NFL Power Rankings Week 5: Where Does Every Team Stand?
The NFL season has reached the end of the first quarter. That means it's time to start over, throwing out expectations and preconceived notions that we all carried into the season.
How the teams look right now is much closer to how they'll look when the season ends. With four weeks of knowledge to work with, major shakeups in the power rankings follow.
After Michael Schottey's admirable fill-in for me last week, there will be some natural re-shifting as you get back to reading my take on teams. But Schottey and I see eye to eye on a lot of teams, and his moves are ones I would have made as well.
With four games down and 12 left to play, you'll get each team's first-quarter grade as well as their Week 5 power ranking. Prepare for information overload.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars
This Week's Rank: 32
Last Week's Rank: 32
The Jacksonville Jaguars are once again the worst team in football. And it's really not even close.
The important thing to remember is that this was expected. The 2013 season is a year of evaluation and development for the front office, as there are few building-block players on the roster right now. The smart move is to play young guys, see how they look and learn who you can move forward with.
You might expect the Jaguars to have a bad grade here, but they're playing very close to how I expected them to look this year. The four losses aren't a surprise, and neither is the level of talent the team is showing.
31. Oakland Raiders
This Week's Rank: 31
Last Week's Rank: 31
No one expected the Oakland Raiders to be a challenger in 2013. That means their grade doesn't reflect as poorly as others because they are graded on expectations and current play.
The encouraging developments come at quarterback, where Terrelle Pryor has been a breath of fresh air in the Raiders offense, even though he missed Week 4 with a concussion. Were it not for injury to Jared Veldheer, the offensive line may too be a positive on this roster. There's youth here, and talent.
The defense needs a talent infusion, but they've played tough football from Day 1. Dennis Allen is a strong coach on defense, and you can see his fingerprints all over the unit.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This Week's Rank: 30
Last Week's Rank: 29
Greg Schiano has to be on notice—or at least noticing that his seat is getting warm. The 0-4 Buccaneers are simply too talented on both sides of the ball to be this bad of a team. And that's coaching.
Much like the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs, the Buccaneers look to be a competent coach and quarterback away from a playoff-contending squad. The run game, offensive line, passing-game weapons and defense are all in place for this team to take off, but poor coaching and quarterbacking are holding them back.
The 2013 season may be a wash, and this slow start is definitely disappointing, but don't be shocked if this is a much better team in 2014.
29. Minnesota Vikings
This Week's Rank: 29
Last Week's Rank: 30
The 1-3 Minnesota Vikings had to travel to London to find their first win of the season, but they managed a victory nonetheless.
Looking at the big picture of the season, the Vikings have to be considered a disappointment following their playoff berth last year. Christian Ponder hasn't been able to get the job done, Adrian Peterson has been bottled up, and the defense hasn't been consistent.
That changed in Week 4 with Matt Cassel at quarterback while Ponder nursed an injury. It will be very interesting to see how that plays out over the remainder of the year.
28. Washington Redskins
This Week's Rank: 28
Last Week's Rank: 27
This team is a far cry from the playoff team we saw in 2012. What changed?
The obvious difference is that the quarterback position is completely different with Robert Griffin III recovering from offseason knee surgery. He's not been the same dynamic, dual-threat player this season, and that's killing the offense.
The defense has taken a step back, too. The defensive line cannot stop the run, and the youth movement in the secondary has caused major issues in pass coverage. Outside of the linebackers, this defense just isn't very good.
Mike Shanahan is a good coach. He'll get things figured out eventually. Hopefully it won't be too late, though.
27. New York Giants
This Week's Rank: 27
Last Week's Rank: 26
The New York Giants are 0-4. This is not how Tom Coughlin wanted this season to go.
In what may ultimately be Coughlin's last year with the team, a start such as this is discouraging. Very discouraging. And it's not just on Coughlin.
Eli Manning has thrown nine interceptions in four games. The offensive line has allowed sack after sack, including a seven-sack game in Week 3. A once-stout defense has no depth and can't develop a consistent pass rush.
There's no way to sugarcoat this one. The Giants are flat-out bad.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers
This Week's Rank: 26
Last Week's Rank: 23
The Pittsburgh Steelers have not started a season 0-4 since before Chuck Noll was head coach. He started his job there in 1969.
The 2013 season has been terrible for the Steelers, and it's really all-encompassing. The offensive line can't protect Ben Roethlisberger. There is no run game to speak of. The defense cannot stop the run, and the secondary is old. It's bad news all around.
Four straight losses will put the coaches on the hot seat and should put the players on notice. It's time to find some motivation and start winning in Pittsburgh.
