Week 5 brings huge changes to our weekly NFL Power Rankings. Who is on top after the dust has settled?
Unbeaten teams—Seattle and New England—fall. The Kansas City Chiefs keep rolling. The New Orleans Saints get a statement win over the Chicago Bears. The Denver Broncos face a tough test. So what changed after another week of action?
Teams like the Chiefs, Saints, Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts had to move up. On the other side, the New York Giants (0-5) had to move down. Way down.
So who's on top? Find out inside.
This Week's Rank: 32
Last Week's Rank: 32
Only 51 points scored though five games. Two pick-sixes for Blaine Gabbert on seven interceptions. The defense has given up 163 points and 4.9 yards per carry.
At least there are only 11 games left.
This Week's Rank: 31
Last Week's Rank: 27
The New York Giants have zero wins and five losses. Eli Manning has thrown 12 interceptions. Those two things are very related.
Manning isn't to blame for all 12 interceptions, but his play is at its lowest point since he took over for Kurt Warner in his rookie season. Manning's play has been exacerbated by struggles on the offensive line, fumbles by the running backs and a defense that's struggled to do anything positive on a consistent basis.
The 0-5 start all but guarantees a second straight year of missing the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl. Tom Coughlin may notice his office chair getting a little warmer each week.
This Week's Rank: 30
Last Week's Rank: 30
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' only saving grace is that the New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars are historically bad. Otherwise, they'd be bringing up the rear at No. 32 overall.
That's a credit to the play in Tampa and the culture built there by head coach Greg Schiano. Not only are the Buccaneers losing ballgames, but they're ensuring that future free agents will want nothing to do with the team as long as Schiano is calling the shots.
What's most confusing is that the team has talent. Much like the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs, this is a problem of bad coaching, not bad talent.
This Week's Rank: 29
Last Week's Rank: 29
Major changes could be coming in Minnesota, but is it too little too late?
Josh Freeman's addition will generate excitement in Minnesota, but unless he can play quarterback and cornerback, his signing won't do much to boost the level of play for the Vikings. The team has struggled with Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel at quarterback, but Freeman isn't a huge upgrade over either player in Week 6.
The problems here stem from the offense being too one-dimensional and the defensive secondary struggling in matchups. Until that changes, the win-loss record will continue to depress Vikings fans.
This Week's Rank: 28
Last Week's Rank: 28
The slow start by the Washington Redskins has been surprising, but in a wide-open NFC East there is still time to save their season. It starts in Week 6 by getting a win over the Cowboys in Dallas. That won't be easy, but coming off a bye week, Washington should be rested and ready to go.
The key is getting Robert Griffin III rolling again as a passer and runner. This team goes as far as he can take them, and while he's improved each week, it's obvious that he's still not 100 percent. Unless some unknown hero is going to step up, it's all on RGIII to get this team back into contention.
This Week's Rank: 27
Last Week's Rank: 26
The bye week could not have come at a better time for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who headed into the break at 0-4.
Getting healthy will be key for this team, but they needed a break as they came home from London with a fourth straight loss. The bye week will give Mike Tomlin and his coaches a chance to reassess their schemes, and it also gave the front office a chance to add help on the offensive line in the form of a trade for left tackle Levi Brown.
Shoring up the offensive line is key, but finding a legitimate run game and learning to stop the run are at the forefront of the Steelers' problems. The talent is there, but the execution hasn't been. For this team to save their season, they have to get hot coming off the bye week.
This Week's Rank: 26
Last Week's Rank: 21
Ron Rivera's days as head coach of the Carolina Panthers are numbered. That's a fact, coming off another loss that puts the Panthers at 1-3 to start the season. Can Rivera salvage things?
It's possible, but it's unlikely. Playing in a division that features the NFC's No. 1 seed from last season (the Falcons) and the 5-0 New Orleans Saints, the Panthers aren't likely to find a reprieve in their schedule. And with the way the offensive line and defensive back seven are playing right now, they really don't want to see Matt Ryan and Drew Brees across from them.
Rivera has failed to build a winner here, and new general manager Dave Gettleman will be looking to insert his own coach sooner rather than later.
