The 2017 NFL regular season continues to befuddle. The Patriots, Falcons and Cowboys, who had a collective record of 38-10 in 2016, fell at home to the Panthers, Bills and Rams respectively, a group that had a collective record of 17-31 last year. The Texans, whose offense appeared to be one of the worst in the league, exploded for a franchise record 57 points in a rout of the Titans. On the other end of the spectrum, expected playoff contenders in the Giants and Chargers continued their surprising winless seasons by losing in closely-contested matchups. With so much changing in the NFL landscape, another big shake-up is in store for this week’s power rankings.
- Kansas City Chiefs (4-0): Last week: 2
The Chiefs are now the only unbeaten team in football after scoring nine points in the final four seconds of regulation to beat the Redskins 29-20 at home Monday night. Kareem Hunt has gained at least 100 yards of offense in each game this season, but the Chiefs could run into trouble on Sunday night as they take on the red-hot Texans in Houston.
- Detroit Lions (3-1): Last week: 6
Winning on the road against a division rival is always a good result, and while the explosive Detroit offense was held to just 14 points against Minnesota, the arrow is still pointing up for the Lions. A mediocre performance from Matthew Stafford was made up for by Ameer Abdullah, who gained 109 yards and hit paydirt once.
- Philadelphia Eagles (3-1): Last week: 12
The Birds pulled out a 26-24 win in Los Angeles despite a last-minute comeback from the Chargers, as the rushing attack stole the show for Philadelphia. LeGarrette Blount racked up a whopping 136 yards on only 16 carries. With threats on the ground and in the air, Philly’s balanced offense is trending upwards.
- Atlanta Falcons (3-1): Last week: 1
After last week’s scare against Detroit, Atlanta surprisingly fell to an overlooked Bills squad at home to lose their perfect record. Matt Ryan’s passer rating has steadily declined in each game of the young season, going from 116.1 in the opener against Chicago to just 61.8 against Buffalo, a worrying sign considering the Bills lost their top two corners this offseason.
- Green Bay Packers (3-1): Last week: 7
Moving up almost by default, the Packers looked sharp in their 35-14 beatdown of the Bears on Thursday night. The injury bug continues to bite Green Bay, however, as Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams were sidelined against Chicago, though the door is now open for Aaron Jones to grab the starting role.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1): Last week: 8
Ben Roethlisberger didn’t look very good once again in the Steelers’ 26-9 win in Baltimore, but the AFC North is bad enough that his struggles don’t matter much. Le’Veon Bell finally got going, toting the rock 35 times for 144 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, and added 42 yards in the passing game.
- Buffalo Bills (3-1): Last week: 18
In sole possession of first place in the AFC East, the Bills shockingly dispatched the previously top-ranked Atlanta Falcons on the road 23-17. Tyrod Taylor is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in football, but the defense has been the difference-maker thus far. No team has scored more than 17 points against the Bills this season.
- Carolina Panthers (3-1): Last week: 22
It only took a year and then some, but Cam Newton finally played like Superman in the Panthers’ 33-30 win in New England. The 2015 MVP completed 22 of his 29 tosses en route to 316 yards and three touchdowns, and added 44 yards and a touchdown on the ground. After their discouraging performance against the Saints a week ago, the Panthers are looking like a playoff team again.
- New England Patriots (2-2): Last week: 3
Is it time to start ringing the alarm in Foxborough? The defending Super Bowl champs are now 1-2 at home this season after their loss to the Panthers, and could easily be 0-3 if not for a miraculous comeback against Houston. New England has conceded an average of 36 points per game in home games in 2017.
- Houston Texans (2-2): Last week: 16
The AFC South continues to confuse, as the Texans obliterated a good Titans team by a score of 57-14. It is baffling that Tom Savage started the season as the first-string quarterback, as DeShaun Watson, who tied the NFL rookie record with five touchdowns in one game on Sunday, has led the Texans to a whopping 90 points over the last two games after scoring only 20 in the first two games.
- Denver Broncos (3-1): Last week: 15
After their loss to the Bills, the Broncos looked on the verge of collapse. However, Derek Carr’s injury opened the door for Denver to beat Oakland at home 16-10. Denver’s receivers have been quiet thus far, as Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders were held to only 38 yards against the Raiders.
- Seattle Seahawks (2-2): Last week: 9
Despite being tied 18-18 with the hapless Colts at home in the third quarter, the Seahawks exploded for 28 unanswered points to close out the game. Unfortunately, rookie running back Chris Carson suffered a season-ending leg injury, which puts the burden of the run game on Eddie Lacy’s very broad shoulders and unheralded rookie J.D. McKissic.
- Los Angeles Rams (3-1): Last week: 17
Todd Gurley is officially back, and defenses should be scared. The third-year running back ran roughshod over the Cowboys in Dallas, powering the Rams to a 35-30 win on the road against one of the NFC’s best. No one’s pick to be an explosive offense, the Rams have averaged 35.5 points per game thus far.
- Dallas Cowboys (2-2): Last week: 10
Despite a solid performance from Dak and Zeke, the Cowboys defense was unable to restrain the Rams offense at home as they fell 35-30. The lone defensive bright spot has been Demarcus Lawrence, who has registered a sack in each game and has totaled 6.5 this season.
- Washington Redskins (2-2): Last week: 13
The Skins have had tough matchups all year, and finally get a break as they have a bye this week and take on the 49ers in Week Six. Kirk Cousins has been one of the most efficient passers in the game thus far, but it is hard to win in Kansas City when he is Washington’s leading rusher with 38 yards.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1): Last week: 21
The Bucs survived a rough outing from Nick Folk (2-4 FG, 1-2 XP) to beat the Giants at home 25-23. Jameis Winston had a great outing, and with Doug Martin returning from suspension next week, maybe he will get more help out of his running game.
- Oakland Raiders (2-2): Last week: 4
The Silver and Black’s offensive woes continued in their 16-10 loss to Denver on Sunday, as they gained only 24 yards on the ground and Amari Cooper was held to just nine yards receiving. As if it couldn’t get worse, Derek Carr suffered a lower back injury and will be out for two to six weeks.
- Tennessee Titans (2-2): Last week: 5
After beating the Seahawks in impressive fashion the week before, the Titans looked like a Pop Warner team in Houston. Marcus Mariota’s hamstring injury can be a further setback, as Matt Cassel went 4 for 10 for 21 yards and two interceptions in his absence.
- Minnesota Vikings (2-2): Last week: 11
One week after carving up the Buccaneers, the Vikings offense could only muster seven points against the Lions at home. The loss of Dalvin Cook will be huge as the stud rookie has been the spark plug for the Vikings thus far, and is a significant upgrade over Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon.
- New Orleans Saints (2-2): Last week: 19
The Saints weren’t fazed by the overseas trip to London as they easily dispatched the Dolphins 20-0 in Wembley. Sean Payton needs to give rookie Alvin Kamara more opportunities, as the third-round pick gained 96 all-purpose yards and a touchdown on 15 touches.
- Baltimore Ravens (2-2): Last week: 20
While Joe Flacco wasn’t yanked for Ryan Mallett this week, the Ravens were easily defeated by their rival Steelers. Second-year running back Alex Collins is the offense’s lone bright spot, as the former Arkansas Razorback racked up 82 yards on only nine carries against Pittsburgh.
- New York Jets (2-2): Last week: 26
In a truly shocking development, we are four games into the NFL regular season and the Jets don’t have a losing record. With Matt Forte out, Gang Green’s run game was unleashed with fury against the Jaguars, as Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire combined for 256 yards on 31 carries in the Jets overtime win.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2): Last week: 14
The Jaguars are one of the most confusing teams in the league, as they have alternated between blowout wins away from Jacksonville with a lopsided loss at home to Tennessee and an overtime loss to the hapless Jets. If Blake Bortles keeps on having games like the one he just had (15 for 35, 140 yards, one TD and one pick), it will be hard to win.
- Arizona Cardinals (2-2): Last week: 24
Needing an overtime period to beat the 49ers at home can barely be considered a win for Arizona. The Cards again struggled to run the football in David Johnson’s absence, managing just 2.3 yards per carry. However, Jaron Brown has become a force for Carson Palmer, as the young wideout was targeted 12 times, hauling in eight passes for 105 yards.
- Cincinnati Bengals (1-3): Last week: 29
Just missing out on their first win of the season last week as Green Bay beat them in overtime, the Bengals left no doubt in Week Four, easily beating the Browns 31-7. Andy Dalton had a tremendous game, completing 25 of his 30 passes for 286 yards and four touchdowns with no picks.
- New York Giants (0-4): Last week: 27
Expected to improve upon last season’s wild-card berth, the Giants have fallen flat in 2017. For the second week in a row, the G-Men engineered a wild comeback before losing the game on a last second field goal. The run game is really holding back New York, as Paul Perkins is leading the team in rushing yards with only 61 on the season.
27. Miami Dolphins (1-2): Last week: 28
The Jay Cutler experiment isn’t working out well in Miami, as the Dolphins were shut out by one of the league’s worst defenses. Cutler isn’t entirely at fault for the disaster, as the Jay Ajayi-led running game gained only 58 yards over the course of the contest.
- Los Angeles Chargers (0-4): Last week: 30
In typical Chargers fashion, the Bolts lost another game by a field goal or less, already the third occurrence of this young season. As if it couldn’t get worse, the Chargers’ small stadium was taken over by fans of the Eagles. Next week they will take on the equally desperate 0-4 Giants in New York in what will certainly be an interesting game.
- Chicago Bears (1-3): Last week: 23
After another lackluster game from veteran free agent signing Mike Glennon, the Bears’ coaching staff announced that #2 overall pick Mitch Trubisky will be taking over as the starting quarterback this week. Facing Minnesota’s hard-nosed defense in his first NFL start will be a challenge for Trubisky, who accumulated only 13 career starts behind center in college.
- Indianapolis Colts (1-3): Last week: 25
Not much to say here, as the Colts added to their resume as one of the league’s worst teams with their blowout defeat in Seattle. TY Hilton was unable to do much against Richard Sherman, catching three passes for 30 yards. With Andrew Luck’s return still up in the air, the Colts might as well throw in the towel for this season.
- San Francisco 49ers (0-4): Last week: 32
The Niners just can’t seem to get a win, as they’ve lost their last three games by a field goal or less. Brian Hoyer may not be a starting-caliber quarterback, but he did spread the football as nine different receivers caught passes for San Francisco. With the Colts up next, a win may be in the cards for the 49ers.
- Cleveland Browns (0-4): Last week: 31
After not looking terrible in the first two weeks of the season, the Browns fell to pieces at home against a less-than-formidable Bengals squad. DeShone Kizer was pulled for Kevin Hogan in the fourth quarter, who was able to engineer the Browns late scoring drive.