NFL Power Rankings 2019: AFC, NFC Records, Division Standings and Week 4 Outlook

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistSeptember 25, 2019

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - SEPTEMBER 22:  Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens stands during the national anthem before their game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

We're experiencing the year of young quarterbacks. Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones, Kyle Allen and Gardner Minshew II have all shown flashes—three of them led their teams to victory last week. How do their varying levels of success translate within the NFL hierarchy?

Injuries to signal-callers Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees and Cam Newton shook up their respective teams, but the replacements for the latter two looked sharp Sunday. The Pittsburgh Steelers hope to crack the win column with Mason Rudolph in the Week 4 Monday Night Football showcase.

Although it's a quarterback-driven league, some teams field strong supporting casts around average passers to win games. In this week's power rankings, you'll see three clubs with MVP-worthy signal-callers atop tier one, and then several aerial attacks that leave much to be desired. Stout defenses play a huge part in the top 10.

Let's take a look at the Week 4 standings and power rankings, going through all four tiers. Did all eight undefeated teams earn their respect, or are they still searching for a quality win to raise their statuses?


Week 4 Standings

AFC East

1. Buffalo Bills (3-0)

2. New England Patriots (3-0)

3. Miami Dolphins (0-3)

4. New York Jets (0-3)


AFC North 

1. Baltimore Ravens (2-1)

2. Cleveland Browns (1-2)

3. Cincinnati Bengals (0-3)

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3)


AFC South

1. Houston Texans (2-1)

2. Indianapolis Colts (2-1)

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)

4. Tennessee Titans (1-2)


AFC West 

1. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)

2. Los Angeles Chargers (1-2)

3. Oakland Raiders (1-2)

4. Denver Broncos (0-3)


NFC East 

1. Dallas Cowboys (3-0)

2. New York Giants (1-2)

3. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)

4. Washington Redskins (0-3)


NFC North 

1. Green Bay Packers (3-0)

2. Detroit Lions (2-0-1)

3. Chicago Bears (2-1)

4. Minnesota Vikings (2-1)


NFC South

1. New Orleans Saints (2-1)

2. Atlanta Falcons (1-2)

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)

4. Carolina Panthers (1-2)


NFC West

1. Los Angeles Rams (3-0)

2. San Francisco 49ers (3-0)

3. Seattle Seahawks (2-1)

4. Arizona Cardinals (0-2-1)


Tier 1

1. New England Patriots (3-0) 

2. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)

3. Dallas Cowboys (3-0) 

4. Los Angeles Rams (3-0)

5. Green Bay Packers (3-0)

6. Minnesota Vikings (2-1)

7. New Orleans Saints (2-1) 

8. Chicago Bears (2-1)


Green Bay Packers Defense Deserves Some Respect

Mike Roemer/Associated Press

In years past, quarterback Aaron Rodgers would be the driving force behind the Green Bay Packers' high ranking, but he said something after a Week 1 victory over the Chicago Bears that seems true: "We've got a defense."

Rodgers didn't overstate his team's defensive performance. Thanks to general manager Brian Gutekunst's aggressive approach to free agency, Preston Smith, Za'Darius Smith and Adrian Amos have become instant playmakers in Green Bay.

The Smiths have combined for 7.5 sacks, and in the red zone, Amos picked off Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky late in the fourth quarter of the Packers' Week 1 victory.

Green Bay has allowed the second-fewest points and fields a top-five pass defense. The group faces its biggest challenge Thursday, hosting quarterback Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles' ninth-ranked scoring offense.

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur still has to work out some offensive tweaks for a club that lists 23rd in scoring, but Rodgers doesn't shoulder tremendous pressure because the defense can keep games close.


