Power Rankings – Week 4: Broncos sink / Bills climb

Power Rankings – Week 4: Broncos sink / Bills climb
Reading Time: 15 minutes.

There’s been a lot of movement at the top and bottom of this week’s power rankings. The bottom ten teams on my list were specifically challenging to rank, with all of them either looking heavily injured or heavily uninspired heading into week four. Let’s take a look.

32. New York Jets (0-3)

Previous rank: 32

Another week, another loss. New York was dominated 36-7 by Indianapolis. The Jets’ defence couldn’t stop Rivers and company from driving down the field and their offence conceded two defensive touchdowns. There was the occasional play where Darnold showed that he’s better than the team he plays for but it wasn’t consistent enough to make this game competitive. Where do they go from here? I’m not sure. But it’s clear that Adam Gase isn’t going to drag the Jets out of this hole.

31. New York Giants (0-3) – ▲1

Previous rank: 30

Despite San Francisco being riddled with injuries, New York were still dominated by them. Defensively the Giants are one of the worst ranked teams in just about every statistical category and this game proved why. They failed to slow down back-up quarterback Nick Mullens, who threw for 343 yards, and three different players had a rushing touchdown for the 49ers. Their pass rush was consistent but it wasn’t enough to put up a fight in week three. Obviously the Saquon Barkley injury has crippled this Giants’ offence but I was still expecting more from Daniel Jones who only had 179 passing yards and a 0/1 TD/INT ratio on the day.

30. Denver Broncos (0-3)▲9

Previous rank: 21

Injuries have plagued this Denver Broncos team and now the consequences are beginning to show. The two Broncos quarterbacks that took snaps against the Bucs were sacked six times and picked off twice and they were completely shut out in the second half. Denver were an interesting dark horse this season and it sucks to see their team fall like this. It’s impossible to say what options they have for the rest of the season, but it’ll be difficult to compete against the Chiefs and the rest of the AFC West now that they’re heavily on the backfoot.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) – ▲5

Previous rank: 24

After two solid weeks of football the Jaguars started to let the cracks show against the Dolphins. They couldn’t get anything going on offence against a rebuilding Miami side and couldn’t stop them on defence either. Minshew wasn’t so magical on Thursday as he finished the day with a QBR of 35.3 and a TD/INT ratio of 0/1. On the plus side, undrafted rookie running back James Robinson had another great game; he was the Jaguars leading rusher and receiver and scored both of Jacksonville’s touchdowns.

28. Atlanta Falcons (0-3) – 6

Previous rank: 22

ATLANTA! STOP IT! Your fans are fed up. Dan Quinn has turned blowing big leads into a personality trait. This Falcons team just can’t seem to close out games as they allowed a 15+ point fourth quarter lead to slip through their fingers in back-to-back games. What makes things even worse for Atlanta is that their offence is playing some really good football. Matt Ryan is making things happen and Todd Gurley looks rejuvenated in his new uniform. The problem with this team lies with their play calling and defensive efforts. Here’s how Atlanta’s last six drives ended: punt, missed field goal, three-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out, interception. Meanwhile the Bears finished the game with three consecutive touchdown drives from back-up quarterback Nick Foles.

27. Carolina Panthers (1-2) – ▼4

Previous rank: 31

What a bounceback win for the Panthers. Their defence took the ball away from the Chargers four times and turned those turnovers into 13 points on offence. They put away LA and got things back on track despite still not having Christian McCaffrey. Mike Davis did enough at running back to push Carolina over the line. He had 46 yards on the ground, 45 yards catching out the backfield and was responsible for the Panthers’ only touchdown of the game. They’re not out of trouble yet but it was a solid win nonetheless.

