Sep 23, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (17) gestures during the game against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Power Rankings - Week 4


This season marks an odd season for the NFL.  Win-loss records aside, the NFL may have the most bad or underperforming teams in recent memory.  The AFC East is 9-3 this season, but that record - much like the Patriots - appears to be make-believe until proven otherwise.  The NFC East appears ready to potentially send the first team with a losing record to the playoffs with homefield advantage, as someone will HAVE to win the division.  There are probably only 10-12 GOOD teams in the NFL right now, and if that doesn’t change you could see a shift in the fan bases out there as discontent grows.

Fair-weather fans will follow whomever appears to be winning, and jump ship when they begin to lose.  Living in Patriots country, I can tell you that I’ve seen this firsthand over the last 10 years.   There are a number of tried and true fans that followed the Patriots since they were terrible in the 1980′s and mid-1990′s, but there are even more fans that were Giants fans, or Dallas fans before moving on to the Pats.

Amongst the league’s worst at the moment, there are a batch of teams that appear hopeless.  They may have varying levels of talent and win-loss records, but the end result is the same.  Throwing out the win-loss records  since there are so many bad teams, in this column we’ll rate the teams on where they truly belong.  This is a power ranking without records being heavily factored, and they’ll be shown in worst-to-first order with section titles based upon their performance thus far.

Hopeless: These are the worst of the worst, for various reasons.  There appears to be no hope in sight for these teams, many are off to an 0-3 start

32. Jacksonville Jaguars – While there are a few bright spots, and they can’t possibly be THIS bad all season, this is a team that would welcome playing terrible – it would be an improvement on what they’ve shown thus far.  This team has a firm death grip on the number 32 spot until they can prove otherwise.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: One of these weeks, maybe they’ll show up to play.  They have talent on both sides of the ball, but have appear to be hiding it all out somewhere in the mid-atlantic on Revis island.  Beginning this week, they’ll have a starting quarterback that actually showed up for the team picture.  Don’t be surprised to see Schiano go back to the college ranks before this season is over.

30. New York Giants: The offensive line can’t stop anyone.  Eli is chucking and ducking when he’s not on his back or dropping the ball.  With no hope in sight for anyone that can block, Eli may not make it out of a matchup against a nearly unblockable team this week against Kansas City.

29. Washingtong Redskins: Thus far this season, the Redskins have proven that they got back a shadow of RGIII, and can’t stop anyone.  They may be at 29th on this set of rankings, but that is more a testament to horrific-ness of the Giants, Bucs and Jags.  I hope the Rams enjoy the Redskins top 10 pick.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: This team appears to be falling apart, and has looked terrible until now.  Big Ben is not as good as previously advertised, and neither is the team around him.  Losing Pouncey, arguably their best player on offense has hurt this team badly, and they weren’t that good prior to his season ending injury.

27. Carolina Panthers: They looked stellar against the Giants, but really, who doesn’t right now?

26. Buffalo Bills: Their only good performance thus far was against the Panthers, who are just a step more terrible.  EJ Manuel put on a decent showing early, but appears to have been figured out by teams that aren’t that much better at this point.

25. Minnesota Vikings: Even AP can’t win many games completely on his own.  These guys are terrible, and the matchup in London this week against the Steelers is looking more and more like an NFL:Europe game than a true NFL game.

24. New York Jets: Don’t let the 2-1 start fool you.  This team “showed up” against Tampa and Buffalo, who appear primed to both be selecting in the top 5 of the draft.  Don’t expect the Jets to be picking later than 10th in the draft, either.

23. St Louis Rams: These guys look great for a minute here or there… unfortunately, they’re 24o minutes into the season…  they need a bit more than that.  Luckily for Rams fans, it appears that they should have two picks in the top 10 in next years draft.

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Chip Kelly’s overhyped fast tempo offense came to the NFL, and left at half time of week 1.  Since that time, the Eagles have been beat on pretty heavily.  On a bright note, Chip might get another season before heading back to college.  The uptempo offense this weekend would be the worst game call ever, as that simply serves to give Peyton & Co more time with the ball – not the best game plan this season.

21. Arizona Cardinals: Another team who’s offensive line appears to have a grudge against the quarterback.  It’s a shame, as they’ve had some solid play in other areas.

These guys aren’t that great, but they’re not as bad as the bottom 12: In any other season, these guys would be ranked lower, but the teams behind them are not good at all right now.

