The Patriots were off in Week 4, but the Packers and Bengals are sure giving them a run for their money when it comes to the top spot in our power rankings. Green Bay won in impressive fashion against San Francisco and Cincy continued its tear by knocking off the Chiefs at home.
For both squads, success starts first and foremost with amazing quarterback play -- Aaron Rodgers is completing 72 percent of his throws and has 11 touchdown passes without a pick this year and Andy Dalton isn't far behind. The much-maligned Bengals signal-caller has passed for 1,187 yards (third in the NFL) while completing 67 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and only one interception.
Additionally, both teams' defenses have been strong as well, making it a no-brainer to put these two squads just behind the Patriots. The Broncos come in behind the Packers and Bengals this week thanks to another big win, holding off a tough Vikings team at home. Denver's defense might be the best in the NFL, and Peyton Manning hasn't fallen off as much as one might believe, considering the constant dialogue about his arm strength.
The Falcons and Panthers round out the rest of the undefeated teams through four weeks, with Atlanta destroying the Texans and Carolina knocking off the Buccaneers. Pretty crazy turnaround for both teams, and the NFC South is resurgent this year after sending a 7-8-1 team to the playoffs in 2014.
The Bears brought up the rear of our rankings last week after getting shut out in Seattle with Jimmy Clausen playing quarterback, but with Jay Cutler back in action, they made a big jump this week. The Raiders had been playing really good ball and gave Chicago a run for its money, but Cutler gutted out a hamstring injury to lead his team on a 12-play, 48-yard drive to win with a field goal in the final seconds. It's only a one-week rebound, but with Cutler back and Alshon Jeffery on the mend, this team has a chance to keep moving up.
Meanwhile, the Saints got a much-needed win at home with the return of Drew Brees, whose 400th career touchdown pass was the game-winner in overtime. New Orleans is far from a complete team, but it jumps a few spots this week.
Moving on up
Tell me if you've got the Rams figured out. St. Louis knocked off a red-hot Cardinals team in their place this week to make a big leap up the rankings, and looked like real contenders in doing so. Todd Gurley blew the second half up, Tavon Austin looked like the guy the Rams thought he'd be in the pros, and Nick Foles hit on some big-time throws. As it's gone with the Rams, consistency has been a problem, and this is just one week, but if they can carry over some of that swagger into next week in Green Bay and win, look out.
Meantime, are the Giants the league's most underrated team? They went into Buffalo and dismantled a very good Bills team while holding Tyrod Taylor and company to just 10 points. I know consistency has been an issue for New York as well, but it is two fourth-quarter meltdowns away from being 4-0. Of course, this is reality, and that's not how the NFL works, but a light schedule over the next five weeks could mean the Giants keep climbing in the rankings.
The Seahawks turned the ball over three times and went down to the wire with the Lions at home on Monday Night Football. A great play by Kam Chancellor -- where he punched the ball out from Calvin Johnson on the 1-yard line (followed by a lucky no-call when K.J. Wright batted the ball out of bounds) was the big difference in the game, but it was a win that the Seahawks badly needed. The defense does seem to be playing back at the level that got them to the Super Bowl the last two years, so if they can get their offensive line issues figured out, Seattle could make a run here.
SB Nation presents: How the refs screwed the Lions against the Seahawks
The Bills and Chiefs were a few of my early-season favorites, but both looked relatively inept this week in losing efforts. The defense was supposed to be the heart and soul of that Kansas City team, but after giving up 36 to the Bengals, that thought is in serious doubt. Their offense isn't carrying its weight, either, and they settled for seven field goals. At the same time, the Bills failed to capitalize on a big win in Miami last week and lost at home in unimpressive fashion.
I thought after last week that maybe the Eagles had taken a step forward and fixed a few of their issues, but after losing in Washington, my faith in Philly is falling precipitously. The Eagles' division rival the Cowboys fall in our rankings as well -- they just can't compete on a high level with Brandon Weeden at quarterback.
Misery loves company
The Dolphins' trip to the UK was not a pleasant one, and upon return, head coach Joe Philbin was fired. They appear to be in complete disarray, and generally, interim head coaches don't solve all that much for teams that fire their coaches midseason.
The Jags continue to languish at the bottom of these rankings after losing a winnable game against 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck and the Colts. Gus Bradley now has an 8-28 record in Jacksonville and patience seems to be wearing a little thin among the fanbase in Duval.
The Bucs are weathering the storm with rookie signal-caller Jameis Winston, who continues to turn the ball over way too often.
Finally, the Lions are the only 0-4 team in the NFL.
|RANK||WEEK 5||SB NATION BLOG|
|1||New England Patriots, 3-0 (Last Week: 1)||Pats Pulpit|
|2||Green Bay Packers, 4-0 (Last Week: 3)||Acme Packing Company|
|3||Cincinnati Bengals, 4-0 (Last Week: 5)||Cincy Jungle|
|4||Denver Broncos, 4-0 (Last Week: 4)||Mile High Report|
|5||Atlanta Falcons, 4-0 (Last Week: 9)||The Falcoholic|
|6||Carolina Panthers, 4-0 (Last Week: 7)||Cat Scratch Reader|
|7||Arizona Cardinals, 3-1 (Last Week: 2)||Revenge of the Birds|
|8||New York Jets, 3-1 (Last Week: 13)||Gang Green Nation|
|9||Pittsburgh Steelers, 2-2 (Last Week 8)||Behind the Steel Curtain|
|10||Seattle Seahawks, 2-2 (Last Week: 14)||Field Gulls|
|11||Buffalo Bills, 2-2 (Last Week: 6)||Buffalo Rumblings|
|12||San Diego Chargers, 2-2 (Last Week: 16)||Bolts from the Blue|
|13||St. Louis Rams, 2-2 (Last Week: 18)||Turf Show Times|
|14||Minnesota Vikings, 2-2 (Last Week: 11)||Daily Norseman|
|15||New York Giants, 2-2 (Last Week: 23)||Big Blue View|
|16||Indianapolis Colts, 2-2 (Last Week: 19)||Stampede Blue|
|17||Kansas City Chiefs, 1-3 (Last Week: 10)||Arrowhead Pride|
|18||Washington, 2-2 (Last Week 21)||Hogs Haven|
|19||Dallas Cowboys, 2-2 (Last Week: 12)||Blogging the Boys|
|20||Oakland Raiders, 2-2 (Last Week: 15)||Silver and Black Pride|
|21||Baltimore Ravens, 1-3 (Last Week: 20)||Baltimore Beatdown|
|22||New Orleans Saints, 1-3 (Last Week: 26)||Canal Street Chronicles|
|23||Philadelphia Eagles, 1-3 (Last Week: 17)||Bleeding Green Nation|
|24||Chicago Bears, 1-3 (Last Week: 32)||Windy City Gridiron|
|25||Houston Texans, 1-3 (Last Week: 22)||Battle Red Blog|
|26||Cleveland Browns, 1-3 (Last Week: 27)||Dawgs by Nature|
|27||Miami Dolphins, 1-3 (Last Week: 25)||The Phinsider|
|28||San Francisco 49ers, 1-3 (Last Week: 28)||Niners Nation|
|29||Tennessee Titans, 1-2 (Last Week: 29)||Music City Miracles|
|30||Detroit Lions, 0-4 (Last Week: 24)||Pride of Detroit|
|31||Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1-3 (Last Week: 30)||Bucs Nation|
|32||Jacksonville Jaguars, 1-3 (Last Week: 31)||Big Cat Country|