NFL Power Rankings: Week 4

  1. Houston Texans: I’m giving them the slight nod over Atlanta because of the dominance of their defense and because they haven’t really played a close game yet.
  2. Atlanta Falcons:  Could be 3-1 if the Panthers didn’t turn into the Kittens at the end and had gone for it on 3-1.  Still, Matty Ice and the passing game look truly elite.
  3. Arizona Cardinals:  I don’t think they are the 3rd best team in football.  But I do believe that undefeated is undefeated. What more can they do than win all their games?  A good team with a high quality defense but probably not a great one when it is all said and done with.
  4. San Francisco 49ers:  Their loss to the Vikings looks a lot better than it did when it happened.  Defense is top notch and making another team look the fool is worth something.
  5. Chicago Bears:  I’m not really sure that they are better than the next team on this list, but they have had more convincing wins so I give them the nod.  Would not want to play this team in the playoffs; would not want Jay Cutler to be my quarterback.
  6. Philadelphia Eagles:  If you win the games you play poorly in, that is better than losing them, right?  The question is: Are they playing poorly or are they a poor team getting lucky?  I am inclined to think the former.  And there defense is legit no matter what the offense is doing.
  7. Baltimore Ravens:  Might be better than the team above them but they lost to them and I’m not sure if the much-vaunted Ravens defense is really deserving of all that vauntedness.
  8. New England Patriots:  Coin flip with the team below them.  They don’t have the air of superiority that once defined them.
  9. Green Bay Packers:  They seem to be a bit muddled right now.  Time will tell…
  10. New York Giants:  Same ol’ G-men.  When you think they’re good, they’re bad.  When you think they’re bad, they’re good.
  11. San Diego Chargers:  Typically a slow starting team so getting out of September 3-1 is a good thing.  Still not sure what this team’s identity is.
  12. Minnesota Vikings:  Is this team for real?  Who knows.  I’ll Christian Ponder it for a while.
  13. Cincinnati Bengals:  AJ Green is the real deal.  He’d be even the realer dealer if he was related to AC Green.
  14. Denver Broncos:  I want to believe.  But then I hear some stat that said Peyton Manning’s passes averaged under 5 yards in actual air time and I see the backup warming up to throw Hail Mary’s and I wonder.
  15. Seattle Seahawks:  Could have cemented themselves as a legit contender with a win over the Rams.  That was a big flop, if you ask me.  Still a quality team with a shot at the playoffs but I’m not sure R-Dub is ready to carry a team yet.
  16. Dallas Cowboys:  They make Andy Reid look like a ground-and-pounder.  Note to self: Open burger place in Philly; design disgustingly awesome burger; name it the Andy Reid ground-and-pounder.  Run the ball, Dallas, and you’ll be good.
  17. Pittsburgh Steelers:  I don’t know if this is too high or too low, which means it is probably right.  Not being able to run the ball is sort of a problem.
  18. Washington Redskins:  If RG3 can make this squad a .500 team, he truly is a super hero.
  19. St. Louis Rams:  People forget this team was a sleeper before last year.  Or realize that was all a bit premature.  Regardless, not a bottom feeder anymore.
  20. Detroit Lions:  Plain and simple, this team does not handle adversity well.  I don’t know that Schwartz is the man to help them get better at that.  A little hard to believe they are the worst team in the NFC North.
  21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  Seems like they should be better than 1-3.  Jury is still out on Schiano.  For the record, I have zero problem with his late game strategy.
  22. New York Jets:  Ugh.  They should be down much lower on principle.  Only this high because they beat the next two teams below them.  They’re a joke.  And we can’t even blame Tim Tebow.
  23. Buffalo Bills:  Come on, Buffalo!  Get your head out of your ass!
  24. Miami Dolphins:  Could be 3-1.  They’re not.  For a reason.
  25. Carolina Panthers:  A team in search of a leader.  No, Steve Smith, you’re not it.
  26. Tennessee Titans:  When you’re backup QB is your best QB, you have a problem.  But another BC alum!
  27. New Orleans Saints:  I know they’re 0-4, but they’re better than the teams below them (and probably a few of the ones ahead of them).  Sean Payton for Coach of the Year?
  28. Oakland Raiders:  I don’t even know who their QB is.  Do you?
  29. Kansas City Chiefs:  A great 4th quarter team… if you ignore the fact that the other team is playing prevent defense and resting their starters.
  30. Indianapolis Colts:  This is a long term rebuild.  Plain and simple.
  31. Jacksonville Jaguars:  Barely even an NFL franchise.
  32. Cleveland Browns:  Not an NFL franchise.


One man. Two boys. Twelve kids.


  1. Next week: Arizona wins, SF wins, Falcons lose.

    If the Titans beat the Jets, do they go to number 1? What if they lose?

  2. At 3/4/15/19, the NFC West are not the disaster they were advertised as. On the other hand, the AFC West at 14/15/28/29 …

    And the Raiders QB is a not very good one they overpaid for, of course. (Seriously, is Carson Palmer obscure?)

    • No, Palmer is not obscure. I just literally couldn’t think of him as I wrote the piece. He’s neither a young guy with potential, a guy in his prime, or an older guy with something left in the tank. He’s just sort of there.