20. Cleveland Browns: Ok, these guys SHOULD be terrible, but I don’t think anyone told them that yet.  Well, they did, but Cleveland isn’t listening.  Anyone who watched last week knows that they basically went out there and said “We’re going to have fun today.  We’ve got nothing to lose.”  – and they showed it.  At least they’re going to be a fun team to watch, and they have a pretty damn good defense.  They have one of the best tight ends in football, and should be able to do more with Josh Gordon back.

19. San Diego Chargers: This team pretended to be a contender, but they’re no where close.  They have to play Denver and an up-and-coming Raiders team twice a year, as well as Kansas City.  While that sounds like fun, I’ll pass.

18. Oakland Raiders: This is a team that is on the rise.  One of the few teams that should probably celebrate their ascension to this high in the rankings.  They’re a few years out from being a contender – basically around the time Manning officially hangs up his cleats.

17. Baltimore Ravens: The defending champs, they lost damn near everyone to keep Joe Flacco – who also would be in the middle of the pack amongst starting quarterbacks in this league.

16. Houston Texans: I expected more from this team, as did a lot of folks.  They’ve got some star power on this team, but until they can get it together they’ll continue to fall… and they drew the short straw and play Seattle this week.

15. Dallas Cowboys: The best team in the worst division in football doesn’t deserve a medal, folks.  Congratulations, cowboys… you win the division by default since no one else showed up.  Enjoy losing in round 1 of the playoffs in front of your home fans.  They might even take a lead into the fourth quarter of that game, before bumbling it away in truly amazing fashion.

14.  The New England Patriots: This is a team that hasn’t beaten anyone, but more-so had 3 VERY inept teams force the win on them.  They can’t protect Brady, and Brady has no one to throw to.  Rumor has it that Brady’s best two receivers – Gronk and Amendola – may pay the team a visit for a couple of weeks soon, but they will most likely be taking a vacation shortly thereafter to visit their good buddy James Andrews.  The Pats SHOULD be exposed this week against an angry Atlanta team.  Their spot in the rankings isn’t a testament to their play, but more-so to the poor play of the teams behind them.

Now we’re getting somewhere: These are some good teams that are either not-quite-there yet, or are battling injuries.

13. Green Bay Packers: They’re a good team with the injury bug right now, and a few other minor issues.  They could be back in the top 10 by seasons end.

12. Tennessee Titans: There may not be a more overachieving team in football right now, but at this moment in time, this Tennessee team is giving other teams fits.

11. Chicago Bears: If they can hang in there against Detroit this week, expect them to move up in the rankings.  They’ve earned a potentially better spot, but they are stuck between teams based on the other teams merits thus far, more-so than their own.

10. Detroit Lions: This is a tough team, who may shoot themselves in the foot but still manage to overcome all of the dumb plays.  They may end the season as the most fined team in football, and may drop in the rankings by the mid point of the season as Reggie Bush’s wheels reach the annual drop off point, but for now, they belong here.

9.  San Francisco 49ers: They had a strong showing against a bad Rams team last night without a number of key individuals, combined with the return of Vernon Davis, moves them back into the top 10, albeit further down than some folks would expect going into the season.

Very good teams:

8. Atlanta Falcons: They may sit at 1-2, primarily due to injuries, but they are still a top tier team.  A win over the Patriots this week should put them back on track towards a wild card berth behind the Saints.

7. Indianapolis Colts: An impressive shellacking of the 49ers shows people that this is still a team to be reckoned with, and the Trent Richardson trade gives them an impressive 1-2 punch in the backfield to go with Andrew Luck.  A wild card berth should await them at seasons end.

6. Cincinnati Bengals: This team is finally relevant again, and may have the best receiver in football.  The Begnals are a solid team, though it will be interesting to see how they fair down the stretch.  As it stands right now, they should handily win the AFC North.

5. Miami Dolphins: No one knew they would be THIS good, or that the rest of the NFL would be THIS bad.  If they can knock off the Saints this week, which is a big task, they could skyrocket even further.  They’ve already knocked off two very good teams in the top 10.  The Dolphins are nearly through the toughest portion of their schedule, and will play a number of VERY bad teams soon.  The Dolphins appear primed to take the AFC East based on talent, but also by default as teams go down the stretch.  The development of Ryan Tannehill in his second year has been awe inspiring thus far.

4. Kansas City Chiefs: Kansas City may be the best team that will not win their division, forcing a top seeded wildcard berth in the playoffs.  Being in the same division as Denver appears to be their only weakness.

