NFL Power Rankings Week 5: How All 32 Teams Stack Up at Quarter Mark
I can't remember a time when pinpointing the top and bottom teams of an NFL power ranking was an easier task than it is right now.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are firmly entrenched at the bottom, and after a string of amazing performances, the Broncos demand top billing.
However, between those two, things get a little tricky. Counting the Jaguars and Broncos, there are nine teams that are either undefeated or still searching for their first win, and there isn't a whole lot separating those teams from the remaining 23.
At any rate, I've given this enough analysis to rank all 32 teams with some sense of confidence.
1. Denver Broncos (4-0)
Let me just say that the Broncos have had a fairly easy go of things in the strength-of-schedule department thus far. The Broncos have essentially had an extended preseason with victories over the Ravens, Giants, Raiders and Eagles.
I think the Ravens will finish the season in the top 10 in defense, but the other three had better get used to the bottom of these rankings.
Still, have you ever seen a team look this good through four games? Peyton Manning is on pace to throw 64 touchdowns for crying out loud. This team has definitely separated itself from the field.
2. Seattle Seahawks (4-0)
The Seahawks have won their two home games by a combined score of 74-20. Sure, one of those games was against the Jaguars, but Jacksonville scored all 17 points in the second half of a blowout.
On the road, the Seahawks have barely escaped with victories over the Panthers and Texans. Poor first halves threatened to doom the team from the West Coast, but a little Russell Wilson magic, and they emerged with victories. Those two wins speak more to Seattle's Super Bowl merit than the dominance at home.
3. New Orleans Saints (4-0)
The Saints have a completely average defense, and that is wonderful news for them. That is a giant step up from last year, and it's all this team needs to contend with the likes of Sean Payton and Drew Brees steering the offense.
New Orleans is just 22nd against the run, but fifth against the pass. With a high-scoring offense, that setup will create a lot of wins.
4. New England Patriots (4-0)
The majority of the talk around the Patriots has been the lackluster play of the offense, yet this team just continues to win games.
Despite the injury to Vince Wilfork, I'm confident this team will be in the thick of the postseason. Still, this offense has a long way to go. Tom Brady threw for 316 yards on the road against the Falcons last time out, but the Falcons' pass defense is awful.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)
The undefeated Kansas City Chiefs have mopped up on the NFC East and Jacksonville. However, this team plays sound and smart football, and while the offense is not prolific, it is balanced.
Defensively, the Chiefs are vulnerable to the run, but they have a great pass rush and good secondary. This will make for some interesting matchups against the Broncos.
6. Indianapolis Colts (3-1)
Is Trent Richardson even an improvement for the Colts? He's picking up just 2.9 yards per carry in his two games as a Colt, and Cleveland is starting to look smarter by the week as it succeeds without him.
Still, the Colts are a good football team. Andrew Luck's rapid maturation and the vastly improved play of the defense have been impressive.
7. Detroit Lions (3-1)
The Lions are thriving with the addition of Reggie Bush. He's brought some semblance of balance to the Lions offense and another dimension in the passing game.
Meanwhile, this team has so far figured out how to stop beating itself with horrendously costly gaffes.
8. Miami Dolphins (3-1)
The Dolphins showed their youth and inconsistency while getting handled 38-17 this past week in New Orleans. Drew Brees picked apart a less-than-complete secondary, and the young Dolphins offense made too many mistakes to keep up.
The season is still promising in Miami, but that loss was concerning enough for me to place them behind a Colts team the Dolphins beat in Week 2.
9. Chicago Bears (3-1)
The Bears are lucky to be 3-1. However, they can also play better. Mainly, quarterback Jay Cutler can play better. Cutler has thrown six picks already this season. This is not a new problem for Cutler, but it is still safe to assume he won't keep up this dubious pace.
10. San Francisco 49ers (2-2)
The 49ers' rush defense is not what it once was, and the lack of weapons in the passing game is going to cost this team.
Still, the 49ers got back on track to a more physical brand of football while dominating the Rams, and that is a great sign in San Francisco.
11. Houston Texans (2-2)
What was Matt Schaub thinking? How do you loft up a pass across the field towards Richard Sherman while in the lead? I don't get it, but I'm not surprised. That's certainly not the first time he's come up short in the clutch.
Still, the Texans are a talented team and will not be an easy victory for anyone. It won't amount to anything more than an early exit from the playoffs, though.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2)
Andy Dalton is killing this team. He is missing way too many open throws for this offense to gel, and that hit a new low as the Bengals only mustered six points in a loss to the Browns this past week.
Still, this team has potential, youth and is capable of making a run.
13. Green Bay Packers (1-2)
The Packers' 28th-ranked pass defense has to get better. It's been a consistent problem, and until the blown coverages cease, Aaron Rodgers and the offense won't be able to do enough to make this team a serious contender.
14. Tennessee Titans (3-1)
Jake Locker's injury was terrible. Not only was it a result of a cheap shot that never should have happened, but it came as he was starting to find his place in the offense.
The Titans have a strong enough defense and offensive line to withstand his injury, but the stalled growth of Locker will hurt them in the long run.
