By Conor Perrett
Four weeks in and we’re starting to see the identity of some of these teams, with the good and bad of everyone now coming out. There is only one undefeated team left while a winless team climbs our ranks. Let’s get into the Smashmouthing Football’s Power Rankings as we approach Week 5.
- Philadelphia Eagles (4-0)
Last Week – 1
As the only remaining undefeated team in the league, the Eagles really haven’t faced high-level competition so far. Their biggest challenge came this week against their former head coach Doug Pederson and his Jaguars. After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter and faced adversity for the first time this season, the Eagles turned things around and put up 29 unanswered points to keep their winning streak alive.
The man on show this week was Miles Sanders, getting 29 touches on the day taking it for 156 yards and two touchdowns. In previous years, the Eagles have followed a running back committee, but this season Sanders is making the most of the opportunity to be the lead back.
What continues to be a strength for this side is the performance out of this defence. They suffocated Jacksonville’s offence this Sunday, allowing just 219 total yards, while forcing six three-and-outs and four sacks.
Up next: at Cardinals, Sunday 9:25 p.m. BST/GMT
- Kansas City Chiefs (3-1)
Last Week – 5
Patrick Mahomes reminded us all this weekend on why he shouldn’t be forgotten as the best player in the league. Even without Tyreek Hill, Mahomes and Andy Reid are still thriving, ranking No. 1 in offensive EPA per drive. After a lapse in concentration against the Colts, Tampa’s defence was no easy bounce back match, but boy did they put on a show. Forty-one points, 417 total yards and five touchdowns make the Chiefs a serious contender again. The points they scored Sunday night were the most allowed by a Todd Bowles defence since 2018, when he was coaching the Jets.
Up next: vs. Raiders, Tuesday 1:15 a.m. BST/GMT
- Buffalo Bills (3-1)
Last Week – 3
Buffalo delivered and they needed to after the previous week’s loss to Miami. In a way the regular season is just a simulation for Buffalo, as what really matters to them is in January and hopefully February. In the middle of their Super Bowl window, we know this team is going to get through the season just fine. But with injuries adding up, this come from behind win they managed against fellow contender Baltimore, shows the mentality of this team. Buffalo are perhaps the most well rounded team in the league as they rank sixth in EPA per drive on offence and third in EPA per drive on defence.
They can have a week to breathe against the Steelers this week, but will be straight back to it again when they match-up against Patrick Mahomes in the most exciting matchup on the NFL calendar the week after.
Up next: vs. Steelers, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Baltimore Ravens (2-2)
Last Week – 4
John Harbaugh’s decision to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line in a 20-20 game with 4:15 left was a bold decision and resulted in a Lamar Jackson interception. It’s always easy to criticise decisions once it’s all said and done, but if it wasn’t for two fourth quarter collapses this team would be undefeated right now. In the crucial moments things haven’t quite gone their way and they need to improve upon that, but they have shown plenty of upside in the first three quarters of those losses.
Via DVOA’s metrics this offence and special teams are first in the league. They need to tighten up on defence but we know, under Harbaugh, how good they can be on that side of the ball. Lamar Jackson is balling out and is looking for a second MVP award, so fix that defence and they will be a very serious contender.
Up next: vs. Bengals, Sunday Night Football, Mon 1:20 a.m. BST/GMT
- Cincinnati Bengals (2-2)
Last Week – 9
It feels the top four teams pick themselves at the moment and in a tier below, we have the Bengals leading the way. After a slow start to the season, these last two weeks they figured things out again. The defence is playing well, No. 6 in EPA per drive and the offence is picking up where they left off last year.
The offensive line, which they invested so much into this past year, is steadily improving, while they possess one of the best wide receiving corps in the league. Ja’marr Chase’s stats are a bit down, as teams scheme against him, but only to the annoyance of his fantasy owners. Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd won’t mind making the most of other people’s misfortune. With a Sunday Night Football affair in Baltimore, expect a fireworks show, in what looks like the game of the week.
