Another number one bites the dust: a week after grabbing the top spot from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Los Angeles Rams have already been ousted after a 37-20 defeat […]
Another number one bites the dust: a week after grabbing the top spot from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Los Angeles Rams have already been ousted after a 37-20 defeat at the hands of the now 4-0 Arizona Cardinals. Does this make Kyler Murray’s Cardinals the best team in the NFL? Or could the Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers, or Baltimore Ravens, each with three straight wins, clam the spot in my Post-Week 4 NFL Power Rankings.
Last year’s Super Bowl participants, the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, should have been up there as well, but both teams seem a step off from their Super Bowl form from a season ago.
Plenty of surprising results, such as the New York Giants 27-21 overtime upset of the New Orleans Saints, the New York Jets overtime win over the Tennessee Titans, and the New England Patriots giving Tom Brady and the Buccaneers a good fight, have shaken up the league’s Power Rankings after four weeks of play.
As always, if you’d like to discuss or debate my rankings, the best pace to do so is @SakSports on Twitter.
While it feels premature in some ways, I feel like I have no choice but to put Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals first in this week’s Power Rankings. The Rams earned the top spot last week after knocking off the Buccaneers, so it’s only natural that the Cardinals leapfrog from the sixth spot to the number one. My only gripe with Arizona is that wins against Minnesota and Jacksonville didn’t come easy, but with stronger wins over the Titans and Rams, along with an NFL-high 35.0 points per game against just 21.3 points allowed per game, the Cardinals are the cream of the crop so far in 2021.
Buffalo Bills (3-1) [Last Week: 5]
Week 1’s close loss to the Steelers is more than excusable as the Buffalo Bills rolled over their last three opponents by a combined score of 118-12. The competition, Miami, Washington, and Houston, may not have been the NFL’s finest, but Buffalo is still one of the NFL’s most dangerous teams, and should be treated as such until further notice.
Los Angeles Rams (3-1)[Last Week: 1]
Last week, I crowned the Los Angeles Rams as the best team in the NFL. Losing to the Cardinals in Week 4 is allowable, but the 37-20 beat-down Los Angeles received at home should serve as a wake-up call that the Rams aren’t a perfect team quite yet.
Baltimore Ravens (3-1) [Last Week: 3]
The Baltimore Ravens join the Bills and Packers in the “playoff team from last season wins three straight games after Week 1 loss” club. Lamar Jackson passed for 316 yards and a touchdown against a good Broncos defense, and limited the Broncos offense to 254 total yards in a 23-7 victory in Denver. With a win over the Chiefs on their resume, Baltimore is as much of a threat as anybody in the AFC.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1) [Last Week: 2]
After two weeks at the top and last week at #2, I’ve lost a little more confidence in the defending Super Bowl champions. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers still shape up to be a double-digit win team, but a 19-17 win over the Patriots didn’t do much to instill confidence that Week 3’s loss to the Rams wasn’t a one-off letdown. Yes, Tom Brady beat New England to officially defeat all 32 NFL franchises in his career, but the game shouldn’t have been that close as the Patriots largely shut down the Buccaneers offense.
Green Bay Packers (3-1) [Last Week: 12]
Much like the Bills, the Green Bay Packers have followed-up a Week 1 loss (albeit a much more embarrassing one) by rattling off three straight victories, most of them in dominant fashion. Green Bay had to sweat it out against the 49ers in Week 3, but got back to business with a 27-17 win over the Steelers in Week 4.
Cleveland Browns (3-1) [Last Week: 7]
Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns offense have been experiencing some hiccups, but a surprisingly strong defense gives the team a new wrinkle that could be a game-changer come playoff time. The Browns outlasted the Vikings 14-7 in Minnesota to improve to 3-1 with just one late loss against the Chiefs in Week 1.
