Various writers and editors vote and Lindsay Jones writes about these Week 4 NFL Power Rankings from The Athletic:
32. Miami Dolphins (0-4; Last week: 32)
It took until Week 4, but the Miami Dolphins finally led a game for the first time this season. Sure, the score was 7-3 at the time of that first lead, but it was a lead, nonetheless. But never fear, FishTank fans, that was about good as it would get for the Dolphins, who remain our bottom team.
31. Washington Redskins (0-4; Last week: 29)
In the name of transparency, I, Lindsay Jones, ranked Washington last on my ballot. I had initially put them at 31 after that really ugly, lopsided loss to the New York Giants. But then Washington Post political reporter David Farenthold sent me this tweet:
I was in the grocery store yesterday around 3p. Lots of people in Redskins jerseys. The pre-game rush! Looked at my phone to see when the game would start.
It had started at 1. These fans had bailed so early that they were already in the produce section in the 3rd quarter.
And how could I put anyone but Washington last after that sort of anecdotal evidence of how much the fanbase has checked out, even with first-round pick Dwayne Haskins taking his first snaps?
30. Cincinnati Bengals (0-4; Last week: 30)
The best thing we could say about the Bengals through the first three weeks was that at least they were in close games (well, not counting the Week 2 loss to San Francisco, that is). No more. That Monday Night Football loss to the previously winless Steelers was an embarrassing look for Zac Taylor’s team.
29. New York Jets (0-3; Last week: 31)
The best part of Week 4 was not having to watch the Jets, and we’re not sorry for saying it. They gained two spots this week simply because they didn’t have a chance to be awful, and other teams did. Here’s hoping Sam Darnold’s spleen also benefited from the week off.
28. Denver Broncos (0-4; Last week: 28)
As if an 0-4 start weren’t bad enough (including two brutal home losses, both on last-second field goals by the opponent), here comes news on Monday that second-year pass rusher Bradley Chubb partially tore his ACL and will miss the rest of the season. Sure, it wasn’t like the Broncos were going to realistically rally and make the playoffs, but Chubb was one of few bright spots and now Vic Fangio’s job just got much more difficult.
27. Arizona Cardinals (0-3-1; Last week: 27)
We didn’t pick the word depressing to describe the Cardinals after four weeks. Larry Fitzgerald did. And while we’d love to spend this space talking about how fun the Air Raid offense is and how much Kyler Murray is developing, Fitzgerald is right. It’s just depressing to realize just how far the Cardinals have to go to be competitive with the Seahawks and the other teams in their division.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3; Last week: 26)
Can a dominant win against division rival Cincinnati salvage the Steelers’ season? We still want to see more out of Pittsburgh’s passing game and backup quarterback Mason Rudolph before we’ll believe that Pittsburgh will get back into the division race with Cleveland and Baltimore, but with the Ravens suddenly coming off of two straight losses, now at least the Steelers have a shot.
25. Atlanta Falcons (1-3; Last week: 18)
The Falcons ping-ponged around the rankings earlier this season, but now it feels like this downward trajectory is going to stick, especially if the offense can’t get on track next week against Arizona. But our biggest questions right now are about a defense that made Marcus Mariota look like a Pro Bowler on Sunday and has consistently gotten pushed around by opposing running backs.
24. Oakland Raiders (2-2; Last week: 23)
So, sometimes quirky things happen with the rankings. Like the Raiders travel to the eastern time zone for an early kickoff and beat a team that was in our Top 10 last week and still fall a spot. We can’t really explain it other than to say that our panel seems to believe Week 4 was a fluky loss for the Colts more than a telling win for the Raiders. Next up for the Raiders: The Bears at Tottenham Stadium in London.
23. New York Giants (2-2; Last week: 24)
Are we overly excited about the Giants? Possibly. But let us have this. Daniel Jones winning his first two starts — one with an 18-point road comeback, the other in a game played without Saquon Barkley — is certainly worthy of another (albeit small) climb in the rankings, up one more spot after a seven-spot jump last week.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2; Last week: 25)
Welcome back, Good Jameis. It’s been a while. And dare we say, maybe this was the best Jameis Winston has ever looked? Four touchdowns, 385 passing yards (and yes, one interception, but we’ll give him a pass on that this week) in a 55-40 win against the Rams. The Bucs have a major decision to make on Winston after this year, and if he has more games like this, Winston will make it an easy one.
