First Quarter Power Rankings

Every four weeks, we here at Kevbo Industries will be bringing you an updated set of power rankings. Unlike my preseason divisional power rankings, these editions will be of all 32 teams, top to bottom.

Note that Kevbo Industries consists of me, myself and I, so if you disagree with any of these team’s rankings, you can direct all hate mail to me. Thanks!

NFL Power Rankings – First Quarter

1 – Denver Broncos

This has to be a unanimous pick across the landscape of football power rankings at this point. The offense is the best I’ve seen since the ’07 Patriots (and I’m guessing will end up eclipsing them in the end), and the defense is playing solid football without two of their best players on the field. Once Champ Bailey and Von Miller return, the pass defense (which is poorly ranked mainly due to the fact that every team has had to play catch-up football against them so far) should improve. Clearly the best team in football as of today.

2 – Seattle Seahawks

Defensively, no team can match up favorably against these guys. Their secondary is bar-none the best in football, and their front seven (including outstanding rotational players) is capable of stuffing the run and pressuring the QB with relative ease. Last week’s outstanding come-from-behind win over the Texans, on the road (where Seattle is suspect), was a clear sign that this team is the real deal. Russell Wilson may not have the numbers, but if you’re watching these games, you realize he’s the team’s MVP so far.

3 – New Orleans Saints

We all knew, or had a strong suspicion, that the return of Sean Payton on the sidelines was going to give the offense a serious boost. Nobody could have predicted how much of an impact new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro would have on turning one of the worst defenses in NFL history around. They may be overachieving, but that doesn’t matter when you’re 4-0 and have convincingly won a couple of those games due to outstanding play on the side of the ball Drew Brees doesn’t play on.

4 – New England Patriots

I could have bumped them down a few notches, but what’s the point? They’re 4-0, they have one of the most proven QBs in the league leading a developing core of receivers in the right direction…and they’re close to getting back their three most dangerous offensive weapons in Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola and Shane Vereen. The defense has been pulling its weight in a big way, but the loss of leader and Pro Bowl talent Vince Wilfork for the season is going to be a giant (literally) hurdle to jump going forward.

5 – San Fransisco 49ers

Yes, I know they’re only 2-2, but their two wins came against serious competition, the latest on the road against one of the only teams who had their number last year in St. Louis. Aldon Smith’s absence will be felt until he returns, but the offense has the ability to fly so long as Kaepernick is allowed free reign to use his best asset: his athleticism. He’s seemed hesitant to take off at times so far, and hopefully Harbaugh and the coaching staff aren’t the ones holding him back in fear of an injury.

6 – Kansas City Chiefs

The offense is far from pretty, but it is incredibly precise, and the defense is an absolute nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. Andy Reid’s insistence on bringing in Alex Smith was questionable at first, but with the supporting cast around him, you had to think he’d continue to have similar success to what he was starting to get used to in San Fransisco. All this team really needed after a disastrous 2012 campaign was the right QB and the right coaching: they’ve found both.

7 – Chicago Bears

Coming off a disappointing loss to the Lions, I’m curious to see how this Bears team responds. But these rankings are based on the first four weeks, not on the potential of what’s to come, and Marc Trestman has proven himself to be the antidote for Jay Cutler’s inefficiencies and the offense’s sputtering out more than it should have under Lovie Smith. The defense is still the opportunistic powerhouse it was in 2012, and the NFC North is there’s to lose if you ask me.

8 – Miami Dolphins

Losing to the Saints, in their dome, on the national stage, is going to have one of two effects on these young Dolphins; they’ll learn from it and improve, or take a step back due to demoralization. I hope it’s the former, but the team has three big wins to look back on and remind themselves that they’re capable of being a postseason contender. Ryan Tannehill’s development is, by my estimation, at 50% or so, but with a great defense and (hopefully) upward-pointing running game, he should only get better.

9 – Detroit Lions

If the Packers wouldn’t have had their bye in week 4, and pulled out a convincing victory, this particular ranking might have been reversed. As it stands, however, the 3-1 Lions have proven that, with a healthy Reggie Bush providing added oomph to an already powerful offense and a defense that finally seems ready to stop its underachieving ways, that they’re the 2nd best team in the NFC North until the Packers prove them wrong.

10 – Cincinnati Bengals

Their 2-2 record is a bit of a confusion, and last week’s lost to a Browns team that just might be better than anyone outside of Cleveland thought, was more a case of the Bengals overlooking an important divisional game than a sign of their inability to move the chains offensively. Andy Dalton needs, NEEDS to take a big step forward, or this ranking is going to look vastly different in another four weeks. There’s only so much their outstanding defense can do for them.

