First Quarter Power Rankings (2014-2015)

As it was, so it is again. Each quarter of each season will bring with it my own personal Power Rankings. What readers need to remember is what these rankings reflect and, more importantly, what they don’t. Namely:

-They DO reflect how each team has performed since the beginning of the current season
-They do NOT reflect future projection, last year’s results, or anything else. At all.

That being said, here’s where I rank ’em so far:

1 – Cincinnati Bengals

There are currently two undefeated teams in the NFL. Each has only played three games due to early bye weeks. The Bengals, and the Cardinals. Since I grade these teams based on what they have done, their body of work up until this very point, the record is only one piece of the puzzle. Winning is just about everything, sure, but how convincing those wins are means just as much in my book. When it comes to winning convincingly, playing top notch football in all phases and dominating the opposition, the Cincinnati Bengals are the best team in the NFL right now.

2 – Arizona Cardinals

I know, I know. “But what about their competition?” “What about the fact they’ve only played three games?” “What about…uh…they’re the Cardinals for crying out loud!”. Well, the Cardinals, right now, are playing like the NFC version of the Bengals. While not as potent offensively, they’ve been managing games with a backup QB, a banged up running back and a retooled offensive line. What really shines is the defense, a unit that has given up only 45 points in three contests. Almost as impressive as Cincinnati’s D, only giving up 33 points in the same span of games. As the Seahawks proved last year, a dominating defense can still win championships in today’s offensively-biased NFL. Not losing a game so far is a great start to proving it all over again.

3 – San Diego Chargers

I must admit, this is not how I envisioned these rankings to go when the season started. I’d have laughed at the thought of the Chargers being the best team in their division, let alone the 2nd best team in their conference and, in my estimation, one of the three best in the league. But look at what they’ve done so far. They opened the season with a narrow defeat at the hands of the Cardinals, and have only gotten better. They hosted and exposed specific weaknesses in the Seahawks’ game, and followed that up with giving the then-undefeated Bills their first taste of defeat. Add in an expected blowout of the lowly Jaguars, and you see a team that is prepared to win the tough ones and, unlike some other squads, shows up in the same fashion against lesser opponents as well. The hallmarks of a great team.

4 – Dallas Cowboys

I spent a lot of time with all of my rankings, but I have to admit, this one gave me the most pause. I had to remind myself (more than once) of what I’m basing this on, and what I’m not. If we’re being honest, we’re looking at a team who at the very least is the best running team in football, with a defense that is either overachieving or has finally found a solid foundation without any of the playmakers we thought they needed after last year’s fiasco. At the most, they’re capable of beating anyone when they hit their stride…something I don’t think many of us expected them capable of before the season started, or after their opening embarrassment against the 49ers. But they’re undefeated since, and have done so with a well-rounded attack in all three phases.

5 – Baltimore Ravens

No team in the NFL has had a tougher schedule over their first four weeks. Three straight divisional games followed by hosting a tough (yet struggling) Panthers team. The Ravens couldn’t best the Bengals, but showed their dominance against Pittsburgh and Carolina and resilience against Cleveland. I have concerns about Baltimore when they’re on the road, but what they’ve done is what they’ve done, and it speaks for itself. So far, Steve Smith appears to be the most significant offseason acquisition that any team made this year.

6 – Seattle Seahawks

For the most part, they’re 6th and not 7th because of their victory over #7. They’re still ranked this high because, despite one loss, they’ve looked excellent and more threatening with a healthy Percy Harvin and a seemingly more capable Russell Wilson taking more pressure off of a great defense.

7 – Denver Broncos

Tough call between last year’s Superbowl contestants. I think the Broncos have played better overall football than the Seahawks so far this year, but I can’t justify ranking them ahead of Seattle simply because they (Denver) lost the rematch in week 3.   It’s easy to overlook Denver because they’re not the same dominating force they were for almost the entire 2013 season, but they’re still beating solid competition and doing it in somewhat unfamiliar ways.

