2012 NFL Power Rankings: Week 4

Only three undefeated teams and two winless teams after three weeks of the season. And on top of that we have some pathetic officials altering outcomes of games. It makes my pointless power rankings that mean absolutely nothing even harder to do.


1. (2) Houston Texans (3-0)
Week 3: Defeated Denver Broncos 31-25
Week 4: vs. Tennessee Titans (1-2)

The Texans have very quietly gotten off to a great start. Everyne knew what to expect from this Houston team this year. They run the ball, do not turn it over and play great defense. The Texans are definitely the class of the wide open AFC so far this year.

Key Offensive Player: QB Matt Schaub. 17-30, 290 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT
Key Defensive Player: DE JJ Watt. 7 tackles, 2.5 sacks


2. (3) Atlanta Falcons (3-0)
Week 3: Defeated San Diego Chargers 27-3
Week 4: vs. Carolina Panthers (1-2)

I was all over the Falcons offense in fantasy football during my drafts. I tried to pick up Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez whenever I could. The offense was on fire during the pre season and they have not let up yet. Matt Ryan and company are due for a slump some time, and a lack of a running game could hurt during playoff time, but don't expect them to let up against a bad Carolina secondary.
Key Offensive Player: QB Matt Ryan. 30-40, 279 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
Key Defensive Player: S Thomas DeCoud. 3 tackles, 2 INT


3. (1) San Francisco 49ers (2-1)
Week 3: Lost to Minnesota Vikings 24-13
Week 4: @ New York Jets (2-1)

I won't penalize the 49ers too bad for their loss at Minnesota. All great teams look past inferior opponents sometimes. The Niners are just not that good at playing from behind, as Alex Smith is not the type of quarterback who can carry his team on his shoulders. That is why I don't see them as the favorites in the NFC to make the Super Bowl, especially with so many good quarterbacks in the NFC putting up huge numbers.

Key Offensive Player: RB Frank Gore. 12 rushes, 63 yards
Key Defensive Player: LB Navorro Bowman. 18 tackles


4. (5) Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
Week 3: Defeated New England Patriots 31-30
Week 4: vs. Cleveland Browns (0-3) 

The great Ravens defense has been wanting to play with a good offense for about a decade now. Now that the offense has caught up, the defense is getting old and slowing down considerably. It may be hard to believe, but Baltimore is an offensive team now. Huge props to Torrey Smith for putting up such a huge game a day after his brother passed away.
Key Offensive Player:  WR Torrey Smith. 6 receptions, 127 yards, 2 TD
Key Defensive Player: LB Dannell Ellerbe. 9 tackles, 1.5 sacks


5. (8) New York Giants (2-1)
Week 3: Defeated Carolina Panthers 37-6
Week 4: @ Philadelphia Eagles

The Giants offense has piled up 62 points in their last five quarters of play. Guys like Ramses Barden and Andre Brown stepped up big time on Thursday as New York just ran through the helpless Panthers. The Giants learned how to win last year with plenty of regulars injured, and are going to have to do it next year. Next up? A big NFC East match up.

Key Offensive Player: RB Andre Brown. 20 rushes, 113 yards, 2 TD
Key Defensive Player: LB Michael Boley. 6 tackles, 0.5 sack, 1 INT


6. (13) Arizona Cardinals (3-0)

Week 3: Defeated Philadelphia Eagles 27-6
Week 4: vs. Miami Dolphins (1-2)

The Cardinals defense is legit. May be the best in the league. There are playmakers all over the place. Youngsters Calias Campbell, Daryl Washington, Patrick Peterson and O'Brien Schofield to go along with veterans Adrian Wilson, Paris Lenon and Darnell Dockett. I just don't believe in the offense at all. Larry Fitzgerald is the only guy who scares me. Kevin Kolb, Ryan Williams and a terrible offensive line will have to play great if the Cardinals are going to be able to keep up in a suddenly very good NFC West.

Key Offensive Player: WR Larry Fitzgerald. 9 receptions, 114 yards, 1 TD
Key Defensive Player: S James Sanders. Game changing 93 yard fumble recovery for TD

7. (4) New England Patriots (1-2)
Week 3: Lost to Baltimore Ravens 31-30
Week 4: @ Buffalo Bills (2-1)

Tom Brady is coming off of a two game losing streak for the first time in nine years. Yes, nine years. The Patriots suffered very close losses to two good teams. The sky is not falling in New England. The schedule gets much easier from here on out.

Key Offensive Player: QB Tom Brady. 28-41, 335 yards, 1 TD
Key Defensive Player: LB Jerod Mayo. 11 tackles


8. (6) Green Bay Packers (1-2)
Week 3: Lost to Seattle Seahawks 14-12
Week 4: vs. New Orleans Saints (0-3)

Great half time adjustment by head coach Mike McCarthy after Aaron Rodgers was getting pummeled in the first half by the Seahawks. Say what you want about the officiating (everyone is), Green Bay's defense came to play Monday night and Cedric Benson adds a nice new dimension to a once one dimensional Packers offense. Expect them to take their frustrations out on a hapless Saints defense week four. The Packers offense has had to play three of the best defenses in the league the first three weeks.