    • Just for fun, totals by division( smaller being better):

      NFC West 41
      NFC North 46
      NFC East 50
      AFC North 69
      NFC South 75
      AFC East 77
      AFC West 82
      AFC South 88

      • Thanks, Mike. If I ranked the divisions independently of the Power Rankings here, they’d probably look something like that. The only thing these totals don’t account for is the relative difference between spots (e.g., I think that the 5 spots between New Orleans and Cleveland represent a far larger gap in talent than the 5 spots between Philly and San Diego). But it is a good quick and dirty way to take a snapshot.

        It also indicates the NFC being much stronger than the AFC, which seems to jibe.

  3. Is this a list of teams from best to worst, in your opinion? Just trying to follow. I would like the Steelers to win this year.

    • Yes. It is based in part on what they’ve done thus far but also on other factors.

  4. If you don’t think Arizona are the third best team in football (an opinion in which I would concur) then they shouldn’t be ranked third. The utility of a list like this is to bypass the formality of saying a 4-0 team must necessarily be better than and therefore be ranked higher than a 3-1 team.

    If the 49ers are a better team than the Cardinals (and they are) then the 49ers should be ranked higher than the Cardinals.

    The Seahawks and their 2-2* record are ranked too high.

    • You’re probably right, Burt. I was thinking of the logic I typically apply to NCAA polls, which is different than that which ought to be applied to power rankings. Arizona is probably better served around 8 or 9.

      Seattle is a tough team to make something of. Even if they were 1-3 with the GB loss, they still played GB tough and Arizona tough and beat Dallas. I don’t think they’re dreadful like so many of the teams littering the bottom third of the list.

      • I have a hard time seeing the Chicago as a better than GB, whether or not we agree on how strong to make the asterisk on the records of SEA and GB.

        • I’ll confess to having forgotten that GB beat Chicago. As I see it, you could throw teams 5-10 (and maybe 11, though I tend to overrate San Diego) into a bag and pick at random and probably come up with just as accurate a ranking. There is a lot of rock-paper-scissors going on, with me thinking that Team A is better than Team B and Team B better than Team C but Team C better than Team A… etc…

    • This reminds me of an argument I have periodically with a buddy, in which he insists that Trent Dilfer is a better quarterback than Dan Marino by virtue of Dilfer’s ring, and the rest of us insist that he is, in fact, out of his mind.

      • Fish-

        Even Dilfer himself has acknowledged that is a silly argument.

        Using the logic for “Power Rankings” is wrong-headed, I’ll concede that.

        I would still apply the logic if I was doing an NCAA ranking, which I think is less of a “Power Ranking” and more of a ranking of what they’ve accomplished to that point in the season. If a team is undefeated, what more can they have accomplished?

        It used to bug me to no end when a team like Boise State would routinely be ranked behind teams with a loss despite being undefeated. The argument for such was often strength-of-schedule, which I think can be used to put Boise State behind other undefeated teams but is also a bit hard to swallow when good teams refused to play Boise State.

        • No concession is necessary on your part. I think we all understand that the only true way to “rank” teams would be in a system similar to the English Premier League’s system (because every football discussion should be derailed by an injection of futbol), in which each team plays every other team, home and away, and points are given for wins and draws. At the end of the season, the team with the most points wins.

          Barring a system like that, we’re left with Power Rankings and the NCAA’s BCS formula. While both are unsatisfying, they do lead to more interesting arguments.

          Having said that, you’ve got KC ranked below New Orleans, and yet KC beat New Orleans. And while you’re probably right…HOW COULD YOU?!

          • Heh…

            If I think two teams are close, I’ll use H2H as a tiebreaker. But I think that, despite being 0-4, New Orleans has shown a lot more potential than Kansas City. Despite the loss, I don’t think the two teams are close in terms of talent.

            I’m not very familiar with the EPL format. Overall, I think most American sports do a poor job of accurately determining who the “best” team is. As the season goes on, I’ll incorporate more advanced statistics (primarily from and as I think these tend to be the best route we have, absent watching the all-22 film for every game of every team. It is still too early to make much of the numbers those sites are offering, so I went off my general impressions of each team.

            Ultimately, I think this is a bit of a funky season in the NFL. I don’t see a truly, truly dominant team. It wouldn’t shock me to see either Atlanta or Houston rack up 13 or 14 wins, but I don’t know that either are juggernauts. I think anyone in the top 10 could realistically win the Super Bowl and a great number of teams after that wouldn’t shock me if they made a run. Call it parity, call it mediocrity, call it whatever… just a different feel to the season thus far.

        • “Even Dilfer himself has acknowledged that is a silly argument.”

          I should elaborate to say that judging QBs by Super Bowl wins is silly not because Super Bowl wins don’t matter but because so much goes into a team winning or not winning one that to use it as a make-or-break measure of a single player is unfair.

          I wouldn’t object to using championships as one (of many) measures in evaluating coaches or organizations in the same way that I’d object to using it with regards to individual players.

  5. And the Giants knock out the Dodgers, once more (like clinching the division) on a catch by Pagan in center field.

  6. San Diego has two modes:

    The slow start followed by the mad rush to the finish.

    The great start followed by the slow-motion collapse in December.

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