After spending all offseason talking about how the NFC was clearly the better conference it’s the AFC that has dominated the early stages of the season. While conventional powers like the Steelers and Patriots have struggled, a group of unexpected teams, including a pair from the AFC North, have risen to the challenge.
Here is where all the teams stand after the first month of NFL action:
1. Los Angeles Rams (4-0; won 38-31 vs MIN) (- No change from last week)
Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams are on fire. The quarterback has been near perfect this season and their offense has rolled over everyone in their path. Their defense is a little banged up at the moment but there's no way to deny that this is the best team in football right now.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0; won 27-23 vs DEN) (-)
Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs offense looked vulnerable for much of the game Monday night but the young quarterback was able to put together a spectacular late touchdown drive to win the game. This team’s weaknesses were exposed by the Broncos, but the Chiefs impressively managed to win anyways.
3. Baltimore Ravens (3-1; won 26-14 vs PIT) (+2)
Joe Flacco is looking better than he has in years and the Ravens dominated their divisional rivals. Baltimore’s defense only gave up 47 yards in the second half. The offense took full advantage of the Steelers’ awful secondary and they should only get better on defense with the return of Jimmy Smith. This team is a sneaky dark horse pick for AFC Champions.
4. New Orleans Saints (3-1; won 33-18 vs NYG) (-)
New Orleans took advantage of a terrible Giants team and walked out of East Rutherford with a victory. Drew Brees took a backseat to Alvin Kamara who ran all over the Giants defense. Nothing too impressive about it but a win is a win.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-1; won 31-12 vs NYJ) (+2)
Blake Bortles put together another complete performance in the Jaguars Week 4 victory over the New York Jets. The quarterback threw for two touchdowns and just under 400 yards in the dominating victory over the Jets. Jacksonville is still amazing on defense and they can beat anyone when Bortles has a good day.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (3-1; won 37-36 vs ATL) (+5)
Cincinnati’s offense looks like it can not be stopped. They have scored more than 33 points in all of their wins this season and the return of Joe Mixon next week should only make them better. The defense has still been one of the league’s biggest disappointments so far but if they reach their potential than this is a scary team.
7. Tennessee Titans (3-1; won 26-23 vs PHI) (+7)
Marcus Mariota can barely use his hands but the Titans are still 3-1. This team has been sneaky good this season. They have won three straight since losing a weird, rain delayed game in Miami Week 1. Tennessee had already beat two of the final four teams from last season and they look like a strong team in a murky AFC.
8. Green Bay Packers (2-1-1; won 22-0 vs BUF) (-)
Green Bay was clearly the better team this weekend as they clobbered the Bills. The offense had a little trouble as Aaron Rodgers is still not 100 percent. The Packers pitched a shutout on defense, though, and did what their rivals in Minnesota couldn’t.
9. Minnesota Vikings (1-2-1; lost 38-31 vs LAR) (-3)
Kirk Cousins played an incredible game but the Vikings offense couldn’t keep up with the Rams down the stretch. The offensive line remains a concern, and they were dominated inside by Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh. The team with Super Bowl aspirations has now lost two straight and is below .500.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (2-2; lost 26-23 vs TEN) (-7)
Carson Wentz still has a bit of rust to shake off and he got no help from his wide receivers, who dropped everything that hit their hands. The offense had trouble getting going and their awful secondary cost them down the stretch yet again. Philadelphia should only get better throughout the season as Wentz improves, though.
11. New England Patriots (2-2; won 38-7 vs MIA) (-1)
New England laid a beating on their good old pals the Dolphins, and all is right in the world again. Rookie running back Sony Michel broke the 100-yard mark as he finally found his footing in the NFL. Tom Brady threw two more interceptions and his four on the year is already half of his 2017 total.
12. Los Angeles Chargers (2-2; won 29-27 vs SF) (-)
It would have been perfectly Chargers to lose to a C.J. Beathard-led 49ers team. San Francisco jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, and Philip Rivers had to drag this team to a close victory. They barely did enough to get by a bad team but a win is a win.
13. Washington (2-1; BYE) (+2)
It sucks to have your bye week this early in the season.
14. Atlanta Falcons (1-3; lost 37-36 vs CIN) (-5)
For the second straight week the offense was on fire but the banged up defense couldn’t give them the support they needed to seal the win. This is this team’s identity. They will win some of these in the future but the Falcons will be in trouble if their defense doesn’t get it together.
15. Chicago Bears (3-1; won 48-10 vs TB) (+3)
Mitchell Trubisky, Taylor Gabriel and Tarik Cohen clowned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The usually awful quarterback threw for six touchdowns and the Bears looked like they were playing a high school team. Khalil Mack and Chicago’s defense was dominant yet again as well.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2-1; lost 26-14 vs BAL) (-3)
Every year the soap opera that is the Pittsburgh Steelers gives a us an early Autumn treat and 2018 is no different. The offense is somehow struggling despite all of their talent. Who knows what’s going on with Le’Veon Bell? Losing at home to Baltimore should have a lot of playoff implications later in the season but for now it’s hard to believe that this team won't be fine.
