Mike Blewitt’s NFL Power Rankings – Week 4
Finally, Brett Favre makes some big news ON the field as the Vikes snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The defending champ Steelers stumble again versus their hated rival Bengals, the Broncos raise some eyebrows as they remain undefeated and last, but certainly not least, the lovable Lions exit the basement for the first time in a long time as we run down the list No. 1 to No. 32…
1. New York Giants (3-0)–The Giants have a depleted roster due to various injuries (Kenny Phillips, Justin Tuck) and promptly went down to Tampa to shut out the Bucs with a 28-to-5 first down advantage. Eli Manning took a breather at the end of this game sending fantasy football nerds (just like me) into a tizzy across the nation.
2. New Orleans Saints (3-0)–The Bills held Drew Brees to only 172 yards passing…but forgot about RBs Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush & Co. who combined for 222 yards on the ground. This is a scary offense and the only TD they allowed was on a fake punt; perhaps the defense is ready to match its offensive peers.
3. Baltimore Ravens (3-0)–The only criticism one could make of the Ravens thus far is the weakness of their schedule, since they drew the Chiefs and Browns early. Aside from that, they are clicking on both sides of the ball, with Joe Flacco proving last year was not beginner’s luck.
4. Minnesota Vikings (3-0)–The soft schedule ended abruptly with a tough test against the Niners and Favre decides to wait until the last two seconds to lock down the Vikings third win to start the season. We knew he liked the drama but this is getting ridiculous. Note: Nearly 400 yards of offense against the Niners is a very good sign for the Vikes.
5. New York Jets (3-0)–The Jets continue to show moxie as they were forced to come from behind this week to beat the Tennessee Titans. Mark Sanchez became the first QB since the NFL-AFL merger to start his career at 3-0 but has yet to convince the higher-ups to scrap the ugly, old-school New York Titan uniforms.
6. Indianapolis Colts (3-0) – Indy completely dominated the defending NFC champ Cardinals in every facet of the contest. The offense (over 500 yards total) appears to be in midseason form and the defense hopes that Dwight Freeney’s injury is minor; he appeared to be on a mission this week.
7. San Diego Chargers (2-1) — Only a last-minute loss to the Ravens has kept them from being one of the cool kids who hang in the undefeated crowd. This week’s test at Pittsburgh should reveal a few more secrets about both teams.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (2-1)—Who are the geniuses that said Kevin Kolb wasn’t capable? He just lit up the Chiefs so that the Iggles can rest easy headed into their bye week and we’ll probably see McNabb and Westbrook back in the lineup in Week 5.
9. New England Patriots (2-1)—They are back on track after a nice win at home over the Falcons, but it was fun to watch Pats’ fans panic for a week, wasn’t it? Injuries continue to mount yet QB Tom Brady has them pointed in the right direction (including Fred Taylor) – this week’s matchup against Baltimore will be a good old-fashioned throwdown.
10. San Francisco 49ers (2-1)—That rustling you hear in the distance is the sound of 53 San Francisco football players shaking their heads at the same time. Very tough loss for the Niners but head coach Mike Singletary will have them focused for this week’s home tilt versus the struggling Rams.
11. Denver Broncos (3-0)—I feel like I am the target of a used-car salesman right now and his name is Josh McDaniels. Not ready to buy just yet…Josh, could you throw in some floor mats?
12. Atlanta Falcons (2-1)—Those wins against Miami and Carolina have lost any luster that they once had as the Pats manhandled them in Gillette Stadium. They have the bye week to rest up for a big NFC matchup in San Francisco and will try to get Michael Turner back on track.
13. Green Bay Packers (2-1)—The Pack is flying a little bit under the radar after the loss to Cincy last week. But, that will change when the internet nearly explodes this week as they go to Minnesota to face franchise legend and former Packer Brett Favre. Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the offense appear to be in sync just in time.
14. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)—The Bengals broke an eight-game home losing streak against the Steelers and are only one freaky, last-minute tipped pass for TD away from being undefeated. Head coach Marvin Lewis has them focusing on the positive as they head to Cleveland to take on the woeful Browns.
