NFL Power Rankings, Week 4: Oakland Raiders Get Much Needed Boost

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 25: Fans of the Oakland Raiders cheer against the New York Jets at O.co Coliseum on September 25, 2011 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

We provide a look at the state of the NFL in our week four power rankings. The Raiders make a big jump while the 49ers get a modest gain from their victory over the Bengals.

We're through three weeks of NFL action and some of the surprises around the league are on the verge of proving they are absolutely for real. In last week's NFL Power Rankings, I had the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions relatively high, but I was also a bit concerned that I might be overrating them, or at least overrating the Bills. They both came through in week three with big wins, particularly the Bills overcoming a big early deficit to secure the win over New England. I think by season's end the Patriots will be on top of the AFC East, but for now I'm willing to give the Bills the nudge they deserve.

One of the problems with power rankings early in the season is that it can be difficult to accurately gauge where a team is at through the first month of the season. I have some ideas each week, but then more often than not a few of those ideas are blown to kingdom come. As these rankings show, I've moved some teams quite a bit. This shows how my own perceptions change week to week. Or it shows how wrong I was last week. Take your pick.

The Oakland Raiders made the biggest climb this week moving from No. 18 to No. 7. If they get stomped by New England this Sunday many will view this ranking as an overreaction. However, even in their one defeat the Raiders looked impressive enough to convince me they are legit. They'll be battling San Diego to the wire for the division title, but I do think they'll stick around and prove to be one of the top third teams in the league.

The biggest drop in the rankings saw the Philadelphia Eagles fall from No. 5 to No. 15. Part of this is the loss of Michael Vick, even if it is just a hand bruise. I expect them to bounce back by season's end, but for now they really don't look much better than a middle of the road team.

As you can see I've got some 1-2 teams a bit higher than 2-1 teams and also have some 0-3 teams above 1-2 teams. My own subjective biases about those teams are coming into play and impacting what I think. For example, the St. Louis Rams and Miami Dolphins are 0-3, but I am fairly certain the Seattle Seahawks are worse than both of them. The Seahawks pulled off a division home win, but they are going to be fairly awful much of the rest of the way. I have faith.

On to the Week 4 NFL Power Rankings (previous week in parenthesis). As always, feel free to tweet your disagreements to @sbnbayarea:

1. (1) Green Bay Packers (3-0)
2. (3) Detroit Lions (3-0)
3. (6) Buffalo Bills (3-0)
4. (2) New England Patriots (2-1)
5. (7) New Orleans Saints (2-1)
6. (4) Houston Texans (2-1)
7. (18) Oakland Raiders (2-1)
8. (11) Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
9. (13) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)
10. (16) New York Giants (2-1)
11. (14) San Diego Chargers (2-1)
12. (15) Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
13. (10) Washington Redskins (2-1)
14. (12) Atlanta Falcons (1-2)
15. (5) Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)
16. (8) New York Jets (2-1)
17. (9) Chicago Bears (1-2) (24)
18. (19) San Francisco 49ers (2-1)
19. (24) Cleveland Browns (2-1)
20. (21) Tennessee Titans (2-1)
21. (17) Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)
22. (20) Arizona Cardinals (1-2)
23. (23) Carolina Panthers (1-2)
24. (28) Cincinnati Bengals (1-2)
25. (27) Denver Broncos (1-2)
26. (22) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
27. (25) St. Louis Rams (0-3)
28. (26) Miami Dolphins (0-3)
29. (31) Seattle Seahawks (1-2)
30. (30) Minnesota Vikings (0-3)
31. (29) Kansas City Chiefs (0-3)
32. (32) Indianapolis Colts (0-3)

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