NFL Power Rankings for Week 4 (Sept. 25th, 2014)

marshawn-lynch-broncosIt wasn’t hard to spot the marquee matchup from last week. In a rematch of last year’s Super Bowl, the Denver Broncos visited the Seattle Seahawks. Denver mounted a furious comeback to send the game into overtime, however, Seattle survived thanks to a Marshawn Lynch touchdown run. That said, it seems like Seattle should be a slam dunk for our new number one. But the truth is that it wasn’t easy picking between the two, seeing as how Denver was on the road and pushed the game into overtime. So you might be a little surprised at who’s still the top team in our Week 4 power rankings.

1. Denver Broncos (2-1); lost to Seattle Seahawks 26-20 (OT), retains same ranking – The Broncos failed to get revenge for last year’s Super Bowl humiliation. But they certainly earned some respect by nearly walking out of Seattle with a victory. Emmanuel Sanders was brilliant in this game after catching 11 passes for 149 yards. He’s another weapon that should make the Broncos’ offense unstoppable throughout the rest of the season.

2. Seattle Seahawks (2-1); beat Denver 26-20 (OT), retains same ranking – The Seahawks are nearly as deserving of the top ranking, but on a neutral field, we like the Broncos just a little better right now. It certainly doesn’t seem like a stretch to think that Seattle and Denver could meet in the championship for a second straight season.

3. Cincinnati Bengals (3-0); beat Tennessee Titans 33-7, moves up two spots – The Bengals’ line has been outstanding on both sides of the ball. Andy Dalton hasn’t taken a sack yet and the defense continues stuffing opposing runners when it matters most. All bets are on the Broncos returning to the Super Bowl from the AFC. But if there’s a team to dethrone them as AFC champions, it is definitely Cincinnati.

lesean-mccoy4. Philadelphia Eagles (3-0); beat Washington 37-34, retains same ranking – It’s amazing how the Eagles continue falling behind early in games, only to storm back and claim victory. In fact, they’re now the first team in NFL history to trail by double digits in their first three games and come out 3-0. Is it pure luck? No, Philadelphia just has too many weapons for teams to keep them down for long. But then again, this is a dangerous trend that they’re walking on.

5. New England Patriots (2-1); beat Oakland 16-9, drops two spots – A week ago, we had the Patriots sitting at number three after their blowout victory over Minnesota. However, they looked pretty bad at home against the Raiders and needed a Vince Wilfork interception near the goal line to secure a win. New England has better days in them, but we certainly didn’t see this last weekend.

6. Arizona Cardinals (3-0); beat San Francisco 23-14, moves up five spots – Many expected Seattle and San Francisco to battle it out for the NFC West crown. However, it’s the Cardinals who are leading the way with an undefeated record – and they’re doing it without starting QB Carson Palmer! Drew Stanton’s fill-in job has been made much easier by a trio of strong receivers in Larry Fitzgerald, Malcolm Floyd and rookie John Brown.

7. Chicago Bears (2-1); beat New York Jets 27-19, moves up three spots – For the second straight week, the Bears grabbed a tough road victory, thus further distancing themselves from a Week 1 loss to the Bills. Ryan Mundy really helped out with the latest win, taking a Geno Smith interception to the end zone while outrunning speedster Chris Johnson.

drew-brees8. New Orleans Saints (1-2); beat Minnesota 20-9, moves up one spot – New Orleans finally got in the win column with a relatively easy victory over the Vikings. They put up 13 points in the first quarter and the defense did the rest from here. Drew Brees really attacked Minnesota underneath, completing 16-of-16 throws for 126 yards on passes thrown 5 yards or less downfield.

9. San Francisco 49ers (1-2); lost to Arizona Cardinals 23-14 drops three spots – True to form this season, the 49ers jumped out to a 14-6 lead in the first half, only to be dominated in the second half. San Francisco has put up 3 points in second halves while their opponents have scored 49. If Jim Harbaugh is losing control of this team, it’s definitely after the first half.

10. San Diego Chargers (2-1); beat Buffalo Bills 22-10, moves up three spots – The only team to beat Seattle this year got another big victory over the upstart Bills. Unfortunately, they also lost RB Danny Woodhead for the season, which will hurt. This is especially the case when you consider that the team is averaging under 3.0 yards per rush. But as long as they keep winning, this is just a stat.

11. Indianapolis Colts (1-2); beat Jacksonville Jaguars 44-17, moves up one spot – Nobody really expected Indianapolis to remain winless after a visit to Jacksonville. And Andrew Luck showed why by unleashing 4 touchdowns and 370 yards in this blowout. The game could have been even uglier if the Colts hadn’t let off the gas after going up 30-0 in the first half.

eddie-lacy-rookie-of-the-year12. Green Bay Packers (1-2); lost to Detroit 19-7, drops five spots – It’s hard to remember a time when Green Bay’s offense looked so ineffective with Aaron Rodgers under center. Rodgers threw for just 162 yards while Eddie Lacy was bottled up for 36 rushing yards on 11 carries. We’re still waiting for the latter to get going, which could finally happen against the Bears this weekend.

13. Carolina Panthers (2-1); lost to Pittsburgh 37-19, drops five spots – We can’t understand how a defense that looked so dominate in the first two weeks could be so bad against the Steelers. They allowed both Le’Veon Bell and Legarrette Bount to rush for over 100 yards – including 244 yards between tackles. Maybe the lengthy loss of Greg Hardy to a domestic abuse case will hurt far more than we realized.

