Read as Nick Springer takes us through his weekly NFL Power Rankings, which are uploaded every Tuesday or Wednesday during the NFL season.
- Denver Broncos (4-0)- Previous rank: 2- The big story of the game against Tampa Bay is Trevor Siemian. The young QB left the game with a non-throwing shoulder injury, but Paxton Lynch filled in nicely with a touchdown pass. At this point, it doesn’t matter if Lynch or Siemian is the starter, as the Broncos still boast one of the best defenses in the league.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1)- Previous rank: 7- After taking a week off against Philadelphia, the Steelers once again asserted themselves as one of the top teams in the league. The return of Le’Veon Bell allowed Pittsburgh’s offense to reach max capacity. If they play like that every week, then watch out. The AFC looks like it’s turning into a three-horse race between Denver, Pittsburgh, and New England.
- Minnesota Vikings (4-0)- Previous rank: 3- The Vikes look virtually unstoppable right now, and lest I remind you, they don’t have their starting QB or RB. Sam Bradford is playing some of the best football of his career, and the combination of McKinnon and Asiata are doing a fantastic job in relief of Adrian Peterson. The Vikings defense is certainly one of the best in the league as well. At this point, Minnesota is the clear favorite in the NFC North.
- Seattle Seahawks (3-1)- Previous rank: 5- Apparently Russell Wilson’s injured ankle didn’t bother him too much against New York. All he did was carve up the Jets’ secondary to the tune of 309 yards and three touchdowns. Seattle’s run game wasn’t great, but it was good enough to keep New York’s defense honest for the most part. With how bad Seattle’s offense has looked early in the season, it’s pretty impressive that they are sitting at 3-1 right now. The Seahawks will have a bye week next week, which is an excellent opportunity for them to get healthy.
- Green Bay Packers (2-1)- Previous rank: 4- The Packers had a bye this week, but Aaron Rodgers just looked like he was starting to get rolling last week. Green Bay hosts the Giants on Sunday.
- New England Patriots (3-1)- Previous rank: 1- Even though the Pats lost this game, they’re still one of the top teams in the league, especially once Tom Brady suits up next week. Brady will get a tune-up game next week against the Browns before New England hosts Cincinnati. I’m guessing Pats fans aren’t too concerned after Sunday’s shutout, and I certainly am not worried.
- Philadelphia Eagles (3-0)- Previous rank: 6- The Eagles will look to continue their hot start to the season next week when they travel to Detroit to take on the Lions. I doubt Philadelphia (Carson Wentz especially) wanted to see the bye week this early considering how well they have played in the first three games of the season. They get two weeks to prepare for the lowly Lions.
- Atlanta Falcons (3-1)- Previous rank: 16- Whoa, the Atlanta Falcons are really good. The Matt Ryan-Julio Jones connection is as strong as ever. Together, they torched Carolina’s secondary all game long. The defense is improved, but the biggest difference in this team is the ground game. Between Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman, the Falcons are set on the ground. They’ve got a tough two-game road stretch against Denver and Seattle coming up.
- Dallas Cowboys (3-1)- Previous rank: 11- The two phenomenal rookies of the Cowboys led them to a third straight victory over the 49ers on Sunday. Dak Prescott has yet to throw an interception, and Zeke Elliot is getting more impressive every week. The Cowboys are legit, and the division that everyone thought was going to be terrible boasts some of the best records in the league.
- Oakland Raiders (3-1)- Previous rank: 14- Oakland grinded out a good win on the road against Baltimore, and they look like they’re poised to challenge for the AFC West title. Derek Carr threw for 4 touchdowns and no picks in the game. Three went to veteran receiver Michael Crabtree, who appears to have found his home in Oakland. I’d like to see more improvement from the defense especially in the secondary, however Sean Smith played what was by far his best game of the season against Baltimore.
- New York Giants (2-2)- Previous rank: 10- The G-men didn’t play horrible against Minnesota, but they didn’t play great either. The Vikings did an excellent job of limiting Odell Beckham, and Eli Manning was harassed in the pocket all game. This isn’t a bad loss, but it is a loss nonetheless. It doesn’t get any easier for New York next week when they travel to Green Bay to battle the Packers.
