NFL Power Rankings: B/R's Expert Consensus Standings Heading into Week 6
The NFL's best teams have officially asserted their collective will through five weeks of play. Four 5-0 teams remain, and a pair of 4-0 teams are still lurking as well.
This past weekend, the New England Patriots dominated the depleted Dallas Cowboys, 30-6. The Atlanta Falcons rebounded in the second half for the fourth time this season to remain undefeated. The Cincinnati Bengals didn't back down from the Seattle Seahawks. The Denver Broncos defense led its team to another victory. And quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his Green Bay Packers were too much even for the St. Louis Rams' talented defense.
The Carolina Panthers, meanwhile, were lying in wait with an extra week to prepare for Week 6 due to an early bye.
Which of these team's should be considered the league's best, though?
To make sense of it all, eight Bleacher Report NFL writers—Gary Davenport, Mike Freeman, Brad Gagnon, Matt Miller, Ty Schalter, Mike Tanier, Sean Tomlinson and myself—determined which teams are the best and the worst after five weeks of play.
To build a consensus for Bleacher Report's power rankings, each team's rankings from individual writers were added together. The lowest totals made up the best units, while the highest totals naturally fell on the other end of the spectrum. If a rare tie occurred, the club with the highest single vote got the nod.
On the flip side, a new team found its way to the bottom of this week's rankings.
Click through the slideshow to find out where the all of the teams fell in Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Standings as Week 6 approaches.
32. Detroit Lions
Current Record: 0-5
Highest Ranking: 28 (Gagnon, Tanier)
Lowest Ranking: 32 (4 voters)
What's Good?: The Detroit Lions are the league's only winless team. You are what your record says you are, which means nothing is good. If one positive had to be pulled from the team's 42-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Golden Tate finally became a bigger part of offense. Last year's leading receiver was targeted 18 times, which resulted in eight catches for 74 yards.
What's Bad?: Head coach Jim Caldwell started a quarterback controversy by benching Matthew Stafford in the second half of Sunday's contest. While Caldwell said Monday that Stafford is still the team's starting quarterback, per ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein, questions will now follow the former No. 1 overall pick about his future in Detroit.
What's Next?: A few weeks ago, the Chicago Bears were considered the worst team in the NFC North even though the Lions got off to a slow start. The Bears are now 2-3, and the Lions still haven't found a way to get into the win column. This matchup with Chicago is winnable for Detroit, but the Bears can no longer be considered pushovers for any opponent.
Last Week's Ranking: 25
31. Miami Dolphins
Current Record: 1-3
Highest Ranking: 25 (Freeman)
Lowest Ranking: 32 (Schalter, Tanier)
What's Good?: That the Miami Dolphins already fired their head coach, Joe Philbin, after four games and aren't the 32nd-ranked team here should be seen as a positive. Interim head coach Dan Campbell vowed in his initial press conference to change the Dolphins' culture. Don't believe this is possible? The interim coach forced his team to participate in Oklahoma and full-contact drills during his first practice, per ESPN.com's James Walker.
What's Bad?: Campbell might provide a shot in the arm with his new attitude, but the Dolphins need to find ways to scheme around the talent on the roster, particularly the offensive skill positions. Rishard Matthews and Jarvis Landry lead the team in receiving, but Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker need to have bigger roles after the bye week.
What's Next?: Rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans await the new-look Dolphins. The Titans are a young and talented team, but they haven't been able to put away sure victories in recent weeks. Tennessee is a team still learning how to win, which means a Dolphins squad with a new attitude can compete and get back in the win column.
Last Week's Ranking: 29
30. San Francisco 49ers
Current Record: 1-4
Highest Ranking: 26 (Miller)
Lowest Ranking: 32 (Gagnon)
What's Good?: After floundering the previous three weeks, the San Francisco 49ers bounced back and played well despite a 30-27 loss Sunday to the New York Giants. Aaron Lynch in particular has been a dominant force in recent weeks. The second-year outside linebacker terrorized Eli Manning with five quarterback hits. He also added a tackle for loss. A week earlier, Lynch sacked Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers twice. A Pro Bowl-caliber performer continues to emerge in San Francisco.
What's Bad?: While quarterback Colin Kaepernick rebounded, his offensive line still isn't playing well as a unit, and it starts at center. The organization used a third-round pick to select Marcus Martin last year. Martin is now in his first year as a full-time starter—he started eight games last year—and he's struggling mightily. Pro Football Focus ranked Martin as the second-worst starting center in the NFL this season.
What's Next?: After four straight losses, the 49ers desperately need a victory before the season becomes a lost cause. They'll be facing a team in a similar situation Sunday when the 1-4 Baltimore Ravens come to town. Both teams have shown flashes this year, but they've also struggled for long stretches.
