NFL Power Rankings: Cardinals Rise To Top; Packers, Cowboys, Seahawks flex; The Titans are falling
Week 4 of the NFL season has been another crazy one. The best team from last week has fallen and a few bottom feeders have entered the table with the first wins of 2021.
With just two undefeated teams on Monday night, there is a deadlock between the three-way and two-win teams. Some of the established competitors are starting to falter and a new powerhouse is emerging. On the other hand, some teams quickly disappear from the playoff picture after a month.
Here’s how Sporting News breaks down the league hierarchy from 1 to 32 through week 5:
IYER: Brady’s Bucs and Belichick’s Pats both win in revenge game
NFL Power Ranking
1. Arizona Cardinals 4-0 (previous ranking: 4)
The Cardinals haven’t lost their great opportunity to prove themselves to be the best team in a loaded NFC, and therefore in the entire NFL, as they made a ton of big plays on both sides against the Rams. Their offense is even more multiple, versatile and dangerous around MVP leader Kyler Murray and their defensive leadership continues to shine.
STANDARD FANTASY RANKS FOR WEEK 5:
quarterback | Back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D / ST | Kicker
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-1 (2)
The Buccaneers did what they were supposed to do in New England other than the Tom Brady drama. They are battling a lot more injuries than last season, but have also avoided a slow start as a future division winner. The offense rolled without some key elements while the defense got a much needed recovery game.
MORE: Highlights of Brady’s Escape from Foxborough
3. Los Angeles Rams 3-1 (1)
The Rams were sloppy against the Cardinals as Matthew Stafford crashed to earth and LA proved his offense was not unstoppable. Defense against running must be a growing concern; he can continue to burn them in the big games. Overall, though, they’re still in good playoff form right out of the gate.
4. Bison tickets 3-1 (5)
The Bills defense threw two shutouts in four games. It is finally up to the expectations of Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier for all levels. Josh Allen is back to take care of the rest up front.
5. Green Bay Packers 3-1 (6)
The Packers should be more thrilled with their Week 1 disaster against New Orleans; they are now refocused around Aaron Rodgers and are starting to respond better to the defensive coaching of Joe Barry. They are where they should be with Matt LaFleur.
6. Cleveland Browns 3-1 (3)
The Browns win on running and defense. They don’t get a lot of style points, but it shows how high they have a floor. The key to moving up to “awesome” status and becoming the favorite for AFC North is getting better play from Baker Mayfield.
7. Baltimore Ravens 3-1 (8)
The Ravens’ offense took a big step on Sunday with Lamar Jackson and their contained running game. They found enough big assists with Jackson, which allowed the defense to play with additional confidence. The Ravens, Browns and Bengals head for an epic three-team race.
MORE: Ravens let Jackson pass on his knees to tie race record
8. Dallas Cowboys 3-1 (13)
The Cowboys are feeling it with Dak Prescott. He’s locked into the offensive and gets a lot of help from Ezekiel Elliott. Defense always has its share of holes, but Trevon Diggs and Micah Parsons continue to be a game-changer.
9. Kansas City Chiefs 2-2 (10)
The Chiefs were determined to get back to 0.500 and play at full capacity with Patrick Mahomes. They got the big plays at Tyreek Hill again, which allowed the defense to start in key places with the Eagles in chase mode. The racing game is also experiencing a good situational revival.
MORE: Mahomes throws an unreal scoop against the Eagles
10. Los Angeles Chargers 2-1 (9)
The Chargers have to like what they see of Justin Herbert and all his guns in Joe Lombardi’s offense, and as expected, Brandon Staley takes more advantage of the pass defense. Don’t sleep on the fact that they become a bigger factor in the AFC after their win over the Chiefs.
11. Seattle Seahawks 2-2 (15)
The Seahawks needed their big win in the road division on Sunday to get back on track. Their defense continues to have major core issues around Jamal Adams; Fortunately, their attack has Russell Wilson doing whatever it takes to keep them a winning team.
12. San Francisco 49ers 2-2 (7)
The 49ers’ defensive injuries have been tough to overcome, especially with an offensive transition from Jimmy Garoppolo to Trey Lance in store. Kyle Shanahan needs to get the team to run more and play better complementary football, stat.
13. Las Vegas Raiders 3-0 (12)
The Raiders are hot with Derek Carr and their crazy winning formulas that defy convention. They’re doomed to have a quick cooldown and regress to the average as usual, with defense becoming a bigger culprit.
14. Cincinnati Bengals 3-1 (18)
The Bengals have Joe Burrow and that gives them a high floor to be competitive every week, especially with their improved defense turning into a grainy game. They are in the game to win the AFC North or steal a wild card.
