After another wild week in the NFL, it’s time to break down where each team sits on the power-rankings board following the Week 5 action.
Each team had positives and negatives coming from their matchups this week, and even the teams with byes have been working on obvious flaws.
As we start to look forward, assessing where each organization needs work and what they must build on going forward is imperative.
1. Houston Texans (5-0)
While the Houston Texans’ dominance so far this season has been unmatched, there is a serious dependence on the running game that could come back to bite them. If Arian Foster goes down injured like he did last year, Houston isn’t invincible.
2. Atlanta Falcons (5-0)
The Atlanta Falcons have been playing outstanding football all season, but the team’s tight win over a Washington Redskins team without their starting QB proved their defense isn’t as good as everyone has claimed.
3. San Francisco 49ers (4-1)
After the tough loss to the Minnesota Vikings, the San Francisco 49ers have refocused their efforts and allowed just three points in two games while racking up 79 points of their own; message sent.
4. Baltimore Ravens (4-1)
While it wasn’t pretty, the Baltimore Ravens proved they could win the close games as well, beating the Kansas City Chiefs 9-6.
5. Green Bay Packers (2-3)
Despite a tough loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the Packers are still one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL. If they can overcome their bad luck with injuries, they’ll be a serious contender for a Super Bowl.
6. New England Patriots (3-2)
With the nation watching, the New England Patriots held on to beat the tough Denver Broncos in a thrilling game. It’s obvious Tom Brady is back to his normal self, but it is the defense that has really stepped up in 2012.
7. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2)
The loss to Miami proved the offense needed their running game to step up more, but the elite play of their defense and wide receiver A.J. Green proved that the Bengals are a legitimate playoff threat.
8. Chicago Bears (4-1)
There is no player in the NFL harder to read than Jay Cutler, but as long as he plays the way he did in Week 5, the Bears will have a chance to win the surprisingly wide open NFC North.
9. San Diego Chargers (3-2)
After a tough loss to the New Orleans Saints Sunday night, many fans were starting to worry about the San Diego Chargers and if they were ready to implode.
The good news for San Diego fans is that the team looked fine, but they were heading into a situation they couldn’t win. With history on New Orleans' side, there was no way the Saints were going to lose the first five games of the season.
With Ryan Mathews reassuming the No. 1 spot in the running game, the Chargers have grown through their loss and have come out the better team.
10. Denver Broncos (2-3)
With another loss—this time to the New England Patriots—the Denver Broncos have lost their stranglehold on the division and have been surpassed by the Chargers. The Broncos are still playing well, but just not good enough to win close games against elite teams.
11. Arizona Cardinals (4-1)
While many consider the 2012 Arizona Cardinals the luckiest 4-1 team in NFL history, the strong defensive play and emergence of Kevin Kolb as a legitimate starter when given time makes them a viable threat.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (3-2)
After a tough loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 5, there is no doubt that the biggest issue with the Philadelphia Eagles is too many turnovers.
The Eagles have turned the ball over 16 times in the first five games of the season and have still managed a 3-2 record. With all the talent on the roster, something has to change fast or they will fall to 8-8 again this year.
The ball security concerns are mostly on the shoulders of Michael Vick and the lack of protection in front of him. If Philadelphia doesn’t protect their star or find a way to get the ball out faster, the Eagles will amount to nothing in 2012.
13. Minnesota Vikings (4-1)
After destroying the Tennessee Titans 30-7 Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings proved they are better than anyone thought in all three facets of the game.
14. New York Giants (3-2)
Despite looking flat-out terrible at times, the New York Giants snuck out a win against the Cleveland Browns in ugly fashion. I’m convinced that’s the only way Eli Manning knows how to win.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2)
The Pittsburgh Steelers proved their injury issues are starting to stabilize, and a big win over the Eagles will help their confidence moving forward.
16. New Orleans Saints (1-4)
There was no other way Sunday night’s game could have gone. The New Orleans Saints were too good to start the season 0-5; the San Diego Chargers were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
17. Washington Redskins (2-3)
With Robert Griffin III going down with a concussion in Week 5, the already alarming play of the team is now seriously concerning. Things could get very bad in Washington D.C.
18. St. Louis Rams (3-2)
Sam Bradford is one of the better QBs in football when given the time, but the offensive line must play more consistently. The NFC West is one of the tougher divisions in football, but the Rams must play even better to overcome the injury to Danny Amendola.
19. Buffalo Bills (2-3)
After giving up 52 and 45 points in Weeks 4 and 5 accordingly, the Buffalo Bills have proven that no matter how good their offense is, their defense can’t stop anyone.
20. Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
The talk coming into the season was about how the Dallas Cowboys were Super Bowl favorites, but the lack of elite play from the offense or defense has doomed America’s team. There is still time to turn it around, but hope is starting to fade.
21. Carolina Panthers (1-4)
Whatever is causing Cam Newton’s sophomore slump, Ron Rivera and the Carolina Panthers’ coaching staff needs to figure it out before it’s too late.
22. Detroit Lions (1-3)
While they had the week off, the Detroit Lions have been one of the most enigmatic teams in the NFL in 2012.
The Lions have talent on both sides of the ball, but nothing has played out the way the team had hoped it would. With injuries starting to heal and a bye week to reevaluate the situation, this could be Detroit’s turning point.
If the team keeps Stafford healthy and squares away their defensive flaws, the Lions will rise consistently for the rest of the season.
23. Seattle Seahawks (3-2)
Despite paying huge for Matt Flynn to step in and start for the Seattle Seahawks, the team keeps riding with Russell Wilson and his obvious flaws. Expect Seattle to falter and fail until they make a switch at QB.
24. New York Jets (2-3)
The New York Jets have been dreadful and the season–ending injuries to Santonio Holmes and Darrelle Revis aren’t helping matters. The Jets are doomed to miss the playoffs and cost Rex Ryan his job.
25. Kansas City Chiefs (1-4)
As much as Matt Cassel’s injury is a devastating shot to the Kansas City Chiefs, the emergence of Jamaal Charles as the stellar back we saw two years ago has made the offense tougher than expected. Depending on how the QB situation plays out, KC could be in big trouble, though.
26. Indianapolis Colts (2-2)
A huge win over the Green Bay Packers will hide the team’s issues for now, but the Colts’ defensive deficiencies need to be squared away before Indianapolis climbs any higher.
27. Tennessee Titans (1-4)
After another loss and another terrible performance by the Tennessee Titans’ run offense in Week 5, there is no reason to believe that the situation will get any better.
28. Miami Dolphins (2-3)
While there is no questioning their grit in the tough 17-13 win over the Bengals this week, if it wasn’t for the tough Miami Dolphins’ defense, the team would be 0-5. Add in a tough schedule, and Miami is in trouble.
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3)
After winning the first game of the season, Tampa Bay has done nothing but shoot themselves in the foot and lose close games. While there is still hope they can turn it around, time is running out.
30. Oakland Raiders (1-3)
The only thing that stopped the Oakland Raiders freefall this week was the bye.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4)
The Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t the worst team in the league, but their youth and inexperience has ruined their chances of being anything but terrible in 2012. Maybe next year…
32. Cleveland Browns (0-5)
Despite a valiant effort against the New York Giants in the first quarter of Week 5, the wheels came off and the Browns fell right back to earth. Until they win, they must remain in the basement.
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