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WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 4

09.28.10 at 8:40 am ET
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After many shocks and surprises across the league through three weeks, the “Steel Curtain” rises up and has asserted supremacy over the rest of the NFL in this week’s edition of the WEEI.com NFL Power Rankings. Behind Charlie Batch, the unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers are ranked No. 1 as they have one more game to play until Pro Bowl quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returns. The Steelers have a huge test coming up against the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday at home.

Peyton Manning and the Colts are breathing down the Steelers neck at No. 2 after their second straight dominating win. Falling to No. 3 are Drew Brees and the defending champs. The Saints are out of the top spot for the first time this season after kicker Garret Hartley missed a 29-yard field goal to win the game in overtime.

Rounding out the top five are the Green Bay Packers who fall from the No. 2 spot. Despite the loss to the Bears on Monday night, the Packers remain two spots ahead. Green Bay still had a good chance to take down “Da Bears” on the road despite turnovers and penalties. Additionally, the Bears close-call win over the Lions in Week 1 and the inconsistent play of Jay Cutler still makes them a suspect team. The boys from the “Windy City” climb to No.7.

The winless Browns and Bills remain in the basement going into Week 4.

Surely there will be many brash and passionate opinions this week as some 3-0 teams aren’t even in the “Fine 15,” and some teams who have won head to head matchups aren’t ahead of the teams they’ve beat. Leave your comments below.

Pittsburgh Steelers 1. (4) 3-0-0 The Steelers have the opportunity to be 4-0 before Roethlisberger returns from a four-game suspension. With a defense that is allowing just 11 points a game, Pittsburgh is looking more and more like the team to beat in the AFC.

2. (3) 2-1-0 Peyton Manning can make any receiver effective. Without Pierre Garcon and Anthony Gonzalez, Manning found backups Austin Collie and Blair White all over the field. Can anyone argue, barring an injury to Manning, that this team won’t win at least 12 games this year?

New Orleans Saints3. (Last week, 1) 2-1-0 The Saints need to improve their rush defense dramatically (they currently rank 30th). The way to beat the defending champs is to pound the ball on the ground and keep Drew Brees and the offense off the field. That’s what the Falcons did on Sunday and it turned out badly for New Orleans.

4. (11) 2-1-0 The Falcons showed that they are one of the top tier teams in the league after knocking off the defending champs in New Orleans. Atlanta’s only loss came in overtime against a great Steelers team. If Atlanta’s rushing attack can remain effective, the Falcons can do some damage in the NFC.

Green Bay Packers5. (2) 2-1-0 Eighteen penalties in one game is very alarming for a team many think is one of the best in the NFC. The Packers beat themselves Monday night and can’t afford to play like the way they did again if they want to contend for a Super Bowl. The good thing Green Bay can take away from the loss was the play of Aaron Rodgers — an unbelievable and gutty performance from a quarterback that has made his way into the conversation of best QB in the league.

New York Jets6. (7) 2-1-0 After a miserable week 1 performance, Mark Sanchez still hasn’t turned the ball over this season and has played great over the past two weeks. The timing and rhythm between Sanchez and Braylon Edwards has been strong.

Chicago Bears7. (13) 3-0-0 The Packers lost that game Monday night more than the Bears won it. Jay Cutler is still making poor decisions and bad throws. However, big win for a team that now sits on top in a division that includes the Vikings and Packers. Who would’ve thought?

Miami Dolphins8. (8) 2-1-0 Tony Sparano criticized the Dolphins’ special teams unit, and rightfully so. Miami’s special teams allowed 140 yards on three plays, had a punt blocked, and kicked off out of bounds against the Jets. Still, the Dolphins were right there in the end. Miami is hoping that Chad Henne will be able to make that big play when it counts sooner rather than later.

9. (6) 2-1-0 Unusual to see the offense carry this team to a win rather than the defense. The addition of Anquan Boldin really has paid off for the Ravens. Their new wide receiver caught eight passes for 142 yards and three touchdowns.

Houston Texans10. (5) 2-1-0 The Texans had a great chance to start their season 3-0 for the first time in team history but instead showed several areas of weakness. Houston’s pass defense is ranked last in the NFL allowing an average of 369 yards through the air a game.

New England Patriots 11. (9) 2-1-0 The Patriots defense has allowed 27 points per game after three weeks of football. Opposing offenses are having their way against the Pats D and that is forcing Tom Brady and the Patriots offensive attack to put 30-plus points on the board every week. New England looks like a mediocre team at this point in the season.

12. (17) 2-1-0 Funny to think that before the season began the Eagles couldn’t find a team to take Mike Vick for a pair of shoulder pads. Now, Vick has shown that he is back to that dynamic player he was with the Falcons and can lead his team to victories.

Cincinnati Bengals13. (10) 2-1-0 The Bengals pulled off a sloppy win over the lowly Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Carson Palmer has been shaky to start the season.

Dallas Cowboys14. (19) 1-2-0 Finally the Cowboys get into the win column. Dallas beat a strong Houston team and played well in all phases of the game. Tony Romo and the offense was in complete control all game and the Cowboys defense had four sacks along with three turnovers.

Minnesota Vikings15. (15) 1-2-0 Nothing like a game against the Lions to snap a two-game losing streak. The Vikings need to continue to put the ball in Adrian Peterson’s hands if they want to win games. Brett Favre continued to make some poor decisions on the field. Hopefully for Vikings fans, Favre and the passing game will get back to the way they played in 2009.

Kansas City Chiefs16. (21) 3-0-0 Last year the Chiefs had four wins all of last season. Now, Kansas City has started its 2010 campaign with three straight wins. Romeo Crennel has done a great job with the defense, which ranks second in the league in points allowed per game with 12.7.

17. (12) 1-2-0 Eleven penalties for 83 yards, five turnovers, and two touchdowns allowed on special teams was the story of the day for the Chargers. Historically, the Chargers have never been “Super” to start a season but right now it’s tough to see this team turning it around anytime soon.

Seattle Seahawks18. (24) 2-1-0 In April, Leon Washington was acquired for a fifth-round draft pick. Five months later he ran two kicks back for touchdowns and has been a priceless addition to the Seahawks squad. Seattle is emerging as the favorite to win the lowly NFC West division.

19. (20) 2-1-0 It’s amazing what winning the turnover battle can do for a team. Last week, the Titans turned the ball over seven times. This week they turned the ball over zero times resulting in a 29-10 win over the Giants.

20. (14) 1-2-0 The Giants played undisciplined and sloppy Sunday against the Titans – uncharacteristic for a Tom Coughlin led team. Eleven penalties and three turnovers were the reason the Giants never had a chance to win. Eli Manning has been in the league too long to make mistakes like he did.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers21. (23) 2-1-0 It will be interesting how much rookie LaGarrette Blount can contribute to this team’s offense come Week 5 when the team gets back from their bye week. Head coach Raheem Morris said he will be using the rookie back more to help the team’s struggling run game.

Arizona Cardinals22. (29) 2-1-0 Arizona escaped Oakland Sunday with a win after turning the ball over three times and committing 10 penalties. Thankfully for the Cardinals, they were playing the Raiders.

Denver Broncos23. (22) 1-2-0 Denver had their chances to beat the Colts but when it came down to red zone production, the Broncos fell short. Kyle Orton and the offense were 0-5 in the red zone.

San Francisco 49ers24. (18) 0-3-0 The 49ers were supposed to be the team to beat in the NFC West division but have been dominated in two of their three losses so far this season. San Fran has just two passing touchdowns this year.

Washington Redskins25. (16) 1-2-0 A really bad loss for the Redskins against St. Louis, one of the worst teams in the league. Washington couldn’t score in the redzone and was unsuccessful converting on third down (1-10 on third down conversions). Next up for the Redskins: Donovan McNabb’s return to Philadelphia.

Jacksonville Jaguars26. (25) 1-2-0 David Garrard may not have much time left in the starting role for the Jaguars. Garrard was 13-for-30 for just 105 yards against the Eagles. He was also sacked six times. Jacksonville’s offensive line was dominated.

Oakland Raiders 27. (28) 1-2-0 The Raiders put themselves in a position to win Sunday despite committing eleven penalties for 123 yards. However, Sebastian Janikowski missed a short field goal and Oakland came away with a loss. A few noticeable things about this team is that they play better with Bruce Gradkowski behind center and they are putting the ball in Darren McFadden’s hands more and more each week and seeing positive results.

St. Louis Rams28. (30) 1-2-0 Without their star running back for the entire second half, the St. Louis Rams were still able to win their first game at home since October 2008. Rookie quarterback Sam Bradford played well and looked poised down the stretch.

Carolina Panthers29. (27) 0-3-0 Things aren’t pretty in Carolina. A frustrated Steve Smith was yelling at rookie QB Jimmy Clausen as the Panthers fell to 0-3 for the second straight year.

Detroit Lions30. (26) 0-3-0 The win/loss record isn’t there for the Lions but they are improving. Detroit is playing its opponents tough despite having some key injuries.

Cleveland Browns31. (31) 0-3-0 Strong performance from the Browns against their division rival Baltimore Ravens. Cleveland had a chance to win Sunday and that’s really all Browns fans can hope for going into the games on Sunday. Both Seneca Wallace and Peyton Hillis played well in the loss.

Buffalo Bills32. (32) 0-3-0 The Bills can do one thing well on the field and that’s special teams. For the first time this season, we saw how dynamic CJ Spiller can be.

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