Replacement refs have stolen the headlines once again following two controversial games on Sunday and Monday night. There still appears to no end in sight.
There are three unbeaten team left in the NFL, and the Arizona Cardinals are one of them. The Cardinals are 3-0 for the first time since 1974 and have sole possession of first place in the NFC West for the first time since Week 5 of the 2010 season.
Meanwhile the New Orleans Saints are one of two (Cleveland Browns) teams still winless. Even worse, all three opponents, Washington, Carolina and Kansas City, are all 1-2 with the lone win coming at the Saints expense.
Here are the updated The Fan AM 1060 NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted every single Tuesday on thefan1060.com. Bob Kemp will react to these ranking on Wednesday in the SportsZone.
1) Atlanta Falcons (4-0) LW: 1
I was very tempted to knock the Falcons down a spot. Atlanta is very fortunate to still be unbeaten, but they stay at the top spot, albeit on shaky ground, because I trust Matt Ryan and I really like Atlanta’s rebuilt defense. However, the Falcons need to show me this week was more of a fluke and soundly beat the Redskins, otherwise a new (hint: Houston) will take over the top spot.
2) Houston Texans (4-0) LW: 2
The Texans beatdown the Titans on Sunday. Matt Schaub was efficient, Arian Foster was, well, Arian Foster and the Houston front seven had a field day against Tennessee’s offensive line. Houston will be showcased on Monday Night Football against the vastly overrated Jets, and maybe Tim Tebow.
3) Arizona Cardinals (4-0) LW: 3
The Cardinals won a game they had no business winning. Arizona trailed the Dolphins 13-0 at halftime, but took a 14-13 lead. Kevin Kolb threw what should have been a costly pick and a play later Miami us back up 21-14. However, Kolb shook off that bad pass, leading the Cardinals down the field to force overtime and eventually win in overtime. The short week could hand the Redbirds their first loss of the season.
4) San Francisco 49ers (3-1) LW: 4
After the Niners 34-0 win over the Jets, I couldn’t help but asking myself: Are the 49ers that good or are the Jets that bad? I think it’s both. San Francisco responded well after their stunning loss to the Vikings the week before. I also love how Jim Harbaugh seemed to be flipping Rex Ryan the bird by effectively running the Wildcat.
5) Baltimore Ravens (3-1) LW: 5
It wasn’t pretty, but with that defense, sometimes it doesn’t have to be. Joe Flacco had a predictable letdown game following his Sunday night performance against the Patriots. It was really nice to see Anquan Boldin (9 catches, 131 yards) have a breakout game again.
6) Chicago Bears (3-1) LW: 7
I think you can go two routes with the Bears. Either Monday night’s win was fool’s gold because how of bad the Cowboys are or it was a statement and Chicago isn’t as bad as the team Green Bay beat. I’m going with the latter. The Jay Cutler-Brandon Marshall combo is starting to bring results. And maybe the defense isn’t as bad as we all thought.
7) Green Bay Packers (2-2) LW: 8
The Packers were almost screwed off by the refs (the real ones) again. Green Bay held on after the Saints benefited from a down by contact call on a clear fumble. Garrett Hartley missed a game-winning field on the next drive. Green Bay should get above .500 this weekend in Indianapolis.
8) Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) LW: 10
The Eagles baffle me. Michael Vick remains hit or miss, the defense is very inconsistent and Andy Reid continues to make boneheaded coaching decisions. Yet, somehow, Philadelphia is 3-1 and leading the NFC East. Honestly, I would not be surprised if the Eagles won anywhere between 5 and 11 games this season.
9) Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) LW: 9
You are starting to see the reasons why many people, including myself, picked the Bengals to return to the playoffs. Andy Dalton continues to be a great game-manager and AJ Green is on his way to being one of the top receivers in the NFL. Nice three-game winning streak for Cincinnati since their season-opening loss to the Ravens.
10) New England Patriots (2-2) LW: 11
Things were not going well for the Patriots early on in Buffalo. Thankfully they play 60 minutes. New England outscored the Bills 45-14 in the second half and returned to .500. Tom Brady will duel with a familiar foe this weekend when Peyton Manning and the Broncos visit Foxborough this Sunday.
11) San Diego Chargers (3-1) LW: 12
The Chargers beat up on a pretty bad Chiefs team on Sunday. Philip Rivers only threw five incomplete passes and San Diego’s defense forced six turnovers. I’ll be interested to see how the Charges come out against a desperate Saints team this Sunday night.
12) New York Giants (2-2) LW: 6
The Giants let one slip away in Philadelphia. New York had held the Eagles to a go-head FG and had plenty of time to march down the field and win the game. Eli Manning had the G-Men in position, but instead of going for a fewer more yards to get in better field goal position, the Giants to a shot down the field. It ultimately cost them the game. New York will likely rebound this weekend against the Browns.
13) Minnesota Vikings (3-1) LW: 17
How about the Vikings? Sure, it was an ugly win, but if it wasn’t for the Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota would be the most surprising team in the NFC. Still, just like the Cardinals, you feel like the wheels are going to fall off soon. But not this week, Minnesota should move to 4-1 with the Titans entering the Twin Cities.
