1. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) Def. Washington 29-20. Last Week: 1
We’re through just four games, and Kareem Hunt has 140 more rushing yards than any other player in the NFL. We’re through just four games, and the Chiefs are already the last undefeated team standing. It looked like that might not be the case for quite awhile Monday night. But the defense that makes the most big plays in the NFL turned in the biggest of the night, stopping a comeback cold and sealing the deal in Kansas City.
2. Buffalo Bills (3-1) Def. Atlanta 23-17. Last Week: 22
Credit the huge leap this week to not advancing the Bills high enough a week ago. With victories over the Broncos and in Atlanta, this team is shooting light years above where anyone thought they’d be this season after an off-season of departures. With Jordan Matthews departing the field in this game and reportedly out at least a month with a thumb injury the Bills will have to dig even deeper to find offense. Charles Clay and his 112 yard Sunday was the answer this weekend. For now though, the Bills are a very deserved division leader.
3. Denver Broncos (3-1) Def. Oakland 16-10. Last Week: 8
Big bounce back by the Broncos after a disappointing road defeat to Buffalo that suddenly, doesn’t look that shocking. Jamaal Charles is thriving in a change-of-pace role (40 yards a week ago, 33 on five carries this one) and the defense continued the embarrassment of Oakland’s offense that Washington began last Monday night. Last year, anyone and everyone ran on the Broncos. This weekend, the Raiders had 24 yards on 15 plays. That’s not good.
4. Detroit Lions (3-1) Def. Minnesota 14-7. Last Week: 7
The Lions stepped right back up to the plate after their disappointing loss to the Falcons. This is a different Detroit team than we’ve seen in a lot of recent years: intent on holding onto the football, running it, and winning that way before resorting to a shootout. Bad news for Matthew Stafford’s fantasy owners, but good news for his real ones. So far, they’re getting an impressive return on this off-season’s record investment.
5. Green Bay Packers (3-1) Def. Chicago 35-14. Last Week: 4
Davante Adams survived a scare this past Thursday after winding up in the hospital following an illegal hit by Danny Trevathan. The game – despite being paused for weather concerns – wasn’t nearly as scary for the Packers after they jumped to a 14-0 lead based around two forced fumbles. The passing game didn’t have to do much on this night, but Adams’ touchdown was paired with two for Jordy Nelson and one for Randall Cobb.
6. Atlanta Falcons (3-1) Lost to Buffalo 23-17. Last Week: 2
The bye week couldn’t come at a better time for Atlanta after losing Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu to injury during their home loss to the surprising Bills. The Falcons have faced some tough opponents early this season, and remain the only team to defeat Green Bay and Detroit, but they couldn’t pull off the near escape this time.
7. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) Def. San Diego 26-24. Last Week: 14
Eagles fans turned out in droves for the team and Carson Wentz in Carson, California. LeGarrette Blount staked his claim to the running back job whenever the Eagles are interested in running it, turning in a 136 yard day on the back of a 68-yard run to the red zone where he bounced off several Charger defenders for the highlight of the day. The big play continues to be the Eagles’ biggest weakness: they allowed scores on a 75-yard Tyrell Williams catch-and-run and a 35-yard sprint up the middle on rookie Austin Ekeler’s only carry of the game.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1) Def. Baltimore 26-9. Last Week: 11
He’s had a more impressive performance with each week of the season, and after 186 total yards and two touchdowns Sunday, it’s safe to say Le’Veon Bell is back. The rest of the Steelers offense is still missing, even after an impressive team win on the road in Baltimore. Heading home to face the Jaguars may let them find their mojo, though it is the Jaguars turn to be good on defense this week.
9. Carolina Panthers (3-1) Def. New England 33-30. Last Week: 19
I mentioned last week it had been a long time since the Panthers offense looked explosive. Well, no better time than the present to hang 444 total yards and 4 touchdowns (360 of the yards and all of the scores courtesy of Cam Newton) on what’s quickly become the league’s punching bag of a defense. That last bit doesn’t make holding off a Patriots comeback in New England any less impressive. Now comes an even tougher (that sounds weird) test in Detroit.
10. Los Angeles Rams (3-1) Def. Dallas 35-30. Last Week: 15
What a game for Greg Zuerlein, going 7-for-7 on field goals, including four from further than 40 yards. Of course what that also means is the Rams went 1-for-4 in the red zone when it came to scoring touchdowns. Their other score was a 53-yard Todd Gurley reception on a day where Gurley had 215 total yards. The Rams have gone from the dullest offense in the NFL to one of the most exciting and I can’t wait to watch the young division leaders take on Seattle at home this week.