This Week's Rank: 25
Last Week's Rank: 31
A huge win at home for the Oakland Raiders puts the team at 2-3 after five games. That's two more wins than some experts expected them to have all year.
A major amount of credit must go to head coach Dennis Allen for the job he has done in coaching up what is a lackluster roster. That begins with quarterback Terrelle Pryor, a player so few believed in as a sure-fire starting quarterback. Pryor has been special for the Raiders from his first start this season, quickly proving that he belongs in the conversation of up-and-coming young quarterbacks.
The division is tough and the schedule isn't favorable, but the Raiders are playing hard and overcoming all expectations. They may not win eight or nine games, but they're competitive each and every week. Allen and Pryor can build on that.
This Week's Rank: 24
Last Week's Rank: 25
Chip Kelly's offense delivers with Nick Foles at the helm after a Michael Vick injury, and just like that, the Philadelphia Eagles are atop the NFC East.
Not that that's a huge accomplishment right now. The 2-3 Eagles sit ahead of Washington (1-3) and New York (0-5), and they are tied with Dallas (2-3). A win in Week 5 over the still-winless Giants helps pad the team's stats and gets them a much-needed win in the division while also giving them confidence heading into Week 6.
The big question will be, who goes at quarterback? Foles played well coming off the bench to relieve Vick, and it's not like No. 7 has been setting the NFL on fire with his accuracy in this offense. Foles, in a small sample size, moved the ball better than Vick has since Week 1.
Kelly has a tough decision to make under center. How he handles this first big test will likely determine whether this team rises or falls over the course of the season.
This Week's Rank: 23
Last Week's Rank: 17
The Buffalo Bills can't catch a break. Injuries have crippled the team's early chances of success and left them in serious doubt heading into Week 6.
Who are the Bills?
When EJ Manuel is healthy, this team can be electric. Manuel, C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson form a backfield trio that can beat you inside and out, with speed or power. Manuel was starting to come into his own before a knee injury took him out of the Thursday night game in Week 5—a game the team likely would have won with the rookie in at quarterback.
According to WGR 550 in Buffalo, via ESPN's Mike Rodak, the Bills will start Thad Lewis at quarterback versus the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. That's not what Doug Marrone wanted in his first year, but expect the Bills to play tough on defense and in the run game until Manuel is healthy.
This Week's Rank: 22
Last Week's Rank: 22
A season that began with playoff aspirations has struggled to get going, but a win on Sunday will at least help the St. Louis Rams stay afloat in the NFC West.
Why do the Rams continue to stay down in the rankings following a win? Because that win came over the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars—and because it wasn't an easy win for the Rams. At all.
Instead of stomping Jacksonville at home, the Rams struggled to find a rhythm on offense and allowed too many opportunities on defense. The Jaguars, a team that had scored 31 points in four games heading into Week 5, scored 20 points and kept this game close much longer than it should have been.
The Rams haven't taken that next step up the ladder like many—me included—thought they might this season. A win is a win, but that one was downright ugly.
This Week's Rank: 21
Last Week's Rank: 19
Right when I was ready to come around on the San Diego Chargers and Philip Rivers, they drop a Sunday night game to the Oakland Raiders in embarrassing fashion. Are these the Chargers of old—teams who jumped out to fast starts only to fade?
Rivers and the Chargers are talented. This is a roster with experience, youth, speed and toughness. They could still compete for a wild-card berth, but they'll have to catch up to the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs in a hurry. Right now, that looks unlikely with the way the offensive line was abused by the Raiders.
Mike McCoy's first four games as head coach almost looked too good to be true. We may be seeing what happens when the rest of the league has updated game film to work with in preparing for the Chargers offense.
This Week's Rank: 20
Last Week's Rank: 23
Slowly but surely, the Cleveland Browns are making their way up the rankings. The biggest issue? I have no faith in them on a weekly basis. Especially with Brian Hoyer out due to injury.
The Browns have ripped off three straight seemingly impossible wins, and they deserve to move up for that. But they won't be favorites to win in Week 6 when they play the Detroit Lions. Winning three in a row is great—especially after so many (myself included) wrote this team off—but can they continue to do it?
