Welcome back to the futile exercise of ranking the 32 NFL teams. There are new faces at the top and the bottom after an eventful Week 5. As always, these will be updated weekly, so be sure to watch out as teams move up and down. If teams continue to win, they will rise. If teams continue to lose, they will fall. Similarly, a loss does not necessarily equate to a team being ranked lower than their opponent.
Numbers in parentheses refer to last week’s rankings.
No.32: Detroit Lions (-1)
While Detroit did end up losing on a last-gasp field goal once again, this one took extreme circumstances to reach. Minnesota led by 10 with 3:30 left in regulation. Greg Joseph missed a field goal that would have extended the lead to 13 and virtually ended the game. Detroit capitalized on the short field, moving 39 yards and making a field goal. Minnesota then fumbled, giving Detroit great field position. Detroit punched it in before Joseph nailed a 54-yard kick as time expired. Similar to the Ravens game, Detroit was outplayed, but they managed to go on a crazy run late.
No.31: Jacksonville Jaguars (-1)
Urban Meyer’s hot seat is flaming hot, and Jacksonville has been a mess for the last five quarters of play. Derrick Henry turned Jacksonville into a whipping post again, and the Jaguars were rather uncompetitive, trailing by at least 11 for the entire second half. James Robinson was stellar, but Meyer forgot he existed in the fourth quarter. This is a ticking time bomb, and the Meyer experiment is a colossal failure.
No.30: Houston Texans (+2)
Davis Mills played like a real quarterback on Sunday, and the Texans executed a perfect loss. The team is bad, so the illusion of competition is important. Houston failed to score in the last 28 minutes, sufficiently blowing a 13-point lead to a rather reluctant Patriots squad. Houston could have won this game, but that would have meant the potential forfeiture of precious draft position. Good work, Houston.
No.29: New York Jets (+0)
New York trailed by multiple possessions for two entire quarters, but they were able to conjure up a pair of touchdown drives in the second half to trim the lead from 17 to three. After an admirable effort, the defense collapsed on Atlanta’s last real drive, conceding a pair of back-breaking third downs. Had the Jets gotten off the field on either, they would have trailed by six rather than 10. Zach Wilson did not have a strong day, but that is nothing new.
No.28: Miami Dolphins (-4)
Tampa Bay dominated in a manner that the score did not reflect for most of the afternoon. While the final margin ended up being 28, a fairly accurate depiction, Tampa Bay thoroughly outclassed Miami. Xavien Howard had a laughable performance, getting beat for a trio of touchdowns. Myles Gaskin had an entertaining day, but his multiple touchdowns ended up not mattering. Miami is treading water until they can get Tua Tagovailoa back, but a 1-4 start is less than ideal.
No.27: Washington Football Team (+0)
The roller coaster known as Taylor Heinicke was in full effect. Heinicke led all passers with four turnover-worthy plays, and he ended with a passer rating of 47.6. Antonio Gibson slipped in for a pair of touchdowns, but it was a rather disappointing offensive show. There were positives as the defensive line recorded multiple sacks including a Chase Young forced fumble. As a whole, this is a gimmicky offense and an underachieving defense.
No.26: New York Giants (-4)
The Giants were competitive for 2.5 quarters, but they were eventually missing most of their offensive pieces. Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley both left with injuries, and neither are guaranteed to be healthy. Kadarius Toney ended his performance by punching a Cowboy. With a clean bill of health, New York likely would maintain its No.22 spot, but with Jones and Barkley potentially on the shelf, the Giants must fall.
No.25: Atlanta Falcons (+3)
Despite their best efforts to lose the game, Atlanta came out of London with a win. Matt Ryan had his second-straight electric performance, dissecting the Jets’ defense. Kyle Pitts had an exceptional day with nine catches, 119 yards, and his first touchdown. Atlanta took care of business despite missing its two best receivers. The duo of Cordarrelle Patterson and Mike Davis had another good performance other than Davis’ fumble. Atlanta is quietly just one game behind both the Saints and Panthers.