15. Chicago Bears (2-1)—Consecutive wins over the Steelers and Seahawks have the Bears feeling good and Jay Cutler appears to be gaining comfort with his new team. They host the Lions this week but the burning question is whether or not they can get Matt Forte’s ground game going.
16. Dallas Cowboys (2-1) – Handing four turnovers to the Giants can essentially guarantee you a loss, and there are no moral victories for keeping it close despite said errors. The ‘Boys will need to play a lot better to sniff anywhere near the playoffs.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2)—Shockingly, the defending champs find themselves out of playoff range in this week’s rankings. Shoddy field-goal kicking and fourth quarter defensive breakdowns have them wondering how soon they can have havoc-wreaking safety Troy Polamalu back in the mix to stem the tide.
18. Seattle Seahawks (1-2)—If this were a power rankings based on Week 3 uniforms, they might be dead last. They missed Matt Hasselbeck as well as two field goals in a tough loss to the Bears; Hass’ return will mean a lot.
19. Arizona Cardinals (1-2)—Kurt Warner was on the run all night against Indy, not exactly the strongest part of his skill set. Peyton Manning brutally sliced up the Cards’ defense that need to find a way to stop someone quick or that run to the Super Bowl last year will seem a figment of their imagination.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)—Jack Del Rio’s message to his team last week appeared to have worked. The Jags pounded out 184 rushing yards in a gritty win in Houston.
21. Tennessee Titans (0-3)—This is probably the best winless team we have seen in the NFL in quite some time but they will have some work to do to pull them out of a very serious hole. Since 1990 when the 12-team playoff format started, only three teams have made the playoffs after going 0-3.
22. Houston Texans (1-2)—Unless head coach Gary Kubiak can figure out a way for his team to get stops defensively, then the only reason to watch Houston is to watch some of their offensive players rack up fantasy points.
23. Miami Dolphins (0-3)—The Atlanta-Indy-San Diego trifecta to start the year was a tough obstacle course…but they failed at every hazard. Now, a new Chad (Henne) steps in to take over for the previous Chad (Pennington) who is out for the year with a shoulder injury and everyone in Miami is left hanging (bad pun alert!).
24. Buffalo Bills (1-2)—The Bills sold out to stop Drew Brees and promptly let up 222 rushing yards. They coupled that with less than 250 total yards and failed to get Terrell Owens a reception for the first time in 185 games. We can officially call that a plan that backfired.
25. Detroit Lions (1-2)—At long last, the Lions have vacated the final spot. Their ability to control the clock for more than 36 minutes against Washington and not turn the ball over were key factors in a win that should be a nice building block for the young core of this team.
26. Washington Redskins (1-2)—The ‘Skins allowed Detroit to dominate the clock but the real story is the inexcusable inability for this team to find the end zone over the last two seasons. Jim Zorn’s seat is officially hot.
27. Oakland Raiders (1-2)—JaMarcus Russell’s has a 41.3 completion percentage through three weeks. Darren McFadden had three fumbles bringing his total to seven in 16 career games. Now there’s an offense they can build around!
28. Carolina Panthers (0-3)—Starting against Philly, Atlanta, and Dallas is tough but this team was 12-4 last year, they need to right the ship in a hurry. Maybe the bye week will allow them to tighten up whatever it was that allowed three turnovers and 449 yards in Dallas.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (0-3)—The Chiefs were 0-for-11 on third-down conversions and gained less than two hundred yards of offense against the Eagles. Next up is the New York Giants…bad times.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3)—Does it matter that Byron Leftwich has been benched in favor of Josh Johnson? That is, unless your name is Byron Leftwich. They can’t do any worse than the zero points they put up in Week 3.
31. Cleveland Browns (0-3)—Four turnovers, a QB controversy, and a third blowout loss only mean the Browns don’t have too far to fall. Head coach Eric Mangini shouldn’t expect to hear the “Mangenius” moniker anytime soon even if all of their opponents have been undefeated teams.
32. St. Louis Rams (0-3)—If this were a fantasy football list, then we could lead by saying Steven Jackson has been very effective. Unfortunately for Rams fans, it is not and Kyle Boller will be leading the team as Marc Bulger heals from a shoulder injury.