariota matched Wentz throw for throw. Mariota appears to be getting healthy, and if he continues to play well, the Titans could be sneaky-good. Dangerous, even."

14. Los Angeles Chargers (2-2)

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

    High: 14

    Low: 17

    Last Week: 16

    Week 4 Result: Won vs. San Francisco 29-27

    Like the aforementioned Seattle Seahawks, the Los Angeles Chargers are another team with playoff aspirations who got a much-needed win Sunday to move back to .500 on the season.

    However, like the aforementioned Seahawks, the Chargers also squeaked by a tomato can.

    With Jimmy Garoppolo out, the general belief was the Chargers would dispatch the San Francisco 49ers with ease at home. Instead, the Bolts had to rally to eke out a two-point win. The Chargers had just four more total yards than a Niners team that had lost its starting quarterback and lead tailback to season-ending injuries.

    Davenport didn't like what he saw:

    "Know why the Rams have taken over La-La Land? Because they come out on a weekly basis and execute. The Chargers, on the other hand, look bored and almost blow a game against CJ Beathard. There isn't a team in the NFL better at playing down to the level of inferior opposition than the Bolts."

13. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2-1)

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    Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

    High: 11

    Low: 15

    Last Week: 8

    Week 4 Result: Lost vs. Baltimore 26-14

    We're starting to think that maybe—just maybe—the Pittsburgh Steelers miss Le'Veon Bell.

    In Sunday night's loss to the Baltimore Ravens, James Conner carried the ball nine times—for 19 yards. That's also the total the Steelers had as a team. Twice in four games, Conner has been limited to fewer than 20 yards on the ground.

    The Steelers lost both of those games.

    Sure, Pittsburgh still has passing-game weapons galore. But against a top-notch defense like the Ravens, a one-dimensional offense isn't going to cut it. After tying the score at halftime, the Steelers were shut out in the second half—at home.

    There are problems on the other side of the ball, too. Pittsburgh's defense is slow. And Pittsburgh entered Week 4 allowing over 410 yards a game and then turned around and surrendered 451 to a Baltimore team that isn't exactly an offensive juggernaut.

    This week against the Falcons, a pair of teams that fashioned themselves Super Bowl contenders will wage a desperate battle to keep their seasons from unraveling.

    That wasn't how this year was supposed to play out.

12. Baltimore Ravens (3-1)

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    Don Wright/Associated Press

    High: 10

    Low: 12

    Last Week: 15

    Week 4 Result: Won at Pittsburgh 26-14

    The Baltimore Ravens appear to be for real.

    If what the Ravens needed was a signature win to get the attention of our panel, then Sunday night's victory in Pittsburgh should fit the bill. The score doesn't reflect how lopsided this game was—the Steelers never led and were held off the scoreboard completely after intermission.

    The Ravens piled up over 450 yards of total offense, but it's the defense that continues to impress. Going up against one of the NFL's more talented offenses, Baltimore's top-ranked defense (entering Week 4) put the clamps on. For the game, the Steelers had just 284 total yards—over 150 under their average over the first three games. The Steelers ran for fewer than 20 yards as a team.

    The Ravens are running the ball, protecting Joe Flacco and playing defense. Flacco, for his part, isn't making mistakes.

    It's a recipe they've had great success with in the past.

11. Cincinnati Bengals (3-1)

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    John Amis/Associated Press

    High: 11

    Low: 12

    Last Week: 13

    Week 4 Result: Won at Atlanta 37-36

    The Cincinnati Bengals entered Sunday's action as one of the more perplexing teams in the NFL. Cincinnati's record said the team was good, but last week's setback at Carolina raised the question of just how good.

    The Bengals needed a statement win over a good team to demonstrate that they weren't, for lack of a better term, paper tigers.

    They got it in Atlanta.

    By virtue of a touchdown pass to star wideout A.J. Green (Dalton's third TD of the day) with less than 10 seconds left in the game, the Bengals came back to stun the Falcons and maintain their perch atop the AFC North.

    Davenport is a believer:

    "It's time to acknowledge that these Bengals are legit. A road win over a 2017 playoff team was just the sort of validation the Bengals needed, and the way the Bengals won the game only added to it. However, there's another big test around the corner—in two weeks the Steelers visit the Queen City."

10. Carolina Panthers (2-1)

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    Bob Leverone/Associated Press

    High: 10

    Low: 13

    Last Week: 9

    Week 4 Result: Bye

    Through three games, the Panthers are playing a familiar brand of football.

    Entering Week 4, no team had averaged more yards on the ground per game than Carolina's 166. The Panthers are also playing good defense with the 11th-ranked scoring unit.

    It's a recipe that allows the Panthers to control tempo, and heading into this week's action, they were seventh in time of possession.

    However, the Panthers aren't tearing it up through the air. With veteran tight end Greg Olsen on the shelf with a bad foot, Carolina has dropped all the way to 25th in passing. This isn't a team built for big comebacks or shootouts.

