Hard to believe but we’ve reached the quarter pole of the NFL season.
Let’s take a look at my top five teams, my bottom five teams, and the best of the rest through four weeks of play.
5 Best Teams Through Week 4
- New England Patriots (3-0) – Coming off a Superbowl Championship, an off-season of turmoil and high expectations has done nothing to trip up this team. Every phase of their team is playing well, including a big performance in the run game in week 3, something that tends to be a step behind for New England’s pass first offense. Tom Brady became the fourth member of the 400 TD club thanks to another fast start from Rob Gronkowski. And not to mention a great start by their defense. We’ll see if having their bye week so early does anything to slow them down, but for now, the reigning Champs are still the favorite to make it out of the AFC.
- Green Bay Packers (4-0) – Aaron Rodgers is really good, having not thrown an interception yet this season. Their defense has been really good. Eddie Lacy is healthy. James Jones is thriving back where it all started. Even when they don’t play their A game, which happened in week 4, they still easily win.
- Atlanta Falcons (4-0) – Don’t look now, but they’re finally putting it together. After a disappointing 2014 season that saw the run game falter, Devonta Freeman has added a much needed (and unstoppable) dimension to an impressive passing game. Julio Jones is back and better than ever. The defense is allowing three points less a game than they did a year ago, but are still allowing too many yards per game. But they’ve limited turnovers, the defense is holding when needed and Atlanta is simply outscoring people with ease.
- Cincinnati Bengals (4-0) – Another year, another good start for the Bengals who already have a nice two game lead in the AFC North. AJ Green continues to be a monster, Andy Dalton has limited the turnovers big time, and the run game is showing up. Add to that a defense allowing less than 20 points a game, and you get an undefeated team through week 4.
- Carolina Panthers (4-0) – So I never saw this coming after last season, and after losing their best wide-receiver. While the offense hasn’t been crazy impressive (ranking in the bottom 10 in yards per game), this team is running on an aggressive defense which leads the league with eight interceptions.
5 Worst Teams Through Week 4
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3):It’s been a rough start to the NFL career of Jameis Winston. Tied for the most interceptions in the league through four games, the rookie also has the worst completion percentage of any starter. Not to mention he’s thrown more interceptions than touchdowns for an offense only scoring 18 a game. Their defense isn’t doing them any favors, allowing the third most points in the league.
- Miami Dolphins (1-3) – Miami is the most disappointing team on this list. After an 8-8 2014 and a lot of money spent revamping the defense this off-season, they’re allowing nearly 400 yards of total offense a game. They’ve only forced three turnovers in their first four games. And the offense hasn’t been able to bail them out, scoring just over 16 a game and a QB completing barely 56 percent of his passes.
- Chicago Bears (1-3) – The league’s worst defense points wise, and a bottom five offense is a very bad combination. Jay Cutler threw a bad pick late that allowed the Raiders to kick a go-ahead field goal with just over two minutes to play. But he was able to lead the Bears back down the field for a game-winning field goal to avoid the 0-4 start.
- San Francisco 49ers (1-3) – I am not surprised by this team. They lost so many key pieces in the off-season, and that’s after not being very good last year. Colin Kaepernick might be the worst QB in the league right now. His first instinct is to run, and he’s not even doing that as well as he probably could. Their week one win was an anomaly, scoring just 20 points; easily making them the lowest scoring team in the NFL. And in a division where the Rams have defeated the Cardinals and Seahawks already, it’s going to be hard to avoid the cellar in the NFC West.
- Detroit Lions (0-4) – The good news, they held the defending champs to 13 points thanks to good pressure on Russell Wilson. The bad news, they lost again, couldn’t get anything going on offense and did I mention that they lost again? This is an awful team on the road going back with Matt Stafford, so going into Seattle was always going to be tough. They had a chance to win in week one, and couldn’t. They had a chance in week four, but a fumble by Calvin Johnson on the goal line (a great play and maybe questionable one by Kam Chancellor who forced it) stopped at least a game-tying field goal attempt with under two minutes to play.
Best of the Rest
- Arizona Cardinals (3-1) – So week four was confusing. I know the Rams defense can beat anyone if they stay focused, but this wasn’t a game that I felt like the Cardinals got shutdown. They shot themselves in the foot with turnovers and not being able to stop the run. Even the best of teams are allowed a letdown, though you usually don’t want it at home. But this team has the potential to come out of the NFC thanks to a resurgent Larry Fitzgerald, an aggressive defense and a healthy Carson Palmer.
- Denver Broncos (4-0) –In the past, Peyton Manning led teams tended to blow out their opponents, or at the very least, they didn’t just get by an opponent. You only have to win by one, and the Broncos are living by that mantra early. Week 3 was their only win by more than a score, so there’s no breathing easy. But maybe this is a good thing. Manning doesn’t have to do it all by himself (though two picks isn’t great). The run game picked up last week, and that’s a much needed dimension for this team. But they’re finding ways to win, getting some luck and that’s all you can ask for in this league.
- New York Jets (3-1) – After a week 3 loss, the Jets offense picked back up in London against the Dolphins in a big way. Chris Ivory, a player who is severely underrated in this league, showed he was healthy and ready to carry this team. Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to get comfortable in this offense. A big concern is the number of penalties in week 4, but the defense has been a bright spot and with how bad Miami is, and how up and down Buffalo is, there is no reason why this team can’t take New England down to the wire for the division.
- New York Giants (2-2) – Imagine if this team hadn’t shot itself in the foot the first two weeks? They’ve held double digit leads heading into the fourth quarter in every game. Eli Manning threw his first pick of the season late, a rare non-mental mistake on the young season. The running game did a great job to run clock and move the chains in week 4 against a good run defense in Buffalo. And after a few bad weeks defending the pass, they’ve settled down, started creating turnovers and is getting off the field on third-down. In a weak NFC East, they look like they’re the best team, and if Victor Cruz returns, they’ll be the healthiest.