Lone unbeaten Cardinals lead NFL power rankings
USAT Today’s Week 4 NFL power rankings, with last week’s ranking in parenthesis.
1. Cardinals (5): Are they REALLY the best team in the NFL? It feels a little dubious for a club that deserved a loss to Minnesota in Week 2. But Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells is famous for saying, “You are what your record says you are,” and Arizona is the only 4-0 team in the NFL and coming off a dominant performance of the previously top-ranked Rams. The Cardinals have also posted at least 30 points and 400 yards in each of their first four games for the first time in eight decades. So let’s give them their due.
2. Rams (1): Coach Sean McVay had been 8-0 against the Cardinals ... prior to Week 4. He’ll get another crack at them in Week 14, when LA concludes a ninegame stretch with six on the road -which starts Thursday in Seattle.
3. Buccaneers (2): What else is left for Tom Brady to accomplish? Seven rings. Most passing yards ever. Most passing TDs ever. Most wins, including a satisfying one over Bill Belichick and New England. Oh, right, first Super Bowl repeat since his 2003-04 Patriots ... and maybe first-ever three-peat after that?
4. Browns (3): They now feature the league’s No. 1 rushing offense and No. 2 overall defense, which has been simply oppressive last two weeks. But QB Baker Mayfield needs to dial it in if this team is to go further than even Cleveland team ever has.
5. Cowboys (8): QB Dak Prescott received copious credit last year for carrying this team early. He’s getting it again now, even though Dallas’ three-game win streak has largely been built on opportunistic defense (NFC-high 10 takeaways) and a ground game that’s produced at least 150 yards in three successive weeks.
6. Bills (7): They’ve strung together an impressive three-game run, winning by a collective 118-21 with two shutouts.
7. Ravens (6): Really impressive all they’ve overcome en route to a solid 3-1 start.
8. Chargers (9) Fun team to watch, especially coach Brandon Staley’s utilization of analytics and the occasional trick play.
9. Chiefs (10): QB Patrick Mahomes has won 40 of his 50 regular-season starts, something only previously accomplished by Hall of Famer Kenny “the Snake” Stabler.
10. Packers (13): With veteran WR Randall Cobb getting back up to speed, and sophomore RB AJ Dillon’s role apparently increasing, this offense could be poised to hit another gear.
11. Raiders (4): Probably not a bad thing they got a reality check from the Bolts.
12. Panthers (11): Carolina is still in position to craft itself a welcome reality given its next five games are all against teams that are currently 1-3.
13. Saints (12): How do you explain RB Alvin Kamara not getting targeted once as a receiver ... or handing it off to him 26 times? Baffling.
14. Titans (14): If you want to know how they squandered a mostly dominant performance against the Jets, look no further than the offensive line – which has surrendered a league-high 17 sacks of Ryan Tannehill.
15. Bengals (17): Looks who’s atop the AFC North.
16. Broncos (16): October could be cruel with OLB Bradley Chubb out, QB Teddy Bridgewater in concussion protocol and much tougher opponents coming down the pike.
17. Vikings (18): Just as the defense shows some signs of life, Kirk Cousins and Co. go dark. Minnesota continues to be a team firing on some cylinders.
18. Seahawks (19): Of all the amazing Russell Wilson stats floating around, the fact he’s never lost three straight games in any season might be the most mindboggling of all.
19. 49ers (15): They were 2-0 five minutes ago. Now their quarterback is hurt, their kicker is hurt, and Niners are in danger of losing sight of divisionleading Cardinals.
20. Washington (23): DE Chase Young has zero sacks and his vaunted Dline mates have a total of six.
21. Patriots (22): They’re 0-3 at home for the first time since Robert Kraft bought the franchise in 1994.
22. Steelers (20): A team that’s lost eight of 10 going back to last season needs to take advantage of a stretch when it will only leave Pennsylvania once over the next six weeks.
23. Colts (25): All-Pro G Quenton Nelson goes on the shelf with a high ankle sprain, and Indianapolis responds with its most rushing yards and points of the 2021 season. Of course.
24. Bears (27): Matt Nagy is the new Jason Garrett, his team going 20-20 over its last 40 games. At least Chicago showed far better offensive balance in QB Justin Fields’ second start.
25. Eagles (24): At least rookie WR DeVonta Smith is showing signs of life, catching seven balls for 122 yards Sunday after totaling 11 for 115 in the first three weeks.
26. Dolphins (21): Their next three games are in Florida – Tampa, Jacksonville, Miami.
27. Falcons (28): They hadn’t given up a TD on a kick or punt return in a decade – no other NFL team could make that claim – before Washington did Dirty Birds dirty Sunday in a four-point Atlanta loss.
28. Giants (30): New York hadn’t won a game in nine months prior to Sunday’s breakthrough.
29. Jets (32): New York hadn’t won a game in nine months prior to Sunday’s breakthrough.
30. Lions (26): The last time Detroit claimed a win with a quarterback not named Matthew Stafford? Try 2010, when you would’ve laughed at notion of an electric Ford Mustang.
31. Texans (29): Apparently rookie QB Davis Mills was trying to honor former Bills QB Nathan Peterman with a truly dreadful, 87-yard, four-INT performance in Buffalo.
32. Jaguars (31): Shouldn’t Urban Meyer apologize for being a distraction over the previous nine months as well?