- Houston Texans (3-1)- Previous rank: 12- The Texans rebounded from their loss to New England by beating a much-improved Tennessee team. Rookie sensation Will Fuller V continues to shine, and Lamar Miller looks like he was a good pickup from Miami last year. He has provided some stability at the running back position so far this season.
- Los Angeles Rams (3-1)- Previous rank: 22- OK, I guess it’s time to give LA some love. If you happened to check the NFC West standings after Sunday’s games you probably would have noticed something very peculiar. That’s right folks, the Rams are in first place through four games this season. After getting embarrassed on opening weekend, the Rams have ripped off three straight wins including a win against Seattle, and an impressive road win this past Sunday against Arizona. Is Case Keenum really the guy in LA this season?
- Cincinnati Bengals (2-2)- Previous rank: 13- A.J. Green was the highlight of Thursday night’s game against Miami. The Bengals won 22-7, and got some good play from the defense. Granted, they were playing Miami, but this was a much needed victory to get some confidence back on both sides of the ball.
- Washington Redskins (2-2)- Previous rank: 18- The Redskins escaped with a victory against the Browns, and now they can look ahead to next week when they travel to Baltimore. Kirk Cousins wasn’t great, but he got some help from Matt Jones on the ground. Jordan Reed is beginning to blossom into a top-five tight end in the league.
- Baltimore Ravens (3-1)- Previous rank: 17- The Ravens finally played a quality opponent, and they fell just short in a hard-fought game. Even though they lost, I was still very impressed by their performance. Terrance West ignited the run game after Justin Forsett was benched (and then released from the team) in a coach’s decision. I doubt Baltimore fans want to see Joe Flacco throwing the ball 52 times a game, and he got hit pretty hard on a number of occasions. Protecting Flacco and continuing to establish the run game will be the keys for Baltimore as the season progresses.
- Kansas City Chiefs (2-2)- Previous rank: 9- Will the real Kansas City Chiefs please stand up? After forcing 8 turnovers last week against the Jets, Kansas City was utterly demolished on Sunday night in prime time. The secondary looked confused, there was no pressure on Big Ben, and nobody besides Chris Conley could catch a ball to save his life. Tyreek Hill has had two TD returns called back by iffy calls this season as well. As a Chiefs fan, I’m not sure I can survive this roller coaster of emotions for a whole season.
- Buffalo Bills (2-2)- Previous rank: 23- The Bills managed to do something no team has done for a long time: they successfully shut out the Patriots en route to a 16-0 victory on Sunday. Granted, the Patriots sent out an injured Jacoby Brissett to start at QB. Either way, this is still a monumental win for Buffalo and Rex Ryan. After being on the hot seat two weeks ago, Ryan’s team has responded by crushing the Arizona Cardinals and shutting out the Patriots.
- Carolina Panthers (1-3)- Previous rank: 8- Yikes, this is not at all the way Carolina wanted to start their season. Cam Newton left the game against the Falcons with a possible concussion, and the defense was absolutely shredded by Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. The loss of Jonathan Stewart has been a big blow to the run game.
- New Orleans Saints (1-3)- Previous rank: 21- Drew Brees was contained for the second game in a row in his first game in San Diego since that fateful injury he suffered. The Saints won this game, but they were bailed out by a couple of San Diego fumbles, allowing them to come back for the victory. The Saints stuffed San Diego’s running game, but their suspect secondary was picked apart by Phillip Rivers. However, to be fair, they did get the game-winning interception. The Saints have a bye next week before they host the Carolina Panthers.
- New York Jets (1-3)- Previous rank: 20- There was a lot of talk surrounding the Jets entering the season about how they could challenge New England in the AFC East. So far, New York has not lived up to those expectations. They responded to last week’s beating in KC with a better performance this week against Seattle, but Fitzmagic still threw three costly interceptions.