14) Denver Broncos (2-2) LW: 14
It’s becoming a tired act. Whenever Peyton Manning has a bad game, the four-letter network leads the “Peyton is done!” cheers. When Manning has a great game, as the case against Oakland, the four-letter network leads the “Peyton is back!” cheers. We will now a better picture of where Manning is at in November or December. As for the Broncos, they could get a big statement win this weekend in New England.
15) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) LW: 15
The Steelers enjoyed the bye week, though I’m using the word “enjoyed” rather loosely. Pittsburgh has no running game and is relying too heavily on Ben Roethlisberger. Add the weekly Todd Haley controversy headlines and the Steelers are facing a must win against the Eagles this weekend.
16) St. Louis Rams (2-2) LW: 26
St. Louis is trying to turn the Edward Jones Dome back into a home field advantage. The Rams are now 2-0 at home after going 8-32 at the Dome since 2006. However, one team they just can’t seem to beat is the Arizona Cardinals. The Redbirds have won seven straight at St. Louis and Ken Whisenhunt is 9-1 against the Rams. But those weren’t against Jeff Fisher. It should be an interesting game on Thursday night.
17) Washington Redskins (2-2) LW: 23
Washington held on to beat a somewhat underrated Tampa Bay team. Robert Griffin III continues to dazzle, throwing for 323 and one touchdown, while running in another score. Alfred Morris has become the latest running back to thrive under Mike Shanahan. However, it is concerning that the Redskins blew a 18-point lead.
18) Seattle Seahawks (2-2) LW: 13
In typical Seattle fashion, the Seahawks lost to an inferior team on the road. For whatever reason, this team has struggled away from Century Link Field. Seattle should beat Cam Newton and the Panthers this weekend, but then again, it’s another road game.
19) Dallas Cowboys (2-2) LW: 16
Remember when the Cowboys beat the Giants and everyone acted like Dallas won the Super Bowl. That was cute. Dallas has no run game, Dez Bryant is a headcase and poor Tony Romo has to do everything himself. It’s going to be a looong season in Jerryland this year.
20) Carolina Panthers (1-3) LW: 22
The Panthers were in prime position to pull off a huge upset over the Falcons and go 2-0 in their division. But then Cam Newton fumbled and Matt Ryan drove Atlanta down to a game-winning field goal. Carolina can turn it around against the Seahawks this weekend.
21) New York Jets (2-2) LW: 18
Let the Tim Tebow headlines begin. The Jets were terrible against San Francisco and things look even bleaker when New York hosts the Texans on Monday night. How soon do the Rex Ryan hot seat stories start popping up?
22) Buffalo Bills (2-2) LW: 19
The Bills flat quit in the second half once the Patriots fought back. Mario Williams gave up on plays and is starting to get compared to Albert Haynesworth. That’s never a good thing. Expect more of the same from the Bills this week against the 49ers.
23) Miami Dolphins (1-3) LW: 30
The Dolphins jumping up seven spots might be a bit of a surprise, but I was really impressed with Ryan Tannehill on Sunday. The Cardinals geared up to stop the run and dared Tannehill to beat them through the air. He damn near did. I know they are off to a bad start, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Miami finished second in the AFC East (shows you how bad that division is).
24) Kansas City Chiefs (1-3) LW: 20
The Chiefs proved their comeback win over the Saints was a fluke, reverting back to their old, frustrating ways. Kansas City turned the ball over six times (!) against a Chargers defense that is pretty mediocre. Imagine what will happen against Ray Lewis and the Ravens. Yikes.
25) Oakland Raiders (1-3) LW: 21
The Raiders are bad. Really bad. I mean, the even the Browns could beat them bad. The offense doesn’t score enough points and the defense cannot slow anyone down. None of that will change after the bye.
26) Tennessee Titans (1-3) LW: 24
Tennessee has been disappointing so far this season, but I’m not sure how much it is their fault. Jake Locker continues to get beat up and now Matt Hasselbeck will start the next few weeks. I was expecting the Titans defense to be much better. And what has happened to Chris Johnson? Huge drop off.
27) Detroit Lions (1-3) LW: 25
I said at the beginning of the year that Detroit would not live up to their preseason hype. That certainly has been the case through four games. The Lions offense is not as explosive as it was in 2011 and the defense is no longer making the big plays. Not a good combination.
28) Indianapolis Colts (1-2) LW: 28
The Colts received some devastating news during the bye week. As you know, Chuck Pagano is out indefinitely to get treatment for leukemia. Indianapolis could rally around their coach and win a few games, but in the grand scheme of things, Pagano beating cancer is much more important.
29) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) LW: 27
The City of Los Angeles approved a new 72,000 seat NFL stadium in downtown LA. What does this have to do with the Jaguars? Well, everything if attendance doesn’t improve. Given the product on the field, that seems very unlikely.
30) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) LW: 29
Tampa showed a little heart rallying from down 18 to make it a game, but the Bucs were facing a depleted Redskins defense and only managed to score 22 points and 373 total yards of offense. Tampa Bay is on bye this week.
31) New Orleans Saints (0-4) LW: 31
When I said the Saints would not make the playoffs, I did not expect them to start the year 0-4. The defense just cannot stop anyone. So how will New Orleans respond? Will the Saints crumble and tank the season or show some fight the rest of the way. I bet they quit.
32) Cleveland Browns (0-4) LW: 32
The Browns remain the worst team in the NFL. Cleveland will likely end up with the top pick in next year’s draft, but will they draft a quarterback or stick with Brandon Weeden?