NFL Power Rankings: Week 5 Grades and Analysis
Week 4 of the NFL season finally saw some order restored.
The San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos all got back into the win column after Week 3 losses. The combined record of the four teams is still just 9-7—well below what many predicted—but there were positive signs for each club in getting wins this week.
Our Week 5 NFL power rankings start to reflect that restoration of order amongst some of the NFL's better teams.
Below, we rank all 32 teams for Week 5 of the NFL season, plus give out grades based off each team's Week 4 performance:
1. Houston Texans (Current record: 4-0, Week 4 grade: A)
The Texans are consistently the most balanced team in football every week. Where do you attack them on either side of the ball? There's a pretty good gap between Houston and the No. 2 team right now.
2. Atlanta Falcons (4-0, B-)
Ugly divisional wins still count as wins, so the Falcons have nothing to apologize for Sunday. Matt Ryan was good enough throughout to erase some of the problems that need to be cleaned up on the offensive line. But that last heave to Roddy White? A safety with any kind of confidence picks that off rather easily.
3. Baltimore Ravens (3-1, B)
The Browns have played Baltimore tough for the last two years, so Thursday night's seven-point win wasn't really a surprise. The Ravens will take a divisional win on a short week, especially with a long week ahead to prepare for a tricky place to play in Kansas City.
4. San Francisco 49ers (3-1, A)
The pit stop in Youngstown, OH refocused and re-energized a team that was flat in Minnesota the week before. The result in New York? A Big-Apple sized beat down of the nose-diving Jets. Couldn't ask for a better way to get back in the win column.
5. Arizona Cardinals (4-0, B-)
Over 80 percent of teams that start 4-0 make the postseason, so things are looking good in the desert these days. The Cardinals should be favored in each of their next two games (at St. Louis, Buffalo), before a brutal four-game stretch kicks off that includes Minnesota, Green Bay, San Francisco and Atlanta. These Cardinals can still get to 7-3.
6. New York Giants (2-2, C)
For the better part of two seconds, it looked as if the Giants were going to escape Philly with a win. Luckily for the Eagles, Lawrence Tynes' kick landed short of the uprights. 0-2 in the NFC East is now a disheartening reality for the Giants, and who knows how much that could factor in later in the season.
7. New England Patriots (2-2, A)
Forty-five second-half points, two 100-yard rushers, two 100-yard receivers and Tom Brady going over 300 yards with zero picks? The Patriots offense got healthy in a big way Sunday on the road. They turned a competitive game into a laugher by dominating the last 30 minutes.
8. Green Bay Packers (2-2, B)
For better or worse, Sunday's win over the Saints looked a lot like how the Packers won games in 2011. The offense was back on track, but the defense gave little resistance as Drew Brees went well over 400 yards. The pass rush was invisible. But on the bright side, Green Bay avoided a disastrous 1-3 start.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1, A)
Call it luck, call it anything you want. But the Eagles are 3-1, with wins over two teams ahead of them on this list (Ravens, Giants). Philadelphia is going to be a major factor in the NFC this season whether people think this four-game stretch has been a fluke or not.
10. Cincinnati Bengals (3-1, B+)
Cincinnati won a road game it had to win, against a team most have already written off in 2012. That can sometimes be harder than some imagine. Quickly, A.J. Green's last two games: 15 catches, 300 yards, two touchdowns. He's a top-five receiver in the NFL right now, hands down.
11. Minnesota Vikings (3-1, A)
There's something here with these 3-1 Vikings. The defensive swagger is back, and the offense and special teams are simply finding ways to manufacture points. It's not crazy to think Minnesota could be 5-1 by the time it welcomes the Cardinals to the Metrodome in Week 7.
12. Chicago Bears (3-1, A+)
After getting tossed around on national television in Green Bay, the Bears went on the road to Jerry Jones' $1.2 billion palace and embarrassed the Cowboys on Monday Night Football. Believe it or not, Jay Cutler even smiled a few times last night.
13. San Diego Chargers (3-1, A-)
The Chargers looked vulnerable heading into Kansas City Sunday, but credit Norv Turner for getting his football team ready and focused after a tough defeat in Week 3. Arrowhead has never been an easy place for any team to play, but San Diego was in control throughout.
14. Denver Broncos (2-2, A)
Welcome back, Peyton Manning. We know the Raiders' pass defense is beyond terrible, but 30/38 for 338 yards and three scores? There's a handful of starting NFL quarterbacks that couldn't accomplish that line against thin air. A mastery performance of 503 total yards from Manning's offense.
15. Seattle Seahawks (2-2, C-)
Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson continues to struggle. That said, Pete Carroll continues to safeguard him and restrict what the playbook allows him to do. At some point, Carroll needs to turn Wilson loose and see if he's capable of holding on to the starter's job.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2, INC)
The Steelers had a bye in Week 4. Philadelphia travels to Pittsburgh in Week 5.
17. Dallas Cowboys (2-2, F)
If ultra-talented but maniacally inconsistent receiver Dez Bryant makes any play for his quarterback Monday night, the Cowboys probably remain in that game. It was tough to watch so many big moments be too big for Bryant last night.
18. Washington Redskins (2-2, B)
People still don't realize how spoiled NFL fans are for having Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck enter the league during the same year. RG3, who calmly led Washington for the winning score Sunday, will be one of the faces of the NFL for a long time.
19. St. Louis Rams (2-2, B)
The Rams won a football Sunday with their kicker and punter, and that's not an exaggeration. Rookie Greg Zuerlein booted field goals from 60 and 58 yards, and punter Johnny Hekker threw a touchdown pass to Danny Amendola on a fake field goal. Odd way to win a game, but the Rams won't complain.
20. New York Jets (2-2, F)
The Jets turned in one of the worst single-game performances of the season Sunday against the 49ers. 34-0 at home is an embarrassment. The worst part of the whole deal is that the Tim Tebow talk will now be suffocating.
21. Buffalo Bills (2-2, D)
Forty-five points allowed in a game would be bad enough, but in a single half? Talk about getting out-adjusted at half time. This looks like the same old Bills team we've grown accustomed to...
22. Carolina Panthers (1-3, B)
A gut-wrenching loss for Ron Rivera's group that could change the entire season. Holding a lead, then pinning an opponent at the 1-yard line with under a minute to go, should always mean a win. Matt Ryan and the Falcons stole one Sunday.
23. Detroit Lions (1-3, D)
Someone needs to lose their job in Detroit, and it better be someone on the special teams unit. Coach, player, someone. The way the Lions have thrown away two games because of poor special teams must make head coach Jim Schwartz sick to his stomach.
24. Indianapolis Colts (1-2, INC)
The Colts had a bye in Week 4. The Packers travel to Indianapolis for Week 5.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3, C+)
Josh Freeman finally came to life in the second half, and he put the Bucs in position to win a football game late. But that defense, which had been the bright spot to start the season, collapsed under the weight of RG3. Bucs probably need both sides of the football to play well on a given Sunday to win games.
26. Miami Dolphins (1-3, B)
Forget the record, forget the loss. This season is about Ryan Tannehill's development, and Sunday in Arizona represented a big step forward. He's not Dan Marino yet, but there were encouraging signs (poise in the pocket, for example). Hopefully the youngster can build off his 431-yard performance in coming weeks.
27. Tennessee Titans (1-3, D+)
The only bright spot from Tennessee's loss in Houston was the re-emergence of Chris Johnson, who rushed for a season-high 141 yards. A 24-point loss and hurt starting quarterback all but dimmed that factor, however.
28. Oakland Raiders (1-3, F)
Peyton Manning (338, three) and Ben Roethlisberger (384, four) have combined for 722 passing yards and seven touchdowns over the last eight quarters against the Raiders defense. Ouch. A bye week lingers before Oakland travels to Atlanta to face Matt Ryan, one of the game's hottest quarterbacks to start this season.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (1-3, D)
Just when I was ready to say the Chiefs were getting things back together, they put up a stinker like Sunday at home. This will be another five- or six-win season for Kansas City. Scott Pioli better be scouting first-round caliber quarterbacks for the 2013 NFL draft, because Matt Cassel isn't the answer.
30. New Orleans Saints (0-4, F)
Hate having the Saints this low, because they're better than 0-4 and Drew Brees is such a pro. They played the Packers tough at Lambeau Field, too. But that defense is historically bad (on pace to break the record for yards allowed in a season), and 0-4 is almost unrecoverable from.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3, D)
Blaine Gabbert was sacked six times and averaged just 5.5 yards an attempt. Maurice Jones-Drew had just 38 yards rushing. Jacksonville is probably lucky it scored 10 points against the Bengals Sunday.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-4, C)
The Browns will have to stay in the cellar until the first win of the 2012 season comes. Sadly enough, that win probably needs to happen in Week 7 at Indianapolis or the Browns could be looking at 0-11 heading into Oakland in Week 13.
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