8 – Detroit Lions

Now these rankings get difficult. Honestly, 8-12 could easily be argued as backwards, just right, off slightly, etc. But, since this is my judgement, I think the Lions are the 8th best team in football as of today. They’ve played better football than anyone ranked below them, even though the competition hasn’t been that great. Their win over the Packers is the deciding factor in ranking them here, as it showed the world a defense that is truly coming into its own. Their offense has been surprisingly low-key in comparison, but winning is winning and Detroit is (mostly) doing just that.

9 – Philadelphia Eagles

Oh, they’ve looked flat-out bad at times this year. Like, bottom of the barrel-bad, especially with their performance against the 49ers in week 4 and their inability to fire on all cylinders until the 2nd half of their first three games. Buuuut, they’re 3-1, came within a touchdown of beating the 49ers without actually scoring an offensive touchdown, and have, for the most part, played the type of football required to match up against anyone. It’s anyone’s guess regarding the future…but again, we’re not considering that here. So far, they’ve been as good as their ranking indicates.

10 – Houston Texans

Shocking. Their competition hasn’t exactly been…competitive…and their offense has some serious question marks, but the Texans are playing great defense, overcoming their mistakes and have that tough, underdog mentality that usually a terrible season can give to a club. Beating the Redskins, Raiders and Bills aren’t exactly huge accomplishments, but being 3-1 certainly is.

11 – Buffalo Bills

God, this is getting harder and harder. The wheels look like they may be ready to come off of the Bills’ solid start to their season, due to injuries and bizarre coaching choices, but I can’t say any other 2-2 team has looked better this year. Their defense has added steel with new DC Jim Schwartz at the helm, and the combination of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller along with the steady emergence of rookie wideout Sammy Watkins has given their offense some needed punch. Their two wins were big, and their two losses I believe are more of a hiccup than a truly damning sign of a team that doesn’t have what it takes to compete.

12 – Atlanta Falcons

Has any time been more up-and-down after four games this year? A heartstopper win against the rival Saints? Great start. A back-to-earth loss against the Bengals? In retrospect, not necessarily a shocker. A huge rebound against the lesser Buccaneers? Not overly impressive, but very much needed. But losing to the Vikings? That’s where the Falcons drop a bit in my estimation. That game, more than any other, exposed glaring defensive holes that more teams than most people realize are prepared to exploit; namely, playing bend-but-don’t-break and still breaking when enough pressure is applied. They’ve been great, they’ve been terrible, but overall, they’ve got the look of a competitive squad. They just have to cover up their flaws a little better.

13 – Kansas City Chiefs

I had to reassess my early thoughts on this team after their last two victories. In fact, it appears to me that, while not being the same squad that pushed the Broncos for the division in 2013, they’re still a very well balanced team that can dissect many of their opponents with extreme efficiency. That begins with Alex Smith, but it goes much deeper. Their running game is obviously upper-end, with backup Knile Davis seemingly not missing a beat in replacing Jamaal Charles over a couple of games. Their defense is playing better than most people realize and, if you ignore their opening week baffler of a loss to the Titans, they have been playing solid football all around this year.

14 – Green Bay Packers

I’m ignoring their Thursday Night romp of the Vikings simply because these rankings are in judging the first four weeks of the season. That being said, the Pack have been obviously inconsistent but, recently, have started to show the qualities of a team that many people seemed enamored with before the year began. I wasn’t one of them, but I’m observant and decent enough to know where I was wrong. I saw a major slide in store for Green Bay this year: so far, they’ve slid only so much. As Aaron Rodgers told us, we need to R.E.L.A.X. And I suppose we should.

15 – Pittsburgh Steelers

I can almost forgive them losing to the Buccaneers. Almost. What the Steelers have shown after four weeks is an offense that has the capacity to do serious damage, and a defense that has the capacity to lose games. I’m not quite sure how the equation balances out, but four weeks into the season, I feel more confident about what they’ve done than the handful of teams who are seemingly as good as them.

16 – Chicago Bears

I don’t give passes to teams, but the injuries are depriving Chicago of a big part of their ability to succeed. Losing to the Bills was a shock, and losing to the Packers, although I expected it, was too convincing a defeat for me to hold Chicago in high confidence. But their victories showed me a team that can pop up and surprise just about anyone given the right conditions. One of those conditions has to be health, though, and until they get a handle on that side of things, they’ll linger in the middle of the pack.

