1. Denver Broncos (4-0) defeat Miami 22-7. Previously: 1
Neither inclement weather nor losing Trevor Siemian nor games on the East Coast can stop the Broncos’ march through opponents. This outstanding defense and secondary are about to face their toughest test yet next week when Matt Ryan and Julio Jones arrive in Denver fresh off a complete dismantling of the Broncos’ once-fearsome Super Bowl opponents.
2. Minnesota Vikings (4-0) defeat New York Giants 24-10. Previously: 3
The Vikings defense did everything the team needed for a win once again. Recovering a muffed punt, giving their offense short fields to work with and covering Odell Beckham Jr. better than a vengeful field goal warm-up net. If the running game that showed up Monday night is here to stay, the Vikings are a serious contender.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) bye. Previously: 4
The Eagles return to the road next week to take on Detroit. Carson Wentz should gethis first real chance to throw to Zach Ertz this week, as if the rookie didn’t look good enough already. With the NFC East sitting at a pretty surprising 10-5, they need to keep winning.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1) defeat Kansas City 43-14. Previously: 8
Call it a hunch, but something tells me the Steelers weren’t too happy about their performance against Philadelphia last week. In their quest to no longer be on the losing end of the largest margin of victory this NFL season, the Steelers kept raining bombs and running a fresh Le’Veon Bell out on the field well into the fourth quarter. A week after being at its worst, this offense was at its scariest.
5. New England Patriots (3-1) lost to Buffalo 16-0. Previously: 2
The Patriots’ descent down this list won’t last for too long. After a week of temptation to run Julian Edelman out at quarterback, the toughest decision in New England now is whether to be more excited about seeing Tom Brady or the Cleveland Browns taking the field in next Sunday’s game.
6. Seattle Seahawks (3-1) defeat New York Jets 27-17. Previously: 7
Russell Wilson is clearly banged up, but he and Doug Baldwin didn’t let it affect the passing game against New York. The Seahawks’ bye week probably couldn’t come at a better time. The early season rust is off, the demons are settled and Jimmy Graham just showed his first signs of being a productive player in Seattle. Now just let Russell rest up.
7. Green Bay Packers (2-1) bye. Previously: 6
The Packers get a second chance to measure themselves against the Vikings when the Giants visit Lambeau next weekend. Coming off a bye, Green Bay has to stop taking its foot off the gas like they did against Detroit a week ago.
8. Atlanta Falcons (3-1) defeat Carolina 45-32. Previously: 11
This was the Falcons announcing that yes, world, they are for real. While it will probably take a little more time to forget the memory of last season’s collapse, there’s not much better to blot it out with than 500-yard passing games and 300-yard receiving days. If they can go into Denver and knock the Broncos off the list of unbeatens …
9. Houston Texans (3-1) defeat Tennessee 27-20. Previously: 10
What’s left to say about rookie first round pick Will Fuller? All he did is have another great receiving day capped off with a punt return for the game winning score. Fuller is looking like the steal of the first round right now. Let Bill O’Brien keep calling the plays in Houston.
10. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) defeat Miami 22-7. Previously: 14
The Bengals bounced back nicely from a couple losses with a dominating performance against the Dolphins at home. They went to A.J. Green early and often and, for much of the game, he had more yards than the entire Dolphins team. That’s the recipe for success in Cincinnati: A.J. Green and defense.
11. Oakland Raiders (3-1) defeat Baltimore 28-27. Previously: 15
The Raiders almost blew one in embarrassing fashion in Baltimore, but give them credit for responding by driving for a game-winning score of their own rather than giving up. Michael Crabtree has been doing it in the clutch all season, and this week he did it all game, with three touchdowns on his way to the winner.
12. Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) lost to Pittsburgh 43-14. Previously: 5
One week removed from reaping eight turnovers and two touchdowns against the Jets, the Kansas City defense was just humiliated on national television Sunday night. Ben Roethlisberger hit wide-open receivers and well-covered receivers again and again and dared the Chiefs to stop him. They absolutely could not.
13. Baltimore Ravens (3-1) lost to Oakland 28-27. Previously: 13
A little shine comes off the Ravens undefeated start, but “3-1 and the one loss is by a point” probably still would have been taken by a lot of fans at the start of this season. They have another chance to add a quality win to their resume when Washington visits them next week.
14. Buffalo Bills (2-2) defeat New England 16-0. Previously: 18
This column will eat some crow about the Bills’ defense. Yes, Jacoby Brissett isn’t Tom Brady, but he may have actually looked a little better against Buffalo than Carson Palmer did. The Bills are back to playing football that will get them wins: tough defense and tough running.
15. Dallas Cowboys (3-1) defeat San Francisco 24-17. Previously: 19
The Cowboys and Dak Prescott have done a fantastic job of playing under control and handling the opponents they’ve been dealt so far this season. They get dealt their toughest hand yet this week. The Bengals visit Dallas, and a win in this game would really tell people to sit up and take notice of the Cowboys and their rookie backfield.
16. Los Angeles Rams (3-1) defeat Arizona 17-13. Previously: 25
The verdict on that opening weekend is looking more and more like the Rams just forgot to show up. Since losing 28-0 to the 49ers, the Rams have beaten Seattle, Tampa Bay and now Arizona. One of those teams is not like the others, but still, it’s an impressive hit list. The defense was what made people expect this team to be better than they were opening night, and they’re finally living up to that expectation.
