This is how power rankings should be done, quarterly. We shouldn’t have these week-to-week, meaningless rankings that drop one team below another based off of one game, one upset, that can happen on any given week. One month is in the books, so there are some trends for us to catch onto and some injuries that will have an impact moving forward. And no, record isn’t everything. Analysis is provided below for the top-10 teams with one-liners for the rest of the league.
1. Kansas City Chiefs 4-0
This team is great on offense with the game-changers, defense with the playmakers, as well as on special teams. They found a way to win comfortably, close, and how to comeback, both home and away. Maybe they’re the next hot team like we saw with the Falcons and Cowboys were last season, but their playoff consistency appears to give them higher upside. Maybe even “super” upside. It’s all on Alex Smith to continue making a couple of downfield completions to keep a defense honest.
2. Denver Broncos 3-1
I thought the coaching changes would result in a step back, but that appears to be debunked. Trevor Siemian is capable of getting the ball to his starting receivers, which are really good, so the key for them is to run the ball since that strong defense will keep them in every game. The “no fly zone” secondary is no joke and it allows the linebackers to mostly help stuff the run. With Von Miller coming off the edge, who is averaging a sack per week, his presence allows the rest of the defense to feast.
3. New England Patriots 2-2
Their 2 losses have come against the hottest team in the league, and losing by a field goal as time expires despite scoring 30 points. The defense needs some real addressing, fortunately for them, they have one of the few QBs that can dig them out of a hole more times than not. They say the offensive side of the ball has an early season advantage over defenses, so Bill Belichick’s defense has earned the benefit of the doubt after allowing the fewest points in 2016.
4. Green Bay Packers 3-1
We all know how great Aaron Rodgers is, yet he still doesn’t have any semblance of a ground game. His left tackle has yet to play this season, and both tackles actually missed last week’s game, so getting their bookends back can help them all-around. Their only loss came in Atlanta and there’s no shame losing in that dome. I think the defense can gel with some more games under their belt, but that better come to life sooner than later.
5. Philadelphia Eagles 3-1
Their ball-control is reminiscent of how the Chiefs and Cowboys play. They’re winning the close games that resulted in losses last season. I see 2 weeks leaning on the pass to beat Washington and give Kansas City a run for their money. I see 2 weeks of pounding the football 40+ times to wear defenses out, in which both teams were desperate trying to keep their playoff hopes alive. Carson Wentz is a top-10 quarterback, the O-line and D-line are top-5, and their secondary can only get healthier.
6. Atlanta Falcons 3-1
I’m going to put the defending NFC Champs here for now but I’m not too high on them. They can score anywhere, defend better at home, but I think they’re going to have to embrace their new offensive coordinator rather than attempt to duplicate their previous one. The good news is that Julio Jones isn’t expect to miss any games with a hip injury and Vic Beasley has resumed running after missing 2 weeks with a hamstring. They played great against the Packers, but no so great against the Bears, Lions and Bills, oh my. They are lucky not to be 1-3.
7. Los Angeles Rams 3-1
We just listed the team with the 2nd overall pick from 2016, now here’s the team with the first overall pick. What a difference it has been in hiring an offensive-minded coaching staff. Jared Goff and Todd Gurley are getting the job done these days. They beat a pair of teams they were supposed to beat, a playoff team from last season, and lost to a team around their same level. The defense should continue to grow under Wade Phillips, and they’re going to need that side to step up with a tougher schedule ahead of them.
8. Houston Texans 2-2
Bill O’ Brien is my guy and DeShaun Watson is the best QB he’s had in Houston. Their defense keeps on bringing it every season, smothering backfields and thy’re opportunistic on the back end. The dynamic Will Fuller made an instant impact last week in his season debut. They need to sign left tackle Duane Brown already, who is still holding out. That’ll give the offense a boost.
9. Washington Redskins 2-2
This is a scrappy ball club that has suffered 2 defeats to teams in my top-5, one being a division rival. Impressive were their victories against the Rams and the Raiders. This team is capable enough on both sides of the ball, Jay Gruden has quickly regained his rhythm as a play-caller, their man-to-man defense poses a challenge most weeks, but they’re going to have to make due without Josh Norman for a few games.
10. Dallas Cowboys 2-2
Their recipe for success is going to make every game winnable. The thing with them is when the defense gets exposed and the offense isn’t built to play from behind, the more they have to pass and the less they look like they did last season. It’s not a Dak Prescott issue, it’s a route running issue. DeMarcus Lawrence, Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith look reliable, but there’s still 8 other guys that have do something out there.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers 3-1: They should absolutely play their way up the rankings and into the elite category as we’re used to.
12. Seattle Seahawks 2-2: Don’t let a blowout against Indy fool you, but sometimes a recently great team needs a game like that to snap out of their funk.
13. Detroit Lions 3-1: Nothing pretty nor trustworthy about them, but they are showing that they have the heart of a lion.
14. Minnesota Vikings 2-2: Tough playing without a starting QB and RB, at least the Sam Bradford and Latavius Murray are both expected to play soon.
15. Oakland Raiders 2-2: The Derek Carr injury is an obvious detour but this could be a blessing in disguise to activate Beast Mode for a few weeks without their starting QB. It might make them more balanced down the road.
16. New Orleans Saints 2-2: If the defense can play like closer to their weeks 3 and 4 efforts, this will be a playoff team. Big if, though.
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-1: I’m lukewarm on them but the potential is evident with DeSean Jackson hardly involved and Doug Martin returning from suspension.
18. Carolina Panthers 3-1: Everyone gets up to play the Patriots, can they get up to play every week? So far, so good.
19. Buffalo Bills 3-1: Great start to the season but I do need to see more, they’re going to have to pass more at some point.
20. Los Angeles Chargers 0-4: Close only counts in horse shoes, but the signs are there.
21. Tennessee Titans 1-3: They have a rushing attack to build on, but I don’t trust anything else they do.
22. Cincinnati Bengals 1-3: They would benefit from a new coaching staff.
23. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-2: With a defense and running game in place, it’s all on Blake Bortles.
24. New York Giants 0-4: Can’t run nor stop the run.
25. Baltimore Ravens 2-2: No position group in particular stands out about them.
26. Arizona Cardinals 2-2: The offense is whatever, Palmer should have retired, and the defense doesn’t intimidate opponents anymore.
27. Chicago Bears: They’re level headed and play to their strengths.
28. Indianapolis Colts 1-3: Andrew Luck is playing at some point, right?
29. New York Jets 2-2: Hats off for their grit and pulling out a couple of wins, but they’re still headed for a top-3 draft pick.
30. San Francisco 49ers 0-4: This team has a heart beat and this experience is huge for the new regime.
31. Cleveland Browns 0-4: Rebuilding, but at least they’re going in the right direction.
32. Miami Dolphins 1-2: Very different team with Jay Cutler than Ryan Tannehill.