1. Baltimore Ravens (3-1): To be the best, you have to beat the best. And that is just what Baltimore did at Heinz Field last week. Joe Flacco really had a coming of age on that field, and Baltimore's defense remains one the best, if not THE best, in the league.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1): If you told a Steelers fan that they would be 3-1 without Ben Roethlisberger, they would've called you crazy. But hey, good defense and a steady running game is the key to success. Now that Big Ben is back, look for them to bounce back from their loss against Baltimore.
3. Atlanta Falcons (3-1): Heads up to Roddy White adverting a disaster against the Niners last week. They did not win as brilliantly as they really should have, but a W is a W. And they remain the only team to defeat the reigning champs.
4. New Orleans Saints (3-1): The champs still rank among the elite of the league, but if they keep allowing bad teams to stick around against them they won't stay that way for long.
5. New York Jets (3-1): Okay, okay. I admit, the Jets are good. 3-0 in the division without stars like Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes is impressive. Their only loss is my Super Bowl pick for the AFC. If Mark Sanchez can keep it together, this team is a contender with their strong defense.
6. Houston Texans (3-1): The Texans were back to dominance last week after a disappointing Week 3 outing against Dallas. Great offense that can suddenly now run the ball with Arian Foster, and solid defensive play will do that.
7. Indianapolis Colts (2-2): Disappointing loss for them against Jacksonville, but I will find it hard to imagine them not bouncing back. Peyton Manning is still Peyton Manning, after all. Their defense just needs to learn how to defend against the run.
8. New England Patriots (3-1): - The opposing defense is no longer elite Patriots QB Tom Brady's largest concern. It is now his own defense. Can this squad stop anybody? Nice gift win last week courtesy of the Dolphins Special Teams.
9. Green Bay Packers (3-1): A Super Bowl favorite coming into the season, and still hot with a 3-1 record. Killed themselves against Chicago, and Detroit came too close for comfort due to some mistakes by Aaron Rodgers. They need to get better if they want to continue to outpace Chicago and Minnesota.
10. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0): Yes, they are as now the only undefeated NFL team, but their victories have been against rather lukewarm teams. Their defense has played exceptional, though. Success or failure is solely on Matt Cassel's shoulders. Have two tough games at Indianapolis then at Houston coming up, though.
11. San Diego Chargers (2-2): You want to talk about a confusing team, it is the Chargers. A decisive win against Arizona helps their cause though. Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates are having fantastic seasons.
12. Miami Dolphins (2-2): This Dolphins Mike Nolan defense has proven much and is the key to their success this season. Cameron Wake is a monster in the pass rush, and second-year CB Vontae Davis is looking to be a real shut-down corner in what is being now called "Vontae's Peak". The Dolphins' achilles heal? Special teams. Three Patriots TDs last week were a direct result of failed special teams. They keep shooting themselves in the foot.
13. Philadelphia Eagles (2-2): Lots of question marks on this team on both sides of the ball, but I sincerely believe that if Michael Vick had not gone out with a hip injury against Washington, they would be 3-1 right now. Odd that the leader of the NFC East is 13th in the Power Rankings, but hey, that's parity for you. I could see the division being won by any of the 4 teams.
14. Tennessee Titans (2-2): It would be a deadly mistake for any team to underestimate the 2-2 Titans. They have had solid defensive play all season, and their offense is booming still with Chris Johnson and impressive 2nd-year RB Javon Ringer. They have played very tough in their losses, and their wins have been impressive.
15. Denver Broncos (2-2): Another confusing team, I view them as right around the middle of the pack. After a depressing performance against Jacksonville Week 1, they faced a pretty tough schedule and did pretty well for themselves. I have always felt QB Kyle Orton was underrated, and he is putting together a very nice year for himself.
16. New York Giants (2-2): Double-digit sacks redeem their poor defensive play for the beginning of the season, but they need to get consistent on defense before they become a legitimate contender. On a side note, their offense is much more explosive with Ahmad Bradshaw in the backfield as opposed to Brandon Jacobs.