Last Week's Ranking: 32
29. Houston Texans
Current Record: 1-4
Highest Ranking: 26 (Davenport)
Lowest Ranking: 32 (Tomlinson)
What's Good?: The one constant on the Houston Texans this season has been wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The former first-round pick accumulated at least 98 receiving yards in four of five games this season. During the last three contests, he amassed 427 receiving yards. Hopkins currently leads the NFL with 578 receiving yards.
What's Bad?: Where have you gone, J.J. Watt? No one will claim Watt is playing poorly over the last three weeks, but he simply hasn't had the same type of impact everyone has grown accustomed to throughout his career. During the past three contests, Watt managed only one sack, and he's been neutralized by at least two poor offensive lines in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts.
What's Next?: After a seven-point loss to the Colts, 27-20, the Texans stay in the AFC South with a trip to Jacksonville to face the Jaguars. The Jaguars received something the Texans haven't in recent weeks: good quarterback play.
Last Week's Ranking: 30
28. Jacksonville Jaguars
Current Record: 1-4
Highest Ranking: 19 (Freeman)
Lowest Ranking: 31 (Davenport, Miller)
What's Good?: As Blake Bortles improves at quarterback, the offensive weapons around him continue to develop as well. Allen Hurns in particular impressed over the last two weeks. The Miami product put together back-to-back 116-yard games. The second-year wide receiver also scored a touchdown in three straight contests. In fact, Hurns ranks eighth in the NFL with 430 receiving yards.
What's Bad?: Left guard Zane Beadles played arguably the worst game of his career Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The veteran blocker simply couldn't handle the Buccaneers' defensive tackles, and he surrendered three sacks, according to Pro Football Focus.
What's Next?: After falling just short against the Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts over the previous two weeks, the Jaguars have a chance to make a statement Sunday against the Houston Texans. Whichever team wins will pull itself out of the AFC South's basement.
Last Week's Ranking: 28
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Current Record: 2-3
Highest Ranking: 24 (3 voters)
Lowest Ranking: 29 (Schalter)
What's Good?: Doug Martin's career is alive and well. The former Pro Bowl running back hadn't looked liked the same player since his breakout 2012 campaign. However, the Muscle Hamster's last two performances have been outstanding. Against the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars, Martin gained 229 yards on 44 carries. He also scored twice against the Jacksonville Jaguars and added a third touchdown as a receiver. Overall, the Buccaneers are now effectively using both of their running backs, including Charles Sims, for the first time in head coach Lovie Smith's tenure.
What's Bad?: Alterraun Verner hasn't adapted well to the Buccaneers defense since signing a four-year, $26 million contract last offseason. The cornerback has actually played in less than half of the team's defensive snaps this season, according to Pro Football Focus. In an effort to get the team's best talent on the field, Verner was switched to nickel corner to maximize his abilities.
What's Next?: The Buccaneers are one of four teams—including the Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams—on a bye during Week 6.
Last Week's Ranking: 31
26. New Orleans Saints
Current Record: 1-4
Highest Ranking: 20 (Tomlinson)
Lowest Ranking: 29 (Davenport, Miller)
What's Good?: Willie Snead continues to develop into the New Orleans Saints' No. 1 target. Snead, an undrafted rookie out of Ball State, finished third in major college football during the 2013 season with 1,516 receiving yards. His ability is now translating to the NFL. Ball State's all-time leading receiver caught six passes from quarterback Drew Brees for 141 yards Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. Snead now leads the Saints with 381 receiving yards.
What's Bad?: Rumors of Sean Payton being fired or leaving after the season continue to grow. Teams are already interested in approaching the Saints about acquiring their head coach, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. These rumors will only persist if the Saints can't improve upon the team's 1-4 start.
What's Next?: Life doesn't get any easier for the Saints this weekend. The undefeated Atlanta Falcons come to town. Rob Ryan's 32nd-ranked defense must play better against the NFL's fourth-ranked offense.
Last Week's Ranking: 22
25. Tennessee Titans
Current Record: 1-3
Highest Ranking: 18 (Tanier)
Lowest Ranking: 28 (Miller)
What's Good?: Defensively, the Tennessee Titans are playing at a high level. Ray Horton's unit ranks third overall in total defense. The group is particularly good against opposing pass games since it ranks first overall in pass defense. While the defense can be better against the run, multiple players in the Titans front seven, particularly defensive end Jurrell Casey, are performing well. Casey registered six total tackles, 1.5 sacks, a tackle for loss and two quarterback hits against the Buffalo Bills.
What's Bad?: The Titans once again held a two-score lead against an opponent only to see it fade away and eventually develop into a loss. During the team's past two games, Tennessee led the Indianapolis Colts 27-14 and the Bills 10-0 in the third quarter, making it clear the team struggles to close out games. The offense or defense must make a play or two in the fourth quarter for the Titans to get back in the win column.
What's Next?: A new-look Miami Dolphins squad is coming to town. The Dolphins fired their head coach, Joe Philbin, as the team entered its bye week. Tennessee should expect a completely different approach from Miami with interim head coach Dan Campbell now at the helm.
