It seems that the league takes personal vengeance against my rankings each week. The Jets and Giants flipped the script on the Titans and Saints, LA took the top spot then immediately squandered it, and New England was six inches away from beating the reigning Super Bowl Champions. With all that being said, let’s get into The Sports Wave’s Week Four NFL Power Rankings.
(1) Buffalo Bills 2
Buffalo joined elite company once more in shutting out the Texans 40-0, their second 35+ point shutout in the past three weeks. If they can keep this pace there’s going to be a very short list of teams in the AFC set to challenge them. This week on Sunday Night Football, they take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead; Can this rematch of the 2020 AFC Championship game put Buffalo on top of this list for the long term?
(2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Well, that was probably supposed to be more emotional than it was, but Tom Brady and Bill Belichick aren’t really the type for that. Instead, the story became about Brady missing a lot of throws against a well-schemed Patriots defense. This Buccaneers secondary has the same issue as Kansas City, too, and Belichick knew how to exploit it. Free-agent addition Richard Sherman has a role to fill, but he hasn’t done anything to prove that he’s capable enough just yet.
(3) Los Angeles Rams 2
This was humbling. Arizona taking advantage of the Rams’ defense was a bigger problem than expected, and by keeping the ball out of the hands of this explosive L.A. offense they won the day. They made the most of the opportunities that they had, but they weren’t there to be had. Matthew Stafford doesn’t make this offense unstoppable, but they’re still perfectly capable of winning the Super Bowl.
(4) Green Bay Packers
The Packers handled Pittsburgh well, making Roethlisberger look his age in the poor conditions that covered most of the east and north of the U.S. Regardless of their passing success, this running game is set to serve as a metronome, keeping this offense balanced.
(5) Arizona Cardinals 2
If the season ended today, Kyler Murray is the undisputed MVP. Surrounded by talent that fits his offense and a powerhouse defensive line, I’m finally ready to concede that they might just be a Superbowl contender. There’s a long way to go but, until someone stops them, the NFL’s lone undefeated team will keep on pounding.
(6) Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City is right back following two disappointing losses, but there’s still a huge problem on defense. They remain extremely weak to the pass in any and all circumstances, from screens to slants to deep shots, and if it takes 30+ points to win every single game, they’ll stumble along the way. The Chiefs can’t expect to win every shootout they get into; Just most of them.
(7) Dallas Cowboys 1
Dallas has two RB1s, and that’s no exaggeration. Ezekiel Elliot stepped up, having taken a back seat to Tony Pollard in all clutch scenarios so far this season. On the other side of the ball, Trevon Diggs is officially the most intriguing young CB of the season, but his splashy plays may not last long. If he can tighten up his coverage in the middle of the field to bring his game to the next level, expect good things.
(8) Cleveland Browns 3
Cleveland barely survived against the Vikings, and their QB is the man to blame. Mayfield may not have thrown an interception, but that would probably have been the difference-maker for Minnesota, as he leaned on his running game and terrifying defensive line to counterbalance what was arguably one of the worst games he’s had as a pro. They won, but they don’t pass the eye test.
(9) Baltimore Ravens
Beating Denver was, in a sense, easy. Beating their defensive line was not. Broncos blitzed a battered Ravens line non-stop all afternoon but the Ravens held up well despite injuries across the line. Of course, them going for those extra rushing yards instead of kneeling is an issue, but keeping your players happy is generally good coaching.
(10) Los Angeles Chargers
Essentially, an effective showing from an offense that was expected to step back against a brutal Raiders front seven. They took advantage of weaknesses in the secondary just like they did against KC, and their aggressiveness on fourth down worked to their benefit. Coaching was where the real battle was won this time.
(11) Seattle Seahawks 4
Where did they go? Wherever it was, we’re sure glad they’re back, even if it took them a while to get here. After going 3-and-out 5 times straight for -7 yards, Seattle finally returns to form for what is hopefully the long run. There’s no reason to believe they’ll be able to maintain this, considering their recent track record but if they don’t get consistent, they definitely won’t be.
(12) San Francisco 49ers 1
With Jimmy Garoppolo out for what’s expected to be another week or two, we’ll get an extended look at Trey Lance in real regular-season snaps. Based on his performance against Seattle, Lance isn’t the answer yet. Can San Fran beat the Cardinals, Colts, and perhaps even the Bears over the next few weeks with a depleted QB room?
(13) New Orleans Saints
This one hurt for New Orleans, and for good reason. Efficient QB play from Jameis Winston, a workhorse day by Alvin Kamara, and effective gadget work from Taysom Hill left them just short, and it’s largely because this defense is missing all its injured players. They’ll be much scarier after their week six bye, but they won’t have it easy; A splashy Washington Football Team awaits them in week five.
(14) Las Vegas Raiders
Vegas can’t feel good right now; If not for a pair of missed opportunities downfield late in the game, this could very well have gone the other way. In reality, it wasn’t as close as we’d like to believe. They didn’t take the chances they needed to take to put themselves in a position to win, and if you don’t risk it: no biscuit. They’re a good team with plenty of potential, so let’s see how they rebound from this.
(15) Indianapolis Colts 4
The Colts weren’t great in Miami on Sunday, to be honest, but they were good enough. As the roster regains some of its health, they’re looking to right their ship in time to compete in a wide-open AFC South. It’s not impossible, and they’re far from the worst team in the division.
