NFL Power Rankings Week 5: Bills holding strong, Chiefs make a leap, Cowboys Top 10
We are a month into the season and if one thing is clear in the NFL, it’s that nothing is clear. The Buffalo Bills top the Power Rankings, but for how long?
This must be in the midst of one of the tightest, most even starts to an NFL season in recent history. There are fifteen 2-2 teams, just one undefeated team and just one winless team in the league through four weeks. That makes for exciting games from top to bottom, but also makes publishing Power Rankings awfully difficult. So here we go, this is the newest edition of our NFL Power Rankings after Week 4.
1) Buffalo Bills 3-1, last week 1
Buffalo was staring a the possibility of dropping to 2-2 on the season at halftime of the Ravens game, and you could already hear the doubts and questions about this teams starting to swirl in Orchard Park. Josh Allen and company squashed those thoughts as he led a second half comeback in hostile territory to avoid a second straight loss. It was Allen making all the big plays with his feet as he beat Lamar Jackson at his own game, rushing for 70 yards and a TD. The defense held the potent Ravens offense to 0 points in the second half and the Bills are showing they are the most complete team in the league.
2) Kansas City Chiefs 3-1, last week 5
Patrick Mahomes. Does anything else need to be said? I guess I will, but really that should suffice. Mahomes has a knack of rising to big occasions and he was waiting for his chance to get back at the Bucs since Super Bowl LV twenty months ago. The magic show he put on at Raymond James on Sunday night was worthy of a residency on the Vegas strip. The defense didn’t have to do much with Mahomes playing like he was, but they did come up with a play that changed the course of the game, just after the Chiefs turned it over on downs half way through the second quarter. L’Jarius Sneed forced a Tom Brady fumble on a sack the play after KC turned it over and Chris Jones recovered as the Bucs best chance to get back into the game slipped through their fingers.
3) Green Bay Packers 3-1, last week 4
Aaron Rodgers summed it up perfectly after the game, “This is a game we had to win.” It’s not always going to be pretty. It’s not always going to be easy. But good teams win games even when they aren’t playing well. That’s what the Pack did on Sunday’s overtime game against a third string rookie quarterback at home. Is Green Bay’s offense still miles behind what it was last year? Yes. Are the Packers still 3-1 despite their offensive inefficiencies? Yes. It’s on to the next one for Rodgers and the Packers who have put their opening week disaster in the rear view.
4) Philadelphia Eagles 4-0, last week
My apologies to the Philadelphia Eagles. Heavens knows if there’s one city I don’t want to make enemies with it’s Philly, but I can’t in good conscious put the Eagles at the top of the Power Rankings. I love what Jalen Hurts and Nick Siriani are doing in the City of Brotherly Love. Until they play an actual tough opponent, all due respect to the Vikings and Jaguars, they can’t yet sit above teams like the Chiefs or Packers. The Eagles sit just a yard behind from the Lions who are in the top spot in yards per game with 436 a contest. The impressive thing is Phiily has racked up these yards leading for the majority of their games, while the Lions have had to claw their way back into games just to prevent blow outs.
5) Los Angeles Rams 2-2 , last week 3
The defending champions are finding out that playing with that target on their back is proving to be pretty difficult. The Rams have a handful of problems keeping them from looking like the team they were last year. Those problems were exposed on Monday Night against the 49ers. Their banged up offensive line can not provide sufficient protection for Matthew Stafford, and when Stafford can get the ball off he is very limited in the options he has to throw to. Cooper Kupp had 14 catches in the Monday Night game, which is a career high but Kupp shouldn’t have to set career highs to keep the Rams in games.
6) Miami Dolphins 3-1, last week 2
My stomach is still turning from seeing Tua Tagovailoa getting rocked into the grass on that second quarter sack in Cincinnati. The Dolphins got off to the perfect start to the season, and unfortunately the ones responsible for ending their undefeated start aren’t on the field. They are on the sideline. The team medics and the coaches involved in putting Tua back in the game against the Bills last week and the Bengals this week have not just played a massive role in the short term success of the Dolphins, but also farther down the road. Football is the farthest thing that should be on people’s minds as the sports world prays that Tua makes a full recovery from the irresponsible decisions made by the Dolphins medical staff.
