If you are a fan of drama, you got lots of it in Week 5. After the Cowboys failed to reach a long-term deal with Dak Prescott during offseason, Prescott suffered a compound ankle fracture, ending his season. Conversely, Alex Smith suited up in his first NFL game since suffering a horrific leg injury of his own in November 2018. The league schedule got reorganized, undefeated teams, including the defending champs, lost and we even got Tuesday Night Football. Week 5 had a little bit of everything.
Given that it was such an unpredictable and wild week, the rankings underwent a massive overhaul, starting with a new team at the top. With injuries and uncertainty continuing to hang over this 2020 season, there is a good chance this order will change dramatically again as soon as next week.
1. Green Bay Packers: 4-0 (Last Week: 3)
This is a nice setup for the Packers. Take the week off an move atop the Power Rankings. Green Bay has been dominant through its four games and it is not at full strength yet. Davante Adams has been banged up, but should be back at 100% starting in Week 6. Eventually, Allen Lazard will be back as well. The Packers defense still could use some improvement against the run, but this secondary is quietly one of the better units in the league.
2. Seattle Seahawks: 5-0 (Last Week: 2)
Won 27-26 vs. Minnesota
Seattle got hot in the third quarter and scored three touchdowns in under two minutes. Outside of that stretch, the Seahawks looked outmatched against the Vikings. Russell Wilson worked a bit of late magic just to pull off a one-point win against a one-win team. The defense has been an issue all year long. However, the run defense was a strong point, up until Minnesota racked up 200 yards, even with Dalvin Cook missing the second half. Seattle was a bit lucky to stay unbeaten, but there is something to be said for showing ability to win close games.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: 4-1 (Last Week: 1)
Lost 40-32 vs. Las Vegas
The streak is over. Kansas City lost its first game since November as the defense fell apart. Derek Carr racked up 346 yards and three touchdowns, including two of over 50 yards. The Chiefs are still top in the AFC West though despite the loss. Sometimes a loss like this can help refocus a team. After all, it has been almost a year since Andy Reid’s team came out on the losing end. They will get a Bills team that is out to prove it is for real after dropping its first game of 2020.
4. Baltimore Ravens: 4-1 (Last Week: 4)
Won 27-3 vs. Cincinnati
Baltimore reminded everyone that while Joe Burrow might be the first overall pick and the Bengals are headed in the right direction, it is going to be a few years before they can really compete in the AFC North. The Ravens sacked Burrow an outrageous seven times and held the Bengals to just 2.5 yards per carry. Add in three forced turnovers, and this looked like the defense we saw down the stretch last year. Now if only the offense could get back to it’s 2019 form.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers: 4-0 (Last Week: 7)
Won 38-29 vs. Philadelphia
For the first time in 41 years, the Steelers are 4-0. For a franchise that has been so consistently in the top half of the league, it is hard to believe 1979 was really the last time Pittsburgh won four straight to open the season. Winning the battle of Pennsylvania was a bit ugly at times, Miles Sanders did rip off a 74-yard TD run after all, but Chase Claypool came to the rescue. He put on a performance for the ages, complete with four touchdowns. I don’t know how this front office continue to find incredible talent at receiver in seemingly every NFL draft.
6. Los Angeles Rams: 4-1 (Last Week: 10)
Won 30-10 at Washington
That looked a lot better than the week before. Los Angeles blew the doors of Washington in a really impressive showing. Jared Goff had a stellar day as the offense bounced back and the defense continued its dominant start to the season. Only the Steelers have more sacks per game so far than the Rams. This is shaping up to be one hell of a fight in the NFC West.
7. Tennessee Titans: 4-0 (Last Week: 11)
Won 42-16 vs. Buffalo
Well that was a statement win if I’ve ever seen one. Tennessee dismantled Buffalo in a rare Tuesday night game to put the league on notice. While the Titans did struggle a little bit earlier this season, this was the same team that reached the AFC Championship game and had an early lead against the Chiefs in said game. They sure looked like that against a previously undefeated Bills team. With A.J. Brown back, it is time to start respecting the Titans.
8. Buffalo Bills: 4-1 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 42-16 at Tennessee
Missing Tre’Davious White, John Brown and Zack Moss certainly hurts, but losing by 26 is inexcusable. This was a beatdown for Buffalo and a reminder that this team still is still building. The Bills have not had a playoff win since 1995. Hopefully, a loss like this will allow them to refocus. One game hardly ever defines a season. This might just be a speed bump on the Bills’ path to postseason success. They will get a chance to bounce back in a huge way as soon as this week. Buffalo hosts Kansas City in Week 6.
9. New England Patriots: 2-2 (Last Week: 7)
New England got a very unexpected bye week, which probably threw off some preparations and planning, but will hopefully allow the team get back to full strength. It was clear the offense was not the same without Cam Newton. Stephon Gilmore hit the reserve/COVID list as well. Another week to prepare for the Broncos likely isn’t really what Bill Belichick needs, but getting his two best players back is.