25. Philadelphia Eagles
This Week's Rank: 25
Last Week's Rank: 20
Remember when the Philadelphia Eagles were a top-10-ranked team? That's the beauty of power rankings, they can change so drastically over a few weeks.
Now the Eagles are back down near where they started the season ranked. Chip Kelly's offense hasn't been as dynamic—largely due to poor play from quarterback Michael Vick—and the secondary on defense has held the team back overall.
Kelly's scheme will take time to implement, and the talent isn't on the roster for this team to be as good as we all wanted them to be this season. But the foundation is there, and the Eagles have the playmaking ability to surprise over the next 13 weeks.
24. New York Jets
This Week's Rank: 24
Last Week's Rank: 19
The New York Jets are playing better than most had anticipated, but it's not yet showing up in wins and losses.
That's largely due to a rookie-led offense and the bumps the team will take while Geno Smith acclimates to the NFL. The fact that the Jets are 2-2, though, is a huge win for this team. It might not be enough to save Rex Ryan's job, but someone has to acknowledge how great he's been at coaching up limited talent on both sides of the ball.
Ryan is one of my favorite coaches in the NFL, and his work with the 2013 Jets has been very good so far.
23. Cleveland Browns
This Week's Rank: 23
Last Week's Rank: 28
Maybe the Cleveland Browns should have benched Brandon Weeden and traded Trent Richardson before the season?
With the two 2012 first-round draft picks, the Browns were 0-2. Without them in the lineup, they're 2-0. That can't all be motivation and luck; it's substance. And it's something head coach Rob Chudzinski can build on.
Quarterback Brian Hoyer has been the spark plug this team needed on offense, and backed with a very good defense and superstar-in-waiting tight end (Jordan Cameron), this team might win again next week before getting into a tougher portion of their schedule.
22. St. Louis Rams
This Week's Rank: 22
Last Week's Rank: 18
The St. Louis Rams were supposed to challenge for a playoff berth this season. Instead, they've looked more like the pre-Jeff Fisher bunch.
There are bright spots—like Robert Quinn and Tavon Austin—but the quarterback play, offensive line and safety positions are still gigantic question marks. And any time you have an uncertain situation under center, things are going to be worse than expected.
The Rams have the talent to turn their season around, but it will take major soul-searching before Week 5 to get it done.
21. Carolina Panthers
This Week's Rank: 21
Last Week's Rank: 21
A 1-2 record at the end of the first quarter isn't a surprise, but how well the Carolina Panthers have played is.
This is a team that took the Seattle Seahawks to the wire in the season opener and then beat the heck out of the New York Giants in Week 3. The talent and athletic ability on offense and defense is catching up with the team, and they're starting to win because of it.
I'm still not sold on Ron Rivera as the long-term answer at head coach here, but the roster has a strong talent base to build around. The one statement win, the close home opener and the development of key young players is encouraging.
20. Arizona Cardinals
This Week's Rank: 20
Last Week's Rank: 24
A 2-2 start is a good thing for head coach Bruce Arians and the Arizona Cardinals. Can they build on it, though?
Carson Palmer and the offense haven't been great, but they've managed to win. Week 4 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers showed that even when the offense isn't exceptional, the team can still win. That's a credit to a strong defense and a confident head coach.
Through the first quarter of the season, the team has to be happy with where they stand in the division, but as the schedule gets tougher, they'll have to step up across the board.
19. San Diego Chargers
This Week's Rank: 19
Last Week's Rank: 25
My expectations were very low for the San Diego Chargers in the first year of the Mike McCoy regime. I was shooting way too low.
Philip Rivers looks renewed, as does Antonio Gates. Add in a strong run game, a better-than-expected offensive line and the resurgence of Eddie Royal, and you have an offense that's been dangerous at times. That's the recipe for wins in San Diego. When Rivers is right, this team is solid.
The defense has been very strong in the front seven, but the back four still needs work. That could come with time and more talent, but there's promise here. In the meantime, they'll be good enough up front to win some ballgames.
18. Dallas Cowboys
This Week's Rank: 18
Last Week's Rank: 14
The Dallas Cowboys have the talent to win the NFC East—especially in a weak season like this one is shaping up to be. But they haven't been the most consistent team in the league. That's showing up again in 2013.
Tony Romo and the offense can get the job done. The defense has a pass rush that's talented and has good linebackers. But the secondary and coverage in general have been weak. Philip Rivers carved them up in Week 4, as did the Kansas City offense in Week 2.
A 2-2 record is still good for the Cowboys at this point in the year, but they're not showing the fight of a playoff team.
17. Buffalo Bills
This Week's Rank: 17
Last Week's Rank: 22
EJ Manuel and Doug Marrone have been a nice story for the young Buffalo Bills, but they're not the only first-year guys making an impact.