17 – San Fransisco 49ers

This team is rubbing me in all the wrong ways this year and I can’t fully figure out why. Unfortunate holes in the defense are definitely part of the problem, but for the most part, their offense has looked stagnant and only capable of the occasional spell of high-level play. I don’t know whether it’s a mirage or the actual truth, but that’s forward thinking; as of right now, the 49ers are playing so far below their capabilities that they belong where they are in the grand scheme of things.

18 – Indianapolis Colts

They’ve lost to two good teams and beaten up on two bad teams. I’m not the type who looks at the latter and forgives the former. It all matters. I won’t start believing in the Colts until they prove they can defeat someone other than the Titans or Jaguars, the current whipping posts of a weak AFC South.

19 – New York Giants

Now, 19 and 20 may be the easiest positions to argue against in these rankings, so let me make this clear: the Giants have shown steady improvement over four weeks. The Panthers have shown the opposite. I’d rank New York a little higher, but the improvement has mostly come against teams that, considering the Giants’ potential on paper, they should be beating. That’s not to take too much from them, however. I just want to know, before taking them seriously, whether the offense is starting to click or their recent opposition is as bad as New York made them appear to be.

20 – Carolina Panthers

Two weeks into the season: So far, so good. Four weeks in: What’s going on here? Truly, I’m starting to believe the Panthers are taking a slide backwards for reasons nobody would have predicted at the start of the season: startlingly poor defensive play and a lack of healthy talent in their backfield. I think they can correct the slide, but the problems are mounting up very fast.

21 – Miami Dolphins

21 and 22 are where they are, and not reversed, because 21 beat 22. And that is, truly, how far either ranking goes.

22 – New England Patriots

See above. Also, I’m not nearly ready to jump on the “This is the end” bandwagon that’s circling the Patriots after one month. But that has nothing to do with how they’ve played so far. They’ve played like one of the lesser teams in the NFL.

23 – Cleveland Browns

As tough as I expected, but the results aren’t showing up in the win column. So far. The NFC North is, without a doubt, the toughest division in football once again, and the Browns are as capable of making opponents pay as the Bengals are…they’re just nowhere near as consistent about it.

24 – Minnesota Vikings

They’re 2-3. If we don’t count Thursday Night (which, again, we’re not), they’re 2-2. Beyond their record, I have a hard time putting them this high because they’ve been exposed in so many ways. What does give me optimism is Teddy Bridgewater and Mike Zimmer; one brings hope to a stagnant passing game and the other to a lukewarm defense. But, so far, the results are inconclusive.

25 – New Orleans Saints

Below the Vikings, you say? Below the Browns? Yes. This team is living up to their reputation as road-incapable, and they’re also playing abysmal defense. Two things we all thought they had cleared up in 2013. So far, it looks like we were all seeing ghosts last year.

26 – Washington Redskins

The way both teams look right now, do you think the Redskins and Rams might consider reversing the RG3 trade? When you think about it, wouldn’t it make a whole lot of sense for both clubs?

27 – St. Louis Rams

See above.

28 – New York Jets

The biased fanboy in me loves this. The subjective critic in me cringes every time I see Geno Smith with the ball in his hands. Can he improve? Maybe. But will the Jets wait around as long as they did with Mark Sanchez before they make a decision? The biased fanboy hopes so…

29 – Tennessee Titans

They managed to win a game, and they’ve been slightly more competitive in their losses than the…

30 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

…who have also managed to win a game, which is more than I can say about the…

31 – Jacksonville Jaguars

…who are really no better than the…

32 – Oakland Raiders

…who will lose to the bye week by at least 21 this week.

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2014 AFC East Power Rankings

Format is modified from last year’s preseason PRs. Enjoy.