    That could become an issue in a division filled with high-octane offenses, but to date the Panthers are making opponents play them on their terms.

9. Green Bay Packers (2-1-1)

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    Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

    High: 8

    Low: 10

    Last Week: 11

    Week 4 Result: Won vs. Buffalo 22-0

    After looking flat in last week's loss to Washington, the Green Bay Packers needed to come homw, get right and take advantage of Minnesota's loss earlier in the week.

    Luckily for Aaron Rodgers and the Discount Double-Check All-Stars, a hapless Buffalo Bills team was more than happy to oblige.

    Frankly, there's not a ton that can be taken away from this win—other than that the Vikings have bigger problems than we thought if they lost at home in blowout fashion to this marshmallow of a Bills team.

    But the Packers did what good teams are supposed to do—win in convincing fashion against inferior opposition. It was also a welcome sight to see Rodgers moving around more easily—his bad knee appears to be getting better.

    Gagnon thinks that makes the Packers a force to be reckoned with.

    "As long as Aaron Rodgers is on the field, the Packers will be Super Bowl contenders," he said. "With Rodgers out there, Aaron Jones giving the offense balance and the defense performing the way it did against the Bills, they could become Super Bowl favorites."

8. Minnesota Vikings (1-2-1)

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    High: 7

    Low: 9

    Last Week: 5

    Week 4 Result: Lost at Los Angeles Rams 38-31

    Had you said a month ago that September would end with the Vikings in third place in the NFC North, you would have been laughed at.

    But here we are.

    The first month of the season wasn't supposed to be like this for the Vikes. They were tabbed as a leading Super Bowl contender by many and as the No. 1 team in the NFL heading into Week 1 by this very panel.

    Instead, the Vikings are coming off two straight losses after falling by a touchdown on Thursday Night Football. The Vikings have one victory in their first four games: a Week 1 win over the reeling San Francisco 49ers.

    Since then, it's been a tie with the Packers and then losses to Buffalo and the Rams. Davenport isn't ready to push the purple panic button yet, but he isn't that far off:

    "There's no shame in losing on the road to this Rams team, but allowing over 550 yards of offense is worrisome no matter the opponent. Combined with Minny's Week 3 faceplant against the Bills, the Vikings are digging a hole that won't be easy to get out of—especially with the defending champs up next on the road. The Vikings are still a good football team, but they had better get squared away PDQ or a season that was supposed to be filled with promise could get away from them."

7. Chicago Bears (3-1)

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    High: 6

    Low: 10

    Last Week: 10

    Week 4 Result: Won vs. Tampa Bay 48-10

    In 12 games as a rookie in 2017, Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky threw seven touchdown passes.

    Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Trubisky threw six.

    After an uneven start to the season, Trubisky had easily the best game of his career in Week 4. Three hundred and fifty-four passing yards. A passer rating of 154.7. Fifty-three rushing yards. And scoring tosses to five different receivers.

    Over the first three games this year, Chicago's defense had been lights-out. That performance continued against Tampa. Khalil Mack notched yet another sack as he continues his rampage toward the Defensive Player of the Year award.

    But before this game, the Bears had been hit-or-miss on offense. Sunday's stomping showed what the Bears could be capable of when they are firing on all cylinders.

    As it turns out, that can be quite a lot...although Sobleski thinks the Bears may have snuck a ringer out there under center.

    "Will the real Mitchell Trubisky please stand up? The version seen against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the second-year quarterback at his very best with six touchdown tosses," he said. "The scary part is how unstoppable Matt Nagy's offense can be if Trubisky is dealing on a weekly basis."

6. Philadelphia Eagles (2-2)

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    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    High: 6

    Low: 7

    Last Week: 3

    Week 4 Result: Lost at Tennessee 26-23 (OT)

    The Philadelphia Eagles might not be hitting the panic button yet, but after losing to the Titans to fall to 2-2, the team has probably opened the box it's in.

    This is a game the Eagles were expected to win. And after barely getting past a bad Colts team in Week 3, the overtime loss raises real concerns.

    If there was a bright side, it was the play of Carson Wentz. One week after looking rusty against the Colts, Wentz was much sharper in Nashville, throwing for 348 yards and two scores.

    However, the pass defense was…what's the word I'm looking for?

    "Giant ball of suck" just about covers it.

    Against a Titans team that came into the game averaging 162 passing yards a game, the Eagles made Marcus Mariota look like Joe Montana. Mariota burned the Eagles for 344 yards and two scores—including the game-winner to second-year pro Corey Davis.

    The Eagles secondary is bad right now. So bad that it's dragging the Eagles down with it, although Gagnon thinks the issues may run deeper than just the defensive backfield.

    "It's getting harder to feel good about the Eagles," Gagnon said, "who couldn't use injuries as an excuse in a weird loss to an equally banged-up Titans team. They're 2-2, but they could easily be 0-4. Cut it way too close against the Falcons and Colts, neither of whom have been very good this season, and that loss to the Bucs is looking worse as that team comes back to earth. I wonder if we're witnessing another Super Bowl hangover."

