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2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 4

There’s still plenty of season to go, but we’re beginning to see where teams really stand early in the year after three weeks. So, there’s a ton of movement in the Week 4 NFL power rankings. This week, I’m trying something a little different with slightly shorter power rankings. But on The Wolf Sports Show [Spotify link] (Episode 4 out tomorrow), I will try to hit all 32 teams ahead of Week 4. Please subscribe and review if you like it!


1. Los Angeles Rams (3-0) | Last week: 2 (+1)

The Rams were extremely hyped up during their win over the defending Super Bowl champions. Sean McVay has been acting differently this season, running around like a bit of a maniac if we’re being honest about it. Things are going about as well as possible for Los Angeles to this point.


2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) | Last week: 1 (-1)

Remember, the Bucs were not at 100% while facing the Rams (partly due to injuries and partly due to Antonio Brown missing the game because of COVID protocols despite being vaccinated), and it was on the road. I had some thought of keeping them at No. 1 in the rankings. The return of Tom Brady, who has been lighting it up at age 44, this Sunday night in Foxboro will be one of the most anticipated regular season games in the history of sports.


3. Buffalo Bills (2-1) | Last week: 4 (+1)

I also had some thought to moving the Bills all the way up to No. 1. Cleary, Week 1 looks like it was just an off game for Buffalo. Josh Allen (five total touchdowns versus Washington last week—not fun going up against him in fantasy football) and the offense are clicking, and the defense is flying around the field.


4. Las Vegas Raiders (3-0) | Last week: 5 (+1)

It wasn’t easy, but another close victory is a great sign for the 3-0 Raiders. There’s been a lot of talk about Matthew Stafford and Justin Herbert when it comes to the way-too-early MVP discussion, but Derek Carr is operating Jon Gruden’s offense at a masterful level.


5. Green Bay Packers (2-1) | Last week: 10 (+5)

I thought the Packers defense did a pretty nice job of stepping up on Sunday night, not allowing the Niners to run all over them like they have in past matchups. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams are catching fire and put Green Bay in position for the game-winning field goal by Mason Crosby after driving from the 25-yard line into position with just 37 seconds remaining.


6. Los Angeles Chargers (2-1) | Last week: 18 (+12)

It’s been a slow start for Patrick Mahomes when you consider his lofty standards, but the Chargers made him look average in their huge win on Sunday. Based on the early returns, Brandon Staley looks like a home-run hire at head coach. Staley allowed Justin Herbert and the offense to be aggressive at the end of the game, and it paid off with a massive victory. Mike Williams looks like a superstar receiver through three weeks.


7. Cleveland Browns (2-1) | Last week: 9 (+2)

As stated last week, the Browns hadn’t lived up to the expectations set out on defense in the preseason. That changed when they completely shut down the Bears on Sunday. Also, in his season debut, Odell Beckham Jr. might have looked closer to his old form than he has in a few years.


8. San Francisco 49ers (2-1) | Last week: 7 (-1)

The Niners only drop a spot in the power rankings because the Chargers moved way up, but they played Aaron Rodgers and the Packers as close as possible. Jimmy Garoppolo was clutch in the fourth quarter, and it was good to see Brandon Aiyuk and Trey Sermon get going on Sunday night.


9. Baltimore Ravens (2-1) | Last week: 8 (-1)

Justin Tucker is simply insane. His 66-yard field goal off the crossbar to win the game is a new NFL record (breaking the previous record of 64 by two yards, which is quite the feat when considering the range). In his career, Tucker has made all 16 of his field goal attempts within the last minute of regulation. And he’s made 50 straight in the fourth quarter or overtime. Baltimore put together a strong defensive gameplan against Detroit, but their lack of running the ball with their backs on offense was concerning.


10. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) | Last week: 3 (-7)

I don’t think anyone thought the Chiefs would lose two consecutive games—and one at home to a division rival—in September, when Patrick Mahomes has historically dominated. The turnovers were difficult to overcome, and the Kansas City defense has struggled through three games. Thankfully, Andy Reid is feeling better after a brief hospital stay, and he’ll travel to face his old team in Philadelphia this Sunday.