The offense has been helped by Manuel and fellow rookies Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin, while the defense has been anchored by middle linebacker and Defensive Rookie of the Year favorite Kiko Alonso.
Few teams in the league are seeing the immediate draft-class results that the Bills are, and that's helped them jump out to a surprising 2-2 record.
16. Baltimore Ravens
This Week's Rank: 16
Last Week's Rank: 15
No one realistically expected the Baltimore Ravens to come out and dominate early in the 2012 season. Super Bowl winners rarely take over the league the next season, and so the expectations were low to start the year.
Maybe they should have been lower.
The Ravens may be 2-2, but in games against the Denver Broncos and Buffalo Bills, they've struggled mightily. Joe Flacco has been bad at quarterback—including five interceptions against the Bills—and the lack of protection from the offensive line has prevented the offense from taking off down the field.
Now John Harbaugh must get his team back on track before the meat of the schedule kicks in.
15. Houston Texans
This Week's Rank: 15
Last Week's Rank: 13
It could be a long week for Matt Schaub and Gary Kubiak after another game that was seemingly won and then lost in the fourth quarter. Schaub, Kubiak and the offense have been put on notice—running up a lead in the first half isn't good enough. They have to play for four quarters.
The Texans weren't part of my playoff predictions before the season, and so far they look more like a 9-7 team than a contender. That means their grade isn't as low as you might think.
14. Indianapolis Colts
This Week's Rank: 14
Last Week's Rank: 12
The 3-1 Indianapolis Colts have taken down the San Francisco 49ers and dominated lesser teams (like the Raiders and Jaguars). While they did drop a tough loss to the Miami Dolphins, the overwhelming theme here is positive.
The Colts aren't winning with pretty performances each week, and they've not been perfect, but they have been winning. And at the end of four weeks, they're sitting in the driver's seat of the AFC South.
13. Detroit Lions
This Week's Rank: 13
Last Week's Rank: 17
It might not seem like the Detroit Lions are 3-1, unless you're a fan of the team, but they are. After four weeks, the Lions are tied for the best record in the NFC North, ahead of the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings.
Can they maintain the success? Jim Schwartz hasn't exactly been a model of consistency and discipline as a head coach, but the sheer talent on this roster is helping them win games. Oh, and the offensive line has been fantastic despite replacing both starting tackles this summer.
The division is tough, but the Lions have found a nice recipe for winning. Their early season has been a huge success.
12. Tennessee Titans
This Week's Rank: 12
Last Week's Rank: 16
The Tennessee Titans win the award for most surprising growth this season. Credit Jake Locker, the interior of the offensive line and Gregg Williams' hand helping the defense. Now the Titans look like a true contender in the AFC South.
Their 3-1 record shows that this team's tough defense and disciplined offense can win games, but a hip injury to Locker may put the future in question. Ryan Fitzpatrick manned the ship in Week 4 after the team already had a comfortable lead, so it remains to be seen what he can do in this system.
With Locker, this looks like a potential playoff team. Without him? Who knows.
11. Miami Dolphins
This Week's Rank: 11
Last Week's Rank: 11
Normally a loss on Monday Night Football would warrant a move down, but losing to the undefeated New Orleans Saints—and the teams ranked below the Dolphins—makes it tough to move them down. So they stay.
This Miami team has not completely figured itself out yet, but the improvements on offense and defense are notable. If the offensive line can get into a better rhythm with protections, they could take off on that side of the ball. After all, quarterback Ryan Tannehill is the most sacked quarterback in the league.
Overall, a 3-1 record is a huge boost for this ballclub. And for that, everyone has to be happy.
10. Green Bay Packers
This Week's Rank: 10
Last Week's Rank: 9
Two losses and just one win has to be considered a surprise for the Green Bay Packers on the surface, but anyone looking at this schedule had to know that was a possibility.
Starting against the San Francisco 49ers and then taking on the Cincinnati Bengals opened up the Packers to a losing record when they entered an early bye in Week 4. But now they have time to re-evaluate the situation, game-plan an extra week and get healthy for the stretch run.
They'll need it. No matter the record, it's safe to say these Packers do not look like a Super Bowl contender. Yet. That can change in a hurry when Aaron Rodgers is your quarterback. Regardless, through four weeks, this season cannot be considered a success.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
This Week's Rank: 9
Last Week's Rank: 6
When will we see the real Cincinnati Bengals?
Are they the team that beat the Green Bay Packers, or the group that lost to the Cleveland Browns? Through four weeks, it's tough to tell which Bengals team is the real deal and which weeks are flukes. Perhaps the truth is somewhere in-between, but so far there hasn't been a definitive statement made by this team.