26. Washington Football Team (1-2) – 1

Previous rank: 25

Washington has pieces on their team that makes them competitive. They’ve totalled 13 sacks over the course of three weeks, which averages out at 4.3 sacks per game and Haskins has shown improvements from his rookie year. However they failed to show that off against Cleveland and it resulted in their second loss of the season. Haskins threw three interceptions and lost a fumble whilst only having a 56% completion percentage. They were outplayed by Mayfield’s offence and failed to have their usual success along the defensive line, only sacking the Browns’ quarterback twice. To make matters worse DROY frontrunner Chase Young is expected to miss the Ravens game next week with a moderate groin injury. Don’t be surprised if Washington continues to slip down the rankings over the next few weeks.

25. Detroit Lions (1-2) – ▼3

Previous rank: 28

The Lions played a good game against the Cardinals and came away victorious. Matt Stafford spread the ball around well and looked after it too. Three of his pass catchers had over 50 receiving yards and the 32-year-old quarterback didn’t throw an interception. In fact the team didn’t have any turnovers on the day and forced the Cardinals to throw three. They do need to help Stafford more in the trenches though as he was brought down four times by the Cardinals defence. Adrian Peterson had 75 yards on his 22 carries which is impressive for the 35-year-old running back. He had a couple of nice plays and certainly helped lead his team to victory. They’re still in the bottom quarter of the league but it was a nice win for a team that’s supposedly rebuilding.

24. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2-1) – ▼3

Previous rank: 27

Ladies and Gentlemen we have our first tie of the season! Despite not losing, the Bengals still haven’t won. They were unable to string consistent drives together and when they did, they struggled to finish them. They were just 3/13 on third down conversions and only turned half of their red zone trips into touchdowns. A positive that can be taken away is that Joe Burrow played his best game yet. The LSU rookie threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns. He took care of the football too by not throwing an interception. The defense could’ve won the game for Cincinnati but they allowed Philadelphia to score on their final possession of the game taking them to a scoreless overtime. The Bengals have a lot of improvements to make and it needs to start along the offensive line. Burrow was sacked eight times and Joe Mixon only totaled 2.9 yards per carry.

23. Philadelphia Eagles (0-2-1) – ▼3

Previous rank: 26

The Eagles drew to the team who placed one rank below them on last week’s list. Joe Burrow outperformed Carson Wentz and, if it wasn’t for the eight sacks that the Bengals’ offensive line let through, the Eagles probably would have lost that game. Wentz threw one touchdown and a pair of interceptions against a weak Bengals defence and failed to march down the field. His offence only found themselves in the end zone twice and only converted one of their trips into a touchdown. On the other one Wentz was sacked on third down and it forced Philly to kick a field goal. I really didn’t think the Eagles would struggle this much this season but when all of your good receivers are out with injuries, it’s no surprise they can’t get in the win column. At least the defensive line had a good game?

22. Minnesota Vikings (0-3) – ▼1

Previous rank: 23

Despite the loss, the Vikings looked better this week than they have all season. A close 31-30 game against the Titans may have slumped them to an 0-3 start, but they certainly showed signs of improvement. Dalvin Cook was a machine on offence, rushing for 8.2 yards per carry and a touchdown. His performance was complimented nicely by rookie receiver Justin Jefferson, who totaled 175 yards on his seven catches and found the end zone twice. However, if they want to enter the win column, their defence needs to do a better job of slowing down their opponents to help Cousins take control of the game. His game-sealing interception didn’t bode well for him and it’s starting to become more and more clear that he needs all the help he can get in order to turn those strong performances into victories.

21. Miami Dolphins (1-2) – 8

Previous rank: 29

Miami dominated Jacksonville on Thursday Night Football. Their young, inexperienced offence was efficiently led by Ryan Fitzpatrick who completed 18 of his 20 pass attempts and found the end zone a trio of times. Their defence also dismantled Minshew and company. They took the ball away from the Jaguars twice and held them to just two scores from undrafted rookie running back James Robinson. I said last week that their defence needed to step up to help their offence perform better and that’s exactly what happened. I don’t know what I think of this Miami team yet. They’re… interesting.