Last Week's Ranking: 24
24. Kansas City Chiefs
Current Record: 1-4
Highest Ranking: 16 (Freeman)
Lowest Ranking: 30 (Gagnon)
What's Good?: Very little is good when a team loses its most potent offensive player to a season-ending knee injury. Running back Jamaal Charles suffered a torn ACL Sunday against the Chicago Bears, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. The Kansas City Chiefs, though, have more weapons in their offense than the team did the past few seasons to somewhat offset this loss. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin accumulated 374 receiving yards over the past three games, and Travis Kelce is the third-leading receiver among tight ends this season.
What's Bad?: "When you're 1-4 and are coming off a home loss to the Bears, you're in trouble. When you're 1-4 and are coming off a home loss to the Bears and are without your best player for the rest of the season, you're toast. Time for mass changes in KC."—Brad Gagnon.
What's Next?: Life without Charles begins with a contest against the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings had extra time to prepare for this meeting after coming off a bye week, while the Chiefs are still reeling.
Last Week's Ranking: 18
23. Chicago Bears
Current Record: 2-3
Highest Ranking: 16 (Miller)
Lowest Ranking: 29 (Freeman)
What's Good?: Running back Matt Forte is doing yeoman's work for the Chicago Bears. Forte already carried the ball 102 times through five games, and he leads the NFL with 438 rushing yards. Offensive coordinator Adam Gase realizes Forte is the team's top weapon since Alshon Jeffery continues to deal with an injury, and the Bears' play-caller has no qualms about riding the workhorse back.
What's Bad?: Left tackle is a problem. Since Jermon Bushrod suffered a concussion, Charles Leno started the last two games on the blind side. The Boise State product gave up one sack and 10 quarterback hurries in those contests, according to Pro Football Focus. During the previous three games, Bushrod gave up one sack but only allowed six quarterback hurries.
What's Next?: The Bears can officially start a winning streak with a victory Sunday over the 0-5 Detroit Lions. After two close wins against the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, the Bears should be favored this week as they attempt to win three straight for the first time since the opening three games of the 2013 season.
Last Week's Ranking: 27
22. Baltimore Ravens
Current Record: 1-4
Highest Ranking: 10 (Schalter)
Lowest Ranking: 25 (Sobleski)
What's Good?: Justin Forsett ran the ball well for the second straight week. After a slow start, the veteran runner amassed 271 rushing yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns. However, Forsett suffered an ankle injury Sunday, though not a dreaded high-ankle sprain, according to ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley. This means the running back might not miss any time at all.
What's Bad?: The Baltimore Ravens pass defense is atrocious. The unit ranks 25th overall in pass defense, but it just allowed 457 passing yards to journeyman quarterback Josh McCown during the team's 33-30 overtime loss to the Cleveland Browns. In three of the last four contests, the Ravens surrendered at least 351 passing yards to the opposing quarterback. The only one who didn't surpass the total was the Pittsburgh Steelers' Michael Vick, who was pushed into the starting lineup on a short week for Thursday Night Football. In an attempt to fortify the secondary, the organization signed veteran Shareece Wright on Tuesday, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
What's Next?: A 1-4 start wasn't exactly what the Ravens expected this season. While many have already written Baltimore off this year, a legitimate chance to improve will be available in the coming weeks. First, coach John Harbaugh's squad travels to San Francisco this weekend to face the 1-4 49ers, who have looked like the NFL's worst team at points this season.
Last Week's Ranking: 16
21. Washington Redskins
Current Record: 2-3
Highest Ranking: 15 (Tanier)
Lowest Ranking: 26 (Schalter)
What's Good?: Rookie Jamison Crowder is quietly developing into a dangerous weapon out of the slot for the Washington Redskins. This year's fourth-round pick displays devastating quickness, which allows him to create consistent separation. The rookie set career highs with eight receptions for 87 yards Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. In fact, Crowder has been targeted 15 fewer times than the team's leading wide receiver, Pierre Garcon, but only has four fewer catches.
What's Bad?: At this point, it's hard to call quarterback Kirk Cousins a game manager. He already has six interceptions in five games. In each of the team's losses this season, Cousins threw a pair of interceptions. The former fourth-round pick also ranks 25th with an average of 6.62 yards per attempt. With better quarterback play—at least with fewer mistakes from the position—Washington can be a greatly improved team this season.
What's Next?: Cousins' tendency for turnovers won't be helped Sunday when the Redskins face the New York Jets. The Jets feature one of the NFL's most talented secondaries and rank second against opposing passing attacks. The Redskins offense must establish Matt Jones or Alfred Morris this week in order to compete.
