Week 5 NFL power rankings

It took five long weeks, but the surprising Arizona Cardinals finally lost a game. And as Dennis Green may say of his former team, “they are who we thought they were,” after putting together a terrible offensive performance in St. Louis. The two other undefeated teams heading into week five, Atlanta and Houston, held serve to remain at the top of the rankings. Even so, back-to-back dominating performances by the 49ers made me consider moving them into that top spot, but I ultimately relented. The surprise outcome of the weekend was Green Bay’s loss to rookie Andrew Luck’s Colts in Indianapolis. As a result, a team that finished 15-1 a year ago and was favored to win the super bowl this year sits at 2-3 and in third place in the NFC North. All is not well in cheesehead nation.

What else did we learn in week five? Chicago is mighty dangerous when Jay Cutler plays well, Minnesota may actually be a good team, the New England Patriots and New York Giants look unstoppable on offense, and Kansas City does not like their quarterback very much.

 

Team Rank Previous Rank Record Thoughts

Atlanta Falcons

1

1

5-0

Needing fourth quarter comebacks against inferior opponents in back-to-back weeks can mean one of two things: Either the Falcons aren’t as good as their 5-0 record would indicate, or their ability to perform when it matters shows that they are finally ready to win in the playoffs.

 

Houston Texans

2

2

5-0

Houston received a test from a battered Jets team, yet they emerged with their perfect record intact. J.J. Watt showed he is an absolute game-changer along that defensive line. Unfortunately, news broke today that linebacker Brian Cushing is out for the season with a torn ACL.

 

 

San Francisco

3

3

4-1

Alex Smith had a breakout game, throwing for 303 yards and four touchdowns. The “ground-and-pound” 49ers have now scored 79 points over their last two games. If a team that only gives up 13.6 points per game can play this well offensively, then they may be unbeatable.

 

Baltimore Ravens

4

4

4-1

Through the first four games, Baltimore looked nothing like the defensive juggernaut that had defined this franchise for the past decade. But after an ugly showing by Joe Flacco and the offense, the defense came through, holding Kansas City to just two field goals.

 

 

New England Patriots

5

6

3-2

The Patriots gained 200+ yards on the ground for the second time in two weeks. This new element added to the already lethal passing attack will create headaches for opposing defenses. Still, the 30th-ranked passing defense could ultimately be their downfall.

Chicago Bears

6

7

4-1

Chicago is rolling after combining for 75 points over their past two games. The Bears now play three games against opponents with a combined record of 3-11, before playing three games against opponents with a combined record of 13-2.

New York Giants

7

10

3-2

The Giants’ second-ranked offense has been impressive in their three wins. Next week’s matchup with San Francisco is the early favorite for game of the week, as two contrasting styles of play collide.

 

 

Minnesota Vikings

8

15

4-1

Are the Vikings a legitimate contender? Consider this: their +41 point differential is tied for sixth best in the NFL. Adrian Peterson sits eighth in the league in rushing, just a year after tearing his ACL.

 

Arizona Cardinals

9

5

4-1

It was just a matter of time before the Cardinals and their 29th-ranked offense came back to earth. We’ll learn a lot about this team next week as they attempt to bounce back.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

10

14

2-2

Ben Roethlisberger reminded everyone that he is one of the best clutch quarterbacks in the league, as he led Pittsburgh on a 64-yard drive culminating in a game-winning field goal. The return of Mendenhall should make this offense pretty dynamic from here on out.

 

 

Philadelphia Eagles

11

8

3-2

Michael Vick continues to turn the ball over, this time coughing the ball up twice in an ugly 14-point offensive showing. The “dream team” has yet to show that their immense talent can translate to on-the-field results.

 

St. Louis Rams

12

19

3-2

Is 12th too high for a team that ranks 28th in total offense and lost their best receiver to a shoulder injury? Perhaps. Yet two wins in a row over quality opponents (Seattle and Arizona) in which the defense only gave up 16 total points were impressive.