5. New England Patriots (2-2)

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    High: 5

    Low: 5

    Last Week: 7

    Week 4 Result: Won vs. Miami 38-7

    It's becoming an annual thing with the Patriots.

    New England suffers an ugly loss in September that spawns 137 articles regarding what's "wrong" with the Patriots. There is much hand-wringing and proclamations that this is it—the dynasty is dead.

    Then Tom Brady and the boys go out and obliterate some poor schmuck and serve notice that reports of New England's demise have been exaggerated.

    The previously unbeaten Dolphins played the part of the schmuck in Week 4. This was a game that was essentially over before it started—New England led 24-0 at the half and dominated the action on both sides of the ball.

    Despite the blowout, the Pats have issues. The defense isn't very good, and the receiving corps isn't fear-inducing.

    But the Patriots get Julian Edelman back next week, and last season the defense improved vastly once the calendar turned to October.

    Annoying though it may be, the Patriots aren't going anywhere.

    Except for the playoffs—again.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-1)

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    High: 4

    Low: 4

    Last Week: 6

    Week 4 Result: Won vs. New York Jets 31-12

    The Jaguars came into Sunday's home game with New York with a bad taste in their mouths after a frustrating 9-6 loss to the Titans the week before.

    Jacksonville took out those frustrations on the Jets.

    Despite gaining just 3.7 yards a carry on the ground with Leonard Fournette banged up, the Jacksonville offense rolled—because for the second time in three games, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles was razor-sharp.

    Bortles threw for 388 yards and two scores in the win. In Davenport's opinion, it's Bortles, not Fournette or the Jacksonville defense, who will determine how far the Jaguars get in 2018:

    "This is the second time in three weeks that the Jaguars have looked like the AFC's best team. Last week they couldn't crack 10 points. The NFL is a quarterback-driven league, and the Jags are no different. When Bortles is on, this is a Super Bowl team. But if he isn't, they look mediocre. No pressure, Blake."

3. New Orleans Saints (3-1)

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    High: 3

    Low: 3

    Last Week: 4

    Week 4 Result: Won at New York Giants 33-18

    The Saints' 15-point win over the New York Giants wasn't as exciting as last week's overtime shootout in Atlanta. But if New Orleans is going to make a deep playoff run in 2018, it may be more important.

    On a day when Drew Brees wasn't his usual gunslinging self (217 yards and no TDs is a bad half for Brees—for an entire game it's blahsville), the Saints found a way to grind out a win outdoors. That way Sunday was to ride Alvin Kamara, who piled up 134 yards and three scores on 19 carries.

    Per Sobleski, the Saints just keep rolling after falling at home to Tampa in Week 1.

    "After a surprising 48-40 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, two things became evident about New Orleans. First, a loss to the Bucs wasn't as bad as originally thought. Second, Sean Payton's squad improved in each of the following three weeks."

2. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    High: 2

    Low: 2

    Last Week: 2

    Week 4 Result: Won 27-23 at Denver

    Through their first three games of the 2018 season, the Kansas City Chiefs had yet to be tested. Patrick Mahomes and an explosive Kansas City offense had been boat-racing hapless defenses.

    Monday night in Denver, the Chiefs got that test—and passed it with flying colors.

    Facing a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter, Mahomes didn't look the part of a second-year pro. He coolly made play after play, guiding the Chiefs on a pair of touchdown drives that earned KC its fourth win in as many tries.

    For the night, Mahomes had 192 passing yards outside the pocket.

    This isn't to say that all is well and good in Kansas City. The defense remains spotty. Were Demaryius Thomas a half-inch taller or Case Keenum a touch more accurate, the Broncos would have stolen this game back.

    But Thomas isn't. Neither is Keenum. And the Chiefs remain undefeated heading into a huge Week 5 showdown at home against the Jaguars.

    Patrick Mahomes is the real deal, folks.

1. Los Angeles Rams (4-0)

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    High: 1

    Low: 1

    Last Week: 1

    Week 4 Result: Won vs. Minnesota 38-31

    Like there was any question.

    The Los Angeles Rams made an emphatic statement Thursday night in a game that we viewed as a potential NFC Championship Game preview before the season. In cruising past the Minnesota Vikings at home, the Rams said to the rest of the NFL, "We are the team to beat."

    They did it with an offensive onslaught that would have made Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce proud.

    The Rams were unstoppable offensively against the Vikings. Quarterback Jared Goff threw for 465 yards and five touchdowns with a perfect passer rating and long scoring strikes to Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks. Tailback Todd Gurley topped 150 total yards and scored himself.

    Right now, the Rams are an unstoppable juggernaut on offense. If a banged-up defense can play at anything resembling the same level, the Rams are going to be next to impossible to beat.