Last Week's Ranking: 21
20. Cleveland Browns
Current Record: 2-3
Highest Ranking: 14 (Tanier)
Lowest Ranking: 22 (3 voters)
What's Good?: Three weeks ago, Johnny Manziel led the Cleveland Browns to a 28-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans. Despite a reported outcry to start Manziel for the rest of the season, head coach Mike Pettine returned to veteran Josh McCown as his starting quarterback. McCown's level of play since Pettine's decision has been nothing short of outstanding. The 36-year-old gunslinger became the first quarterback in Browns history to throw for 300 or more yards in three straight contests. He also set the Browns' regular-season single-game record with 457 passing yards during the team's 33-30 overtime win over the rival Baltimore Ravens.
What's Bad?: The Browns' defensive front seven continues to play poorly. As a result, defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil made some changes, particularly at linebacker. Rookie outside linebacker Nate Orchard and veteran inside linebacker Tank Carder played far more than they have previously, while Christian Kirksey and former sixth overall pick Barkevious Mingo combined to play 35 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. The changes didn't help. The Ravens still ran the ball 31 times for 181 yards.
What's Next?: McCown will face a different challenge Sunday when the Browns meet the Denver Broncos. Of the previous three opponents—the Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens—none was ranked better than 15th overall in total defense. The Broncos own the league's best defense, with or without DeMarcus Ware in the lineup.
Last Week's Ranking: 26
19. St. Louis Rams
Current Record: 2-3
Highest Ranking: 16 (Gagnon)
Lowest Ranking: 25 (Schalter)
What's Good?: Running back Todd Gurley isn't the only offensive player who is becoming a bigger part of the St. Louis Rams offense. Wide receiver Tavon Austin finally is too. After Austin's 116-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 4, the wide receiver once again found the end zone against the Green Bay Packers. His usage was far less, but the Rams coaching staff is trying to find ways to get the ball in his hands, which it should have done since he was the eighth overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
What's Bad?: Quarterback Nick Foles hasn't been able to establish a rhythm this season. This year's prize acquisition went from a three-touchdown performance against the Cardinals to a four-interception outing against the Green Bay Packers. With Gurley now demanding the attention of opposing defenses, things should start to open up for the fourth-year quarterback, and he'll need to capitalize.
What's Next?: The Rams are one of four teams—including the Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers—on a bye during Week 6.
Last Week's Ranking: 19
18. Dallas Cowboys
Current Record: 2-3
Highest Ranking: 14 (Gagnon)
Lowest Ranking: 27 (Tanier)
What's Good?: Forget all of the off-field issues for a moment: Greg Hardy is still one of the game's premier pass-rushers. Once he returned from his four-game suspension, the Ole Miss product wrecked the New England Patriots offense for at least one half of play. The defensive end registered five tackles, two sacks and five more quarterback hits. The Patriots' offensive tackles simply couldn't block him. Setting aside the discussion of whether he should or shouldn't be playing, Hardy makes the Dallas Cowboys a better team.
What's Bad?: As Dallas enters its bye week, another quarterback change appears to be on its way. Brandon Weeden hasn't played well in Tony Romo's absence, while the team recently traded for backup quarterback Matt Cassel, who has started 72 career games. Head coach Jason Garrett planned to re-evaluate the position during the team's off week, but ESPN.com's Ed Werder has since reported Cassel will start. Romo can't come back soon enough.
What's Next?: The Cowboys are one of four teams—including the Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers—on a bye during Week 6.
Last Week's Ranking: 17
17. Oakland Raiders
Current Record: 2-3
Highest Ranking: 16 (Tanier)
Lowest Ranking: 25 (Tomlinson)
What's Good?: Charles Woodson is like the Energizer Bunny. He just keeps going and going and going. The 39-year-old safety is the league's oldest defender, but he continues to play at a high level. Against the Denver Broncos, Woodson almost single-handedly kept the Raiders in the game by intercepting Peyton Manning twice. Even in his 18th season, Woodson remains one of the league's most instinctive players in coverage. Pro Football Focus ranks the veteran as the second-best safety against the pass.
What's Bad?: While a 16-10 loss to the undefeated Broncos can be viewed as a positive, the Raiders' usually reliable special teams let the team down Sunday. Sebastian Janikowski broke the franchise's record by playing in his 241st game, but it's a game the former first-round pick won't remember fondly. Janikowski had one kick blocked and missed a potential go-head field goal in the fourth quarter.
What's Next?: The Raiders are one of four teams—including the Dallas Cowboys, St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers—on a bye during Week 6.
Last Week's Ranking: 20
16. Philadelphia Eagles
Current Record: 2-3
Highest Ranking: 9 (Schalter)
Lowest Ranking: 20 (Sobleski)
What's Good?: Fletcher Cox is a monster. The New Orleans Saints simply couldn't handle the Philadelphia Eagles defensive end. Cox registered six tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles. The former first-round pick played exceptionally last season, and he should now be recognized as one of the game's best defenders.
What's Bad?: There was plenty to like during the Eagles' 39-17 thrashing of the Saints, but Nelson Agholor's lack of production continues to disappoint. This year's first-round pick managed one catch before he injured an ankle. While the injury is a concern, his production is even more so. Others players like Josh Huff are now performing in the offense. Agholor, on the other hand, only has eight catches for 105 yards through five games.
