While there are many power rankings out there based as much on hype, expectations, and too often, unrealized and inaccurate projections, at Football Reporters Online, we prefer to rank NFL teams on what’s actually happened, taking into account only how teams have performed on the field and who they’ve played. At F.R.O., you won’t find yet another power ranking that doesn’t tell you much. Instead, here are the F.R.O. NFL Performance Rankings:
#1 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 4-0 Wk 3: #1 Wk 4: Beat NY Jets, 24-10
The Saints remain at #1 for the third straight week, and they’re starting to become more of a complete team each week. We knew they could pass, but they’ve shown a strong running game and a great defense, too.
#2 NEW YORK GIANTS 4-0 Wk 3: #2 Wk 4: Won at Kansas City, 27-16
Steve Smith has emerged as the go-to receiver the Giants were seeking. Hakeem Nicks showed why the Giants used a 2009 number one pick on him, burning the Chiefs for his first career touchdown on Sunday. And, the D has been strong.
#3 INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 4-0 Wk 3: #5 Wk 4: Beat Seattle, 34-17
Like a fine wine, Peyton Manning is getting better with age. Four 300-yards games in four games, all Colts’ wins, 9 TD’s and only 3 picks. Very impressive, even by Manning’s standards. Indy can all but end the Titans’ season on Sunday.
#4 MINNESOTA VIKINGS 4-0 Wk 3: #7 Wk 4: Beat Green Bay, 30-23
Speaking of getting better with age, in his final game in his 30’s, Brett Favre had a terrific game against the franchise that he’ll represent in the Hall Of Fame. As expected, Jared Allen has been a force with 18 tackles and 6½ sacks.
#5 DENVER BRONCOS 4-0 Wk 3: #6 Wk 4: Beat Dallas, 17-10
Dallas may end up a .500 team this year, but by beating them, the Broncos eased some questions about the legitimacy of their staying power in the AFC, at least for now. And, their defense has allowed a league-low 26 points (6.5 ppg).
#6 NEW YORK JETS 3-1 Wk 3: #4 Wk 4: Lost at New Orleans, 24-10
After three impressive weeks, Mark Sanchez and the Jets were dealt a huge case of reality down in the Bayou, but they only fall two spots after losing to #1 on the road, and because the defense for the most part, remains solid.
#7 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 3-1 Wk 3: #16 Wk 4: Beat Baltimore, 27-21
A big jump of 10 spots after beating last week’s #3 team. New England has righted the ship with a pair of solid home wins over Atlanta and Baltimore after raising a lot of early questions with poor showings against the Bills and Jets.
#8 BALTIMORE RAVENS 3-1 Wk 3: #3 Wk 4: Lost at New England, 27-21
The Ravens have still been pretty good overall, and thus, they’re still in the top 8, but losing a competitive game at New England, Baltimore falls from one of the elite teams down to one notch below the Patriots, for now.
#9 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 3-1 Wk 3: #8 Wk 4: Beat St. Louis
The Niners are still that one late Favre-to-Lewis Week 3 Minnesota Miracle pass from being a perfect 4-0. With everyone else in the NFC West under .500, San Francisco clearly looks like the best out west in the NFC.
#10 CHICAGO BEARS 3-1 Wk 3: #15 Wk 4: Beat Detroit, 48-24
The Bears have shown some mettle, rebounding from a tough season-opening loss in Green Bay, to win three straight. With 11 fewer first downs, 122 fewer yards, and 13 fewer minutes holding the ball, the Bears beat Detroit 48-24 (?!).
#11 ATLANTA FALCONS 2-1 Wk 3: #12 Wk 4: Bye
Matt Ryan looked sharp in a couple of home wins against poor competition (Miami and Carolina) but a trip to New England exposed some Falcon flaws. Coming off a bye, Atlanta will be tested again going to San Francisco next.
#12 CINCINNATI BENGALS 3-1 Wk 3: #10 Wk 4: Beat Cleveland, 23-20 (OT)
The Bengals are one of the league’s biggest enigmas thus far. The blow a game to Denver at home and struggle to beat the lowly Browns, yet they win at Green Bay and beat Pittsburgh. It all adds up to a good 3-1 start at the quarter mark.
#13 PITTSBURGH STEELERS 2-2 Wk 3: #17 Wk 4: Beat San Diego, 38-28
If the Steelers could maintain their focus for a full 60 minutes each week, they’d rank in the top five. But, that problem let two road games Pittsburgh should have won get away, and instead of a perfect 4-0, their only at .500
#14 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 2-1 Wk 3: #13 Wk 4: Bye
The Eagles’ bye bought Donovan McNabb the final week of time he needed to recuperate and return to the lineup on Sunday. Games against three bad teams (Tampa Bay, Oakland, and Washington) ease McNabb back into things.
MIRED IN MEDIOCRITY:
#15 DALLAS COWBOYS 2-2 Wk 3: #9 Wk 4: Lost at Denver, 17-10
At 2-2, Dallas looks to be on the path to 8-8. What they do well one week, they may not do the next, particularly with an inconsistent Tony Romo missing Terrell Owens. Dallas gets an easy one in Kansas City next, before the bye comes.
#16 JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS 2-2 Wk 3: #20 Wk 4: Beat Tennessee, 37-17
From 0-2 to 2-2. Is Jacksonville better than expected or did Tennessee already quit on the season after three tough losses? Maybe both. David Garrard has played well enough for the Jags to open it up more with the passing game.