 

Green Bay Packers

13

9

2-3

The high expectations for this Green Bay team are beginning to wane after blowing an 18-point lead to Indianapolis and their rookie QB. Could this team rattle off a significant winning streak? They certainly have the talent to do so. But for this to happen, the offensive line needs to improve quickly.

 

Cincinnati Bengals

14

11

3-2

I said last week that the only thing that would prevent Cincinnati from a five game winning streak was themselves. Well, sure enough, they could only muster 13 points in a home loss to Miami. This team is sure hard to figure out.

San Diego Chargers

15

13

3-2

Like Cincinnati, San Diego is a difficult team to figure out. They are more or less in the middle of the pack, statistically speaking, and have beaten the bottom-feeders. Right now, they can best be described as “average.”

 

 

Seattle Seahawks

16

18

3-2

Seattle was able to squeeze out a win at Carolina on the strength of their defense. Next week, two unstoppable forces will collide, as Seattle’s top-five defense meets New England’s top-five offense. Something’s gotta give.

Denver Broncos

17

12

2-3

In their three losses, Denver has scored 35 points in the fourth quarter. If they could replicate that success over the first three quarters, then they would be undefeated.

 

Washington Redskins

18

17

2-3

Washington’s three losses have all come by a touchdown or less. After suffering a mild concussion against Atlanta, RGIII’s playing status for next week is up in the air.

 

 

Dallas Cowboys

19

16

2-2

This team perpetually fails to live up to expectations. Perhaps this bye week will allow them to discover a running game before difficult matchups with Baltimore, New York and Atlanta over the next month.

 

 

Miami Dolphins

20

26

2-3

Miami’s defensive line has stepped up, holding opponents to only 61 rushing yards per game. The Dolphins are the early favorites for this year’s “good” bad team.

 

 

Indianapolis Colts

21

28

2-2

The Colts showed great determination and persistence in their shocking comeback win over the Packers. Their sidelined coach surely inspired their tenacity on the field.

New York Jets

22

20

2-3

New York fought hard in a six-point loss to the undefeated Texans. Unfortunately, they do not have the talent on either side of the ball to compete in the way that Rex Ryan envisioned.

 

 

Detroit Lions

23

22

1-3

Overall, Detroit has played better than their record may indicate. Still, they have made crucial mistakes that winning teams do not make. Perhaps this bye week will allow them to regroup.

 

New Orleans Saints

24

27

1-4

Drew Brees broke Johnny Unitas’ record of 47 consecutive games with a touchdown pass on Sunday. Fittingly, passing the ball is about all the Saints have done well this year.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

25

24

1-3

Like Washington, all three of Tampa Bay’s losses have also come by a touchdown or less. This feisty team could cause some problems for opponents with playoff aspirations down the line.

 

Buffalo Bills

26

21

2-3

So much for the Bills’ retooled defense. They have given up an average of 35 points per game thus far.

 

Carolina Panthers

27

23

1-4

All but one of their losses was by six points or less, but Cam Newton has looked nothing like his rookie self. In his latest effort, Newton could only manage 108 passing yards.

 

Kansas City Chiefs

28

25

1-4

The Chiefs may have overtaken the Jets for the team in most disarray. An ugly loss to Baltimore was amplified by the actions of Kansas City fans who cheered when quarterback Matt Cassell went down with a concussion.

Oakland Raiders

29

29

1-3

Oakland has scored only 67 points on the year, third worst in the NFL. To put that in perspective, the New England Patriots have scored about 2.5 times as many points.

Tennessee Titans

30

30

1-4

The Titans have been beaten by at least 20 points in all four of their losses. Their -93 point differential is easily the worst in the league.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

31

31

1-4

What is it with sports in Florida? It seems that residents care more about the beach and nightlife than their sports teams. Still, I would not blame them from staying away from this terrible Jacksonville squad.

 

 

Cleveland Browns

32

32

0-5

And then there was one…winless team, that is. Cleveland definitely had their chances in a loss against the Giants. Brandon Weeden’s time may be running out as the starter for this team.

 

 

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