Key Offensive Player: QB Aaron Rodgers. 26-39, 229 yards
Key Defensive Player: LB AJ Hawk. 11 tackles


9. (9) Chicago Bears (2-1)
Week 3: Defeated St. Louis Rams 23-6
Week 4: @ Dallas Cowboys

The Bears defense really came to play on Sunday. The Rams did not stand a chance. Chicago's defense has actually played really well all season, and did more then enough as the offense struggled for the second straight week. The Bears really miss the explosiveness that Matt Forte provides and will have a very tough test in Dallas next weekend.

Key Offensive Player: K Robbie Gould. 2 XP, 3-3 FG, long of 54 yards
Key Defensive Player: DE Israel Idonije. 2 tackles, 2.5 sacks


10. (14) Seattle Seahawks (2-1)
Week 3: Defeated Green Bay Packers 14-12
Week 4: @ St. Louis Rams (1-2)

Who would have thought I would have three NFC West teams in my top ten? The Seahawks are nearly unbeatable at home. The defense is full of young, no name guys who could have Pro Bowl futures. We will see how good the Seahawks are away from Qwest Field, though. Four of their next five games are on the road.
Key Offensive Player: WR Golden Tate. 3 receptions, 68 yards, 2 TD
Key Defensive Player: DE Chris Clemons. 4 tackles, 4 sacks

11. (10) Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
Week 3: Defeated Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16-10
Week 4: vs. Chicago Bears (2-1)

The Cowboys offense did not look great on Sunday, but they did not have to. Tampa Bay mistakes gave Dallas a short field and the Cowboys were able to score just enough to win. The defense is statistically the best in the league through three weeks.
Key Offensive Player: WR Miles Austin. 5 receptions, 107 yards
Key Defensive Player: LB DeMarcus Ware. 3 tackles, 2 sacks


12. (11) Denver Broncos (1-2)
Week 3: Lost to Houston Texans 31-25
Week 4: vs. Oakland Raiders (1-2)

A lot has been made of Peyton Manning and his diminishing arm strength. Of course he does not have the cannon he used to have, but he can still win games as a starting quarterback. Playing the Falcons and Texans the last two weeks hasn't helped much either. This is probably the weakest division in football, and the Broncos have a great chance to take it. We will see if Manning can rebound against a putrid Raiders secondary.

Key Offensive Player: RB Willis McGahee. 22 rushes, 113 yards, 2 TD
Key Defensive Player: LB Von Miller. 3 tackles, 1 sack


13. (21) Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)
Week 3: Defeated Washington Redskins 38-31
Week 4: @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)

The Bengals have scored 72 points their last two games, with five touchdown receptions of over 40 yards. Second year wideout AJ Green is completely unguardable, and the rest of the young receiving group is stepping up big time. I still don't think the Bengals are great but they could possibly be 5-1 when they play the Steelers on October 21. They get to play three terrible teams the next three weeks. Jacksonville, Miami and Cleveland.

Key Offensive Player: WR AJ Green. 9 receptions, 183 yards, 1 TD
Key Defensive Player: DE Michael Johnson. 6 tackles, 3 sacks


14. (22) Buffalo Bills (2-1)
Week 3: Defeated Cleveland Browns 24-14
Week 4: vs. New England Patriots

The Bills offense has looked great the last two weeks. CJ Spiller went down with an injury after another hot start but fortunately it looks like he will be okay. Tashard Choice came in and provided good production. Ryan Fitzpatrick is on another one of his hot runs, like the one that tricked the Bills front office into giving him a nice contract extension.

Key Offensive Player: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. 22-35, 208 yards, 3 TD
Key Defensive Player: LB Nick Barnett. 8 tackles


15. (7) Philadelphia Eagles (2-1)
Week 3: Lost to Arizona Cardinals 27-6
Week 4: vs. New York Giants (2-1)

The Eagles have had a pretty terrible start to the season, but they are lucky enough to be 2-1. It is good to win while you are working through your problems. Can the problems be fixed, though? It would help if Nmandi Asomugha rediscovered some of what made him so great in Oakland. Also, the offense needs to stop turning the ball over. It does not get any easier against a surging Giants team next weekend.

Key Offensive Player: RB LeSean McCoy. 13 rushes, 70 yards
Key Defensive Player: DE Jason Babin. 5 tackles, 1.5 sacks


16. (12) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2)
Week 3: Lost to Oakland Raiders 34-31
Week 4: Bye.

