The much anticipated matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers lived up to expectations in the first half. Green Bay decided to pack it in and did not play well at all in the second half. QB Brett Favre tore apart his former team, especially on third down. So the Vikings joined the Giants, Saints, Colts and Broncos as the remaining undefeated teams. So without further ado, here are my rankings heading into week five.
Teams previous ranking in ( ).
1. New York Giants (1): QB Eli Manning was efficient, RB Brandon Jacobs was solid, WR Steve Smith played like you would expect someone by that name to play, and the defense was its dominant self for most of the game. A sure fire win next week against the Raiders should set up a showdown for week six against the also undefeated Saints. Biggest concern is the health of Manning’s foot.
2. New Orleans Saints (2): For the second straight week QB Drew Brees didn’t throw a touchdown. For the second straight week the Saints won the game on defense. It’s too early to predict an undefeated season, but if the Saints defense keeps playing at this level, it’s a distinct possibility.
3. New England Patriots (3): Impressive win for the Pats. Possibly aided by some ticky-tack calls, but nonetheless they played well enough to win. The lack of a consistent running game is bound to catch up sooner or later.
4. Indianapolis Colts (6): If QB Peyton Manning continues to have all of eternity to get rid of the football, the Colts will destroy everyone in their path. Like the Patriots, they will need to find a consistent running game, at least once the playoffs come around.
5. Minnesota Vikings (7): Eventually this team will make a believer out of me, but they haven’t yet. A garbage win against the 49ers, and despite the final score, they escaped against Green Bay. The defense is great and RB Adrian Peterson is a stud, but I still think there are better all-around teams in the NFL.
6. Baltimore Ravens (4): The Ravens are still the real deal, despite their loss in week four. The defense as we know isn’t as dominant as in the past, but it’s still solid and the offense is extremely well balanced. I still like this team to take their division.
7. New York Jets (5): Disappointing week for the Jets, but nothing to make me think they aren’t still a great football team. Defense wins championships and their defense is tremendous. They have shut down WRs Randy Moss, Andre Johnson and Marques Colston so far this year.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (8): The Eagles remain at No. 8 after their bye. QB Donovan McNabb should be ready to go, but if not backup QB Kevin Kolb has been impressive.
9. Atlanta Falcons (9): The Falcons ranking also remains unchanged after their off week. Their offense is still impressive, even with RB Michael Turner having a disappointing season thus far. Defense is still the most important factor for this team.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (11): The Steelers looked incredible in the first half on Sunday night on both sides of the ball. Backup RB Rashard Mendenhall looked like a Pro Bowler and QB Ben Roethlisberger continues to show he can win games with his arm. Nonetheless, the return of S Troy Polamalu can’t come soon enough.
11. Denver Broncos (17): The Broncos still haven’t made a believer out of me, even after starting 4-0. The Cowboys are the only good team they have faced. We’ll learn a lot from the Broncos in their next four games as they face the Patriots, Chargers, Ravens and Steelers.
12. San Francisco 49ers (15): This team could arguably be 4-0, with two of those wins coming without their star RB Frank Gore. A good test for them in week five from the Atlanta Falcons.
13. San Diego Chargers (10): A quarter of the way through the season, and the Chargers are already two games behind in the division. They have a bye in week five to prepare for division leading Broncos in week six. RB LaDainian Tomlinson has been a huge disappointment and needs to get it going. The Chargers were finally able to get TE Antonio Gates going, hopefully a sign of things to come for Charger fans.
15. Cincinnati Bengals (18): How does a team take down the Packers in Lambeau and the defending champs in back to back weeks, and come within mere seconds of tying the Browns? It’s hard to figure the Bengals out but they do have a pretty good offense. Their defense will have to create takeaways if they have any hope of challenging the Ravens and Steelers for the division.
16. Houston Texans (16): The final score indicated a blow out but the Texans offense still isn’t clicking consistently. RB Steve Slaton has yet to reach 80 rushing yards in a game this year and needs to get it going if the Texans want to compete for the division title.
17. Dallas Cowboys (12): The Cowboys are the NFL’s version of Jekyll and Hyde. Perhaps the Broncos are better than anyone thought, but either way Dallas needs to find a go-to receiver to complement TE Jason Witten.
18. Green Bay Packers (13): All bias aside, the Packers have serious problems. No offensive line, no running game, zero defense on third down and they commit absolutely awful penalties. Not to mention they seem to be injury plagued every season. QB Aaron Rodgers is a star in the making but it appears this team is going to underachieve greatly yet again.
19. Seattle Seahawks (19): QB Seneca Wallace has filled in for Matt Hasselbeck and done an admirable job, but the running game is non-existent. The defense was torched by Manning but that’s not something to be ashamed of.
20. Arizona Cardinals (20): The Cards remain at No. 20 after their bye but have two favorable matchups in the next two weeks. This is yet another team that needs to get some consistency from the running back position.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars (23): WR Mike Sims-Walker has emerged as a legitimate wideout while QB David Garrard was very impressive against a good Titans defense. RB Maurice Jones-Drew had an off game but the Jags improved to 2-2. They are going to need a lot more games like this one if they want to have a chance at the playoffs.
22. Miami Dolphins (25): The Dolphins really stuck it to the Bills in week four behind great performances from RBs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. QB Chad Henne did exactly what the Dolphins needed him to do in his first career start.
23. Tennessee Titans (21): The Titans were embarrassed by the Jags in week four. The Titans are now 0-4 and the beginning of a new Vince Young era might be upon us very soon.
24. Washington Redskins (24): After being beaten by the Lions, the Redskins bounced back to beat possibly a worse team, the Bucs. RB Clinton Portis ran well but QB Jason Campbell committed four turnovers and may be at risk of losing his starting job.
25. Buffalo Bills (22): The good news is WR Terrell Owens caught a pass this week and RB Marshawn Lynch returned from his suspension. The bad news is QB Trent Edwards threw for under 200 yards and three interceptions and the Bills got whitewashed by the Dolphins. The Bills are quickly becoming one of the bigger disappointments in the league this season.
26. Detroit Lions (30): Have the Lions been ranked this high anytime this decade? Either way there is no doubt they are an improved team. QB Matthew Stafford did leave the game due to an injury but it’s not expected to be serious.
27. Carolina Panthers (27): Carolina remains unchanged after an off week but may not get much higher the rest of the season. QB Jake Delhomme is likely to be benched in the near future and RB DeAngelo Williams has been a major disappointment so far.
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (28): This team may still be ranked too high. There is just nothing positive to say about the Bucs. QB Josh Johnson got his first career start but wasn’t impressive at all. The Bucs are clearly looking to the future.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (29): I’m not sure what to say about the Chiefs. QB Matt Cassel has played alright, but RB Larry Johnson is struggling and the loss of TE Tony Gonzalez seems to be having a serious impact on their offense. They will compete with the Raiders for third in the AFC West.
30. Cleveland Browns (32): I said last week this team could legitimately go winless, and then they nearly beat a decent Bengals team. No I don’t suddenly think the Browns are any good, I just think they may not be the worst team.
31. Oakland Raiders (26): As if we didn’t realize this already, as long as Al Davis has anything to do with this franchise, they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
32. St. Louis Rams (31): I know they were without QB Marc Bulger, but they were shut out by the 49ers and barely reached 200 total yards. They may already be deciding who to take with their first pick in next year’s draft.