Week Four Rankings

at MetLife Stadium on November 23, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

With the last game of Week Three’s tumultuous rampage wrapping up mere moments ago, I stand prepared to give to you the rankings I’ve thought through for the upcoming week. Some teams have shifted about, the balance of power has been further upset, some initial leaders have floundered and stagnated while others have soared. Let’s dip our toes in and see how the water feels shall we?

The Good:

  1. New England Patriots- Is Darth Vader’s theme playing in the back of your mind right now? Because it should be. The evil empire is back in action and they’ve done it all without their prodigal son (Brady). No matter who plays at QB in this system this year it seems like they can work the right amount of magic. A thoroughly demoralizing trampling of the Texans in a shutout victory launches these guys from number two to head honcho this week. +1 3-0
  2. Denver Broncos- For what it’s worth Denver played a great game and Trevor Siemian showed that he has what it takes to truly step up on offense and that the defense hasn’t been the only thing carrying this team thus far, no matter how commanding the presence. They had a neat 29-17 win over a talented Bengals squad and were only beaten out for the number one spot by the even more impressive showing above. The AFCW is packing some heat. -1 3-0
  3. Minnesota Vikings- The Vikes get this big leap ahead of a few other teams that won their matches and impressed this week. Their defensive play has been pretty muhc phenomenal thus far and as we well know, defense will always trump a good offense when it comes down to it (*cough Seahawks v Broncos / Broncos v Panthers). Add to that the fact that Stefon Diggs and Sam Bradford have some odd mojo going and you’ve got a super solid squad with or without AP and TB. +5 3-0
  4. Green Bay Packers- Though they occupy this slot currently things could very well change if they continue to play as inconsistently as they have thus far. Aaron Rodgers had a commanding first half presence against the Lions and may have eliminated doubts about himself personally, however the Lions and Stafford are always a good team for comebacks as they showed when the game ended only 34-27. The Packers need to learn how to be closers and then I’ll feel more justified in their positioning here. +2 2-1
  5. Seattle Seahawks- They’ve had a rough time of it but for this week at least I feel they’ve earned their spot. Down several men and with more injuries looming on the horizon, this Hawks squad still knows how to fight and they showed it in a 37-18 victory over San Fransisco, handing that team its second large defeat in two weeks. I hope for their sake the run game can get going but Wilson has started to step up in the passing game as well this year. +6 2-1
  6. Philadelphia Eagles- This team has come so far from being ranked in the third tier at the beginning of the season and although anything can happen, I see a lot of potential for them to improve even more. Carson Wentz has fully embraced his role and opened up more options offensively than the Eagles have seen in a long time. It may be too soon to say, but at least as of right now he seems to have quite a future ahead of him. Plus he’s already making history. +9 3-0
  7. Kansas City Chiefs- With the prospect of Jamaal Charles returning shortly and the team being able to fall back into its groove again, things are looking up for the Chiefs who haven’t been too shabby even with questionable results so far. The Chiefs D came up big and they held the Jets to just a field goal and forced no less than eight turnovers (six of which were interceptions and at least four of which came in the fourth quarter alone). What a game. 2-1
  8. Carolina Panthers- The Panthers seem to be suffering from a lot of what is ailing the Packers and Cardinals right now. They’re statistically an even better team than last year’s 15-1 squad and super bowl contenders, yet so far they’ve been stymied twice by incredible defensive efforts and been unable to move forward. When Cam gets punished the team suffers it seems. -4 1-2
  9. Arizona Cardinals- So the Cardinals find themselves on a downward spiral as well this year, which is surprising considering they returned the majority of their roster and had one of the strongest claims to make for playoff contention. As it is right now they seem unsure of themselves and of what they can do. They need to fix that confidence issue first and foremost. -4 1-2
  10. Pittsburgh Steelers- Wow. What a game. And not in the good way that fans would like to be hearing right now. The Steelers clearly had their bell rung. Here they were poised to potentially seize a sizable hold on the rankings and then they got knocked back down again. Way down. These guys are undermanned like the Pats, but they need to learn how to work it just as well. -7 2-1

The Alright:

