Week 4 NFL power rankings

Let’s have a round of applause for the return of the regular officials! Okay, now back to criticizing them for calls that didn’t go in your team's favor. Although the referees' honeymoon period was short, it was certainly sweet. The men in stripes, who generally attempt to avoid the spotlight, were greeted by standing ovations as they made their return to the field in week four. And what an exciting week it was.

Thanks to some spectacular play by Matt Ryan and Roddy White (as well as sketchy play by Carolina), the Falcons were able to avoid an upset and remain undefeated, thus retaining the number one spot in this week’s rankings. Houston continued their dominance in an easy win over Tennessee to also go 4-0 on the season. And sure enough, the Arizona Cardinals continued their best Baltimore Orioles impersonation, managing to win a close game in overtime to linger in the unbeaten club for at least another week.

There was modest movement among the teams just outside of the top five, as New England and Chicago particularly impressed in their road wins. The bottom third of last week’s rankings played like the bottom third, as most lost, making this week’s rankings fairly easy to compile. Hey, I guess I’m doing something right.

 

Team Rank Previous Rank Record Thoughts

Atlanta Falcons

1

1

4-0

Matty Ice” showed why he received his nickname after driving over 60 yards with one minute left and no timeouts to set up Matt Bryant’s game-winning field goal. Surviving an early season test bodes well for a team that has Super Bowl aspirations.

Houston Texans

2

2

4-0

The Texans rolled the Titans to remain undefeated on the season. With a remaining schedule consisting of only four difficult matchups on paper (Green Bay, Baltimore, Chicago and New England), Houston should win at least 12 games.

San Francisco 49ers

3

3

3-1

San Francisco followed up a surprising loss to Minnesota with an absolutely dominant performance against the much-maligned Jets. The defense was impressive, holding New York to only 145 yards of total offense. But can a team without a consistent passing attack continue to win?

Baltimore Ravens

4

4

3-1

The Ravens escaped with an ugly win over the lowly Browns. A road game in the always-difficult-to-play-in Arrowhead Stadium awaits next week.

Arizona Cardinals

5

6

4-0

They just keep on winning. A fourth quarter rally and a 46-yard field goal in OT moved Arizona to 4-0, their best start in 38 years. Amazingly, the Cardinals have won eight in a row at home, with five of those wins coming in OT.

New England Patriots

6

7

2-2

Down 21-7 in the third quarter on the road, many were ready to bury them. Yet the Patriots showed why they are the Patriots by scoring on an incredible seven straight second half drives to crush the Bills 52-28.

Philadelphia Eagles

8

11

3-1

Philly seems to have a flair for the dramatics after becoming the first team in NFL history to have each of their first three wins by two points or less. Michael Vick didn’t turn the ball over for the first time this season, and the Eagles beat the rival Giants in an important, early season divisional matchup.

Chicago Bears

7

8

3-1

The defense and offense both impressed in a sound win at Cowboy Stadium. For the moment, the Bears are the team to beat in the NFC North.

 

Green Bay Packers

9

12

2-2

Even the return of the regular officials didn’t bring the Packers solace, as a missed call on what should’ve been a Darren Sproles fumble almost cost them the game. Luckily, the Saints missed what would’ve been a go-ahead field goal, and the Packers returned to .500.

New York Giants

10

5

2-2

More concerning than a two-point loss at Philadelphia is the fact that the Giants can’t seem to beat their winged rivals, having lost eight of their last nine meetings. Eli Manning failed to lead his team to a last drive win for what seems like the first time ever.

Cincinnati Bengals

11

14

3-1

The Bengals offense has been explosive during their three-game winning streak. What is the only thing that could stop them from reaching five games? Themselves. Back-to-back games against Miami and Cleveland await.

Denver Broncos

12

15

2-2

Like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning lived up to his legendary status by preventing his team from losing a third straight game. Games against New England and San Diego conclude a brutal six-game stretch to open the season.

San Diego Chargers

13

16

3-1

After coming off a terrible loss to Atlanta, the Chargers showed some resiliency by winning at Kansas City. The defense was stellar, forcing six turnovers.

Pittsburgh Steelers

14

13

1-2

Their bye week could not have come at a better time, as Rashard Mendenhall, Troy Palamalu, and James Harrison are expected back for their week five matchup against Philadelphia. I guarantee the Steelers will not go away quietly.