- Arizona Cardinals (1-3)- Previous rank: 15- How does a team go from Super Bowl expectations to 1-3 to start the season? Carson Palmer has been atrocious, and he left Sunday’s game with a concussion. The defense has certainly not played up to what they’re capable of so far. This is worst case scenario for Arizona. The Cardinals are at San Francisco on Thursday Night Football in a must-win game.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3)- Previous rank: 26- Could things finally be turning around in Jacksonville? The Jaguars picked up a critical victory in London against the Colts on Sunday, and their running game finally got going. Blake Bortles played his best game of the season, and the defense looks like it’s beginning to show signs of improvement, though it is important to note they were going up against a Colts offensive line with three rookies. The Jags will have a bye week before they go to Chicago which is another game they are capable of winning.
- Indianapolis Colts (1-3)- Previous rank: 19- The offensive line woes continue to plague Andrew Luck. He took some nasty hits in London, and the running game didn’t give him much help. The Colts now return home to host Chicago in a must-win game, and they’ve got to turn it around quickly.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3)- Previous rank: 25- Jameis Winston is playing a game of Jekyll and Hyde right now. He’s been so inconsistent this season, and every time I think he’s grown up he has another really bad game. 179 and two interceptions is not going to cut it for Tampa. He needs to start showing some consistency.
- Tennessee Titans (1-3)- Previous rank: 27- The Titans are slowly making progress. They were in this game against Houston until the very end, which bodes well for the future of this team. It doesn’t look like this year will be their year, but the Titans are certainly a much more dangerous team than they were a year ago. DeMarco Murray rushed for two more touchdowns, and has really bounced back from his 2015 campaign.
- Miami Dolphins (1-3)- Previous rank: 24- Miami’s offense on Thursday night was almost as bad as their uniforms. OK, their uniforms weren’t that bad, but their offense was. No run game, and a horrible passing game outside of a Kenny Stills 74-yard TD should be major red flags for Miami fans going forward. The Dolphins need to find reliable offense soon.
- Chicago Bears (1-3)- Previous rank: 31- Forget Jay Culter, Brian Hoyer has come in and played very well for Chicago the past two weeks. Once again, he managed to not turn the ball over, and he threw for over 300 yards while leading the Bears to their first victory of the season. Jordan Howard came in and rushed for over 100 yards, and the defense stifled Matthew Stafford. This was an important divisional win for the Bears.
- San Diego Chargers (1-3)- Previous rank: 28- I feel bad for the Chargers. They could be 4-0 right now. They had Kansas City by the throat in the first half before blowing that one, they were ahead most of the game against Indy before giving up a late score, and they controlled Sunday’s game against the Saints until John Kuhn decided to show up. A couple of late turnovers killed the Chargers on Sunday, but other than that they outplayed New Orleans. Unfortunately, they’re now sitting at 1-3 and they don’t have Keenan Allen, Danny Woodhead, or Manti Te’o for the rest of the season.
- San Francisco 49ers (1-3)- Previous rank: 30- After dismantling the Rams to open the season the 49ers have dropped three straight. They were competitive against the Cowboys, but ultimately fell short. How much longer before Kap gets a chance?
- Detroit Lions (1-3)- Previous rank: 29- Well, this game was a disaster for Detroit. Stafford threw two interceptions, the running game was abysmal, and the defense allowed Brian Hoyer (Brian Hoyer!) to throw for 300 yards. Marvin Jones finished with 74 yards receiving, but he was just about the only bright spot for the Lions on Sunday. Detroit hosts the red-hot Eagles next week.
- Cleveland Browns (0-4)- Previous rank: 32- OK Browns, you guys actually played pretty well against Washington, and Terrelle Pryor didn’t get hurt which sort of counts as a win. Even though the Browns are 0-4, they’ve battled in every game. They could be 2-2 if they hadn’t blown a 20-point lead against Baltimore and missed a 47-yard field goal against Miami. Keep dreaming, Cleveland.
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Feature photo courtesy of Jeffrey Beall.