17. Carolina Panthers (2-1; BYE) (-)
Early bye weeks are lame especially when your offense looks like it’s on fire.
18. Miami Dolphins (3-1; lost 38-7 vs NE) (-2)
I was getting kind of worried that I really was wrong about this Dolphins team before the season but New England helped quell those concerns by smashing them to pieces. Ryan Tannehill only threw for 100 yards. Brock Osweiler was responsible for the team’s only touchdown.
19. Denver Broncos (2-2; lost 27-23 vs KC) (+2)
Denver managed to hang around till the very end, but the Chiefs offense was too much for them. Von Miller and the pass rush caused Mahomes to struggle for much of the game and the defense did fine against one of the league's best offenses ever.
20. Dallas Cowboys (2-2; won 26-24 vs DET) (+8)
The Lions are not a great team but the Cowboys Week 4 victory is huge for them. Dak Prescott eclipsed 200 yards for the first time all season and the offense finally looked competent. They are a better team than Detroit made them look on defense and this is a win that will help right the ship.
21. San Francisco 49ers (1-3; lost 29-27 vs LAC) (+1)
C.J. Beathard and the 49ers almost pulled out an upset against a great Chargers team this week. The offense looked better than you’d expect but the team just doesn’t have the talent to keep up now that their star quarterback is gone for the year.
22. Seattle Seahawks (2-2; won 20-17 vs ARI) (+3)
The most exciting thing that happened in this game was safety Earl Thomas flipping the bird towards his own sideline while being carted off of the field. Seattle barely snuck away from an awful Cardinals team and there is only so much Russell Wilson can do week to week.
23. Cleveland Browns (1-2-1; lost 45-42 vs OAK) (-)
An interesting forward progress call and a bad spot at the end of regulation cost the Browns this game. Baker Mayfield and the offense put up 42 in his first career start—which is a pretty good way to get your NFL career going. The defense looked awful, though, especially for the unit that was supposed to be the strength of this team.
24. Detroit Lions (1-3; lost 26-24 vs DAL) (-4)
This was a classic Detroit Lions game. Matthew Stafford is a great quarterback who made all the throws he needed to make. Almost everyone else was terrible, though, and the Lions lost to a really bad team.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2; lost 48-10 vs CHI) (-6)
The Fitzmagic is over, and this team is bad again. The Bucs should be demoted to the ACC for a week for allowing Trubisky to throw six touchdown passes.
26. Indianapolis Colts (1-3; lost 37-34 vs HOU) (-2)
The Colts decided to go for the win instead of the tie in overtime against the Texans. While a failed fourth down conversion near their own 40 ended up costing them the game, it's hard to fault them for trying it. Andrew Luck threw for 464 yards and four touchdowns to keep this team above water while their search for a run game continues.
27. Oakland Raiders (1-3; won 45-42 vs CLE) (+3)
Derek Carr looked incredible in the Raiders win over the Browns. Oakland’s defense still has a lot of issues but getting their first win of the Gruden era should give this team confidence going forward.
28. Houston Texans (1-3; won 37-34 vs IND) (+3)
The offense that took the league by storm in 2017 finally came out in Week 4. Deshaun Watson had 375 yards and two touchdowns. Deandre Hopkins had 169 yards. Houston took advantage of the Colts awful secondary to finally get into the win column. This team still has a lot of problems but this win should help their young quarterback a lot down the stretch.
29. New York Jets (1-3; lost 31-12 vs JAX) (-2)
Sam Darnold is going through a rough stretch. The rookie still hasn’t been able to repeat his performance against the Lions Week 1 and the run game was non-existent Sunday. This team is in rebuilding, so these losses are fine, though.
30. Buffalo Bills (1-3; lost 22-0 vs GB) (-4)
The Bills anemic offense was back this week. Their honeymoon in Minnesota is now over and they got rolled over by the Packers. Buffalo isn’t good and Josh Allen has a long way to go before he can be a reliable franchise quarterback.
31. New York Giants (1-3; lost 33-18 vs NO) (-2)
This team really should have drafted a quarterback. Saquon Barkley and the rest of the offensive skill players are being wasted by a bad quarterback and offensive line.
32. Arizona Cardinals (0-4; lost 20-17 vs SEA) (-)
Josh Rosen looked great in his first career start but it’s going to be hard for him to win games with the terrible team he has around him. David Johnson should be able to win them at least one game this season but the Cardinals are very much on 0-16 watch.