3. New Orleans Saints: The Saints are clicking on both sides of the ball, and the play of the defense and Jimmy Graham has been astounding.  Drew Brees is as methodical as they come at picking teams apart, and would be a possible league MVP candidate if not for Peyton Manning.

2. Seattle Seahawks: This is a fun team to watch, and is solid on both sides of the ball.  In any other season, they’d be the unquestionable number one.  They should easily win their division, one that was supposed to be one of the toughest in football, and have home field throughout the playoffs.

In a league of their own: How is this team even possible?

1. Denver Broncos: Anytime your running backs play a game of “rock, paper, scissors” to decide who’s going to get THIS touchdown, you know the other team doesn’t belong on the same field…  and then there’s this guy they have named Peyton, who I hear is doing ridiculously well.  They lost their left tackle, but haven’t slowed one iota, and have been going for the kill early and not letting up against anyone.  Provided Manning stays healthy, they should enjoy home field throughout the playoffs.  They are also set to regain their best defensive player in the near future.

 

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  • Lawrencia Riley

    Bears 3-0 at 11, but Falcons 1-2 at 8?? you’re high.

    • Eric Roddy

      Or he is being realistic. Look at the Falcons two losses, one against Miami, a very good 3-0 team, and one against the Saints who they should have beaten but a receiver dropped an easy touchdown catch. The Bears have wins over the Bengals (by 1 point), the Steelers (who are awful) and the Vikings (who just lost to the Browns). Wins and Losses aren’t everything. Chicago has played nobody. Sorry.

      • Paul L. Picken, Jr

        Thanks, Eric. That was my logic as well.

    • Paul L. Picken, Jr

      Hi Lawrencia,

      It’s based on what I’ve seen from teams thus far, win/loss record aside. There are a lot of terrible teams this year (thus far), so while records factored in, who the wins/losses were against factored in as well. As Eric points out, falcons lost close games against very good teams, while outside of the Bengals, the bears haven’t truly played anyone yet. I did note that if they beat the Lions, that should shoot them up the ranks.

  • Phins

    Finally a real power ranking that goes by what the teams look like currently. Most power rankings have the pats higher than the dolphins. Makes no sense since they look terrible and only beat horrible teams.

    • Paul L. Picken, Jr

      Thanks! I agree, part of the ridiculousness of it all on other rankings led to me compiling this

  • Dan

    You Miami fans are so delusional – you have a DECENT – not yet proven – team for the first time in years and you are making SuperBowl reservations. Pats at 14? They have not even played well yet and they have 3 wins. The Pats always get better as the year goes on and I guess we will just have to wait for them to put you in your place – like they have done for the past 10 years

    • Finhead78

      LMAO who have the pats played to get to 3-0?? NOBODY and you look bad doing it you about to run into a hard part of your season and will be lucky to not end up at .500 going into your bye week.

      • Dan

        Miami will play all the same teams later this year – will you scoff if they get 3 wins out of it? The Pats will get stronger as the year goes on while Miami will have to figure out how to play without their best player for a few weeks. I fully expect Miami to get exposed on MNF – you will be lucky to come within 2 touchdowns. The Pats may lose but it will be a close game. When all is said and done the Pats will still win the division and Miami will find a way to lose out on a playoff spot late in the year. Then you can all do what you do best – fantasize about “next year”.

        • Finhead78

          Miami is playing them teams right now not later the Dolphins hardest part of the season is going on right now, you will get a beat down in ATL this Sunday and then everyone will see 1st hand that you was lucky to be 3-0 and the only reason you are is because you played bad teams that found a way to let you win.

          • Paul L. Picken, Jr

            Agreed… Patriots are 3-0 not based on winning so much as on the other teams losing…as bad as they played, the other teams have been worse

        • Eric Roddy

          When Tom Brady retires, you will know what it is like to be at the bottom of the AFC East for years as Miami rides the Tannehill wave….

          • Paul L. Picken, Jr

            With as poorly as the pats line has played, Brady will be lucky to stay healthy all year

          • Dan

            Its funny you say this, I missed this comment the first time I read your story. Someone started a thread in the forum about how great the Pats line has played over the years protecting Brady and they have always ranked high on all the metrics associated with O lines. The Pats O line dominated Atlanta – a team which made your O line look horrible – and last night the Saints destroyed your O line. This point to my basic premise that your article was based more on optimistic homerism than any real analysis.