11. Dallas Cowboys (2-1) | Last week: 16 (+5)

Following a convincing blowout win over the Eagles, it looks like the Cowboys are the clear NFC East favorites. A case could be made for the Cowboys to be in the top five of the power rankings. They’re in a similar spot to the Raiders in that they have a top offense paired with a defense that’s taken a huge step forward—like Vegas, Dallas hired a former head coach (Dan Quinn) from the Pete Carroll Seattle tree as defensive coordinator, and it appears to have paid off in a big way.


12. Carolina Panthers (3-0) | Last week: 13 (+1)

Perhaps it wasn’t quite the coming-out party I expected, but the Panthers took care of business on the road on a short week last Thursday night. The Christian McCaffrey hamstring injury is unfortunate, but at least the early Week 3 could lead to him not missing much more time. However, the Jaycee Horn foot injury is sadly a long-term thing; the rookie first-round cornerback was a key part of Carolina emerging as a defense to reckon with this season.


13. New Orleans Saints (2-1) | Last week: 14 (+1)

Maybe Week 2 was a wake-up call for Jameis Winston. He took care of the ball in Foxboro and allowed his own defense to go to work. Throwing for under 200 yards per game might not be super fun, but it’s probably a winning formula for New Orleans most weeks.


14. Arizona Cardinals (3-0) | Last week: 15 (+1)

The Jaguars had the Cardinals on the ropes on Sunday, but it’s a promising sign that Arizona responded well and ended up pulling away a bit to improve to 3-0. You could argue they should be higher already, but the Cardinals will surge up the rankings with a win over the Rams this weekend.


15. Tennessee Titans (2-1) | Last week: 17 (+2)

They were down in the fourth quarter, but it still felt like the Titans were in control for most of the game against the Colts—probably because they have a weapon like Derrick Henry that they feed the ball to. Tennessee has bounced back nicely following a disastrous Week 1. Now they have to hope that A.J. Brown (hamstring) and Julio Jones (leg) don’t miss much time.


16. Denver Broncos (3-0) | Last week: 19 (+3)

The lowest ranked 3-0 team in the power rankings, the Broncos have beaten all 0-3 teams. Still, Denver has looked impressive, playing strong defense, running the ball, and taking care of the ball with Teddy Bridgewater. The K.J. Hamler season-ending knee injury is tough to hear, but Denver is lucky to be deep at receiver even with Jerry Jeudy still out with a high-ankle sprain.


17. Seattle Seahawks (1-2) | Last week: 11 (-6)

The Seattle defense was off to a great start through the first six quarters of their season, but it’s been a struggle since the second half of the Week 2 Titans matchup. I don’t think Russell Wilson would be opposed to having to throw the ball around and win shootouts if necessary, but Pete Carroll obviously expects his defense to step up soon. It won’t be easy facing the 49ers and Rams over the next two games.


18. New England Patriots (1-2) | Last week: 12 (-6)

The Patriots offensive line was expected to be a reliable group entering the season, which is a big reason I was so high on the team. But Mac Jones is getting hit way too much, and it might be more of the same versus the Bucs pass rush on Sunday night. Gillette Stadium will be quite the environment, but I like how safety Devin McCourty said they are “not good enough to get lost in the headlines.”


19. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) | Last week: 25 (+6)

Solid bounce back from Joe Burrow and the Bengals. Ja’Marr Chase caught two more touchdowns while picking up where he and Burrow left off at LSU, and the Cincinnati defense continues to pressure opposing quarterbacks and make plays. The Bengals will look to dominate the Jags on Thursday night.


20. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) | Last week: 6 (-14)

This might be too far of a drop for the Steelers, but they almost had to be below the Bengals after that showing—and it’s been an ugly couple of weeks. Again, Mike Tomlin’s squad is not one to bet against, though. I think they’ll bounce back, but there aren’t any clear answers on how they’ll get back on track.