Up next: at Ravens, Monday 1:20 a.m. BST/GMT
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2)
Last Week – 8
The Bucs, despite giving up 41 points to the Chiefs on Sunday night, deserve the benefit of the doubt to some degree with a defence that was the best in the league through the first three weeks. Patrick Mahomes did special things that no other defence was stopping that night. While the offence is full of ageing skill-position players, who are just trying to make it to the end of the season healthy.
Though it may seem confusing to see them rise after a loss, they looked good in defeat, as they bide their time to strike late in the season.
Up next: vs. Falcons, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Miami Dolphins (3-1)
Last Week – 2
The Dolphins really should be a feel good story right now. They’ve got a high explosive offence that’s second in DVOA’s metrics. They have Tyreek Hill and Jalen Waddle burning defences over the top. One of the most bliz-heavy defences in the league, creating for exciting matchups like we saw against the Ravens and Bills.
But looming over their head is the troubling handling of the Tua Tagovailoa situation. Tua’s already been ruled out for their Week 5 match against the Jets, and we likely haven’t heard the last of this injury.
Up next: at New York Jets, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- San Francisco 49ers (2-2)
Last Week – 16
The big riser this week as they break into the top-10. The 9ers have no reason to not stop rising in the following weeks. They have perhaps the best defence in football right now holding the Rams to no touchdowns on Monday night. One fewer than the 49ers’ defence scored themselves!
While on offence they are getting the basics done and are looking clean. Granted their topman Trent Willams is missing time, but under Jimmy G this offence is doing what they need to do to get by. When you have a defence as good as they do it’s important to not try to be the hero, get the job done and don’t turn the ball over. While they are not as explosive as they might have been under Trey Lance, Deebo Samual is making plays when his name is being called, and they put their defence in situations to win games which is a smart approach..
Up next: at Panthers, Sunday 9:05 p.m. BST/GMT
- Green Bay Packers (3-1)
Last Week – 7
It’s funny how power rankings work. The Packers won this week, yet drop two spots. It’s easy to rank these teams on wins and losses or what the record says, but frankly Green Bay is not playing like a 3-1 record contender.
They got blown out of it in Week 1, beat a horrible Bears side in Week 2, and then scraped wins in Week 3 and 4 by the skin of their teeth in ugly performances. Credit where credit is due, they are getting wins with underwhelming performances and with a young new offence, that you would hope improves over time. But with even Aaron Rodgers looking a step behind his usual self, we’re going to have to start seeing some improvement before they rise up the rankings.
Up next: vs. New York Giants (in London), Sunday 2:30 p.m. BST/GMT
- Los Angeles Rams (2-2)
Last Week – 6
The Rams so far haven’t had the best of luck playing against two of the league’s best defences in the first four weeks. This offence ranks all the way down at 28th in EPA per drive, while timely mistakes on defence middle them out at 19th in defensive EPA per drive.
There’s plenty of time to go, but things are not working out. The offensive line has regressed massively since last year and Allen Robinson is a ghost among this offence. With a bye week looming in Week 7, it seems a perfect week to hash things out, get creative with new ideas and kick themselves into gear for the second half of the season.
Up next: vs. Cowboys, Sunday 9:25 p.m. BST/GMT
- Dallas Cowboys (3-1)
Last Week – 12
After things looked dire following Dak Prescott’s Week 1 injury, the Cowboys are all of a sudden loaded with a potentially elite defence and a returning quarterback just in time for a prime time Week 6 showdown in Philadelphia.
Cooper Rush has got this offence going along nicely and is doing it really without a running game at the moment. When Dak comes in we can only expect for things to open up in that department, as opposing defence schemes against the pass more.
Up next: at LA Rams, Sunday 9:25 p.m. BST/GMT
- Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2)
Last Week – 10
The Jaguars are the surprise around the league right now, as they seem to be taking a Benagls’ like leap from last year. Picking first overall in the draft just a few months ago, Doug Pederson has got this rebuild far ahead of schedule. Fourteen-nil up against the consensus No.1 team, away from home, was a start no one saw coming. The loss is a tough one to take as Trevor Lawrence looked more like his rookie season self, but it’s a good improvement for a young side.