1. New England Patriots

2013 record: 12-4
Division Winners, Lost In AFC Championship Game

A Year Later…

The Patriots, who were plagued with injuries and the speed bumps of young talent, still managed one of the league’s best records, were undefeated on their own field and came within two scores of another Superbowl appearance in the Belichick-Brady era. The league’s foremost dynasty of the day were there usual selves in the offseason, balancing efforts towards free agency and the draft to augment an already strong team. The additions of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner at CB should at least equalize the loss of Aqib Talib, who performed at a high level for the squad in 2013. The team also brought in ex-Panthers wideout Brandon LaFell, who should provide depth and push last year’s younger group (Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson) forward. On that front, Julian Edelman proved capable of playing the Wes Welker role the Patriots were missing. Amongst Brady’s favorite targets, Rob Gronkowski was dominant when healthy, but couldn’t stay healthy for long. His return to physical well-being could easily be a tipping point for this team’s Superbowl hopes.

2014’s Prospects…

They seem as high as any team in the NFL. They’re playing in a shaky division, where they’ve dominated almost every year since 2001. The talent base is improved from a season ago, but health concerns (Gronkowski, LB Jerod Mayo, WR Danny Amendola) and the age of their most pivotal defensive player (NT Vince Wilfork) will tell the tale this year. The Patriots may be the closest thing to a division winning lock in football, but nothing is guaranteed. That being said, I can’t see them falling behind, especially with the resiliency they displayed in 2013.

Chances At The Big One…

As bright as any team in the AFC not from Denver, the Pats can run the table up until the higher-powered offense of Denver shows up. There are many upstarts and consistently solid teams in the AFC, but none with the experience and grit New England have under their belts. The AFC Championship is almost expected.

Under The Radar…

Watch for DE Chandler Jones, who flew under the radar despite 11.5 sacks in 2013. He’s entering his 3rd season and is primed to become more disruptive with the return of Wilfork and Mayo to the fold.

2. Buffalo Bills

2013 Record: 6-10
Last In Division, No Playoff Berth

A Year Later…

Most of the news out of Buffalo has been centered around the death of longtime owner Ralph Wilson and the fallout of what may become of the franchise as a result. Beneath this story, however, there is a franchise who seems to be moving forward in a way that other teams in the AFC East not named the Patriots simply aren’t. The talent base is, on paper, superior to the Dolphins and Jets and, if games were played on paper, the Bills might have a chance to give New England a serious run at the division crown.

But, games aren’t played on paper, and this team goes into 2014 with question marks. None bigger than E.J. Manuel, who struggled in typical rookie QB fashion but caused more concern with a rash of injuries that kept him out of nearly half the season. This year, the weapons around him have improved, and look no further than rookie wideout Sammy Watkins for proof. This kid has all the skill needed to quickly become a top-10 at his position in the NFL, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets there in a hurry. The backfield remains solid, with added depth behind incumbents Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. The latter needs to improve his production, something the coaching staff has noted. This is a pivotal key for the Bills in 2014, along with improved performance across a picked-apart offensive line that has gone from strength to liability in short order.

Defensively, new coordinator Jim Schwartz has a nice bounty of talent at his disposal, especially across the defensive line. The preseason loss of breakout linebacker Kiko Alonso is going to be impossible to fully overcome, but there’s no reason why the Bills’ D shouldn’t finish in the upper half of the league in points/yards allowed. The secondary has some holes, but solid pressure from the likes of Mario and Kyle Williams should alleviate that.

2014’s Prospects…

I am going out on a limb by putting these guys 2nd in the division, but I truly believe they have no excuse not to be. So long as injuries don’t mount atop the painful loss of Alonso, this team should find a way to win at least one, possibly three more games than they did in 2013. I won’t say they’re a playoff team…but a little overachieving and the full potential reached by their younger prospects could see the Bills in the hunt.

Chances At The Big One…

Not great, not great at all. But, if Manuel turns into the player the Bills assumed he would when they made him a high-first round draft pick, the possibilities end where his progress does. Again, on paper, this team has it where it counts (for the most part)…

Under The Radar…

All the recent talk about Watkins and free agent pickup Mike Williams has left young Robert Woods as a bit of an afterthought to many. From my perspective, however, Woods could end up being the most statistically active pass catcher in Buffalo this year. If Watkins starts drawing double teams and the offensive staff is wise enough to make C.J. Spiller a viable threat on passing downs, Woods is going to have some choice opportunities in single coverage situations.