That's why the Browns are ranked at No. 20 overall. And like I say here often, all they have to do to prove me wrong is continue to win. Winners move up.
This Week's Rank: 19
Last Week's Rank: 20
Another week, another Arizona Cardinals victory. That makes three, which puts them just one game back from the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West. Didn't see that coming, did you?
The Cardinals aren't winning pretty, but they are winning. And that's what matters most. The defense looks very good, and it will be even better with Daryl Washington back on the field. We saw his impact in Week 5, and that was with just one week of practice coming off suspension.
As the offense regroups following the trade of left tackle Levi Brown, this team could sink or swim. Facing an opponent tougher than the Carolina Panthers could expose weaknesses, or they could come together and win. Bruce Arians was able to pull that off as de facto head coach in Indianapolis last season. Maybe he'll find the magic again in Arizona.
This Week's Rank: 18
Last Week's Rank: 24
The New York Jets are much more legit than anyone thought heading into the season. Lots of folks, myself included, were wrong about this team.
Rex Ryan has coached his tail off, and the talent assembled by John Idzik is panning out. Rookies Geno Smith and Sheldon Richardson look great in starting roles and will provide the backbone of the roster in the foreseeable future.
The Jets will be tough to beat on a weekly basis. And after five weeks, they're just one game back in the AFC East.
This Week's Rank: 17
Last Week's Rank: 15
A 2-0 start has given way to three straight losses, anchored by four straight games where quarterback Matt Schaub has thrown a pick-six. The Texans' problems are multiple, but it all starts with the quarterback.
Schaub was pulled against the 49ers, giving way to T.J. Yates in the fourth quarter. Whether that will be a lasting move remains to be seen, but Schaub's three interceptions against the 49ers provided strong evidence in favor of a permanent quarterback change.
The talent level in Houston is still high. If the Texans can shore up the right side of the offensive line and get more consistency at quarterback, there's nothing stopping this team from going on a run. However, that looks unlikely with coach Gary Kubiak's commitment to Schaub and the offense.
This Week's Rank: 16
Last Week's Rank: 13
An offensive line that produced solid results through four weeks was exposed by the Green Bay Packers in Week 5. No Calvin Johnson plus no protection equals a bad Lions offense.
Losing to Green Bay, especially in Green Bay, isn't season-ending, but it does show where this Lions team stands currently. Not having Johnson completely changes their offense, though, so ignore those who want to read too much into the Week 5 loss.
The positive outcome from Week 5 was that the defensive line continues to play exceptionally well. If the Lions had a solid secondary and a healthy Megatron, they'd be owning the NFC North. Unfortunately, they have a young secondary and a hobbled wide receiver.
Week 6 offers a nice bounce-back opportunity against Cleveland. Win there, and the Lions are 4-2 and still very much alive.
This Week's Rank: 15
Last Week's Rank: 8
The Atlanta Falcons can't stop the run. They can't score in the red zone. They can't stop a two-minute drill executed by a rookie quarterback with no true threats at wide receiver.
That's bad news for a team many expected to compete for the NFC title.
The Falcons have a top-quality quarterback, elite wide receivers and a Hall of Fame tight end. But that's about it right now. Until the offensive line, run game, pass rush and secondary come together, they're going to experience many letdowns similar to the one felt on Monday night.
This Week's Rank: 14
Last Week's Rank: 18
There is no shame in losing to the Denver Broncos. There's definitely no shame in nearly beating the NFL's best team while scoring 48 points on them.
The narrative following this game will be Tony Romo's fourth-quarter interception. Too many people will forget—some conveniently—that Romo threw for over 500 yards and had three receivers (Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams) over 100 yards receiving each. Romo was fantastic, and the Cowboys lost.
This is a building-block game. Jason Garrett's team can take this loss, learn from it and move on. They're still tied for first place in the NFC East, after all. The next few weeks will tell us all whether or not the Cowboys are legitimate contenders.
This Week's Rank: 13
Last Week's Rank: 11
Let the Miami Dolphins play the Baltimore Ravens again—like they did in Week 5—and I'm not so sure the outcome is the same. The Ravens got the best of them this time, but it was a three-point win and Miami almost pulled off the comeback.