7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-2, last week 6
The good news is the offense finally turned on for Tampa Bay. The bad news is they had to be down 21-3 to finally start moving the ball. The top ranked defense disappeared against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, as Tampa Bay allowed touchdowns on the first three drives, and four of the first five drive in the first half. For some funny reason, even though the Bucs lost I think their Week 4 game will be a turning point of their season. I think their offense finally sorts itself out and the defense goes back to looking like a top unit in the league after an uncharacteristically bad game.
8) Baltimore Ravens, 2-2, last week 7
Once again Baltimore showed their true colors on Sunday. Lamar Jackson and the offense jumped out to a big lead over the Buffalo Bills in an early swing game in the AFC, but the defense proved that this is a team that can’t be trusted with any lead. Two second half picks by Jackson didn’t help the Ravens chances to close out the game, but in two of their four games they defense has given up a 17 point lead and a 21 point lead to enter Week 5 at 2-2.
9) Dallas Cowboys 3-1, last week 12
How bout them Cowboys? Specifically one Cowboy in particular. Cooper Rush has made history in what has been a fantastic start to his starting quarterback career in Dallas. Neither Roger Staubach, nor Troy Aikman, nor Tony Roma could do what Rush has done to begin his temporary gig as the Boys QB1. For the first time ever, a Dallas QB has won his first four starts and Rush has Big D keeping pace with the NFC East leading Philadelphia Eagles.
10) Cincinnati Bengals 2-2, last week 10
It’s crazy what Joe Burrow is capable of when he gets a little protection in the pocket. Up until last Thursday we had only seen the Bengals quarterback running for his life as he got bounced around in the backfield by opposing defenses. He had been sacked 15 times before Cincy’s win over the Dolphins on Thursday, but Miami got to Burrow just once all night. In return, Burrow went for 287 yards and a two touchdowns as the Bengals climbed to 2-2, and slowly but surely order is being restored in the Jungle.
11) San Francisco 49ers , last week 13
Finally the Niners got back to playing the way we were so used to seeing them playing last season. Let’s remember that Jimmy G didn’t have a preseason, and is getting in game shape on the fly. Monday night showed us that Garoppolo is close to getting back to where the Niners need him to be, and in the meantime the defense will take care of business. They kept the Rams out of the end zone all night and put the cherry on top of a brilliant performance with a Talanoa Hufanga 52 yard pick six to seal the game in the fourth quarter.
12) Los Angeles Chargers 2-2, last week 11
Seeing Justin Herbert back to almost 100% was of great comfort to the Chargers. Seeing Austin Ekeler cross the goal line three times was a sight for sore eyes as the Chargers trounced the Texans in the first half of Sunday’s game. It’s true they had to hold off a winless Houston team in the final minutes of the game, but going on the road with a banged up roster and coming out with a win will always help heal some of those wounds. Once this side gets healthy they should become one of the most frightening teams in the league.
13) New York Giants 3-1, last week 16
The Giants continue to prove all the doubters wrong as they keep racking up wins to start the season. Sunday’s game against the Bears proved that if they are forced to, they can improvise on the fly and win games on a whim. Daniel Jones going down with an ankle injury and back up Tyrod Taylor suffering a concussion left Saquon Barkley to run the wild cat for the final seven minutes of the game. Barkley had 146 of the 262 rushing yards for the Giants. If New York can run the ball like that it won’t matter who is at quarterback.
14) Minnesota Vikings 3-1, last week 14
The Vikings went across the pond and treated the Brits to one hell of a showcase. Just a few miles away from Shakespeare’s Globe Theater Justin Jefferson took center stage and shined bright becoming an overnight international sensation catching 10 passes for 147 yards. They beat the Saints, which at the moment doesn’t look like a monumental win with the way that New Orleans is playing, but traveling across the pond and coming up with a win is worth it’s weight in Pounds Schilling.
15) Tennessee Titans 2-2, last week 20
The Titans seem to have to convince critics on a weekly basis. Losing to the Giants on a fourth quarter debacle and then getting blown out by the Bills in the first two weeks of the season will tend to attract critics, but the Titans have bounced back with two big wins over other desperate teams. Mike Vrabel is a no nonsense guy, and there was a lot of nonsense in the first two weeks of the season. A month into the season the Titans have cleaned things up and are back to a tie for the top of the AFC South. Derrick Henry finally found some daylight and ran for triple digits for the first time this season. It goes without saying, the Titans are a much better team when their beast in the backfield gets decent blocking and is able to run wild.