17. Minnesota Vikings (1-2): Brett Favre needs a lot of work if this team is going to succeed. 6 interceptions through 3 games is unacceptable. They need to rely once again on Adrian Peterson to win games. Coming off their bye week, they face a tough matchup at the Jets.
18. Chicago Bears (3-1): The Bears need an offensive line. Mike Martz may be the most overrated offensive coordinator in the NFL, his offense is mainly smoke and mirrors. Here is the truth of the matter - the Bears have allowed 18 sacks this season, and Matt Forte is averaging 2.7 yards per carry this season. Despite Brian Urlacher's surprisingly good return and Julius Peppers' positive impact on defense, Chicago is a pretender.
19. Dallas Cowboys (1-2): What do you know, Dallas finds themselves overrated in the pre-season once again. They had an impressive outing against a good Texans team Week 3, but they seem to have a couple of those games each season. They will continue to be a pretender until they can get more consistent on both sides of the ball... but they certainly have the talent.
20. Washington Redskins (2-2): 2-0 in the division with a surprisingly strong defensive play (except against the Texans, that was pathetic), but I can't take a team seriously who loses to the likes of the St. Louis Rams.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2): Carson Palmer and Terrell Owens teamed up to bring back the TO show last week, but still fell short against the then-winless Browns. At this point, one just has to admit that last year was a fluke and the Bungles are still just not that good.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2): I can't believe this team is actually 2-2, David Garrard, the Jags O-Line and the Jags defense has been so horrible that the team decided to pick up Trent Edwards. Still, Maurice Jones-Drew is one of the premiere NFL RB. And they can thank Josh Scobee for their win last week. That was epic.
23. Seattle Seahawks (2-2): What the hell is with this team? They seem to win when I think they will lose, and lose when I think they will win. Beating the Chargers after Rivers put up 455 yards against your defense (thanks to the special teams, mainly)? Only putting up 3 against the Rams? The NFC West looks horrible... the winner may be 7-9.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1): They were brought back to earth when they got creamed by the Steelers Week 3, but they may be looking to make a statement against the Bengals coming off their bye-week.
25. St. Louis Rams (2-2): They're creeping up there, begging to be noticed. Played very close games in their Week 1 and 2 losses, and followed them up by two upset wins. This defense needs more credit - They have not allowed more than 17 points in a game all season. Sam Bradford looks like a leader for this offense.
26. Cleveland Browns (1-3): Dangerous team here. Plays good defense, stays in the game with an improved defense, and found a nice young runningback in Peyton Hillis.
27. Arizona Cardinals (2-2): They are 2-2, but they could easily be 0-4 right now. Barely winning against the Rams, being crushed by the Falcons and Chargers, and being given the win courtesy of Sebastian Janikowski. Dang. Their defense is being abused, and Derek Anderson is obviously not the answer to succeed Kurt Warner. Should've kept Matt Leinart.
28. Detroit Lions (0-4): Despite being winless, they have played good football. Once Matthew Stafford comes back and Jahvid Best gets better, they will win a few games. They play with heart. Almost got the upset against the Pack last week.
29. San Francisco 49ers (0-4): Played hard against the Saints and Falcons. And they are hungry for a win. I like Mike Singletary, but he may be a good example of a coach who makes a good coordinator, but not Head Coach. He will likely be let go in the off-season unless a huge turnaround occurs. Taylor Mays looked great in his first start, by the way.
30. Oakland Raiders (1-3): The Raiders are a good example of a team that lacks an identity. They have played well in some games this season, but it never seems to be the same unit. They actually could very well be 2-2 right now if Sebastian Janikowski could've done his job. Oh well. They are just not good enough to compete against good teams, I think.
31. Carolina Panthers (0-4): Honestly, the 0-2 start was not Matt Moore's fault, I do not think he should've been benched for rookie Jimmy Clausen. Moore may have been able to pull off the upset last week. The fault is the O-Line that can't block for them or DeAngelo Williams worth crap. Jeff Fox's tenure in Carolina could be over.