Tier 2

9. Houston Texans (2-1)

10. Baltimore Ravens (2-1)

11. Atlanta Falcons (1-2)

12. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)

13. San Francisco 49ers (3-0)

14. Detroit Lions (2-0-1)

15. Seattle Seahawks (2-1) 

16. Los Angeles Chargers (1-2)


Lamar Jackson Raises Expectations Levels for Himself, Baltimore Ravens 

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Coming into the 2019 campaign, many wondered how quarterback Lamar Jackson would develop in the pocket. Last season, he didn't throw more than 25 passes until the Ravens trailed the Los Angeles Chargers in an AFC Wild Card Round matchup.

In three games, he has thrown 37 or more passes twice. He's also more accurate with a 63 percent completion rate compared to 58.2 during his rookie term. Through a small sample size, we've witnessed his growth, which elevates the Ravens' season outlook. The offense leads the league in scoring and total yards.

Jackson received MVP buzz after the Ravens beat the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals. Although he put together some highlight plays against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, he didn't light up their 24th-ranked defense, logging 267 passing yards without a touchdown or interception and a 51.16 percent completion rate.

While we can acknowledge the 22-year-old looks better than last year after a full offseason working as the starter, he still has a lot of room for growth and so do the Ravens as a contender.

Keep an eye on Baltimore's defense, which gave up 140 yards on the ground to the Chiefs.


Tier 3

17. Indianapolis Colts (2-1)

18. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) 

19. Buffalo Bills (3-0) 

20. Tennessee Titans (1-2) 

21. Cleveland Browns (1-2)

22. Carolina Panthers (1-2) 

23. Oakland Raiders (1-2) 

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)


The Buffalo Bills Look Impressive, Need a Quality Win

Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

The Bears and Ravens have the benefit of the doubt without quality victories because they reached the playoffs last year. Chicago kept the nucleus of its team together, and Baltimore added notable playmakers, safety Earl Thomas III, running back Mark Ingram II and speedy deep-threat wide receiver Marquise Brown. 

Coming off a 6-10 season, the Buffalo Bills need to do more than beat two winless teams and a New York Giants squad that won after Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Matt Gay missed a 34-yard game-winning field goal.

Nonetheless, the Bills deserve credit for winning the games on their schedule. Despite turning the ball over four times, they gutted out a solid win over the New York Jets, who had a healthy Sam Darnold under center. Buffalo dominated Big Blue on the road, but a narrow home victory over the winless Cincinnati Bengals may raise some eyebrows.

The Bills' stingy defense ranks fifth in points and yards allowed. Assuming that unit holds up, Buffalo will play in tight games this year. Here's a critical question to ponder: How far can this team go with constant turnovers on offense (six) and running back Frank Gore leading the backfield, averaging 3.7 yards per carry?

The Bills would surge up the rankings if they can upset the New England Patriots in Week 4.


Tier 4 

25. Denver Broncos (0-3) 

26. Cincinnati Bengals (0-3) 

27. New York Giants (1-2) 

28. Washington Redskins (0-3)

29. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3)

30. Arizona Cardinals (0-2-1)

31. New York Jets (0-3) 

32. Miami Dolphins (0-3)


Daniel Jones Adds Intrigue to New York Giants

Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

The Giants slot into the fourth tier with a bottom defense that ranks 30th in scoring and 31st in yards allowed. Rookie DeAndre Baker and Janoris Jenkins have struggled to defend the perimeter downfield. Also, over the last two weeks, Big Blue's opponents have run for 144-plus yards.

Perhaps Jones can move the ball and win a few scoring shootouts, but that's not the formula to rely on while starting a rookie quarterback. If Danny Dimes isn't the typical first-year starter, we're in for a surprise.

Big Blue became an intriguing team after Jones' superb NFL debut, recording 336 passing yards and four touchdowns—two through the air and a pair on the ground.

However, running back Saquon Barkley's absence because of a high-ankle sprain takes some of the air out of the Giants' sails for a good portion of the season. According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, the 2018 Offensive Rookie of Year will seek a second opinion on the injury, but he's likely to miss multiple games. 

In the second half of the year, the Giants could pull off upsets with a relatively healthy starting lineup, but they're going to struggle—even with Jones' promising start last week.


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