NFL Power Rankings Week 4: Beware the AFC East-leading Bills

Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White, right, and outside linebacker Ramon Humber celebrate White's interception on a pass from Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian, not pictured, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

After a convincing win over the Denver Broncos in Week 3, the Buffalo Bills now sit at 2-1 and a tiebreak ahead of the New England Patriots for first place in the AFC East.

Big deal, you say? Well, it is … as much as any tenuous hold on a division lead can be this early in the year.

Sure, we’re only three games in, but before this season the Bills hadn’t sat in first place in the AFC East since they started 2-0 in 2014. So they’ll take it.

What’s more, the Bills are also among the highest risers in our panel’s weekly power rankings, along with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams (both, like the Bills, up seven spots this week).

This week, our panel consists of editors Geoff Lowe and Craig Battle, and staff writers Donnovan Bennett and Mike Johnston.

Rank Team

Kareem Hunt has topped 400 yards after his first three NFL games without getting more than 17 carries in a single one of them. Related: The undefeated Chiefs lead all teams in total rushing. (CB)
2017 record: 3-0

Previous: 1


That 3-0 record looks great — perfect, in fact — but it’s misleading. Atlanta is nowhere close to a perfect team and they’ve benefitted from their Week 1 and Week 3 opponents blowing chances at last-second victories. (MJ)
2017 record: 3-0

Previous: 3


Another epic finish for Tom Brady and the Patriots is nothing new. What is unfamiliar territory for Bill Belichick’s team is owning the league’s 32nd-ranked defence, which surrendered at least 415 yards for the third straight week. (GL)
2017 record: 2-1

Previous: 4


Amazingly, Aaron Rodgers got his first career OT win in Week 3 versus Cincinnati. Rodgers made anticipatory throws that nobody in the NFL can make to bring the Packers back from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit. (DB)
2017 record: 2-1

Previous: 8


The Lions came up short when they controversially ran out of time against Atlanta. But Matt Stafford again looked like a fourth-quarter magician, and this team is deserving of more national respect. (DB)
2017 record: 2-1

Previous: 7


The Raiders’ offence failed to hit triple digits in either passing or rushing yardage Sunday night as they were totally stifled by Washington’s defence, a stark contrast from the team’s output the first two weeks of the season. (CB)
2017 record: 2-1

Previous: 2


The Steelers don’t look like the team that won double-digit games the last three years. Their defence isn’t forcing turnovers and their offence isn’t making explosive plays. (DB)
2017 record: 2-1

Previous: 5


Mike Mularkey’s group out-muscled and out-toughed a strong, rugged Seahawks defence. This team’s best attribute is how it can dominate at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. (MJ)
2017 record: 2-1

Previous: 13


Cowboys fans have to be relieved after responding to last week’s stinker in Denver with an impressive win over Arizona in which Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott bounced back nicely. (GL)
2017 record: 2-1

Previous: 12


A win doesn’t get much more dominant than Washington’s stunner over Oakland on Sunday night, recording nearly 500 yards of offence while holding the typically high-flying Raiders to just 128. (GL)
2017 record: 2-1

Previous: 16


Outside the friendly confines of Sports Authority Field, Trevor Siemian came back down to Earth, throwing two second-half picks to stop short a comeback bid in Buffalo. (CB)
2017 record: 2-1

Previous: 6


Doug Pederson answered big questions about the running game thanks to a big showing on the ground in Sunday’s thrilling win over the Giants, racking up nearly 200 rushing yards. Philly’s decimated secondary, however, is a concern. (GL)
2017 record: 2-1

Previous: 14


The Vikings defence is carrying them as they intercepted Jameis Winston three times. They have QB help of their own on the way as Teddy Bridgewater is eligible to practice in three weeks. (DB)
2017 record: 2-1

Previous: 18


The Bills’ most complete performance of the young season so far was highlighted again by a defence that has allowed the fewest points in the league through three weeks. (GL)
2017 record: 2-1

Previous: 21


While a tight road loss to the Titans is nothing to be ashamed about, through three weeks the Seahawks can boast just a three-point home win against the 49ers. That said, we’ve seen slow starts from Pete Carroll’s team before, so we’re holding judgment for another week. (CB)
2017 record: 1-2

Previous: 9


They showed resilience in winning a shootout in a nationally televised night game. But some perspective is necessary here: Last year’s Rams started 3-1 before going 1-11 the rest of the way. The Cowboys will provide a stiffer test in Dallas this Sunday. (CB)
2017 record: 2-1

Previous: 23


The secondary was exposed as a unit that needs work, getting lit up by Vikings backup Case Keenum (thanks in large part to star-in-the-making Stefon Diggs). Jameis Winston is still prone to making mental errors at key points in games. (MJ)
2017 record: 1-1

Previous: 11


Wait, what? Four touchdowns, no picks and a 128.2 passer rating for Blake Bortles? The Jags probably wish they played in England every week after a performance like that. The defence is becoming a real force, holding the Ravens to 64 yards through the air. (MJ)
2017 record: 2-1

Previous: 25


The Ravens lost by 37, but didn’t lose their hold on first place in their division. The upcoming matchup with the rival Steelers will be an important indicator of where supremacy in the North lies. (DB)
2017 record: 2-1

Previous: 10


The crowded backfield still can’t manage much between the tackles, but the offensive line gave Drew Brees time to work and when that happens his efficiency is still among the best. The defence never allowed Cam Newton to get comfortable. (MJ)
2017 record: 1-2

Previous: 26


With Cam Newton operating at less than 100 per cent, Greg Olsen out, and now Kelvin Benjamin dealing with a knee injury, this offence as a whole looks lost. They are fortunate to be 2-1. (MJ)
2017 record: 2-1

Previous: 15


A solid start versus Dallas on Monday gave way to a soft finish as the Cards got outscored 28–10 after the first quarter. The offensive line gave up six sacks to a Cowboys team that had accumulated just five over the first two weeks. (CB)
2017 record: 1-2

Previous: 22


Jordan Howard has emerged as the entire Bears offence, and he punctuated that fact with his walk-off TD. With Mike Glennon attempting only 22 passes for 101 yards, Howard is now being asked to carry the Bears on his shoulders despite his sprained AC joint. (DB)
2017 record: 1-2

Previous: 28


Give Tom Brady and the Patriots credit for an amazing game-winning drive yada yada yada…. The Texans blew it when they failed to extend a late fourth-quarter drive and settled for a field goal. Also, how you allow receivers to be wide open so frequently is perplexing. The bright spot is Deshaun Watson looks better each week. (MJ)
2017 record: 1-2

Previous: 24


The good news for the Dolphins after a drubbing at the hands of the Jets? It can’t get any worse. (GL)
2017 record: 1-1

Previous: 17


The Giants offence again looked inept until Odell Beckham Jr. took over in the final quarter. No. 13’s heroics were all for naught, however, as New York couldn’t hold off the Eagles in the final minutes and are now a long-shot for the playoffs just three games into the season. (GL)
2017 record: 0-3

Previous: 19


The Bengals are one of the five winless teams left in the NFL. Silver lining: Their offence showed signs of life in Week 3 with 21 first downs after having just 26 combined in Weeks 1 and 2. (DB)
2017 record: 0-3

Previous: 27


Fun fact [if you don’t like the Chargers]: They haven’t won a regular-season game since November of last year. (CB)
2017 record: 0-3

Previous: 20


Turns out they might not be bottom-feeders after all. Jacoby Brissett has given this team newfound confidence with Andrew Luck out. (MJ)
2017 record: 1-2

Previous: 31


They’ve lost their last two games by a total of five points. The reward for moral victories? Three straight road games. (CB)
2017 record: 0-3

Previous: 30


Of all the shocking upsets in Week 3, the Jets’ embarrassment of the Dolphins may have been the most surprising. This team isn’t nearly as bad as many expected them to be. (GL)
2017 record: 1-2

Previous: 32


The Browns have won just four of their last 35 games. Year 2 of the five-year plan isn’t looking much better than Year 1. (DB)
2017 record: 0-3

Previous: 29