20. Los Angeles Chargers (1-2) – ▲2

Previous rank: 18

The Chargers beat themselves against a weaker Panthers side. The offence turned the ball over four times, two of them coming from rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, and the defence allowed the Panthers to capitalise on them. Teddy Bridgewater led his team to 13 points on the drives after the Charger turnovers and it really hammered the nail into the coffin. Despite the turnovers the offence still produced. They totaled 436 yards on the ground and through the air and converted 10-15 of their third down attempts. Defensively they allowed running back Mike Davis to have a solid day on the ground and out of the backfield. He finished the game with the Panthers’ only touchdown and 91 yard of total offence. The team who came one possession away from beating the defending Super Bowl champions couldn’t put away one of the worst teams in the league and it’s going to hurt their momentum going forward.

19. Houston Texans (0-3)▲2

Previous rank: 17

Houston have now lost to AFC contenders in three consecutive weeks which doesn’t bode well for them the rest of the way. Even if they pick up the pieces and put together a playoff season, they can’t expect to get very far in the postseason if they fail to compete against some of the better teams in the conference. Watson kept it close, despite the Texans’ offensive line woes, but there’s only so much the fourth-year quarterback can do. They host the 0-3 Vikings next week who are going to be just as desperate to pick up a win as they are.

18. Las Vegas Raiders (2-1)▲2

Previous rank: 16

The Raiders were beaten up on the ground by the Patriots. Despite a steady offensive performance they couldn’t contain New England’s rushers, who totalled 250 yards and 6.6 yards per carry on the day. The discipline of Jon Gruden’s team was also put to the test in week three. They turned the ball over three times, one of which was a fumble in their own end zone which was recovered for a Patriots’ touchdown. To make matters worse they conceded six penalties which gifted their opponents 40 yards. On the plus side Derek Carr connected well with receiver Hunter Renfrow, who found the end zone once, totaled six catches and was responsible for 84 of Carr’s 261 passing yards. 

17. Chicago Bears (3-0) – 2

Previous rank: 19

Not many people would have predicted Chicago going undefeated three weeks into the season. They pulled off an emphatic comeback win against the Atlanta Falcons but head into week four with some issues. After a poor first half and an interception to start the third quarter head coach Matt Nagy decided to bench Trubisky and turn to Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles and it seemed to work. He willed their team to three consecutive touchdown drives on their final three drives to demolish a 16 point deficit. Despite the win the Bears now have trouble brewing in their quarterback room as I’m sure Trubisky will be unhappy with his benching. It’s now Foles’ job to lose and we’ll have to wait and see if he can keep up his impressive performance against the Colts.

16. Cleveland Browns (2-1) – 4

Previous rank: 20

After a shaky first week the Browns have now won two in a row as they head into week four. Baker Mayfield performed well but took a backseat in this game so to speak. The offence ran through Nick Chubb who totaled 108 yards and two touchdowns off of his 19 carries. That’s not to say that Baker played poorly, because he still had a 69% completion percentage and threw for two touchdowns, but it’s clear that Cleveland has found a new way to win football games. Control the clock, limit turnovers and grind it out. Overall the Browns offence ran the ball 37 times and took control of the game in terms of possession. On defence they took the ball away from Haskins’ offence five times, with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. These last two wins is sure to boost the spirits of the Browns’ locker room as they look forward to Dallas.

15. Indianapolis Colts (2-1)

Previous rank: 15

Indianapolis won on all three sides of the ball against an abysmal Jets team and they left week three with a winning record. The offence scored 12 points, their defence contributed 14 and their special teams unit poured on another 10. A phenomenal performance from the Colts’ defence proved why they’re considered one of the best units in the league. As a whole the team is looking stronger as the weeks go on but I’m not yet convinced they have enough firepower to keep up with the better teams in the AFC.

14. Dallas Cowboys (1-2) – 5

Previous rank: 9

Even though they lost 38-31, the Cowboys should feel oddly optimistic heading into week four. They’re playing in one of the weakest divisions in football and Dak Prescott played well, despite his game-sealing interception. The rest of the offence also showed their grit as they rallied from a 15 point deficit to make the game competitive in the final quarter of play. The defence understandably struggled against the early MVP front runner Russel Wilson and they’ll have to step up the rest of the way if they want to help Dak Prescott and company.

