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NFL Power Rankings: Week 4

NFL Power Rankings: Kareem Hunt

NFL Power Rankings: Kareem Hunt

When you stop and think about it, that might have been one of the most unpredictable weeks in the NFL in years. It really had a little bit of everything too, from incredible individual performances to straight-up stinkers to several key season-ending injuries.

The old adage anybody team can beat any other on any given Sunday was more true than ever but it isn’t time to panic — unless you’re a handful of teams wondering what the future holds. Factoring in everything from overall roster strength, to quarterback play, to the coaching staff, here is the latest edition of NFL power rankings and where every team stacks up from 1 to 32.

Week 4 NFL Power Rankings

1. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 1

NFL Power Rankings: Rams

The Rams won the battle of Los Angeles in convincing fashion. On a day where many talented teams seemed to lose focus, they put the pedal to the metal. The injuries in the secondary are concerning long-term but at least one of the Super Bowl favorites is living up to the hype.

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 4

NFL Power Rankings: Chiefs

Three more touchdowns for QB Patrick Mahomes and this entire group remains one of the most fun to watch play in the NFL in years. Yes, the defense still needs a little bit of work but 3-0 is 3-0 and the Chiefs are starting to create some separation in the AFC.

3. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 6

NFL Power Rankings: Eagles

Carson Wentz is back and all is right in Philly. He didn’t show much rust at all and had several impressive passes at all three levels. Turnovers kept things a lot closer against the Colts than expected but this is still a team looking to hit its stride down the road.

4. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 13

NFL Power Rankings: Saints

Dennis Allen’s defense continues to give up too many big plays in the passing game and that’s turned two of their first three games into shootouts. Luckily Drew Brees can pick up the slack but it seems Mark Ingram helping to control the clock is being missed more than expected.

5. Green Bay Packers

Last week: T-2

NFL Power Rankings: Packers

The bigger storyline for Green Bay fans might be the NFL vs. Clay Matthews. The thing they should be focused on is the defense giving up 50 points over a three-quarter span dating back to last week.

6. Minnesota Vikings

NFL Power Rankings: Vikings

Last week: T-2

You got the sense that the Vikings were looking ahead to their battle at the Rams and prepared far more for their West Coast trip than the Bills. That, combined with some awful play, led to one of the biggest upsets in the league of the past several years. It’s not panic time yet, but Minnesota should be ashamed of their efforts at home.

7. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 15

NFL Power Rankings: Dolphins

It still feels like the Dolphins are using some smoke and mirrors to get wins. We’ll find out just how good this group really is when they play New England but so far they’re getting contributions from all three phases and you can win plenty when doing that... including, maybe, the division itself.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 5

NFL Power Rankings: Jaguars

The bad Blake Bortles showed up on Sunday and you could see the entire offense slow to a halt as a result. Leonard Fournette can’t return quick enough.

9. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 7

NFL Power Rankings: Falcons

Given how tight the division race will be in the NFC South, those are the games that Atlanta has to come up with at home. While it appears the red zone issues are subsiding a little, there are a few more concerns as the team drops to 1-2 with a number of key injuries.

10. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 11

NFL Power Rankings: Panthers

Christian McCaffrey had a field day against the Bengals and that keyed the rest of the offense, opening several things up for Cam Newton. Maybe most impressive was the job Ron Rivera’s group did against A.J. Green before he left the game, and in harassing Andy Dalton.

11. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 16

NFL Power Rankings: Tennessee Titans

Inspired effort by Marcus Mariota off the bench to help this team gut out another win. It’s still hard to figure out the ceiling for the Titans but a win at Jacksonville is huge in the division race.

12. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 18

NFL Power Rankings: Steelers

The effort on Monday night was the kind many expected out of this group — big offensive plays in the passing game and a few key stops by the defense. The lackluster Bucs defense might have had something to do with that but the signs of resurgence were there.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 9

NFL Power Rankings: Buccaneers

The FitzMagic appears to have run its course (or at least reverted to the mean). Ryan Fitzpatrick played okay against the Steelers outside of a few turnovers (some unlucky) but left the door just open enough to wonder if he’ll be under center much longer with Jameis Winston back in the building.

14. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 10

NFL Power Rankings: Chargers

The Chargers are 1-2 and were out-played and out-coached against their crosstown rivals in the fight for L.A. This still isn’t a bad team given the brutally tough schedule but they need to get things rolling the next few weeks.

15. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 19

NFL Power Rankings: Ravens

Joe Flacco needs to take his offensive line out to dinner this week after the job they did against Von Miller and company, giving the quarterback plenty of time to throw. If the defense can get C.J. Mosley back soon, this team has a chance to make a big statement the next two games.

