Rich 10 NFL rankings: Week 4
Sean Clark provides his top 10 teams after a crazy Week 3 of the NFL season.
Whoever got the ball last won the game.
This was the theme of Week 3 of the 2021 NFL season as many games ended with the team that had the ball last coming away with a victory.
Justin Tucker used the bottom crossbar to nail a NFL record 66-yard field goal as time expired to give the Baltimore Ravens a 19-17 win over the Detroit Lions. Younghoe Koo, Daniel Carlson and Mason Crosby gave their respective teams victories as time expired.
As young quarterbacks continue to struggle across, the league’s hierarchy for 2021 is slowly taking shape.
Here are my top 10 teams heading into Week 4.
10. Denver Broncos (3-0)
Previous Ranking: N/A
While the Broncos are a perfect 3-0 to start the season, their victories have come against three winless teams. It is hard to gauge the Broncos after three weeks because of this. However, wins are wins and the Broncos should receive credit for their strong start. This past Sunday, their defense flexed their talent, shutting out the New York Jets 26-0 in their home opener. Justin Simmons picked up an interception as did fifth-round pick Caden Sterns.
Teddy Bridgewater, who is second in the NFL in completion percentage, has been efficient in his first three starts, limiting mistakes that plagued Drew Lock’s starts with the Broncos. The Broncos’ first real test will take place on Sunday as they welcome the Baltimore Ravens to the Mile High City.
9. Green Bay Packers (2-1)
Previous Ranking: N/A
“They left too much time on the clock for Aaron Rodgers.”
Many NFL fans thought this after the San Francisco 49ers scored a late go-ahead touchdown with 37 seconds left in their game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. This turned out to be true as in two plays, Rodgers set up Mason Crosby’s 51-yard field goal as time expired to give the Packers a 30-28 win at San Francisco. Rodgers has bounced back after a horrendous start to the season and looks as invested as ever. Another positive development was the constant pressure the front seven put on Jimmy Garoppolo, sacking him four times and forcing a fumble. The Packers look to continue their surge as they host the struggling Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
8. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2)
Previous Ranking: 3
A 1-2 record to start the season is not what the Kansas City Chiefs were hoping for to start the season after their blowout loss in Super Bowl 55. A week after falling to the Ravens, the Chiefs gave up a late touchdown to the Los Angeles Chargers in their 30-24 defeat. Steve Spagnuolo’s defense has given up more than 28 points in each of their first three games. While his defense is notorious for gradual improvement throughout the season, it is an issue so far, putting an enormous amount of pressure on Patrick Mahomes to win shootouts. While the Chiefs are 1-2, they have faced three teams that are considered AFC contenders to start the season. The Chiefs’ brutal schedule to start the season will subside for this Sunday’s matchup as they head to Philadelphia and face the 1-2 Eagles.
7. Las Vegas Raiders (3-0)
Previous Ranking: 8
The fans that have shown up to Allegiant Stadium during the Raiders’ first two home games have gotten their money’s worth with two overtime thrillers, both won by the Raiders. This past Sunday, Derek Carr and the Raiders held off a gritty effort from Jacoby Brissett and the Miami Dolphins to win 31-28 in overtime. Nine different players caught passes from Carr on Sunday and Maxx Crosby still leads the NFL in quarterback pressures and hits. Carr is playing like his 2016 MVP-frontrunner self, which is allowing the Raiders to win their early-season shootouts. For their Week 4 matchup, they will head to SoFi Stadium and play the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday Night Football in a crucial AFC West battle.
6. Los Angeles Chargers (2-1)
Previous Ranking: 10
Speaking of the Chargers, they impressed the NFL community on Sunday by winning at Kansas City. They rebounded from a disappointing loss to the Dallas Cowboys last week and played like a team with something to prove at Arrowhead Stadium. Justin Herbert tossed four touchdowns, including the game-winning one to Mike Williams with 32 seconds left to give the Chargers the 30-24 victory. Head coach Brandon Staley proved his leadership qualities in his third game as Chargers’ head coach by allowing Herbert to covert a fourth down on their final drive instead of attempting a field goal. It worked and the Chargers picked up a crucial divisional road win. They will play the Raiders on Monday in another marquee AFC West showdown.
5. Arizona Cardinals (3-0)
Previous Ranking: 6
Even though their first-half performance was anything but spectacular, they made halftime adjustments and cruised past the Jacksonville Jaguars for a 31-19 victory. AJ Green showed why the Cardinals brought him to the desert with 112 yards on five receptions, giving Arizona another weapon for Kyler Murray to work with. Byron Murphy is filling in for Patrick Peterson as the Cardinals’ lockdown cornerback with ease as he currently leads the NFL in deflected passes and slammed the door on the Jaguars’ offense with a pick six in the third quarter. With two picks, Murphy was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week. The Cardinals will face their biggest test of the season on Sunday as they will take on the Los Angeles Rams in Inglewood. This will be challenging for the Cardinals as their record against Rams’ head coach Sean McVay is 0-8.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)
Previous Ranking: 1
The defending champions lost their first game since Thanksgiving weekend of the 2020 season as they fell 34-24 to the Rams. While the final score indicated a closer game than it was, the loss was more due to the Rams playing the perfect game than Tampa Bay struggling. Tom Brady did his best to keep up with the red-hot Matthew Stafford with 432 yards passing, but fell short due to a struggling secondary and a lackluster running game. The Buccaneers will look to bounce back and get back to their winning ways as Brady returns to New England on Sunday, the place where he won six Super Bowl championships.
3. Cleveland Browns (2-1)
Previous Ranking: 5
After their Week 1 loss at Kansas City, the Browns have put together two convincing home wins in a row. On Sunday, their defense got to show what they are capable of after a dominant performance against the Chicago Bears. In Justin Fields' first NFL start, Myles Garrett led a vicious assault against the Bears’ offense. Garrett finished with 4.5 sacks (a franchise record) and the team totaled nine sacks on the helpless Bears’ rookie QB. To top it off, the Browns held the Bears to 47 yards of total offense, their worst total in a game since 1981. Cleveland will roll on after their 26-6 victory with a trip to Minneapolis as they will tangle with the Vikings.
2. Buffalo Bills (2-1)
Previous Ranking: 4
When analyzing the Buffalo Bills, one can just erase their Week 1 loss to the Steelers. Since then, Josh Allen and the rest of the Bills’ team have dominated their competition and the Steelers have lost two in a row at home. One week after shutting out the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo lit up Washington’s defense as Allen threw for 358 yards and four touchdown passes. The defense is showing vast signs of improvement from last season, giving up 252.7 yards per game so far in 2021 compared to 352.5 in 2020, making them even more dangerous with the offense clicking on all cylinders. They look to continue their momentum as they welcome the Houston Texans to town on Sunday.
1. Los Angeles Rams (3-0)
Previous Ranking: 2
Was there a team performance that was better than what the Rams displayed this past Sunday against Tampa Bay? The answer is no as Matthew Stafford displayed to a national television audience and a loud LA crowd why the Rams brought him in and how badly the Detroit Lions wasted his talents for over a decade. Stafford dropped four touchdown passes against the Bucs’ defense to go with 343 yards through the air. His big-play ability, along with the talented defense the Rams bolster (sacked Brady three times) make them the early season Super Bowl favorites. The Rams will now head for divisional play as they welcome the 3-0 Cardinals to town in a chance to show early NFC West superiority.