By Chris Burke
October 02, 2013
The Lions are one of the biggest risers this week thanks to Matthew Stafford and his quick release.
Paul Sancya/AP
NFL Power Rankings
1 Denver Broncos
Last Week: 1
If the name Steve Ramsey rings a bell for you, you're either a diehard Broncos fan or paid close attention to the NFL in the '70s. Ramsey started 31 games for the Broncos from 1971-76, including 12 that final season. That 1976 Broncos team scored 203 points over 14 games, the fewest Denver has tallied in a non-strike-shortened season since joining the NFL. Peyton Manning's 2013 Broncos can top that total with 25 points on Sunday -- their fifth game of the year.
2 Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 2
What's more impressive: That the Seahawks erased a 17-point lead on the road to win in overtime? Or that they did so despite their QB, Russell Wilson, completing all of four passes over the final 20 minutes of regulation?
3 New Orleans Saints
Last Week: 3
With his score on Monday night, tight end Ben Watson became the 42nd player to catch a touchdown pass from Drew Brees during Brees' illustrious NFL career. Another TE, Freddie Jones, was on the receiving end of Brees' first TD toss, back in 2001.
4 New England Patriots
Last Week: 6
Joe Vellano stepped in for an injured Vince Wilfork and provided his first career sack Sunday. His previous claim to fame? According to Maryland's football website, Vellano and his dad, Paul, are one of only four father-son combos to be named All-Americas at the same Division-I school. Also on the list: Eli and Archie Manning at Ole Miss.
5 Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 8
Andy Reid's now 4-0 in his first Chiefs season ... and he just finished a perfect 3-0 revenge stretch against the NFC East. "Hello, my name is Andy Reid. You helped get me fired. Prepare to die."
6 Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: 13
Put Robert Mathis on the early records watch list. His three sacks on Sunday bumped him up to 7.5 for the season (nearly matching his total of eight from 2012). He's currently on pace for 30 sacks, which would shatter Michael Strahan's mark of 22.5 in 2001.
7 San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 15
"As soon as honeyed words of praise are spoken for me, I feel as one that lies unprotected before his enemies." Jim Harbaugh has repeatedly borrowed that line from Ralph Waldo Emerson in press conference, dating back to his days as Stanford's coach. He used it again this week when asked about Colin Kaepernick's Twitter usage.

