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NFL power rankings 5.0: The sky is falling in Texas for Cowboys, Texans
SportsPulse: A quarter of the season is in the books. The Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans would probably like a redo. Mackenzie Salmon reveals our biggest risers and fallers in this week’s power rankings.
NFL power rankings, 2020 post-Week 4 edition (previous rank in parentheses):
1. Chiefs (1): Prior to Week 4, no team had ever won on consecutive Mondays. Prior to Week 4, no team had started 4-0 in four consecutive seasons. Kansas City rewrote a lot of history with their ad hoc “MNF” defeat of Pats.
2. Packers (2): Wide receivers? Who needs ’em? Total luxury … but just imagine if scalding QB Aaron Rodgers gets some healthy ones soon.
3. Seahawks (3): Defense ranked last in league naturally gave up its fewest points and yards of 2020 with S Jamal Adams sidelined. Playing Miami probably had something to do with it.
4. Ravens (4): Sunday provided further proof that P Sam Koch, the most accurate passer in recorded history, should be QB2 here ahead of Robert Griffin III.
5. Steelers (5): It’s (very) early, but they’re on pace to record 80 sacks over a full season … which would surpass the 1984 Bears’ record of 72.
6. Buccaneers (8): QB Tom Brady added to his record 222 career regular-season victories. The Jaguars, Panthers, Ravens and Texans don’t have that many in the history of their franchises.
7. Rams (9): They’re on track to complete an NFC East sweep Sunday at Washington. Perhaps Rams relocated to wrong coast?
8. Bills (10): Who was Buffalo’s starting QB last time it started *4-0? Answer: Trent Edwards, who went 7-7 in 2008. I suspect Josh Allen will finish stronger than Edwards did. (*With assist from officials.)
32 things we learned: From Week 4 of the 2020 NFL season
9. Titans (7): Worst. Bye. Week. Ever. Here’s hoping Tennessee is over COVID-19 hump, ready to play what should be an entertaining game against Buffalo.
10. Colts (15): Never change, Philip Rivers. One of pandemic’s very few silver linings is listening to you trash talk opponents, like Bears LB Roquan Smith, on their home fields.
11. Browns (17): Feeling good about my Myles Garrett for defensive player of the year preseason prediction. NFL co-leader with five sacks, including a strip-sack each of the past three games (all wins).
12. Patriots (6): A quarterback controversy? In New England? What could be more fun … even if for only a week? To think Brady-Manning might morph into Rypien-Stidham …
13. Raiders (13): QB Derek Carr has officially vanquished Kenny Stabler, Daryle Lamonica, Rich Gannon and the rest with most TD passes (151) in club history.
14. Saints (14): Evidently, alarmist reports deeming QB Drew Brees’ right arm dead were premature … at least that’s how I’m interpreting Next Gen Stats.
15. Panthers (23): Teddy Bridgewater has added his (surgically repaired) legs to the Sunday repertoire. His 5.8 yards per rush are best figure of his career.
16. Cardinals (11): No team has more penalties (32). The Cards had ball for fewer than 23 minutes Sunday. And six turnovers so far. Plenty to tighten up here.
17. 49ers (12): How battered are reigning NFC champs? They’ve already been forced to use a league-high 63 players, four more than the next-closest team.
18. Bears (18): With so much focus on their quarterbacks, you might’ve lost sight of fact that not one Chicago player has run a ball into the end zone in 2020.
19. Cowboys (16): Has Dallas ever been more Jekyll and Hyde? The “Hot and Cold Boys” (maybe?) have gained most yards in team history through four games while also surrendering the most.
20. Vikings (22): Nice for Minnesota to get into win column. Next, Mike Zimmer’s inexperienced corners get thrown into the fire against Russell Wilson.
21. Chargers (24): All 31 of their points at Tampa Bay came courtesy of undrafted free agents. Pretty remarkable … and necessary with RB Austin Ekeler (also undrafted) and WR Mike Williams shelved.
22. Eagles (29): Their nine turnovers (including QB Carson Wentz’s seven INTs) pace league, yet only three have occurred in last two weeks – games Philly hasn’t lost. All said, just middling enough to pace NFC East.
23. Bengals (26): Time to try and get something in trade for A.J. Green now that he’s effectively Cincy’s No. 3 option behind WRs Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins?
24. Falcons (21): Have to admire them for trying to win from a 17-point deficit instead of with a 17-point lead. But back to the drawing board … which reveals some very winnable games over next five weeks.
25. Lions (19): Sure, Matt Patricia, “there was a lot of work to do” in Detroit. And now there’s a lot of damage control to do and a lot of winning to do … if you want to do a lot more work in 2021.
26. Dolphins (25): Brian Flores said of his QB situation, “We’ll make the decision on the starter, but I would presume that’s going to be (Ryan) Fitzpatrick.” Convincing, coach. FWIW, Fitzpatrick will continue starting.
27. Texans (20): Speaking of Miami, no team is happier about the turmoil for winless Houston – whose top two 2021 draft picks, which both project to be very high selections, belong to the Fins.
28. Broncos (30): More impressive? OLB Bradley Chubb’s 2½ sacks last Thursday, or Brett Rypien’s prowess as a blocking QB (an underappreciated skill set)?
29. Jaguars (27): Let’s go back to Next Gen Stats … if this dubious RYOE (rushing yards over expectation) metric is worth a Jag, wouldn’t undrafted RB James Robinson’s 285 rushing yards be about 285 more than anyone expected? Let’s keep it real.
30. Washington (28): Even the locals are pretty down on this team given its current state of affairs. But pretty much everyone can agree about rooting for Ron Rivera.
31. Giants (32): Did you see that play when QB Daniel Jones dropped back to pass against the Rams … and it appeared none of his receivers ran a route? Said another way, the Giants have three TDs this season … and Odell Beckham Jr. has four.
32. Jets (31): Another of pandemic’s very few silver linings is that NYJ fans aren’t paying to watch this team in person. Keep your hard-earned, Fireman Ed.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis
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