1. Denver Broncos (4-0; Last Ranking: 2)
They are the defending Super Bowl champions, and they are employing a similar strategy to last year. This defense is just as good, and now that Kubiak is instituting his offensive scheme, Denver is playing great complimentary football. They welcome Atlanta to Mile High Stadium on Sunday.
2. Minnesota Vikings (4-0; Last Ranking: 3)
Mike Zimmer is a wizard and he is quickly becoming one of the best coaches in the NFL. This defense is on par with Seattle and Denver as the most suffocating units in the entire league. With Bradford looking like a perfect match for the offense Norv Turner wants to run, the sky is the limit for these Vikings.
3. New England Patriots (3-1; Last Ranking: 1)
The Patriots lost on Sunday, but it almost doesn’t even feel like a loss. With Brady coming back and the team sitting at 3-1, things are looking good for the Pats. The AFC is clearly a three team race between Denver, Pittsburgh, and New England. However, it is tough not to call the Pats the favorites at this moment.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (3-0; Last Ranking: 4)
Teams on a bye week are locked into their ranking for week. Philly travels to Detroit this week.
5. Green Bay Packers (2-1; Last Ranking: 5)
Green Bay remains at five after an early bye. They will host the Giants on SNF this week.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1; Last Ranking: 7)
** Note: Had PHI and GB not been on a bye this week, both Pittsburgh and Seattle would have slid into four and five. **
However, we would be remiss to not spend time discussing the Steelers throttling of the Chiefs on SNF. The three B’s (Ben, Bell, and Brown) are as unstoppable as it gets. It helps when the team you are playing folds, but Big Ben still threw five incompletions to five touchdowns, and Bell averaged 7.8 yards per touch on 23 touches in his first game in nearly a year.
7. Seattle Seahawks (3-1; Last Ranking: 11)
The Seahawks are on pace to have the best scoring defense in the NFL…again. Russell Wilson, hampered slightly, looks like he is moving past his annual early season struggles. The defense is allowing 12 points a game, but their schedule is much tougher after their week 5 bye.
8. Baltimore Ravens (3-1; Last Ranking: 6)
The Ravens lost their first game of the season to the Jags at home. Even though this is a disappointing result for Ravens fans, they might have seen it coming. Since the beginning of 2015, the Ravens have had 18 of their 20 games decided by one possession (!!!!). Next week they host the rival Redskins in a cross-town match up.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2; Last Ranking: 13)
The Bengals have a tough first 6 weeks of the season. They play NYJ, PIT, DEN, MIA, DAL, and NE. While they probably wanted to come out of that stretch better than 3-3, it looks like that will be the case for now. This game is a must win if the Bengals want to stay in the division race. A loss could bump them 2 games back of BAL and PIT.
10. Atlanta Falcons (3-1; Last Ranking: 15)
The Falcons defense may have some massive holes, but this offense can score with some of the best teams in the NFL. After coming out flat in week 1, they have averaged over 42 PPG over their last three games. Next week may buck that trend, as they have to travel to Denver for an afternoon game.
11. Houston Texans (3-1; Last Ranking: 12)
The Houston Texans are currently the leaders of the AFC South by two games, despite allowing more points than they have scored this season. The recipe for winning with this teams starts with defense, but not having JJ Watt will make that more difficult. We will see what happens when they travel to Minnesota this Sunday.
12. Oakland Raiders (3-1; Last Ranking: 17)
The Raiders may not be winning games in impressive fashion, but they are 3-0 on the road and only lost to Atlanta by a touchdown. If this team has really turned a corner, they should go 3-1 over their next four games. They have San Diego and Kansas City at home, before traveling to Jacksonville and Tampa Bay.
13. Carolina Panthers (1-3; Last Ranking: 8)
The Panthers are in trouble for many reasons. Letting Josh Norman go is turning out to be a massive mistake. The offensive play calling seemingly puts Cam in harms way every drive. The defense just allowed 500 yards passing and 300 yards to Julio Jones. The list goes on, but they must win on Monday Night against the Buccaneers to avoid 1-4.
14. Arizona Cardinals (1-3; Last Ranking: 9)
After crawling through both the preseason and the first month of the regular season, the Cardinals sit at 1-3, two games back of Seattle (and L.A.), and their quarterback is in the concussion protocol. Combine that with a short week, and this team is in trouble. The good news? They play San Francisco on Thursday.
15. Kansas City Chiefs (2-2; Last Ranking: 10)
Kansas City looked like they were sleepwalking on Sunday Night Football in Pittsburgh. While they can throw this game out the window, this team could easily be 1-3 right now after their week one performance. This bye seems to be coming at the right time for KC.
16. Los Angeles Rams (3-1; Last Ranking: 19)
After looking like an FBS team in week one, the L.A. Rams have gone on to win three games in a row. This includes holding Seattle and Arizona to a combined 16 points. The Rams recipe is simple: they want to run the ball as much as possible, and their defensive line is going to attack you all day.