After leading the league in interceptions last year, the most hyped up college prospect in recent memory turned the ball over five times against the Eagles. It was a wet affair against a top defence, but it’s still not what we expected for Lawrence’s early NFL career. Overall, this team is very well-rounded as they join only the Eagles and Bills in having an above average offence and defence, per EPA per drive.
Up next: vs. Texans, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Minnesota Vikings (3-1)
Last Week – 13
The Vikings feel like they’re in the same sort of spot as their divisional rivals Green Bay. Their record says they are a top team but when you sit down and watch the games they don’t play like that. The last two weeks they have gotten wins where it could have gone either way and luck was on their side. With a favourable schedule for the rest of the season, they gain a benefit of beating up on a poor NFC North, but the performances must improve or they won’t be lasting long when it gets round to January.
The defence, which is going through an overhaul, is below average at best and there’s too much inconsistency on offence. One week Justin Jefferson will set the world alight, the next he’s nowhere to be seen. That falls on Kirk Cousins, who has not made the step-up under Kevin O’Connell so far. Against the blitz, Cousins ranks 30th of 31 qualifying quarterbacks in EPA per dropback when facing it.
Up next: vs. Bears, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Los Angeles Chargers (2-2)
Last Week – 15
This Chargers side is better than the numbers suggest but they are hanging on for dear life with all these injuries. It’s hard to take into perspective how they deal with this, as they played the winless Houston Texans this week. One positive note was sixth-round rookie Jamaree Salyer held up well in his debut at left tackle, allowing just a single pressure in 41 pass blocking snaps, according to PFF.
With a road trip to Cleveland up next, we should get a better comparison on how this Chargers team will hold up for the foreseeable future.
Up next: at Browns, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Tennessee Titans (2-2)
Last Week – 18
The Titans defence really is throwing waiver-wire picks-ups into the thick of it. In the last two weeks, four signings off other teams practice squads have been inserted into the Titans starting lineup from the get go. Despite this they have still scrambled their way to an average defence. While on offence the surprise has been Derrick Henry, who has started to get involved in the passing game. As the rushing attack ranks 26th in EPA per rush and carry, the involvement makes sense. He is Tennessee’s best weapon and the more he’s involved the more this Titans team is likely to win.
Up next: at Washington, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Denver Broncos (2-2)
Last Week – 11
With a brand new system, new teammates and a coaching staff that has been overhauled, it’s still early days in Denver before we start panicking. Yes, Hackett has got his fair share of criticism as this offence ranks 30th in scoring. And with running-back Javonte Williams now confirmed out for the season, the pressure is only growing on Russell Wilson’s shoulders now.
He got himself the payday of a lifetime this off-season with $124 million guaranteed coming his way over the next three seasons, second only to Deshaun Watson. It’s a bit concerning to see him 15th in EPA per dropback and 16th in passing yards. Denver has been a franchise that has been clambering over finding the right quarterback since Peyton Manning retired, but it’s a hefty price to pay if these are the results they continue to see.
Up next: vs. Indianapolis, Friday 1:15 a.m. BST/GMT
- Las Vegas Raiders (1-3)
Last Week – 29
Up a massive 12 spots, last week I mentioned if the Raiders don’t win in Week 4 their season could be over already. Well they managed to avoid that and get their first win of the season, but when in a division like the AFC West, it only gets harder as they travel to Kansas City this week. It was an impressive win last Sunday as they established the run game with Josh Jacobs rushing for 144 yards and two touchdowns. It’s exactly what this side needed as they try and roll the momentum into MNF.
Up next: at Kansas City, Tuesday 1:15 a.m. BST/GMT
- Atlanta Falcons (2-2)
Last Week – 24
If you read this Power Ranking last week, you would have seen I mentioned to keep an eye on Atlanta as they could be a rising stock. That they are, as they are up even spots from last week. They are one of six offences that are above league average in EPA per dropback and EPA per rush, all while their top weapon Kyle Pitts and quarterback Marcus Mariota aren’t reaching the heights we thought.