The talent and coaching are obvious, but too often they've played down to competition and struggled to get the ball to their playmakers. That goes on Andy Dalton and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. If they can get it fixed, a long run through a very weak AFC North isn't out of the question.
8. Atlanta Falcons
This Week's Rank: 8
Last Week's Rank: 8
Losing to the New England Patriots isn't reason enough to move down in the weekly power rankings, but a third loss could have a lasting effect on the season.
No one expected the schedule to be easy for the Falcons this year, but this showing has been a little disappointing. Losing to the Patriots is expected, but entering Week 5 at 1-3 is a shocker. Losing to the Miami Dolphins will do that to you.
The Falcons are better than a 1-3 record, but they have to start showing it soon. For now, my faith in them wins out over their win-loss record.
7. San Francisco 49ers
This Week's Rank: 7
Last Week's Rank: 7
Entering Week 5 as a 2-2 ballclub is not what anyone expected, but the San Francisco 49ers made a statement in stomping the St. Louis Rams in Week 4. They ended the quarter on a high note and look to build on that momentum.
The narrative surrounding the 49ers' two losses was way too reactionary, though, and should settle down now. Dropping a game in Seattle wasn't a surprise, and losing to an AFC playoff team in the Indianapolis Colts is nothing to be ashamed of. Losing three in a row would have been, though.
Jim Harbaugh's team isn't playing up to expectations, but they have managed to beat two good NFC teams (St. Louis and Green Bay) and look to have found their groove in Week 4.
6. Chicago Bears
This Week's Rank: 6
Last Week's Rank: 3
The Detroit Lions took the Chicago Bears behind the woodshed in Week 4, but the big picture must be emphasized. This is still a 3-1 football team. The panic button doesn't even need to be looked at.
The Bears have played well when they were able to run the football and execute play-action passes. That didn't happen in Week 4 because of turnovers from quarterback Jay Cutler, but we've seen their blueprint for winning, and it works.
The key is to make sure Cutler doesn't let one loss bog him down moving forward. If he can come off the bad game and get back to his earlier production, the Bears can still win the division.
5. Kansas City Chiefs
This Week's Rank: 5
Last Week's Rank: 10
Andy Reid has to be considered the Coach of the Year at this point in the season. And while that may not last for another 13 weeks, it's a huge statement early in the year.
Reid's coaching and the moves made by general manager John Dorsey have turned the Kansas City Chiefs into a legitimate contender in the AFC. Their four wins—double what they won last season—are a testament to that.
The schedule hasn't been particularly easy for the Chiefs, either. Wins over the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles (all NFC East opponents) show that they can win facing good quarterbacks and good defenses.
4. New Orleans Saints
This Week's Rank: 4
Last Week's Rank: 4
What a difference a year makes.
Sean Payton, Rob Ryan and rookies Kenny Vaccaro and Kenny Stills have made a world of difference in 2013. Add in the increased play of guys like Cameron Jordan, who is tailor-made for a 3-4 scheme, and it's easy to see why the Saints are undefeated after the first quarter of the season.
The look and feel of this team is much like their Super Bowl-winning 2009 team: great on offense and dangerous on defense even if they give up yardage. Don't be surprised if the Saints are representing the NFC in February.
3. New England Patriots
This Week's Rank: 3
Last Week's Rank: 5
The New England Patriots start moving back up, getting closer to a top AFC ranking. If they keep winning, no matter how ugly the win might be, they'll overtake the Denver Broncos as the top AFC team.
Tom Brady isn't having his best season, but he's working with an inexperienced group of wide receivers and a decimated tight end depth chart. What he's been able to do has been exceptional, considering the supporting cast.
The run game and defense are underrated, and both have shown the ability to support the team if Brady is less than elite on every throw.
2. Denver Broncos
This Week's Rank: 2
Last Week's Rank: 2
Another week, another dominating Denver Broncos victory. What's new?
Peyton Manning is having an amazing season thus far and is doing it without All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady recently due to injury. There's no way to discount the brilliance of Manning's season to date.
The defense hasn't been flawless, but they're also playing without Von Miller while breaking in new starters along the line and at cornerback. Given time, this defense could be nearly as dangerous as the offense.
1. Seattle Seahawks
This Week's Rank: 1
Last Week's Rank: 1
The 4-0 Seattle Seahawks have won at home. They've won on the road. They'd dominated in blowouts and proven they can win close or come from behind. This is the most complete team in football. Bar none.
It isn't always pretty, but the end result is all that matters in the NFL. For the Seahawks, that's been four wins in four weeks against tough competition—well, other than Jacksonville. Beating the San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans gives Seattle two wins over two of the better teams in the league.
If you want a first-quarter Super Bowl favorite, look no further than the Seattle Seahawks.