NFL Power Rankings Week 4 | Tier 2
These teams should all fight for a winning record with relative ease. Injuries have ravaged a few of these rosters, but they each possess qualities of squads that can compete in the playoffs.
14) Baltimore Ravens
If Marquise “Hollywood” Brown didn’t drop 3 passes early against the Lions, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens might have waltzed in Week 3. Nevertheless, that’s not what happened on Sunday, as Baltimore had to rely on a 66-yard Justin Tucker field goal to defeat Detroit.
Jackson is still playing an incredibly carefree style of football in the pocket, and it nearly cost the Ravens on Sunday. However, you can’t just look at traditional stats to explain his performance as a passer. Yes, Jackson only completed 51.6% of his passes against the Lions. But that’s not important given he averaged nearly 20 — yes, 20 — air yards per attempt.
That number doesn’t even make sense. No other quarterback has reached 15 air yards per attempt in a game since Drew Lock averaged 16.9 air yards per throw in Week 6 last year — Jackson was at 19.3.
13) Seattle Seahawks
Unfortunately, if Russell Wilson doesn’t play at a near-MVP level, the Seahawks might not stand a chance against most teams. Their pass defense is mid-tier, but they’ve allowed the second-most rush yards in the NFL. The worst team? Well, that would be the Chiefs.
Kansas City is two spots higher than the Seahawks because Wilson is still a tier below Patrick Mahomes — everyone is. Seattle is leading the league in offensive yards per play, finding results both on the ground and through the air. Yet, the Cardinals, 49ers, and Rams might all have more well-rounded rosters than the Seahawks in the division.
All four NFC West teams might make the playoffs in 2021. And all four are in the top half of the Week 4 NFL Power Rankings.
12) Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are fine.
Let me rephrase that — the Chiefs will be fine if they stop acting like every game is Christmas Day and they’re required to hand out gifts. The fumbles are inexcusable, the drops are frustrating, and Patrick Mahomes’ late interception in Week 3 was a back-breaker.
Kansas City’s offense is good enough to win a boatload of football games. The defense, however, appears to be bad enough for the offense not to make a difference. They’ve now allowed 29, 36, and 30 points over the first three weeks of the season. Additionally, the Chiefs are giving up nearly 2 yards more per play than the NFL average.
I still feel this is one of the best teams in the NFL, but at 1-2 with legitimate defensive questions, it’s impossible to rank them any higher.
11) Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers have been impressive enough to land in the top 10 of the NFL Power Rankings in Week 4. They probably should have looked better against Washington, especially given the Football Team’s subsequent performance. Yet, Week 1 was weird for a lot of NFL teams, so we’ll let LA’s opening performance go a bit. The Chargers have faced three teams that were considered playoff contenders before the season, and they’ve competed in each game.
On Sunday, Los Angeles went toe to toe against the Kansas City Chiefs. They got up early thanks to some timely turnovers and were able to hold onto momentum late in the game. On the other hand, the Chargers allowed 33 first downs on defense, well above the NFL average of 20.9 per game.
They’re struggling to stop the run. Teams are averaging 5.8 yards per carry against them so far in 2021. While that’s far from a death sentence, it’s something to monitor because it can easily take the ball out of Justin Herbert’s hands.
10) Dallas Cowboys
Kellen Moore calls an exquisite game, and Dak Prescott is the perfect man for the job. He was efficient against the Eagles, completing nearly 80% of his passes while averaging 10 air yards. Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott are an outstanding thunder-and-lightning combo, and the receiving weapons are abundant, even with Michael Gallup on the mend.
But the biggest reason to be excited about this team is on defense. Trevon Diggs now has 6 interceptions in his last 8 games. But he’s not just gifted interceptions. He’s breaking up passes left and right, shooting his hands through the catch point or chopping down and overpowering their arms when the ball hits their hands.
He and Micah Parsons are difference-makers. The defense still has its struggles, but they’re also missing four starters. If they can just be middle of the pack or continue to get turnovers, this team could make some noise.
9) Denver Broncos
We knew the Broncos had an outstanding roster. The question was always going to be the quarterback play. They decided to go with the safe bet, Teddy Bridgewater, in 2021. That appears to be the right decision.
So far, Denver’s offense has been slightly above average in most spots. The only real issues we’ve seen have come in pass protection, as they’re allowing a sack slightly more often than the NFL average. The Broncos are also below average in the red zone, but that hasn’t hurt them so far in 2021.
The schedule is the only thing holding Denver back. That could change next week if they beat the Ravens at home.
8) Las Vegas Raiders
The team that zigs when everyone else zags might have something. Things probably shouldn’t have been so close against Miami — but this is Vegas, baby! We live for the entertainment this team produces.
Derek Carr is the best quarterback in the league in four-minute situations at the end of games. Indeed, he’s arguably the most clutch player in the league. And now, it seems his weapons finally fit him. Darren Waller is a stud, Henry Ruggs appears improved, and if Hunter Renfrow isn’t the best pure slot in the league, he’s close.