32. Buffalo Bills (0-4): Once again, the Bills are a train-wreck. In a tough division where each of their rivals completely outclass them. To say something nice about them... they may have the most talented defensive secondary in the AFC East. Too bad the rest of their team sucks. And their Front Office always makes me laugh with their decisions.
Predictions for Week 5:
|Jones-Drew may eat Buffalo's D up.|
Denver (2-2) @ Baltimore (3-1): Baltimore by 7. With Ray Rice likely to come back at full strength this week, look for the Ravens to expand their win streak at home against the Broncos. If they can stop QB Kyle Orton, which they should (Baltimore is ranked #1 against the pass), they should win decisively.
New York Giants (2-2) @ Houston (3-1): Houston by 10. For the first time in, well, their whole existence, the Texans have a balanced offense and solid defense. The Giants will need to maintain their strong defensive presence to stay in the game against the high-flying Texans, but the Texans offensive line is not nearly as pathetic as the Bears'.
Chicago (3-1) @ Carolina (0-4): Carolina by 3. Upset alert! Give me the Panthers. The Bears will come in demoralized against a Panthers team playing at home and hungry for a win. And it is unlikely Jay Cutler will be able to play due to the NFL's new concussion rules. The key for the Panthers will be containing former-Panther star Julius Peppers.
Green Bay (3-1) @ Washington (2-2): Green Bay by 3. The Skins could be trouble for the visiting Pack. Washington has been playing good teams close and the Packers need to evaluate mistakes made in match-ups against the Lions and Bears. Still, it is their game to lose. With Aaron Rodgers and a strong play-making defense, they will be in any game.
|Peyton Manning is angry.|
Kansas City (3-0) @ Indianapolis (2-2): Indianapolis by 10. Not trying to knock on the Chiefs' success this season, but Indianapolis is coming off a loss that you know will have them fired up, ready to get serious. This is by far the best team that the Chiefs have had to face so far, in one of the hardest stadiums for away teams to win in the NFL.
Tampa Bay (2-1) @ Cincinnati (2-2): Cincinnati by 3. Expect the Bengals to bounce back against the visiting Bucs. I think Cedric Benson can have a big game to open up the play-action pass. Tampa Bay could win this though with the upset.
St. Louis (2-2) @ Detroit (0-4): Detroit by 7. I'm going to go for the upset here. Both teams have played solid football, better than a year ago, but the Lions have not came away with a victory and has been facing arguably better teams.
Atlanta (3-1) @ Cleveland (1-3): Atlanta by 10. This is the Falcons' game to lose. Could the Browns pull off two upsets in a row? Sure. But the Falcons are one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now.
New Orleans (3-1) @ Arizona (2-2): New Orleans by 10. Arizona has a lot of problems right now, and they will continue against the champs. I kind of expect New Orleans to regain their confidence in this matchup. Drew Brees could be looking at a huge game.
Tennessee (2-2) @ Dallas (1-2): Dallas by 3. At home, I'm going to say that Dallas can pull it off. It is absolutely crucial, however, that they do not underestimate the Titans. They are a dangerous team and they have the potential to blow Dallas out.
San Diego (2-2) @ Oakland (1-3): San Diego by 14. The Chargers are going to win this one. Philip Rivers has been playing out of his mind right now, and their defense can overwhelm the Raiders'.
|The Eagles need Vick to get better- fast!|
Minnesota (1-2) @ New York Jets (3-1): New York Jets by 3. The Jets should win this one, especially if Darrelle Revis is ready to go again. It will be a defensive slug-fest, but Brett Favre seems to be putting his opponents in a position to win games. For the Vikings to pull off the upset, they will need to rely on Adrian Peterson. He has a slight edge over Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson. Both of these O-Lines love to run block though. And each of these D-Lines are known for stopping the run.
Byes: Miami (2-2), New England (3-1), Pittsburgh (3-1), and Seattle (2-2)