11. Houston Texans (2-2) Def. Tennessee 57-14. Last Week: 20
There may be no moral victories but the Texans’ morale sure seemed fine during a franchise record victory against the Titans. DeShaun Watson announced his presence in the NFL with four passing touchdowns and one rushing one while the Texans announced they wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon in this division. Lamar Miller’s best game in weeks can’t be ignored either, nor Will Fuller’s two-touchdown return to this suddenly dynamic offense.
12. New England Patriots (2-2) Lost to Carolina 33-30. Last Week: 3
It looked for a moment as though the Patriots might avoid defeat at Foxborough in the same narrow fashion they did a week ago against Houston. It wasn’t to be this Sunday. Troubling stats for New England, no matter how well Tom Brady performs: after being taken apart by Cam Newton, DeShaun Watson, Drew Brees (okay,) and Alex Smith, the Patriots defense has allowed 457 yards and 32 points per game. That’s 60 more yards than any other team. Sidenote: Bill Belichick will probably sort it out.
13. Washington (2-2) Lost to Kansas City 29-20. Last Week: 5
Washington almost made it two primetime shockers in as many weeks. It wasn’t to be, but this team, already with games against Philadelphia, Oakland, and Kansas City, is holding its own more often than not. The best news is Terrelle Pryor and Kirk Cousins finally got on the same page for a 44-yard touchdown and 70-yard performance for Pryor. Small roles for Jordan Reed, who can’t stay healthy, and Chris Thompson, who loses touches to backs he’s vastly out-producing, aren’t helping.
14. Dallas Cowboys (2-2) Lost to Los Angeles Rams 35-30. Last Week: 9
Despite featuring the league’s leading pass rusher Demarcus Lawrence and his 7.5 sacks and several red zone stops Sunday the Cowboys defense continues to be a weak spot. Ezekiel Elliott has back-to-back 80-yard performances after his career worst appearance against the Broncos, but it as Alfred Morris who contributed the big play Sunday with a 70-yard dash. Meanwhile, a decision on Elliott’s suspension appeal could be looming.
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) Def. New York Giants 25-23. Last Week: 16
Turn off the turnovers and watch what happens. That was the case for the Buccaneers in Week 4 after a dismal performance against the Vikings a week earlier. They put up 434 yards at seven yards a play against the Giants, and got 143 yards combined from their tight ends Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard. Each threw in a score, and now this offense gets Doug Martin back. (Apologies for calling that a week early in this space a week ago.)
16. New Orleans Saints (2-2) Def. Miami 20-0. Last Week: 18
After a dull first half in London, the Saints supplied all the fireworks in the second half. Alvin Kamara (10 catches for 71 yards from the running back position) looks like the newest star but don’t sleep on the Saints defense. After struggling to open the season, they picked off Cam Newton three times last week and have eight sacks over the past two games.
17. Oakland Raiders (2-2) Lost to Denver 16-10. Last Week: 6
Awful deja-vu for the NFL on a week where Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota both go down to injury. Carr’s back fracture is likely the more serious of the two and will ensure he misses at least some time, but let’s not pretend things were rosey in Oakland before he went down. While the running game hasn’t been able to get going at all the past two weeks, neither have Amari Cooper (three total catches over the two games) or Michael Crabtree, who missed Sunday’s matchup with the Broncos.
18. Seattle Seahawks (2-2) Def. Indianapolis 46-18. Last Week: 17
Down 15-10 at halftime, the Seahawks decimated the Colts in the second half. Unfortunately the victory came at the cost of rookie tailback Chris Carson, one of several young rushers lighting up the league this season and one of several players injured this weekend. He suffered a fractured leg. Blair Walsh’s one field goal miss spoiled what would have otherwise been a 17-for-17 weekend for NFC West kickers, which would have been cool.
19. Minnesota Vikings (2-2) Lost to Detroit 14-7. Last Week: 12
The injury gods have been particularly unkind to the Vikings, starting with Teddy Bridgewater’s freak injury a year ago. Now Dalvin Cook has been lost, likely for the season, on another non-contact ACL tear. Cook is third in the NFL in rushing so far this season, with 354 yards through three games and change, and likely would be just second behind another rookie, Kareem Hunt, had he been able to finish Sunday’s contest. Thankfully for Minnesota, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen rank first and third in the league respectively, in receiving yardage.
20. Tennessee Titans (2-2) Lost to Houston 57-14. Last Week: 10
The worst loss of the week was committed by the Titans, bar none. But the worst loss for the team could have been quarterback Marcus Mariota, who didn’t return for the second half after tweaking his hamstring. Mariota is listed as day-to-day, but obviously more concerns abound for the Titans after allowing Russell Wilson to pick them apart a week ago and DeShaun Watson to destroy them Sunday.