17. Carolina Panthers (1-3) lost to Atlanta 45-32. Previously: 9
It’s a good thing Derek Anderson returned from the mists of football seasons past and looked good, because make it another week and another dangerous blow to Cam Newton. This time his team actually attended to him, and it might mean he won’t take the field next week against the Buccaneers. The Panthers pass defense now has to be in all-out panic mode.
18. Arizona Cardinals (1-3) lost to Los Angeles 17-13. Previously: 12
Two years in a row the Cardinals have gone in to welcome the Rams to town as heavy favorites and sent them packing with a win. Carson Palmer’s concussion will be the talk of the week as the Cardinals hope to bounce back at San Francisco, because Drew Stanton looked like anything but the capable backup he’s been in the past.
19. New York Jets (1-3) lost to Seattle 27-17. Previously: 16
There’s only so much blame for a team that’s three losses are against the Bengals, Chiefs and Seahawks. But the Jets aren’t convincing anyone they belong among the elite teams in the NFL. The bad Ryan Fitzpatrick has reared his head the last two games, with nine interceptions over the two.
20. Washington (2-2) defeat Cleveland 31-20. Previously: 21
Washington has righted the ship, but a tougher test awaits them on the road against a Ravens team that will want to get back to winning after a last-second loss to Oakland. Don’t look now, but in addition to Kirk Cousins righting the ship, Matt Jones just turned in his first 100-yard rushing day since Week 2 of the 2015 season.
21. New York Giants (2-2) lost to Minnesota 24-10. Previously: 17
A lot of teams’ offenses get shut down by the Vikings. But the Giants’ theoretically powerful passing game was held in check by the Saints, too. This team needs to find a way to stop turning the ball over and get into the end zone. After a promising start to the season, they’re sitting in last place in the division.
22. New Orleans Saints (1-3) defeat San Diego 35-34. Previously: 24
New Orleans finally comes out on top of one of their close games. In their three games not against the Falcons so far this season, the outcome has been decided by a total of five points. This is the third time the Saints offense has topped 30 points in the first four games. Of course, it’s also the third time their defense has allowed at least 30 points. Sound familiar?
23. San Diego Chargers (1-3) lost to New Orleans 35-34. Previously: 23
Philip Rivers outperformed Drew Brees in Brees’ long-awaited return to San Diego, but it didn’t result in a win. Where the Chargers are finding the firepower to get into shootouts like this is a bit of a question after the injuries they’ve been dealt. They’ll need to keep finding it against the Raiders next week.
24. Tennessee Titans (1-3) lost to Houston 27-20. Previously: 26
Tennessee bumps up a couple spots because the teams ahead of them were busy losing games they shouldn’t have, and all the Titans did was lose a game they were expected to. DeMarco Murray’s yards per carry took a big fall in Week 4, but he still found 95 yards and the end zone twice. He’s been a workhorse in Tennessee this season. Marcus Mariota hasn’t thrown a touchdown in two weeks.
25. Detroit Lions (1-3) lost to Chicago 17-14. Previously: 20
Jim Bob Cooter’s offense wasn’t able to do much against a team that had been beaten up by the likes of Brock Osweiler, Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott so far this season. It’s games like this (and the loss to Tennessee) that keep Detroit from being a serious contender in the NFC. Where was the team that fought back against Green Bay last week?
26. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) defeat Indianapolis 30-27. Previously: 29
Jacksonville got its first win this season in their second home: London. It seems they remember how to score, after weeks of strictly avoiding what they used to do well. When they come back from their Week 5 bye they’ll have an immensely winnable game against Chicago waiting.
27. Indianapolis Colts (1-3) lost to Jacksonville 30-27. Previously: 22
Phillip Dorsett (one catch, 64 yards) and T.Y. Hilton (seven catches for 42 yards) couldn’t have had much more different methods Sunday morning, but they each found the end zone. With Luck at the helm, it looks like Indianapolis isn’t going to be blown out of too many games this season. But, it doesn’t look like they’ll win too many either.
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) lost to Denver 27-7. Previously: 27
Facing Denver’s defense was never likely to be the cure for whatever ails Jameis Winston. But now the Bucs have a trip to Carolina to face a defense that just let Julio Jones run rings around them for the fifth most receiving yards ever in a single game. Of course, Tampa is lacking one Julio Jones.
29. Miami Dolphins (1-3) lost to Cincinnati 22-7. Previously: 28
Take away Kenny Stills getting behind the Bengals defense for a 74-yard touchdown and the Dolphins were blanked Thursday night. Ryan Tannehill has seven turnovers in the last three games.
30. Chicago Bears (1-3) defeat Detroit 17-14. Previously: 32
The Bears seem to have done a little bit of addition by subtraction if you’re interested in hot takes. Brian Hoyer and Jordan Howard are outperforming Jay Cutler and Jeremy Langford.
31. San Francisco 49ers (1-3) lost to Dallas 24-17. Previously: 30
The Niners and Rams have certainly gone in different directions since San Francisco opened the season with a 28-0 blanking of Los Angeles. After two straight blowout losses on the road, the Niners dropped one at home to Dallas.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-4) lost to Washington 31-20. Previously: 31
Now that they’re the last team in the NFL without a win, it’s difficult to predict one looking down the future of the Browns’ schedule.