2021 NFL power rankings after Week 4: Cardinals become third No. 1 in three weeks after clubbing Rams

NFL power rankings, 2021 post-Week 4 edition (previous rank in parentheses):

1. Cardinals (5): Are they really the best team in the NFL? It feels a little dubious for a club that deserved a loss to Minnesota in Week 2. But Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells is famous for saying, “You are what your record says you are," and Arizona is the only 4-0 team in the league and coming off a dominant performance of the previously top-ranked Rams. The Cards have also posted at least 30 points and 400 yards in each of their first four games for the first time in eight decades. So let's give them their due ... at least for now.

2. Rams (1): Coach Sean McVay had been 8-0 against Arizona ... prior to Sunday. He'll get another crack at them in Week 14, when LA concludes a nine-game stretch with six on the road – which starts Thursday in Seattle.

3. Buccaneers (2): What else is left for Tom Brady to accomplish? Seven rings. Most passing yards ever. Most passing TDs ever. Most wins, including a satisfying one over Bill Belichick and New England. Oh, right, first Super Bowl repeat since his 2003-04 Patriots, and maybe first-ever three-peat after that? Stick around for a while, TB12.

4. Browns (3): They now feature the league's No. 1 rushing offense and No. 2 overall defense, which has been simply oppressive last two weeks. But QB Baker Mayfield needs to dial it in if this team is to go further than any Cleveland team ever has ... meaning Super Sunday.

5. Cowboys (8): QB Dak Prescott received copious credit last year for carrying this team early. He's getting it again now, even though Dallas' three-game win streak has largely been built on opportunistic defense (NFC-high 10 takeaways) and a ground game that's produced at least 150 yards in three successive weeks for the first time in four years.

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6. Bills (7): They've strung together an impressive three-game run, winning by a collective 118-21 with two shutouts ... but against two severely underpowered teams (Miami, Houston). Sunday night date at Arrowhead will be far better indicator of whether Buffalo deserves to return to top five.

7. Ravens (6): Really impressive all they've overcome en route to a solid 3-1 start ... even as unimpressive as John Harbaugh's decision to manufacture a record Sunday was.

8. Chargers (9): Fun team to watch, especially coach Brandon Staley's utilization of analytics and the occasional trick play. And the results are finally aligning with the talent.

9. Chiefs (10): QB Patrick Mahomes has won 40 of his 50 regular-season starts, something only previously accomplished by Hall of Famer Kenny "the Snake" Stabler. Good list. Mahomes is also now on pace to throw 60 TD passes this season, which would put him into a class entirely of his own.

10. Packers (13): With veteran WR Randall Cobb getting back up to speed, and sophomore RB AJ Dillon's role apparently increasing, this offense could be poised to hit another gear.

11. Raiders (4): Probably not a bad thing they got a reality check from the Bolts. But team from Sin City still in position to craft itself a welcome reality given it's likely to be playing with house money against next four opponents.

12. Panthers (11): Probably not a bad thing they got a reality check from Dallas. But Carolina still in position to craft itself a welcome reality given its next five games are all against teams that are currently 1-3.

13. Saints (12): How do you explain RB Alvin Kamara not getting targeted once as a receiver ... or handing it off to him 26 times? Baffling.

14. Bengals (17): Looks who's atop the AFC North. They might even stay there for a minute if QB Joe Burrow continues to blossom in the aftermath of his 2020 knee injury.

15. Titans (14): If you want to know how they squandered a mostly dominant performance against the Jets, look no further than the offensive line – which has surrendered a league-high 17 sacks of Ryan Tannehill, including seven to the NYJ. At least Tennessee's AFC South residence confers wide margin for error.

16. Broncos (16): Cupcake-laden September is over. October could be cruel with OLB Bradley Chubb out, QB Teddy Bridgewater in concussion protocol and much tougher opponents coming down the pike.

17. Vikings (18): Just as the defense shows some signs of life, Kirk Cousins and Co. go dark. Minnesota continues to be a team firing on some cylinders.

18. Seahawks (19): Of all the amazing Russell Wilson stats floating around, the fact he's never lost three straight games in any season – and is now in his 10th year and 100 victories in – might be the most mind-boggling of all.

19. 49ers (15): They were 2-0 five minutes ago. Now their quarterback is hurt, their kicker is hurt, and Niners are in danger of losing sight of division-leading Cardinals if they buckle again in desert this Sunday.

20. Washington (23): DE Chase Young has zero sacks and his vaunted D-line mates have a total of six. An offensively challenged team needs far more support.

21. Patriots (22): They're 0-3 at home for the first time since Robert Kraft bought the franchise in 1994. Burning it all down might be an option ... if Houston wasn't next on the schedule.

22. Steelers (20): A team that's lost eight of 10 going back to last season needs to take advantage of a stretch when it will only leave Pennsylvania once over the next six weeks.

23. Colts (25): All-Pro G Quenton Nelson goes on the shelf with a high ankle sprain, and Indianapolis responds with its most rushing yards and points of the 2021 season. Of course.

24. Bears (27): Matt Nagy is the new Jason Garrett, his team going 20-20 over its last 40 games. At least Chicago showed far better offensive balance in QB Justin Fields' second start.

25. Eagles (24): Rookie WR DeVonta Smith is showing some signs of life, catching seven balls for 122 yards Sunday after totaling 11 for 115 in the first three weeks.

26. Dolphins (21): Their next three games are in Florida – Tampa, Jacksonville, Miami – though it's worth noting Fins haven't won in the Sunshine State since December.

27. Falcons (28): They hadn't given up a TD on a kick or punt return in a decade – no other NFL team could make that claim – before Washington did Dirty Birds dirty Sunday in a four-point Atlanta loss.

28. Giants (30): New York hadn't won a game in nine months prior to Sunday's breakthrough. Now it's off to Dallas in search of a streak.

29. Jets (32): New York hadn't won a game in nine months prior to Sunday's breakthrough. Now it's off to London in search of a streak.

30. Lions (26): The last time Detroit claimed a win with a quarterback not named Matthew Stafford? Try 2010, when you would've laughed at notion of an electric Ford Mustang.

31. Texans (29): Apparently rookie QB Davis Mills was trying to honor former Bills QB Nathan Peterman with a truly dreadful, 87-yard, four-INT performance in Buffalo.

32. Jaguars (31): Shouldn't Urban Meyer apologize for being a distraction over the previous nine months as well?


Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NFL power rankings Week 4 2021: Cardinals new No. 1 after beating Rams