Tom E. Curran's AFC Power Rankings after Week 4
Half the conference is 2-2. Eight teams. Four teams haven’t won yet. You really want to put the Bills with the Panicky Pistol Josh Allen at quarterback at No. 3 in the AFC even though their defense is the second-best in the conference? Me neither. But I think I have to. My 3, 4, and 5 teams – Texans, Ravens, Colts – all lost in ugly fashion. Disarray.
PROGRESS! The Dolphins (0-4) were tied at 10 through most of the second quarter against the Chargers before giving up 20 unanswered to lose 30-10. They will NOT lose this week. Guaranteed. (Bye week).
Last three rankings: 16, 16, 16
The Jets (0-3) had their bye week so things didn’t get worse. They didn’t get better either. Sam Darnold is still dealing with the aftereffects of mono and his blasted spleen isn’t cooperating so the four-game stretch of Eagles, Cowboys, Patriots and at Jacksonville may well have them at 0-7.
Last three rankings: 10, 13, 15
It was mesmerizing to watch the Bengals (0-4) start at their own 20 with 3:45 to play in the third, trailing 24-3 embark on a 17-play drive that ate seven minutes and end with an end zone pick. Saunter speed the whole time. Arizona this week. Somebody gets a win.
Last three rankings: 13, 15, 13
In the crabs-in-a-bucket division that is the AFC North, the Steelers (1-3) just climbed over the Bengals and this week play the now backsliding Ravens in Pittsburgh. Just bobbing on the waves in Western PA. Beating Cincy isn’t impressive enough to get them over Denver.
Last three rankings: 11, 14, 14
The Broncos (0-4) are the top of the worst. Two of their losses are heartbreakers, one against the very good Bears the other this week against the Jags. Next up, at the Chargers. But they’ve lost Bradley Chubb and Chris Harris is slashing off the weeks until he’s a free agent. Too bad, because this is the 0-4 team that can make the playoffs.
Last three rankings: 14, 11, 12
They couldn’t survive the Texans at home and last week lost to the Lions. They were lucky to beat Indy in the opener. They were tied with a team TRYING TO LOSE at halftime in Miami. I’ve had it with them, too. I know I’m going to have them in the top six again in a couple of weeks but this is like a timeout.
Last three rankings: 4, 4, 7
They’ve allowed 73 in their past two games and 30 came in the second half to Cleveland at home. That loss coupled with the fact their first two wins were against two of the league’s worst teams leaves me skeptical.
Last three rankings: 6, 5, 4
How can I drop them after a road win at Atlanta? Atlanta is the most schizophrenic team in the league. And I like the Raiders winning in Indy more than the Titans winning in Atlanta. Plus I’m still pissed at how badly they played against Jacksonville. So here they stay at 2-2 about to lose at home to Buffalo when they score 9.
Last three rankings: 5, 8, 8
This was the dog’s ass the sun chose to shine on this week in Indianapolis. Nice road win chockful of big plays for Jon Gruden’s fellas. The Raiders (2-2) have the Bears then the bye and back-to-back at Green Bay and Houston.
Last three rankings: 12, 10, 11
Freddie Kitchens is feeling himself a little after the 40-25 win over Baltimore. Coming off his much-criticized performance against the Rams, Cleveland played like its talent is capable of. Another marquee game this week on Monday night at San Fran, then hosting Seattle and then playing the Patriots off their bye.
Last three rankings: 7, 9, 10
The Texans (2-2) are wearing me out. Just figure it out up front. Eighteen sacks now in four games for Deshaun Watson. The quality of their first loss – close at New Orleans – is keeping them here but how do you lose at home to a brand new quarterback like Kyle Allen? Falcons next then traveling to KC.
Last three rankings: 3, 3, 3
A narrow loss at Houston followed by the manhandling of Tennessee and now a road win at Denver? The Jalen Ramsey stuff has been temporarily pocketed. At Carolina and then home with the Saints. Good chance for the Jags (2-2) to prove they have the third-best defense in the conference.
Last three rankings: 14, 12, 9
The Colts (2-2) move up despite the loss to Oakland at home because their loss winds up being the least offensive. A plethora of drops. A 60-yard TD allowed and a pick-six. Aberrations. At KC this week.
Last three rankings: 8, 6, 5
The cheeks of Sean McDermott and most Bills fans are still wet with tears. Chin up, Cheektowagans! Ya did good! Big game at Tennessee to validate the performance against the Pats, then the bye, then the Dolphins for the 3-1 Bills.
Last three rankings: 9, 7, 6
Detroit has horses on offense and – playing at home – you can kind of see how it would be a difficult game for the Chiefs (4-0. Same deal as the Patriots in Buffalo. Survive and advance. Next up are three more in conference: Colts, Texans, Broncos.
Last three rankings: 2, 2, 2
There will be more days like Sunday in Buffalo. Not a lot of them. There aren’t that many defenses in the league nor opposing stadiums that are going to gum up the 4-0 Patriots plans as thoroughly as Buffalo did. But the Patriots need to evolve on offense and they may not yet have the humans to do it. The defense makes all that moot.
Last three rankings: 1, 1, 1