Minnesota Vikings

15

19

3-1

Who would’ve thought that Minnesota would be leading the NFC North after week 4? Perhaps some optimistic Vikings fans and that’s it. Yet with the struggles of Detroit and Green Bay, second-year QB Christian Ponder has performed admirably in leading his team to first place -- even if only temporary.

Dallas Cowboys

16

9

2-2

It seems like year after year, the Cowboys fail to play consistently. A five-interception effort by Tony Romo led to an embarrassing home loss in a nationally televised Monday night game. The lack of a running game is highly responsible for Dallas’ dreadful 15.7 points/game average.

Seattle Seahawks

18

10

2-2

Seattle’s very good defense needs some serious help from Russell Wilson and the passing game. The jury is still out on whether Wilson can make it as an NFL quarterback.

Washington Redskins

17

23

2-2

RGIII was spectacular in throwing for 323 yards and marching Washington down the field for a game-winning field goal, even as the headset in his helmet failed. Atlanta better not overlook the Redskins as they visit the Capitol next Sunday.

St. Louis Rams

19

26

2-2

Rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein kicked a 58 and 60 yard field goal in a win over Seattle. 12 for 12 kicking field goals on the year, Zuerlein may very well be the MVP of the 2-2 Rams.

New York Jets

20

17

2-2

The Jets are completely dysfunctional. Mark Sanchez’s seat is hotter than ever, and Santonio Holmes may be joining Revis on the sidelines for a significant amount of time. The trash talk has ceased as the team, including the outspoken Rex Ryan, seems to have lost their mojo. Oh, and not to mention they were destroyed by the 49ers, 34-0 this past Sunday.

Buffalo Bills

21

20

2-2

The Bills were flying high after leading the Patriots 21-7 early in the third quarter. But after giving up 45 second-half points, the defense that was built specifically to beat Tom Brady left the field dejected and embarrassed.

Detroit Lions

22

18

1-3

The Lions have been one of the early disappointments of the 2012 season. No aspect of this team has played well. The special teams have been underperforming most recently, as they gave up a kick return and punt return TD to Minnesota.

Carolina Panthers

23

22

1-3

The Panthers let a win over the #1-ranked Atlanta Falcons slip through their fingers after a Cam Newton fumble gave Matt Ryan a chance. Very disappointing for a team who could’ve made a statement in the NFC South.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

24

24

1-3

Tampa Bay showed a lot of fight in a heartbreaking last-second loss to Washington. Some may dislike Greg Schiano’s antics, but he has brought a never quit culture to this team.

Kansas City Chiefs

25

21

1-3

Matt Cassell has been awful so far this year, throwing another three picks in a blowout loss against San Diego. The Chiefs are 0-2 at Arrowhead Stadium so far, which is normally one of the most difficult places for opposing teams to play.

Miami Dolphins

26

29

1-3

The Dolphins move up per virtue of a tough overtime loss against undefeated Arizona. Ryan Tannehill was impressive as he scorched the stout Arizona defense for 431 yards through the air.

New Orleans Saints

27

28

0-4

Yes, the Saints are 0-4, but the remainder of the bottom seven teams performed so terribly in week four that a one-point loss at Green Bay is enough to warrant a 27th ranking. Even so, this is nowhere near a good team. The defense may be one of the worst we have seen in years. They have given up a whopping 1853 total yards!

Indianapolis Colts

28

31

1-2

A bye week was probably the best thing that could’ve happened for the Colts in terms of securing a higher ranking this week. Unfortunately, the news that head coach Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia will somber any jubilation over a three-spot jump.

Oakland Raiders

29

25

1-3

Oakland laid an egg in a big divisional matchup with Denver. Darren McFadden could only manage 34 yards on 13 carries.

Tennessee Titans

30

27

1-3

Losing to the best team in the AFC is nothing to be ashamed of. Losing your starting quarterback to a shoulder injury is a problem.

Jacksonville Jaguars

31

30

1-3

Jacksonville could only manage 212 yards against a very mediocre Cincinnati defense. For some strange reason, the Jags’ coaching staff decided not to involve their star, Jones-Drew, in their gameplan.

Cleveland Browns

32

32

0-4

And the beat goes on for the winless Browns. They put up a valiant effort against a clearly superior Baltimore team. Yet until they secure that first win, they won’t be moving from the cellar.

 

 

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