Now Cordarrelle Patterson has been placed on injured reserve and they face a tough Tampa defence this week, so calm down on pushing their stock any higher. But Arthur Smith has proven his critics wrong so far and as one of them before the season, I have to hold my hands up and admit he’s got this team playing far better than I would have ever thought.
Up next: at Tampa Bay, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Cleveland Browns (2-2)
Last Week – 13
This Browns’ side is a tale of two stories and both are completely different to what we thought before the season. Despite having journeyman Jacoby Brissett as their quarterback, Kevin Stefanski has simplified things down for Brissett as this offence powers heavily on their run game. This offensive line, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt have the Browns second in rushing yards and first in EPA per drive.
The other side of the story has been what’s holding this team down: their defence. Coming in at 28th in EPA per drive while facing the following quarterbacks: Baker Mayfield, Joe Flacco, Mitch Trubisky and Marcus Mariota is far from expected. After having a top-10 defence the last few years, it is weird to see this drop-off and it doesn’t seem to get any easier when their next seven game stretch is the Chargers, the Patriots, at the Ravens, the Bengals, at the Dolphins, at the Bills and the Buccaneers.
Up next: vs. LA Chargers, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Arizona Cardinals (2-2)
Last Week – 20
Kyler Murray is running a one-man-show over in Arizona right now and keeping Kliff Kingbury in a job. The struggles seem to be consistency issues as they haven’t been able to put four complete quarters together yet. Even facing a bottom team like Carolina last weekend didn’t help as they started slow. DeAndre Hopkins, Murray’s main man, is a big miss as Hollywood Brown and Murray haven’t teamed-up like they did in Oklahoma just yet and James Conner, after a tremendous season last year, is only averaging 3.2 yards per carry now.
Up next: vs. Philadelphia, Sunday 9:25 p.m. BST/GMT
- Seattle Seahawks (2-2)
Last Week – 30
In what will be the biggest fever dream of this season once it is done, the Seahawks and Lions this week just put up a 48-45 scoreline in what really was the battle of the offences. With 1,075 total yards of offence, the only defensive play made all day was a pick-six for the Seahawks.
With no punts either, Geno Smith really has been the feel good story so far this year. He’s statistically been better this season compared to his past teammate Russell Wilson. In fact through four games, Smith has had better starts than eight of Wilson’s 10 seasons based on QB Rating.
Up next: at New Orleans, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Detroit Lions (1-3)
Last Week – 17
In the most Lions fashion they are first in offensive scoring and 32nd in scoring defence. Averaging 35 points on offence is somewhat remarkable especially when they were missing their WR1, WR2, WR3, WR5, WR6, RB1 and both starting guards last Sunday.
Jarrd Goff is not putting a foot wrong and is making a case to be the long-term future QB in Detroit. Yet somehow this team is 1-3 and already has fans looking at the top draft prospects in October. The worst defensive performance I have ever seen this week is responsible for that. Seattle entered the game scoring 15 per game, yet managed to put up 48 points on the day and didn’t punt once.
It is their 12th one possession loss under Dan Campbell, which is the most in the league since the start of last season. This team needs to start turning these moral victories into real ones. Sure this team shows grit and fights their way back into games, but until they start winning these games, they can’t be taken seriously.
Up next: at New England, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- New York Giants (3-1)
Last Week – 19
The Giants’ 71 passing yards on Sunday were the fewest for any team in a win this season and the fewest in the league, since the Vikings beat the Bears on MNF last December. Now when you play the Bears, you can be capable of pulling these things off but with Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor both questionable for the Packers in London, it might not be the same story. A bright spot is this defence, who despite losing coordinator Patrick Graham, are holding strong, ranking 13th in defensive EPA per drive.
Up next: vs. Green Bay (in London), Sunday 2:30 p.m. BST/GMT
- New England Patriots (1-3)
Last Week – 25
In a surprise appearance, Bailey Zappe made his debut last week going 10-of-15 for 99 yards and a touchdown. It’s never ideal to go down to your third-string QB, but Zappe looked like a reliable quarterback, which teams below the Patriots here probably would consider for their team. The running game is going nicely but apart from that the Patriots are in trouble. It’s just a wonder of how long Belichick will stick around and if he will ever consider a rebuild.
