The Houston Texans are 2-2, but No. 1 in the rankings here. Why? Deshaun Watson. That’s why.
The rookie has been getting better every time he steps on the field. In Week 4, he torched the Titans with 283 passing yards, four touchdowns, and a rushing touchdown. The five total touchdowns tied a rookie record and buried the Titans in a 57-14 landslide.
With J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and others leading one of the NFL’s better defenses, the Texans look like a terrifying contender for the rest of the AFC. The 4-0 Kansas City Chiefs are still the ones to beat in the NFL, but it’s hard to imagine any team is more hopeful about the rest of 2017 after Week 4 than Houston.
In Week 5, the Texans and Chiefs will be able to settle which team really deserves that No. 1 spot when they meet in Houston.
Both teams from Monday Night Football
Kansas City and Washington looked like two of the best teams in the NFL prior to Monday, and the game only validated that. It was an exciting, back-and-forth battle with excellent play from both quarterbacks.
It’s not often that the stock for two teams can go up in one game, but Alex Smith and Kirk Cousins have their squads on the right track.
This was supposed to be one of the teams on the tanking path after trading Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby just before the season. Instead, the Bills are in first place in the AFC East, which the Patriots have won 13 out of the last 14 seasons.
Buffalo’s defense is really difficult to score on, and the Bills are actually good.
Yes, the Rams were 3-1 last year before the season went to hell. But with Sean McVay on the sideline, Jared Goff playing well, and Todd Gurley back to form, 2017 feels way different.
Beating the Cowboys on the road is no joke, either. The Rams look like the real deal.
Get smoked by a division rival? Check. Get Marcus Mariota injured? Check.
Mariota is day-to-day with a hamstring injury, and if the Titans have to start Matt Cassel — who managed to turn the ball over three times in 18 plays against the Texans — there’s not a whole lot of reason for the Titans to expect Week 5 will be a bounce back.
New England Patriots
How in the world did a Bill Belichick-coached team get a defense this bad? No team in the NFL has given up more yards, and 128 points is the most the Patriots have ever allowed through four games.
Tom Brady is still shredding opposing secondaries, but it’s going to be a problem if New England needs his late-game heroics on a weekly basis like it did in a dramatic win over the Texans in Week 3.
The 49ers, Chargers and Giants all came really close to picking up a win, but all landed at 0-4 anyway. The Browns didn’t come anywhere near beating the Bengals in a 31-7 loss. Is it actually possible that Cleveland is getting worse?
The 1992 Chargers are the only team to ever start 0-4 and land in the playoffs, but don’t expect any miracles this year. It’s a wrap.
Full hope rankings
Weekly disclaimer: These aren’t your average power rankings and are instead an attempt to measure the current state of mind — or “hope” — for each team.
There will be weeks when a bad football team can come away feeling good about its future, or a good team will show serious weaknesses that damper spirits — like the Falcons this week.
If you’re looking for a ranking of who would beat who, this isn’t always going to be the best gauge:
Hope rankings, Week 5
|2||Kansas City Chiefs||1|
|4||Los Angeles Rams||10|
|11||Green Bay Packers||16|
|13||New Orleans Saints||17|
|14||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||21|
|19||New England Patriots||7|
|20||New York Jets||20|
|29||San Francisco 49ers||27|
|30||Los Angeles Chargers||31|
|31||New York Giants||32|