NFL Power Rankings (Week 4): NFC West Invades the Top 10

Wesley Kaminsky@@Wesley_KaminskyCorrespondent IIISeptember 25, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 23:  Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates after a 37 yard touchdown reception against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

We've been through three weeks of the 2012 NFL season, and in that time, there are only three teams that are unbeaten.

The Houston Texans, with their balanced offense and nasty defense, have been the best team in the AFC thus far.

The Atlanta Falcons, with a revamped defense and no-huddle offense, have emerged as a contender in the NFC. Matt Ryan has been the best quarterback in the NFL thus far.

Finally, the last unbeaten team is the Arizona Cardinals. What? After a quarterback controversy all offseason, the Cardinals have been the biggest surprise of the season so far. Since John Skelton went down with an injury in Week 1, Kevin Kolb has looked like a different quarterback, with wins over the New England Patriots in Foxborough and, this past week, in convincing fashion over his former team, the Philadelphia Eagles.

It must have been sweet revenge for Kolb to beat the team that chose Michael Vick over him. For the Cardinals, though, the story has been their defense, which has shut down Tom Brady and Michael Vick in successive weeks. That's impressive. It appears the NFC West isn't so bad after all.

However, the story of the week came on Monday night, when it was more evident than ever that the NFL needs to bring back the real referees. Just re-watch the fourth quarter of the game between the Packers and Seahawks, specifically the final throw of the game when Russell Wilson's pass to Golden Tate was somehow called a touchdown. There is no question that Packers safety M.D. Jennings intercepted that pass.

Roger Goodell needs to address this problem. Monday Night was the tipping point, and the replacement referees need to go back to where they came from—wherever that may be. I think I speak for everyone when I say "Free Ed Hochuli."

1. Houston Texans (2): 3-0. They took care of business in Denver, with Matt Schaub losing part of his earlobe in the process. This might be the most complete team in the NFL. (Next game: vs. Tennessee)

2. Atlanta Falcons (4): 3-0. Mike Nolan has done an outstanding job with the Falcons defensive unit, as they held the Chargers to just three points on Sunday. They look like they will run away with the NFC South. (Next game: vs. Carolina) 

3. San Francisco 49ers (1): 2-1. That was a trap game in Minnesota, and the 49ers fell right into it. Don't expect that to happen too many more times with this team. Jim Harbaugh won't allow it. (Next game: at NYJ) 

4. Green Bay Packers (3): 1-2. The Packers didn't lose that game—blame Roger Goodell. The replacement referees cost the Packers the game. (Next game: vs. New Orleans) 

5. Baltimore Ravens (6): 2-1. That was an emotional win for the Ravens, especially for Torrey Smith. It took guts to do what he did. (Next game: vs. Cleveland on TNF)  

6. Arizona Cardinals (18): 3-0. Are the Cardinals for real? Back-to-back wins over the Patriots and Eagles certainly suggest so. (Next game: vs. Miami)   

7. New York Giants (7): 2-1. So much for Cam Newton exploiting the Giants secondary. They looked like the Super Bowl champions on Thursday. (Next game: at Philadelphia on SNF)

8. New England Patriots (5): 1-2. With that loss to the Ravens, the Patriots now have their first losing record since 2003. Can they bounce back in Buffalo? (Next game: at Buffalo)

9. Seattle Seahawks (20): 2-1. A controversial ending will overshadow the fact that the Seahawks are for real—so is the NFC West. This defense can play. (Next game: at St. Louis) 

10. Dallas Cowboys (12): 2-1. It wasn't pretty, but the Cowboys will take it. Rob Ryan's defense has looked much better this season. (Next game: vs. Chicago on MNF)   

11. Pittsburgh Steelers (9): 1-2. They let that one slip away in Oakland and now get the bye week to think about it. (Next game: Bye, vs. Philadelphia)

12. Chicago Bears (13): 2-1. The offense needs to get better if the Bears want to be competitors in the NFC. That starts with you, Jay Cutler. (Next game: at Dallas on MNF)

13. Philadelphia Eagles (10): 2-1. Michael Vick is taking a beating this season, and you have to wonder how long he will be able to take it. I still don't understand why they don't run the ball more. (Next game: vs. NYG on SNF)

14. Cincinnati Bengals (16): 2-1. After a bad Week 1, the Bengals offense has come alive the past two weeks. A.J. Green is scary good. (Next game: vs. Jacksonville)