10. Las Vegas Raiders: 3-2 (Last Week: 15)
Won 40-32 at Kansas City
Welcome to the top 10 Las Vegas. Knocking off the defending champs was a great way to prove that the Raiders truly belong in the playoff conversation. It was one of the best games Derek Carr has ever played. Now the defense didn’t do a ton to help, but they did just enough. If Las Vegas can somehow find a way to produce like this offensively on a more consistent basis, this team could be scary. It is almost unfortunate the Raiders are heading into a bye week with all of the momentum they gained from this win.
11. New Orleans Saints: 3-2 (Last Week: 8)
Won 30-27 vs. Los Angeles
This was nearly a major set back, but Drew Brees and the offense did just enough to squeak by the Chargers. However, it is hard to completely ignore the Saints’ first half struggles. Los Angeles led 20-3 late in the second quarter. Justin Herbert, in just his fourth career start, threw for four touchdowns against the defense. That should be a red flag for this team going forward. The Saints seem to be hanging on right now, hoping that the return of Michael Thomas is going to save them. I am starting to worry this team might not really be a contender after all.
12. Cleveland Browns: 4-1 (Last Week: 16)
Won 32-23 vs. Indianapolis
It is hard to believe that this is the same team that got walloped by the Ravens in Week 1. Cleveland is capitalizing on an opportunistic defense and scoring at a really impressive rate. The Browns currently rank fourth in the league in scoring. What makes this win even more impressive is that they did it without Nick Chubb. I don’t think Cleveland is ready for contender status yet, but this team is one that no one should want to face right now. This style of play is hard to beat, but it is equally as hard to sustain.
13. Arizona Cardinals: 3-2 (Last Week: 14)
Won 30-10 at New York
Nothing like a good old pick-me-up to wash away a two-game losing streak. Kyler Murray wasn’t perfect, but Arizona did more than enough to batter New York. Then again, everyone has crushed the Jets this year. Still, the defense played well enough. Now it is time for the Cardinals to prove they are really a playoff-caliber team. Facing a Cowboys team without Dak Prescott might not seem like a huge test, but Dallas has a ton to play for and Arizona better not sleepwalk through that game.
14. Indianapolis Colts: 3-2 (Last Week: 14)
Lost 32-23 at Cleveland
What on Earth should we make of the Colts at this point? At first glance, it is easy to say the defense should have played better when you see it gave up 32 points. However, it is hard to ask more of a unit that had two interceptions and held the NFL’s top rushing team to just 3.8 yards per carry. Instead, it was Philip Rivers who once again proved not to be up to the task. With two interceptions, including a pick-six, a safety given up and no touchdown passes, Rivers cost the Colts an important game in the AFC wildcard race. I have said it before and I will say it again. Indianapolis has a roster ready to contend, they just don’t have a quarterback who can lead them to a championship.
15. Chicago Bears: 4-1 (Last Week 17)
Won 20-19 vs. Tampa Bay
Perhaps I am still sleeping on the Bears, but this proved to me that this team is definitely better than I initially thought. This defense means business and Nick Foles might be able to do just enough to help it grind out some wins. It will be interesting to see what Chicago decides to do next. They are a likely suitor for Le’Veon Bell given David Montgomery’s struggles and the injury to Tarik Cohen. Will the front office swing for the fences on a player who comes with an oversized personality? If the Bears are serious about competing, they might have to.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3-2 (Last Week: 9)
Lost 20-19 at Chicago
This week, Tom Brady took care of the football, but the offense still could not finish drives. You aren’t going to win too many games when you have to settle for four field goals and manage only one touchdown. It is important to cut the Buccaneers a little bit of slack. Chris Godwin and Justin Watson were both out, although, Tyler Johnson stepped up well in their absence. Ronald Jones also had arugably the best game of his professional career. Still, the team stalling in the red zone that many times is concerning, no matter how good the defense was on the other side of the ball.
17. Miami Dolphins: 2-3 (Last Week: 22)
Won 43-17 at San Francisco
Miami came out swinging and boy did it land a haymaker. The team benefited a bit from facing a rusty Jimmy Garoppolo, but that should not take away from how thoroughly the Dolphins dominated this game. Ryan Fitzpatrick looked unstoppable, posting an unbelievable 99.1 QBR. Defensively, Miami forced three turnovers and registered five sacks. This is the type of win that can build momentum, which means the Jets are in a world of trouble come Week 6.
18. Carolina Panthers: 3-2 (Last Week: 20)
Won 23-16 at Atlanta
I would have likely laughed at you five weeks ago if you told me the Panthers would have won three straight to take a share of the NFC South lead. I would have laughed harder still if you told me all three wins would have come without Christian McCaffrey. Yet, here we are. Carolina is finding its groove. This young defense is learning on the job and seems to be improving from week to week. Teddy Bridgewater looks like a franchise quarterback, smartly and efficiently leading the offense. It is too early to crown anyone yet, but the Panthers have to feel really good about their offseason remodel.
