With week four mostly in the books, it's never too early to look forward to next week. There were a few surprise games this week, but overall nothing too drastic has happened with the power rankings. Four games is enough to start getting a feel for who the winners and the losers are in the league, so without further ado, here are my power rankings for week five.
The Vikings took a step back this week. They were going to be my 30th best team, but they lost to the team that would have been the 31st. That's good enough for them to jump the Colts and earn the role of "worst team in the NFL."
Heartbreaking loss after heartbreaking loss for these guys. No defense and iffy QB and O-line play means there's not much good going to come from the Vikings in 2011.
Colts fans rejoice! I don't think you're the worst team in the NFL right now. Second to last is a big upgrade for a team that has only been close in one game so far.
Peyton's gone and there's not too much bite left in these guys, but hey, at least the Colts aren't the worst team in the league...
* denotes that the team's week four game has yet to be played.
Today is a big day for the Chiefs. They got their first win on the strength of five field goals and a Dwayne Bowe touchdown. I'm sure plenty of fans didn't think they'd even see a win this year after all of the injuries they've had.
They might have hurt themselves in the "suck for Luck" race, but a win is good for this franchise, which is in the middle of a total freefall this season.
I think this is about where the Dolphins belong. This team is not the worst team in the league, they just aren't good enough to get it done. I do think they are capable of knocking off enough bottom feeders to keep their season from going entirely down the chute. I'd guess that their backfield and front seven can give the Dolphins a few wins.
By the way, this Henne/Matt Moore thing could become a legitimate QB battle this week. It wouldn't surprise me at all. It's not a good sign...
The Jaguars have a good defense. They have a great running back in Maurice Jones-Drew. What they don't have is a passing game.
Unfortunately, the NFL is won and lost on balance (balance meaning about a 60/40 pass to run ratio on offense.)
The win/loss is basically irrelevant now for this team. What's important now is seeing Blaine Gabbert develop into a starting quarterback. Unfortunately, as it stands right now, Jaguars fans can abandon all hopes of reaching the playoffs this year.
The Carolina Panthers may have a few good players, but they also have a whole bunch of bad ones. Their defense can't stop anyone, except the Jaguars who were breaking in a rookie QB in a monsoon.
Seriously, all the yardage they get through the air means nothing if they give up more points than they score. And they do. Consistently.
The Bengals are 2-2? Who would have thought that would happen? Not me, that's for sure. They're not a good team, but they have taken themselves out of Andrew Luck contention with their last few wins.
Good for them.
No one expected the Bengals to beat the Bills, so they got a nice little bump up the lists this week.
The Broncos are in rebuilding mode. They switched defenses and they're figuring out a mess of a QB situation in Denver. Orton (and his sleek mustache) aren't good enough to be the future, but Tim Tebow isn't good enough to deserve to be on the field. They've got one win so far and some bad, bad losses, and the QB will likely be blamed.
I think once they give up on this season, the team will make the switch to Tebow. That's when they'll really start dropping on this list. Until then, they can still hope to stay out of the bottom five teams.
As much as I wanted to do it just to mess with the Philly fans, I couldn't put the Seahawks ahead of the Eagles.
I give the team credit for trying, but the Seahawks just... well, they just don't have the players to do anything lasting with this season. Yes, I'm looking at you Tarvaris Jackson.
Still, I can see Marshawn Lynch and Jackson can do just enough to get this team to second place in the NFC West... It's a terrible division.
Kevin Kolb is a legitimate QB. And by legitimate QB I mean he can throw the ball in the general vicinity of Larry Fitzgerald and let Fitz go catch it.
It's too bad they had to give up the best player in their secondary and a second-round pick to get him. If they could have kept DRC they'd have a solid team and probably a few more wins than they'll have without him. Still, that's the price you pay...
It was a wild game with the Giants yesterday that really could've gone either way.
I've only got one thing to say about the Philadelphia Eagles: (mocking laugh) Ha ha!
The Eagles were expected to be a very good team this year. Honestly, there was no reason to think they wouldn't be. They have a potent offense and a lot of good secondary players. Throw the ball and stop the pass. Sounds like a good plan.
Of course, teams also do have the option of running the ball. And if you can't stop the run, you have to bring safeties into the box, and if you bring safeties into the box, the other team can pass on your secondary, no matter how good they are.
Eagles fans will cry themselves to sleep tonight. The season isn't over, but it's not looking good.
I'll say this much about the Browns... They're getting better.
Seriously though, this team is much improved over the last two years, and Colt McCoy is proving to be a pretty... passable quarterback. They've got the players in the secondary and at running back to win some games if they can keep it close. That said, I see them finishing below .500.
This team doesn't have enough to compete in their division.
The Seahawks came within about two yards of winning that game. For those who don't believe me, get a look at the replay of the game-ending 61-yard field goal. If that kick was from 58 yards out, it really might've gone in. Julio Jones had a nice day though, with 11 catches for 100+ yards.
The rule of the NFC South is that teams don't win the division twice in a row. They just don't do it. The Falcons will be the next team to fulfill that bizarre trend by surrendering the title this year.
Since the team is in a major TV market and "America's team," the Cowboys often have their successes blown out of proportion. In this case, I think they are just about in the middle of the pack in 2011.
Call me crazy, but I don't blame Romo. I blame a defense that couldn't hold a 20-point lead this week and gave up a late lead last week. That's a mess, man. A straight up mess.
Still, they come in on the top half of teams because, well, they actually do have some talent, especially in their front seven and at running back.
The Bucs have really flown under the radar so far this year. Their matchup against the Colts really should be a win, but I can't say with any certainty where they should be in this power ranking until the game is played. For now, I'm keeping them in limbo between the general grouping of 3-1 teams and 2-2 teams. It makes them seem like a slightly-above-average team.
...I guess that's about all I can say. We'll just have to see how Josh Freeman and company fare against the Colts tonight.
* Denotes that the team has not played its week four game as of the writing of this article.
The 49ers are the class of the NFC West. Of course, that's not exactly a compliment...
I've said for years that the team was a functional QB away from a 10-win season, and it seems like Alex Smith will pass for a functional QB in 2011. Good for him.
Gore looks like he's finding his stride again after some trouble with injuries, and the defense and special teams for the 'Niners picks up whatever slack the offense leaves. Often there's a lot of it.
Still, 3-1 is nothing to sneer at.
Tennessee has been a surprise team this year. I guess they have a good enough offensive line to help Hasselbeck through. Of course, they've played a very easy schedule. Three of their games have been against Jacksonville, Denver, and Cleveland.
We'll see what happens when they get up against some tough teams. For now though, the Titans are in a good spot.
There are only two major flaws with this New York Jets team: Shonn Greene and Mark Sanchez. Both players are bound to have their good weeks and their bad weeks, but the fact is, neither is in the top 15 players at their positions.
That's the reason why the Jets may be lower on my power rankings than some other people's. QB play counts for a lot, and it's not clear what kind of QB play you're gonna get week to week from Sanchez.
Their defense is very good, however. Last night's game against the Ravens shouldn't change the perception of their defensive talent.
The Oakland Raiders finally have some semblance of stability at the quarterback position. Seriously folks, that counts for a lot in today's NFL. Pair that with a very strong running game, which the Raiders have thanks to Darren McFadden, and that's a solid offense.
Of course, the Raiders are still the Raiders on defense for the most part. They've gotten to where they're not terrible, though, just bad. As strange as it is to say, the Raiders are an above average team this year.
The Giants are really having some trouble covering receivers. It makes sense, since they've had some pretty serious injuries in their secondary. Still, it's just not a great time to be this team.
They're falling, and will continue to fall when people realize that Eli's receivers bailing him out is what makes him look so good in the first place. He doesn't have many receivers left, and look what happened against the Cardinals this week. They went down and needed to cash in on the Cardinals wasted secondary to barely sneak out a win.
They got a nice win yesterday, but I'm still not expecting much of anything from the Giants.
It's more of the same for the Pittsburgh Steelers. They have everything in place except for an offensive line that can block, well... anyone.
Houston is a very strong offensive team, so don't let what happened week four change your mind about this defense. The Steelers defense will be top 7 in the league at least by seasons end.
The bigger question is, will Ben Roethlisberger be able to walk by seasons end? If he can, then the Steelers should win 10+ games this year.
The 'Skins (some crazy how) are 3-1. Rex Grossman has been a surprisingly effective player for them, and they've benefited from some very good play from Tim Hightower at running back.
The team's defense is starting to hit its stride as well. I don't imagine the Redskins as a 10-win team, but they're out in front of their division right now.
This year, much to my surprise, I find myself optomistic about the Houston Texans' chances. They have their struggles on defense, but their new 3-4 has effectively let Mario Williams rush off the edge while still having three guys to hold up at the point of attack.
The secondary is still an issue for this team, in spite of all the money they spent, but they can give up some points because they have an offense that can score often.
You can't expect them to come out of a matchup with the Steelers smelling like roses, and losing Andre Johnson hurts a lot, but I'm still convinced they can win the struggling AFC South. Plus, a win is a win and it came against a good team.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, whatever anyone tells you, is a stud. He's the kind of QB you can spread the field with and pick up yards when you need them.
They could wind up as one of those teams that fades through the year to wind up 8-8 or 9-7, but right now, they should at least be in everyone's top ten. Just not too high...
The Chargers have started slow for most of the 2000's. What hasn't been slow for this team is their passing game. It doesn't matter what happens from week to week, Philip Rivers to Vincent Jackson will always be a love connection. Those two can just play catch all day.
The team was without two defensive ends, so their performance up front this week is not necessarily indicative of their actual talent in the front seven. Coming into week four, the Chargers had a top ten defense, and they didn't disappoint.
The win against the Dolphins should surprise no one.
It's kind of hard for me to get behind a team that wins by 30 one week, then gives up 30 point the next week in a double-digit loss like the Ravens did in their first two games.
Still, they have some great players on that offense, especially Ray Rice, who is a major threat on the ground and through the air. Flacco has had enough time in the offense to really come into his own.
Now Ravens fans can just sit back and hope their age on defense doesn't catch up with them. You know who I'm talking about, right Ray Lewis and Ed Reed?
This is a very good team, and one that will be in a dogfight with the Steelers for the division... as usual. This year, the Ravens might win.
Matt Stafford has stayed healthy so far this season, and the Lions' offense has been strong. A lot of people will be hesitant to put the Lions in the top five after this week, but I'm not sure that they don't belong there after their 4-0 start.
Time will tell how this teams season will play out, but for once I'm actually interested to watch. Sure the team struggles with giving up plays in the secondary, but they've been able to win so far.
It's just too bad they're in a division with the best team in football.
Losing to the Green Bay Packers is nothing to be ashamed of if you are a Saints fan. The team's offense is putting up around 400 yards a game, and all the defense has to do is not break.
The defense does have some weaknesses in the passing, but Drew Brees covers up a lot of issues on your team. It also helps that they played against a rookie QB in week four.
I look for these guys to keep up the winning going forward.
This team is stacked full of potent offensive weapons to the point where Chad Ochocinco is barely seeing the ball at receiver.
There are slight concerns with the Patriots' secondary, but otherwise, this is a very strong team.
Any way you slice it, last year's champs are going to be hovering around the number one spot every week.
They have an extremely proficient passing game with Aaron Rodgers and a host of talented receivers. They have a front seven with B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews that'll give opposing defenses a lot of trouble. They have Charles Woodson in the secondary.
Basically, the Packers have an all-around team. Everyone loses a few games, but Green Bay will be in my top three or four all year.