3. Miami Dolphins

2013 Record: 8-8
2nd (Tied) In AFC East, No Playoff Berth

A Year Later…

Sadly so, my Dolphins are still very much a “what if?” team, three years into head coach Joe Philbin’s tenure. This is a make-or-break season for him, and quite a few players. None more so than Ryan Tannehill, who has shown flashes of brilliance but very little consistency and some trouble with his deep accuracy. It was clear, however much it suited him, that former OC Mike Sherman’s system was not conducive to results, as Miami finished near the bottom of the league in yards gained and points scored. Enter Bill Lazor, a Chip Kelly disciple who is already hyping up fans with thoughts of a high-paced, run-heavy, wide-open offensive attack. The question that must be answered: can Tannehill perform in a faster offense? Almost as important is whether or not Lamar Miller, newcomer Knowshon Moreno (once he’s healthy) or even the perennially disappointing Daniel Thomas can chew up the yards such an offense covets. More important than all that? Is this (nearly) brand new offensive line up to the challenge of making the other questions answerable at all? With powerhouse center Mike Pouncey out at least two or three games with a bad hip, the Dolphins’ opening day offensive line will be 100% different than the line that finished the year in 2013. This, more than anything, is the biggest hurdle this team needs to jump to remain relevant.

No concerns to report defensively, but some improved play from last year’s big free agent linebackers, Dannell Ellerbee and Phillip Wheeler, is necessary. Also, filling the huge gap NT Paul Solai left when signing with the Falcons is going to be something to watch.


2014’s Prospects…

It seems that many pundits don’t believe this team can do any better than the 8-8 record they put up in 2013. I’m inclined to agree, and actually believe the scales may be tipping towards a drop in their overall record, especially with the growing pains of a new offensive scheme and line. I don’t WANT to believe it, but it’s pretty clear…this team is going to have to come together quickly in order to remain in the mix.

Chances At The Big One

They’re just not there yet. Not as a team, not with the talent they currently will be fielding. It would be a miracle if this Miami Dolphins squad were playing in February. A welcome miracle, believe me, but the likelihood is somewhere between slim to none.

Under The Radar…

2nd round pick Jarvis Landry has been turning heads since OTAs, and much like Robert Woods, may get lost in the shuffle of opposing defenses keying on the skills of Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and emerging threat Charles Clay at TE. If he can beat out Brandon Gibson (who was impressive up until going down for the year in 2013) for snaps in the slot, Landry could make an impact.

4. New York Jets

2013 Record: 8-8
2nd (Tied) In AFC East, No Playoff Berth

A Year Later…

Last year, I had nothing but low expectations for the Jets, who were entering the season with a litany of concerns. Mark Sanchez was being phased out for a rookie, Geno Smith, who seemed further from a sure thing than I was comfortable with. Their skill positions were in apparent shambles, and their defense was showing some uncharacteristic gaps. To go from all that shakiness and fight for an even record was probably the greatest feat any AFC East team accomplished in 2013, but this is a new year and, despite their solid offseason acquisitions and surprisingly solid play a year ago, I don’t see this team going much further (and perhaps even taking a step back).

Those additions are most prominent on offense, where Eric Decker comes in at WR, with the apparent goal of making him their #1 threat. He may very well have that ability, but it’s easy to lean more towards him being a ‘tweener who excelled around the stocked weaponry of the Broncos’ offensive attack. More vital, in my opinion, is the addition of speedster Chris Johnson, who departed Tennessee after several successful (and one unbelievable) seasons. With gas in the tank and an offensive philosophy of getting the most out of their backs, Johnson has no excuse not to excel with the Jets…so long as Geno Smith and the passing game can keep opposing defenses from stacking the box.

2014’s Prospects…

Flip a coin. Rex Ryan continues to squeeze the most of out his talent and, with an influx of it in key areas, the Jets could turn a corner in 2014 and make a serious playoff push. Or, what I think more likely, is that this team essentially has to do what they did last year just to break even; overachieve and overachieve some more. They have weapons, proven weapons in particular on the defensive line, but the holes in the secondary and uncertainty across the offense lead me to believe they’ll come up short of the postseason. How short is anyone’s guess as well.

