NFL Power Rankings Week 5: How Do All 32 Teams Stack Up?
Who moves up and who moves down after a crazy week of NFL football?
We are at the quarter mark in the 2011 season, and we're learning a lot about teams like the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, the only two undefeated teams left after four weeks.
How will losses by the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers shake up the rankings? How about the New England Patriots dominance of the Oakland Raiders?
All 32 teams are ranked from worst to first. Where will your team land?
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32. Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts lost another close game this week in Tampa, but this team is still winless, and for that they are ranked as the worst team in football.
When you look at the Colts you do see a team that is improving, but they continue to find ways to lose the games that could be a win. Losing two straight close games sets the Colts up for a big loss this weekend.
I'm hoping for the best for fans of the Colts, who haven't seen an 0-4 record outside of the preseason in their lifetimes.
Suck for Luck, folks. Learn to love it.
31. St. Louis Rams
It's fun to remember that before the season many expected the St. Louis Rams to compete for the NFC West title. Look at them now.
Sam Bradford has looked pathetic in a follow up to his Rookie of the Year season. Jason Smith, a one-time No. 2 overall draft pick, has been benched and the team is getting no production from 2011 first-rounder Robert Quinn.
It's safe to say the Rams need more from their top draft choices if this team can turn around a dismal start to the 2011 season.
30. Minnesota Vikings
Anyone else ready to see what Christian Ponder can do?
The Minnesota Vikings have led in all four games this season, but they have managed to lose all four games. Some of that blame falls on quarterback Donovan McNabb, but most of it falls at the feet of the coaching staff and their inability to extend or carry the lead. McNabb may end up being the scapegoat, but a closer eye needs focused on the job of the coaches in Minnesota.
There is room to grow here, either with Ponder or McNabb under center. The Vikings are too talented to stay winless for long.
29. Miami Dolphins
The last of the defeated teams in the NFL, the Miami Dolphins have the most talent of the four winless franchises, which makes their 0-4 record all the more confusing.
Miami fans may want to blame Chad Henne, but Henne hasn't been terrible in the team's first four games. There have been glimpses of promise, coupled with bouts of frustratingly bad play and a complete lack of a run game.
In Week 1 Miami looked good moving the ball offensively and dreadful on defense. That's changed, and now Miami just looks bad on both sides of the ball.
Tony Sparano is your clubhouse leader for the first coach to be fired. Hang in there, Dolfans.
28. Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks were oh-so-close to having two wins in a row this weekend, but they managed to lose a close game again this week.
What's encouraging is that the team is getting better. Seattle is managing to score points now, something they struggled with earlier in the year.
Tarvaris Jackson won't be mistaken for a successful NFL starting quarterback any time soon, but on a roster that has very little elite talent, he's doing an admirable job.
Pete Carroll has to know there is a lot of renovating needing done here.
27. Kansas City Chiefs
Look out now, the Kansas City Chiefs are on a hot streak!
OK, maybe winning one game versus the Minnesota Vikings isn't all that impressive, but the Chiefs did look better on Sunday at home versus Minnesota.
Kansas City will struggle to get much better with the number of key players out for the season due to injury, but they can play well enough to get a handful of wins out of this year. That may be enough to keep Todd Haley and Matt Cassel in their jobs for another season.
The bright spot for the Chiefs now is that many young players should see a load of playing time they wouldn't have otherwise. That will be great for evaluating their talent going forward.
26. Denver Broncos
It's almost sad watching the Denver Broncos play this season. The team lacks a run game, cannot find a consistent passing game even though the roster is loaded with talented receivers and the defense has been maddening all season long.
The good news is that Von Miller is establishing himself as a stud outside linebacker. The team has something to build around in their first round draft pick. Ryan Clady and Elvis Dumervil also look good as both are recovering from recent injuries.
The bad news is that Tim Tebow and Knowshon Moreno are dangerously close to "draft bust" territory.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars
Rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert held his own this weekend, showing plenty of promise in a tough start. Gabbert reminded folks in Jacksonville why the Jaguars spent the No. 10 overall pick on him.
The Jaguars season will get better than this. The team's play overall will improve as Gabbert becomes more comfortable with the offense, and when that happens Maurice Jones-Drew will see more room when running between the tackles. That will, you guessed it, open up play action.
Jacksonville has talent, they just need a little time to come together.
24. Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals are good enough to win the NFC West, but they are also inconsistent enough to finish dead last in the weakest division in the NFL.
Kevin Kolb has looked brilliant at times, raw at others, but he's at least showing enough potential and production to quiet Cardinal fans who felt the team gave up too much for the quarterback. If Kolb can get more comfortable behind a patchwork offensive line, and if Beanie Wells can run like he did on Sunday, the Cardinals will find themselves winning football games in a hurry.
I've said it before, but Arizona is the type of team you hate to bet against right now.
23. Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton continues to amaze each week, giving fans in Carolina and around the country reason to watch what the Panthers are doing each Sunday. Soon enough that electric style of play will result in wins and not just big fantasy football numbers.
Newton has been great on his own, but for Carolina to get a second win this season, he'll need help from a defense that hasn't been able to hold up their end of the deal. Carolina's young defensive line has struggled outside of Charles Johnson, and a linebacker corp missing two starters to injury haven't been able to help out.
The Panthers look great offensively, the defense needs to step up.
22. Philadelphia Eagles
It wasn't that long ago that many thought the Philadelphia Eagles would walk through the regular season to a Super Bowl championship. I was as guilty as the next guy. Fast forward to Week 5 and the Eagles are 1-3 and have been exposed as pretenders.
Head coach Andy Reid has to be feeling the hot seat as expectations crash down each time the Eagles lose. This is a team custom bought to win, and Reid isn't getting it done.
The offensive line and linebacker play have been miserable, but even high-paid superstars like Nnamdi Asomugha are struggling.
Reid needs to get the ship righted fast, or he could be on the outside looking in.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Dalton to A.J. Green is becoming a recipe for success in Cincinnati. It didn't hurt that Cedric Benson found 100 yards rushing against the previously undefeated Buffalo Bills.
Dalton, Benson and Green were the trio the Bengals needed to pull off an improbable win Sunday, and the three played up to expectations. Coaches and fans alike have to be excited about the potential Dalton and Green are showing together.
Cincinnati isn't quite as good as their 2-2 record may indicate, but this is a team good enough to win six to eight games and build on that success into next season.
20. Cleveland Browns
Colt McCoy and the Cleveland Browns are a surprising 2-2 after a quarter of the games have been played, and I would say that's a great place for this team to be.
Cleveland needs to right the issues with the run game and find a way to get both Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty going in a one-two punch that would be hard for even the best defenses to stop.
Rookies Greg Little, Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard are having impressive first seasons. Cleveland has built this team through the draft and they are but a few playmakers away from contending.
19. Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears go from great to good to bad to average in a confusing, convoluted pattern that should have even the best NFL minds guessing from week to week.
The 1-3 Carolina Panthers.
Chicago is living off the hype from their 2010 NFC North championship. When evaluated on this season alone, Chicago is dangerously close to falling behind in their division.
18. Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan was protected this week and the Atlanta Falcons won. The key to winning more games is the same, keep Ryan upright.
The Falcons were my preseason pick to represent the NFC South in the playoffs, but to date they look more like an 8-8 team than the 13 win team we saw last season. Now is the time for Atlanta to get on a hot streak that will carry them to a playoff berth.
The New Orleans Saints are a game ahead of the Falcons in the division, and they don't look ready to slow down any time soon. Ryan and his teammates need to get in gear now.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger is hurt, the defense looks five years older than they did last season and a team that has been built on running the football cannot get yards between the tackles to save their lives.
Is this the end of the Pittsburgh Steelers run atop the AFC?
It might be a little too soon to completely write off the Steelers, but I would be shocked to see a team with so many holes in the secondary and the offensive line in the playoffs.
16. New York Jets
When you cannot protect your quarterback and you have no running game, the offense struggles. When your entire defense is built around your secondary, stopping the run is difficult. This is what's plaguing the New York Jets right now.
Mark Sanchez has struggled to stay upright behind an offensive line that is badly missing Nick Mangold, and the team has found that their weak play at outside linebacker is creating holes the rest of the defense cannot overcome.
The Jets guaranteed a playoff season before the year. At 2-2, they need to get better in a hurry to live up to those promises.
15. Dallas Cowboys
Tony Romo came back down to Earth this week after so many were proclaiming him the hero of the Dallas Cowboy season last week. And with that, Dallas gave up a huge halftime lead in losing to the Detroit Lions.
Romo cannot take all of the blame. The Dallas defense has been horrible this season, and their lack of an elite running game is putting unnecessary pressure on a quarterback who plays his best when there are no expectations.
Dallas has the talent to make a playoff run, but the coaching staff needs to limit Romo's responsibility and find a quick fix on defense.
14. Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders were brought back to reality this week courtesy of the New England Patriots and Tom Brady, but don't rule out the Silver and Black yet.
Oakland has the right talent to make a playoff run, and win games once they get there. This is a team built for cold weather football, thanks to a power running game and a front four on defense that can get after the quarterback and stuff the run.
Oakland may have lost a tough game to one of the NFL's best teams, but that shouldn't change who they are too much in anyone's opinion.
13. Tennessee Titans
If you had told me before the season that the Tennessee Titans would be 3-1 right now, I would have laughed in your face. If you had said they were 3-1 while getting 2.8 yards per carry from Chris Johnson, I would have fallen down laughing.
It's funny, but it's true. The Titans are for real, and they are doing it with solid defense and an efficient passing game led by Matt Hasselbeck.
You can bet the Seattle Seahawks regret letting him go right about now.
Tennessee may not keep up this pace over the course of the next 12 weeks, but they are at least good enough to get to nine wins and finish second in the division.
12. San Francisco 49ers
Can we all please take the San Francisco 49ers seriously now?
At 3-1 and with their only loss coming in overtime to the Dallas Cowboys, it's time to look at the 49ers and realize that while this team isn't putting up record-setting numbers, they're winning.
Alex Smith is playing his best football under Jim Harbaugh, and a defense that has been solid over the past two seasons has taken the leap to being one of the best in the game. If both sides of the ball can keep this up, the 49ers should cruise to a playoff season.
11. New York Giants
As much as I have ragged on Eli Manning, I owe him some serious props for his play so far this season. Manning has been excellent behind an offensive line that I expected to be much worse. One look at this team five weeks ago and you would have thought the running game would be the catalyst, but it's been the passing game and Manning is to credit for that.
The defense has also come together quickly, with one player stepping up each week in big spots. It's been Osi Umenyiora and Aaron Ross the past two weeks, and I'm willing to bet it will be another savvy veteran next week.
The Giants are, right now, poised to take the NFC East title.
10. Washington Redskins
For the New York Giants to take the NFC East, they'll have to beat the one team that's managed to shut them down this year, the Washington Redskins.
Lost in the hype surrounding Mike Shanahan's choices at quarterback is the solid play of the other 21 starters. Shanahan put together a roster of many new faces that are contributing immediately, and their 3-1 record is a testament to that.
The Redskins are for real, and with each week it becomes more and more likely that Shanahan will lead this team to the playoffs on his way to a Coach of the Year Award.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Some how, some way, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers keep winning.
Raheem Morris' team is now sitting at 3-1 with a clear shot at the NFC South title after winning 10 games last season and missing the playoffs.
The New Orleans Saints stand in their way, but the Buccaneers have to feel great about their chances against their division rivals. Josh Freeman is doing whatever it takes to win, LeGarrette Blount is finally running as well as he did last year and the offensive line is looking better each week.
Tampa is getting hot, and the rest of the NFC had better take notice.
8. San Diego Chargers
A big move up in the rankings this week by the San Diego Chargers as they win another game and other Top 10 teams fall out after losses.
San Diego is winning despite shaky play from Philip Rivers and the lack of a real run game. That means solid defense and great special teams.
Can the Chargers keep it up? I'm not so sure, but the AFC West is weak this year and that may guarantee four wins for San Diego up front. This could be a division that is won with nine wins this year.
The Chargers are definitely the most talented team in the division, but they'll need to play consistent football from here on out to make the playoffs.
7. New England Patriots
The New England Patriots won in impressive fashion on the road versus the Oakland Raiders this weekend, so why the move down?
The Patriots' defense is becoming a bigger problem each week, and in my eyes there is no way Tom Brady can keep outscoring every offense the team faces.
The schedule is kind to the Patriots from here on out and if they can stifle the sad offense of the New York Jets in two meetings, they should be in good shape to make the playoffs. To win the division, however, they'll have to find a way to shutdown the Buffalo Bill offense. As of now, it doesn't look like that will be happening.
6. Buffalo Bills
Speaking of the Buffalo Bills, the team suffered their first loss this past weekend when the Cincinnati Bengals came from behind to beat them. Don't fret, Bills fans, all will be OK.
Buffalo isn't a flash in the pan. This is a team that can win with great play from Ryan Fitzpatrick and a tough running game that will get them wins once the weather gets colder in Buffalo.
A big game awaits the team this weekend against a Philadelphia Eagles team that desperately needs a win. This is the Bills chance to get a win, regain some confidence and re-start their playoff push.
5. Houston Texans
It was just another "ho-hum" weekend for the Houston Texans as they quietly dominated the reigning AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend. No big deal, right?
It's become expected for the Houston Texans to win this season, and they didn't let us down this weekend. Houston showed off a defense that is far improved under Wade Phillips and reminded doubters that their loss to the New Orleans Saints was as much a credit to how far they've come as anything.
The Texans are far and away the favorites to win the AFC South...they just might be the best team in the conference.
4. New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints just keep winning. It's becoming routine at this point.
The Saints are doing very well despite having no real run game to speak of and without their best wide receiver. That is possible because of Drew Brees at quarterback and the improvement of Jimmy Graham at tight end.
Brees to Graham is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous tandems in the game. If NFC teams can't find a way to cover Graham soon, the Saints are going to be a very tough out this season.
As well as they are playing right now, it wouldn't be a stretch to see the Saints in another Super Bowl.
3. Baltimore Ravens
I really like what the Baltimore Ravens can do week in and week out. In fact, if I had to make a Super Bowl pick right now, I'd take the Ravens as my AFC representative. They're that solid from front to back.
Baltimore can win whether they get a good day or bad day from quarterback Joe Flacco because of their talent on defense. Beating the New York Jets Sunday night was a huge win for this team, and it helps to separate the Ravens from the rest of the pack in the tight AFC races.
Baltimore has made the playoffs three straight years. This will be the season they see the AFC Championship game.
2. Detroit Lions
There are two undefeated teams left in the NFL, and both are in the NFC North. While many expected this from the Green Bay Packers, no one outside Detroit saw this coming from the Lions.
Even with a terrible first half from Matthew Stafford in Dallas this weekend, the Lions found a way to win in a huge second-half comeback. Thanks to Calvin Johnson and an opportunistic defense, the Lions moved to 4-0.
The two showdowns between Detroit and Green Bay this season will be must-watch football. Anyone else extra excited about Thanksgiving this year?
1. Green Bay Packers
What impresses me the most about you, my readers, is that every week a good number of you find a way to complain that the Green Bay Packers are No. 1 overall.
How could they not be?
The Packers not only have the most talented roster, they have a brilliant coach who doesn't take unnecessary risks but also isn't conservative enough to blow leads. And then there's the quarterback.
Aaron Rodgers has undoubtedly become at least the second best quarterback in the NFL right now, and with each week he gets closer to the pedestal I've placed Tom Brady on. Rodgers is, as the kids say, legit.
For that matter, the Green Bay Packers are legit.