Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers walks off the field after beating the Atlanta Falcons at Raymond James Stadium on September 25, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

NFL Power Rankings, Week 4: Buccaneers Improve With Hard Win Against Falcons

SB Nation has released its Power Rankings for Week 4, and the Tampa Bay Bucs come in at 11th.

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NFL Power Rankings, Week 4: Bucs Hold At 14th In ESPN Poll

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did just enough to defeat the Atlanta Falcons, 16-13, Sunday afternoon to improve to 2-1. Tampa Bay, which led 16-3 after the first drive of the second half, barely held on to win, but nonetheless came out on top. ESPN's panel of NFL power-rankings voters didn't penalize the Bucs, but didn't exactly reward them, either. For the second straight week, Tampa Bay ranks 14th in ESPN's power rankings.

Mike Sando, writing the Bucs' blurb on the panel's behalf, points out Tampa Bay is above .500 "despite only two TD passes, four INTs in three games." There are several ways to interpret his comment. One is that the Buccaneers are lucky to be where they are in light of their poor passing game. Another is that their record will only improve once the passing game gets on the right track. Among ESPN's panelists, Sando had the Bucs lowest on his ballot, putting them 17th. Paul Kuharsky, in contrast, ranked the Bucs 9th.

Though some of the Bucs' numbers are mediocre, maybe there's something to be said for winning close games. As Gregg Easterbrook--who writes for ESPN but does not vote on its power rankings--notes, "[Tampa Bay] has won games by four and three points" so far this season, after going an NFL-best 5-1 in close games last season. To Easterbrook, that trend indicates the Bucs are a "young team [that] is growing up fast."

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NFL Power Rankings, Week 4: CBS Has Buccaneers At 15th

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers kept pace with the New Orleans Saints for the top spot in the NFC South with their 16-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, and though two other power rankings have the Bucs on the verge of climbing into the NFL's top 10, Pete Prisco of CBS is slightly less impressed. Prisco, CBS's Senior NFL Columnist, names Tampa Bay as the league's 15th-best team at this point in the young season in his power rankings.

Prisco, who ranked Tampa Bay 18th last week, says the Bucs' victory "serves notice to the NFC South that they will be a factor in the division race." On the flip side, he dropped the Falcons from 8th the 16th following the game, which may indicate he believes the game says more about Atlanta than it does about Tampa Bay.

The Bucs have a great opportunity to move up even more in the power rankings next Monday, when they host the winless Indianapolis Colts. Prisco ranks Indy 30th of the league's 32 teams.

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NFL Power Rankings, Week 4: Buccaneers Climb To 11th

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 16-13 victory against division rival Atlanta Falcons last Sunday afternoon certainly impressed Fox Sports analyst Brian Billick, who moved them up two spots to no. 11 in his NFL Power Rankings as a result. Billick praises Tampa Bay's "resiliency and toughness," and singles out the performance of running back LeGarrette Blount, in his write-up.

Blount gained 81 yards on 24 carries for a pedestrian 3.4 average, and he did not score a touchdown, but there's no questioning that he worked hard. He tallied more than twice as many carries as any other player who took the field at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, and ran for 26 of the Bucs' 65 yards on the opening drive of the second half, resulting in a Connor Barth field goal which gave Tampa Bay a 16-3 edge. Notably, the Falcons had just 15 carries for 30 yards as a team the whole game long.

With a 2-1 record, Tampa Bay is now tied with the New Orleans Saints atop the NFC South.

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NFL Power Rankings, Week 4: Buccaneers On Verge Of Top Ten

SB nation has come out with their Power Rankings for Week 4, and the Tampa Bay Bucs come in at 11th.

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