Chances At The Big One…

This team was once led to consecutive AFC Championships by Rex Ryan and, because of that, you have to consider them the AFC version of the New York Giants: one year they can look lost, the next they can possibly fight their way into high contention. While I don’t think it likely, they’ve shown the ability to do it in the recent past. That, at least, keeps hope alive for Jets fans that something miraculous could indeed happen.

Under The Radar

With all the talk of Chris Johnson and what he may bring to the running game, I think last year’s team rushing leader, Chris Ivory, is getting lost in the media shuffle. Ivory averaged 4.6 yards per carry on a little under 200 touches and showed tenacity in hitting the hole and discipline in waiting for his holes to open. Johnson will get his share of carries, but Ivory is going to be a focal point of this offense…or at least he should be, considering what he’s already put on tape in one season.

Second 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 – Second Quarter

1 – Denver Broncos
I saw little reason to change this from the first quarter. After four more weeks, Peyton Manning and the stampeding Broncos have been somewhat slowed by a couple of teams, namely the Colts, who pulled off a very narrow upset at home. Still, they’re playing better defense, and as we saw last week against the Redskins, they can win a game when their backs are against the wall.

2 – Seattle Seahawks
Again, no reason to alter this pick. They’ve won some ugly games since week 4, but they’ve won, and the return of Percy Harvin should be a major boon to the one part of the team that could be pointed to as a weakness, particular since Sidney Rice was just declared out for the year with a torn ACL. No team in the NFL has played better defense so far, but one has come awfully close…

3 – Kansas City Chiefs
On pace to break the single-season sack record as a team, the Chiefs are winning football games with an attacking defense and a patient, Alex Smith-led offense that doesn’t make costly mistakes. They’ve yet to lose, and while that may be attributed to their soft schedule to date, there is no such thing as a “free” win in the NFL. The Chiefs have paid the cost for 8 of them so far, which is more than any other team can say.

4 – San Fransisco 49ers
After hitting a rough patch early, the defending NFC champions have been rolling over the last several weeks. With offensive firepower to match a tough defense, the recipe for a Superbowl contender is still intact. But can they get past the Seahawks this year?

5 – New Orleans Saints
This year’s Saints looks an awful lot like the 2009 version that won the Superbowl, don’t they? The same high-octane offense with a variety of excellent weapons for Drew Brees to work with, and an opportunistic, attack-style defense that is playing above and beyond expectations.

6 – Cincinnati Bengals
Jumping up four spots from my first quarter rankings, the Bengals have won four straight, and with their 49-9 dismantling of the Jets last week, proved how good they can be when clicking on all cylinders. It is going to be a tall task for anyone in the AFC North (Baltimore) to get past them…but can they stay consistent?

7 – Green Bay Packers
Somehow, they’re playing better defense without their best pass rusher. Somehow, Aaron Rodgers is playing just as good without three of his top four targets. Somehow, they’re running the ball. The Packers have stiff competition in the NFC North, but at this point, they’ve proven to be above and beyond.

8 – Indianapolis Colts
Another team jumping up the rankings, the Colts played their best game of the post-Peyton Manning era when they beat Peyton Manning and the Broncos. The conversation on Andrew Luck is that this kid is the real deal, and that’s pretty much been the consensus from the day he was drafted. Sure is something watching him prove it on a weekly basis, though.

9 – New England Patriots
The feeling here at Kevbo Industries is that, due to a wide variety of injuries and lackluster play from their well known signal caller, many people are looking past the Patriots. Something tells me that the Patriots want you to look past them. Of course, the NFL isn’t looking past them, but they continue to win most of their games despite odds that would cripple most teams.

10 – Detroit Lions
They still have to prove a little bit of consistency, but a big win against the Cowboys, and a near-miss against the Bengals, has me a little higher on the Lions than some might be. I see the potential for a fight to win the NFC North here, but that potential has to maintain itself over the long haul.

11 – Carolina Panthers

While not all of October has been good for the Panthers, the past two weeks have shown me a team that has very suddenly and unexpectedly “clicked”. Cam Newton is playing like he’s been in the league for a few more years than he has, the running game is proving to be a threat, and the defense is stepping up and making plays. The NFC wildcard race is going to be crowded, but if the Panthers continue this trend, they’ll be thick in the mix.