          • Paul L. Picken, Jr

            Actually, I use a magic 8 ball to decide who goes where, and break any ties with a coin flip… it’s scientifically accurate! I try to avoid facts, like how the Dolphins had the #1 red zone offense in the NFL going into week 4, or that they had a top defense in the red zone (can’t recall offhand if they were THE top one). Nor the fact that outside of against Cleveland, the line has blocked well enough to allow the running backs to average 4.3, 6.3 and 6.1 ypc… or that Brady had one of the worst quarterback ratings in the league through the first few weeks…
            The line in Miami isn’t bad, actually, and didn’t get manhandled by the Saints last night. Nearly half the sacks that Miami has allowed this year are on Tannehill, and not the line, as he has been guilty of holding on to the ball for far too long in some cases and not simply throwing it away when he needs to – again, he has shown the ability to learn, adapt and grow. The Saints actually have a pretty damn good defense, and a damn good team at that – one of the reasons that I put them at number 3 in the power rankings going into this week – as did many other experts – they’re a top 3 team in this league that Miami should have lost to.
            When you look through the mistakes last night, Miami showed a lot of positives. The mistakes that were made were VERY costly ones, but Miami was 1-2 plays away from going into halftime with the lead against an excellent team you CAN’T give momentum to.
            I also used that good ol’ optimistic homerism to pick against the Dolphins in the game against the Saints, btw…

        • Paul L. Picken, Jr

          They may well lose to the saints. A loss is a loss, by 1 point or 100. I’ll reserve my scoffing, but will you scoff at Miami if the pats lose to teams they beat?

        • Paul L. Picken, Jr

          Hi dan, I covered some of that in my previous response, but it won’t scoff at Miami if they win those games, but will you agree to reserve some scoffing if New England gets beat by the teams Miami has been beating? A loss is a loss regardless of the score, and I don’t see a scenario where New England beats the saints right now… And Miami did just beat the team you’re referring to, and mostly without their “best player”

      • Paul L. Picken, Jr

        Agreed.

    • Doug Vaughan

      This guy fell off the retard wagon^

      • Dan

        The retard wagon is leaving Atlanta 4-0, lets see if the Fins can keep up.

        • Paul L. Picken, Jr

          I would’ve said the Patriots, but if that’s how you want to refer to your team, I won’t stop you :)

          • Dan

            Does not matter how I or you refer to them or rank them. Just look at the decline of the Steelers and Giants as to how hard it is to keep a winner going in the current era of free agency and salary cap in today’s NFL. Hate on the Pats and Belichick all you want (and Miami fans are the most hateful of all fanst towards the Pats) the reality is that what Belichick and the Pats have done this last 10 years will never be duplicated. You are looking at the best coach/QB combination in NFL history and the era they are doing it in is ten times more difficult to keep a winner going then in the days of Noll and Shula. The Pats were vunerable in the first 3 games and no one took advantage – they are only getting stronger now and another 12 win plus season is all but assured.

          • Paul L. Picken, Jr

            I fully agree that it doesn’t matter how anyone refers to them, it’s the product on the field that matters. Year in and year out, the Pats have been a tough team over the past 10 years, and we’re almost to the 10 year anniversary of their last superbowl win, I believe (which is a much shorter stretch than for the Dolphins, quite obviously). The NFL is a cyclical league, and as you pointed out great teams do fall off rather suddenly in this league – like the Giants and Steelers, and I’d even say the Ravens though their record right now masks it. Previously in the AFC East it was the Jets (most recently), the Dolphins before them, and the Bills in the 90′s. I give the Pats all the credit for what they’ve done in the past 10 years, and their 18-1 season was ridiculously impressive. They have always been a tough team to face, and generally even when one team or the other is having a rough season, the Dolphins/Pats games have been pretty epic.
            It’s apples and oranges on the Noll/Shula era to the BilBel era, I agree, but you can make arguments in either direction on that one. The Pats didn’t play anyone until Atlanta that was capable of taking advantage of that vulnerability, but they WILL be challenged at various points throughout the season. I fully expect Miami and the Pats to make the postseason based on the strength of their remaining schedules, and who wins the division and/or the wildcard remains to be seen. Tonight marks the toughest game on Miami’s calendar as it appears thus far, and the schedule lightens considerably after this one.
            That said, I wouldn’t say it will never be duplicated, people have said that about so many stats, records or other things that have fallen. Short of having Biff’s sports almanac from Back to the Future II, none of us know what will actually happen. Any team can win on any Sunday (well, not so sure about the Jags…). And the Pats did impress me last night, but they need to show it in more than 1 game for me to believe, mainly due to the inexperience they have at the “anyone who catches passes” positions. As Giselle so aptly pointed out during the past 10 years, Tom Terrific can’t throw the ball AND catch it.
            Anyhow, I appreciate the feedback, and keep reading. I welcome your comments on any future and/or past articles.

