By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts Power Ranger

Who’s No. 2?

For us power ranking types, that’s really the only question at the season’s quarter pole. Clearly, Green Bay is No. 1, even with a defense that’s been a bit soft in the second half of lopsided games.

A legitimate case could be made for six teams to be in second place – and against, as well.
  • Baltimore: Three impressive wins, but a blowout loss to Tennessee
  • New England: The defense is putting up record-setting numbers, in a bad way
  • Tennessee: Three straight impressive wins, but they lost to Jacksonville
  • Detroit: Yes, they’re 4-0, but have played even with their opponents three weeks running
  • Houston: Allowing 40 points to the Saints not a good omen for the future
  • New Orleans: Another team that can’t play defense
In the end, we went with Baltimore at No. 2, with things sure to become a bit clearer in this race in Week 5. There was plenty of debate at the bottom as well, but St. Louis edges out Indianapolis in a fight between demoralized Midwestern dome teams. At least the Rams aren’t on TV every week.

On to the rankings!

1. GREEN BAY (4-0)

Last week: 49-23 win vs. Denver
Next three weeks: at ATL, vs. STL, at MIN
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Aaron Rodgers is damn good, on pace to throw for 5,116 yards and 48 touchdowns. But so is “Average Packers Opponent Quarterback,” currently on pace to throw for 5,372 yards and 36 touchdowns. The difference? Rodgers has two INTs, “Opponent QB” has eight.

2. BALTIMORE (3-1)

Last week: 34-17 win vs. New York Jets
Next three weeks: bye, vs. HOU, at JAX
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Ravens didn’t allow a single return touchdown of any type last year – punt, kick, fumble or interception -- and only one in 2009, making the two-score effort by the Jets in Baltimore Sunday night all the more odd.

3. NEW ORLEANS (3-1)

Last week:23-10 win at Jacksonville
Next three weeks: at CAR, at TB, vs. IND
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Darren Sproles is on pace for 896 yards receiving, another 536 rushing, and a total of 2,860 all-purpose yards – which would shatter Derrick Mason’s record of 2,690 from 2000. So yeah, good signing.

4. DETROIT (4-0)

Last week:34-30 win at Dallas
Next three weeks: vs. CHI, vs. SF, vs. AZ
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Lions are No. 2 in our Quality Stat rankings, with an average rank in our 13 stats of 6.92, trailing only coach Jim Schwartz’s former team in Tennessee. It’s the Year of the Schwartz, people, no matter what the Chinese restaurant placemats say.

5. NEW ENGLAND (3-1)

Last week: 31-19 win at Oakland
Next three weeks: vs. NYJ, vs. DAL, bye
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Patriots are on pace to score 540 points this year after scoring 518 in 2010 (1,058 in two years); the record for points in consecutive years is 1,066 by the 1999-2000 Rams.

6. HOUSTON (3-1)

Last week: 17-10 win vs. Pittsburgh
Next three weeks: vs. OAK, at BAL, at TEN
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Arian Foster has 10 career starts at home, and the numbers are pretty staggering: 237 carries, 1,257 yards (5.3 YPC) and 10 touchdowns. Eight of his nine 100-yard games have come at Reliant Stadium.

­­­7. TENNESSEE (3-1)

Last week: 31-13 win at Cleveland
Next three weeks: at PIT, bye, vs. HOU
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: It seems inconceivable that the Titans could be 3-1 and No. 7 in our power rankings while ranking No. 32 in yards per carry (2.8), but there we are. Credit the Titans’ pass defense (league-best 9.3 yards per catch allowed) for keeping everything in front of them and leading the way.

8. BUFFALO (3-1)

Last week:23-20 loss at Cincinnati
Next three weeks: vs. PHI, at NYG, bye
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Fred Jackson is averaging 6.3 yards a carry on 33 first-down attempts, one of the main reasons Buffalo’s scoring average is at 33.2 (up from 17.7 in 2010). They also have only fumbled once in four games, and didn’t lose it.