13. Tennessee Titans (3-0) – 1

Previous rank: 14

The Titans won a scrappy game against an underperforming Minnesota team that hung around until the very end. Gotskowski set a new career high with six made field goals on the day as he picked up the pieces when the Titans’ offensive drives stalled. Derrick Henry still found the endzone twice but Tannehill looked average. He didn’t score a touchdown and threw a bad interception that helped the Vikings get up to a 17-9 lead at half time. On defence they picked off Cousins twice, but they still couldn’t keep their opponents from scoring 30 points. Cousins had three touchdowns on the day and his weapons, Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson to be precise, both had superb performances. The Titans are playing some good football at the moment but suffer with some consistency issues that could hold them back as the season progresses.

12. New Orleans Saints (1-2) – 1

Previous rank: 11

The Saints shot themselves in the foot against the Packers on Sunday Night Football. They conceded eight penalties which amounted to 83 yards and couldn’t capitalise on key moments in the game. In the final quarter with the game tied the Saints defence stopped the Packers on fourth and one and had the chance to take the lead. However they fumbled the ball two plays later and gave possession right back to Aaron Rodgers and company who went on to retake the lead. A lead they never let go of. Drew Brees is relying heavily on running back Alvin Kamara and they seem desperate to have Michael Thomas back.

11. Arizona Cardinals (2-1) – ▲5

Previous rank: 6

In a one score game you can’t afford to finish with two consecutive punts on offence. The Cardinals were outperformed by an inferior Lions side and have slipped to 2-1. Murray had a trio of interceptions despite having another strong connection with his new favourite receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Their three turnovers seemed to kill their momentum though as the Lions were able to turn them into ten points in their subsequent drives. The defensive line got to Matt Stafford four times and applied pressure well. But they couldn’t stop him from throwing a 2/0 TD/INT ratio and completing 70% of his pass attempts. This loss is a step back for Arizona but they have a good chance of righting the ship next week against Carolina.

10. San Francisco 49ers (2-1) – 2

Previous rank: 8

A long list of injuries didn’t stop the 49ers from putting up 36 points against the Giants. Nick Mullens led the offence competently and managed to keep them ticking over without Garoppolo, Kittle or Mostert seeing the field. Defensively they had no problem shutting down a New York offence that clearly missed their star running back Saquon Barkley. San Francisco plays great team football and has the depth to pull off wins like this even with a lot of their best players injured.

9. New England Patriots (2-1) – 4

Previous rank: 13

The Patriots are turning themselves into serious contenders in the AFC. They bounced back from a close loss against Seattle and really drove the Raiders into the ground on Sunday. Their ground game was executed to perfection and they did enough defensively to slow down their opponents. New England took the ball away from Derek Carrs’ side three times, one of which resulted in a defensive touchdown, and they did enough to slow down Josh Jacobs. It’s difficult to say what the ceiling is for the new-look Patriots but, if the first three weeks is anything to go off, they look strong.

8. Los Angeles Rams (2-1) – ▲1

Previous rank: 7

The Rams nearly pulled off a huge 25 point comeback against a difficult Bills side. Despite a poor opening 30 minutes, they capitalised on Buffalo’s offensive mistakes in the second half and scored 28 unanswered before the Bills sealed the victory on the final drive of the game. Granted Allen’s Bills were helped by a controversial pass interference call on fourth down at the goaline but LA still weren’t able to close out the comeback. This match up revealed the Rams’ floor and ceiling this season; when they’re clicking they can compete with anyone but it’s the lack of consistency that troubles them at the moment.

7. Buffalo Bills (3-0) – 5

Previous rank: 12

Bills Mafia welcome to the top 10. Despite the victory and a bump in the rankings I’m still not sure what to make of their quarterback Josh Allen. Buffalo had a comfortable 28-3 lead early in the third quarter but nearly let the game slip through the cracks. Allen turned the ball over twice and his offence stalled in the second half, allowing the Rams to rally from behind and score 28 unanswered points. However his heroics on the final drive, coupled with a favourable pass interference call, allowed Buffalo to seal the victory and save them the embarrassment of blowing an Atlanta-sized lead. The Bills may be 3-0 but they still have some consistency issues to fix.