What's Next?: The Eagles started 0-2 in NFC East play, but Philadelphia remains only one game behind the New York Giants in the win-loss column. This can change quickly if the Eagles' performance against the Saints carries into this weekend, when head coach Chip Kelly's squad hosts the Giants.
Last Week's Ranking: 23
15. San Diego Chargers
Current Record: 2-3
Highest Ranking: 9 (Freeman)
Lowest Ranking: 18 (Gagnon)
What's Good?: It didn't take long for Antonio Gates to work his way back into the San Diego Chargers offense. The future Hall of Fame tight end returned from a four-game suspension, and he caught three passes, including a touchdown, during the Chargers' initial drive Monday night. Gates finished the contest with a team-leading nine receptions for 92 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
What's Bad?: The Chargers run defense remains one of the NFL's worst. It's ranked 29th overall. Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell averaged 5.3 yards per carry on his way to an 111-yard night. When the team needed its defense the most, the unit still couldn't stop Bell from reaching the goal line as time expired.
What's Next?: After surrendering 349 or more total yards to offenses led by Josh McCown and Michael Vick in consecutive weeks, the Chargers will now travel to Green Bay and face Aaron Rodgers. Quarterback Philip Rivers will need to be at his best because the Chargers defense doesn't look like a unit capable of stopping the Packers offense right now.
Last Week's Ranking: 14
14. Pittsburgh Steelers
Current Record: 3-2
Highest Ranking: 10 (Gagnon)
Lowest Ranking: 20 (Tanier)
What's Good?: Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin learned from his mistakes and finally gave running back Le'Veon Bell the football in crunch time. During Week 4, the Steelers didn't convert a pair of crucial fourth-down plays, and both decisions came into question because of Bell's exclusion in those plays. With the game on the line Monday, Tomlin made sure Bell had the ball in his hands. The result? A touchdown as time expired and a 24-20 victory over the San Diego Chargers.
What's Bad?: Will Allen suffered an ankle injury Monday night and didn't return to the contest. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers continually exploited mismatches within the passing game and threw for 365 yards. The Steelers secondary was already inconsistent at best with the veteran safety in the lineup, but the unit could take a step back without his leadership. Pittsburgh needs all the help it can get among its defensive backs.
What's Next?: Could quarterback Ben Roethlisberger play Sunday against his old offensive coordinator, Bruce Arians, and the Arizona Cardinals? Roethlisberger wants to, but it's a "long shot," according to ESPN.com's Adam Schefter. Without the team's franchise quarterback on the field, the Steelers will need to find ways to match a prolific Cardinals offense with a masterful Carson Palmer leading the way.
Last Week's Ranking: 15
13. Indianapolis Colts
Current Record: 3-2
Highest Ranking: 9 (Davenport, Tomlinson)
Lowest Ranking: 23 (Tanier)
What's Good?: Andre Johnson's career isn't over yet. The seven-time Pro Bowl performer was an afterthought through the first month of the season, but the Houston Texans' all-time leading receiver came alive against his former team. Johnson caught seven passes Thursday for 77 yards and a pair of touchdowns. With quarterback Andrew Luck getting healthy, he'll be able to rely on the Colts' recently revitalized target.
What's Bad?: The Colts defense isn't getting to opposing quarterbacks. The team's six sacks are tied for the NFL's second-worst total. Indianapolis is 16 sacks behind the league-leading Denver Broncos. In fact, no defender on the roster registered more than one sack so far this season. When a defense can't pressure the quarterback, the Texans and their unstable quarterback situation can even throw for 362 yards.
What's Next?: Andrew Luck participated "without limitations" in practice this week, per the Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder. As well as the 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck played in Luck's absence, the Colts might need a little extra juice this week when facing the New England Patriots. While everyone else will be discussing deflated footballs, Chuck Pagano's squad will be more worried about Luck's health and how to stop Tom Brady.
Last Week's Ranking: 13
12. New York Giants
Current Record: 3-2
Highest Ranking: 8 (Freeman, Tanier)
Lowest Ranking: 18 (Schalter)
What's Good?: For the first time this season, the New York Giants didn't come up short late in a game. Earlier in the year, the Giants gave away two victories to the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons. Instead, quarterback Eli Manning came up big with 441 passing yards, and tight end Larry Donnell made the crucial touchdown catch with only 21 seconds remaining. The Giants will be difficult to beat if Manning continues to play at this same level. In the team's three victories, the quarterback completed 69.4 percent of his passes for 932 yards and eight touchdowns.
What's Bad?: Prior to the Giants contest, the San Francisco 49ers lost their previous three games by a combined score of 107-28. The offense looked pitiful during this stretch, and quarterback Colin Kaepernick's level of play didn't rise above awful. However, this same 49ers offense managed 380 total yards against the Giants, and Kaepernick finally got back on track. New York's inability to slow veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin or running back Carlos Hyde should be worrisome as the season continues.