15. Baltimore Ravens (2-2)
Why doesn't Joe Flacco pretend every game is a playoff game? The Super Bowl hero chucked five picks last week, and even though he is starved for weapons, that is excessive.
Still, he isn't going to be that bad every week, and this team has a nice defense. Just find a way to get to the postseason, Joe.
16. San Diego Chargers (2-2)
Philip Rivers is finally back. The veteran quarterback has snapped out of his malaise this season and is completing over 70 percent of his passes while throwing for almost 1,200 yards.
The Chargers defense is another story. This defense is ranked 25th in rushing and 29th in passing. In the suddenly elite AFC West, that isn't going to cut it.
17. Atlanta Falcons (1-3)
There appears to be a majority opinion that it is too early to panic in Atlanta. I think this is the appropriate time to panic.
Sure, Atlanta's three losses have come by a touchdown or less to teams that have a combined one loss, but this team was supposed to be a Super Bowl contender. With a sinking pass defense, it is no surprise the Falcons are losing these close games. At this point, it will be a struggle for Atlanta to reach the postseason.
18. Cleveland Browns (2-2)
Those crafty Cleveland Browns. They lulled everyone to sleep by trading their franchise back after an 0-2 start. It appeared the white flag was waiving.
All of a sudden, with a the lightly heralded Brian Hoyer at quarterback, the Browns have run off two straight wins, and the defense is starting to come together.
19. Carolina Panthers (1-2)
The Panthers are far better than their record suggests. The running game is excellent, and the passing game is a big enough threat to take the focus of the defense off of it.
Meanwhile, it is the emergence of the defensive line that tells me this team can make a run at the postseason.
20. Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
Say hello to your division-leading Dallas Cowboys. I don't even know what to say at this point. The Cowboys will likely win their division, but I've seen nothing to show me that Dallas can beat a playoff team.
The pass defense continues to underperform, and the offensive line is too easily whooped by a strong defensive front.
21. Arizona Cardinals (2-2)
What was the point of trading for Carson Palmer when the Cardinals can't protect him? Not only can he not escape the pocket, but he has some of the worst hands while getting hit that I've ever seen.
Still, I like the Cardinals defense, and when the offensive line isn't destroyed, this team will be able to win some games.
22. Buffalo Bills (2-2)
Bills fans should be happy with the start of the season. EJ Manuel looks like a future franchise quarterback, and the running game is as good as ever.
Just as importantly is the improved play of the defense. It is still a work in progress, but it is leaps and bounds better than last year's unit.
23. New York Jets (2-2)
I've never been a Rex Ryan fan, but he's done a great job with this team. To have this group at 2-2 is an impressive feat. Geno Smith already has 11 turnovers!
Needless to say, I would be shocked if this team is .500 at the end of the year.
24. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3)
The Eagles are getting worse with each week. That is not how it was supposed to go in the first year under Chip Kelly.
The Eagles don't play a team with a winning record until Week 14. If things don't get better in a hurry, it could get ugly in Philadelphia.
25. Minnesota Vikings (1-3)
Adrian Peterson needs help on offense. Backup quarterback Matt Cassel did an adequate job while helping the Vikings beat the Steelers, but Peterson remains the lone threat opposing defenses have to worry about.
26. St. Louis Rams (1-3)
What a disappointing start it's been for the Rams. Sam Bradford continues to not develop, and this once-promising young defense has taken a step back.
27. Washington Redskins (1-3)
The Redskins defense finally showed some signs of life as Washington earned its first win this past weekend. However, the Raiders were working with their backup quarterback, who was playing behind an awful offensive line.
At least the Redskins proved their defense is not completely inept.
28. Oakland Raiders (1-3)
The Raiders just don't have it in the trenches to be anything but bad. This comes on offense and defense.
There are definitely signs of progress in Oakland, and Terrelle Pryor is worth being excited about, but this team can't compete with such terrible play along the lines.
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4)
Three of Tampa Bay's four losses have come by three points or less. One of those even came as the defense limited the mighty Saints offense to 16 points.
However, there is nothing surrounding this team that tells me it has the chemistry needed to turn a sinking season around.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4)
So how about those Pirates!
Pittsburgh fans had better hope the baseball team makes a long postseason run, because the Steelers aren't going to get anywhere near the playoffs.
The offensive line has been horrid, the defense average and the entire attitude around the team lacks the typical fire found in this proud franchise.
31. New York Giants (0-4)
The Giants are getting worse by the week. They aren't even competitive for 60 minutes. It's looked at times as if the team has completely given up on coach Tom Coughlin.
If I hadn't written that exact same thing before and then watched New York win the Super Bowl, I would write this team off.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4)
Oh my goodness, the Jaguars are bad. What is the spread going to be when the Jags travel to Denver in two weeks?
I think I'd take the Broncos at anything under 30. I'm serious. Jacksonville has only hit double digits once all season, and that scoring was after Seattle already had the game in hand.
Let me just put it this way: If the Jaguars tied their season high in points and the Broncos their season low, Denver would win by 20.
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