- Indianapolis Colts (1-2-1)
Last Week – 21
The Colts are the worst offence in the league through four games and Frank Reich might be the head coach on the thinnest ice. With Wentz at QB last year, things seemed they couldn’t get any worse but now with Matt Ryan somehow they are. Averaging a league worst 14.3 points per game, this team really has fallen apart. Reich and Chris Ballard only a few years ago looked like the new up-and-comers that everyone wanted. If things continue in this fashion, they will be out of a job in a few months.
Up next: at Denver, Friday 1:15 a.m. BST/GMT
- New Orleans Saints (1-3)
Last Week – 23
When Sean Payton left his role as Head Coach this off-season, it seemed inevitable that after all these years of salary cap troubles they would enter rebuild mode. Well they didn’t and pushed all their chips into the middle of the table, trading their 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 second-round pick. Now, barring a turnaround, they stare down the possibility of a lost season that won’t even promise the benefit of a high draft pick as compensation.
Up next: vs. Seattle, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- New York Jets (2-2)
Last Week – 31
With another come from behind win, something clicked for the Jets on their final two possessions Sunday, with touchdown drives of 81 and 65 yards respectively. Zach Wilson had his struggles at times but when it got to crunch time he came and delivered. This is a young side that has spent a lot of draft capital the past two years on developing players, but it feels with every win they get it comes from a stroke of divine magic. Are the footballing gods finally wearing green?
Up next: vs. Miami, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3)
Last Week – 22
Last week I questioned just how long the Steelers would put up with Mitch Trubisky and leave their first-round pick Kenny Pickett as back up. Well, we got our answer on Sunday, when Trubisky was benched midway through the game. Now they face a daunting stretch of having to go against the Bucs, Bills and Eagles over the next four weeks, but Mike Tomlin seems to be committing to the future. Making sure Pickett is the right man to be the long term future quarterback should be the plan for the rest of the season. Despite his three interceptions, none were turnover worthy plays according to PFF.
Up next: at Buffalo, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Carolina Panthers (1-3)
Last Week – 28
The Panthers only have six sacks on the season but rank seventh in pressure rate, as Phil Snow has this defence playing above expectation ranking seventh in defensive EPA per drive. If only the same could be said for their offence. Baker Mayfield can’t seem to click under this system and Matt Rhule’s approach of acquiring a bunch of mediocre to below average quarterbacks doesn’t seem to be working out. With their best weapon DJ Moore throwing shade at Baker last Friday, it’s close to being a dumpster fire in Carolina.
Up next: vs. San Francisco, Sunday 9:05 p.m. BST/GMT
- Chicago Bears (2-2)
Last Week – 26
The Giants won the battle of the worst 2-1 record matchup of all time, leaving the Bears at 0.500 for now. Their offence is throwing for a scary 97.5 yards per game, which at this rate would be the lowest for a full season since 1977, which was well before head-coach Matt Eberflus had started playing pee-wee football. Rebuild years are tough to take, trust me I know I’m a Lions fan, but this offence really has been brutal. It hurts to see as they have a quarterback in Justin Fields, who is full of potential.
Up next: at Minnesota, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Washington Commanders (1-3)
Last Week – 27
With the fans and coach seemingly fed up with Carson Wentz already, it feels like a lost season in Washington after only four weeks. Jimmy G will probably be available next off-season and that might be the typical upgrade Washington would stereotypically move for. Jahan Dotson is down with a hamstring injury, but has played well. Already they should be looking towards the future and having foundation pieces on the defence should make fixing that more easy. With one of the better defensive fronts in the league, they are playing below par but still ranks at 17th in EPA per drive.
Up next: vs. Tennessee, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Houston Texans (0-3-1)
Last Week – 32
Another week, another 32nd ranking. Opposing defences have seemed to figure out what stops David Mills is blizing him 34 percent of the time. Mills averages -0.32 yards per play when he is blitzed. It seems cruel but it has been effective. Now it’s only 269 days away until they can appoint Josh McCown as their coach
Up next: at Jacksonville, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT