2016 NFL Week 4 Power Rankings

Week 4 Game Balls

Offense: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons. Some people might argue for Jones' quarterback, Matt Ryan, who passed for 500 yards and 4 touchdowns. But Jones gained more receiving yards (300) than the rest of the team combined (203).

Defense: Zach Brown, LB, Buffalo Bills. Led a shutout of the Patriots with 13 solo tackles, including 3 tackles for loss and 2 forced fumbles. Brown leads the NFL in tackles.

Special Teams: Will Fuller, PR, Houston Texans. 67-yard punt return for the game-winning touchdown. He also caught 7 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown on offense.

Rookie: Will Fuller, WR/PR, Houston Texans. This is my second week in a row dissing Ezekiel Elliott, but Dallas has a great offensive line to open running lanes, and Fuller had a brilliant game.

Honorable Mentions: QB Ben Roethlisberger, DB Aqib Talib, ST Robert McClain

Carolina's McClain downed punts at the 1-yard line and 2-yard line, and made a solo tackle on another punt. Andy Lee had three punts downed at the 1- or 2-yard line on Sunday.

Five Quick Hits

* NFL Players of the Month for September: LeGarrette Blount, Von Miller, Justin Tucker (AFC); Matt Ryan, Fletcher Cox, Dustin Hopkins (NFC).

* DeAndre Hopkins had more tackles (2) than catches (1) on Sunday.

* Referee Jeff Triplette gave Josh Norman a 15-yard penalty for "shooting a bow-and-arrow." I don't think that's in the rule book.

* Triplette is the same ref who abused replay review to nullify a Robert Griffin TD in 2014, and then threw respected veteran Santana Moss out of the game for arguing with the decision. And he's the ref who in Week 13 of 2013 let Washington run a play believing it was first down, and then decided it was fourth down.

* I actually don't think Triplette is biased against Washington. He's the King of Incompetence, and he makes an epic mistake a couple times every season. It's just bad luck that in the last few years a number of them have involved this one team. Triplette is also the ref who blinded Orlando Brown. Making up a rule against miming "shooting a bow and arrow" — which Norman has done before without drawing a penalty — is kid stuff for this clown.

It's disgraceful that Jeff Triplette still officiates NFL games, but let's jump into the Week 4 NFL Power Rankings. Brackets indicate Week 3 rank.

1. New England Patriots [2] — Tom Brady is coming back. Rob Ninkovich is coming back. Rob Gronkowski is getting healthy. Watch out.

2. Denver Broncos [1] — Trevor Siemian's shoulder is "day to day," but rookie Paxton Lynch — their first-round draft choice — was competent in relief, and Denver wins games with its defense. They had 16 hits on Jameis Winston, including 5 by Derek Wolfe (2.5 sacks).

3. Minnesota Vikings [3] — The Vikings' defense makes them a favorite almost every week, but their highest score this season (25) came with Shaun Hill, not Sam Bradford, at quarterback.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers [7] — Ben Roethlisberger passed for 300 yards and 5 TDs. Le'Veon Bell rushed for 144 yards and played some WR. Antonio Brown caught 2 TDs. Cameron Heyward had 3 sacks. Vince Williams, getting his first start of the season, made 14 solo tackles, including a sack. When you win 43-14, there are multiple stars.

5. Green Bay Packers [4] — Bye this week. They return with three straight home games. Green Bay's last road game was September 18. Their next one is October 30. Seriously, schedule-makers? The Packers will pay in November, when they have three consecutive away games.

6. Cincinnati Bengals [8] — A.J. Green topped 170 receiving yards for the second time this season, but the Bengals won with defense, holding Miami to 8 first downs. This is Cincinnati's third week in a row forcing 5 three-and-outs.

7. Seattle Seahawks [11] — If Jimmy Graham (6 rec, 113 yds) becomes a productive part of the offense, they could be NFC Super Bowl favorites.

8. Carolina Panthers [6] — Obviously Cam Newton's health is a concern, but Newton wasn't the one covering Julio Jones. I worry more about their defense.

9. Philadelphia Eagles [10] — They're 3-0, but ranked behind the 1-3 Panthers. Carolina lost to Denver and Minnesota, who plausibly could meet in the Super Bowl, and this week's loss to Atlanta was a little weird. I'm not giving up on the Panthers yet, and I'm not quite ready to believe in Philly.

10. Atlanta Falcons [21] — First team in history with a 500-yard passer and 300-yard receiver in the same game. They've had back-to-back 45-point games.

11. Buffalo Bills [15] — Back-to-back wins against teams that played in last year's conference championship games. They shut out the Patriots, their first shutout loss in a decade: in November of 2006, Tom Brady gained 78 yards on 25 attempts, and Miami won 21-0.

12. Oakland Raiders [18] — Derek Carr ranks second in passer rating, 104.6. Carr is avoiding negative plays: he's only been sacked twice, and only thrown one interception.

13. Houston Texans [5] — J.J. Watt hasn't been right all season, and now he'll miss the rest of the year to have surgery on his back.

14. Dallas Cowboys [16] — Ezekiel Elliott leads the NFL in rushing, averaging 103 per game.

15. Kansas City Chiefs [9] — Most embarrassing loss for any team this season. They trailed 36-0 in the fourth quarter, getting blown out on Sunday Night Football.

16. Arizona Cardinals [12] — Carson Palmer left the game with a concussion. They have a short week, with a Week 5 Thursday night game at San Francisco. At this writing, it's unclear whether Palmer will be available.

17. Los Angeles Rams [25] — They've beaten the Seahawks and Cardinals, the first time they've done that since ... last year. Don't read too much into two games. The Rams still rank 30th or worse in every major offensive category, including points per game, yards per game, rushing yards per game, passing yards per game, and first downs per game. You can't win consistently without better offense.

18. New York Jets [13] — Worst turnover differential in the league, -10.

19. Baltimore Ravens [14] — Defense leads the NFL in fewest yards and first downs allowed per game.

20. Miami Dolphins [17] — It's not that their offense is bad, exactly. The specific problem is that it's not generating first downs. They're last in the NFL in third down percentage, fourth down percentage, and time of possession.

21. San Diego Chargers [20] — Held Drew Brees to a 74.7 passer rating and still lost. They've led in the final two minutes of every game this season, but they're 1-3.

22. Washington [23] — Another low-quality win. Announcer Rich Gannon lamented, "I can't remember a defense that's missed this many tackles." They can't tackle, and they can't stop the run. They've allowed 8 rushing TDs in four games, tied (with New Orleans) for worst in the NFL. Injuries and lack of depth on defense are a significant problem.

23. New York Giants [24] — Jon Gruden is really perturbed that they don't have a fullback or blocking tight end. You can tell because he said so at least four times.

24. Indianapolis Colts [19] — With 1:42 remaining, they were down by three, with 4th-and-1 at midfield. They lined up in shotgun, with Frank Gore on the bench. Even the British fans knew Andrew Luck was going to pass. Would it kill you to let Gore onto the field, as a decoy? I don't have a problem with passing in that situation, but you've got to make your opponent respect the run. Luck himself missed an opportunity to scramble for the first down, and when Dwayne Allen actually got open, Luck's pass was behind him. There are a lot of ways that play could have gone differently for the Colts, and it effectively ended the game.

25. Tennessee Titans [28] — DeMarco Murray has scored 5 of their 7 touchdowns. Murray leads the team in receptions and receiving TDs.

26. Detroit Lions [22] — Opposing passers are 99-of-140 (71%) for 1,087 yards, 12 TDs, and 1 INT. That's a 120.2 passer rating allowed.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers [26] — Second week in a row with a significant weather delay. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has an injured calf and expects to miss at least one game.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars [30] — Flagged for 11 penalties, for 145 yards and 5 Indianapolis first downs. Jacksonville "leads" the NFL in penalty yards, 392.

29. New Orleans Saints [31] — Nice last-minute win, but three of their four opponents have scored at least 34 points. They're worst in the league in points allowed (130).

30. Cleveland Browns [29] — In the middle of the third quarter, Washington had 3rd-and-22 at its own 25-yard line. They gained 11 yards but got called for holding. Hue Jackson declined the penalty. You don't think your defense can stop them on 3rd-and-32? That's a 21-yard swing in field position. I'd accept the penalty.

31. Chicago Bears [32] — Brian Hoyer had 302 yards and a 120.1 passer rating, Jordan Howard rushed for 111 yards, and they held Detroit to 263 yards and 14 points. But punter Pat O'Donnell had as bad a game as you could ask for. His first punt landed in the end zone for a touchback, a net of just 29 yards. His second punt was also a touchback, this time netting only 26 yards. His third punt netted 36, his best of the day. His final punt was returned 85 yards for a touchdown. Altogether, O'Donnell's four punts netted 56 yards (14.0 avg) and the Lions' only touchdown.

32. San Francisco 49ers [27] — Navorro Bowman tore his Achilles' tendon and will miss the remainder of the season. Another defensive starter, first-round draft pick DeForest Buckner, injured his foot and is expected to miss some time, as well. They're already giving up 140.5 rushing yards per game, worst in the league.

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