NFL Power Rankings: Week 4

Story posted September 26, 2019 in Sports, CommRadio by John Murphy

After three weeks, we’re starting to see how teams are shaping up for the season. The Lions and Bills have surprised the league as they both go into Week 4 undefeated. Since the current playoff format was introduced in 1990, 140 teams have started the season 0-3, and only four of those teams made the playoffs. On the flip side, 141 teams have started the season 3-0, and only 14 of them missed the playoffs. In this week’s power rankings, we’ll take a look at the last time each team started their current win-loss record.

1. New England Patriots (3-0) (0)
Surprisingly, New England has not started 3-0 since the 2016 season. This team just keeps getting better, especially the defense, which has not allowed a single offensive touchdown since last year’s AFC championship game. The Patriots continue to improve as they get ready to play for the AFC East lead against Buffalo on Sunday.

2. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) (0)
This is the third year in a row that the Chiefs have started 3-0, and it’s no mystery why they’ve kept that streak alive: Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes put the Chiefs ahead 30-13 early last Sunday, and even though the defense started to wear out towards the end, Kansas City was able to stay alive long enough to get the win over Baltimore.

3. Los Angeles Rams (3-0) (+1)
This is the second year in a row that the Rams have started 3-0. The Los Angeles offense isn’t being as productive as they were last year, but the defense has improved greatly, which is exactly what the Rams have been relying on to get to 3-0.

4. Green Bay Packers (3-0) (+3)
The Packers have not started 3-0 since 2015. Strangely enough, Aaron Rodgers hasn’t been Green Bay’s driving force so far, but that’s a good thing. The reason for the strong start is the defense, which has been outstanding just as much as surprising. Rodgers hasn’t found himself playing with a top-10 defense since Green Bay’s 2010 Super Bowl run. If Rodgers is able to get his rhythm back, this team could be unstoppable.

5. Dallas Cowboys (3-0) (-2)
The Cowboys’ 3-0 start is the best they’ve had since 2008. That 2008 team didn’t finish with a playoff berth, which could potentially be a bad omen, but nothing about this current Cowboys team resembles 2008. Dak Prescott and the offense have been explosive in the second half, which will benefit Dallas greatly in New Orleans this week.

6. Baltimore Ravens (2-1) (0)
This is the third year in a row that the Ravens have started 2-1, as well as the eighth time in the last 10 seasons. The Ravens offense was able to keep Baltimore alive against Kansas City, but the defense, especially the secondary, needs some refining in order for this Ravens squad to continue winning games.

7. New Orleans Saints (2-1) (+8)
The Saints started 2-1 just last year, then played the next 15 weeks losing only twice more. Doing that again this year will be much more difficult with Drew Brees on the sideline for an unknown period of time. The focus right now is for Teddy Bridgewater to keep the Saints in playoff contention until Brees returns.

8. Minnesota Vikings (2-1) (+1)
The Vikings last started 2-1 in their very successful 2017 season that saw Minnesota go all the way to the NFC championship game. Dalvin Cook has been a big part of this season’s early success, but the Vikings can’t rely on only the rushing game against a tough Bears defense in Week 4.

9. Chicago Bears (2-1) (+2)
The Bears started 2-1 just last season and are looking to repeat 2018’s success. The defense has been Chicago’s biggest strength by a wide margin, but it’s had trouble staying consistent in the fourth quarter, almost allowing a comeback from the Washington Redskins. Mitchell Trubisky improved this week, but still has a ways to go before he’s ready to command the offense.

10. San Francisco 49ers (3-0) (+4)
The 49ers are 3-0 for the first time since 1998. The defense did a great job in Week 3, holding the Steelers to just 239 yards, but the offense had five turnovers, which is obviously a big problem. The 49ers are on a bye this week and will play the Cleveland Browns in Week 5.

11. Houston Texans (2-1) (-1)
The Texans last started 2-1 in 2016. What the Texans did not have in 2016 was Deshaun Watson, whose performance against the Chargers in Week 3 earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, but the offensive line has got to be better if the Texans want to keep Watson healthy.

12. Detroit Lions (2-0-1) (+8)
Unsurprisingly, the Lions have never started 2-0-1 in the modern era, but the last time they were undefeated through three games was in 2011. Every Lions game so far has been a close contest, with the largest margin of victory being just three points. This week will be the Lions’ biggest challenge, as they take on the Kansas City Chiefs. A win here would prove that Detroit is a legitimate contender.

13. Seattle Seahawks (2-1) (-8)
It’s been since 2016 that the Seahawks started 2-1, but they don’t have the same momentum that they had to start that 2016 season. Seattle looked flat in Week 3, losing to the Drew Brees-less Saints. As a result, the Seahawks lost their first home game in September since 2009.

14. Buffalo Bills (3-0) (+9)
Buffalo last started 3-0 in 2011 but finished that season a disappointing 6-10. The Bills have been the surprise team so far, but now they face their first serious test of the season in the New England Patriots. A win here would prove that this isn’t the fluke start that 2011 was.

15. Indianapolis Colts (2-1) (+1)
The Colts are 2-1 for the first time since 2013. At the start of this season, the Colts were written off without even playing a game due to the retirement of Andrew Luck. They have since proven to be contenders under Jacoby Brissett’s leadership and are currently tied for first in the AFC South.

16. Los Angeles Chargers (1-2) (-4)
The Chargers were 1-2 just last season but were able to fix their mistakes quickly and finish the season 12-4. The Chargers are hoping to repeat that turnaround this year, but the repeated second-half struggles could make that difficult.

17. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) (-9)
The last time the Eagles started 1-2 was back in 2015. The Philadelphia offense struggled against the Lions with two lost fumbles and seven dropped passes. Now the Eagles travel to Green Bay for what will be a difficult but necessary game to win in order to avoid 1-3.

18. Atlanta Falcons (1-2) (0)
The Falcons started 1-2 last season and are repeating the same mistakes. Atlanta committed 16 penalties against the Colts and seemed lost on the field. Matt Ryan is currently fifth in passing yards and third in passing touchdowns, but his play his been inconsistent. Even his good day in Indianapolis wasn’t enough to grab Atlanta a victory.

19. Cleveland Browns (1-2) (-6)
The Browns last started 1-2 back in 2015, but something feels different about this 1-2. The Browns were one of the most hyped-up teams going into the 2019 season but have fallen short of expectations so far. They were able to keep it close against the Rams, but the play calling was questionable at best.

20. Carolina Panthers (1-2) (+2)
The Panthers last started 1-2 back in 2016. The Panthers were able to put together a win in Week 3 under Kyle Allen, who played very well in the absence of the injured Cam Newton. If Allen continues this level of the play, Carolina should feel comfortable sitting Newton until he is healthy.

21. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) (+7)
The Jaguars haven’t started 1-2 since 2015, but this 1-2 feels much better than previous years with the hype surrounding Gardner Minshew, who has done an amazing job giving the Jaguars confidence. The defense played a great game against the Titans as well, recording nine sacks.

22. Tennessee Titans (1-2) (-5)
The Titans last started 1-2 back in 2016 and are looking to get back on track following a massive offensive struggle against the Jaguars. A lot of that relies on the offensive line. It’s hard for Marcus Mariota to get anything done when his he’s sacked nine times in one game.

23. New York Giants (1-2) (+8)
The Giants were 1-2 last season, but unlike 2018, there’s hope with this 1-2 record. Daniel Jones did everything he needed to do to earn a win against the Buccaneers. Jones was able to bring life the Giants offense for the first time in weeks: an especially impressive feat considering Saquon Barkley was out for most of the game. Getting a win this week will put the Giants at .500 with 12 games to look forward to.

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2) (-3)
The Buccaneers last started 1-2 in 2016. The highlight for the Buccaneers so far has been Shaq Barrett, who recorded his eighth sack of the season last week. The Buccaneers now go on the road for the next two months and won’t play another home game until Nov. 10.

25. Oakland Raiders (1-2) (-1)
It’s surprising that the Raiders haven’t started 1-2 since 2013, but it’s not surprising to see them there this year. Derek Carr has struggled the last two weeks, and the Raiders have showed that they aren’t ready to contend yet. Despite that, the Raiders are still being supported by the Oakland faithful in what is the Raiders’ final season in the bay area before relocating to Las Vegas.

26. Denver Broncos (0-3) (+3)
The Broncos haven’t started 0-3 since 1999, the first year after John Elway’s retirement. Denver continues to turn the ball over in critical moments, and the defense has been incredibly disappointing, as the Broncos remain the only team not to record a sack this season. Joe Flacco is struggling to throw the ball, and the only glimmer of life that the Broncos have is coming from Phillip Lindsay.

27. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3) (-8)
Pittsburgh last started 0-3 in 2013 and finished that season just one field goal shy from reaching the playoffs. The big difference between 2013 and now is that the Steelers are without Ben Roethlisberger for the remainder of the season. Mason Rudolph has a lot to learn, and being unable to capitalize on the defense’s five turnovers in Week 3 proved to be costly.

28. Arizona Cardinals (0-2-1) (-2)
Unsurprisingly, the Cardinals have never started a season 0-2-1, but the last time the Cardinals went winless through three weeks was just last year. Kyler Murray was thrown into a very difficult situation, and it shows with his lack of confidence so far this season. The defense continues to struggle and showed no signs of improvement against Carolina.

29. Cincinnati Bengals (0-3) (-4)
The Bengals last started 0-3 back in 2017. Cincinnati went down 14-0 against the Bills in Week 3, but the offense showed some flashes of being great, scoring 17 unanswered. Still, Cincinnati couldn’t complete the comeback and fell to 0-3. The defense has a lot to fix, but if it’s able to find some rhythm against the Steelers on Monday, the Bengals might find a way to start winning more often.

30. Washington Redskins (0-3) (-3)
The Redskins last started 0-3 in 2013. Through two weeks in 2019, the Redskins were playing great in the first half, keeping games against the Eagles and Cowboys close. But that edge wasn’t there when they played the Bears last Monday, and Washington quickly fell down 24-0 after multiple turnovers. Case Keenum made some rookie mistakes despite being a veteran
quarterback. Starting Dwayne Haskins might be the only thing that could save Jay Gruden’s job.

31. New York Jets (0-3) (-1)
It has been over 15 years since the Jets had an 0-3 start to the season (2003). Everything was going right for the Jets in the first half of the first week, but ever since Buffalo came back in that game, nothing has been working for New York. The offense had 105 total yards and looked completely lost against the Patriots. The Jets now go into a much-needed bye.

32. Miami Dolphins (0-3) (0)
The Dolphins last started 0-3 in 2011, but this year’s 0-3 feels a lot worse. Through three weeks in 2011, the Dolphins lost by an average score of 26-17 and had 1,163 total yards on offense. In 2019, the Dolphins have lost by an average score of 44-5 with a 667 total yards on offense. The Dolphins have a league low -117 point differential, a league record for lowest point differential ever through three weeks. This team is in complete tanking mode, and the only thing that will right this team is a good outing in the 2020 draft.

 

John Murphy is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jbm5928@psu.edu.