11 – Indianapolis Colts

Close calls or not, the Colts are 3-1 and were in their only loss (at Miami) up until the end. Andrew Luck is winning in a different way than he did when Bruce Arians was dialing up the deep balls in 2012; efficiently, patiently, and some might say more convincingly. Their defense hasn’t been all that bad so far, but needs to up their game a bit if they’re going to contend down the stretch.

12 – Dallas Cowboys

I doubt anyone else is going to rank ’em this high, but when I look at this Cowboys team, I see a Superbowl contender hiding beneath questionable playcalling and slight improvement across the offensive line and secondary, where youth is developing with each game. In a division that seems to be imploding in on itself, the Cowboys are the only team who can legitimately say they’ve convincingly won a game (or two).

13 – Houston Texans

That Seattle loss hurt deeper than perhaps any loss has hurt a team so far this year. Matt Schaub is (justly) being criticized for being the weakest link in a chain that is more than strong enough to make a deep postseason run. If he can’t avoid critical mistakes and temporary bouts of mind-boggling inaccuracy, head coach Gary Kubiak has to seriously consider other options in the short and/or long-term future. This defense is too good, this running game is too good, and their offensive pass catchers are too good to be sitting at 2-2 right now…and yet, there they are.

14 – Green Bay Packers

Prior to the bye week, the Packers pulled off one solid win and two absolutely confounding losses, practically handing a heart-breaker to the Bengals along the way. Regardless, this team has the offensive firepower to turn things around on a dime. The defense, on the other hand, is going to be a serious question mark going forward, which has proven to be essentially one superstar (the guy with the hair, if you need a hint) and then 10 other guys who may or may not do what they’re asked to do.

15 – Tennessee Titans

The numbers don’t lie: 3-1 and no turnovers after four games. Their competition hasn’t been the best, but as I so often say, the ‘W’ is the only stat that matters after 60 minutes. They really showed me something against a tough Jets defense last week, and my only hope for them going forward is that Jake Locker doesn’t miss too much time. Fitzpatrick is a capable backup, but if the bad Ryan shows up, they might be in too deep a hole to contend down the stretch.

16 – San Diego Chargers

Phillip Rivers is experiencing a revival of his early career success, and he’s been able to propel a mostly average team to a couple of big wins, and a couple of close losses. The defense needs to clamp down, as they’ve already given up 102 points after four games, but there is room in-house for improvement on both sides of the ball. It’s a shame they’re in a division with two undefeated teams in Denver and Kansas City, but they’re definitely playing good football regardless…for the most part.

17 – Baltimore Ravens

While the defense has remained solid after a opening day bashing at the hands of the Broncos, the offense has sputtered due to a combination of poor gameplanning and injuries, most notably to Ray Rice. A healthy Rice, the return of Jacoby Jones and (hopefully) a more balanced gameplan should bring out more of the team that is defending the Lombardi trophy. After four weeks, however, they’ve proven less than expected.

18 – Atlanta Falcons

Sitting at 1-3 is something that none of us could have predicted, but a combination of injuries and mistakes have the Superbowl hopefuls simply hoping to dig themselves out of a hole that, more often than not, has left teams sitting at home watching the playoffs. The Saints have a tight grasp on the division so far, but if any team has a chance to challenge them going forward, it’s the Falcons. Health is pivotal for this to even be a possibility, along with smarter decisions by players and playcallers alike.

19 – Cleveland Browns

A team most of us expected to be bottom-feeders have broken off two impressive wins, none more so than last week’s triumph over their cross-state rival Bengals. Two games is difficult to accurately judge any player (or team for that matter), but Brian Hoyer has looked like the answer the previous organization thought Brandon Weeden was when they drafted him. And Jordan Cameron? Who knew?

20 – Buffalo Bills

I went back and forth on this one, between them and the team at #21, but in the end I came to the conclusion that the Bills have more going for them. A solid RB position, a rookie QB who has at the very least looked more efficient than his counterpart, and an underachieving defense that cannot continue to be so if this team wants to continue to improve. 2-2 is better than I anticipated, and even in their losses they’ve looked better than advertised.

21 – New York Jets

Despite having the same 2-2 record, the growing pains of Geno Smith and a severe lack of offensive firepower has them sitting behind Buffalo. While their impressive defensive line has kept them in the hunt each week, the Titans had their way with them on both sides of the ball in week 4, and I’m more apt to say that those are the Jets as they will be against better teams. Still, few teams in the league put up a bigger fight with less punch than the Jets have under Rex Ryan.