It is so strange seeing the Steelers like this. Forever a team built around its defense and running game, the Steelers do not have either this year. They basically have to rely on Ben Roethlisberger to out gun the opposition if they have any chance to win. Big Ben looked tremendous on Sunday but it wasn't enough as the defense couldn't make any plays or stops. It looks like Pittsburgh might have to undergo a rare rebuilding phase.

Key Offensive Player: QB Ben Roethlisberger. 36-49, 384 yards, 4 TD
Key Defensive Player: LB LaMarr Woodley. 4 tackles, 1 sack


17. (15) San Diego Chargers (2-1)
Week 3: Lost to Atlanta Falcons 27-3

Week 4: @ Kansas City Chiefs (1-2)

The Chargers predictably stunk up the joint when they faced a good team. I just don't buy the Chargers this year, or ever. Same bad coaching, and the talent is as good as years past.

Key Offensive Player: None. Chargers could not get anything going.
Key Defensive Player: LB Takeo Spikes. 13 tackles


18. (19) New York Jets (2-1)

Week 3: Defeated Miami Dolphins 23-20
Week 4: vs. San Francisco 49ers (2-1)

If the Jets were playing a team other then the Dolphins they would have lost. The offense was terrible. The running game could not get going and Mark Sanchez routinely missed wide open receivers. But they made plays when they had to and came out of Miami with a win. Losing Darrelle Revis for the year is about as big of a loss as any team could suffer. The whole defense was built around his shut down ability.

Key Offensive Player: WR Santonio Holmes. 9 receptions, 147 yards
Key Defensive Player: LB David Harris. 9 tackles


19. (29) Minnesota Vikings (2-1)

Week 3: Defeated San Francisco 49ers 24-13
Week 4: @ Detroit Lions (1-2)

Christian Ponder has quietly started very well for the Vikings. He has four touchdown passes and no interceptions, and he knows how to get the ball to young studs Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph. Expect that success to continue Sunday against a bad Lions secondary.

Key Offensive Player: TE Kyle Rudolph. 5 receptions, 36 yards, 2 TD
Key Defensive Player: LB Chad Greenway. 13 tackles, 2 sacks


20. (16) Detroit Lions (1-2)
Week 3: Lost to Tennessee Titans 44-41
Week 4: vs. Minnesota Vikings (2-1)

The Lions are a miracle drive away from being 0-3. I picked the Lions to regress before the season because I didn't buy the team other then Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. Mikel LeShoure looked good but this defense just has to step up or Detroit will fall behind in a very tough NFC North.

Key Offensive Player: WR Calvin Johnson. 10 receptions, 164 yards, 1 TD
Key Defensive Player: None. The team gave up 44 points to a struggling offense.


21. (17) Washington Redskins (1-2)
Week 3: Lost to Cincinnati Bengals 38-31
Week 4: @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)

Robert Griffin III is off to a tremendous start, but like Cam Newton a year earlier, it hasn't translated to wins. Unfortunately he cannot play cornerback, as the Redskins are giving up tons of passing yardage. 

Key Offensive Player: QB Robert Griffin III. 21-34, 221 yards, 1 TD. 12 rushes, 85 yards, 1 TD
Key Defensive Player: None. The Redskins got torched like they have all year.


22. (20) St. Louis Rams (1-2)
Week 3: Lost to Chicago Bears 23-6
Week 4: vs. Seattle Seahawks

After a week where Sam Bradford surprisingly got time to throw and looked great, the Rams offense went right back to being anemic. Sam Bradford was under pressure all day and Jeff Fisher did not give Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson enough carries. The defense in St. Louis is very impressive, but with shoddy blocking and bad offensive execution, the Rams will have trouble stringing together wins.

Key Offensive Player: WR Danny Amendola. 5 receptions, 66 yards
Key Defensive Player: LB James Laurinaitis. 11 tackles


23. (23) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)
Week 3: Lost to Dallas Cowboys 16-10
Week 4: vs. Washington Redskins (1-2)

New head coach Greg Schiano hasn't shown that he is a good coach yet, but at least he has shown he is a tough guy when the opposition is about to kneel the ball. Josh Freeman's career started with some potential, but he has regressed pretty badly. I am not sure he is cut out to be a starting quarterback in this league.

Key Offensive Player: None. The Bucs looked awful on offense.
Key Defensive Player: DE Michael Bennett. 2 tackles, 2 sacks


24. (24) Carolina Panthers (1-2)
Week 3: Lost to New York Giants 37-6
Week 4: @ Atlanta Falcons

I really am not a fan of the Panthers, especially their coaching. I think the team has put way too much on Cam Newton's shoulders. This should be a team that runs first, second and third. Newton is in the midst of that sophomore slump that so many good young quarterbacks go through. If the Panthers can ever play with a lead, I think they should be running the ball 30-35 times a game. But that hasn't been the case since Ron Rivera became head coach. I made the joke last year that he must have Newton on his fantasy team, because even though Newton has accumulated some very nice stats, the Panthers just do not win that often.

