First, we apologize for the long layoff. We hope you’ve enjoyed the exciting NFL action so far, as records are being broken and the unexpected may be becoming the norm.
What better way to summarize the first quarter of the NFL season than to post power rankings.
Teams that have impressed me that I thought would have very little chance to win even a few games are the 49ers and the Redskins. Good coaching, a commitment to running the ball and a stout, underrated defense are ways these teams have gotten to a 3-1 record and first place in their respective divisions.
Other teams you thought would be good that have been very good so far are the Ravens, Packers and Patriots. The Ravens lead the league with a +67 net point differential and have forced 11 turnovers against the Steelers and Jets alone. The Packers are 4-0 and haven’t lost a step since their Super Bowl win ten months ago. Aside from a close loss to Buffalo in Week 3 (in which Tom Brady threw four interceptions and the Bills played really well), the Patriots are still clicking on offense.
Without further delay, here are how the 32 teams in the NFL stack up after the first four weeks of the 2011 season.
1. Green Bay Packers (4-0, 1-0)
- Leading candidate for league MVP (Aaron Rodgers), depth everywhere; scary good.
2. Baltimore Ravens (3-1, 1-0)
- The defense is playing out of its collective mind: 2nd in points allowed (57…TEN is 1st with 56 PA) and 1st in forced turnovers (14…3 of which resulting in a TD); Reed, Ngata, Suggs, Lewis are just the tip of the iceberg; offense is good and getting better; only loss to a not-so-bad-after-all Titans (3-1).
3. New Orleans Saints (3-1, 0-0)
- Only loss being an opening-night shoot-out at Green Bay (which could very well be a preview of the NFC Championship game). Exceptional talent and leadership at QB and head coach. Defense needs some work, but will be fine.
4. New England Patriots (3-1, 1-1)
- Tom Brady is on pace to throw for 6,212 yards. That’s not a typo. If he were to reach that mark, it would be 1,128 yards more than Dan Marino’s all-time record. As a matter of fact, only two players have ever thrown for 5,000 yards in a season (Marino, 1984; Drew Brees, 2008).
5. Detroit Lions (4-0, 1-0)
- Unstoppable QB/WR combination and Suh is a beast that no one wants to play. They won six games all of last year.
6. Houston Texans (3-1, 1-0)
- The defense is the strength of their team. That’s how good they are.
7. San Diego Chargers (3-1, 1-0)
- Rivers is Rivers, Vincent Jackson and Ryan Matthews are both healthy and playing very well. Not to mention, Antonio Gates is hurt.
8. Buffalo Bills (3-1, 1-1)
- First win against the Patriots in eight years. Fitzpatrick, Johnson and Jackson are dynamic.
9. New York Giants (3-1, 1-1)
- Unbelievable amount of resiliency despite numerous key injuries. Good running game, a big-play wide receiver and a Super Bowl MVP at quarterback.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1, 1-0)
- They will go as far as Josh Freeman goes.
11. Washington Redskins (3-1, 1-1)
- I thought they’d be last, not first as they currently are, in the NFC East. Strong running game and a relentless defense. Still have room to grow.
12. Tennessee Titans (3-1, 0-1)
- Matt Hasselbeck, not Chris Johnson, is the team MVP so far. Can they sustain their early success?
13. San Francisco 49ers (3-1, 1-0)
- Since when does a first-year head coach take what the 49ers have and make it into a first place team? There could be something special brewing in San Fran.
14. New York Jets (2-2, 0-0)
- Still have a top-notch defense that blitzes from all angles. Joe McKnight picked up where Brad Smith left off on special teams. Mangold needs to get healthy in a hurry, or else it will be a long season for the Jets.
15. Oakland Raiders (2-2, 1-0)
- The Raiders have now won seven consecutive divisional games, dating back to last season. Darren McFadden is showing how dangerous he can be when healthy, and Hue Jackson is looking good in his first four games as Raiders head coach.
16. Dallas Cowboys (2-2, 1-0)
- Tony Romo is a gamer. Playing with a broken rib and without Miles Austin usually will result in losses. Their record could be a lot worse.
17. Atlanta Falcons (2-2, 0-1)
- Loads of talent, but I’m not sold on Matt Ryan. Julio Jones was a really good pick, and he should continue to produce for the next decade.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2, 0-1)
- Health is a huge concern, more so than the nine defensive starters over the age of 30 and their last place position in the AFC North. Not only is the offensive line hanging by a thread, but Ben Roethlisberger and James Harrison were both seriously injured during the Texans game.
19. Chicago Bears (2-2, 0-1)
- A duplicate of last season’s 13-3 record probably isn’t in the cards for this year’s team. But Julius Peppers and Devin Hester will always keep the opposition honest.
20. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2, 1-0)
- Rookies A.J. Green and Andy Dalton have formed quite a tandem. Add in Jermaine Gresham and you could have sometime special for years to come.
21. Cleveland Browns (2-2, 0-1)
- So far in 2011, Peyton Hillis has rushed for 197 yards and 2 touchdowns. At this time last season, he’d rushed for 322 yards and 4 touchdowns.
22. Arizona Cardinals (1-3, 0-1)
- A bad start can be overcome in a bad division. Larry Fitzgerald, Beanie Wells and Kevin Kolb should be able to right the ship fairly quickly in Arizona.
23. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3, 0-1)
- Jason Babin leads the league in sacks (7.0) and LeSean McCoy is playing at a Pro Bowl level. Other than that, the Eagles have problems.
24. Carolina Panthers (1-3, 0-0)
- Cam Newton is third in the league in passing yardage (1,386), but they aren’t winning games.
25. Denver Broncos (1-3, 0-1)
- Rookie Von Miller may be their best player.
26. Kansas City Chiefs (1-3, 0-1)
- Losing your best offensive and defensive players (Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry) for the year is something not many teams can come back from.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3, 1-0)
- Now you know why fans don’t show up to games.
28. Seattle Seahawks (1-3, 1-1)
- Thank goodness for Pete Carrol’s optimism and energy.
29. Indianapolis Colts (0-4, 0-1)
- How valuable is Peyton Manning? Watch the Colts play and you’ll have your answer.
30. Minnesota Vikings (0-4, 0-1)
- Losing leads and not giving enough carries to the best back in football is not a formula for success.
31. St. Louis Rams (0-4, 0-0)
- 27th in total offense, 26th in total defense. Help.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-4, 0-1)
- Cameron Wake, Brandon Marshall and Jake Long wish they were dreaming. Premier talent suck on a bad football team. By the way, you still have to play the Patriots, the Jets twice and the Bills twice.
Alright, let the comments begin. Please feel free to reply with any feedback.
Thanks for reading.