What's Next?: The Philadelphia Eagles are yet another team with an offense trying to find a rhythm. Sunday's performance against the New Orleans Saints proved to be the healing salve the Eagles needed. But the Giants defense is much better than the Saints defense. New York shouldn't surrender 519 total yards like Sean Payton's squad did.
Last Week's Ranking: 11
11. Buffalo Bills
Current Record: 3-2
Highest Ranking: 7 (Tomlinson)
Lowest Ranking: 15 (Schalter)
What's Good?: Tyrod Taylor isn't simply a product of the talent around him. The Buffalo Bills won Sunday's contest against the Tennessee Titans because of Taylor. Because of multiple injuries on offense, Taylor didn't perform well during the first half, but he took it upon himself to score points and put his team in the lead. The quarterback threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score. "He wasn't playing great, but at the end of the day he's the reason we won the game," head coach Rex Ryan said after the game, per ESPN.com.
What's Bad?: Now, it comes down to whether Taylor is healthy enough to play Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. According to CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora, Taylor will miss a few games because of an MCL sprain he suffered against the Titans. The Bills haven't confirmed the injury, but the team will reportedly prepare EJ Manuel to start.
What's Next?: With Taylor potentially out of the lineup, the Bills will have their hands full against the undefeated Bengals. Cincinnati hasn't scored fewer than 24 points in any game this season, while Buffalo will almost certainly continue to struggle on offense with all of the team's current injuries.
Last Week's Ranking: 12
10. Seattle Seahawks
Current Record: 2-3
Highest Ranking: 8 (Sobleski)
Lowest Ranking: 13 (Davenport)
What's Good?: No Marshawn Lynch? No problem. Prior to the start of the season, the Seattle Seahawks released running back Robert Turbin. Turbin was a reliable backup option behind Lynch. But he suffered a high-ankle sprain, and the team wanted to keep a roster spot open for undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls. The move certainly paid off, since Rawls is flourishing in Lynch's absence. In three starts, Rawls carried the ball 56 times for 321 yards. The rookie actually led all running backs in Week 5 with 169 rushing yards.
What's Bad?: Former All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham has once again gone missing in action. Since his Week 3 performance against the Chicago Bears, where he made seven receptions for 83 yards and a score, the tight end caught seven passes for 59 yards and no touchdowns during the following two weeks. It shouldn't be this hard to get the ball to one of the game's premier offensive weapons, but for some reason, it has been in Seattle.
What's Next?: Each and every week, Bleacher Report's power rankings keep the Seahawks located somewhere in the Top 10. Our writers seem to believe the team is going to break out sooner or later. Well, this weekend's contest at home against the Carolina Panthers is the perfect opportunity to prove the Seahawks truly are one of the NFL best teams despite some early-season struggles.
Last Week's Ranking: 8
9. Minnesota Vikings
Current Record: 2-2
Highest Ranking: 8 (Schalter)
Lowest Ranking: 13 (3 voters)
What's Good?: Rookie Stefon Diggs became a surprise contributor to the offense just prior to the Minnesota Vikings' bye week. With Charles Johnson still dealing with a rib injury, Diggs caught six passes for 87 yards in Week 4 against the Denver Broncos. The Maryland product displayed explosive ability throughout his Terrapins career, but he fell to the fifth round of this year's NFL draft because of inconsistency and injuries. As Johnson struggles to stay on the field, Diggs could become the weapon quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has been searching for all season.
What's Bad?: Xavier Rhodes is a good young cornerback, but the 25-year-old also displays a tendency to be overaggressive and grab opponents. Officials have already called Rhodes for seven penalties this season, and the Vikings coaching staff tried to address the problem during the team's bye week. Defensive backs coach Jerry Gray actually made Rhodes work with boxing gloves during position drills this week so he couldn't grab receivers, according to ESPN.com's Ben Goessling. If this technique doesn't work, the Vikings might finally allow first-round rookie Trae Waynes to play more in place of Rhodes.
What's Next?: The Kansas City Chiefs will limp into TCF Bank Stadium with a 1-4 record and missing the team's top offensive player, Jamaal Charles. Charles suffered a torn ACL Sunday against the Chicago Bears. While the Vikings had plenty of time to prepare, it's hard to imagine the Chiefs being fully ready for this weekend's contest.
Last Week's Ranking: 10
8. New York Jets
Current Record: 3-1
Highest Ranking: 8 (3 voters)
Lowest Ranking: 13 (Gagnon)
What's Good?: The rich get richer as defensive end Sheldon Richardson returns this week after his four-game suspension. Richardson is one of the game's best defensive linemen, yet the New York Jets defense has been pretty good during his absence. In fact, the Jets are the NFL's second-best defense. The unit is that good, and it's about to add the franchise's best player to the active roster. It's a scary thought.
