After five weeks of the NFL season, you can really start to get a sense of how good each team really is.
While a fluke win or an easy schedule can give a squad a good record to start the year, perception starts to change after about one-third of the season. Sooner or later, you are what your record says you are.
A number of teams have been getting by with their preseason expectations, but the play on the field no longer reflects that. The latest power rankings highlight the organizations who have made the biggest moves up or down after Week 5 based on the most recent performances.
1. Denver Broncos (5-0)
There are clearly a lot of question marks about the defense after allowing over 500 passing yards to Tony Romo. However, Peyton Manning and the offense are capable of outscoring anyone in the NFL.
The team that eventually beats the Broncos will need to find a way to slow down the quarterback instead of trying to outscore him.
2. New Orleans Saints (5-0)
The Saints had already proven themselves at home, but a road win over the Chicago Bears proves that they are truly one of the top teams in football.
At this point, the biggest surprise is how well the defense has played to get the squad to 5-0. Rob Ryan has turned around the unit, and this is now a complete team and legitimate Super Bowl contender.
3. Seattle Seahawks (4-1)
A loss on the road to the Indianapolis Colts is nothing to be alarmed about. The only issue is that Russell Wilson still seems to get rattled a bit on the road compared to his calm persona in home games.
Still, the Seahawks remain one of the best teams in the NFL, and they will almost certainly be playing deep into January.
4. Indianapolis Colts (4-1)
Trent Richardson is still not producing the way the team hoped, but his presence forces defenses to pay attention, which sets up the passing game for even greater success.
Additionally, Andrew Luck has inspired tons of confidence in his team with yet another comeback win. This will keep the team in contention in every game they play from now on.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (5-0)
Every week, the Chiefs continue to prove that they are for real with another win. The defense has been especially impressive while leading the NFL in points against, sacks and opponent passer rating.
In a year that features more elite quarterbacks than any time in history, the ability to stop the pass will help the Chiefs go far this year.
6. New England Patriots (4-1)
Apparently Tom Brady can be stopped. All it takes is strong cornerback play, a good pass rush and a little bit of rain.
The Patriots are still in good shape at 4-1, but the quarterback will have to get back on the same page with his receivers quickly. Otherwise, the Saints will hand the team its second loss in a row.
7. San Francisco 49ers (3-2)
There were certainly plenty of reasons for the 49ers to be concerned after getting off to a 1-2 start. However, they got back to basics over the past two weeks, and it has led to a great deal of success.
San Francisco utilized its running attack and played great defense against the St. Louis Rams and Houston Texans, beating them by a combined score of 69-14.
Colin Kaepernick is still not the world-beater he was toward the end of last season, but the coaching staff is not making him do too much to win games. Instead, they are allowing the run game to set up the offense and simply avoiding mistakes in the passing attack.
As the schedule gets easier in the coming weeks, the 49ers should once again become a contender in the NFC.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2)
The Bengals responded well from their embarrassing loss to the Cleveland Browns with a big win against the Patriots. However, the team is still 0-2 away from home with four of the next five games coming on the road.
Whatever issues are stunting this offense on the road, this squad better solve them quickly.
9. Green Bay Packers (2-2)
While Green Bay will continue to be a passing offense with arguably the best quarterback in the NFL, Eddie Lacy totaled 23 rushing attempts in the win over the Lions. This balance could make the Packers even tougher to stop.
At the very least, it will give opponents more to think about while trying to defend this quality offense.
10. Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
It seems like every year the Ravens are the toughest team to figure out. They will have a terrible loss and then follow that up with a relatively impressive win.
Maybe we should just assume they will do enough to get into the playoffs like they have in each of the past five years.
11. Chicago Bears (3-2)
All of a sudden, the Bears defense is not what it used to be after allowing 66 points in the past two games. The question is if Jay Cutler can carry a team with many other weak parts.
The good news is that he will have a relatively easy time putting points on the board over the next two weeks against the New York Giants and Washington Redskins.
12. Detroit Lions (3-2)
Taking Calvin Johnson out of the lineup is basically the same as taking out a starting quarterback. The receiver could not play, and the offense barely moved the football in his absence.
The Lions got off to a good start this season, but they will need to find some more weapons in order to make a run to the playoffs.
13. Miami Dolphins (3-2)
After a 3-0 start, the Dolphins have fallen back to earth with two losses in a row. However, it is more than just the defeats; it is the way they lost that is cause for concern.
The offensive line looked awful in the last two weeks, allowing a total of 10 sacks on Ryan Tannehill. As a result, the quarterback was making worse decisions and less accurate throws. His receivers did not give him any help either.
Tannehill had made great strides from last season, but now he appears to be right back where he started.
While Miami still has the pieces for success in the future, it seems as though the squad might be another year away from a playoff run.
14. Houston Texans (2-3)
No matter what happens for the rest of the season, it seems obvious that the Matt Schaub era is nearing its end in Houston. You simply cannot expect to win games when you throw a pick-six in straight four weeks.
The good news is that the Texans still are not far from a Super Bowl run with an elite defense and run game. They simply need a quarterback who can hold onto the football.
15. Tennessee Titans (3-2)
Chris Johnson finally did something productive when he took a busted play 49 yards for a touchdown. However, he still only rushed for 17 yards on 10 carries, dropping his season average to 3.1 yards per carry.
With a backup quarterback and few other weapons, it is clear the Titans need to do a better job of getting him the ball in space and being more creative with the offense.
16. Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
Only Tony Romo can throw for over 500 yards with five touchdowns and be blamed for a 51-48 loss. He did have a key turnover, but it is hard to imagine the Cowboys being competitive in the loss with too many other quarterbacks.
The defense will hold Dallas back in a lot of games this year, but the offensive talent is enough to win a terrible NFC East.
17. Cleveland Browns (3-2)
It is hard to imagine anyone saying this a month ago, but the loss of Brian Hoyer could end up proving devastating to the Browns season.
Brandon Weeden has one more chance to showcase his ability to Cleveland or any other team that could want him in the future.
18. New York Jets (3-2)
It is easy to ignore home wins against the struggling Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, a road win in Atlanta is a serious accomplishment.
The Jets have been impressive on the defensive side of the ball all season, especially against the run. The mistakes that occurred against the Titans in Week 4 seemed to be corrected, and even the high-powered Falcons offense could not do much consistently.
However, the big story from Monday night was the play of rookie quarterback Geno Smith. After turning the ball over four times a week before, he was nearly flawless in a win, including a game-winning drive in less than two minutes.
Smith looked confident while making strong throws throughout the game, and it appears as though the Jets finally have a quarterback for the future.
19. Arizona Cardinals (3-2)
It is not often that a quarterback can throw three interceptions with fewer than 200 passing yards and be the better of the two in the game. However, that is what Carson Palmer accomplished against Cam Newton and the Panthers.
While it is still hard to trust the offense, the defense will keep the Cardinals in games against bad teams.
20. Philadelphia Eagles (2-3)
Whether Nick Foles or Michael Vick is at quarterback, the offense is still good enough to win plenty of games in the NFL. The question is whether the defense will ever come around to pick up the slack.
In the NFC East, even a mediocre defense could help the squad reach the playoffs.
21. San Diego Chargers (2-3)
This is the Philip Rivers we have come to expect over the past few seasons, as the quarterback threw three interceptions in a loss to the Raiders.
The good news is that he seems to have found two talented young targets in Vincent Brown and Keenan Allen. If he can avoid mistakes, this will remain a quality offense all year.
22. Atlanta Falcons (1-4)
As good as the Jets were on Monday, that is equal to how bad the Falcons played. All three losses before this point were excusable, but now it seems as though Atlanta is simply not as good as we thought they were.
The young defense will have a hard time stopping anyone all season, and the offense has gotten too one-dimensional while dealing with various injuries. By the time the squad gets healthy, it might be too little, too late.
After five weeks of the season, Atlanta is already four games behind the Saints in the NFC South. A few more losses, and the wild card could be out of the question as well.
Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez will always be there for big games, but apparently that is not enough to win games anymore.
23. St. Louis Rams (2-3)
A home win over the Jacksonville Jaguars is not much to brag about, especially while allowing the highest point total the team has scored all year.
Still, the Rams can be encouraged by the solid play of Zac Stacy at running back to possibly provide some balance to the offense.
24. Washington Redskins (1-3)
A week off was exactly what this team needed after a terrible start to the year. Hopefully, the four games played will serve as the preseason that Robert Griffin III missed and he will finally shake off the rust.
25. Oakland Raiders (2-3)
Terrelle Pryor is officially an NFL quarterback. After the first few weeks did nothing but show his running ability, his past couple of games proved that he can get it done with his arm as well.
Unfortunately, there are simply too many holes in Oakland to expect many more wins this year.
26. Buffalo Bills (2-3)
Just when things started looking up in Buffalo, rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel sprained his LCL and will miss a few weeks of action.
Not only will this hurt the team on the field, it is hard to imagine this tortured fanbase staying involved for much longer this season.
27. Carolina Panthers (1-4)
Every time we are ready to get back on the Cam Newton bandwagon, he puts together a performance that makes people question his entire career.
The quarterback had his best game of the year two weeks ago with a dominant win over the New York Giants before the bye. One would think this would fuel him to a big remainder of the season.
Unfortunately, Newton responded with four turnovers in an embarrassing loss to the Cardinals.
Carolina actually has a quality defense that could win a lot of games on its own, but it is tough to overcome consistently awful quarterback play.
28. Minnesota Vikings (1-3)
The Vikings signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman to a $3 million contract this week, as reported by Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com. At this price, it is clear that Minnesota expects him to contribute.
However, it is hard to imagine the team will get anything other than the player who averaged 1.2 interceptions per game over the past three seasons.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4)
The good news for the Steelers is that they did not lose during the bye week. Unfortunately, they did not get much better, either.
Few would have predicted the Jets would have three more wins than Pittsburgh heading into the Week 6 matchup, but New York is clearly the better team at this stage of the year.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4)
According to ESPN's Pat Yasinskas, Greg Schiano stated that he needs to throw the ball downfield more and get running back Jeff Demps more touches. Neither of these scenarios help out the team's best offensive weapon, Doug Martin.
This inability to get the most out of his players is why the head coach will likely be out of a job by the end of the season.
31. New York Giants (0-5)
The home loss against the Eagles displayed the exact problems we have seen all year from the Giants.
Poor run game? Check. Multiple Eli Manning interceptions? Check. Inability to stop anyone on defense? Check.
It is hard to imagine the team turning things around until these problems are fixed.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5)
The Jaguars have scored 51 points this season and have the lowest scoring average in the NFL. This week, they face a Broncos team that scored 51 points in their last game.
We might see some records broken in a game that could get ugly fast.
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