#17 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 2-2 Wk 3: #11 Wk 4: Lost at Indianapolis, 34-17
The Chargers reach the bye and will remain in this area of the rankings until they can raise their game to match that of better opponents. So far, wins over the bad Raiders and Dolphins, but missed chances against Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
#18 GREEN BAY PACKERS 2-2 Wk 3: #14 Wk 4: Lost at Minnesota, 30-23
Sure, Favre won the big showdown, but bigger picture, Jarred Allen has 4½ sacks, and Cincinnati’s Antwan Odom had five sacks in Green Bay’s other loss. Until they can fix their offensive line woes, the Pack won’t challenge in the NFC.
#19 HOUSTON TEXANS 2-2 Wk 3: #21 Wk 4: Beat Oakland, 29-6
The Texans have been inconsistent week to week, as shown by the L, W, L, W result. The Raiders at home were the perfect medicine for what was a very shaky defense that allowed a bunch of yardage over the first three weeks.
#20 ARIZONA CARDINALS 1-2 Wk 3: #19 Wk 4: Bye
The Cards would have been wise to use the bye week to work on their defense after Peyton Manning torched them in the desert. Warner and Arizona were great in Jacksonville but they’ve yet to play well at home in two losses.
LOOKING TOWARD THE 2010 DRAFT:
#21 WASHINGTON REDSKINS 2-2 Wk 3: #25 Wk 4: Beat Tampa Bay, 16-13
With Redskin-of-the-teeth wins over awful St. Louis and Tampa Bay, and a loss in Detroit, Washington is about as unimpressive a 2-2 as a team can be. The defense has been okay, but the Skins are still waiting on Jason Campbell.
#22 MIAMI DOLPHINS 1-3 Wk 3: #27 Wk 4: Beat Buffalo, 38-10
Starting 0-3, looking pretty bad, and losing their starting quarterback to his latest season-ending injury, the Dolphins seemed to be going nowhere. Then, a 38-10 thrashing of Buffalo. That’s the unpredictability of the NFL at its best.
#23 BUFFALO BILLS 1-3 Wk 3: #18 Wk 4: Lost at Miami, 38-10
Now the flip side of that unpredictability. The Bills play well enough to win in New England, lose to the #1 Saints (understandable), and beat Tampa Bay easily. So, 0-3 Miami without Chad Pennington? Naturally, a 38-10 loss. Huh?!
#24 SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 1-3 Wk 3: #22 Wk 4: Lost at Indianapolis, 34-17
Now that we’ve got the NFL’s unpredictability down, here lesson 2: how quickly fortunes can change. After crushing St. Louis, the Seahawks lose three straight and go from #3 on this list all the way down to #24.
#25 DETROIT LIONS 1-3 Wk 3: #24 Wk 4: Lost at Chicago, 48-24
Could it be? Two wins in a row after 19 straight losses? Trading touchdowns in a 21-21 half in Chicago, the Lions made that thought possible. But, then that pesky 27-3 second half came and Detroit became the Lions we’re used to seeing.
#26 TENNESSEE TITANS 0-4 Wk 3: #23 Wk 4: Lost at Jacksonville, 37-17
What is going on down in Tennessee? From the only 13-3 team and a number one see a year ago, to an 0-4 start this season. So, no more Haynesworth, but way too much talent on the field and on the coaching staff to be winless.
#27 CAROLINA PANTHERS 0-3 Wk 3: #29 Wk 4: Bye
Good news for Panthers fans! Jake Delhomme didn’t turn it over last week. Oh right, Carolina was off. Ever since last year’s regular season ended, Delhomme has not been the same quarterback. At 0-3, he’d better find it again soon.
#28 OAKLAND RAIDERS 1-3 Wk 3: #26 Wk 4: Lost at Houston, 29-6
Jamarcus Russell has completed a shade under 40 percent of his passes and there’s talk of head coach Tom Cable being arrested for breaking the jaw of one of his assistants. The Raiders are a mess right now, but at least they have a win…
#29 TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 0-4 Wk 3: #31 Wk 4: Lost at Washington, 16-13
Which bring us to the winless bottom four, and we start with the Bucs, who early on, couldn’t stop anyone while moving the ball some. Now that the defense has improved a little, the offense has disappeared. Long season in Tampa.
#30 CLEVELAND BROWNS 0-4 Wk 3: #32 Wk 4: Lost to Cincinnati, 23-20 OT
The Browns nearly got a… well, not a win, but almost a tie. Hey, gotta set you sights somewhere before you get better.
Cleveland did play Cincinnati tough after three bad games, so maybe there’s a some hope for a little improvement.
#31 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 0-4 Wk 3: #30 Wk 4: Lost to NY Giants, 27-16
All you need to know about the Chiefs so far this season, besides losing to three good teams each by double digits, is that when they statistically dominated the bad Raiders at home, they still managed to lose that one as well.
#32 ST.LOUS RAMS 0-4 Wk 3: #28 Wk 4: Lost at San Francisco, 35-0
And, bringing up the rear this week, falling four spots to get here after a horrid performance in Frisco, are the Rams. Two shutouts already? Just 24 points in four games? St. Louis is the NFL’s version of minor-league football right now.