It's not just the fact that the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals are both 3-0 that puts them atop the Week 4 NFL power rankings, it's the way they're mercilessly throttling their opponents. New England has outscored opponents 91-49 over the past two weeks, while Arizona has dismantled its last two opponents to the collective tune of 95-30.
Tom Brady is on a tear coming off of a summer of DeflateGate distractions. He is throwing for 370 yards per game with nine touchdowns and zero interceptions while completing 72 percent of his passes at 8.4 yards per attempt. Carson Palmer isn't far behind in the wow factor. The Cardinals' signal caller, coming off a torn ACL, is hitting 9.1 yards per attempt with nine touchdowns to two interceptions and is finally getting some help from his run game. It doesn't hurt that Larry Fitzgerald is having a career renaissance. These are the two hottest teams in the NFL right now.
Green Bay and Denver aren't far behind, though. The Broncos beat another quality opponent this week in the Detroit Lions (quality is relative, though their record doesn't suggest as much) and the Packers notched their second straight primetime win at home against a tough Kansas City Chiefs team. The Cincinnati Bengals look pretty unstoppable themselves, and went back and forth with the Baltimore Ravens before A.J. Green and Andy Dalton finished the job. Cincy looks like a complete team, and when Dalton plays like he did on Sunday, it's pretty damn hard to beat.
The Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens desperately needed wins this week to avoid falling to 0-3 and seeing their playoff hopes dwindle to extreme long-shot status. A few of them couldn't manage it -- namely the Lions and Ravens -- but a few did. Seattle hosted a Chicago Bears team sans Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffrey and it showed -- Chicago could muster just 48 passing yards, zero points and became the first team in three decades to punt on every single offensive drive. Seattle got its much-needed confidence booster, got Kam Chancellor back in the defense and now look forward to getting back to .500 this week.
The Eagles made a statement by going into MetLife Stadium and igniting their offense against a good New York Jets defense, easing some fears in Philly (I would think) that Chip Kelly has completely ruined the roster. Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles acted as spark plugs for a team desperate to get going. It wasn't easy, but the Colts outlasted the Tennessee Titans to improve to 1-2. There are still questions to answer for all three teams, but for now crisis has been averted.
A few surprises
How about them Carolina Panthers? Despite losing Kelvin Benjamin to an ACL tear before the year, Carolina has managed to cobble together some offense, much on the arm and legs of Cam Newton. The Panthers held off a late surge by the New Orleans Saints at home and are now tied for first place in the NFC South with the 3-0 Atlanta Falcons. I doubt many would've predicted that start in the league's worst division from 2014.
Dan Quinn's group got punched in the face early this past week and gave up 28 points to the Dallas Cowboys in the first half, but they got themselves off the ropes and shut the Cowboys out in the second half, allowing Matt Ryan and Julio Jones to take over. That first half aside, the Falcons are flying around on defense and have a new-found enthusiasm and aggressiveness that makes them dangerous, particularly because they have an offense that can put a lot of points up on the board.
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Made big jumps
So, it turns out that the Oakland Raiders might be a lot better than we've been giving them credit for. They've got a gun-slinging young quarterback in Derek Carr, a few nice weapons in Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Latavius Murray, and have some tools on pass rush that could really make things interesting this year. Most importantly, they seem to believe in themselves, so this could be a darkhorse team to watch in the AFC West.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings continued to put their Week 1 stinker in the past, and ran all over the San Diego Chargers this week at home. Adrian Peterson definitely looked more like himself in this one, racking up 20 carries for 126 yards and two scores, and the defense held strong as they forced Philip Rivers into a couple of turnovers. With the Lions looking more and more out of the picture in the NFC North, look for the Vikings to give the Packers a run.
Misery loves company
The bottom of these power rankings have a few of the usual suspects, like the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Titans, but they're joined by some new friends this week. The Bears are completely listless, the San Francisco 49ers are in freefall having given up 90 points in the past two weeks and the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins are in disarray.
|RK||WEEK 4||SB NATION BLOG|
|1||New England Patriots, 3-0 (Last Week: 1)||Pats Pulpit|
|2||Arizona Cardinals, 3-0 (Last Week: 4)||Revenge of the Birds|
|3||Green Bay Packers, 3-0 (Last Week: 2)||Acme Packing Company|
|4||Denver Broncos, 3-0 (Last Week: 3)||Mile High Report|
|5||Cincinnati Bengals, 3-0 (Last Week: 8)||Cincy Jungle|
|6||Buffalo Bills, 2-1 (Last Week: 9)||Buffalo Rumblings|
|7||Carolina Panthers, 3-0 (Last Week: 11)||Cat Scratch Reader|
|8||Pittsburgh Steelers, 2-1 (Last Week 7)||Behind the Steel Curtain|
|9||Atlanta Falcons, 3-0 (Last Week: 12)||The Falcoholic|
|10||Kansas City Chiefs, 1-2 (Last Week: 5)||Arrowhead Pride|
|11||Minnesota Vikings, 2-1 (Last Week: 22)||Daily Norseman|
|12||Dallas Cowboys, 2-1 (Last Week: 6)||Blogging the Boys|
|13||New York Jets, 2-1 (Last Week: 10)||Gang Green Nation|
|14||Seattle Seahawks, 1-2 (Last Week: 16)||Field Gulls|
|15||Oakland Raiders, 2-1 (Last Week: 28)||Silver and Black Pride|
|16||San Diego Chargers, 1-2 (Last Week: 14)||Bolts from the Blue|
|17||Philadelphia Eagles, 1-2 (Last Week: 21)||Bleeding Green Nation|
|18||St. Louis Rams, 1-2 (Last Week: 15)||Turf Show Times|
|19||Indianapolis Colts, 1-2 (Last Week: 20)||Stampede Blue|
|20||Baltimore Ravens, 0-3 (Last Week: 13)||Baltimore Beatdown|
|21||Washington, 1-2 (Last Week 17)||Hogs Haven|
|22||Houston Texans, 1-2 (Last Week: 23)||Battle Red Blog|
|23||New York Giants, 1-2 (Last Week: 24)||Big Blue View|
|24||Detroit Lions, 0-3 (Last Week: 23)||Pride of Detroit|
|25||Miami Dolphins, 1-2 (Last Week: 22)||The Phinsider|
|26||New Orleans Saints, 0-3 (Last Week: 25)||Canal Street Chronicles|
|27||Cleveland Browns, 1-2 (Last Week: 27)||Dawgs by Nature|
|28||San Francisco 49ers, 1-2 (Last Week: 18)||Niners Nation|
|29||Tennessee Titans, 1-2 (Last Week: 32)||Music City Miracles|
|30||Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1-2 (Last Week: 30)||Bucs Nation|
|31||Jacksonville Jaguars, 1-2 (Last Week: 29)||Big Cat Country|
|32||Chicago Bears, 0-3 (Last Week: 31)||Windy City Gridiron|