That's good news for the Dolphins, whether you believe in moral victories or not. Scoring 23 points against the Ravens takes skill, and each week we're seeing more of that in Miami. Yes, the offensive line struggled, but most will when facing Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil on the edges.
Ryan Tannehill missed a few passes—and Mike Wallace dropped a few—but otherwise we saw the versatility of the Miami passing attack. Players like Brandon Gibson stepped up, and in the fourth quarter we saw Tannehill settle down and come alive.
That's what the Dolphins need to see this season. Wins will come as this team jells. And after five weeks, they're only one game back in the AFC East.
This Week's Rank: 12
Last Week's Rank: 12
Losing Jake Locker may be a dagger in the middle of the Tennessee Titans' season. And that's too bad, because their hot start looked promising.
Backed by a very solid defense, the Titans are playing tough football on a weekly basis. Even without Locker in Week 5, they were able to play to the wire with the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. That proves the talent level and coaching on this team are much improved since 2012.
The Titans need to do their best to maintain without Locker. That may be a few weeks, but Week 5 showed us that the team can play well enough on both sides of the ball to win with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center.
This Week's Rank: 11
Last Week's Rank: 16
A narrow win over the Miami Dolphins keeps the Baltimore Ravens tied with the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals for first place in the AFC North. And no, that's not a typo.
The Ravens have seriously struggled on offense all season, but Week 5 saw Ray Rice used more in the red zone—which resulted in two touchdowns. Once Eugene Monroe is added to the lineup at left tackle, the balance and protection up front should be much better. That will allow quarterback Joe Flacco to start working the deep ball to Torrey Smith more often.
Injuries and turnover on the roster have kept this team down early, but counting the Ravens out would be a huge mistake. Coaching, talent and experience will win out over the stretch run of the season.
This Week's Rank: 10
Last Week's Rank: 6
On a day where Alshon Jeffery goes for over 200 yards receiving, the Chicago Bears manage to only score 18 points and lose. Who are these Bears?
Last week, with a 3-0 record, the Bears looked like a potential NFC North juggernaut. Then Jay Cutler started unraveling. His three interceptions against Detroit killed the team's chances of starting 4-0. In Week 5, Cutler was better, but he was still too erratic to close out drives and get points on the board.
The Chicago defense wasn't great, but that can be expected with injuries. And yet, again, the team was in a tight game in the final minutes and had a chance to win. Penalties and missed opportunities are plaguing the Bears' chances right now.
This is still a very talented team, and one capable of going on a run if they can clean up fixable mistakes.
This Week's Rank: 9
Last Week's Rank: 10
A statement win over the Detroit Lions? You'd better believe it.
If the Green Bay Packers offensive line can protect Aaron Rodgers from the Lions defensive line, you have to like their chances against the rest of the NFL moving forward. Don't sleep on the fact that Rodgers and the offense were able to produce against this defense.
There are still questions about the Green Bay defense, and it definitely helped that Calvin Johnson was inactive in Week 5, but winning a game like this one is a good sign for the Packers. Rodgers was able to hook up with James Jones, Randall Cobb made a big play, and they got the points needed to win comfortably.
That's the Green Bay team we're all used to seeing.
This Week's Rank: 8
Last Week's Rank: 3
For most teams, a 4-1 record would be reason to celebrate after five weeks. Maybe it should be for the New England Patriots, too, but this doesn't look or feel like an elite football team.
Drops, uncanny mistakes and surprisingly little production from Tom Brady in Week 5 cost the Patriots a chance to start the year 5-0 and ended Brady's streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass at 52. Brady may not care about the streak, but he should care that the offense was exposed by the Cincinnati defense.
You can blame the weather—and it was a factor late in the game—but it's clear that the Patriots' reliance on young wide receivers is hurting them. Until they can get Rob Gronkowski and Stevan Ridley back healthy, that's a weak link that could continue to hurt this team.
This Week's Rank: 7
Last Week's Rank: 9
The Cincinnati Bengals are a very tough team to get a read on.
