September is over and the calendar has officially turned to October. For 30-of-32 teams, a quarter of the season is already in the books. Through four weeks, many things that we “knew” going into the season have proven to be wrong.
There is no change at the top as the Chiefs look like the only elite team in the NFL at the moment. In a bit of a surprise, the Bills continue to climb as they currently sit in sole possession of first place in the AFC East with a 3-1 record.
The Rams continued their ascension as one of the most exciting teams to watch in the NFL. It is too early to tell but their win over the Cowboys could wind up being a statement game for this young team. The other team in Los Angeles, however, continued their DEscension as they remain winless and look lost.
Now on to the rankings!
|1||Record (4-0); Previous (1) – Game Recap The final touchdown aside, this game was tight and the Chiefs needed every second to remain undefeated. The sky is the limit for this team at this point.
With that said, we are only four games into the 2017 season. Let’s see where this team is at at the halfway point of the season.
|2||Record (3-1); Previous (4) – Game Recap
At 3-1, the Lions are playing about as well as they are capable of, despite the controversial loss to Atlanta in Week 3.
This looks like a 10-12 win team at best, with a floor of about 7-9.
Matt Urben, Cowboys Editor
|3||Record (3-1); Previous (7) – Game Recap
On the “road” against the Chargers, running back, LeGarrette Blount had his best game as an Eagle. Blount rushed for 136 yards on 16 carries as the Eagles took sole possession of first place in the NFC East with the win.
|4||Record (3-1); Previous (3) – Game Recap
The Falcons finally lost a game and to the surprise of most, it came at the hands of the Buffalo Bills. The Bills defense contained Matt Ryan, limiting him to one touchdown and just over a 50 percent completion rate.
|5||Record (3-1); Previous (8) – Game Recap
Ceiling: The ceiling for the Steelers is still the Super Bowl. Seeing Bell finally breakout in Week Four gives a good sense that they could be firing on all cylinders in the coming weeks.Floor: If healthy, a worst-case scenario feels like a Wild Card Round upset. Of course, an injury to Roethlisberger, Bell or Brown or could turn them into a team looking in from the outside with an 8-8 record.Parker Hurley, Steelers Editor
|6||Record (3-1); Previous (6) – Game Recap
The Packers did what they were supposed to do against a bad Bears game. Aaron Rodgers threw for under 200 yards, however, he tossed four touchdowns in the rout. They will probably still win the division, but still unsure where they go from there.
|7||Record (2-2); Previous (2) – Game Recap Ceiling: This team with Brady and Belichick, are always a Super Bowl or bust team. Despite their early defensive struggles, this team is still a favorite for the Super Bowl.
Floor: With said defensive problems, the Patriots could realistically be looking at a 10/11 win season, which, by their standards, is a poor season as they likely would struggle to win the division.
Ian Glendon, Patriots Editor
|8||Record (3-1); Previous (13) – Game Recap
Ceiling: For the Rams, it seems to be sky high around 12-4, they feature the best offense in the NFL in terms of scoring.
Floor:An all too familiar 7-9, but I believe this is unlikely. However, last year they finished 4-12 after a 3-1 start so the possibility of a poor finish must be accounted for.Andrew Kelly, Rams Editor
|9||Record (2-2); Previous (16) – Game Recap
Floor: For the Texans, it’s the bottom third of the power rankings. The fact of the matter is that they have a rookie quarterback. It is hard to rely on a rookie to consistently be as productive as he has been the past few weeks.
James Mastrucci, Texans Editor
|10||Record (3-1); Previous (11) – Game Recap Floor: With this defense, the Broncos will be in every game. There’s no way this team finishes below 9-7.
Ceiling: The offense’s inconsistencies continue to hinder Denver. The upcoming schedule also does them no favors. However, if the Broncos can find balance on offense, 11-5 will become a definite possibility.
Luke Snyder, Broncos Editor
|11||Record (2-2); Previous (5) – Game Recap
After a strong start, the Raiders fell to 2-2 with a 16-10 heartbreaking loss at Denver. On the positive side, Derek Carr’s back injury looks minor. Conversely, the anemic running game, spotty pass protection, and drops look to be more of a hindrance that initially anticipated.
Terrance Biggs, Raiders Editor
|12||Record (2-2); Previous (12) – Game Recap
Floor: Given the team’s penchant for suffering injuries at the most crucial positions, most recently Dalvin Cook, the Vikings could realistically end up with five wins and in last place in the division.
