Sep 29, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive end Desmond Bryant (92) tries to break through the block of Cincinnati Bengals guard Clint Boling (65) to get to Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns beat the Bengals 17-6. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
16. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2)
This team was riding high with a win over the always-dangerous Green Bay Packers, and they could have claimed an early division lead with a win against the Browns. Instead, they scored six points against the Browns off an abysmal performance by Andy Dalton, and slide back to .500.
15. Baltimore Ravens (2-2)
Like the Bengals, the Ravens could have jumped out to the front of the divisional pack, had they simply beaten a team they were supposed to be better than. And like the Bengals, they lost because their starting quarterback played like garbage. Unlike the Bengals, the Ravens are paying that quarterback $52 million guaranteed.
14. San Diego Chargers (2-2)
One of the few 2-2 teams that looks decisively bettter than its record, the Chargers have suffered from an inability to close out games when leading late. They reversed that trend against Dallas by pulling their own late comeback. The Chargers have yet to play a division game, and the Chiefs and Broncos will be good measuring sticks. Antonio Gates looks 10 years younger.
13. Green Bay Packers (1-2)
The Packers don’t deserve to be in the top 10 with a pair of losses to .500 teams, but they’re too talented to be very much lower. This team is not without its problems, but they’ve had the division’s toughest schedule so far and the season is very young. A win against Detroit next week puts them right back in the thick of the division.
12. Chicago Bears (3-1)
The Bears deserve respect for taking a game where they were getting their doors blown off and turning it into a one-score game at the end. They lost, but they never stopped fighting. That should be a good indication of how they’ll handle their first real case of adversity in the Marc Trestman era. They’ll need plenty of composure going up against the Saints next week.
11. Detroit Lions (3-1)
A statement win was diluted a bit by the late comeback attempt, but beating the Bears is always huge, regardless of how. Reggie Bush is absolutely as advertised and then some. They get the Packers at Lambeau Field next week, where they can make an even bigger statement.
10. Miami Dolphins (3-1)
A lot of Dolphins fans will be tempted to hit the panic button after an explosive loss in front of a national audience, and that’s understandable. But ask yourself: did you expect this team to be 3-1 after four games? The Dolphins have a lot going for them, and getting kicked in the teeth by the Saints is more of a wake-up call than it is an exposure. They need to regroup, and try to figure out what’s wrong with Mike Wallace, who was worse than a non-factor on Monday Night.
9. Houston Texans (2-2)
The Texans have evolved to the point where Matt Schaub is now one of the weak links. He has never exactly been an elite quarterback, but he’s been good enough. This week, though, his ill-advised pick-six to Richard Sherman, as well as his offense’s inability to score after halftime, were direct reasons for this loss. Schaub can play better than he has this season, but it might be time in Houston to start whispering about who the next guy is.