The Raiders don’t make a whole lot of sense so far, but it’s difficult to argue they don’t belong this high in the NFL Power Rankings.
7) San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are a well-oiled machine when Jimmy Garoppolo is on the field. He’s not the most talented quarterback in the NFL, but he’s a great fit for Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Their explosiveness is scheme-based, doesn’t rely on pushing the ball downfield, and their rushing attack flourishes no matter who carries the ball.
Defensively, San Francisco is very well-coached. They have high-end talent like Nick Bosa, plus one of the better safety tandems in the league. Against a Green Bay offense that lacks supplementary weapons behind Davante Adams, the 49ers’ defense could thrive despite missing Jason Verrett.
Garoppolo was not good for most of the game, but when the 49ers needed him most, he delivered. He’s an underwhelming quarterback, but he’s also enough for San Francisco to be good in 2021. However, if Shanahan doesn’t start working Lance in more, this team might not have quite enough juice to claw their way back into football games.
6) Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals have a ton of talent, but this was the sort of game you’d like to see them drop a gear and drive away with. Instead, it wasn’t until they scored with just shy of seven minutes left in the game that they’d finally finished off the 32nd-ranked Jaguars.
Chase Edmonds has been the more efficient back for the Cardinals by about a yard per attempt, yet James Conner is still getting a more significant workload. The good news is Arizona can throw to what seems like 10 different receivers.
If it wasn’t for a shocking 109-yard return on a field goal attempt, the Cardinals might’ve dominated the Jaguars. Next week brings a massive test against the Los Angeles Rams.
5) Green Bay Packers
The Packers are in big trouble if they can’t find at least something loosely related to a pass rush. Before Sunday Night Football, they’ve been credited with just 1 sack. They weren’t able to pressure Jameis Winston or Jared Goff, and it negatively affected their ability to defend the pass. New defensive coordinator Joe Barry isn’t having any more success than he had at his previous NFL stops.
Offensively, it looked like Aaron Rodgers got back into a groove. The Packers need to run the ball more effectively, but having to move Elgton Jenkins to left tackle until David Bakhtiari returns hurts that effort.
The Packers proved on Sunday Night Football that Week 1 was the anomaly. Rodgers is playing at an MVP level again, and the defense finally found a bit of a pass rush in Week 3. They played in a slugfest against the 49ers, and they came out on top. You can’t leave any time on the clock for Rodgers. He’s going to run you down.
NFL Power Rankings Week 4 | Tier 1
These four teams are the sure things. It would be an absolute shock if any of them fail to win their division, and each should have a shot at the top seed in their conference.
4) Cleveland Browns
Cleveland’s secondary is already fantastic, and for at least this week, the defensive line was a force to supplement that talent. I can’t get over just how outstanding Greg Newsome has been so far as a rookie. The cornerback position typically features an incredibly difficult transition from college to the NFL, and Newsome only played in 17 college football games. But the sky is the limit for the 2021 first-round pick, and the floor might be the roof.
The Browns didn’t have a great day offensively. Regardless, the offense as a whole can win through the air and on the ground, making them a versatile weapon moving forward in the AFC.
3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This is still a dominant football team, but they ran into an absolute buzzsaw in the Los Angeles Rams in Week 3. Listen, the Buccaneers probably weren’t going undefeated in 2021. So far, they’re hovering around the top 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency. They aren’t running the ball well, but they also aren’t allowing anything on the ground.
Defensively, however, only Green Bay has more problems getting the quarterback on the ground. Through three games, the Buccaneers have logged just 2 sacks. They’ll need to improve their pass rush if they want to see a bye week in the playoffs.
2) Buffalo Bills
Man, it really looks like the Bills just had a slow start to the season. They played one bad game against Pittsburgh, and the narrative flipped on both teams for a week. Well, that’s over — and Buffalo has looked dominant the past two weeks.
Their defense swarms, pairing a great back end with athletic linebackers and a pass rush that can finally hold its own. A.J. Epenesa lost weight and gained explosion over the offseason, while Gregory Rousseau managed to improve his technique despite not playing football in 2020.
1) Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are boat racing the NFL right now. Their 3-point win against the Colts was a bit disappointing, but they dominated on Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champions. Matthew Stafford has revitalized Sean McVay, who was running around like an absolute nut job when he saw they were headed to halftime with the lead. Meanwhile, Stafford looks like an MVP candidate.
Los Angeles hasn’t run the ball well yet in 2021, but they’ve dominated through the air. They’re posting 3+ yards more per pass attempt than the NFL average, and they’re averaging a first down every time Stafford drops back to pass.
Add in the fact that Los Angeles has the best cornerback in the league and possibly the greatest defensive player of all time in Aaron Donald, and this is a pretty complete team. They need to be — because they’ve thrown everything they have at an attempt to win a Super Bowl in 2021.