Here's another Emerson line for Harbaugh to consider, in light of his team's cathartic Thursday night win in St. Louis, "When it is dark enough, you can see the stars."
8 Detroit Lions
Last Week: 16
Matthew Stafford has been sacked only three times in the Lions' first four games, a remarkable improvement over the 29 and 36 sacks he endured in 2012 and '11, respectively. Improved O-line play? Definitely. But there's also this, from Pro Football Focus: Stafford has taken an average of 2.24 seconds to throw the football this year, faster than every other QB, including Peyton Manning (2.35).
9 Tennessee Titans
Last Week: 14
A possible good omen for the Titans, with Ryan Fitzpatrick set to take over at QB in Week 5: The best QB rating of Fitzpatrick's career (133.0) came in a 2011 win over the Chiefs, Tennessee's Week 5 opponent.
10 Chicago Bears
Last Week: 4
Jay Cutler threw three interceptions on Sunday in Detroit. Number of games Cutler has won in his career when throwing three or more INTs: zero.
11 Green Bay Packers
Last Week: 9
Aaron Rodgers' latest State Farm commercial features a guest appearances from the Bill Swerski Superfans of Saturday Night Live fame. Believe in jinxes? The Superfans made their SNL debut in 1991 ... the last year that Detroit, the Packers' Week 5 foe, won in Lambeau Field.
12 Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 5
I'm not one to tell NFL coaches how to do their jobs -- except on this site every single day and on Twitter and out loud to anyone near me during games -- but, maybe enough with Daniel Thomas already? Thomas had four carries for five yards on Monday, including a two-yard loss on 3rd-and-1. He's averaging 2.8 yards per carry this season, nearly two yards worse than Lamar Miller.
13 Cincinnati Bengals
Last Week: 7
Perhaps less is more in analyzing Cincinnati's 20-6 loss to Cleveland. Take it away, Marvin Lewis: "When you don't score a touchdown in a game in the NFL, it's going to be hard to win."
14 Houston Texans
Last Week: 11
According to Pro Football Reference, Houston's odds of winning Sunday were up to 98.2 percent after Seattle punted the ball away with five minutes left in the third quarter. Ironically, that's about the percentage of Texans fans blaming the subsequent collapse on QB Matt Schaub. The other 1.8 percent still think everything is David Carr's fault.
15 San Diego Chargers
Last Week: 20
Philip Rivers plays the game of football with all the grace of an elephant trying to skateboard, but he still can do things few other NFL QBs can. The latest example came on Sunday, when he locked down San Diego's win over Dallas with a leaping 56-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates.
16 Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 10
Ray Rice is sitting on a streak of four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. At his current pace of approximately 3.0 yards per carry, he would need 333 rushing attempts to get to there in 2013. He had five carries Sunday in a loss to Buffalo.
17 Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 12
The Cowboys are 2-0 at home, but 0-2 against the AFC West. Up this week? A showdown with the undefeated Denver Broncos in Dallas. So something's gotta give for America's Team.
18 Cleveland Browns
Last Week: 24
Not only are the Browns undefeated at 2-0 since trading away Trent Richardson, but also the Indians have yet to lose since that Sept. 18 deal. Oh, and with the Rangers' playoff defeat, only the cities of Cleveland and Detroit have both a first-place NFL team and a team in the MLB postseason. (Sorry, Red Sox and Patriots, you technically don't count.)
19 Atlanta Falcons
Last Week: 17
In defense of the Falcons (who probably should consider playing some better defense), their three losses have come against teams with a combined record of 11-1. Their next four opponents -- the Jets, Tampa Bay, Arizona and Carolina -- boast an overall mark of 5-10.
20 Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 22
The Bills are the only team in the league to both score and allow point totals in the 20s in every game this year. Not sure what to do with that information, to be honest. Gamble, perhaps? The over/under for Buffalo's game with Cleveland sits at 41 right now.
21 Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 30
Leslie Frazier has to be blowing smoke when he says that he hasn't made up his mind on a quarterback for Week 6, right? Matt Cassel's QB rating of 123.5 last Sunday was a higher score than Christian Ponder has achieved in any of his 29 career starts.
22 St. Louis Rams
Last Week: 18
Feel free to hit us with that revamped, up-tempo offense anytime, fellas. During their 1-3 start, the Rams have scored on 25.5 percent of their possessions -- which is down from the 27.5 success rate they were operating at in 2012.
23 Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 21
Carson Palmer was supposed to heal the Cardinals' inability to stretch the field in the passing game. Emphasis on "supposed to." Palmer has completed four passes thrown deeper than 20 yards -- that's one per game. Meanwhile, Fitzgerald's long catch on the year thus far is just 26 yards, 11 shy of his 2012 high-water mark.
24 Washington Redskins
Last Week: 29
We're too far from the Christmas season to go full-bore on a "Put One Foot in Front of the Other" tie-in here. Instead, maybe we'll go with Bill Murray's baby steps in What About Bob? as motivation for the now 1-3 Redskins. "All I have to do is take one little step at a time, and I can do anything."

Are you listening, Bob ... er, Robert Griffin III?
25 Carolina Panthers
Last Week: 23
Talk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a topic. Would Star Lotulelei be as good a player if he wasn't named Star?
26 New York Jets
Last Week: 19
Geno Smith wrapped his West Virginia career by throwing for 42 touchdowns and just six interceptions last season. He's already surpassed the latter number in four games with the Jets -- eight picks plus a fumble lost has him at a much-too-high nine turnovers.
27 Oakland Raiders
Last Week: 27
Because the A's have a playoff game on Saturday, the Raiders' matchup with the Chargers was moved to 8:30 p.m. PT Sunday. Keep that hush-hush, though, because the Raiders don't want Matt Flynn to find out.
28 Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 25
The Eagles are averaging 24 minutes and 58 seconds of possession time per game this season, which is the lowest total in the league. That's a tough way to win for any team, let alone one that has a rebuilding and undermanned defense.
29 Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week: 26
"Right now, you could say we're the worst team in the league," Ben Roethlisberger offered after the Steelers fell to 0-4 on Sunday. They're definitely at the bottom when it comes to forcing turnovers. Pittsburgh has yet to come up with a single fumble or interception this season.
30 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 31
Josh Freeman's life has turned into a recreation of that Tom Hanks movie The Terminal. Freeman's just sitting there, bags packed, waiting for the go-ahead to get out of town -- and the Buccaneers keep denying his request. At least the movie made $219 million worldwide; Freeman's just costing the Bucs more than $8 million this year.
31 New York Giants
Last Week: 28
It's one thing to lose. It's another to be completely non-competitive, as the Giants have been over the past two weeks. They are being outscored by 85 points through Week 4. Add in losses from Weeks 15 and 16 of last season, and New York's average margin of defeat in its last six setbacks is 23 points.
32 Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: 32
How bad has this start been? If the Jaguars got to count all the points they had scored in 2013 as a cumulative tally, they still would have lost in Week 3 to Seattle and in Week 4 to Indianapolis.

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