No.24: Philadelphia Eagles (+2)
Darius Slay had a vintage performance, hauling in a pair of Sam Darnold interceptions. Philadelphia was able to move the ball on the ground for the most part despite Carolina’s vaunted run defense. Jalen Hurts ended without a passing touchdown, but he had a pair of rushing touchdowns. Devonta Smith posted 77 yards on seven catches, but he did lose a fumble. Philadelphia’s defense kept the offense in the game enough for the offense to post 15 second-half points and secure the win.
No.23: New England Patriots (-2)
Had the Patriots been playing any other team in the league, they likely get massacred. Instead, they get a free win after Houston collapsed. Mac Jones had an up-and-down performance. He ended with a 95.3 rating, but he had several interceptable passes. Davis Mills demolished the defense as the once stout secondary allowed 312 passing yards to the rookie. Sure, New England is 2-3, but this is an ugly second win.
No.22: Seattle Seahawks (-10)
Russell Wilson had one of the best halves of his career. Then Aaron Donald happened. Donald injured Wilson’s finger, and Wilson missed the rest of the game. Geno Smith came in to limited success, and the Rams iced the game when the Seattle receiver fell on the last meaningful play. Wilson will miss time for the first time in his career. He will be out for at least one month, potentially missing up to two months. With Wilson, Seattle can beat anyone. Without Wilson, they are starting a difficult road to relevance.
No.21: Denver Broncos (-2)
Denver was sluggish for the majority of the game. Pittsburgh’s young studs tortured the Denver defense while Denver’s offense ran in quicksand. The final score buries the lede as Pittsburgh controlled almost the entire game. Both Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick were productive, but most of the production came in the second half. Denver is currently in a playoff spot, but they are poised to blow their 3-0 start. Ouch.
No.20: Pittsburgh Steelers (+5)
As mentioned in the previous blurb, Pittsburgh dominated most of the game. Najee Harris was exceptional. Chase Claypool eclipsed 100 yards, hauling in a 59-yard pass. Ben Roethlisberger had his best game of the season despite losing a fumble. The future Hall of Fame posted a pair of touchdowns including a perfect deep ball to Diontae Johnson. Pittsburgh’s offense is moving in the right direction, but it is far from a guarantee.
No.19: Carolina Panthers (-2)
Carolina’s defense did as much as they could. They held the Eagles to just 273 yards and forced a pair of turnovers. They even added a safety. Sam Darnold proceeded to throw the game away, launching his fourth, fifth, and sixth interceptions of the season. No matter what the rest of the offense brings to the table, Darnold can throw it away unlike just about any NFL quarterback. Carolina surrendered just one 50-yard drive, but they lost nonetheless.
No.18: Indianapolis Colts (+2)
Despite blowing a 19-point lead, there are a lot of positive takeaways for the Colts. Carson Wentz played well even if his touchdowns were significantly aided by the pass-catcher. Jonathan Taylor racked up a ridiculous 169 yards and scored twice. Michael Pittman tacked on Wentz’s second passing touchdown. Julian Blackmon had a critical forced fumble in the red zone. At the end of the day, Indianapolis lost several key pieces to injury in the second half, necessitating the likes of Anthony Chesley and George Odum to play key snaps. Baltimore ate the injured secondary alive.
No.17: Cincinnati Bengals (+1)
While Bengals-Packers was in the realm of normalcy (in the first 57 minutes), Cincinnati hung with the Packers. Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase hooked up to the tune of 159 yards and a touchdown. Both Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon found the end zone. If not for kicker shenanigans, Cincinnati could have won the game at multiple points. However, one team had to lose the ridiculous game, and Cincinnati got the short end of the stick in Week 5.
