NFL Power Rankings Week 5: Teams Primed to Move Up in Coming Weeks

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IOctober 3, 2012

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 30:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos drops back to pass against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 30, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Raiders 37-6.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The landscape of the NFL is constantly changing. 

As every week passes by, certain wins and losses tend to move teams up and down the rankings in quick fashion, and that will be no different in the coming weeks.

In my newest power rankings, I'll take a closer look at what teams will soon be moving up.

Note: These teams are in italics. 


1. Houston Texans (4-0)

At this point, I'm not exactly sure what the Texans don't do incredibly well. 

They have a dominant running game with Arian Foster, Matt Schaub can air it out to Andre Johnson and company if need-be, and they have a ferocious defense led by J.J. Watt, who is quietly establishing himself as arguably the best young defensive player in the league. 

Right, their offense is better than San Francisco's and their defense is better than Atlanta's, which is why I have them here. 


2. San Francisco 49ers (3-1)

The 49ers are who we thought they were (or is it "was", LeBron?).

Every team in the NFL is going to suffer a disappointing letdown at some point this season, and San Francisco's domination of the New York Jets—albeit it is the Jets—just goes to prove that you don't need to worry about its loss to Minnesota. 

This team is still as good as ever. 


3. Atlanta Falcons (4-0)

We've seen the Falcons put on this type of show during the regular season before, only to disappoint in the playoffs, but what we haven't seen is Matt Ryan playing at this high of a level. 

The Falcons are legit. 


4. Arizona Cardinals (4-0)

 Arizona's win at home against Miami might just further give people a reason to call the Cardinals a "pretender," but I'm going the opposite route.

We've seen the Cards win with top-notch defensive efforts, but to win when you get up through the air like they did is mighty impressive. This team can win in a variety of ways, and that makes it dangerous.


5. Baltimore Ravens (3-1)

Week 4's ugly win against the Cleveland Browns certainly wasn't a good sign, but Joe Flacco's ascent to the next level should help with the fact that this defense isn't what it used to be. 


6. Chicago Bears (3-1)

It's for me to rank this team at No. 6 with Jay Cutler under center and an offensive line that couldn't protect Super Mario with a star, but there's a few things to remember.

First, they've had two solid wins without Matt Forte (at least a healthy Matt Forte), who usually carries the load on offense. Second, this defense is elite


7. New England Patriots (2-2)

Yes, the Pats are 2-2, but they are also two last-second field goals away from 4-0, and that's why I think they won't be this low in the power rankings for long. 

In fact, I still truly believe this is a Super Bowl worthy team.

Tom Brady and his slew of receiving weapons is as dangerous as ever, as evidenced during New England's trouncing of Buffalo on Sunday.

The Patriots can run the ball better than they have in recent memory, as evidenced when Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley ran all over the Bills. 

They are elite at stopping the run, as evidenced when they shut down C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.

That's a lot of evidence. You can't fight it. This team is back on its way up. 


8. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1)

The Eagles are 3-1 and have a total point differential of -17? I'm not even mad, that's amazing

Really though, a lot of Philadelphia's problems can be solved by giving LeSean McCoy the ball as much as he got it in the second half of Sunday's win against the Giants. As long the Eagles do that, they have the talent to belong here. 


9. Green Bay Packers (2-2)

It's going to be hard for the Packers to keep winning games with the refs betting against them, but I'm willing to always back the side that has Aaron Rodgers on it. 

This is the lowest Green Bay will fall all year. 


10. Minnesota Vikings (3-1)

Is this the most underrated offense in the NFL?

Christian Ponder is much better than people give him credit for, Adrian Peterson is obviously one of the best running backs in the NFL, Percy Harvin is developing into one of the most dangerous receivers in the NFL, Jerome Simpson adds a deep threat and Kyle Rudolph adds a red-zone threat. 

Not many offenses are that rounded.

This team is young, and there will be bumps along the way, but it is 3-1 with two straight impressive wins for a reason. 


11. New York Giants (2-2)

This might be the most maddeningly inconsistent team in the NFL, but when the Giants are playing well and are healthy, they have an elite offense and an elite pass rush.  


12. San Diego Chargers (3-1)

They deserve to be here for having three wins, but three wins against Oakland, Tennessee and Kansas ain't impressin' me much. 


13. Cincinnati Bengals (3-1)

They deserve to be here for having three wins, but three wins against Cleveland, Washington and Jacksonville ain't impressin' me much.