What's Bad?: If the Jets are going to improve on offense—they're ranked 14th overall in total offense—the unit needs to become less predictable. Yes, Chris Ivory will get his carries each and every week, but quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn't need to stare down Brandon Marshall on every passing play. Fitzpatrick targeted Marshall 45 times through four games. No one else on the team even has 20 targets. This is a bit problematic when a player of Eric Decker's caliber is on the roster. New York should also work rookie Devin Smith more into the offense now that he's healthy.
What's Next?: The Jets' talented secondary is licking its chops since a turnover-prone Kirk Cousins comes to town this weekend. Head coach Todd Bowles and his staff had two weeks to prepare for the Washington Redskins. With all of the talent the Jets feature on defense, it's hard to believe Cousins won't turn the ball over in New York as well.
Last Week's Ranking: 9
7. Carolina Panthers
Current Record: 4-0
Highest Ranking: 6 (4 voters)
Lowest Ranking: 10 (Tomlinson)
What's Good?: An extra week of preparation should help make Jared Allen's transition a little easier. Allen registered a tackle and a quarterback hit in his first game as a member of the Carolina Panthers. The veteran played a total of 35 snaps in his debut. His status should be closely monitored, though, since he pinched a nerve in his back against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If healthy, Allen can provide a consistent threat off the edge until Charles Johnson returns to the lineup. Together, Allen and Johnson should form one of the league's more formidable pass-rushing duos.
What's Bad?: As the Panthers come out of the bye week, the story remains the same. The offense needs targets around Cam Newton. If he weren't such a dangerous runner, his 55.7 percent completion percentage wouldn't be overlooked as much. All quarterbacks need help. Newton can physically do it all, but he can't do it all by himself.
What's Next?: It's time to find out how good the Carolina Panthers really are. A trip to Seattle to face the Seahawks and the roar of the 12th Man will test the Panthers' mettle. Head coach Ron Rivera and his staff had two weeks to prepare for this contest. If the Carolina escapes with a victory, the Panthers will be viewed far more favorably than they already are.
Last Week's Ranking: 7
6. Arizona Cardinals
Current Record: 4-1
Highest Ranking: 2 (Schalter)
Lowest Ranking: 7 (4 voters)
What's Good?: An injury to Andre Ellington was all it took to revitalize Chris Johnson's career. After his final season with the Tennessee Titans and last year with the New York Jets, Johnson appeared to be done. Those remnants of the great 2,000-yard rusher seen six years ago seemed to disappear. CJ2K didn't even sign with the Cardinals until Aug. 17. Yet, he is tied for second in the NFL with 405 rushing yards. Against the Detroit Lions, the 30-year-old running back carried the ball 11 times for 103 yards.
What's Bad?: During the team's 42-17 victory over the Lions, the Cardinals may have had three significant injuries. Reserve linebacker and special teams ace Kenny Demens suffered a torn ACL, according to ESPN.com's Josh Weinfuss. Outside linebacker Alex Okafor injured his calf, and safety Chris Clemons pulled his left hamstring. To offset the potential losses of Okafor and Demens, Arizona signed Dwight Freeney on Monday, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.
What's Next?: Bruce Arians returns to Pittsburgh, and his Cardinals will face the Steelers. The head coach hasn't shown his opponents any mercy this season. If the Cardinals get up early on his former team, don't expect Arizona to take its foot off the gas pedal at any point during the game.
Last Week's Ranking: 6
5. Denver Broncos
Current Record: 5-0
Highest Ranking: 4 (Davenport, Sobleski)
Lowest Ranking: 6 (Schalter, Tanier)
What's Good?: Week after week, the Denver Broncos defense will receive praise in these rankings for two reasons. First, it's the league's No. 1-ranked defense. Second, the Broncos offense is playing poorly at this point in the season. So, it falls on the Broncos defense to make play after play, and it has. Von Miller in particular continues to dominate. Pro Football Focus ranks Miller as the game's best 3-4 outside linebacker.
What's Bad?: As good as the Broncos defense is, the unit will miss DeMarcus Ware, who injured his back Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. Ware will miss at least the upcoming contest against the Cleveland Browns as he deals with a back strain, according to ESPN's Ed Werder. With the veteran pass-rusher out of the lineup, the Broncos will feature Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray opposite Miller.
What's Next?: While the Broncos remain undefeated and the Browns are 2-3, this contest should provide an interesting series of matchups. The Browns can't stop the run, but the Broncos own the league's 30th rushing offense. Meanwhile, Browns quarterback Josh McCown has thrown for at least 341 yards in the past three games, but the Broncos claim the league's fifth-best pass defense. Something will give during this meeting.