15. Carolina Panthers 3-1 (16)
The Panthers put up a valiant effort with Sam Darnold and DJ Moore in Dallas, but their defense had a lot of reality check against the dominant Cowboys offense. Darnold is running well, but questions about his passing persist.
MORE: Darnold makes history with his legs
16. Denver Broncos 3-1 (17)
The Broncos also faced a strong opponent but failed the test due to an anemic attack, which worsened after having to switch from Teddy Bridgewater to Drew Lock. Von Miller and the defense, however, remained a pretty strong backbone.
MORE: Bridgewater with a concussion
17. Tennessee Titans 2-2 (11)
What was that? The Titans were down from their first two wide receivers, but still ran well with Derrick Henry, but still lost in overtime to the Jets. Ryan Tannehill’s play is cause for concern, but the defense will prevent them from doing anything other than winning a weak AFC South.
18. New Orleans Saints 2-2 (14)
The Saints are a difficult team to understand after four weeks, considering they beat the Packers and Patriots but lost to the Panthers and Giants. They try to win battles of attrition with just enough attack from two quarterbacks, with downstream passes and power when needed. It’s a classic .500 identity.
19. Washington Soccer Team 2-2 (22)
Taylor Heinicke plays the type of quarterback that WFT would have gotten from Ryan Fitzpatrick, with the help of his offensive weapons. The bigger question is: how can a defense with so much talent be so unruly and bad?
MORE: How WFT Stunned The Falcons Despite Missing Every PAT Attempt
20. Chicago Bear 2-2 (24)
The Bears didn’t look great all over the place against the Lions, but they returned to the basics of running play and defense once they improved down passes with Justin Fields. Fields gives them their best chance of winning matches.
MORE: Nagy abandons play-call | Montgomery injures his knee
21. Pittsburgh Steelers 1-3 (19)
The Steelers defense are trying to hold their end of the bargain, but it gets harder and harder every week with Ben Roethlisberger struggling. There is no easy fix for the offense until 2022.
MORE: Big Steelers TD Canceled By Controversial Penalty
22. New England Patriots 1-3 (21)
The Patriots fought as hard as they could against the Buccaneers with Mac Jones playing well, but the Bucs just had too much with Brady in the end. Just as Bill Belichick can coach to get the best of them, it’s not close to a playoff team.
MORE: Belichick Didn’t Give Pats Best Chance To Win With 56-Yard FG Attempt
23. Philadelphia Eagles 1-3 (20)
The Eagles offense looks good with Jalen Hurts, but she still makes critical mistakes. Their defense is starting to show its true colors against more legitimate offenses.
24. Minnesota Vikings 1-3 (23)
The Vikings are having a harder time wrapping up close games with Mike Zimmer. Just as their defense looked better, their balanced attack entered the tank. They may already be running out of time to put everything together.
25. Indianapolis Colts 1-3 (27)
The Colts were late for their kind of heavy, defensive running performance in Miami with the requisite gritty play of Carson Wentz. The AFC South title, the only ticket to the playoffs, is once again within reach with the fall of the Titans.
26. Miami Dolphins 1-3 (25)
The Dolphins do their best to generate enough offense with Jacoby Brissett, but it’s tough to overcome a terrible run defense no matter how good Miami is against the pass.
27. Atlanta Falcons 1-3 (26)
Matt Ryan is operating well in the new offense and is diversifying his weapons, but the defense can’t stop anything anywhere.
MORE: Horrific Brutal Appeal Made Against Chase Young
28. Giants of New York 1-3 (30)
The Giants saw something special in Daniel Jones exploiting a shorthanded passing play and leading a big return road win over the Saints. He looks more like a keeper as he takes on a Saquon Barkley who is at full strength.
29. New York Jets 1-3 (31)
The Jets must have been encouraged by what Zach Wilson did to knock out a weak pass defense from the Titans while executing a one-dimensional attack. They have a chance to continue a winning streak with the Falcons in London then.
30. Houston Texans 1-3 (28)
The Texans are not competitive with Davis Mills overwhelmed at quarterback and Deshaun Watson wanting nothing to do with them.
31. Detroit Lions 0-4 (29)
The Lions continue to fight and work hard, but the major lack of defensive talent keeps coming back to bite them. Their attack has to be error-free and that doesn’t happen with Jared Goff.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars 0-4 (32)
The Jaguars saw flashes of a special Trevor Lawrence, aided by a special James Robinson. But their defense will continue to drag them down and confuse Urban Meyer.
MORE: Meyer insists he’s not wrong about the Jaguars’ potential