16) Denver Broncos 2-2, last week 9
It’s no coincidence that once the Broncos defense loosened the slack on the leash a bit, Denver was going to struggle. The good news for Broncos fans, is that this game was actually watchable, unlike the previous three they had played to start the season. The bad news is the Broncos were on the wrong end of the scoreboard against the Raiders. One thing is clear, the Denver offense isn’t efficient enough to stay in in which the defense gives up 200+ yards on the ground and they 26 less plays than their opponent.
17) Jacksonville Jaguars 2-2, last week 17
In the first fifteen minutes of the Eagles game on Sunday the Jags looked like they were ready to send shock waves around the NFL after going up 14-0 on Philly. They turned the Eagles over twice in the first quarter, but as soon as they opened the door a crack for Philly, the Eagles kicked that door down and took control of the second quarter and then the game. A Trevor Lawrence fumble was the crack in the dam that led to three straight touchdown drives before the half was over. Jacksonville looked stunned, and were never able to bounce back. This is a young team still, and adversity will present itself plenty this season, Doug Pederson’s team has to learn how to overcome those situations to be able to beat good teams in the future.
18) Las Vegas Raiders 1-3, last week 21
Josh McDaniels had been pleading for a complete, 60 minute performance since the start of the season and the Raiders finally got it on Sunday. The comforting thing about the win for Las Vegas is, one it was against a tough divisional rival, and two they did it with the run game. With Davante Adams and Derek Carr everyone knows that’s where Vegas is most likely to beat you, but Josh Jacobs ran for 144 yards and the Raiders totaled 212 yards on the ground. If they can get the running game to produce even half of what it did on Sunday, then the Raiders will have their offensive problems sorted in no time. Just because they were winless after three games doesn’t mean this isn’t a team stacked with talent and potential.
19) Arizona Cardinals 2-2, last week 25
The Cardinals waited until late to turn on the engines as they did in their only other win of the season. It paid off and brought Arizona back to .500 on the year, but there is something that makes you doubt this team. Maybe it’s last year’s late season debacle, or maybe it’ Kyler Murray yelling at coach Kliff Kingsbury at the beginning of the fourth quarter. It just makes you wonder if these two are on the same page after some turbulent moments over the year and a half.
20) Cleveland Browns 2-2, last week 17
As soon as it seems like the Browns might just be for real, they go ahead and do something to remind you they are the Browns. They could have taken the early lead in the AFC North, all they had to do was beat the Falcons and they would be sitting first in the division without their starting quarterback. On Sunday they overcame a disastrous start when they went down by double digits in the first quarter after turning it over on downs on their first possession and fumbling on their next. The running game got the Browns back in the game, but the final possession of the game shows you this isn’t a side that’s ready to be taking seriously as a winning football team. With a chance to tie up the game deep in the fourth, an illegal downfield pass penalty was followed by an eight yard sack, and then an interception on 3rd and 23, and just like that the Browns dropped to 2-2 on the season.
21) Chicago Bears 2-2, last week 18
For the first time all season Chicago actually put a balanced offensive attack together, totaling over 300 yards of offense, but the Baby Bears showed just how toothless their offense is in the red zone coming up empty on all three of their red zone possessions. Giving up almost 250 yards on the ground will also make it difficult for a team that can barley score. Their 16 points per game is second worst in the league, behind the Colts.
22) Indianapolis Colts 1-2-1, last week 19
Indy had a chance to show the rest of the league that the first two weeks of the season were a fluke, and that the team we saw against the Chiefs is the real Colts team we will see for the remainder of the season. Once again the Colts deceived as they turned the ball over three times and the ground game had just 38 total yards. Johnathan Taylor was supposed to be an MVP candidate this year, but now he is sixth in rushing yards, and of the top 10 RBs in the league, he has the lowest yards per carry average.
23) New England Patriots 1-3, last week 22
In typical Bill Belichick fashion the Patriots went to Lambeau field and took the Packers to overtime in a game they had no business being in. With essentially no passing game, the Pats needed their run game to step up and their defense to make plays. New England ran for 163 yards, and the defense came up with an early fumble and a pick six right before half. Bill Zappe went toe-to-toe with future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers and didn’t bat an eye. The Pats still lost the game, and at 1-3 they need their second year quarterback under center back before it’s too late.