  1. Cincinnati Bengals- Cincy has had some tough losses already and I feel like that trend is going to continue, but they’re still a smart and strong ball club and have the ability to bounce back from it as well. They’ve got a tough group around them to play but they’ve got the chance to make it back to the playoffs if they put in the effort. First things first, learn to not lean on any one player too much. -1 1-2
  2. Oakland Raiders- This week on the Raiders show saw a close win and preventing the Titans from scrambling for yet another last-second comeback. So Oakland gets to keep their position again as they played better on defense and made some plays even though it was a relatively low scoring affair. Don’t sleep on Derek Carr. 2-1
  3. Baltimore Ravens- To be fair, even here is probably a little higher than I feel comfortable ranking the Ravens, but you’ve got to recognize an unbeaten team even if its only three games into the season. They’ve played close contests and constantly strove to come back from any deficit. That’s not a bad quality to have. There have been mistakes but they’ve always worked on them and tried to make up for them as well. They’re going places. +6 3-0
  4. Dallas Cowboys- Whew. What a game this one was. Even when they lost earlier in the season, it was clear that Dak brought something else to this team and that he is at least going to be a very strong backup to Romo’s Dallas if not a starter (egad). Cue up some nice running by QB and RB as well as a nice TD to Dez (that actually counted) and you’ve got the recipe for their 31-17 win over Chicago. +2 2-1
  5. New York Giants- What a tough loss for a squad who has been winning the close games so far. The Giants needed this win over division rival Washington but it turns out the Redskins just wanted it more. Eli made some mistakes, OBJ headbutted things, and Cruz had some snags. It wasn’t enough however as they lost this particular close contest by two and fell to Washington’s secondary and Cousins’ aerial attack. -1 2-1
  6. Houston Texans- Houston had a big drop this week. I mean first they dropped the entire game to the Pats and then they’re getting dropped in the rankings. The entire thing should’ve been a good matchup and the Texans’ first actually good game against New England in years, however even without the Brady bunch these guys still steamrolled over Houston. This was your chance and you blew it. -7 2-1
  7. Miami Dolphins- There’s a reason Miami isn’t moving up or down this week. Sure they won an overtime thriller against the Browns, but they didn’t necessarily play like the better team regardless of stats. Honestly, the Browns had more heart in this one even though the Dolphins got the W. They still have a long way to go but if Ryan Tannehill plays like he did here then they’ve got hope. 1-2
  8. Buffalo Bills- The Bills are slowly clawing their way back up the rankings and should be able to go even higher if they play another game like they did against a supposedly superior Cardinals’ squad. Not only did they beat Arizona, they dominated them. They pummeled Carson Palmer and co for a delicious 33-18 victory and they should be feeling revitalized after a poor start to the season. +5 1-2
  9. Atlanta Falcons- What a win for the Falcons over NFC South rival New Orleans on Monday night. The Falcons took advantage of the Saints’ poor defense and scored forty-five points to their thirty-two. It’s sad to see veteran Drew Brees have to carry his entire team and score repeatedly and still not be able to trust the defense to hold on for the win. Atlanta’s run game reminded me of the first half of last year’s explosive showing as well. +3 2-1
  10. New York Jets- I don’t know what I expected after their showing against the Bills last week but this certainly wasn’t it. Again, I guess you really have to wait until gameday to see which version of Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to show up. Eight turnovers, six of which were interceptions, and at least four of which came in the final quarter… just a ridiculous amount of mistakes for the Jets. They need to get their fundamentals squared away ASAP. -7 1-2

The Questionable:

  1. Detroit Lions- Detroit is dropping in the rankings this week but it’s due more to the fact that several teams catapulted their way up to the top than the fact that they actually lost to the Packers. In fact, if anything they played better even though they lost the game by a score. The Lions prove time and time again that they can compete and stick with teams, however it’s almost always in their comeback that ends up making it a close game but not a win. -3 1-2
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- The descent continues this week for a Buccaneers team that was winning the game and then just decided playing defense wasn’t as important as notching another defeat. Sure, you can make whatever argument you want for whether or not they would’ve rallied if there hadn’t been an hour long weather delay, but a loss is a loss. Work needs to be made and mistakes need to be stamped out if they want to win more games. -2 1-2
  3. Washington Redskins- The Skins got the close win this time around and despite some mistakes they looked altogether the better unit of the day. Norman v OBJ Round 2 may have been overhyped but then what matchup isn’t? Cousins proved he still had what it takes in another “you like that” performance and the team came up big to stop the Giants from notching another close road win and netting the Skins another home loss. +3 1-2
  4. Los Angeles Rams- The Rams have turned things around in a surprisingly quick manner and if they can keep this momentum going then they’ll move even further up the rankings here. After a defensive win over Seattle they netted another decisive victory over the Bucs this week. Plus they finally put some touchdowns on the board and Todd Gurley got into the groove again with some better protection. +5 2-1
  5. Tennessee Titans- The Titans are dropping one slot really just as a token to the teams that moved up significantly this week. They had a chance to remain in their same limbo of a position for one more week but alas won’t. They could’ve clutched victory from the jaws of defeat for the second consecutive game however they were stopped when it really mattered by a surprising showing from the Raiders defense. Mariota needs to work on minimizing turnovers and they need to utilize their running game more effectively since the weapons are there at RB1, RB2, and QB. -1 1-2
  6. Indianapolis Colts- The Colts finally got a much-needed win and they played altogether much better than they have in weeks past. First of all, they actually managed to somewhat protect the quarterback which is key, especially if they’d like to avoid their workhorse getting hurt for a second season. The receivers came up big and even though the ground game faltered in the second half they put up some decent numbers for the day in their 26-22 win over San Diego. +4 1-2
  7. Jacksonville Jaguars- Here comes another significant drop. This was a squad that I thought had huge promise after the first week and now look how the mighty have fallen. They lost yet another close one and they lost it largely because they didn’t want to win it enough. In the last two games they’ve made huge mistakes and really killed their own vibe more so than their opponents have. They could be sitting pretty at 2-1 right now but instead they’re 0-3 with some questionable defense and quarterback work. -6 0-3
  8. San Diego Chargers- After a slight bump up the ranks last week San Diego is plunging again because they failed to capitalize on their ability to win close games and finish teams off when they’re in the lead. They didn’t allow as large a comeback as week one but they still allowed Indianapolis to come in and hit them where it hurt. Philip Rivers plays as well as ever but he is severely limited by the rest of his arsenal this year and it shows. -3 1-2
  9. New Orleans Saints- Another week, another lost game for the Saints. They’re definitely struggling the most on defense probably than any other team in the league besides last week’s Raiders perhaps. Drew Brees and the offensive side of the field are definitely solid enough as they’ve scored pretty much thirty points per game so far, but then the defense comes in and allows opponents over five hundred yards a game and huge numbers. Who wouldn’t be demoralized? -1 0-3
  10. San Fransisco 49ers- The 49ers had another game where they managed to stick with a team in the fourth quarter but still couldn’t come back or stay relevant enough to win. In this case it was the Seahawks and not the Panthers, and they did the most work in the second half rather than the first. The talent is there if only they learn how to replicate the success they had in their victory against the Rams. Right now the NFC West has a rock paper scissors kind of thing going with the Rams beating the Hawks and Hawks beating the 49ers and 49ers beating the Rams, but only time will tell who’s gonna rise out of that division (don’t forget Arizona). -3 1-2

The Bad:

  1. Cleveland Browns- Breaking news for Browns fans- Cleveland is no longer in last place on this list, at least for one more week. They truly had an impressive game and they showed that through a rookie quarterback who impressed with some good looks to receivers all day. The defense played their part as well although ultimately their fourth quarter comeback tie wasn’t enough to win them the game in overtime. +1 0-3
  2. Chicago Bears- John Fox’s team must really be feeling it right now. They’ve stepped in yet another pile of questionable substance this season and it started right from the get-go. Most of their players on both sides of the ball are injured or not playing at their highest potential and then you’ve got undeniable talent that just can’t seem to get the ball (*cough Alshon Jeffrey) enough. They need to figure out what needs to be done to win and quick. I only hope they don’t take a page from the Pats’ playbook and spy on other teams. -1 0-3
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