21. New York Jets (2-2) Def. Jacksonville 23-20 (OT.) Last Week: 26
Remove a controversial 75-yard Bilal Powell touchdown run from the game and the Jets still had 181 yards rushing and a 69-yard score from Eli Maguire Sunday. The team many thought would struggle for a single victory all season has a very real shot to have three in five tries after next weekends trip to Cleveland.
22. Arizona Cardinals (2-2) Def. San Francisco 18-15 (OT.) Last Week: 24
That score is almost – almost – exactly what it sounds like. In a banner day for NFC West kickers, the Cardinals and 49ers combined for nine straight kicks before Larry Fitzgerald finally won the game with a touchdown in overtime. 51 pass attempts may be the norm for Carson Palmer going forward, as the rushing attack in Arizona is as absent as David Johnson.
23. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) Lost to New York Jets 23-20 (OT.) Last Week: 13
This defense (and, by extension, team) really needs to string two games together. Myles Jack had an 81-yard touchdown for the unit but that couldn’t wipe out allowing 471 total yards to the Jets a week after nearly blanking the Ravens. Leonard Fournette and a cloud of dust isn’t going to win those games, even if it can very nearly tie them.
24. Chicago Bears (1-3) Lost to Green Bay 35-14. Last Week: 21
Two storylines came out of this disappointing loss for the Bears: They’ve also lost linebacker Danny Trevathan for two games; his suspension was announced following his hit on Packers receiver Davante Adams. They’ve chosen to lose starting quarterback Mike Glennon, benching the free agent acquisition for the second pick in the draft Mitchell Trubisky.
25. Baltimore Ravens (2-2) Lost to Pittsburgh 26-9. Last Week: 23
After the last two weeks, we could talk about the Ravens passing offense: 3.1 yards per pass play against the Jaguars and the Steelers combined, or their rush defense: 339 yards allowed at 4.4 yards per carry. Neither conversation is going to be fun for fans. The biggest worrying sign? Getting away from their bread and butter run game at home: just 15 rushes against Pittsburgh.
26. Cincinnati Bengals (1-3) Def. Cleveland 31-7. Last Week: 30
A 21-0 spot in the second quarter set the tone for the Bengals first win. It looks like Joe Mixon will be getting the lion’s share of touches in the backfield: Mixon – 21 touches, Jeremy Hill – 7, Giovani Bernard – 6. All the same he has yet to do anything with them this season, averaging 2.6 yards per carry this season after Sunday’s 1.7 showing.
27. Indianapolis Colts (1-3) Lost to Seattle 46-18 Last Week: 25
It looked like the Colts were going to give Seattle all they could handle in the first half this weekend, but that didn’t stay true for long. The up-and-down tenure of Jacoby Brissett settled on down this week, with three turnovers, 157 passing yards, and the news that Andrew Luck will be returning to practice this week.
28. Miami Dolphins (1-2) Lost to New Orleans 20-0. Last Week: 27
After scoring in the final moments to avoid a shutout a week ago, the Dolphins couldn’t repeat the feat in London. Miami has totaled 225 and 186 yards the past two weeks…against the Jets and Saints.
29. New York Giants (0-4) Lost to Tampa Bay 25-23. Last Week: 28
Rookie Wayne Gallman is the latest back to get a shot at being the guy in New York. He didn’t disappoint Sunday, though he didn’t quite reach the heights of his more famous college teammate from Clemson either. A couple of rookies may be giving the Giants offense life, but two teams on life support are going to meet this weekend in New York. And whether the Chargers or Giants walk away with a win, the team that doesn’t is going to be oh-and-five.
30. Los Angeles Chargers (0-4) Lost to Philadelphia 26-24. Last Week: 29
Poor Los Angeles can’t even get a home game. Philadelphia fans booed the Chargers as they took the field Sunday, and their surroundings won’t get any easier when they travel to New York for a 1 p.m. start this weekend. At least Philip Rivers bounced back from his Week 3 outing with 347 yards and two touchdowns – and no interceptions.
31. San Francisco 49ers (0-4) Lost to Arizona 18-15 (OT.) Last Week: 31
Rough day for the 49ers, as their only reliable threat in the passing game – Pierre Garcon – was predictably held in check by Patrick Peterson. Now they face a Colts team with Andrew Luck back in practice. Lucky them.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-4) Lost to Cincinnati 31-7. Last Week: 32
The Browns couldn’t avoid being the last team in their state to get a win, and it’s looking more and more like they’ll be the last in football. Since completing two thirds of his passes for 7.4 yards a pop in a promising debut Week 1, DeShone Kizer has completed just 47.1 percent for 4.8 yards per attempt during the following three games.