The first four weeks of the NFL regular season is in the books. Just like every season before this one, there were some surprises. Let me caution you about trying to grade a team off of one good or bad week.
Given the season is still relatively young, these Power Rankings will factor in teams that I believe are good but had an off week and teams that I feel won by default or overachieved. Be forewarned as you will see some teams with lesser records ranked higher than others. Matchup’s will even out over time but after just four weeks, clearly some teams have has harder schedules than others. With all that being said, I’m sure 90% of you have jumped over this entire first paragraph and just looked to see where you favorite team placed….
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1. Green Bay Packers (4-0) Best team in football bar none. They know what they’re suppose to do and they go do it. Hard to picture a team beating them.
2. New Orleans Saints (3-1) Close loss to the best team in football is their only blemish. Defense needs to improve but offense can overcome in most games.
3. Detroit Lions (4-0) Great team but the ineffectiveness of the running game will bite them against elite defenses. Also needs to get going earlier in games.
4. New England Patriots (3-1) No high quality AFC teams is the reason the Patriots get top bid. Tom Brady breaks the tie but teams can score at ease on this defense.
5. Baltimore Ravens (3-1) Ray Rice and a physical defense keep the Ravens in the Top 5 but pass defense and the limits of Joe Flacco scares me.
6. Houston Texans (3-1) Could be the best in the AFC but Andre Johnson’s injury scares me as far as how good Matt Schaub can be. Pass defense still a weakness.
7. Washington Redskins (3-1) Mike Shanahan has 3 quality choices in his running game, a defense that has been able to force pressure and keep games close. Add a Rex Grossman that understands the scheme and you’ll see why they crack the top 10 this week.
8. Tennessee Titans (3-1) Surprisingly, maybe one of the best blends of top notch defense and a high power offense. This team’s limits rest on the health of Matt Hasselbeck and the steady improvement of Chris Johnson.
9. San Diego Chargers (3-1) True to form of the last several years, the Chargers’ team has started off the season slow, but in the 2011 twist, they are still finding ways to win. They’ll need a healthy Antonio Gates for the long run.
10. Atlanta Falcons (2-2) I’m still buying on the Falcons right now, but this defense will have to start playing more as a unit instead of as individuals. We’ve seen the progression in the offense with Julio Jones now taking a bigger role.
11. San Francisco 49ers (3-1) The San Francisco team has an old school feel to it, where the defense can keep you around long enough so your offense can make key plays. One the of best front 7 in the NFL.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1) Tampa Bay is figuring out ways to win close games, much in the same way Green Bay did last year. One of the, if not the youngest team in the NFL, they’ll only improve as the year goes on.
13. New York Giants (3-1) We may have hit the panic button too soon surrounding the Giants’ injuries. The front four, just like in their Super Bowl year, are causing most of the havoc. Like he’s done most of his career, Eli Manning is saving his best plays for the four quarter.
14. Oakland Raiders (2-2) They still are their own worst enemy, capable of either beating or losing each team in the NFL.
15. Buffalo Bills (3-0) Buffalo has an above average offense and defense, yet neither one is elite. I’m afraid they lack the depth to keep this performance up over 16 games.
16. Cleveland Browns (2-2) A team that’s on the rise, but to me, seems one year away from being true contenders. Another year of free agency and with another draft under their belt, this team could be ready.
17. New York Jets (2-2) They basically look like the Pittsburgh Steelers. O-line struggles have the running game and Mark Sanchez looking awful. Tough division to have those struggles.
18. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) I can’t keep ranking a team in the Top 15 that plays like a bottom 10 team. Team has not meshed in 2011. Time could run out on Philly.
19. Chicago Bears (2-2) Exciting team to watch but lacks idenity. If they could protect Jay Cutler and decide on an offensive game plan, they could move up.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) Horrific offensive line equals no running game + a beat up Ben Roethlisberger. Factor in an ineffective defense and you have a train wreck.
21. Dallas Cowboys (2-1) Same ol’ Cowboys means same ol’ Romo. This team will live and die with Tony Romo and if that’s the case they’ll need 9 lives.
22. Arizona Cardinals (1-3) They have to win games like the one they lost to the Giants. Beanie Wells had the running game going. Kevin Kolb had no excuses on why he couldn’t pull that game out.
23. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) Andy Dalton grows more and more each week. They stay in the twenties due to lack of discipline and not winning games they should. Solid roster but need to put consecutive, quality games together in a row.
24. Carolina Panthers (1-3) Cam Newton is proving everyone wrong and a lot of thanks should go to the great play of his O-line. Carolina will win several games, thanks to this playmaking ability.
25. Denver Broncos (1-3) Von Miller has been exciting to watch and that’s about it in Denver. Everyone is so worried about the Tebow / Orton issue that no one is discussing how bad they are.
26. Seattle Seahawks (1-3) They’ve been more competitive then I expected but they’re still 1-3 and a loss is a loss. Free Charlie Whitehurst!
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) Rookie quarterback, horrible head coach, bad defense, and a running back that you hope stays healthy every week. Three game losing streak.
28. Kansas City Chiefs (1-3) They beat the Vikings, but they’re horrible as well. Todd Haley has already started his sideline shenigans and this team will fall apart.
29. Miami Dolphins (0-4) A few of the next 4 teams have shown potential but when a quarter of the season is gone & you’re still winless…then you become what your record says you are.
28. Minnesota Vikings (0-4) Through 3 weeks they were a great 1st half team and bad in the second half. After a week 4 loss to KC, they’re just a bad team.
21. St. Louis Rams (0-4) I kept giving the Rams the benefit of the doubt. The switch never came on and at this point, I’m not comfortable with assuming it will.
29. Indianapolis Colts (0-4) They’ve played the last two games close but why would they be stupid enough to win? The best that their 2011 season can be remembered for, is being bad enough to land Andrew Luck.
Jayson Braddock is an NFL Scout / NFL Writer & On-Air Personality. Jayson is also a football insider for the Dylan Gwinn show on 790 AM in Houston, TX - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports790.com. You can also catch Jayson on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew every Thursday at 10:30am ET. You may email Jayson directly @ firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JaysonBraddock