12 – San Diego Chargers
Over their last four games, the Chargers have beaten the Cowboys and Colts, beat up on the Jaguars and lost a close one to the Raiders. The road ahead is bleak with the Broncos and Chiefs essentially lapping them in the division race, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the Chargers are playing very good football right now, and have been for the better part of the season.

13 – Dallas Cowboys
After taking the Broncos to the absolute brink at the beginning of October, the Cowboys proceeded to knock off two divisional opponents before being brought to the brink, and ending up on the wrong side of it, last week against the Lions. Somewhere in the muddled mix of injuries, heated tempers, Jerry Jones quotes and Tony Romo gaffs is a team that has no reason not to win their division. Which isn’t saying a lot, but it isn’t exactly saying a little, either.

14 – Chicago Bears

The Bears have dropped in my estimation over the month of October, and the main reason for this is that two of their best players are sidelined. Can they continue without Jay Cutler and Lance Briggs for four or more weeks? It’s going to be tough, especially in a division that has serious competition coming from Green Bay and Detroit.

15 – Baltimore Ravens

If they keep losing, the Bengals are going to take this division by the end of November. It would be a long fall for the defending Superbowl champs, but not a totally unexpected one considering their miserable offseason and inability to stay healthy at key positions. If seven games haven’t yet proven it to anyone, Joe Flacco is not worth the money he’s being paid. Not by a long shot. He’s essentially Phil Simms with a bigger arm. If you think that’s a compliment, go and look at what Phil Simms did throughout his career.

16 – Philadelphia Eagles
The past two weeks have been a bitter pill for Chip Kelly and the Eagles faithful to swallow, but when your best QB is either out completely or hurt immediately, you can’t expect miracles. That the defense is playing 180 degrees better over the first 5 or 6 games is a sign of good things; now all they need is for Kelly to adjust to the talent he has on offense, and allow the NFL’s rushing leader to do what he does best in order to win some games down the stretch, regardless of who’s behind center.

17 – New York Jets
October has been a mixed bag for Gang Green, with a big win over their nemesis Patriots sandwiched between a tough fought loss to the Steelers and last week’s embarrassment against the Bengals. Which Jets team will we get going forward? The hard-nosed, never-say-die competitors? Or the team that reflects the roster and the numbers produced so far? I’m guessing the latter, but they’ll upset a few more teams before it’s all said and done.

18 – Arizona Cardinals
As lousy as they’ve looked all year on offense, they’ve managed to win half of their eight games so far due to a stout defense. Their offensive production has been akin to squeezing the last bit of juice from an orange…every single week. I doubt they’ll be any higher than this going forward, but as of right now, they are what they are: middle of the road.

19 – Oakland Raiders
Much like the Jets, the Raiders are proving a difficult opponent for every team they face. They’re firmly at the bottom of their division, sure, but at 3-4 have proven to be heading in the right direction. Terrelle Pryor has the makings of a Russell Wilson, and they’re not as far off as they were a year ago from being a legitimate postseason possibility. It just won’t be happening in 2013.

20 – Tennessee Titans
Three straight losses, three straight weeks with very little to show for what was a promising start for the football Titans. Injuries have played their part, but there is something else going on here that doesn’t quickly meet the eye, but is obvious if you’re watching the games; the lack of talent is being compounded by the lack of effective playcalling. This is a team that, as they are right now, might be able to contend for a playoff spot in a year, but I have serious reservations about them doing so with the current playcallers on the sidelines.

21 – Buffalo Bills
Right around here is when the rankings become 21A through 21C, as each of these teams have essentially proven the same things: potential without results. While the Bills are a talented team on paper, that talent seems to dissipate when it’s needed most. C.J. Spiller has been a huge disappointment this year, the defense is still weak under pressure, and their QB situation isn’t moving forward so long as E.J. Manuel is sidelined.

22 – Miami Dolphins
After wining three in a row, the Dolphins have nosedived into a four game losing streak. Lack of QB protection, some questionable decisions on that QB’s part, and a general lack of offense through the air or on the ground have allowed teams to either narrowly pull away with wins or simply trample their good-but-not-great defense. Joe Philbin and the rest of the Dolphins staff still have some major holes to fill before this team competes for a playoff spot.