No.16: Las Vegas Raiders (-3)
It was a rather pathetic performance for the Raiders. Josh Jacobs turned 19 touches into 67 yards. Derek Carr failed to throw a touchdown. Defensively, Khalil Herbert and Damien Williams gashed the Raiders for 129 yards on 34 carries. However, moving off the field, Jon Gruden resigned from his post as head coach. For all of Gruden’s shortcomings as a person and as a head coach, he was one of the better offensive minds in the NFL. The offense will likely continue its nosedive from 90 points in the first three weeks.
No.15: Chicago Bears (+8)
Chicago is up 13 spots in two weeks thanks to just enough offense. Justin Fields has breathed some semblance of life into the offense in the last two weeks. Chicago has run for 331 yards in the last two weeks, and they have a top-10 rushing attack now. Defensively, Chicago has been strong. They rank in the top 10 in points and yards allowed, and they have been sturdy against the run and the pass. Andy Dalton might be the better quarterback, but Fields brings a floor to the Chicago offense (when coached by Bill Lazor).
No.14: Minnesota Vikings (+2)
As mentioned in the Detroit blurb, the Vikings controlled almost the entire game. Without the double whammy of a missed field goal and a late fumble, Minnesota would have had a run-of-the-mill win over Detroit. Kirk Cousins played better than the stats showed, and Justin Jefferson had an exceptional game. Alexander Mattison nearly threw the day away with a fumble, but he put Minnesota in an initially good position with 153 total yards and a receiving touchdown.
No.13: San Francisco 49ers (+1)
San Francisco outgained Arizona in large part due to Trey Lance and Elijah Mitchell having a productive rushing performance. Lance threw for 192 yards, but his 89 rushing yards set the tone. Mitchell tacked on 43 across nine carries. Nick Bosa notched his fourth sack of the season. Yes, San Francisco has lost three in a row, but the schedule will open up after the bye week. San Francisco has two winnable games before aiming to exact revenge on the Cardinals in Week 9.
No.12 New Orleans Saints (+3)
Jameis Winston tossed a quartet of touchdowns, including a heart-stopping Hail Mary to Marquez Callaway. Callaway found the end zone a second time while Deonte Harris and Alvin Kamara added the third and fourth touchdowns. Kamara tallied 122 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but the story of the day was Marshon Lattimore. Lattimore had six pass break-ups on Sunday, a mark that would be among the league leaders for the season, let alone Week 5. New Orleans is a well-rounded unit that is tied for a playoff spot.
No.11: Tennessee Titans (+0)
Believe it or not, Derrick Henry is on pace for an even better season than his 2,000-yard campaign. Henry leads the NFL in rushes, yards, touchdowns, and yards per game. He has had 28 or more carries in each of the last four games, going for 110 or more yards in all four games. He has a pair of three-touchdown games. Will Henry carry the ball 480 times? Likely, no, but the Titans are keeping their heads above water without full contributions from A.J. Brown and Julio Jones.
No.10: Cleveland Browns (-2)
Cleveland fell just short in a Game of the Year candidate. Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, and David Njoku had dominant performances, but the story became the fall of the defense. Los Angeles went for 493 total yards with Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler, and Mike Williams have absolutely stellar games. If the Browns could play a complete game, they would be one of the best teams in the NFL, but they have yet to do so. On the bright side, Baker Mayfield was significantly better than he was in Week 4.
No.9: Kansas City Chiefs (-7)
This is the lowest a Patrick Mahomes team has been ranked in three years of these power rankings articles. Kansas City has one of the worst defenses the NFL has seen in recent years. The Chiefs are allowing 7.1 yards per play. They are last in scoring defense. They rank in the bottom three of yards allowed, yards per pass allowed, and yards per rush allowed. The offense is formidable, but they have been limited in recent weeks. Turnovers (11 of them in the last four weeks) have reduced the margin for error, and Mahomes has not been playing well enough regardless. Yes, he has 16 touchdowns, but he has seven turnovers to go with them.
