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The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

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NFL 1st quarter power rankings: Is your team in the top 5?

Nicholas Regli

Note: This article was written prior to this weekend’s Week 5 action.


From a stunner in Orchard Park, NY, to a nailbiter in South Philly, the NFL saw major drama as the curtain closed on the first quarter of the season. Below are our power rankings for the top 5 teams in the NFL after Week 4.


  1. San Francisco 49ers (4-0)

The 49ers have been the strongest team in the NFL in the first four weeks, and it’s not close. San Francisco has dominated on both sides of the ball, ranking second on offense and fifth on defense.


On defense, the 49ers are both third against the run and in points allowed. Per usual, San Fran’s linebacker core is among the best in the NFL. In the secondary, however, the 49ers have been quietly vulnerable. While most teams worry about the 49ers’ dominant front seven, San Francisco discreetly ranks 17th in average passing yards allowed per game. The loss of Jimmy Ward this offseason may rear its ugly head when 49ers fans least expect it.


On the other side of the ball, it seems nothing can go awry. Brock Purdy has managed the offense like a seasoned veteran, and Christian McCafferey is an OPOY frontrunner. With Kyle Shanahan at the helm, the 49ers are set to make another deep playoff run.


  1. Philadelphia Eagles (4-0)

The Eagles, while undefeated, have left a lot to be desired. Jalen Hurts has played fine, the defense has played fine, and the offense looks, well, fine. But, in the NFL, teams don’t win Super Bowls by playing ‘fine.’ Hurts addressed critics this week when he said, “When did winning not become the main thing?”


The Eagles have shown flashes of greatness this season but have yet to put together an entire game they are proud of. Philadelphia has proven to be dominant in the run game, and last week, the passing attack flourished as AJ Brown flashed for 9 receptions, 175 yards, and 2 touchdowns. The Eagles may have also found a running back star in D’Andre Swift.


The concern, however, is on the defensive side of the ball. The Birds are among the best in the league on the defensive line — ranking second in rush yards per game with an average of 63 — but are very weak at safety and linebacker.


Despite some inconsistency, the Eagles are favorites to win the NFC East division for a second consecutive year, a feat they haven’t accomplished since 2004.


  1. Buffalo Bills (3-1)

Buffalo looks complete on both sides of the ball, and they aren’t even at full strength yet. Pass rusher Greg Rousseau is out with a foot injury, while Von Miller is expected to make his return against Jacksonville for the first time this year. The Bills will be thin at cornerback for the foreseeable future, though, as the win on Sunday was not without ramifications; Buffalo lost Pro Bowl cornerback Tre’Davious White for the season to a torn Achilles.


Buffalo’s defense is second overall in scoring with 13.8 points per game. The Bills are also top 5 in opponent 3rd-down conversion rate, at 30.8%. On offense, the Bills are finally a well-rounded team, as it seems they have found themselves a reliable, dual-threat back in James Cook.


At the moment, Buffalo is the team to beat in the AFC, but it will be interesting to see who comes out atop the AFC East.


  1. Miami Dolphins (3-1)

After a tale of two very different weeks, Mike McDaniel’s offense will look more like it did against Denver than Buffalo for the remainder of the season. The same can’t be said for Vic Fangio’s defense.


Fangio’s unit allows 374.5 yards per game and 29.8 points per game, ranking Miami’s defense No. 26 in the NFL. The Dolphins have allowed their opponents 14 total touchdowns, making them the 4th worst in the league on this basis. Their opponents have scored a touchdown on 70.6% of red zone trips, putting the Dolphins at the 6th worst in the NFL in that respect. 


Despite their defensive ineptitude, the Dolphins are 3-1 and have looked more dominant than anyone not named the 49ers or Bills on offense. Tua Tagovailoa led the league in passing yards through four weeks, and the Dolphins remain the No. 1 offense in the NFL by a landslide. Miami averages 511 yards per game (113 yards more than the No. 2 San Francisco 49ers) and leads all offenses in both rushing and passing yards, at 176.8 and 334.3 yards per game, respectively.


Ultimately, Mike McDaniel and the Dolphins are going to be fine. They lost to a top 3 team in the NFL, and there’s no shame in that.


  1. Kansas City Chiefs (3-1)

Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and the Swifties round out the top five. The Chiefs have been erratic at best to start the year, and Mahomes hasn’t looked like, well, Mahomes. If it weren’t for two 3rd-and-20 conversions and several missed holding calls, the Chiefs could easily be 2-2 with a loss to Zach Wilson and the Jets.


A pleasant surprise, however, has been the Chiefs’ defense. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s defense ranked top 10 in nearly every statistical category, including fifth in scoring defense. In years past, the defense has let Mahomes and the offense down, so if this defensive play is more of a trend than an aberration, Kansas City could be a threat come playoff time.


In short, the Chiefs have shown too much inconsistency. Mahomes and the Chiefs will almost certainly get back to Super Bowl form in the coming weeks, but they are no better than No. 5 at the quarter turn.

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About the Contributors
Wyatt is a first-year political science student, an ardent sports-watcher, an impassioned Philadelphia sports fan, and the founder of his sports blog, "The Cogent Column."
Nicholas Regli, Artist
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    Run 3Oct 15, 2023 at 6:19 pm

    Your positivity and enthusiasm are truly inspiring.