9. SAN DIEGO (3-1)

Last week:26-16 win vs. Miami
Next three weeks: at DEN, bye, at NYJ
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The inefficient Chargers are at it again. They’re 26th in Scoreability (yards divided by points) and 26th in Bendability (the defensive equivalent).


Last week: 31-27 win at Arizona
Next three weeks: vs. SEA, vs. BUF, bye
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Eli Manning isn’t just the best Manning in the league by default this year; he’s got a passer rating of 139.5 in the fourth quarter.

11. TAMPA BAY (3-1)

Last week: 24-17 win vs. Indianapolis
Next three weeks: at SF, vs NO, vs. CHI
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The little things add up – the Bucs lead the NFL in defensive kick returns (15.9 yards each) and are fourth in net punting (43.5 yards each).

12. NEW YORK JETS (2-2)

Last week: 34-17 loss at Baltimore
Next three weeks: at NE, vs. MIA, vs. SD
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Since the start of the 2009 season, no NFL quarterback has had more regular-season games with passer ratings under 60 than Mark Sanchez (11). The Jets are 1-10 in those games, 21-4 when he goes over 60.

13. WASHINGTON (3-1)

Last week:17-10 win at St. Louis
Next three weeks: at STL, bye, vs. PHI
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: It’s not good to be a quarterback in the NFC East, at least health-wise – the Redskins and Eagles are tied for the league lead with 15 sacks, followed by Dallas in third (13) and the Giants in a tie for fifth (12).


Last week:24-23 win at Philadelphia
Next three weeks: vs TB, at DET, bye
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The 49ers are in great position to make the playoffs, but a No. 31 rank on the Offensive Hog Index isn’t helping matters. But as long as they keep avoiding Quality Opponents (no games thus far in 2011 vs. teams that currently have winning records), it’ll be a breeze.

15. PITTSBURGH (2-2)

Last week: 17-10 loss at Houston
Next three weeks: vs. TEN, vs. JAX, at AZ
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Ben Roethlisberger’s 51.4 rating in the fourth quarter (30th) isn’t helping matters in Pittsburgh. Neither is a run defense that’s allowing 4.8 yards a carry (3.0 YPC last year). Neither is being -10 in turnover margin. All in all, this is a team that’s pretty lucky to be 2-2 and not worse.

16. OAKLAND (2-2)

Last week: 31-19 loss vs. New England
Next three weeks: at HOU, vs. CLE
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Raiders’ home park is officially named “ Coliseum.” What is ‘’? It’s the old What’s Al Davis getting out of the deal, a couple hundred grand and half off a pallet of tinted sunglasses?

17. DALLAS (2-2)

Last week:34-30 loss vs. Detroit
Next three weeks: bye, at NE, vs. STL
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Cowboys are wasting some superlatives – they’re best in the league in run defense (3.1 YPC) and best in the league in 25+ yard pass plays (16). A team with a passing game that’s that explosive and a run D that’s impenetrable should more or less be unstoppable … unless they stop themselves.


Last week: 24-23 loss vs. San Francisco
Next three weeks: at BUF, at WAS, bye
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Why are the Eagles 1-3? The simplest reason is that the defense has allowed 12 touchdowns and only three field goals – a couple more red-zone stops, and they’d be 3-1. Also, they were first in the league in passes defensed last year, and they’re 29th this year.

19. ATLANTA (2-2)

Last week:30-28 win at Seattle
Next three weeks: vs. GB, vs. CAR, at DET
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Falcons allowed 319 passing yards to Tarvaris Jackson in Seattle Sunday. That probably doesn’t bode well considering the next three QBs they face: Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford.

20. CHICAGO (2-2)

Last week: 34-29 win vs. Carolina
Next three weeks: at DET, vs. MIN, at TB
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Team nickname is "Bears."