Ceiling: If the quarterback gets healthy, the defense continues to dominate and Michael Floyd makes an impact in return from suspension, Minnesota can win 10 games and compete for a playoff spot.
Sam Smith, Vikings Editor
|13||Record (2-2); Previous (14) – Game Recap
The Redskins had a chance to pull off the upset of the undefeated Chiefs but they squandered a lead late in the third quarter. As of now, the Redskins and Eagles look like the class of the NFC East.
|14||Record (2-2); Previous (17) – Game Recap
Ceiling: Seattle wins NFC West. Defense creates turnovers and shuts down offenses to help ease the pressure on the Seattle offense. The offense continues to make improvements, relying on Russell Wilson’s arm.
Floor: The offense continues to struggle, putting the defense on the field for the majority of games, causing the tired defense to get chewed up in the run game. Would leave the team battling for a Wild Card spot in the playoffs.Danny Justik, Seahawks Editor
|15||Record (3-1); Previous (20) – Game Recap
Ceiling: for the Panthers is that Cam Newton is back with his run game and precision passing to Funchess and Benjamin (13-3).
Floor: The Panthers secondary still needs to improve and make sure they contain open receivers and get interceptions (8-8).Gabriela Swic, Panthers Editor
|16||Record (2-2); Previous (9) – Game Recap
Four games into the 2017 season it is still hard to get a read on the Dallas Cowboys. Sitting at 2-2 the Cowboys have shown the ability to be a dominant offensive team. Their performances at times against the Cardinals and Rams were reminiscent of the 13-3 team a year ago.
However, their effort against the Broncos and the second half of the Rams game showed their youth and inconsistencies.While the talent is still there to repeat as NFC East division champions, the Cowboys must learn to play with much more consistency to avoid the tightly contested division’s basement.Tony Iosso, Cowboys Editor
|17||Record (2-2); Previous (10) – Game Recap
Ceiling: Every team is bound to lose some time and needs a loss to not get too arrogant. The Texans soundly whooped the Titans, but it’s not that big of a deal. They could very well go 6-1 til the next time they play the Texans. They are probably a playoff team that loses and then returns next year with high hopes.
Floor: They’ve been a Mariota injury away from desperately needing a quarterback so let’s hope his hamstring is OK.
Brian Moore, Titans Editor
|18||Record (3-1); Previous (21) – Game Recap
No one expected the Bills to be at the top of the division by the time October came. Now, they have one of the best defenses’ in the league and their offense is starting to click. They will have to replace key players like Jordan Matthews due to injury, but if they can keep this momentum going and play Bills football, they can easily be a playoff team.Brandon Ray, Bills Editor
|19||Record (2-1); Previous (19) – Game Recap
The Bucs jumped on the winless Giants, building a 16-0 lead early. However, the Giants came roaring back and the Bucs needed nine points in the fourth to hold on to the win. They now have a date with the 2-2 Patriots on Thursday Night Football.
|20||Record (2-2); Previous (23) – Game Recap
Floor: Saints defense has played great the past 2 weeks including a shutout in London against the Dolphins, but is this just a fluke? The floor for the Saints is that there D returns to the same old Saints D. Saints schedule doesn’t get any easier so if the D doesn’t keep this play up it could get ugly once again.Ceiling: Again the key is the Saints D, first 2 games the D gave up 1,000 yards but in the past 2 games have given up under 500 yards. If the defense keeps playing at this elite level this Saints team could win the NFC South and be a threat in the NFC.Brenden Ertle, Saints Editor
|21||Record (2-2); Previous (15) – Game Recap
Starting off 2-2 is an okay start for them but with their talent, there should be no reason why they aren’t 3-1. Right now, they look like a wild card team unless they can improve as a unit overall.Brandon Ray, Jaguars Editor
|22||Record (2-2); Previous (24) – Game Recap
Ceiling: Playoffs. At best the Cardinals may be able to sneak into the playoffs. The rest of the teams in the NFC West have problems, and they are currently 1-0 in the division, so there is still a chance to win in the West.
Floor: Top Ten Pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. With the offensive line problems continuing, who knows how long Carson Palmer will continue to play. With the oldest team in the NFL, the Cardinals could benefit from a top ten pick to begin rebuilding.
