NFL power rankings and discussions about which team is the best in the league have all taken a backseat to complaints about replacement refs who are now officially responsible for directly impacting the outcome of a game. I have decided to not reward Seattle nor punish Green Bay following Monday's debacle, and my Week 4 NFL power rankings reflect that way of thinking. Cleveland fans certainly can't blame refs for how their favorite team has thus far played this season. The Browns are a mess.
2012 Week 4 NFL power rankings
32. Cleveland Browns (0-3): Pass defense misses Joe Haden, run defense may be worse than last year's, and the team's offense just doesn't have the weapons to compete. Wash, rinse, repeat.
31. New Orleans Saints (0-3): This is no mistake. The Saints remain winless, and they have to face what will be a very angry Packers team at Green Bay next Sunday.
30. Indianapolis Colts (1-2): The Indy defense fell asleep at the worst possible time. Growing pains will affect the Colts throughout 2012, but they've still got a few more solid wins in them.
29. Miami Dolphins (1-2): Couldn't win at home despite the Jets trying to gift the game away. At least Reggie Bush is OK, and could possibly even play this Sunday.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2): MJD is coming around, and Blaine Gabbert got a much-needed confidence boost thanks to a memorable touchdown pass. A home game against Cincy seems winnable right now.
27. St. Louis Rams (1-2): I expected St. Louis to put up more of a fight at Chicago. Sam Bradford was hung out to dry by his offensive line this past Sunday.
26. Carolina Panthers (1-2): Is it time to start worrying about Cam Newton and company? The Giants absolutely destroyed the Panthers in Carolina on Thursday.
25. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2): Rallying from behind to win in New Orleans doesn't mean what it would have one year ago. The KC defense can prove itself this coming weekend against the Chargers.
24. Tennessee Titans (1-2): The win against Detroit is nice and all, but the Titans need to find a rushing attack. Chris Johnson continues to average under 1.5 yards per carry.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2): The Bucs are playing tough, but they don't yet know how to close games out against quality opponents. Head coach Greg Schiano isn't making any friends around the league.
22. Buffalo Bills (2-1): Yes, the Bills are 2-1, but none of their play-makers can stay healthy. I'm not sure rushing Fred Jackson back is a wise move.
21. Washington Redskins (1-2): All of the RG3 talk overshadowed the fact that the Washington defense has been awful. The 'Skins aren't scoring 30+ points every week.
20. Detroit Lions (1-2): Relying on fourth quarter comebacks week after week will eventually burn you. Matt Stafford could already miss playing time due to an injury. Not good.
19. Oakland Raiders (1-2): A massive home win against Pittsburgh could signal the true start of the season for the Raiders. The Oakland defense must play better against Denver than it did against Pittsburgh.
18. New York Jets (2-1): One could argue that the Jets should be 1-2, and the loss of Darrelle Revis could be the beginning of the end of their playoff hopes.
17. Seattle Seahawks (2-1): The Seattle defense was heroic throughout much of Monday's game, but let's be honest. The Seahawks should be 1-2.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2): The Steelers must find a way to take defensive efforts that we see in games played in Pittsburgh with them on the road. I don't see this team winning in Baltimore or Cincy right now.
15. Denver Broncos (1-2): Perhaps we, or maybe just I, got a little too excited about Denver after one win. Peyton Manning can only do so much by himself, after all
14. Philadelphia Eagles (2-1): Sloppy play finally caught up with Philly. Mike Vick could be one game away from being benched. Who called that one month ago?
13. Minnesota Vikings (2-1): I'm far from going all-in on the Vikes, but you have to give them credit. Christian Ponder made a great defense appear very ordinary.
12. San Diego Chargers (2-1): Atlanta is very good, sure, but the Chargers barely showed up at home two days ago. That's the September San Diego we know.
11. New England Patriots (1-2): Remember when some believed the Pats could finish the season at 14-2? They'll have to win out to do so.
10. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1): Nearly blew it while at Washington, but a win is a win. Cincy must continue beating sub-.500 teams to keep hopes of a division title alive.
9. Dallas Cowboys (2-1): The win didn't come without a price, as Tony Romo was battered throughout the game. Even I, a lifelong Giants fan, had to look away at times. Ouch.
8. Chicago Bears (2-1): Chicago's pass rush looks nasty, but I don't want to get overly excited about the Bears just yet. They've only beaten Indy and St. Louis, after all.
7. Green Bay Packers (1-2): Truly a team that should be 2-1, but Green Bay has flaws. Where is that dynamic offense we've seen over the past few years?
6. New York Giants (2-1): No Ahmad Bradshaw and no Hakeem Nicks? No problem. Don't look now, but the dominant pass rush of the Giants made its first appearance of the season. That could mean bad times for teams around the league.
5. San Francisco 49ers (2-1): I refuse to bury the Niners after one poor performance. They remain a very talented team.
4. Baltimore Ravens (2-1): Baltimore's offense is one of the most exciting to watch in the league, and the team's defense is somewhat of a liability. It's a crazy world in which we live.
3. Arizona Cardinals (3-0): The Cards absolutely deserve to be this high in Week 4 NFL power rankings. As long as they can avoid getting overconfident, they could realistically be 6-0 when they face the Vikings in Minnesota.
2. Houston Texans (3-0): As good as advertised, Houston could be division champs by Thanksgiving; if not sooner.
1. Atlanta Falcons (3-0): New kings of my NFL power rankings, Atlanta is as complete a team as any I've seen during September games. Matt Ryan looks like a MVP candidate at the start of fall.
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