23 – Cleveland Browns
While Brian Hoyer was giving Cleveland fans high hopes, the last month has consisted of Brandon Weeden keeping the factory of sadness spinning. I don’t think trading Trent Richardson was a mistake, but it was an obvious commentary by the front office on where this team is in 2013; not quite there.

24 – Washington Redskins
Each week, I’m baffled that the Redskins haven’t found the ability to put all of their pieces together. They do it in spurts, but even these are so short lived that you cannot make the claim that “they’re back”. RGIII is probably as close to 100% as he’s going to get, so you can’t look at him as the problem. The swiss-cheese secondary and surprisingly lackluster pass rush are the real culprits here, and with the team handcuffed by salary cap penalties this year, it’s not a surprise that their weakest parts from last year are now even worse off.

25 – St. Louis Rams
One week, the Rams look like they’re bottom feeders. The next, they’re taking one of the best teams in the NFL to the edge of defeat. Who exactly are these St. Louis Rams? Well, despite a somewhat respectable 3-5 record, the answer to that question is fairly simple. They’re nobody special, and need to build around the handful of excellent pieces (amongst which currently IR’ed QB Sam Bradford may or may not be) if they’re going to get over that hump.

26 – Houston Texans
Despite all of their hardships, injuries and completely lackluster play defensively, I cannot fully grasp the idea that the Texans aren’t a good football team. This is almost exactly the same team that has been in the postseason mix for many years now, and why they’re floundering the way they are is extremely difficult to place a finger on. Things won’t get much easier for them going forward, but their record should be closer to 8-8 than not by the end of the year.

27 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Climbing a bit out of the swampy abyss of nothingness with two much-needed victories, the Steelers were able to show a partial glimpse of the team they could be. Still, this is an aging roster with holes aplenty, and if it weren’t for Cleveland’s downward spiral, I’d still bet on Pittsburgh bringing up the bottom of their division at the end of the year.

28 – Atlanta Falcons
By far, without a shadow of a doubt, no team has fallen quite as far as the Falcons have in 2013. A chic postseason pick and a team that was one play from the Superbowl in 2012, this year’s Falcons have been the victim of major injuries, major inconsistencies and a near-total lack of urgency through seven games. With Steven Jackson and Roddy White back on the field soon, they might at least be able to salvage a 6-10 or 7-9 disappointment out of what has otherwise been an utter meltdown.

29 – New York Giants
Kudos for avoiding 0-16 by beating two teams asking to be beat. It showed that the Giants are still capable of winning games they look capable of winning, but beyond that, this is a team with far too many problems to expect much more from. 2014 is going to be a very intriguing year for the Giants. Will Tom Coughlin return? How many new faces will the defense have? Where will Hakeem Nicks be playing? Who’s going to be running the ball?

30 – Minnesota Vikings
It’s evident now, if it wasn’t last year, that the Vikings have to overachieve with their current roster if they’re going to succeed. So far this year, they haven’t done that, and that’s why they have a ‘1’ in their win column. The most glaring error the team made? Bringing Christian Ponder back without so much as looking forward at the position. Signing Matt Cassel is not looking forward. And where the heck has Adrian Peterson been? I take that back, actually. He’s been dealing with a tragedy I wouldn’t wish on anybody. The rest of this team, however, are in the process of making a tragedy of their own.

31 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
So, what keeps them from being the worst team in football? A decent defense that isn’t being utilized properly. That’s it. Greg Schiano is a sitting duck who is doing almost all of the wrong things, the team jettisoned their (apparently) franchise QB and lost their powerhouse RB for the season. Everything that could possibly go wrong in Tampa Bay, whether by fate or by incompetence, has.

32 – Jacksonville Jaguars
All that being said, the Bucs are still a notch above the league’s worst team. Why? Because they had to make mistakes to not win a game. The Jaguars haven’t won a game by simply taking the field, lining up, and proceeding to play up to the level of talent they possess. If this team isn’t in Los Angeles in the next few years, I’ll be positively shocked.

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.