21. CINCINNATI (2-2)

Last week: 23-20 win vs. Buffalo
Next three weeks: at JAX, vs. IND, bye
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Factoring in the shortened offseason, a rookie quarterback throwing to him and the general history of first-year receivers, A.J. Green’s start (on pace for 76 catches, 1,248 yards and 8 TDs) is all the more impressive.

22. CAROLINA (1-3)

Last week: 34-29 loss at Chicago
Next three weeks: vs. NO, at ATL, vs. WAS
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Last year, the Raiders became the only team in NFL history to double its scoring average from one year to the next. The Panthers could be the second (12.2 in 2010, 22.2 thus far in 2011).

23. CLEVELAND (2-2)

Last week: 31-13 loss vs. Tennessee
Next three weeks: bye, at OAK, vs. SEA
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Browns lead the league with 14 drops, and are 31st in yards per catch (9.8). Give Colt McCoy something to work with!

24. ARIZONA (1-3)

Last week: 31-27 loss vs. Giants
Next three weeks: at MIN, bye, vs. PIT
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: It’s going in the wrong direction for Kevin Kolb. His passer ratings: 130.0 in Week 1, then 92.5 in Week 2, 69.6 in Week 3 and 67.9 last week.


Last week: 23-10 loss vs. NO
Next three weeks: vs. CIN, at PIT, vs. BAL
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Don’t blame Maurice Jones-Drew for the Jaguars’ problems – he’s averaging 5.1 yards a carry and is on pace for 1,564 rushing yards.

26. DENVER (1-3)

Last week: 49-23 loss at Green Bay
Next three weeks: vs. SD, bye, at MIA
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Last year’s Broncos went 4-12, scored 344 points and allowed 471. This year’s Broncos are on pace to go 4-12, score 324 points and allow 444 points. But they did save a bunch of money on their car insurance.

27. MINNESOTA (0-4)

Last week:22-17 loss at Kansas City
Next three weeks: vs. AZ, vs. CHI, vs. GB
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Donovan McNabb has been decent (80.9 rating, just below the league average), but not when he’s needed to be – the Vikings have only picked up third down conversions with the pass 23.1 percent of the time, better than only Miami and Cincinnati.

28. KANSAS CITY (1-3)

Last week:22-17 win vs. Minnesota
Next three weeks: at IND, bye, vs. GB
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Chiefs have yet to top 15 offensive first downs in four games; they had at least 16 first downs in all but two games in 2010.

29. MIAMI (0-4)

Last week: 26-16 loss vs. San Diego
Next three weeks: bye, at NYJ, vs. DEN
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Dolphins only had two losing seasons from 1970-2003. Since 2004, they’ve had five, and No. 6 is only five more losses away.

30. SEATTLE (1-3)

Last week: 30-28 loss vs. Atlanta
Next three weeks: at NYG, bye, at CLE
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Seahawks head back on the road this weekend, where they are as sure a thing as there is. In a bad way. Their last seven road games, including last season’s playoff trip to Chicago: loss by 24, loss by 16, loss by 11, loss by 23, loss by 16, loss by 21, loss by 15. You don’t need CHFF Insider intel to tell you that the current line of Seahawks +9.5 isn’t enough points to pick Seattle. But still, you do need CHFF Insider. CHFF Insider. CHFF Insider. You are getting very sleepy.


Last week: 24-17 loss at Tampa
Next three weeks: vs. KC, at CIN, at NO
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: When are good stats actually bad? In the case of the Colts, having the league’s No. 1 and No. 2 tacklers (Pat Angerer, 50, and Kavell Conner, 43) is not a positive – Indy’s defense has been on the field an average of 36:04 per game, most in the league.

32. ST. LOUIS (0-4)

Last week: 17-10 loss vs. Washington
Next three weeks: bye, at GB, at DAL
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Rams are allowing 179.8 rushing yards a game and a 5.3 YPC average, way up from last year’s 113.1 and 4.5. And if 2010 hadn’t happened, we’d be talking about the Rams as maybe the worst franchise in pro sports – 3-13 in 2007, 2-14 in 2008, 1-15 in 2009, now 0-4 in 2011.