NFL Week 5 Power Rankings
We are starting to really see the effects of Covid on the league. Two games got pushed back from their original spot, and one was moved to next week, which caused a major shift in the rest of the league schedule. All in all, six games had to be changed because of the Patriots-Broncos game.
This week had some great matchups, some big upsets, some bad injuries, and a lot of long-term consequences. The Raiders got their first win against Patrick Mahomes, which could be important at the end of the season with the way the Chiefs are playing right now. Meanwhile, Dallas became the first team in the NFC East to get their second win, but at a severe cost.
The NFC South is set up for an interesting season, with three teams at 3-2, and the AFC North has four teams with four wins each. Those are two of the divisions to watch, because both of them realistically could have almost anyone win the division at this point.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s not even midseason! Which reminds me, my post-week 8 edition will double as my updated postseason and award picks, so keep an eye out for that. For now, here’s the week 5 edition of Power Rankings.
32. New York Jets (Last Week: 32) =
The Jets really just cut their best player. Adam Gase really does ruin everything he touches. The good news is that according to reports, Bell’s top three teams are the Bills, Dolphins and Chiefs--the next three matchups against the Jets. Until Gase is fired or he miraculously channels something special, this team will sit at the bottom of these rankings.
31. Atlanta Falcons (LW: 30) -1
The Falcons were really in this game, which is why it sucked to see them lose. The upside is that it was the final nail in the coffin of Dan Quinn, who has been lucky to hold onto his job so long after the disaster that was Super Bowl LI. The team has some great offensive talent, but has struggled mightily on defense. They’re far behind the three solid teams above them in the division, and I can’t see them doing much more this year. Right now, they’re the team that I think should be shooting for Trevor Lawrence.
30. New York Giants (LW: 31) +1
Kudos to the Giants that they were able to put up 34 points, their highest total of the season. It may have been against the worst defense in the league and it might have resulted in a loss, but they looked not bad for the first time this season. And as crazy as it sounds, they might still be in the division race if they can work on their offensive line and give Daniel Jones more than one second to throw the ball. Not likely, but with the division leader being 2-3, it could happen.
29. Detroit Lions (LW: 29) =
Detroit had a bye week, so I’m not moving them up or down. They look like they really always have with Matt Stafford: a legitimately good team that somehow can’t come together to win games. It makes me sad to watch this team struggle. Haven’t they dealt with enough, football gods? It’s no secret that Matt Patricia has not had a good tenure with the Lions, so I think he’s the next coach to go.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 28) =
After a great win in week 1 and a near loss the following week, the Jags have struggled to get anything going offensively. Gardner Minshew is playing fine, but not good enough to carry the gaping holes on the defense. I think week 6 is a big week for them, since they’re playing the aforementioned Lions. If they can’t beat the Lions, I’d be surprised if they can beat anyone.
27. Denver Broncos (LW: 27) =
Denver had a last minute bye after another positive Covid test from New England, but it might actually be worse for them. Instead of facing Jarrett Stidham or Brian Hoyer, they’re probably going to be facing Cam Newton, and unless Brett Rypien can get his turnovers under control against one of the best secondaries in the league, there won’t even be a competition. But hey, at least Jerry Jeudy looks good.
26. Washington Football Team (LW: 26) =
I’ll be honest, I was disappointed in Alex Smith in his first appearance since his season-turned-career-turned-life-threatening leg injury in 2018, but he probably just needs some time to warm up. I hope that this game showed that the problem in Washington was not quarterback play and they go back to Haskins, but it’s unlikely. Smith will probably continue to be the starter for the time being, and he might be able to get them back in their groove. People forget that this team was likely going to win the NFC East before Smith went down in 2018, so I hope that at the very least, they put Haskins ahead of Kyle Allen on the depth chart.
25. Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 23) -2
Philly has not had a fun season so far, but their most recent loss should give fans some hope that their receiver struggles are finally starting to end. On a team ravaged by injuries, Eagles’ wide receivers have been hit especially hard. Travis Fulgham had a big breakout game, hauling in 10 passes for 152 yards and a score. It wasn’t enough to keep the Eagles afloat, but it definitely is a good sign for a team that has not had consistency at the position since 2017.
24. Los Angeles Chargers (LW: 21) -3
The Chargers had one of the most dominant losses of the season. Justin Herbert looked amazing once again, setting a rookie record for Monday Night Football touchdowns, and the defence held the Saints to just 10 points in the first half. Unfortunately, a familiar issue appeared that dates back to their San Diego days, losing thanks to a missed extra point in the first quarter and a game-winning field goal at the end of regulation. The Chargers have a really good core, and an amazing quarterback, but they’re 1-4. I want to put them higher, but until they start showing some results, I can’t move them up.
