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Posted: Wednesday September 30, 2009 12:56PM; Updated: Thursday October 1, 2009 12:32AM
Don Banks Don Banks >

NFL Power Rankings, Week 4

Story Highlights

Ravens, Saints, Giants remain unchanged at the top

Defending champ Steelers plummet nine spots to No. 17

Lions get rewarded for their first win; Browns remain in cellar

Think the importance of the quarterback position can be overstated in today's NFL? Just run down the top 10 teams in our NFL Power Rankings this week and see what they all have in common: Yep. A quality quarterback at the controls.

Joe Flacco, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Mark Sanchez, Brett Favre, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Donovan McNabb, and Philip Rivers lead the offenses of our top 10, and there's no coincidence to that. You don't really win big in this league -- at least for long -- without a top-notch passer.

They can be young, like Sanchez, Ryan and Flacco, or old, like Favre. They can be short like Brees, or tall, like Peyton Manning, Brady and Rivers. They can be mobile or more of a traditional in-the-pocket QB. The only prerequisite is that they're all good. And because of it, they have at least one more thing in common: Their teams usually win. (Send comments to

NFL Power Rankings
1Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 1
After all those years of offensive struggles, the Ravens have totally remade themselves into a machine on that side of the ball. And it must be a sight to behold in Baltimore. In their two home dates so far, the Ravens offense has averaged 490 yards, 30 first downs and 36 points per game. Since starting last season 2-3, Baltimore has gone 14-3 including playoffs, with two of those losses coming against the hated Steelers, and the other against the Giants. The Ravens simply don't lose any more to inferior competition.
2New Orleans Saints
Last Week: 2
Only the Cowboys are out-rushing the Saints' 170.7 yards per game, and what a double-edge sword it is to try to play defense against New Orleans these days. Try to cheat up and take away the Saints run game, and Brees will pick you apart all day long with his right arm. Lay back and concentrate on keeping the Saints receivers in front of you, and your safeties are going to be rushing up on run defense for four quarters. We can't wait to see if Rex Ryan and his aggressive Jets defense provides a blueprint for slowing both the Saints running and passing games. Coaches around the league have their Xerox machines at the ready.
3New York Giants
Last Week: 3
Watching some of New York's utter domination at Tampa Bay on Sunday, it occurred to me that these two teams met in the first round of the NFC playoffs a little less than 21 months ago, on the same field. About now, I'm guessing that feels like another lifetime ago for your average Bucs fan, who probably can't quite envision when they might see another home playoff game. Giants fans can't quite remember what it feels like to not make the playoffs.
4Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: 5
Yeah, that Colts passing game really misses Marvin Harrison. Or the injured Anthony Gonzalez for that matter. Indy leads the league in passing through three weeks, with 322.7 yards per game. I'm starting to think Peyton Manning could consistently beat you throwing to three guys from the local plumbers and steamfitters union. But knowing Peyton, he'd want to choose the guys himself.
5New York Jets
Last Week: 4
If Rodney Harrison can call Terrell Owens "a straight-up clown" for not saying much of anything in his postgame news conference Sunday in Buffalo, what label will he use to describe Jets receiver David "Straight-up" Clowney, who was de-activated last week against the Titans because New York head coach Rex Ryan didn't appreciate him complaining about his Week 2 playing time via Twitter? Such minor annoyances are the only thing that passes for trouble these days in Jet-land.
6Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 7
OK, a few house-keeping items to check off our list in the wake of Minnesota's last-second survival at home against San Francisco: Brett Favre's biceps tendon? It's fine. Can Favre still make a throw of longer than 20 yards? Uh, let's go with affirmative on that one. And when they have to, can the Vikings win with something other than their running game and defense? Yes. Yes, I'd say so.
7New England Patriots
Last Week: 9
The Patriots don't look real good right now for cutting veteran receiver Greg Lewis just before the season started and keeping the older Joey Galloway, who has struggled to find a role in New England's passing game. Galloway likely gets more time to see if he can contribute, but I wouldn't bet the mortgage just yet that he makes the whole season as a Patriot. We've seen New England cut its losses in midseason many times before.
8Atlanta Falcons
Last Week: 6
The Falcons are one of four teams that drew the early Week 4 bye this year, and of that group, only Philadelphia is going to enjoy its break. The Eagles are the only team coming off a win. Atlanta, Arizona and Carolina all have to sit around this weekend and think about how they got handled rather easily last week. I'm not even sure how the NFL determines who gets its bye when, but I did notice that these four teams have something in common of recent vintage: Last January, it was the Cardinals going through the Falcons, Panthers and Eagles on their way to that improbable Super Bowl run.
9Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 10
Andy Reid decided this week to end the team's second go-round with veteran quarterback Jeff Garcia and begin its third with veteran linebacker Jeremiah Trotter. Given the Eagles injury situation at linebacker and the eye-opening production of third-year quarterback Kevin Kolb, that just makes sense. But now we get to play the always popular game of Where Will Garcia Land? Given the past six years or so of Garcia's career, all guesses are valid.
10San Diego Chargers
Last Week: 12
The Chargers are talking this week about the need for going into Pittsburgh -- yet again -- and being more physical. Matching the Steelers bruising style of play with some hitting of their own. A lot of teams have talked like that before a game against the Steelers, but very few have actually accomplished it. With defensive tackle Jamal Williams out for the season, outside linebacker Shawne Merriman still not himself, and San Diego's offensive line missing two starters, I don't see how the Chargers and their No. 2-ranked passing game win the physical battle. Or the game.
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