1. New England Patriots (Last week: 1)
The Pats got a week off and made good use of it. Dion Lewis just signed a two-year deal to keep him around for the near future. Whatever few issues the Patriots have through the first quarter of the season likely were ironed out this week as well. Look for New England to keep rolling going forward.
2. Green Bay Packers (Last week: 2)
The Packers would be first on this list if it wasn’t for the fact that the Patriots have come out on fire. Green Bay has proven that even without Jordy Nelson, this is still a Super Bowl caliber team.
3. Denver Broncos (Last week: 3)
Another week, another outstanding performance from the Denver defense. This group leads the league in terms of fewest yards per game and second in points per game. The offense is starting to find its footing but there is still a long way to go.
4. Cincinnati Bengals (Last week: 5)
Four weeks in the Bengals are still undefeated. Most of that credit should go directly to Andy Dalton. He has played well beyond the level we are used to seeing from him. His connection with A.J. Green is somewhere near the level of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.
5. Atlanta Falcons (Last week: 6)
No fourth quarter comeback needed this week as the Falcons blew out the Texans. From start to finish, this team simply dominated the game. Plenty of work still to be done though as this defense has consistently struggled against the pass.
6. Arizona Cardinals (Last week: 4)
That was ugly. There is no other way to say it than that. Arizona seemed to be on cruise control to this point in the season but a loss to St. Louis brings them back down to earth. The defense struggled to contain Todd Gurley and the offense could not consistently run the ball. The Cards do get a chance to get back on the track with the winless Lions this week.
7. Seattle Seahawks (Last week: 9)
Two consecutive wins for the Seahawks has this team looking up after a rough start but Seattle was lucky to get the win on Monday night. A blow call by the officiating crew saved them (again). The Seahawks could just as easily be 1-3 and still look no closer to finding the answer on offense.
8. New York Jets (Last week: 13)
Miami might be bad but that doesn’t mean the Jets didn’t take care of business. New York enters the bye with a chance to let Chris Ivory, Eric Decker and Darrelle Revis get healthy. Then they face a very easy stretch with Washington, Oakland and Jacksonville as three of their next four games. The other game is in Foxborough though.
9. Carolina Panthers (Last week: 15)
Four straight wins would usually vault you into the top five no problem. However, Carolina’s four wins came against Houston, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and New Orleans without Drew Brees. Until they beat even an average team, I’m not totally buying into the hype.
10. Indianapolis Colts (Last week: 12)
Matt Hasselback came out of…wait he never retired? Well either way, he found a way to get the Colts an ugly win against Jacksonville. If he can find a way to pilot Indy to a victory over Houston, this team has nothing to worry about. Being 3-0 is a huge advantage in a division where likely no one will win more than 10 games.
11. Buffalo Bills (Last week: 7)
On again and off again. The Bills cannot seem to string to competitive weeks together. Buffalo was coming off a blow out of Miami only to look lost playing the Giants. The problem above all: penalties. Every Rex Ryan team has them. The sooner they go away, the sooner the Bills become a playoff team.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers (Last week: 8)
You really couldn’t have asked for much more out of Michael Vick. He made big throws, executed the gameplan well and took his lumps. He was sacked four times and hit six. The Steelers need to do a better job blocking for him. Oh and so long Josh Scobee.
13. Dallas Cowboys (Last week: 11)
That stings a bit. Dallas still leads the division but life without Romo and Bryant seems to be getting worse. Two straight losses to the NFC South has the Cowboys reeling and in desperate need of a wake up call. The odd thing though is the offense seems fine while the defense seems clueless.
14. Minnesota Vikings (Last week: 14)
Minnesota looks like a more than capable football team at this point. The defense just couldn’t hang on for a major win against the Broncos. This is a team full of young talent with a Hall of Fame leader in Adrian Peterson. I have a feeling the Vikings will be playing meaningful football come December.
15. Kansas City Chiefs (Last week: 10)
There was a lot of optimism surrounding the Chiefs at the beginning of the season. Most of that has completely died off now as the offense has struggled and the defense continues to give up points. Kansas City has given up to most points per game through four weeks. Andy Reid has to fix that if they team plans on getting a wild card spot.
16. San Diego Chargers (Last week: 17)
It wasn’t pretty but San Diego got a win against Cleveland. They almost went to overtime, but the Browns gave the Chargers another chance after Josh Lambo missed his initial field goal attempt. Far from a convincing start for the Bolts.