23. Miami Dolphins (LW: 24) +1
Miami had an incredibly impressive win, but I’m still hesitant to move them up. Even though it was over the reigning NFC Champion, I can’t quite tell what is going on with this team. Sometimes they seem like a legit team, like in the last three weeks. But the first two weeks, they looked completely dead in the water. If they do plan on contending, it’s not gonna be easy, but they have some momentum.
22. Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 20) -2
None of the blame for the Bengals struggling should go to Joe Burrow. He’s played brilliantly considering his situation. One glaring issue for the Bengals is the receiver production, which is significantly lower than in previous seasons.Tyler Boyd has looked good enough, but AJ Green has not looked like the Pro Bowl player he was before his injury last year. But Joe Mixon finally woke up from his slumber, so if he keeps it up, he might be able to carry this team to a respectable record.
21. Houston Texans (LW: 22) +1
Houston got their first win this season, and it came without Bill O’Brien as head coach. It wasn’t a perfect game, but a win is a win, especially when you start your season 0-4. Things are not looking up, however. Their next two games come against currently undefeated teams, and outside of the Jaguars and Lions, they don’t have any easy matchups for the rest of the season. The Texans could very well finish with under 4 wins.
20. Carolina Panthers (LW: 25) +5
Carolina is sitting at 3-2, but definitely is the worst of the teams tied for first in the NFC South. I don’t mean any hate to the Panthers--Teddy Bridgewater is playing very well and the team is surviving without CMC. But the best team they’ve beaten so far is the Cardinals, who have been up and down. With the rest of their schedule not looking too difficult, I could see them sneaking into the Wild Card, but I haven’t seen enough from them yet to move them up higher.
19. Minnesota Vikings (LW: 18) -1
Minnesota looks awful in almost every way. It’s good for them that their next game is against the winless Falcons, or else they might drop even further. It might be time to ask whether Mike Zimmer is, or should be, on the hot seat right now. He’s had some success with the team, but has failed to fully utilize all of the incredible weapons he’s had during his time as head coach. With the way things are looking right now, he could be gone at the end of the season.
18. San Francisco 49ers (LW: 10) -8
Okay, Philadelphia is a respectable loss. They made the playoffs the last few seasons, they won a Super Bowl not too long ago, and they still have some really good players. But Miami? MIAMI??? Come on, 49ers. You were getting healthy (on the offense, at least) and were primed to beat down a terrible opponent. I don’t know if it’s the Super Bowl hangover or not, but this team does not look anything close to what it was last year. I’ll be surprised if they actually make the playoffs this year without a miracle turnaround.
17. Chicago Bears (LW: 20) +3
Nick Foles once again proved that he is a better quarterback than Tom Brady as the Bears took down the Bucs in the first quality Thursday Night Football game of the season. That’s not saying much, because the game was pretty brutal, but Chicago won it thanks to some good kicking, solid defense, and maybe a little help from a brain fart from Tom. They’re not as good of a team as their record indicates, but they’re much better than last season.
16. Dallas Cowboys (LW: 17) +1
Dallas. Wow. I’m not a Cowboys fan at all, but even I have to feel sorry for Dak after that. He was playing out of his mind, by far the best start to a season in his career, on a franchise tag, and now is out for the season with a brutal ankle injury. Dallas is somehow in first place of their division, but they look awful doing it. Yet another season that shows us exactly why having a quality backup QB is so important. If it were any other backup, I’d say the Cowboys are done. But Andy Dalton, while not great, is good enough to lead this team.
15. Indianapolis Colts (LW: 14) -1
Indy is off to a very solid start, despite losing to the red-hot Browns last week. At 3-2, they’re still within striking distance of the division lead and are yet to play the undefeated Titans. Their defense has looked pretty great all season, save for a weak showing in week 1 against Jacksonville, and it’s carried them pretty much all season. If their offense can start to step up and play as well as they should, they could be a scary team in the AFC.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 9) -5
As funny as that mistake by Tom Brady was at the end of the game, I’m not ready to call it “one of the worst mistakes in football history” like some. The stakes were relatively low and even if they got a first down on that play, there’s no telling whether they would have scored the game winner later. But it was a bad loss against a mediocre team, and they can’t give up any ground if they want to take down the Saints.
13. Cleveland Browns (LW: 15) +2
Cleveland looks as good as they ever have since coming back to the NFL. I really hope I’m not jinxing it, but the Browns could be making their first playoff appearance since 2002 and are all but set up to have their third winning season in franchise history (and yes, I’m not counting the original Browns who turned into the Ravens). Odell finally looks like the elite receiver that he was when Cleveland traded for him, and Myles Garrett is a DPOY contender. And despite being in third in the AFC North, it’s because of a tiebreaker behind a 5-0 team and a 4-1 team. This is the season for the Browns.