No.8: Los Angeles Chargers (+2)
The Chargers won the Game of the Year contender. As mentioned earlier, Herbert, Ekeler, and Williams were spectacular. Herbert turned in over 400 total yards, tallying five touchdowns. Ekeler accounted for 119 yards and three touchdowns. Williams turned 16 targets into eight catches, 165 yards, and a pair of touchdowns. Defensively, Los Angeles was gashed, but they came up huge with two stops in the late stages of the fourth quarter. The Chargers sit two games ahead of Kansas City, and they hold the tiebreaker for the moment.
No.7: Dallas Cowboys (+2)
The final score was inflated by 10 points in the last two minutes, but Dallas outclassed New York. Dak Prescott played well, totaling over 300 passing yards. Both Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard gashed the Giants’ run defense. Elliott had a pair of touchdowns and 112 total yards. Both CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper caught deep touchdowns. Offensively, Dallas went for 500 yards. The defense is playing better than the numbers indicate as they faced several high-powered offenses (and allowed pointless touchdowns to Carolina).
No.6: Baltimore Ravens (+1)
Down 22-3 at one point, Baltimore responded to adversity in one of the most spectacular runs imaginable. Lamar Jackson had one of the most special performances in NFL history, going for over 500 total yards en route to a 28-point second half. Baltimore did lose their streak of 100-yard rushing games, but the win was the priority. Jackson had an NFL season-high 442 passing yards, finding Mark Andrews (147 yards, two touchdowns) and Marquise Brown (125 yards, two touchdowns) for massive days. There are legitimate concerns in Baltimore, but when No.8 is under center, sometimes, it does not matter.
No.5: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+0)
Tampa Bay blasted Miami. Tom Brady posted five touchdowns and 400 yards, the first time he reached both marks in the same game. Antonio Brown and Mike Evans both caught multiple touchdowns and went over 100 yards. Leonard Fournette had a productive day, totaling 110 yards and a touchdown. It was not a perfect defensive performance, but Tampa did play well. The defensive numbers are slowly correcting from a tough slate of offenses early in the season.
No.4: Los Angeles Rams (+0)
The Rams did just enough to hold onto the victory. They did not play particularly well (outside of the receiving corps), but they took advantage of a Wilson-less Seattle. Robert Woods romped for 150 yards and Kupp posted 92 yards. Both Darrell Henderson and Sony Michel found the end zone. Defensively, Aaron Donald was among the leaders in pressure generated to the surprise of no one.
No.3: Green Bay Packers (+0)
Davante Adams had one of the best games by a player at any position this season, racking up 206 yards and a touchdown. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon combined for 188 total yards and a receiving touchdown. Aaron Rodgers had his usual performance, eclipsing 300 yards and a 100 passer rating. Defensively, Jaire Alexander is sorely missed. Mason Crosby ended up with seven field goal attempts, missing three in a row between the 2:14 mark of the fourth quarter and 8:15 mark of overtime. Ironically, he sunk the game-winner from 49 yards out.
No.2: Arizona Cardinals (-1)
Arizona led by 10 points for a solid chunk of the afternoon, but they never seemed to be in total control. Kyler Murray had a subpar game by his lofty standards, posting just 240 total yards and one touchdown. Rondale Moore had 97 yards, and he was the only reliable rushing option. J.J. Watt did not record a sack, but he had an exceptional all-around game. With that said, Arizona would have lost this game in 2020. They showed growth and remained undefeated.
No.1: Buffalo Bills (+5)
Buffalo leads the NFL in points scored, points allowed, takeaways, and total defense. The Chiefs did end with 392 total yards, but much of the production came in the second half after Buffalo built a large lead. Josh Allen had a superhuman performance, posting 315 yards and three touchdowns on just 15 completions. He added 59 rushing yards and a touchdown. Dawson Knox had an excellent game, and Emmanuel Sanders caught a pair of touchdowns. This is the best team in the NFL.
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