21. Tennessee Titans (2-2; Last week: 22)
No overreacting here from our panel after the Titans’ convincing win over the Falcons. We’ve been burned by the Titans before, but we’ll just say we’re encouraged by a strong performance from Marcus Mariota — three touchdowns, no picks, no sacks — and if he can repeat that performance in consecutive weeks, we’ll move the Titans back up into the Top 20.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2; Last week: 21)
Minshew Madness is real, you guys. I saw it first hand.
While the Jags still try to figure out what to do with Jalen Ramsey (he was inactive Sunday against Denver because of a sore back, and it was obvious they missed him), at least they don’t have to worry about the quarterback situation for the next few weeks. The big question will come in a month or so, if Gardner Minshew is still playing well and Nick Foles is ready to return from his broken collarbone injury.
19. Houston Texans (2-2; Last week: 13)
The Texans’ offense continues to be a mystery. They should be good, but so often, and like they were on Sunday against Carolina, they’re just infuriating, especially in the red zone (where they scored just one touchdown in three tries against the Panthers).
18. Carolina Panthers (2-2; Last week: 20)
We had been waiting for a really dominant performance from the revamped Carolina defense, and now we’ve seen it, with six sacks of Deshaun Watson in the Panthers’ 16-10 win at Houston. That’s exactly what the Panthers need, as well as more perfect 10 catches-on-10 target days from Christian McCaffrey, as they continue to play without Cam Newton. Next up on Kyle Allen’s schedule: a quarterback duel with Gardner Minshew, a Week 5 match-up we all totally would have predicted a month ago.
17. Minnesota Vikings (2-2; Last week: 7)
This might be the biggest overreaction to a Sunday loss, with the Vikings plummeting after struggling to do much of anything in a loss to the Bears. And that includes rushing — Dalvin Cook had just 35 yards on 14 carries — and that’s a problem, when a team’s offensive identity is so one-dimensional.
16. Indianapolis Colts (2-2; Last week: 10)
Can’t blame this one on the kicking game. Nope, the Colts just didn’t look good in a 31-24 home loss to the Raiders. Now Indianapolis better hope that the offensive line struggles and costly drops were just an aberration.
15. Cleveland Browns (2-2; Last week: 19)
If we were predicting a breakout offensive player for the Browns in the preseason, Nick Chubb would have been a ways down the list, given the star power and big names at other skill positions. But there was Chubb on Sunday in Baltimore, nearly out-rushing the entire Ravens’ offense on his own. (Chubb finished with 165 rushing yards, just eight fewer than Baltimore’s team total, and also scored three touchdowns.)
Oh, and did we mention the Browns are now in first place in the AFC North?
14. Los Angeles Chargers (2-2; Last week: 17)
When a game is as lopsided in the second half as the Chargers’ win against the Dolphins was, you start thinking about special teams, and you find out from Chargers beat writer Dan Popper that the Chargers’ emergency placekicker is fullback Derek Watt, while receiver Dontrell Inman is the emergency kicker. Not going to lie, we’d kind of like to see a Watt brother attempt PATs.
The bottom line for the Chargers is they got a much-needed win to join the crowded field of teams at 2-2, and now the Chargers can work on really getting Melvin Gordon ready to take his first carries of 2019 next week against Denver.
13. Detroit Lions (2-1-1; Last week: 14)
The Lions lost Sunday, 34-30 to Kansas City, and yet, our panel was impressed enough in the way the Lions’ defense slowed down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense. So while Lions players say they aren’t counting any moral victories, our panel obviously is, because even after the loss the Lions have moved up. (And they’ve also passed the Vikings in these rankings.) After a bye next week, they’ll face the Packers at Green Bay and the Vikings, a stretch that’ll tell us quite a bit more about Detroit’s chances in that division.
12. Buffalo Bills (3-1; Last week: 11)
There was plenty to like about the Bills’ defensive performance against New England, and I’m actually surprised the Bills didn’t actually stand pat or rise a bit in the rankings after coming close to pulling off an upset. And yet, for as good as the Bills defense is proving to be week after week, if Buffalo is going to truly emerge as a worthy challenger to New England, it’ll be because they finally get more out of the offense. And on Sunday, Josh Allen just wasn’t there yet (and not just because of the brutal helmet-to-helmet hit that knocked him from the game in the fourth quarter.)
