Here is our Football Relativity comparison after Week Four. We’ve noted where we’ve moved teams up a level or down a level from the Week Three comparison.
10 – New York Giants – Another week, another business-like performance for the Giants, who beat the Chiefs comfortably on the road. The Giants are 4-0 and have looked good despite several injuries and three road games in the first four. This is a deep, quality team that is showing it can do the job week in and week out.
9 – Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts (UP A LEVEL), Minnesota Vikings (UP A LEVEL), New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints (UP A LEVEL) – We’ll leave the Ravens and Patriots on this level after their tight game. Baltimore shouldn’t be penalized for losing on the road to a really good team, while the Patriots affirmed that they are one of the league’s top teams. The Colts had another convincing win, and everything seems to be clicking for them right now. They’ve established themselves as well. The Saints, facing a good Jets team, won with defense for the first time this year. That’s a good sign that they can have staying power near the top of the league. The Vikings ran their record to 4-0 with an emotional (at least for Brett Favre) win over the Packers. They continue to show that they have a lot of good pieces on their team. This tier is crowded, but we’ll start to see some separation going forward. But chances are that we’ll see the Super Bowl winner out of these teams (plus the Giants, of course).
8 – Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers – The Falcons and Eagles were on bye. To be elite, the Falcons must prove they can win on the road. The Eagles should get Donovan McNabb back, which means it’s time for them to start pushing toward elite level. The Jets lost in New Orleans but weren’t overwhelmed despite two turnovers that resulted in touchdowns. The Jets’ D actually performed well against a potent offense, which shows that this team is actually good. The Steelers had a dominant first-half performance against the Chargers but didn’t finish well. Still, they’re 2-2 against fairly solid competition, so we’ll give them credit for now.
7 – Chicago Bears, San Diego Chargers – The Bears moved to 3-1 with a solid but not eye-popping win over the Lions. They look to be a legitimate wild-card team right now. The Chargers laid a complete egg in the first half against the Steelers but bounced back in the second half to compete. The Chargers are not a great team, but they still have the right talent to be considered in the playoffs right now.
6 – Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos (UP A LEVEL), Green Bay Packers (DOWN A LEVEL), San Francisco 49ers – This is the level where teams have a shot to make the playoffs but aren’t sure things to do so. I watched the Cowboys/Broncos game closely to try to figure out how good both teams are. I think the Broncos are a good but not great team both on offense and defense. As the competition improves, their holes will start to show, but this team is really competitive. The fluky win Denver got in Week One may end up being the spark of an unexpected playoff drive. The Cowboys remain a fringe playoff team to me. They have a solid running game and a decent if not dominant defense, and that’s a good combination. If Tony Romo can start getting out of his own way, the Cowboys will look more solid. Unfortunately for Dallas, that’s a big if right now. San Francisco blew out a terrible team, which is a mark of maturity. They’re not a wonderful team, but they are solid enough to be the NFC West favorites. The Bengals had some scary moments in Cleveland, but they walked out with a road win, which is a good sign. Cincy is still looking like a competitor for a wild-card berth to me. The Packers are a 7 or 8 level team at most positions, but the offensive line is so horrendous right now that they’re becoming a fringe playoff contender. Chad Clifton’s return will help, but that’s not a panacea to solve all the problems. This one unit could end up killing Green Bay’s season.
5 – Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans (UP A LEVEL), Jacksonville Jaguars (UP A LEVEL) – This is the 8-8 level. Arizona was on bye and must show more consistency. The Dolphins finally won a game, and they did so convincingly over Buffalo. The schedule may be too tough for 8-8 to happen, but that’s the talent level on South Beach. The Texans whipped the Raiders at home, as they should have. They’re not yet a playoff contender, but they’re an OK team. Likewise, Jacksonville got a second straight win, putting the beat down on Tennessee. The Jaguars are a little better than most thought.
4 – Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans (DOWN TWO LEVELS) – The Panthers were on bye, and they need a win badly. Buffalo got whipped in Miami as the Bills’ offensive inadequacies continued to show forth. Seattle lost handily in Indianapolis, but once Matt Hasselbeck gets back, they’ll at least be a tough out at home. At this point, the Titans are what their record says they are. They have more talent than this, but it’s not working together right now.
3 – Washington Redskins – The Redskins won at home against a rotten team (Tampa Bay). That’s Washington’s second win, but both are against the dregs. Neither win was impressive, so it’s hard to see Washington getting more than 5 wins right now unless something starts clicking quickly.
2 – Cleveland Browns (UP A LEVEL), Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders – Changing quarterbacks to Derek Anderson at least gave the Browns a pulse, so we’ll move them off the bottom level of the comparison. Detroit competes till the end but doesn’t have the tools, especially on defense. The hope for the future is there thanks to the young players on offense. The Chiefs don’t have enough talent either, as they fell behind against the Giants and didn’t have the oomph needed to rally. The Raiders are awful right now, but they have a win and another halfway decent performance, which puts them just above the bottom level. But they’re on notice right now.
1 – St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Rams got shellacked 35-0 in San Francisco, continuing their string of non-competitiveness. The offense is a major problem for the Rams. Tampa Bay was competitive against a paltry Redskins team, so we’ll wait and see if Josh Johnson really has helped the Bucs move forward half a step.