          • Dan

            10 years since the last SB win but they have been to 2 and very close to winning both. I challenge you to present to me one other franchise during the FA era that are consistently a SB threat year in and year out pretty much since 2001. Miami looks much better than I thought but lets face it, the year they won the AFCE (with Brady out) was an abberation and the franchise has been mediocre to bad for the last 10 years. They always draft ahead of the Pats (as have bad teams now good like Seattle and SF). Its about time they have a decent team – it certainly has taken long enough! In that 10 year period it has become sport for Miami fans to pass the Pats sucess off as cheating and point to the fact they have not won a SB in 10 years (which is still better than the last one coming in the 70′s). I just thought that to rank the Pats at 14 was petty, bad teams or not they did win all of their games and got better each week (without 2 offensive stars). I think you guys will find out that the Bills and Jets are not the push overs we all thought. They are not playoff teams but they will fight and have a chance every week. The one game against a common opponent Miami had to drive the field at the end to win it(at home), and the Pats were pretty much in control that entire game – in Atlanta -and held on to win at the end(even you have to admit they got screwed on that first down call which would have iced the game)

          • Paul L. Picken, Jr

            Oh they completely got screwed on that first down, hands down. Refs aren’t perfect, and I and we can both probably point out dozens of instances where even more critical calls and non-calls went for or against our respective teams (or other teams). We can also point to different stats that support our arguments for how great our team is (like how IF – BIG if – Miami were to win tonight, they’d be only the 4th team to start 7 seasons 4-0 since the AFL-NFL merger). That said, they are both VERY good teams this year, which I will admit after last night when the Pats finally showed me something this year. You’ll also note, I made the same point about ranking them in the teens as I did with Chicago, so I went 50-50 on that front in regards to the two undefeated teams that I put in the teens who hadn’t shown anything yet prior to yesterday. Keep in mind that I qualified with how I wasn’t heavily factoring w/l record, more how they had played until this point in the season. For next week, the pats are a team that will move substantially, as will the Falcons.
            Based on these rankings, you’ll also find it obvious who I feel SHOULD win tonight, but that’s why they play the game, right?
            As far as players being out or injured, even Denver is dealing with some key injuries or suspensions. Don’t forget, Miami did it last week with at least 3 key starters out on defense alone, 2 of whom have pro bowl pedigrees, and it came down to the closing seconds with that common opponent – much like the pats did last night, only who was winning/losing at that critical moment. The pats led most of the way, and I was very impressed they did it with their running game to set the tone. I don’t trust Gronk or Amendola to stay healthy, and the young receivers had shown no indication they could reliably catch the ball prior to last night.

    • Paul L. Picken, Jr

      Hi dan,

      I appreciate your opinion on this. That said, the ranks are based off of how teams have looked thus far, and as you pointed out the pats “have not played well” to this point. If they show that they are good, they will move up. This ranking isn’t about the past 10 years, but the past 3 weeks. Miami May or May not be without Cam Wake (who I assume you’re referring to) this week, and going Sheryl off this ranking SHOULD lose to the Saints. I don’t believe that I mentioned the Super Bowl for Miami, simply the playoffs. They’re nearly through the toughest part of their schedule, and the pats still have their tough match ups against the same teams, plus some additional tough games that Miami does not, such as against Denver.

      Thanks, and keep reading…

      • Dan

        Patrick – the last 10 years do matter as it shows how teams will grow/react as the season goes on – you should know better than to rank any Brady/Belichick team that low – it stinks of homerism.. I wonder how you will view the Pats this week after beating Atlanta in their house?

    • mark simis

      Lol we will see

  • Doug Vaughan

    Pats at 14 finally someone who agrees that all there hype is BS, but don’t tell ESPN that those clowns have them ranked at #3 SMH

    • Paul L. Picken, Jr

      Thanks, man! I appreciate the feedback! I agree… I can’t believe some of espn’s rankings, which is part of what prompted mine… I’m tired of ranking teams based not off of merit, but off of hype. I’ve talked to a lot of New England fans who are not sold on this years team and don’t believe they deserve to be 3-0