15. Denver Broncos (8): 1-2. Peyton Manning's arrival hasn't fixed the Broncos secondary. They got lit up by Matt Schaub on Sunday. (Next game: vs. Oakland)

16. San Diego Chargers (11): 2-1. Losses like the one against Atlanta last Sunday are why it's so hard to trust the Chargers. The Falcons dominated them in San Diego. (Next game: at Kansas City) 

17. New York Jets (15): 2-1. The Jets season may have just taken a turn for the worse with the news that Darrell Revis is done for the season with a torn ACL. (Next game: vs. San Francisco)

18. Buffalo Bills (23): 2-1. The Bills aren't as bad as they played in Week 1 and have shown it the past two weeks. The entire city of Buffalo was holding their breath in regards to C.J. Spiller's injury. (Next game: vs. New England)

19. Minnesota Vikings (27): 2-1. That was the best game of Christian Ponder's career in Sunday's win over San Francisco. Impressive win for the Vikings. (Next game: at Detroit) 

20. Detroit Lions (14): 1-2. Jim Schwartz decision to go for it on 4th-and-1 cost the Lions the game. This team is in trouble. They can't stop anybody on defense. (Next game: vs. Minnesota)

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (21): 1-2. The defense played its role in Dallas, but Josh Freeman could never get anything going on offense. Expect that to be different against the Redskins. (Next game: vs. Washington) 

22. Miami Dolphins (24): 1-2. An overtime loss like that stings because the Dolphins had it won. That win would have put the Dolphins in first place in the AFC East. (Next game: at Arizona)   

23. Oakland Raiders (31): 1-2. The Raiders saved their season with a big comeback victory over the Steelers. They needed that. (Next game: at Denver)

24. Tennessee Titans (29): 1-2. The Titans avoided a near collapse in overtime, stopping Shaun Hill on a quarterback sneak. Has anybody seen Chris Johnson? (Next game: at Houston)

25. Carolina Panthers (17): 1-2. The Panthers got embarrassed Thursday night against the Giants, and it doesn't get any easier this week. They travel to play the Falcons. (Next game: at Atlanta)

26. Indianapolis Colts (26): 1-2. Andrew Luck's second straight game-winning drive was spoiled by Blaine Gabbert hitting Cecil Shorts for an 80-yard touchdown pass. That shouldn't happen. (Next game: Bye, vs. Green Bay)

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (28): 1-2. So much for Maurice Jones-Drew being out of shape after missing all of preseason. He exploded for 177 yards in the Jaguars win over the Colts. (Next game: at Cincinnati)  

28. Washington Redskins (22): 1-2. The Redskins won't win many games if their defense continues to play like it has. They have given up more than 30 points in all three games this season. (Next game: at Tampa Bay) 

29. St. Louis Rams (24): 1-2. The problem with the Rams is that they just don't have many weapons on offense. Sam Bradford needs some help if he is going to succeed in St. Louis. (Next game: at Seattle)

30. Kansas City Chiefs (32): 1-2. Jamaal Charles rushed for 233 yards in the Chiefs win over the Saints. Yeah, he's back. Hello. (Next game: vs. San Diego)

31. New Orleans Saints (19): 0-3. The three teams that the Saints have lost to have a combined 0-6 record against the rest of the NFL. That is a telling stat. (Next game: at Green Bay) 

32. Cleveland Browns (30): 0-3. Brandon Weeden just doesn't look like the kind of guy who will be the Browns' franchise quarterback. Not at age 28, no. Chris Weinke anyone? (Next game: at Baltimore on TNF)


    Roethlisberger: SB Wins Better Than Huge Contract

    NFL logo

    Roethlisberger: SB Wins Better Than Huge Contract

    Rob Goldberg
    via Bleacher Report

    Brady on Deflategate: 'I Realized I Couldn't Win'

    NFL logo

    Brady on Deflategate: 'I Realized I Couldn't Win'

    Joseph Zucker
    via Bleacher Report

    Dak Ready to Surprise a Lot of People

    NFL logo

    Dak Ready to Surprise a Lot of People

    Mike Chiari
    via Bleacher Report

    Redditers Post Most Haunting Pics from Each Team's History

    Arizona Cardinals logo
    Arizona Cardinals

    Redditers Post Most Haunting Pics from Each Team's History

    via reddit