Key Offensive Player: TE Greg Olsen. 7 receptions, 98 yards
Key Defensive Player: LB James Anderson. 14 tackles


25. (25) Miami Dolphins (1-2)

Week 3: Lost to New York Jets 23-20
Week 4: @ Arizona Cardinals

The Dolphins really are a one man team on offense. Once Reggie Bush went down the offense fell apart. The coaching staff did not have any faith in Ryan Tannehill after an interception was returned for a touchdown in the third quarter, and conservative play calling cost the Dolphins a win. The defense continued to play well, but Bush is a one man show on offense. They just can't move the ball without him.

Key Offensive Player: RB Reggie Bush. 10 rushes, 61 yards
Key Defensive Player: LB Karlos Dansby. 8 tackles


26. (27) Kansas City Chiefs (1-2)

Week 3: Defeated New Orleans Saints 27-24
Week 4: vs. San Diego Chargers (2-1)

Everything was working with the Chiefs running game on Sunday, as Jamaal Charles had one of the best games he has ever had. Of course that came against the helpless Saints defense. Kansas City has a big time AFC West matchup next weekend.

Key Offensive Player: RB Jamaal Charles. 33 rushes, 233 yards, 1 TD. 6 receptions, 55 yards
Key Defensive Player: LB Justin Houston. 4 tackles, 3 sacks


27. (28) Oakland Raiders (1-2)
Week 3: Defeated Pittsburgh Steelers 34-31
Week 4: @ Denver Broncos (1-2)

The Oakland Raiders looked completely lost the first two weeks, so of course they beat the storied Steelers. You just never know with the NFL these days, which is why I don't bet on the game.

Key Offensive Player: RB Darren McFadden. 18 rushes, 113 yards, 1 TD
Key Defensive Player: LB Phillip Wheeler. 11 tackles, 2 forced fumbles


28. (18) New Orleans Saints (0-3)
Week 3: Lost to Kansas City Chiefs 27-24
Week 4: @ Green Bay Packers

Amazingly, after three weeks there are only two winless teams. And one of those are the Saints. I never thought Bountygate would have this much of an impact on New Orleans but this team looks lost, especially on defense. They have allowed an astounding 215 yards per game on defense. The second worst team has allowed 155. To make matters worse, the Saints have to travel to Lamebau to play a pissed off Packers team. Ouch.

Key Offensive Player: QB Drew Brees. 20-36, 240 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
Key Defensive Player: None. The Saints defense is absolutely pathetic.


29. (30) Tennessee Titans (1-2)
Week 3: Defeated Detroit Lions 44-41
Week 4: @ Houston Texans (3-0)

The Titans score 44 points and Chris Johnson is still completely useless? If you play fantasy sports, you were probably inches away from cutting him like me. Unfortunately, there are absolutely no running backs on the waiver wire so I have to keep putting him out there. Expect the same pathetic results against a stout Texans defense.

Key Offensive Player: QB Jake Locker. 29-42, 378 yards, 2 TD
Key Defensive Player: LB Akeem Ayers. 16 tackles, 1 sack


30. (31) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
Week 3: Defeated Indianapolis Colts 22-17
Week 4: vs. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)

For the second time in three weeks wideout Cecil Shorts came up big with a late touchdown reception. This time it was good for 80 yards and the Jaguars held on for the victory. Maurice Jones-Drew shows how much of a physical freak he is, with a tremendous game just a few weeks after no training camp.

Key Offensive Player: RB Maurice Jones-Drew. 28 rushes, 177 yards, 1 TD
Key Defensive Player: LB Paul Posluszny. 7 tackles, 1 INT


31. (26) Indianapolis Colts (1-2)

Week 3: Lost to Jacksonville Jaguars 22-17
Week 4: Bye

Andrew Luck had a few beautiful throws, but he struggled quite a bit against an average Jacksonville secondary. That goes to show you just how tough the NFL is. It will be a process all year for the young number one overall pick, but I have seen enough to think he is going to be a fantastic NFL quarterback one day.

Key Offensive Player: WR T.Y. Hilton. 4 receptions, 113 yards, 1 TD
Key Defensive Player: LB Jerrell Freeman. 9 tackles.


32. (32) Cleveland Browns (0-3)
Week 3: Lost to Buffalo Bills 24-14
Week 4: @ Baltimore Ravens

The Browns are just bad. Very bad. There are no playmakers on either side of the ball. Well, D'Qwell Jackson is a very good linebacker but other then that this team is just boring on both sides of the ball. A complete makeover is needed.

Key Offensive Player: QB Brandon Weeden. 27-43, 237 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
Key Defensive Player: LB D'Qwell Jackson

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Jonathan Carrano

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