(16) Tennessee Titans 4
An offensive line can be good at one thing but not another, it seems. Tennessee excels in run-blocking but fails time and time again in pass-protection, and it’s baffling. Missing both of their top receivers meant that Tannehill had to actually find open men downfield, and he couldn’t do it with a collapsed pocket. Derrick Henry is on track to break all of his own records though, for better or worse.
(17) Carolina Panthers
The Panthers finally remembered how to lose. Missing Christian McCaffrey, Dallas didn’t have to gameplan for an elite RB, and it cornered this offense. Noticeably absent as well was TE Dan Arnold, who’s new team seemed to benefit from having. The trade for C.J. Henderson will look good soon, but it didn’t on Sunday, as he was rushed to fill the role of Jaycee Horn instead of playing alongside him.
(18) New England Patriots 3
The Patriots should be encouraged by their performance against the Buccaneers, in a lot of ways. Bill Belichick schemed a beautiful defense that should have been good enough to win this game, if not for some poor weather. Mac Jones still isn’t being asked to do much, but his coach may have built a great nest for him to grow in for an attempt at the division next season. Eventually though, the gloves will have to come off.
(19) Cincinnati Bengals 3
Joe Burrow looks elite when he gets elite offensive line play, that much seems to be obvious. Whatever adjustments the Bengals made at the half were perfect, as they got C.J. Ozumah open time and time again, and threw up some basic but proven concepts on defense to put the game away against Jacksonville. Somehow, this team is tied for the AFC lead.
(20) Pittsburgh Steelers 4
No offense, but where’s the offense? Pittsburgh may finally be getting Najee Harris some running lanes, but they’re doing nothing else. Roethlisberger said after a four-interception game in 2017 that he wasn’t sure if he had it anymore. We now know definitively that he doesn’t.
(21) Minnesota Vikings 3
The Vikings officially need Dalvin Cook on the field, as this offense sputtered and died without him. The defense was encouraging, as well as the only reason they were in this game at all; They held the powerhouse Browns’ offense to only 14 points. Shame they couldn’t figure out how to score more than seven.
(22) Washington Football Team 1
They got back in the win column, but they’re not out of the woods by a long way. This defense line is the wrong kind of problem for Washington, as a unit that was expected to dominate has taken a huge step back. They can, however, rejoice from the bounce-back of Taylor Heinecke; Perhaps he’s better than Fitzpatrick after all, but only time will tell.
(23) Denver Broncos 3
Why was a previously 3-0 team ranked at 20 last week? I’d say good question, but you should really already know. The Broncos finally faced a team that had wins on the standings, and they played them like absolute garbage, being dominated in all phases of the game. Denver has a lot of weaknesses, not least at QB, and they just got a lot weaker.
(24) Miami Dolphins
Miami genuinely doesn’t look like the team that we expected them to be in 2021. From sub-par QB play (from both Tua and Brissett) to the defense, they don’t have any of the sting you hoped for from a team on the playoff bubble last season. Were the expectations too high, or did something go wrong? If you recall the pre-season rankings, Miami did worryingly little to replace missing talent, and despite a solid draft they left questions unanswered in several areas across the roster.
(25) Philadelphia Eagles
Hurts redeemed himself against the Chiefs defense after a rough outing against Dallas last week and, with this season slowly going down the drain, they should be doing everything to determine whether or not they have the answer at QB. They proved once again that you can’t settle for red-zone field goals against Kansas City.
(26) Chicago Bears
What a season for the Chicago Bears. They should be thrilled to see Fields’ stock go up as he handled himself with a little more poise against the Lions, and Matt Nagy finally drew up a few plays that were rookie-friendly, but the loss of Montgomery for the next 4-5 weeks is significant. This situation only gets more complicated as Andy Dalton nears a return.
(27) New York Giants 2
How many dimes does it take to make 400 yards? According to Daniel Jones, about 28/40 will do. This late-game comeback was thrilling to watch, and Barkley looked to be his old self, with 126 yards from scrimmage and a game-winning TD.
(28) Atlanta Falcons
The Cordarrelle Patterson show comes to Atlanta, and it’s looking as good as it’s ever been. He totaled 82 receiving yards, 36 rush yards, 3 receiving TDs, all of which came from completely different routes. The man does it all and finds the end zone. No holds barred, this team is not good, but they have plenty of talent on offense if they know how to build on it.
(29) New York Jets 2
Well, New York got its wins, and Zach Wilson finally looked good doing it. They were generally steamrolled by Derrick Henry for four quarters, but they held up when it mattered most. Robert Saleh has proven he has the chops he brought over from San Francisco, masterminding a good red-zone defense, which made all the difference against the Titans.
(30) Houston Texans 3
There was the question of who would be the starting QB when Tyrod Taylor returns from his injury in a few weeks’ time. That question has been answered. This team was helpless against Buffalo, getting outmatched everywhere. The defense was shredded in the passing game and running game by what looked like an incredibly simple playbook from Buffalo, and until Tyrod returns, this team may be in freefall.
(31) Detroit Lions 1
This was a prime opportunity to get that first win of the season against a rookie QB, and they couldn’t take it. If the Lions can only go 1-5 in the red zone against the Bears, of all teams, how do they expect to fare against the rest of the NFL? Goff just seems to crumble under pressure, be it in the pocket or in his own head.
(32) Jacksonville Jaguars
Aside from an Urban Meyer gaffe, there’s really no reason to talk about Jacksonville this week. Their play-calling is bad, the team lacks organization, coaching, and talent, and they’re allergic to the win column. Not to mention the drama going on between ownership and coaching. Check back next week for another reason why they’re the worst team in the NFL.