21. Minnesota Vikings (1-2) | Last week: 26 (+5)

Mike Zimmer’s team came through with a desperately needed win against the Seahawks, and they did it without Dalvin Cook (ankle) in the lineup. The defense settled down following a slow start, but the run defense will be tested heavily this Sunday when they take on Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.


22. Miami Dolphins (1-2) | Last week: 20 (-2)

Jacoby Brissett battled and helped keep the Dolphins in the game versus the Raiders, which you’d expect out of one of the league’s best backup quarterbacks. In my opinion, it’s been wise to get Mike Gesicki finally involved after he had a very small role in Week 1. The offense will compete; defensively, Miami needs to get things sorted out against the run.


23. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) | Last week: 21 (-2)

Jalen Hurts played his worst game of his first several career starts on Monday night, but keep in mind that he’s inexperienced. I think he’ll be fine. The bigger concern is the offensive line struggles while dealing with injury; and the play of the defense, which had no answers for the Cowboys attack. Like the Patriots, the offensive line of the Eagles was supposed to be a position of strength.


24. Atlanta Falcons (1-2) | Last week: 29 (+5)

It’s been a rough couple of years for the Falcons, and I was happy for Matt Ryan and company to get a win and avoid 0-3. Cordarrelle Patterson continues to be a key weapon for Atlanta paired with Mike Davis at running back, and there’s some untapped potential on offense there if they get rookie tight end Kyle Pitts more involved.


25. Washington Football Team (1-2) | Last week: 22 (-3)

Washington was expected to get lit up by Josh Allen and the Bills if they were unable to get a pass rush, and that’s exactly what happened. Washington probably won’t be very good if the pass rush can’t get back to where it was last season.


26. Indianapolis Colts (0-3) | Last week: 23 (-3)

While the Titans lean on Derrick Henry every week, the same cannot be said for the Colts with Jonathan Taylor. In a close game, there’s no excuse for Taylor, who was averaging over six yards per carry on the Titans, to not be given the ball often. Defensive leader Darius Leonard is frustrated on a team searching for answers.


27. Detroit Lions (0-3) | Last week: 28 (+1)

The Justin Tucker kick was obviously a heartbreaker for the Lions, who played well in the style they can utilize to remain in games and pull it out in the end. Detroit should be in another close game this week against the Bears as they look to get their first victory.


28. Chicago Bears (1-2) | Last week: 24 (-4)

A mark in the win column is what keeps the Bears from dropping a spot or two lower in the power rankings, but things are not looking good in Chicago. This offense just isn’t working, so it certainly is not all on Justin Fields at all. But people can stop yelling and screaming for Fields to be the starting quarterback. He isn’t ready, and throwing him out there in this situation will only stunt his development.


29. New York Giants (0-3) | Last week: 27 (-2)

Football in New York: not going well. The Giants were a team that looked ready to make a potential leap in their second year under Joe Judge. It’s still early, but they’re in a hole after losing close games in back-to-back weeks.


30. Houston Texans (0-3) | Last week: 30

The Texans didn’t put a lot on his plate, but Davis Mills did a good job and showed flashes in his first career start (on a short week) to kickoff Week 4. Houston is expected to lean more on Mills this week, and it’ll be a good challenge facing the Bills defense.


31. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) | Last week: 32 (+1)

The Cardinals are a tough offense to contain, but the Jaguars didn’t do a bad job defending Kyler Murray on Sunday. The Trevor Lawrence pick-six hurt, but it came on a trick play where he was probably just eager to make it work. The Jags had a kick six to end the first half, which is a plus for the third phase under Urban Meyer. Overall, hopefully the loss was something to build on and build momentum.


32. New York Jets (0-3) | Last week: 31 (-1)

Getting shut out and scoring just 20 points through three games, the Jets drop to the last spot in the power rankings. Clearly, the offense must step up, but I also want to see a game-changing play from the defense, which has yet to record an interception this season.

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