Losing to the Chicago Bears in Week 1 wasn't a big surprise, but dropping a game to the Cleveland Browns in Week 4 set the team back in the rankings. And that's coming off a win over the Green Bay Packers. Now the Bengals have beaten the New England Patriots and are back in my good graces. For another week.
The Bengals are ridiculously talented, but they seem to play to the level of their competition too often. That's resulted in four close games this season. Winning those close games will help this team grow—if they can keep winning them.
For now, the Bengals find a way to get a tough win against an upper-level opponent. That's enough to get them trending up again this week.
This Week's Rank: 6
Last Week's Rank: 14
The Indianapolis Colts shocked the NFL by beating the undefeated Seattle Seahawks, but should it have been a surprise?
Andrew Luck is playing top-10 football at quarterback, and with playmakers like T.Y. Hilton helping him out, it's becoming clear that Luck and his Colts are for real. Beating the Seahawks will prove that last year's success wasn't a fluke and that the 4-1 record is legit.
The Colts don't always play or win pretty, but they are finding ways to put more points on the board than the opposition. That ability to win tight games will help mature this team and the quarterback as they push for the playoffs again.
This Week's Rank: 5
Last Week's Rank: 7
The San Francisco 49ers managed to absolutely stomp the Houston Texans, and they did it with little from the passing game and Colin Kaepernick.
Instead, the Sunday night game had an old-school 49ers feel to it. Power running, defensive takeaways and safe, smart football on offense. That got the team to the NFC Championship Game in Jim Harbaugh's first season with the team, and it's a recipe that worked against a solid Houston defense in getting the 49ers back over .500.
That recipe may not work over the long haul, but the team can expect to see Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree back relatively soon. With real outside threats at wide receiver, we'll see a more crisp Kaepernick and an offense with more versatility.
And that should scare you, considering how good they've been without the two go-to wide receivers.
This Week's Rank: 4
Last Week's Rank: 5
Raise your hand if you saw the Chiefs undefeated after five games?
Andy Reid has worked his magic in the heartland as he gets back to being a coach and not an administrator. That was his downfall at the end in Philadelphia, but the early success in Kansas City validates Reid's ability as a pure football coach.
The offense has been exceptional, but it's this Chiefs defense that really must be highlighted. The play of Dontari Poe, Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Eric Berry has been fantastic. The effort from all five is keeping the Chiefs perfect when no one thought they were a contender.
This Week's Rank: 3
Last Week's Rank: 1
Losing on the road isn't new to the Seattle Seahawks, and maybe it should have been expected after they struggled in Carolina and Houston. But you have to credit their fight on the road in Indianapolis.
The Colts are not an easy opponent—by any means—especially with injuries hurting the Seahawks offensive line. As a result, we saw Russell Wilson using his legs more in Week 5. That dual-threat ability helped the Seahawks keep this one closer than it might have been otherwise.
Regrouping will be the key for the NFC West leaders. They host the tough Tennessee Titans next week and must be ready for a hard-hitting game on both sides of the ball.
This Week's Rank: 2
Last Week's Rank: 4
A huge win over the Chicago Bears—plus losses by the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots—has the New Orleans Saints on the move up the board.
Drew Brees is playing great football, and Rob Ryan's defense is answering the call when needed. It's a bendable defense, but one that doesn't break when the game is on the line. They've held their own for five weeks, and the team's unblemished record shows the balance that Sean Payton has found between his offense and defense.
New Orleans' schedule is brutal, which means the Saints' stay as the NFC's No. 1 team could be short-lived, but for one week they can enjoy being the top dog in the conference.
This Week's Rank: 1
Last Week's Rank: 2
A week after so many Denver Broncos fans blew up my Twitter mentions and article comments, their team is finally No. 1 overall.
The Broncos didn't get here with an easy week, though. In fact, until there were two minutes left in the game, it looked like Denver would join Seattle and New England with Week 5 losses. But Peyton Manning and the offense kept the team alive in a true shootout.
Winning while battling injuries and suspensions isn't easy, but the Broncos continue to do it. They sacked Tony Romo four times and forced a crucial fourth-quarter interception without mainstays like Von Miller in the lineup.
If the Broncos can win banged up, imagine what they'll do healthy?