Originally written on Sports Junkie Online  |  Last updated 10/16/14
With the season now 1/4 over with, there has been no lack of excitement and upsets through the first four weeks of 2012. Houston has clearly established themselves as perhaps the most well-rounded team in the NFL. Boasting a ferocious pass rush led by second-year defensive end J.J. Watt (league-leading 7.5 sacks), the Texans are also strong against the run. Offensively, the team is led by All-Pro running back Arian Foster, while Ben Tate is there as his backup. The passing game may not be as explosive as it once was, but wide receiver Andre Johnson and tight end Owen Daniels still produce at a high level for quarterback Matt Schaub. All these are reasons that Houston land in the top spot of the newest Sports Junkie Online power rankings.

Rank Team Record Thoughts 1 Houston Texans (4-0) An absolutely dominant defense and balanced offense are a recipe for success 2 Atlanta Falcons (4-0) Closer than expected against Carolina, but Matt Ryan is in MVP discussion 3 San Francisco 49ers (3-1) Bounced back after disappointing loss @ Minnesota with a shutout vs. Jets 4 Arizona Cardinals (4-0) Clutch throws from Kolb, stout defense have Arizona thinking playoffs 5 Baltimore Ravens (3-1) Ray Rice should get more touches, but Baltimore's passing attack looks good 6 New England Patriots (2-2) Patriots offense got back on track in a big way against Bills, still AFC East elite 7 Chicago Bears (3-1) The defense is solid as always. Seems the offense is catching up with win over DAL 8 San Diego Chargers (3-1) Team should only get better as RB Mathews should see bigger workload 9 Minnesota Vikings (3-1) Back-to-back wins over 49ers and Lions has team thinking playoffs 10 Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) Week one loss to BAL now in rearview mirror, averaging 33 pts/game since 11 Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) Three wins have come by a combined 4 pts; talented but too turnover prone 12 New York Giants (2-2) Hakeem Nicks' foot issues have to be concerning, as does 0-2 division record 13 Green Bay Packers (2-2) Offense showed signs of life against Saints, but O-line needs better pass pro 14 Denver Broncos (2-2) Still not completely buying into the Broncos, but Manning has been good in DEN 15 Dallas Cowboys (2-2) Jason Garrett may well find himself out of a job if Dallas' players can't perform 16 New York Jets (2-2) Three straight ugly games by Mark Sanchez won't quiet those calling for Tebow 17 St. Louis Rams (2-2) Sam Bradford is still getting sacked too much, but team plays hard for Jeff Fisher 18 Washington Redskins (2-2) RGIII is a ROY front-runner, but will need defense to play better (30.8 ppg) 19 Seattle Seahawks (2-2) Seahawks defense has been good, but struggle to make big plays on offense 20 Buffalo Bills (2-2) Ryan Fitzpatrick has 7 INT in 2 division games; unsurprisingly, team lost both 21 Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) Struggles defending the pass (6 TD, 1 INT) stem from poor pass rush (5 sacks) 22 Miami Dolphins (1-3) WR Brian Hartline (455 yards) leads the league in receiving, but team is just 1-3 23 Detroit Lions (1-3) Cover-2 defenses have had success containing Lions vertical passing attack 24 Indianapolis Colts (1-2) Reggie Wayne (294 yards) has looked better in 2012 than in recent seasons 25 Carolina Panthers (1-3) The lack of production out of their running backs puts too much pressure on Cam 26 Kansas City Chiefs (1-3) Is it time for the Chiefs to replace Matt Cassel (7 INT, 3 fumbles lost in 4 games)? 27 New Orleans Saints (0-4) It's probably too late to talk playoffs, but team showed signs of life against GB 28 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) Tampa Bay has been competitive in every game, but have come up short in past 3 29 Oakland Raiders (1-3) Opposing QBs have shredded OAK (9 TD, 0 INT) with time to throw (3 total sacks) 30 Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) Maurice Jones-Drew is significantly underpaid for how important he is to JAX 31 Cleveland Browns (0-4) Browns playing scrappy football, but a young squad needs to learn how to win 32 Tennessee Titans (1-3) Chris Johnson finally produced against HOU (141 yards) but still hasn't scored TD
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