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) – 4

Previous rank: 10

As predicted Tampa Bay is looking better every week. They finished week three on top of the NFC South with a convincing win over the Broncos. The defensive line is getting pressure consistently and the offence is starting to click with both the play calling and the players themselves. Granted the Broncos are riddled with injuries but it’s still a solid performance from the Buccaneers nonetheless. They sacked the Broncos’ quarterbacks six times, took the ball away from them twice and even had a safety on the day. Losing Chris Godwin to injury will be a hit for the offence but they have enough pieces to keep them afloat until he gets healthy. They will be an interesting team to watch develop as the weeks progress.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0)

Previous rank: 5

Image from steelers.com

The Steelers kept the momentum going as they pushed their record to 3-0. James Conner had great performances both on the ground and catching out of the backfield as he finished with 149 yards of total offence. Deshaun Watson was still able to dissect the Steelers’ secondary consistently despite their pass rush sacking him five times. One interesting stat for this Steelers’ team is that, despite being undefeated, all three of their victories have been against 0-3 teams, and two of them were one score games. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare against the 3-0 Titans next week.

4. Green Bay Packers (3-0)

Previous rank: 4

Image from packers.com

Aaron Rodgers is playing some phenomenal football right now. He went on the road on Sunday Night Football and took down a fellow NFC contender. The deep pass was electric all day for Green Bay and they did a good job in the red zone too, turning four of their five trips into touchdowns. However their defence couldn’t turn this offensive explosion into a blowout as Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara kept the score close. One play that springs to mind was Kamara’s huge run down the sideline late in the third quarter. A series of tackling mistakes by Green Bay’s defence led to a huge score that tied the game. Having said that, they did finish strong, holding the Saints to just three points on their last three drives. This Packers team will be reliant on their defence doing just enough to make sure their offence comes out on top. If they do that, they should be fine the rest of the way.

3. Seattle Seahawks (3-0) – ▲1

Previous rank: 2

Image from Seahawks.com

This Seattle offence seems unstoppable after three weeks. Russel Wilson put five touchdowns up against the Cowboys to take his season total up to 14. It was this offensive firepower that willed the Hawks to a close 38-31 victory. Their defence turned what should have been a blowout victory into a nailbiter as they allowed Dallas to come back from a 15 point deficit to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Despite the defensive miscues the team once again relied on the early MVP front runner to ensure victory. This team will need to find a balance if they want to compete down the stretch but for now they’re playing some tremendous football.

2. Baltimore Ravens (2-1) ▲1

Previous rank: 1

Image from baltimoreravens.com

The Ravens fell to the Chiefs for the third consecutive time. Patrick Mahomes now holds a 3-0 record against his fellow MVP Lamar Jackson and Monday Night Football wasn’t a close contest. Jackson was held to under 100 passing yards against Kansas City’s secondary and, when trailing, those numbers just aren’t good enough. Defensively the Ravens also took a step back as they allowed Mahomes to have a monster five touchdown day and didn’t sack him once. They might still have the best roster in the league but it doesn’t mean anything if they can’t take down the defending Super Bowl champs.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) – ▼2

Previous rank: 3

Image from chiefs.com

The Chiefs proved the doubters wrong after a shaky week two performance against the Chargers. They went into Baltimore and dominated a Ravens team that everyone said was better than them. The offence returned to its usual form as they crushed the soul of the Ravens’ defence. They were 10/13 on third down attempts and Mahomes had a monster five touchdown performance. Defensively Kansas City suffocated Lamar Jackson as they held him to under 100 yards passing. But the icing on the cake had to be Chiefs’ offensive tackle Eric Fisher catching a touchdown in the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 14 points. The defending Super Bowl champions are back on top.

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