11. Baltimore Ravens (2-2; Last week: 6)
If we weren’t really worried about the Ravens after they lost last week to the Chiefs, we’re officially worried now. Are these defensive problems fixable through improved communication and just more time together? Or are there fundamental roster deficiencies after an offseason of massive turnover?
10. Seattle Seahawks (3-1; Last week: 15)
Seattle rebounded from last week’s disappointing loss to New Orleans by beating up on the Arizona Cardinals, a game we might as well consider a tuneup for Thursday’s game against the Rams. And Sunday was indeed a confidence-builder, for running back Chris Carson, who broke 100 yards and didn’t fumble, and a defense that recorded four sacks and a pick-six off Kyler Murray.
9. Chicago Bears (3-1; Last week: 12)
The good news: The Bears proved they have one of the NFL’s best backup quarterback situations, when Chase Daniel was able to step in and seamlessly lead the offense to a touchdown drive (on the way to a 16-6 win over Minnesota.)
The bad news: What does it say about the the Bears, and specifically about former No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky, that the offense looks just as good, if not better, with Daniel under center?
8. San Francisco 49ers (3-0; Last week: 9)
Nice little bye week for the 49ers, who return to play this week (on Monday night vs. Cleveland) in first place in their division and as the only undefeated team left in the NFC.
7. Green Bay Packers (3-1; Last week: 5)
The Packers’ stay in our Top 5 was a brief one, but at least they didn’t fall far after the Thursday night loss to Philadelphia. Still, we have our first questions of the season about the Green Bay defense, and how the front seven can hold up against better offensive lines. We’ll find out this week, when the Packers travel to Dallas, if the struggles against Philly’s O-line are a major flaw.
6. Philadelphia Eagles (2-2; Last week: 16)
Last week, the Eagles were our biggest faller. And now they’re our biggest climber, up 10 spots after beating the Packers. It must be because expectations were so high for the Eagles, which made the two-game losing streak that much more confusing. Now it feels like order has been restored, for one week at least.
5. Los Angeles Rams (3-1; Last week: 3)
It was hard to know exactly what to make of the Rams’ ugly loss on Sunday, which started out as a blowout by the Bucs (the Rams trailed 21-0 early) and turned into a shootout that ended 55-40 in Tampa’s favor. We don’t think it means the Rams are a bad team, it just means that like everyone else in the NFC, they’re vulnerable, especially on days when Jared Goff isn’t sharp (three interceptions and one lost fumble.)
4. Dallas Cowboys (3-1; Last week: 4)
A prime-time loss would normally cause a team to tumble even a little bit, but our panel still seems to believe in the Cowboys, even after a disappointing offensive showing in the 12-10 loss to the Saints. The stats are pretty ugly, just 45 rushing yards (and only 35 for Ezekiel Elliott) and no touchdown passes for Dak Prescott. That means the next challenge for Prescott and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is to figure out how to counter when a team like New Orleans is able to neutralize Elliott. They’ll get an idea next week in Dallas, against the Packers’ stout defense.
3. New Orleans Saints (3-1; Last week: 8)
The Saints are among the biggest climbers this week, thanks to a home win over the Cowboys. We loved the shots of an anxious Drew Brees on the sideline, and are encouraged at how the Saints have managed to beat two 2018 playoff teams in the two weeks since Brees injured his right thumb. The NFC South is far from settled, but the Saints have to remain the favorites, especially with such an impressive performance from their unrelenting defense that completely stunted what was a hot Dallas offense.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0; Last week: 2)
So much for all the pre-game speculation that Patrick Mahomes would throw for 500+ yards in his first game in a dome, right? Credit the Lions’ defense for giving the Chiefs their first real challenge of the season, but credit Mahomes for finding a way to keep the Chiefs undefeated on a difficult day for the offense (and when Mahomes didn’t throw a touchdown.) Are we sleeping on the Chiefs’ defense? Maybe.
1. New England Patriots (4-0; Last week: 1)
Offensively, the Pats’ win over Buffalo wasn’t pretty. But we have no issue keeping the Pats here in the top spot, especially when so many other supposedly good teams couldn’t even manage to win ugly. We also think that with upcoming games against Washington, the Jets and Giants, there will be plenty of chances for Tom Brady and Co. to show off.