Los Angeles Chargers (3-1) [Last Week: 9]
Justin Herbert threw for three touchdowns, Austin Ekeler had 15 carries for 117 yards ad a score, and the Los Angeles Chargers took care of business 28-14 against the previously undefeated Raiders on Monday Night Football. The Chargers came in to the season as a wildcard contender, but the sky is the limit and the AFC West could be theirs for the taking, with wins over the Raiders and Chiefs already notched.
Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) [Last Week: 4]
Patrick Mahomes threw five touchdown passes to get the Kansas City Chiefs back to .500 at 2-2, but something has to be done against Andy Reid’s putrid defense. If the Chiefs didn’t have a world class offense that went 5-for-5 in the red zone and scored on six of seven drives in Kansas City’s 42-30 win over the Eagles, their record would be much worse. Mahomes is too special of a player to subject to this bad of a defense.
Dallas Cowboys (3-1) [Last Week: 13]
Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys downed the previously undefeated Carolina Panthers in Week 4 with a 36-28 victory that wasn’t even as close as it sounded. Dallas is a dangerous team, and just winning the NFC East seems like the bare minimum for the Cowboys at this point.
Las Vegas Raiders (3-1) [Last Week: 8]
The Las Vegas Raiders slightly surprising 3-0 start came to an end against the Chargers with a 28-14 loss on Monday Night Football. Las Vegas is still exceeding early expectations, but there’s at least ten times I would take against Las Vegas in head-to-head matchups.
Seattle Seahawks (2-2)[Last Week: 15]
#12 seems a little high, and this Seattle Seahawks team isn’t out of the doghouse just yet. Seattle’s 1-2 start, with an overtime loss to the Titans and a 30-17 loss to the Vikings was disappointing. Beating their NFC West rival 49ers 28-21 is an inspiring step forward, but not enough for the Seahawks to creep back in to the Top Ten where they were for the first two weeks.
San Francisco 49ers (2-2)[Last Week: 14]
Jimmy Garroppolo and the San Francisco 49ers weren’t bad in their 28-21 loss to the Seahawks, but they revealed where they currently stand in the NFC West: as the fourth-best team. San Francisco has only beaten the Lions and Eagles so far, but lost to the Packers and now Seahawks by just one score each.
Carolina Panthers (3-1)[Last Week: 16]
The Carolina Panthers jumped out to a 14-13 lead against the Cowboys in Dallas, but fell apart and allowed Dallas to score 23 straight points for a 36-14 lead. Sam Darnold’s offense scored touchdowns on their final two drives to cut to the score to a more respectable 36-28, but ultimately fell short for their first loss of the season. Even with the loss, Carolina rises a couple spots for showing strength in the face of adversity, putting up 28 points without Christian McCaffrey, but more than anything, the next few teams on this list having disappointing Week 4 results.
It may have felt like the 3-0 Denver Broncos were exposed in their 23-7 loss to the Ravens, but my mind didn’t change too much about Denver, plus Teddy Bridgewater didn’t even play the whole game. If I had ranked them higher in the past, they certainly would have dropped, but 17th seems like a good spot for the Broncos right now. I’d still take Denver over about half the leagues teams.
Cincinnati Bengals (3-1)[Last Week: 21]
With back-to-back wins over the Steelers and Jaguars, the Cincinnati Bengals have leaped ten spots over the past weeks. While I’m still hesitant to call Joe Burrow and the 3-1 Bengals a contender to compete for a playoff spot, they’ve certainly played well to start the season.
New England Patriots (1-3)[Last Week: 20]
While it was a losing effort, Mac Jones and the New England Patriots may have played their best game of the season in Sunday night’s loss to the Buccaneers. Jones’ 275-yard, two-touchdown performance was impressive in it’s own right, but given the high intensity of this matchup, it was an even more impressive outing for the rookie.
Indianapolis Colts (1-3)[Last Week: 23]
Even at 0-3, I knew the Indianapolis Colts weren’t that bad of a team, and they backed up this assumption with a 27-17 road win over the Dolphins for their first victory of the season.
