NFL Power Rankings: 2008 Week 4 edition
The top of the Week 4 ESPN.com NFL power rankings is an exclusive neighborhood. It helps to have an NFC East address.
The Dallas Cowboys lead the pack for the third consecutive week, but suddenly they're crowded by familiar foes. The New York Giants -- who, despite their reigning Super Bowl champion status, usually have occupied a mid-top-10 slot in our rankings -- are No. 2. And despite suffering a Sept. 15 loss to the Cowboys, the Philadelphia Eagles are elbowing their NFC East brethren for the spotlight at No. 3.
The only NFC East team not among the top 5 is the Washington Redskins, who register at No. 15 this week.
Rookie coach Jim Zorn's team can make its case Sunday when it visits top-ranked Dallas. Later that night, the Eagles will be busy scuffling with the puzzling Chicago Bears, ranked 20th. The Giants will be among six teams enjoying a bye in Week 4.
The Tennessee Titans are the new top-5 residents, bounding to No. 4 from No. 9 in the weekly poll of our experts. Behind backup quarterback Kerry Collins, a solid running game and an opportunistic defense paced by ballhawk Cortland Finnegan, the Titans dispatched the Houston Texans 31-12 this past Sunday. The Titans get a stern test of their status this upcoming Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, who still are aching from a punishing defeat Sunday at the hands of the in-state rival Eagles, drop three places to No. 5 in this week's rankings.
The Titans and the upstart Miami Dolphins (they combined a single-wing attack and Ronnie Brown's versatility to stun the New England Patriots on Sunday) each jump five places in the poll. The Patriots (down from No. 6 to No. 11), the Bears (down from No. 15 to No. 20) and the New York Jets (down from No. 16 to No. 21) take the biggest falls.
We've called upon some of our voting members to provide team-by-team commentary. Thus, for your reading pleasure, you'll have:
• Tim Graham on the AFC East
• James Walker on the AFC North
• Paul Kuharsky on the AFC South
• Bill Williamson on the AFC West
• Matt Mosley on the NFC East
• Kevin Seifert on the NFC North
• Pat Yasinskas on the NFC South
• Mike Sando on the NFC West
Near the end of the power rankings, the states of Ohio and Missouri have the dubious distinction of claiming a pair of bottom-dwelling teams each. The Cleveland Browns (No. 26) and the Cincinnati Bengals (No. 28) will try to keep each other winless in Week 4 at Paul Brown Stadium.
But Missouri's basement tenants aren't so lucky. The Kansas City Chiefs (No. 31) have to play AFC West rivals the Denver Broncos (up from No. 11 to No. 7). The St. Louis Rams (No. 32) figure to keep a lock on the bottom, barring a huge upset of the Buffalo Bills (No. 6).
Perhaps the Rams can take inspiration from the Dolphins, who have a bye week to savor their unexpected pummeling of the Patriots.
(Editor's note: LW indicates each team's ranking last week.)