12. Los Angeles Rams (LW: 12) =
The Rams had the benefit of playing the Washington Football Team this week, exactly what they needed following a few games where their offense struggled to get going. Yes, it was there against the Bills, but not until the third quarter, and it was nonexistent against the Giants. In the NFC West, though, that won’t be acceptable. All four teams have rosters capable of winning the Super Bowl, which means mistakes are not allowed.
11. New England Patriots (LW: 11) =
I think the Patriots lucked out by having another Covid case. If this game was played last week, Stidham or Hoyer starts and they probably lose if they play like they did against the Chiefs. But then a miracle happened. With the game delayed, it gave Cam Newton extra time to recover, who’s now ready to play against Denver. But now that he’s back and healthy, I find it pretty hard to imagine any scenario where the Patriots lose.
10. Las Vegas Raiders (LW: 16) +6
The Raiders pulled off maybe the most impressive win of the season. Derek Carr’s first win against Mahomes was a great game to watch, and it showed everyone that this team is not quite done yet. But the biggest problem is the inconsistencies on offense of this team, because they’ve had some incredible games and some games where they’ve really struggled. They have to find ways to win games without throwing it to Darren Waller, because if he gets shut down, the offense gets shut down.
9. Arizona Cardinals (LW: 13) +4
Arizona finally won after two ugly losses, and that is a huge confidence builder for a team like this. I think they carry this momentum into the next few weeks, with some much harder matchups than the Jets, and show people that Kyler Murray is legit and this team can contend in a very stacked division. Even though they’re down in third place, they’re still very much in the mix as long as they can win some big games.
8. Buffalo Bills (LW: 5) -3
Everything looked wrong for Buffalo, which should be concerning. They truly just did not look good anywhere on Tuesday night, despite having plenty of time to rest and prepare for the Titans. Josh Allen especially had a tough game, throwing multiple picks, and the defense once again got bullied. That’s what needs to be solved right now. The defense is allowing teams to get in games and the offense can’t always do enough to catch up, especially when they’re playing from behind as we saw last week.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 7) =
Pittsburgh is one of the most surprising teams of the season. I don’t think many people, if anyone, expected to see them sitting undefeated at the top of the AFC North at this point in the season. They truly are back from the dead, and after two straight seasons missing the playoffs, are ready to head back to the promised land. The biggest question, though, is how they will do against the Ravens. They play in three weeks, and I cannot wait for that matchup. It’s going to be huge for both teams.
6. Tennessee Titans (LW: 8) +2
Tennessee, much to my dismay, slaughtered Buffalo on the third Tuesday Night Football in NFL history. Everything seemed to work for the Titans, especially towards the end of the game when they turned a close game into an absolute blowout. Ryan Tannehill has turned this team from a good one into a great one, and he’s ready to prove that last season was not a fluke, for him or for the team. I’m genuinely impressed with the way they’re playing this season, so I hope they can keep it up.
5. New Orleans Saints (LW: 6) +1
After two rough losses, the Saints have two okay wins. But to me, I’ve seen enough in the last three weeks to feel confident putting them back up in the top 5. They showed last week that they still are the clutch team that they once were, going down 20-3 and coming back to win. Brees is having struggles, but the team is finding ways to win using his strengths right now instead of forcing him to throw it downfield. And the defense has finally stopped committing 100 yards worth of penalties.
4. Green Bay Packers (LW: 4) =
A lot of people are saying Green Bay is the best team in the league, but what can I say? I’m petty. They’re playing very well, but they have had three pretty easy games to start the season, and the one challenge they did have was anything but a given. I’m not ready to anoint them as the best team in the NFL, which is why I’m keeping them down at #4. And no, I’m not sorry about it.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 1) -2
Kansas City has not looked like Kansas City these past few weeks. They’re seemingly abandoning what gave them so much success last year, which doesn’t make much sense. But now that they’ve signed Le’Veon Bell to bolster their run game, the Chiefs are about to get a lot scarier. I think Clyde Edwards-Helaire is still legit, but he hasn’t been all too amazing since week 1. He’s likely going to stay as their receiving back, but Bell will be seeing a lot of carries. And I can’t wait to see him eat up the Jets.
2. Baltimore Ravens (LW: 2) =
The Ravens got a win, but Lamar Jackson didn’t have a game that looked like any of his games last season. Teams have started to learn how to slow him down, which is not good for him. He’s a solid passer, but he clearly struggles passing the ball when he doesn’t have the option to run it. That’s something the Ravens need to solve, and fast, if they want to win some playoff games. They’re still a really good team--that defense is amazing--but they might not be winning the division.
1. Seattle Seahawks (LW: 3) +2
And now for our new #1. Seattle has looked mostly unbeatable this season, and Russell Wilson is the top MVP candidate in the league. And while the defense has had its fair share of struggles, they’ve been able to keep the team afloat in some slower offensive performances. All around, this team looks very solid, and I wouldn’t want to have to play against them. So here’s hoping they can keep it up and that Wilson can finally get his MVP votes.