Last Week's Ranking: 5
4. Atlanta Falcons
Current Record: 5-0
Highest Ranking: 4 (6 voters)
Lowest Ranking: 5 (Davenport, Sobleski)
What's Good?: Don't look now, but head coach Dan Quinn has the Atlanta Falcons defense playing pretty well. After it finished 32nd overall in total defense last season, a major overhaul became necessary. Thus, the Falcons' coaching search resulted in the hire of Quinn, who helped develop the Seattle Seahawks' vaunted Legion of Boom secondary. Now, the Falcons are 20th in total defense, but they're first against the run. In fact, Atlanta only surrenders 78.4 rushing yards per game. It's a group effort led by O'Brien Schofield, Kroy Biermann, Paul Soliai and Ra'Shede Hageman.
What's Bad?: While the Falcons soared to 5-0 overall, the seeds of discontent were planted last week. Roddy White was adamant in wanting a bigger role in the offense last Sunday, per ESPN.com's Vaughn McClure. This stance even spurred trade rumors despite White's affirmation he wants to remain with the Falcons, courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter. The veteran, however, didn't get his wish against the Washington Redskins. The Falcons' all-time leading receiver only caught two passes for 23 yards.
What's Next?: A short week of preparation is upon the Falcons as they're set to meet the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football. While Atlanta already showed tremendous improvement on defense so far this season, the Saints haven't. Rob Ryan's defense is ranked 32nd overall.
Last Week's Ranking: 4
3. Cincinnati Bengals
Current Record: 5-0
Highest Ranking: 2 (Tanier, Tomlinson)
Lowest Ranking: 3 (6 voters)
What's Good?: Tyler Eifert simply isn't a new toy at quarterback Andy Dalton's disposal. The former first-round pick is quickly developing into one of the game's elite tight ends. Twice this season, Eifert accumulated 90 or more receiving yards. When A.J. Green is part of the offense, which means Eifert isn't the team's No. 1 option, the tight end's production becomes even more impressive. The Notre Dame product is fourth in receiving yards among tight ends but leads his position with five touchdown receptions.
What's Bad?: A victory against the Seattle Seahawks is always impressive even if their record isn't this season. But not everyone played well for the Bengals during their 27-24 overtime victory. While the Bengals offensive line is one of the league's better units, the play of center Russell Bodine dropped dramatically in recent weeks. Plus, right tackle Andre Smith is dealing with an elbow injury.
What's Next?: Another difficult opponent lies on the horizon as the Bengals travel to Buffalo to face the Bills. The Bills have dealt with numerous injuries as of late, but quarterback Tyrod Taylor continues to come up big for the franchise (if he's deemed healthy enough to play). More importantly, this should prove to be a tremendous matchup between the Bengals' second-ranked offense and the Bills' talented and aggressive defense.
Last Week's Ranking: 3
2. Green Bay Packers
Current Record: 5-0
Highest Ranking: 1 (3 voters)
Lowest Ranking: 3 (Tanier, Tomlinson)
What's Good?: No one could have predicted how well James Jones is playing upon his return to the Green Bay Packers. After the Oakland Raiders and New York Giants released him earlier this year, the nine-year veteran now leads the NFL with an average of 20.7 yards per catch. He also leads the Packers with 394 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
What's Bad?: The Packers defense didn't have an answer Sunday for St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley. The rookie ran for 159 yards on 30 carries. The Packers, meanwhile, currently rank 28th against the run. Nate Palmer in particular continues to struggle at inside linebacker.
What's Next?: After a last-second victory and loss over the past two weeks, the San Diego Chargers continue to experience the highs and lows of an NFL season. Their next challenge will be a little more daunting when they travel to Green Bay to face the Packers. With Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers at quarterback, a shootout could ensue. One of these defenses will need to come up big to secure a victory.
Last Week's Ranking: 2
1. New England Patriots
Current Record: 5-0
Highest Ranking: 1 (5 voters)
Lowest Ranking: 5 (Schalter)
What's Good?: Running back Dion Lewis isn't just a part-time player for the New England Patriots. The fifth-year runner is another weapon at quarterback Tom Brady's disposal. Against the Dallas Cowboys, Lewis caught eight passes out of the backfield for 59 yards and a touchdown. He also averaged 5.7 yards per carry. The Pitt product, who is already on his fourth team, leads the Patriots with 180 rushing yards. He's also third on the team with 238 receiving yards.
What's Bad?: For the first time in Brady's career, he was sacked five times in one half Sunday by the Cowboys. The Patriots continue to experiment with an offensive line rotation, but it shouldn't be forgotten that three of the linemen the team is relying on are also rookies. There will be breakdowns in protection, especially when a lack of continuity exists. Plus, none of the team's offensive tackles played well against the Cowboys' explosive edge rush.
What's Next?: Let the stories of deflated footballs kick into overdrive. The Patriots face the Indianapolis Colts for the first time since the playoffs when Brady came under scrutiny for the air pressure in the team's footballs. More importantly, the status of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck remains undetermined. However, Luck is expected to play after practicing "without limitations" Monday, per the Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder.
Last Week's Ranking: 1