The Oklahoman

Lone unbeaten Cardinals lead NFL power rankings

- Nate Davis

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 first four games for the first 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, first Super Bowl repeat since his 2003-04 Patriots ... and maybe first-ever three-peat after that?

4. Browns (3): They now feature the league’s No. 1 rushing offense and No. 2 overall defense, which has been simply oppressive last two weeks. But QB Baker Mayfield 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 offense 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 five 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? Baffling.

14. Titans (14): If you want to know how they squandered a mostly dominant performanc­e against the Jets, look no further than the offensive 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 firing on some cylinders.

18. Seahawks (19): Of all the amazing Russell Wilson stats floating 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 five 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 first 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 offensive 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 first 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 Stafford? 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 Buffalo.

32. Jaguars (31): Shouldn’t Urban Meyer apologize for being a distractio­n over the previous nine months as well?

 ?? VASQUEZ/USA TODAY SPORTS ?? Cardinals quarterbac­k Kyler Murray threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns against the Rams on Sunday in Inglewood, Calif. GARY A.
VASQUEZ/USA TODAY SPORTS Cardinals quarterbac­k Kyler Murray threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns against the Rams on Sunday in Inglewood, Calif. GARY A.

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