14. Denver Broncos (2-2)

This is another team that will soon be rising. 

Peyton Manning is slowly starting to find his groove, and considering he has talented weapons like Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker to throw to, you wouldn't like him when he's in his groove.

Just ask the Oakland Raiders, and to a lesser extent, the Houston Texans. 

Throw in Willis McGahee, arguably the most underrated running back in the league, a stout run defense and a soft schedule, and this team should quickly climb the ranks. 


15. Seattle Seahawks (2-2)

Yes, the 'Hawks should be 1-3 and yes, their offense is extremely inconsistent. 

But Marshawn Lynch and one of the league's most intimidating defenses will win you lots of games, no matter who is under center and who is in pass protection. 


16. Dallas Cowboys (2-2)

This team has so much talent, but this team is also just so ... Cowboyey. 

For a definition of Cowboyey, see Bryant, Dez. All the skills in the world, but just doesn't quite put it together to win games. 


17. Washington Redskins

In Robert Griffin III, I—and pretty much everyone else in the world—trust. 

This Redskins defense is quite anemic, but RGIII looks like a legitimate Pro Bowler. OK, that means pretty much nothing, but just know that he is insanely talented and ready to lead an NFL offense in every way imaginable.

Throw in a very solid running game, and this team has a good shot at making some real noise in a division that is completely impossible to figure out.  


18. St. Louis Rams (2-2)

Sam Bradford and that offense will often struggle with inconsistency, but just like every other team in the NFC West, the Rams have a young, impressive defense capable of taking over games.

Oh, and Greg Zuerlein has a huge leg, so there's that. 


19. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2)

Ben Roethlisberger is going to rack up a lot of yards throwing to his two extremely talented receivers, but the run game is atrocious and the defense is a shadow of its former self. 


20. Buffalo Bills (2-2)

I bet you didn't know Ryan Fitzpatrick leads the NFL in passing touchdowns. 

The former Harvard star is still awfully up-and-down, but he, C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson make for a very solid offense. 


21. Detroit Lions (1-3)

Are they as good as last year? No. Are they as bad as they've shown this year, though? I don't think so. 

The defense is still a work in progress, but there are plenty of weapons to make this offense much more dangerous than it has proven to be. 


22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3)

The Bucs have three losses, but one is to the Giants by seven, one is to the Cowboys by six and one is the Redskins by two. 

Things could easily be a lot better for this team that suddenly has an intriguing young offense. 


23. Carolina Panthers (1-3)

On the downside, Cam Newton is getting as much negative press as he was positive press last season.

On the upside, Cam Newton is still really, really good and will help offset this porous defense as the season wears on. 


24. Miami Dolphins (1-3)

Ermahgerd, Ryan Tannehill-to-Brian Hartline is the new Steve Young-to-Jerry Rice.

But seriously, if Tannehill and Hartline continue to develop their solid repertoire at the break-neck speed they have to start the season, the Dolphins are going to turn into a shockingly good team. 


25. New Orleans Saints (0-4)

With the way they've played, they probably don't deserve anything better than No. 30, but let's be real.

Drew Brees is still leading this team, and they've still only lost their four games by a combined 20 points. The season may be lost, but the Saints aren't as bad as everyone says. 


26. Oakland Raiders (1-3)

As soon as Darren McFadden figures out this zone blocking scheme, watch out.

You know, assuming that ever happens. 


27. Indianapolis Colts (1-2)

Andrew Luck. 'Nuff said. 


28. Kansas City Chiefs (1-3)

Jamaal Charles is a fantastic weapon to have, but if this defense doesn't start stopping someone, the Chiefs won't be able to use him. 


29. New York Jets (2-2)

Two wins, yes, but without Darrelle Revis, this defense can no longer make up for the lack of offense, and that means things are going to get a lot worse in New York. 


30. Tennessee Titans (1-3)

Chris Johnson finally passed the 100-yard mark (both season and game), so there's that. 

But the injury to Jake Locker, the inability of Kenny Britt to get healthy and the mediocre (understatement) defense has the Titans reeling big time. 


31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3)

Blaine Gabbert has actually taken a monster step forward this season, and that is great news for the Jaguars. 

The next step is getting him some weapons to throw to and improving the defense. 

Still, the Jags are young and definitely moving in the right direction. 


32. Cleveland Browns (0-4)

If Brandon Weeden continues to improve like he has over the past four weeks, the Browns certainly won't go winless.




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