24) New York Jets 2-2, last week 29
For the second time in the last three weeks the Jets had to stir up an fourth quarter comeback, but this time it was Zach Wilson who led the late game heroics on Sunday. Wilson had 250 yards and a two TDs, one passing and one receiving in his return from injury, but it was the who defense came through against the Steelers, picking Pittsburgh off four times on Sunday. Head Coach Robert Saleh said he was keeping receipts for all those that poked fun at the his team. Some may not have believed in the Jets… ROB DID!!!
25) Pittsburgh Steelers 1-3, last week 8
After an interception and two three-and-outs in the first half, Mike Tomlin decided to begin the Kenny Pickett era in Pittsburgh. It was certainly an exciting start to his era in the Steel City. His first possession didn’t go as planned, ending in an interception, but he led two straight touchdown drives to give the Steelers the lead and ignite the Acrisure Stadium crowd. The rookie threw the the crucial pick leading by three with less than four minutes to go in the game. Pat Freiermuth deserves half, if not all, the blame for tipping it into the defense’s hands. Mitchell Trubisky was neither the short term or the long term answer, and having Pickett under center will at least give Steelers Nation something to get excited about in the post Roethlisberger era.
26) Atlanta Falcons 2-2, last week 30
Don’t you feel like you have to root for the Falcons? Unless you’re a fan of an NFC South team, this is a team you have to pull for. They lost their long time franchise quarterback and replaced him with a “washed up” QB who had barely played over the last two years. Now Marcus Mariota has the Falcons at 2-2 and very easily could have been 3-1 if not for a fourth quarter collapse in Week 1. Looking at the stats the Falcons had no business beating the Browns, but bad teams have a knack of losing close games late on and the Falcons haven’t been doing that. Their two losses came by a total of five points and week by week this team is believing more in themselves, and we should too.
27) New Orleans Saints 1-3, last week 23
Sure the Saints were about an inch away from tying the game in Londons and perhaps moving to 2-2 on the season, but they are also a Week 1 last second field goal away from being 0-4. Andy Dalton was under center for a banged up Saints squad that was missing their starting QB, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. Dalton seemed to have a calming presence over the offense even without his two star backfield and down field options. I’m not sure how many more chances Dalton will have as a starter, but Dennis Allen may want to consider him as his QB1 if the Saints struggles continue.
28) Seattle Seahawks 2-2, last week 31
The Seattle Seahawks are another one of those surprise teams that few, if any, people would have predicted to be 2-2 through four weeks. They sent a warning shot in Week 1 with their win over the Broncos, and since then Geno Smith has been putting up much better numbers than former Seahawk QB Russell Wilson. Time will tell if the Seahawks are here to stay, but two early wins will have the 12th man sitting on cloud nine in a season where not much was expected of Seattle.
29) Detroit Lions 1-3, last week 26
What did we say last week? Detroit is a must watch team on a week in, week out basis. They are constantly getting themselves into games that light up the scoreboard and are decided in the final minutes. There were 93 points put up in the Seahawks game on Sunday, but Detroit’s fourth quarter comeback was cut short. As fun as these games are, Dan Campbell’s defense needs to figure out how to stop opposing offenses. They made Geno Smith look like Payton Manning on Sunday.
30) Carolina Panthers 1-3, last week 27
Another nasty looking game for Baker Mayfield and the Carolina Panthers who ran the ball just 13 times for 40 yards. They have one of the best backfield weapons in the league in Christian McCaffrey, but are barely using him. For a team that’s passing game is struggling to move the ball you would think they’d incorporated their work horse more often, but Run CMC had just eight rushes for 27 yards as the Panthers scored just one offensive TD when the game was already over. Mayfield’s QB rating is under 20 through the first four games of the season. How long will it be before they start thinking about making the switch to Sam Darnold in Carolina?
31) Washington Commanders 1-3, last week 28
For the first two weeks of the season the Commanders looked like a high scoring team that couldn’t stop anyone on the defensive end. The last two games have thrown the Carson Wentz and the offense on the hot seat after scoring just 18 points total over the last two games. To be fair to Washington, no one is putting up big numbers against the Cowboys defense these days.
32) Houston Texans 0-3-1, last week 32
The Texans are winless on the season, but you could say that they have had a chance to win every game they have played this season. Even Sunday’s game agains the Chargers in which they went down 21-0 in the first half. Davis Mills and the Texans showed tremendous character fighting back against a great LA team. Their three losses have come by an average of less than seven points a game. Every week this team is learning lessons that will make them a better, stronger, more mature team. Houston should be looking forward to seeing how these losses will shape this team later in the season and in the season to come.