Andrew Erickson, Cardinals Editor
|23||Record (2-2); Previous (18) – Game Recap
By the end of the first half, they were down 19-0 at home to the Steelers. They should be fortunate to have won two games early because it doesn’t look like they will get many more at this rate.
|24||Record (1-2); Previous (22) – Game Recap
And just like that, the Jay Cutler experiment is looking like a flop. The epitome of Cutler came during a wildcat play where he didn’t even bother lining up to be a decoy. It could be a long year in South Florida.
|25||Record (1-3); Previous (30) – Game Recap
Ceiling: This is a team that’s improved in two consecutive weeks on offense – a unit which lost them their first two games. Dalton’s performance against the Browns in the best showing an AFC North quarterback has had all season. At 1-3, Cincinnati isn’t far removed from the pole position in an unusually weak division if they can maintain their upward momentum.
Floor: On the other hand, it’s exceedingly unlikely that Dalton throws for four touchdowns with a >80% completion rate every week. The unit likely won’t dominate Buffalo to that degree next week, let alone other teams down the line once new coordinator Bill Lazor’s offensive identity is better known. Lazor has yet to have John Ross or Tyler Eifert available to him – can other players rise to fill the void, or will Lazor be forced to spend the season scheming around a limited arsenal of talent?
Andrew Hammel, Bengals Editor
|26||Record (2-2); Previous (31) – Game Recap
Ceiling: The Jets are on their way from moving past the tank rumors. With the defense improving and offense stepping up, this team should be able to win a few more games while making some noise.Floor: The Jets face two of the three best division in pro football this year, playing the AFC West and NFC South. A few more blowout losses may be inevitable, but hey, at least they’ll be in a good draft position come May.Kyle Hirshkind, Jets Editor
|27||Record (1-3); Previous (26) – Game Recap
The Bears looked incredibly weak against the Packers last Thursday, losing 35-14. However, reports around Halas Hall state that Mitchell Trubisky will be starting against Minnesota next Monday night, and with a possible Nick Kwiatkowski return from injury, things could be looking up for the Bears after all.
Tyler Kading, Bears Editor
|28||Record (1-3); Previous (27) – Game Recap
Floor: Somewhere around 3-4 wins. Who knows how Brissett will continue to play, and with our division being stronger, a bottom 5 finish is quite plausible.
Ceiling: As farfetched as it may seem, is a playoff team. A win against Seattle on Sunday night along with some key divisional victories could push the Colts into the postseason. And is Luck is finally healthy at that time, watch out.Ben Pfeifer, Colts Editor
|29||Record (0-4); Previous (25) – Game Recap
Well, the bad news is that the New York Football Giants are already on the floor, being one of four winless teams after the first quarter of the season.
The good news is that it can’t get any lower. Justin Pugh and Odell Beckham Jr believe the Giants can run the table. I don’t share their enthusiasm because to make the playoffs they have to run the table. The ceiling would be 6-10 or 7-9…and with 10 of their final 12 games against teams .500 or better, that might be too high.Curtis Rawls, Giants Editor
|30||Record (0-4); Previous (28) – Game Recap
Ceiling: The most promising aspect of the 49ers is their defense, which continues to improve and ranks 26th best in defense-adjusted over average, which is about as high one could consider ranking the 49ers.Floor: The 49ers will go only as far as Brian Hoyer and the offense will take them, and despite Carlos Hyde’s strong start, Hoyer has been abysmal and the reason for their 0-4 record. Hoyer and the offense rank 30th in efficiency and 30 is about right for the team’s ranking.Winston Chung, 49ers Editor
|31||Record (0-4); Previous (29) – Game Recap
Floor: When a team is 0-4, it’s hard to say that things can get any worse. At least, Rivers, Bosa and Ingram are healthy. Nowhere to go, in Carson, but up….hopefully.
Ceiling: The Chargers are most likely headed for a top-flight draft pick. They have a lot of talent, but can’t seem to put it all together. Still, a glimmer of hope to make a run, but highly doubtful at this point.
Mike D’Abate, Chargers Editor
|32||Record (0-4); Previous (32) – Game Recap
It can’t get much worse for the Browns, who at 0-4, are now 1-19 in their last 20 games. The ceiling for this team is no more than one or two wins at this point. One seems like the likely number at the end of the day.
– Ian Glendon is the National Editor for cover32 and the Managing Editor for cover32/Patriots. He covers the NFL and New England Patriots. Like and follow on Follow @iglen31 Follow @cover32_NE and Facebook.