Minnesota Vikings (1-3)[Last Week: 22]
I didn’t intend for the Minnesota Vikings to rise this week, but they can thank the teams behind them for that. Minnesota’s saving grace, their offense, was non-existent in a 14-7 loss to the Browns. If anything though, holding Cleveland’s offense to 14 points and just one touchdown is an improvement for the Vikings defense.
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3)[Last Week: 18]
Something is definitely wrong with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have slid 11 spots in the last two weeks. This week’s 27-17 loss to the Packers wasn’t the worst performance in the world, but after losses to the Raiders and Bengals, Pittsburgh’s Week 1 win over the Bills feels awfully lucky in hindsight.
New York Giants (1-3)[Last Week: 29]
I’ve been tough on Daniel Jones and the New York Giants, but they’ve been in the game until the final play for each of the last three weeks, which is more than a lot of teams can say. If New York was truly a good team, they probably would’ve beaten Washington or Atlanta, but beating the Saints in New Orleans was impressive enough to nudge the Giants up six spots.
Miami Dolphins (1-3)[Last Week: 19]
The Miami Dolphins bounced back from a 35-0 loss to the Bills by playing the Raiders hard in a one-score loss, but couldn’t follow up that performance in a 27-17 Week 4 loss to the Colts. With an offense that has scored the second-least points in the league and a defense that has allowed the eighth-most, Miami doesn’t exactly have a winning formula.
Chicago Bears (2-2)[Last Week: 26]
The Chicago Bears are lucky to be 2-2, as they haven’t exactly had the best performances on the field this season. The offense has scored the third-lest points in the league through four weeks, but a win is a win. Chicago has beaten the Bengals and Lions, while being absolutely manhandled by the Rams and Browns.
Washington Football Team (2-2)[Last Week: 25]
Washington Football Team’s two wins have come on a last-second field goal against the Giants (a game they should have lost) and a four-point win this week against the Falcons. Washington’s defense, their strongest point heading in to the season, has allowed the third-most points in the league through four weeks.
Philadelphia Eagles (1-3)[Last Week: 24]
The Philadelphia Eagles may have put up 30 points, but they didn’t force a single punt in their 42-30 loss to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. After a slightly promising 1-1 start, the Eagles are fading fast.
Atlanta Falcons (1-3)[Last Week: 28]
While the defense has allowed a league-high 128 points, Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons can at least score points… sometimes. The Falcons found offensive success in a 48-25 loss to the Buccaneers as well as this week’s 34-30 loss to Washington, but their putrid defense spoiled any points Atlanta scored. In their other two games, a 32-6 loss to the Eagles in Week 1 and a 17-14 last-second win over the Giants, the offense struggled.
New York Jets (1-3)[Last Week: 32]
Coming out of the basement with authority this week is the New York Jets. After showing little signs of life and getting worse week-to-week through Week 3, the Zach Wilson and the Jets shocked the NFL with a 27-24 overtime win over the Titans. If the defense can stay strong, Wilson and the Jets should be able to pick up a couple more wins this season.
Detroit Lions (0-4)[Last Week: 27]
Moral victories against the 49ers and Ravens don’t count for too much, and the Detroit Lions lost 24-14 to the Bears this week to fall to 0-4 in the Jared Goff era.
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4)[Last Week: 30]
Thursday Night’s 24-21 loss was the best performance of Trevor Lawrence’s young NFL career, but Jacksonville’s defense couldn’t do anything to hold the Jaguars 14-0 halftime lead.
Houston Texans (1-3)[Last Week: 31]
If Tyrod Taylor were healthy, the Houston Texans wouldn’t rank dead-last in the NFL, but Davis Mills is hardly an NFL quarterback. Houston was Buffalo’s latest victim, falling 40-0 to Josh Allen and the Bills in Week 4.
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