NFL Power Rankings Week 4 | Tier 4
These teams will struggle to fight for a playoff spot because each has a fatal flaw. Coincidentally, that flaw is on the offensive side of the ball for each of these clubs.
23) Philadelphia Eagles
I have to be honest — I was not expecting this squad to fall so flat on their face against the Cowboys. I saw a team that played physically on the defensive line and was smart in the secondary against the 49ers in Week 2. And they dominated the Atlanta Falcons to open the season.
Nothing close to that happened on Monday Night Football against Dallas. Jalen Hurts has 5 turnovers against the Cowboys in his two games against them. Yet, he only has 2 in his other games as a pro.
Hurts didn’t look comfortable the entire contest. He was uncharacteristically inaccurate and often left the ball too far behind his receivers.
22) Washington Football Team
This is an unimpressive offensive football team. Washington’s offense can’t sustain drives, and their defense is faltering because they’re on the field for far too long. By nearly every metric, the Football Team’s defense is below average.
We know they are talented, but as the nerds have reiterated to us repeatedly, defensive production is better explained by the opposing quarterback’s output than the players on the field for the defense.
However, Washington allowed 29 points to a Giants offense that subsequently managed a mediocre performance against the hopeless Falcons.
21) Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are a decently talented team struggling behind a poor offensive line and an even worse offensive gameplan. The two-coordinator system doesn’t seem to be working, and even if the actual play-calling was better in Week 3, the scheme still doesn’t help them much.
Seriously, it’s hard to accurately depict how inefficient this offense has been. Miami is averaging under 4 yards per play, which is 1.5+ yards below league average. In fact, no offense is worse on a per-play basis.
Defensively, Miami’s coverage unit has been good, but they’ve struggled to get off the field on third downs. They’ve allowed a conversion on 61% of third downs, which ranks 31st in the league.
20) New England Patriots
Mac Jones’ Rookie of the Year candidacy took a massive hit on Sunday when he threw his first 3 interceptions of the season. His “success” early in the NFL season was a mirage. New England’s passing attack hasn’t sniffed explosiveness so far in 2021.
Jones isn’t a playmaker. That’s fine on a team that likes to play with the lead. However, his lack of athleticism won’t help create splash plays when things break down. When New England gets behind and is forced to claw its way back, Jones and the rest of the offense struggle to put up points.
NFL Power Rankings Week 4 | Tier 3
I’m intrigued. I need to see more from these teams, but I’m interested in what they’ve shown so far on the field.
19) Minnesota Vikings
I have no clue what to make of this football team. The Vikings narrowly lost to the Bengals and Cardinals before dominating the Seahawks in Week 3. Mike Zimmer is a defensive head coach, but his team does not mirror his philosophy. Maybe that philosophical dichotomy is why I have trust issues with the Vikings.
Kirk Cousins is — and has always been — better than he’s given credit for. Adam Thielen is a touchdown machine, and Justin Jefferson is one of the smoothest route runners in the NFL. Whether it’s Dalvin Cook or Alexander Mattison at RB, Minnesota can run the ball on command. That should help them move the chains and keep games close.
18) Cincinnati Bengals
It’ll be impossible to trust the Bengals on a weekly basis because their patchwork offensive line always has the potential to get Joe Burrow killed. But this is also a team that can easily play spoiler against better clubs. Cincinnati isn’t short on offensive playmakers, and their quarterback isn’t afraid to make plays.
It’s important to note that the Bengals have played an underwhelming Vikings team, an injury- and coaching-depleted Bears squad (a loss), and a Steelers team running the corpse of Ben Roethlisberger on the field.
However, Cincinnati did beat the Jaguars on Thursday night to start Week 4. They’re 3-1, but we still don’t have a good feel for what this team will be. Can they compete with the Browns or Ravens for the division lead for a significant portion of the season?
17) Tennessee Titans
This is not the same Tennessee Titans we watched in 2019 and 2020. They’ve struggled on the offensive and defensive side of the ball so far this season. Ryan Tannehill hasn’t been sharp, turning the ball over 6 times in just three games.
But Tennessee’s defense — especially the secondary — is the bigger question. We thought that may be the case, given their youth and lack of viable veterans on the back end. Yet, I also thought the Titans’ offense could make up for some of the offseason defensive losses. That hasn’t materialized to this point, which is why they land at 17th in the NFL Power Rankings.
16) New Orleans Saints
This Saints defense is for real. While they struggled against the Carolina Panthers, New Orleans’ defense has been above average in almost every statistical category. The only thing this team needs to be consistently good? Jameis Winston to stop needlessly turning the ball over.
Unfortunately, that may not be in the cards. Even today, his heave into the end zone to Marquez Callaway was a risky play in the red zone. Despite a few poor offensive outputs to start the year, the Saints look more competitive than many gave them credit for.
15) Carolina Panthers
Now that we’ve gotten the “you are what your record says you are” energy out of the way, we can be honest about the NFL’s paper tigers.
The Panthers struggled against the Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football, particularly after losing Christian McCaffrey to a hamstring injury. Robbie Anderson appears invisible, leaving DJ Moore as the team’s only legitimate playmaker.
Carolina is 3-0, and the rest of their schedule isn’t too difficult at first glance. But it’s still early to believe in Sam Darnold over the long run.