24. New York Jets (2-2)
You watch the Jets’ offense, and they look like they’ll be picking in the top five in the 2014 draft. Watch the defense, and they look like a playoff team. Ultimately, this team will probably end up falling somewhere between the two.
23. Carolina Panthers (1-2)
It’s tempting to suggest the Panthers turned a corner with their 38-0 dismantling of the Giants in Week 3, but at this point, there’s only slightly more prestige in that than there is in beating down the Jaguars. We still don’t know what exactly they have in Cam Newton.
22. Minnesota Vikings (1-3)
Despite having only one win against an 0-4 team, I still like this Vikings team. They haven’t been able to finish, but they’ve led in the second half of every one of their games this year, and none of their losses have come against teams with a losing record (Cleveland is now 2-2). They need to figure out their quarterback situation, but Adrian Peterson will always deliver.
21. Arizona Cardinals (2-2)
This team confuses me. Are they overrated or underrated? Carson Palmer looks like he’s back, then he disappears again. Clutch performance to come back against the Bucs, but that’s the 0-4 Bucs they had to come back against from down by 10. When they play the Panthers next week, we’ll find out a lot about both teams.
20. Buffalo Bills (2-2)
What’s the mark of a young, inconsistent team? Losing to the Jets, then coming home and putting away the defending Super Bowl champs. Give this team some credit, missing three of their four starting members of the secondary, and forcing five interceptions on Joe Flacco. Remember the name of linebacker Kiko Alonso. You’re going to be hearing more of it.
19. Cleveland Browns (2-2)
You know what will put all those Josh Gordon rumors to bed? The Browns being tied for first in the AFC North. Nevermind tanking, Brian Hoyer has this team on a winning streak, and they beat a 2-1 divisional rival to get there. Nobody’s talking about it, but they’re fielding a top-10 defense in both yards and scoring.
18. Atlanta Falcons (1-3)
This team has to be better than 1-3, right? They’ve just matched their loss total from all of last year. Granted, the team’s they’ve lost to are currently a combined 10-0, but if this team is elite, they win at least some of those games anyway. Right now, the offense is above-average, and the defense is below-average. Nothing impressive at this point in the season.
17. Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
The NFL’s most schizophrenic team just keeps doing what it does. Blow out the Rams, then post a come-from-ahead loss against the Chargers. At least this one isn’t Tony Romo’s fault. To hear the Cowboys tell it, they have a star quarterback (Romo), running back (DeMarco Murray), wide receiver (Dez Bryant) and tight end (Jason Witten). If all that’s true, why is their offense in the bottom half of the league?