17. New York Giants (Last week: 24)
For a second week in a row, the Giants pulled of a big win. The Bills showed some signs of pulling off the comeback before New York righted the ship and walked out of Buffalo with a win. Keeping pace in the wide open NFC East is important but now is the Giants’ chance to take control of the division.
18. St. Louis Rams (Last week: 22)
Apparently, the Rams can only upset their NFC West counter parts. A win over the previously undefeated Cardinals proves that the Rams can run with the top teams in teh NFC. The next step is finding consistency.
19. Baltimore Ravens (Last week: 21)
Getting the win against Pittsburgh saved their season but losing Steve Smith with broken ribs is not much of a trade off. Now Baltimore goes forward with even fewer receiving options to choose from.
20. Oakland Raiders (Last week: 19)
Just when Oakland seemed like they were heading in a positive direction, the blow a last second lead to the winless Bears. The Raiders had a chance to be 3-1. Instead, they find themselves at .500 with a less than favorable schedule in front of them.
21. Miami Dolphins (Last week: 18)
Miami went on damage control this week after a brutal loss overseas. Joe Philbin is officially out Dan Campbell enters as the interim with no previous coaching experience. It might only be Week 5 but stick a fork in the ‘Phins, they’re done.
22. Washington (Last week: 29)
If you had told me that through four weeks of the season, Washington would be at .500 and tied for the division lead, I would have laughed at you. That is exactly the position Washington find itself in though with some optimism that this team isn’t as far away from competing as we thought.
23. Philadelphia Eagles (Last week: 16)
Yeah, so Chip Kelly is looking more and more like an idiot by the week. His seat has to be getting pretty hot as well. Even if you want to put the blame on the players for playing poorly rather than on the coach, you have to remember that Kelly overhauled this roster to get the team he wanted. Not looking too good so far. The Eagles are only one game out of first place in the NFC East though. Stranger things have happened.
24. Houston Texans (Last week: 23)
It goes without saying that the Texans are in free fall. The quarterback position continues to be an issue for the struggling Texans. A loss to the Colts would pretty much end their chances of winning the AFC South.
25. Detroit Lions (Last week: 20)
The Lions were robbed on Monday night in Seattle, just like the Green Bay Packers before them. Once again, the officials blew a major call at the end of the game to cost the road team a win. Unfortunately, that was hardly Detroit’s only chance to win. The defense was outstanding while the offense failed to convert on three takeaways. It might be tough to swallow but Detroit deserves to be 0-4.
26. New Orleans Saints (Last week: 28)
So that’s what the Saints’ offense can do. Drew Brees returned and got a major win in the Bayou. Their chances are still slim but they survive another week. This team is one of the most unpredictable in the league on a week to week basis.
27. Tennessee Titans (Last week: 27)
An off week for Tennessee provides an opportunity to review some film for this very young team. Marcus Mariota is an early front runner for Rookie of the Year and the future seems bright in the Music City.
28. San Francisco 49ers (Last week: 25)
Between averaging 289 yards per game on offense, second worst in the NFL, and having the worst scoring offense, San Francisco is in a rut. Something needs to change for this 49er offense. An easier test comes against a middling Giants defense, but San Francisco is not scaring anyone right now.
29. Cleveland Browns (Last week: 26)
They had a chance for overtime when the Chargers missed a last-second game-winning field goal attempt, but naturally the Browns were offsides. Cleveland is one of only two teams to be allowing more than 400 yards per contest defensively. The offense is scoring enough points to get some wins. Mike Pettine has to coach up this defense to get them to at least average before the Browns are challenging anyone.
30. Chicago Bears (Last week: 32)
The Bears won! Chicago narrowly managed to avoid starting 0-4 for the first time since the year 2000. Fun fact: the last time the Bears started 0-3, they got a win over the Oakland Raiders to avoid an 0-4 start. And they say history doesn’t repeat itself.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last week: 30)
That was brutal. No other way to put it than that. It almost doesn’t make sense that Jacksonville lost. They controlled the clock sightly longer than Indy. They out-gained the Colts by 100+ yards. They finished plus two in the turnover battle. Yet the Jags only managed 13 points. That’s just frustrating.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last week: 31)
Jameis Winston looks every bit the part of raw rookie quarterback. He owns a 54.9 completion percentage and a share of the interception lead in the league. No one expected him to be perfect but he is a long way off from being a franchise quarterback.