14. Baltimore Ravens (2-1); beat Cleveland Browns 23-21, moves up one spot – Rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro and Justin Forsett combined to rush for 154 yards on 29 carries and a touchdown, while Baltimore was able to hang on and beat the Browns in a difficult road game. We don’t see anybody knocking off the Bengals for the AFC North crown, but Baltimore has a solid shot at the postseason if they can keep running the ball like this.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1); beat Carolina Panthers 37-19, moves up two spots – As mentioned before, Blount and Bell both had 100-yard games – the first time that this has happened for Pittsburgh since 1986. This was basically a 180-degree turn from the week before against Baltimore, when the Steelers couldn’t seem to get anything going on the ground.

16. Detroit Lions (2-1); beat Green Bay 19-7, moves up three spots – The Lions are doing a fantastic job at stopping the run this year, as their 2.8 yards allowed per carry stat indicates. Things could get a little tougher since Stephen Tulloch was placed on injured reserve with a torn ACL. But Detroit still has plenty of talent on both sides of the ball to continue grabbing victories.

julio-jones-falcons17. Atlanta Falcons (2-1); beat Tampa Bay 56-14, moves up one spot – Julio Jones tore the Buccaneers defense up by catching 9 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns. The main issue here remains the running game, but the passing game should help make up for some of the lack of run production.

18. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2); beat Miami 34-15, moves up two spots – Knile Davis filled in nicely for Jamaal Charles with 132 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries. Alex Smith also provided three touchdown passes, despite getting sacked five times. With Charles likely back from injury this week, KC will get a boost.

19. Buffalo Bills (2-1); lost to San Diego 22-10, drops five spots – Quarterback E.J. Manuel confirmed the inaccuracy fears that surrounded him in the preseason by throwing several passes way off target. He avoided tossing any picks, but this could be one of the worst non-interception games in history. Manuel must play better or the high-paid backup Kyle Orton will be seeing some snaps.

20. Dallas Cowboys (2-1); beat St. Louis 34-31, moves up two spots – Dallas had to mount a huge comeback here since they fell behind 21-0. They took control in the second half after being sparked by a 68-yard touchdown catch by Dez Bryant. The run game was working again too with DeMarco Murray running for 100 yards on 24 carries.

lamar-miller-chiefs21. Miami Dolphins (1-2); lost to Kansas City 34-15, drops five spots – Lamar Miller has picked up the rushing torch with Knowshon Moreno still sidelined. Miller ran for 108 yards on only 15 carries. However, it was hard for Miami to stay with their effective run game since their defense gave up so many points. Additionally, Ryan Tannehill didn’t look very good against pressure, finishing with 205 yards on 21-of-43 passing.

22. New York Jets (1-2); lost to Chicago Bears 27-19, drops one spot – The Jets lose another close game after coughing up three turnovers and delivering an interception that was returned 45 yards for a touchdown. They also had six red zone drives, only to come away with points on just one of these. This team could easily be 3-0 if they could capitalize on opportunities and close out games.

23. New York Giants (1-2); beat Houston Texans 30-17, moves up seven spots – We’re not enamored with the Giants, it’s just that from here on, there aren’t many good teams left. New York got their first win of 2014, and Victor Cruz caught his first touchdown since Week 4 of last season.

24. St. Louis (1-2); lost to Dallas 34-31, drops one spot – Austin Davis continues to surprise skeptics, who thought that this team was done when Sam Bradford went down with an injury. Unfortunately, his solid play didn’t translate into a victory this time around as the Rams blew a 21-point lead.

25. Houston Texans (2-1); lost to New York Giants 30-17, drops one spot – Rashad Jennings tore this team up with a career-high 176 rushing yards. And it didn’t help matters that Ryan Fitzpatrick threw 3 interceptions – all of them on downfield throws. But Houston avoids moving down too much because they do have a couple of victories.

26. Tennessee Titans (1-2); lost to Cincinnati Bengals 33-7, drops one spot – Tennessee was completely dominated by Cincinnati, although we’ll give them a little credit since this was an impossible road game. Rookie Bishop Sankey rushed for 61 yards on 10 carries in garbage time. Perhaps he’s prepping to finally get some meaningful carries over Shonn Greene.

27. Cleveland Browns (1-2); lost to Baltimore 23-21, moves up one spot – Cleveland continues to play tough against superior opponents, however, they came up short this time around. The Browns’ two losses, which came against Pittsburgh and Baltimore, are by a combined 5 points. This is definitely a team that can win once the schedule softens up a little.

28. Washington Redskins (1-2); lost to Philadelphia 37-34, moves up one spot – Kirk Cousins continues to energize this team as he finished with 427 passing yards, 3 TD’s and one interception. Unfortunately, he and the Skins fell just short of winning a HUGE road game. Washington has now lost seven straight divisional games, which is more than anybody else in the league right now.

29. Minnesota Vikings (1-2); lost to New Orleans 20-9, drops three spots – The Vikings didn’t perform too badly against the Saints, losing by just 11 points. However, there’s more trouble ahead with season-ending injuries to Matt Cassel and Kyle Rudolph. When coupled with the loss of Adrian Peterson, this bodes very poorly for the offense. But at least fans will get to see exciting rookie Teddy Bridgewater take over at QB.

30. Oakland Raiders (0-3); lost to New England Patriots 16-9, moves up one spot – The Raiders can be happy that they almost beat a really good team that’s probably going to win their division. However, the downside is that this still goes down as another loss in the books. Dating back to last season, Oakland is on a 9-game losing streak.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3); lost to Atlanta Falcons 56-14, drops three spots – Any illusions of a rebound season for Tampa Bay were shot down in this devastating blowout to the Falcons. The Josh McCown experiment looks like a failure and he’ll miss the next game with an injury. This opens the door for Mike Glennon to win back the starting job that he held for most of last season.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3); lost to Indianapolis Colts 44-17, drops one spot – For the second straight season, Jacksonville looks absolutely hopeless. But it will be interesting to see what Blake Bortles can do with the variety of receiving options that he has.