The big news heading into Week 5 was the addition of WR Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings were held scoreless in the first half, but Brett Favre and Moss connected for a long touchdown in the third quarter and gave Viking fans a lot of reason to get excited. The Vikings couldn’t complete the comeback but the Favre-to-Moss connection looks like it could be tough for teams to defend and might just give Minnesota hope after a disappointing 1-3 start.
Perhaps the most puzzling statistic thus far into the season is that the 49ers have been outscored by 54 points, and the Cardinals have been outscored by 50 points. The difference? Arizona has a winning record at 3-2 while San Fran remains winless.
Teams’ previous ranking in ( ).
1. Baltimore Ravens (1): The Ravens are finally playing well on both sides of the ball. The return of Ed Reed is getting closer and that can only improve an already solid defense.
2. Atlanta Falcons (2): Four straight wins has them atop the NFC South. A road game this week against the Eagles will be a tough test.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (3): They went 3-1 without Big Ben and immediately become a Super Bowl contender now that he returns to the lineup.
4. New York Jets (4): They did their best to blow a 12-0 lead but held on with a late interception. Overall, their defense needs to improve on third-and-long situations.
5. Chicago Bears (9): Julius Peppers might be the biggest offseason acquisition in the NFL. He has the Bears defense playing great once again. It's only five weeks into the season, but it seems like the Bears are the new favorites in the NFC North.
6. Indianapolis Colts (10): Nobody fears the Colts right now. Why? Dallas Clark has been quiet almost all season and needs to be a threat if the Colts offense is going to wake up.
7. New York Giants (12): Back-to-back dominant performances by the Giants defense. They need to avoid a letdown against the Lions in week six.
8. New England Patriots (8): Randy Moss is out, Deion Branch is back in. The Patriots are going to need more than that to become the dominant offense we’re used to seeing (a consistent running game would be nice).
9. Washington Redskins (20): Washington flies up the rankings this week into the top 10. They may have had luck on their side in Week 5, but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (13): Michael Vick or Kevin Kolb? As long as the Eagles are winning, does it really matter?
11. Kansas City Chiefs (11): They hung in there on the road against the defending AFC Champions. This team looks like a playoff contender, and don’t be surprised if they pull an upset this week on the road against the Texans.
12. New Orleans Saints (7): Is it possible that Reggie Bush is more valuable to this team than Drew Brees? Maybe he is and maybe he isn’t but the Saints are struggling. Adding veteran Julius Jones to the backfield isn’t the answer their looking for.
13. Green Bay Packers (6): Has any team in the history of football suffered more injuries to key players than Green Bay? They lost Donald Lee, Jermichael Finley, Clay Matthews, Ryan Pickett and Aaron Rodgers in Week 5 alone.
14. Houston Texans (5): The Texans’ defense looks awful. They need to get it going if they are really going to make their first playoff appearance in franchise history. Getting Andre Johnson healthy is a necessity as well.
15. Tennessee Titans (21): A good win against an underachieving Dallas team keeps the Titans in a four-way tie for first place in the South. With more than half of their remaining games against divisional opponents, Tennessee controls their own fate.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars (19): Not many people saw this team being competitive, myself included. Let’s see how long they remain in contention.
17. Miami Dolphins (17): Christmas came early for Miami as they likely get to face the Packers’ backup quarterback Matt Flynn.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (22): Tampa hasn’t beaten any teams with a winning record yet, but even so their 3-1 record feels impressive. Their young talent is competing hard every game and gives this team hope for the future.
19. Arizona Cardinals (25): How about them Cardinals? Their offense did virtually nothing against the defending champs, but three defensive scores was more than enough for the victory. Getting that kind of defensive performance on a weekly basis is too much to ask for, but it’s the only thing that’s going to allow the Cardinals to compete for a playoff spot.
20. Minnesota Vikings (15): Brett Favre did all he could to rally his team back in the second half, but as we’ve become accustomed to, he handed the game over to the opposition with a critical interception in the waning moments. At 1-3, this week’s game against the Cowboys is a must-win for the Vikes.
21. San Diego Chargers (18): A 2-3 record most certainly qualifies as another slow start to the season for San Diego, and once against Shawne Merriman has been placed on IR.
22. Cincinnati Bengals (14): The Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco combination hasn’t failed, but it hasn’t been a success either. Those two must get it going immediately for this team to contend.
23. Denver Broncos (23): Denver sits at 2-3, but after this week against the Jets, they play a fairly favorable schedule. I wouldn’t bet on them to make the playoffs, but I wouldn’t bet against them either.
24. Oakland Raiders (27): The Raiders were outgained by over 200 yards of offense against San Diego, but somehow managed to win the game (three Charger turnovers and a safety helped). The Raiders were many people’s choice as 2010’s surprise team, and then promptly got smoked in Week 1, barely beat the Rams in Week 2 and choked away Week 3. With that said, they have four straight winnable games before their Week 10 bye and could find themselves back in that playoff conversation.
25. St. Louis Rams (24): After their first two game winning streak in two seasons, the Rams snapped back to reality with an embarrassing 44-6 loss to the Lions. Nonetheless, the NFC West is so weak, it’s anybody’s guess as to who will finish on top.
26. Seattle Seahawks (26): Seattle has almost no dominant player at any position. Pete Carroll has his work cut out for him, but sitting just one game behind the division leader in a bad division, anything could happen.
27. Dallas Cowboys (16): The Cowboys have underachieved big time this year and at 1-3 and facing a must-win game against the Vikings this week, one has to wonder how long Jerry Jones will stay with Wade Phillips.
28. Detroit Lions (31): Detroit scored a season high 44 points and got their first win of the season. Backup quarterback Shaun Hill has played extremely well and might just keep the starting job once Matthew Stafford returns from injury.
29. Cleveland Browns (28): Cleveland continues to be competitive on a weekly basis but the Browns have just one win to show for it. Rookie QB Colt McCoy is expected to get his first career start this week—against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Welcome to the NFL, Mr. McCoy.
30. San Francisco 49ers (29): The 49ers were favored to win the NFC West this year, by a lot. They are currently 0-5, but three of those losses were by a total of eight points against the Saints, Falcons and Eagles. Believe it or not, this team can still win their division. If they play like they have the last couple games, they can easily win their next six straight games.
31. Carolina Panthers (30): The opposite is true for Carolina; they also sit at 0-5, but they have absolutely no hope of winning their division, or even finishing with a .500 record.
32. Buffalo Bills (32): The Bills join San Fran and Carolina as the only winless teams left. Buffalo plays a brutal schedule, with probably only two winnable games left on it. Those two games are against Detroit and Cleveland, two teams that have proven to be competitive. Buffalo might be staring 0-16 in the face if they don’t get it together.