RankingsOctober 1, 2011

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NFL Rankings: Bills the Cream of the AFC Crop

By R.J. White

Here were are heading into Week 4 of the 2011 season, and only three undefeated teams remain. Surprisingly, one of them is Buffalo, who knocked off the Patriots for the first time in a long time to secure their second straight come-from-behind victory. Someone get them in the MLB Wild Card race, if it’s not too late. It is? Nuts.

Our NFL Rankings don’t technically mirror most “power rankings” you’ll find on the web, as I put a larger emphasis on a team’s current record than conventional wisdom may allow. The reasons for this are twofold: one, I’m going to be wrong about my judgement of plenty of teams, and using actual on-field results balances any bias I may have for or against certain teams based on preseason expectations; and two, many teams wind up posting records at the end of the year that aren’t reflective of their true level of play, but in the NFL the only thing that matters are wins and losses.

Because of that, you’ll see me largely stick to a team’s record when placing them in the rankings, unless the gap in talent and play is so large that it just can’t be ignored (i.e., sticking the 2-1 49ers behind a few 1-2 teams). When two teams appear close in the rankings that have already played, I’ll also try and give the nod to the team that won, especially if that win came in the last few weeks.

Any other questions? Post them in the comments section.

RankPreviousTeamRecordWeek 3Week 4
11Green Bay Packers3-0W, CHI 27-17vs. DEN
The Packers have played three relatively close ones, but they’ve felt in command of all of them. Week 4 should get ugly.
25Detroit Lions3-0W, MIN 26-23at DAL
Smoke and mirrors? The Lions have two wins against 0-3 teams on their resume, and they needed extra time to beat the last.
36New Orleans Saints2-1W, HOU 40-33at JAC
Drew Brees is looking like an early MVP candidate by carrying an offense out its best receiver. Darren Sproles was a huge add.
415Buffalo Bills3-0W, NE 34-31at CIN
Sure, this is too high, but they’ve earned a spot above the Patriots this week. The rest of the AFC is looking up at Buffalo.
57Baltimore Ravens2-1W, STL 37-7vs. NYJ
Two dominant wins against preseason playoff picks, and a loss against a no-buzz group. This Jets game will be a big test.
62New England Patriots2-1L, BUF 31-34at OAK
The Pats will look to rebound from a second-half collapse in Week 3. They need to play better defense moving forward.
73Houston Texans2-1L, NO 33-40vs. PIT
Lost their only game against a quality team (first two opponents are 0-6). Pittsburgh at home will tell us a lot.
88Pittsburgh Steelers2-1W, IND 23-20at HOU
The Steelers are 2-1 but look to be struggling. They really need to do something about the offensive line.
94New York Jets2-1L, OAK 24-34at BAL
After dropping a game many thought they should have win, the Jets need to beat Baltimore for potential tiebreakers.
1013Dallas Cowboys2-1W, WAS 18-16vs. DET
Hard to win when the offense can’t reach the end zone, but the Cowboys found away. Now they have to stay healthy.
1116Tampa Bay Buccaneers2-1W, ATL 16-13vs. IND
Big win for the Bucs against presumed divisional favorite Atlanta puts them right back in the hunt for the playoffs.
1212San Diego Chargers2-1W, KC 20-17vs. MIA
The Chargers have sure started slow, but they still have a 2-1 record. They owe the NFL for a super-easy September.
1319Oakland Raiders2-1W, NYJ 34-24vs. NE
The way the Raiders are playing, I wouldn’t be surprised if they win in Week 4 and go on to win the AFC West.
1414Washington Redskins2-1L, DAL 16-18at STL
They almost pulled off the upset in Dallas, but now Washington is in a competitive race in the NFC East.
1518New York Giants2-1W, PHI 29-16at ARI
Huge win for the Giants, who showed they still have something on defense even with all the injuries. Division is wide open.
1617Tennessee Titans2-1W, DEN 17-14at CLE
Unremarkable win for the Titans, and now they desperately need the running game to get going to keep winning.
179Chicago Bears1-2L, GB 17-27vs. CAR
The Bears just can’t solve the problem of the Packers, but at least the schedule finally gets a little easier.
1810Atlanta Falcons1-2L, TB 13-16at SEA
If they can’t take care of the Seahawks, even on the road, it may be time to write the Falcons off this year.
1911Philadelphia Eagles1-2L, NYG 16-29vs. SF
Philly spent a lot of money this offseason but still have plenty of holes that teams are exploiting. Must-win Week 4 game.
2021San Francisco 49ers2-1W, CIN 13-8at PHI
It’s a big deal for the 49ers to win on the road against a non-NFC West team, but they hardly impressed in the victory.
2124Cleveland Browns2-1W, MIA 17-16vs. TEN
The Browns squeaked out a win against a bad Dolphins team, but hopefully Peyton Hillis is ready to carry them now.
2226Carolina Panthers1-2W, JAC 16-10at CHI
Cam Newton has now lost excitingly and won ugly; can he keep winning while putting up big fantasy numbers?
2330Seattle Seahawks1-2W, ARI 13-10vs. ATL
Nice win at home for the Seahawks, but Arizona doesn’t look that good. Let’s see how they play the Falcons.
2420Arizona Cardinals1-2L, SEA 10-13vs. NYG
The Cardinals have to do better to be taken seriously, as they dropped a game to a doormat team in Seattle.
2523Cincinnati Bengals1-2L, SF 8-13vs. BUF
Tough home loss for the Bengals, but they’re a super-young team and can bounce back quickly. Will they beat the 3-0 Bills?
2629Minnesota Vikings0-3L, DET 23-26at KC
Three leads over 10 points at halftime, three losses. The Vikings are clearly better than their record, but by how much?
2722Denver Broncos1-2L, TEN 14-17at GB
An unexciting team on offense and defense, Denver really needs a personnel overhaul on offense and defense.
2825Jacksonville Jaguars1-2L, CAR 10-16vs. NO
In a Week 3 matchup of rookie QBs, Blaine Gabbert lost. He’d better get used to losing with this team.
2928Miami Dolphins0-3L, CLE 16-17at SD
The Dolphins had a tough first two weeks, but it feels like they should have beat Cleveland. An upset of San Diego is possible.
3027St. Louis Rams0-3L, BAL 7-37vs. WAS
Getting lit up by a rookie with zero career catches in Week 3 is unacceptable, and the Rams must get their act together now.
3131Indianapolis Colts0-3L, PIT 20-23at TB
Yes, they played the Steelers tough, but credit Dwight Freeney’s abuse of the O-line. This is still an awful team.
3232Kansas City Chiefs0-3L, SD 17-20vs. MIN
Alright Kansas City, a home game against the 0-3 Vikings could be your best shot at a win this year. Don’t ruin it.

R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and Razzball and has previously written for FanHouse. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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