16. New England Patriots

Last week: 8

NFL Power Rankings: Patriots

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It’s not time to panic yet given the team’s penchant for slow starts but that effort against Detroit show there’s a long ways to go with both sides of the ball. Everybody keeps wondering about Tom Brady’s age but he’s clearly not the most glaring issue with this group right now.

17. Chicago Bears

Last week: 20

NFL Power Rankings: Bears

Not the best of efforts out in the desert this week but going on the road is never easy in this league. The defense continues to look like a unit that should be feared by any team in the league while the offense, especially at QB, remains a work in progress.

18. Washington Redskins

Last week: 27

NFL Power Rankings: Redskins

This might be the most enigmatic team in the league through three weeks. Adrian Peterson looks rejuvenated for two weeks but the team as a whole was all out of sorts in their loss to the Colts. Still, beating Green Bay is extremely impressive and Washington is rapidly growing into one of the bigger challengers to Philadelphia in the division.

19. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 14

NFL Power Rankings: Bengals

Felt like the Bengals were on the verge of another second-half rally at Carolina and then: missed FG, interception, interception. Ouch. The schedule doesn’t get any easier from here on out either.

20. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 30

NFL Power Rankings: Cleveland Browns

It kind of felt like the entire league, sans Jets fans, were celebrating with and for Cleveland after their first win in 635 days. One thing is clear: Baker Mayfield should have been starting from Day 1. Had that been the case, maybe the record would be much better than the ones across the board.

21. Denver Broncos

Last week: 17

NFL Power Rankings: Broncos

Going on the road for the first time was certainly going to be difficult but Case Keenum probably didn’t imagine things going that poorly. Things don’t get any easier in October.

22. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 28

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks

Pay Earl Thomas his money. Pay him. All his leverage was on full display against the Cowboys despite the lack of practice time.

23. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 12

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys

Two road games, two uninspired performances where the team doesn’t look like they practiced at all. Seattle is a tough place to play to be sure, but Dallas has to be better than that going into the softer part of their schedule or the hot seat talk will jump to a 10.

24. New York Giants

Last week: 25

NFL Power Rankings: Giants

Pat Shurmur gets his first victory and got contributions from all over on offense against a pretty stout front. The defense held up until the final quarter when things got a little more interesting but solid signs from that unit too in a game they had to win.

25. Detroit Lions

Last week: 29

NFL Power Rankings: Detroit Lions

Well, that’s a heck of a way for Matt Patricia to get his first win as a head coach. The Lions dominated New England from the opening snap, doubly impressive given the number of key contributors dealing with injuries.

26. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 32

NFL Power Rankings: Bills

To say the Bills pulled off the most shocking result in the league might be an understatement. That was truly an incredible effort on both sides of the ball against the Vikings and they’ll need something similar as an underdog at Lambeau next week too.

27. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 26

NFL Power Rankings: Colts

Even though the Colts are 1-2, there’s a lot more fight in this group than past editions. The Andrew Luck shoulder storyline at the end of the game seems overblown but there’s no question he needs to play a little better and maybe even take a breath some times.

28. Houston Texans

Last week: 22

NFL Power Rankings: Texans

There might not be a more disappointing team in the league than this one and even after winning a power struggle and getting a new contract, Bill O’Brien surely has to feel his seat starting to warm. J.J. Watt at least looked like he was getting back to normal even if Deshaun Watson still seems a tick off prior to the final few minutes of each game.

29. Oakland Raiders

Last week: 24

NFL Power Rankings: Raiders

Another second-half collapse and Jon Gruden can’t get his first win for the life of him. Being outscored 37-3 in the fourth quarter is not just the worst mark in the league, it’s a warning sign for a team that is already suffering from front office drama this year.

30. New York Jets

Last week: 23

NFL Power Rankings: Jets

Sam Darnold is going to have rookie moments like that and it’s no surprise that they came on a short week on the road (not unlike what happened last year at USC). If you’re in the front office, you’re probably already scouting every offensive lineman and skill position star in college right now in preparation of finding Darnold some help.

31. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 21

NFL Power Rankings: 49ers

Jimmy G. is out until 2019 and C.J. Beathard is in. Even with the roster looking more talented than it did a year ago, that’s a blow few franchises can survive and especially this one with so many other injuries three weeks into the season. It will be another long year in Santa Clara from the looks of it.

32. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 31

NFL Power Rankings: Cardinals

The Josh Rosen era is upon us and yet, if you’re a Cardinals fan, you can’t be happy at how his first snaps came about. We’re sure the plan was always to try and ease him in, likely next week, but throwing him into the fire in the final few minutes with the game on the line is not helping your rookie QB succeed even if Sam Bradford forced the situation.

— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.