17. Dallas Cowboys (3-1; Last Ranking: 20)
If you’re a Dallas Cowboys fan, you have to be pleased to see your team winning football games without Tony Romo. With that being said, the ‘Boys haven’t been challenged by a real defense yet (NYG, WSH, CHI, and SF). Next week against Cincinnati will be Dak’s first real tough game; we will see how he reacts.
18. New York Jets (1-3; Last Ranking: 14)
The Jets certainly haven’t played great so far this season, but their schedule hasn’t given them any favors. Five of their first six games are against 2015-16 playoff teams. If they can beat either Arizona or Pittsburgh in the next two weeks, they will sit at 2-4 with a much easier second half of the season to come.
19. New York Giants (2-2; Last Ranking: 16)
The Giants, as have been mentioned here before, have star pieces that don’t yet know how to play with each other. Minnesota played sound team football on Monday Night, and they made a great offense look stagnant. Eli’s struggles against the Vikings seem to be continuing. They travel to GB for Sunday Night next week.
20. Buffalo Bills (2-2; Last Ranking: 24)
The Bills looked dead in the water after their week 2 loss on Thursday Night to the Jets. Since then, they have defeated the Arizona Cardinals and the New England Patriots. The defensive turnaround is the main reason they are winning, but the offensive game plan has also been better since they fired Greg Roman.
21. Washington Redskins (2-2; Last Ranking: 21)
Washington certainly has enough talent on both sides of the ball to be a quality team. The questions about them mainly surround Kirk Cousins and head coach Jay Gruden. Neither has proved to be consistent enough to produce a winning football team. They almost lost to the Browns, before pulling away at the end.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3; Last Ranking: 27)
Most NFL fans would have expected the Jags to get their first victory before week 4, but this team came out of the gates sluggish and Bortles hasn’t looked the same as last year. If this team wants to continue winning football games, they are going to have to regroup on defense over their week 5 bye.
23. Indianapolis Colts (1-3; Last Ranking: 18)
Andrew Luck is a great quarterback, but he has a losing record the past two seasons and he entered the fourth quarter with about 80 yards passing on Sunday. While Luck certainly could have played better, he was running for his life most of the game. Next week against the Bears should be an easier test.
24. New Orleans Saints (1-3; Last Ranking: 29)
“Any win is a good win” is what Sean Payton should be preaching after this week. Their week one heartbreaker to Oakland lingered, but they finally got their first victory in dramatic fashion. This defense is clearly lacking, and they need to establish more of a running game if they want to be competitive.
25. San Diego Chargers (1-3; Last Ranking: 23)
As good as the Chargers have looked at times this year, they are 1-3 even though they should be 3-1. Their loss to the Chiefs in week one was brutal, and they were up two scores in the fourth quarter against a then 0-3 Saints team. Moral of the story: don’t turn it over three times late in the game unless you are trying to lose.
26. Miami Dolphins (1-3; Last Ranking: 25)
Miami got embarrassed on Thursday Night last week and now their fans are as upset with Ryan Tannehill as ever. If you look at everything that has happened this year, Miami has had a brutal schedule. They have played @Seattle, @New England, and @Cincy so far. Now they won’t play on the road until November 13th.
27. Chicago Bears (1-3; Last Ranking: 30)
Da Bears walked out of Soldier Field with a victory on Sunday, and that has to be a good feeling for this team. Brian Hoyer was great, going 28-36 for 302 yards, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs. Even though the Bears are one of the worst teams in the NFL, they are still more than capable of putting together quality performances with John Fox as head coach.
28. Detroit Lions (1-3; Last Ranking: 22)
After starting the year with a big win in Indianapolis (and moving pretty high up in the rankings), the Lions have become the Lions again. They lost to a Bears team that is not very good, and their offense has looked very stagnant the past few weeks. They welcome the undefeated Eagles to Detroit next week.
29. Tennessee Titans (1-3; Last Ranking: 26)
This won’t be the first time you hear this, but the Tennessee Titans simply don’t have enough talent to compete with most NFL teams. Dick LeBeau can create whatever scheme he wants on defense, but the players need to be talented enough to execute it. Mariota looks like he has regressed from his rookie year.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3; Last Ranking: 28)
After week 1, people were ready to start punching tickets to the playoffs for the Bucs. However, Winston has clearly struggled over the last several games. In half of their contests this season, the offense has only been able to muster seven points. They will need to better against a desperate Carolina team on MNF next week.
31. San Francisco 49ers (1-3; Last Ranking: 31)
Just like last year, this team is a shell of its week 1 performance. San Francisco is simply untalented. Until this team really starts to invest in the future, it will be tough to expect them to turn things around. In other news, you have to feel terrible for Navarro Bowman, who tore his achilles on Sunday.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-4; Last Ranking: 32)
The Browns hung in there against Washington; they had a lead going into the 4th quarter. Unfortunately for Cleveland, they had to keep playing, and they ended up losing by 11 points. Don’t expect that to change next week: Tom Brady is back, and he gets to play the Browns in his first game.