I have one rule I always abide by in pro sports, I always wait until the first quarter of the season before making any major judgments, especially with wins and losses. By the time everyone in the NFL has played 4 games, every team has played a good team and a bad team. Every team has had a tough road and home opponent. Everyone has had to overcome a significant injury of some sort and every team has surprised us with good and bad performances.
By this time of the season we start to see things even out and we can start to see these teams show their true colors. You’ll still things drastically change, but you get a better sense of who are the contenders and who are the pretenders. Super Bowl champs rarely start 1-3 and teams that pick in the top 10 of the draft rarely start 3-1.
Here are my top 10 and bottom 5 NFL power rankings
1) Denver Broncos 4-0: The Broncos faced the Panthers, Colts, Bengals and Bucs to start the season. Everyone had at least two of those teams in their playoff predictions, some probably had three and their defense dominated all four teams. The quarterback situation isn’t great, but their run game, receiving core and defense more than makes it for it. Also, if Paxton Lynch does get the reins at any point this season look it. His deep ball will completely open up this offense and force opponents to play a near perfect game to beat them.
2) Minnesota Vikings 4-0: The Broncos are the best defense in football, but the Vikings are the most physical team in the league in all three phases. They won’t blow you out and they don’t do anything schematically that great, but they get pressure on your quarterback without blitzing, their receivers catch everything and they don’t make mistakes.
3) Philadelphia Eagles 3-0: They had two really easy opponents to start the season off (Browns, Bears) but they beat both by more than two scores each and then followed it up by beating AFC contenders Pittsburgh by 31 points. All the rookie quarterback narratives have been put to rest with Carson Wentz. They may be true with most rookies, but Wentz is further along mentally than most starting quarterback right now. This team is for real.
4) New England Patriots 3-1: They were all set to be number one until they laid a goose egg against Buffalo at home. Most of that was because they were down their two starting quarterbacks. Now that Tom Brady is coming back I imagine this team won’t lose more than two games the rest of the way.
5) Pittsburgh Steelers 3-1: They got humbled by the Eagles in Week 3, but their three wins were impressive wins against three teams that are all 2-2 right now and were considered contenders in their own divisions. Now that they have Le’Veon Bell back, I think this might be the best offense in the league.
6) Seattle Seahawks 3-1: This is about where I thought they would be. They aren’t one of the three or four elite teams in this league, but they are definitely a playoff team that should beat all the teams on their schedule they are supposed to(except for the Rams for some reason). If they can get consistent production from Christine Michael and Jimmy Graham though, they could contend for a spot in Houston come January.
7) Green Bay Packers 2-1: Nothing is wrong with Aaron Rodgers, but plenty is wrong with that secondary. If that back end improves I think this team can perform better than this ranking and get back into the Super Bowl. Getting more out of Jared Cook would also go a long way.
8) Oakland Raiders 3-1: Right now Derek Carr is the MVP of the league and the Oakland Raiders have become the Atlanta Falcons from a few years ago. That secondary is really bad, but this offense will keep them in every game. They won’t win the West with the Broncos dominating this season, but they’ll probably get the 5 seed in the AFC which means an automatic win vs a lousy AFC South team, which is perfect for a young team like this.
9) Dallas Cowboys 3-1: This is where a big drop-off in the league hits. Dallas isn’t a contender, but they are a really pesky team. With Dak Prescott they won’t create a ton of big plays and that defense is really lousy, but they are built really well to win with short passes and a strong running game.
10) Atlanta Falcons 3-1: The Falcons currently have a two game lead on everyone in the NFC South. With the way they are scoring and how tough they are at home I believe this team will win the division this year. Just too many issues with the Saints and Panthers to believe they can come back from this early hole without the Falcons collapsing a little bit.
28) Indianapolis Colts 1-3: You take Andrew Luck off this roster and it’s the worst roster in the league. They have issues everywhere and I don’t see them winning more than 5 games, even in the worst division in the league.
29) San Francisco 49ers 1-3: Since shutting out the Rams in Week 1, they’ve looked pretty lousy. We thought they might turns things around in Week 4 after a 14-0 start against Dallas, but they were outscored 24-3 the rest of that game. They just don’t have the weapons on offense right now to make this Chip Kelly up-tempo attack work.
30) Miami Dolphins 1-3: Their defense hasn’t been that bad this season, but nobody has noticed because the offense doesn’t have a clue right now. Their is hope with that group because they are installing a brand new offense and their backfield is banged up, but right now they are going to struggle to reach 20 points against any defense. They scored 7 against the then 1-2 Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4.
31) Chicago Bears 1-3: They had the worst performance of any team in Week 3 Sunday Night against Dallas, but bounced back nicely in an ugly game against Detroit. The roster as a whole is still pretty lousy and their offense is not built to win with a weaker armed quarterback like Brian Hoyer, but I think the team has already moved on from Jay Cutler.
32) Cleveland Browns 0-4: Since getting blown out against the Eagles in Week 1 this team has competed in every single game. Of all the teams in the bottom 5 I believe this team has the brightest future, but until they get a legit starting NFL quarterback they will struggle to finish games.