22 – Washington Redskins

As RGIII slowly but surely reestablishes his mobility and overall comfort behind center, the Redskins’ early season hardships will continue to fade. This is essentially the same team that went on a tear across the 2nd half of the 2012 season, but after four weeks, you get the sense that their secondary is still a major work in progress. The front seven need to play above and beyond to cover this weakness, and so far, they’ve only done it in spurts. Beating the Raiders isn’t exactly something to hang from your wall…but it’s better than being 0-4.

23 -Arizona Cardinals

The growing pains of new systems, players and personnel have been more kind to Arizona than expected. Sure, they’ve looked mostly unimpressive since week one, but managed to get out of a game they were giving away last week. When everything from your head coach down is in flux, winning two of your first four, however ugly, is an accomplishment and something to build on going forward.

24 – Carolina Panthers

Beyond a gimme win against the Giants (but an impressive gimme win, if such a thing can be measureed), the Panthers haven’t quite latched onto Mike Shula’s new offensive system. It’s not surprising, but with the talent they have, it’s inexcusable. A fortunate bye week will have them better prepared to start winning football games going forward.

25 – Philadelphia Eagles

The Chip Kelly Experiment is off to a mostly rough start, but the man known for his offensive scheming and attention to detail is mostly being hampered by a defense that simply cannot stop anybody, at all. The roster simply isn’t where it needs to be, but the question still remains: is Chip Kelly’s uptempo, “I don’t care about time of possession” offense going to translate in the NFL? After 16 quarters of football, only 2 of them have been successful.

26 – Minnesota Vikings

The most pivotal position in football is not only in question personnel-wise in Minnesota, but HC Leslie Frazier’s recent support of the injured Christian Ponder AFTER Matt Cassell managed a 2 TD, no turnover game in London against the Steelers also has to bode ill for last year’s surprise playoff team. Adrian Peterson is still capable of carrying them to more than a couple of victories, but the defense isn’t exactly playing up to its capability after four weeks, and whenever the Vikings are forced to play catch up, you have to feel iffy about any of their QB options. Still, start Cassell and call an end to the Ponder era before it turns into a Mark Sanchez type of situation.

27 – St. Louis Rams

Offensive inefficiency (Brian Schottenheimer? Hello?) is making a good defense look terrible…or perhaps the defense that kept them in most games in 2012 has taken a step back. Injuries haven’t been kind to the secondary, and the offense has been far too generous to opposing defenses. There is little reason this team should be 1-3 right now, but those little reasons all add up to one big problem that will take the experience of Jeff Fisher to overcome in the weeks ahead.

28 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The only reason they’re ranked about the rest of the dredge of the NFL is simply because, defensively, they can match up with anyone. Offensively? Josh Freeman is now a free man, and the jury is out on Mike Glennon. Doug Martin cannot find much room with opposing defenses showing little respect for the passing game, and the offensive line is, at the very least, underachieving if not flat out bad by definition. But damn, what a solid defense. If they can find the right head coach before 2014, he’ll be walking into a favorable situation.

29 – Oakland Raiders

They’ve been terrible, but managed to win a game. That’s why they’re 28th, and that’s the only reason why.

30 – New York Giants

The shocking collapse of the Football Giants isn’t all that shocking, to be honest. Yes, I pegged them as division champions, but with their offensive line in flux, a terrible situation across their back seven defensively and the (honestly unexpected) troubles of David Wilson, it all makes perfect sense. still, they have more of a chance than the teams ranked behind them to actually turn their season into something a little less abysmal.

31 – Pittsburgh Steelers

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I saw this coming. Anyone could have, if they focused in hard enough and noticed the slow downward spiral the team has been on for over two years now. The stars are aging, the youth isn’t stepping up, and the “Steelers Way” is experiencing something akin to a generation gap. At 0-4 with little positive to take from any of their losses, the Steelers brass has to start poring over the waiver wires, draft scouting reports and the like and prepare for a major overhaul. It’s coming, whether they want it to or not.

32 – Jacksonville Jaguars

Well, what did you expect? Josh Freeman? I wouldn’t be surprised. Haven’t been yet by this year’s Jacksonville team. There’s a handful of up-and-coming talent, and about 80% of a roster that could be swept away and replaced by practice squad players without a notable dropoff in game performance and outcome.

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