19. Minnesota Vikings: 1-4 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 27-26 at Seattle
Minnesota might be the best 1-4 team I have seen in a while. In their past three games, the Vikings have lost by a single point twice and picked up their first win of the year. Believe it or not, Minnesota largely dominated this game. They had a 13-0 at halftime. Then the wheels fell off for about two minutes and the Vikings were down 21-13. That cannot happen, nor can it be overlooked in evaluating this team. Mike Zimmer has this team competing with some of the best of the league, but he needs to see the results start going his way soon, or he will be out of a job.
20. Los Angeles Chargers: 1-4 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 30-27 at New Orleans
Here is a quick peek inside my process. Every week, I copy the entirety of last week’s rankings and paste it into a new document to start editing. It usually works really well, but it almost caused an issue this week. That’s because the Chargers blew a close game in which they had a huge first-half lead against an NFC South team. It is hard to know which aspect of this game to focus on. Despite another disappointing result, which mostly boils down to two missed kicks, Justin Herbert was sensational. If Los Angeles finishes 1-15, but knows it has it franchise quarterback, this season will be a success.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: 1-3-1 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 38-29 at Pittsburgh
Philly needs help in its secondary. Ben Roethlisberger threw for three touchdowns and the Eagles surrendered 38 points. It is time to pick up the phone and call Earl Thomas, Eric Reid or some other free agent for assistance. It is costing them their ability to run the ball too because they are going down early in games. Granted, outside of a 74-yard run from Miles Sanders, the second-year back managed just six yards on 10 additional carries. The Eagles look like they are in a lot of trouble.
22. Dallas Cowboys: 2-3 (Last Week: 24)
Won 37-34 vs. New York
There is really no positive way to spin this. What happened to Dak Prescott flat out sucks. However, Dallas is about as well positioned as it could be for an injury at quarterback. Andy Dalton is experienced and a solid spot starter. Given how bad the rest of the NFC East looks and the skill position players he has available to him, the Cowboys are still likely the favorite in the division. It is going to be interesting to watch this team going forward.
23. San Francisco 49ers: 2-3 (Last Week: 13)
Lost 43-17 vs. Miami
Oh boy. This is bad. In addition to the mounting injuries, San Francisco now has a quarterback controversy on its hands. Jimmy Garoppolo might have been rusty, but he looked terrible in his return from injury. For the second straight week, C.J. Beathard looked better in relief of the game’s original starter. Granted, he didn’t play a whole lot better. Additionally, the defense is a mess, the offensive line is struggling and I don’t know where the 49ers are going to get reinforcements from. Things are only going to get harder with the Rams up next.
24. Houston Texans: 1-4 (Last Week: 25)
Won 30-14 vs. Jacksonville
The post-Bill O’Brien era got off to a good start. Shoutout to Romeo Crennel for picking up his first win as a head coach since 2012. Even David Johnson looked pretty good, topping 100 yards in the win. There were still some troubling signs. Deshaun Watson took a lot of risks in this game, resulting in a pair of interceptions. Thankfully, the defense stepped up and Watson threw three touchdowns to help make up for the mistakes. Houston gets a fresh start, but I still don’t think the pressure is totally off. This team has no incentive to lose this year without a first- or second-round pick in the upcoming draft. I expect the Texans to keep fighting to get better with the part they currently have.
25. Atlanta Falcons: 0-5 (Last Week: 23)
Lost 23-16 vs. Carolina
It was only a matter of time, but another disheartening loss cost Dan Quinn his job. General manager Thomas Dimitroff went with him. Arthur Blank even went as far as to cast doubt on Matt Ryan’s future with the franchise following this loss. Atlanta’s famed offense of first-round picks once again failed to put up points and the defense can’t stop a nosebleed. While one loss rarely defines a season, this has the potential to be a pretty memorable one if the Falcons decide to move on from Ryan in the offseason.
26. Detroit Lions: 1-3 (Last Week: 27)
We have seen Bill O’Brien and Dan Quinn kicked to the curb in successive weeks. Will Matt Patricia be next? A loss to the Jaguars might just seal his fate. Patricia was brought in from New England to instill a winning culture and build a championship-caliber defense. With a 10-25-1 record in two-plus seasons and the Lions ranking last in rushing yards allowed per game and 29th in points allowed per game, I think it is safe to say he has failed to do both those things. Keep in mind, Detroit fired Jim Caldwell after a 9-7 season to hire Patricia.
27. Cincinnati Bengals: 1-3-1 (Last Week: 26)
Lost 27-3 at Baltimore
The high of the first win of the season and the first win of Joe Burrow’s career faded very quickly on Sunday. Burrow spent much of the game running for this life, taking seven sacks and getting absolutely no help from his ground game in the process. Defensively, it was a different story. Cincy held Lamar Jackson in check all afternoon. The reigning MVP finished with 4.9 yards per attempt passing and an interception. That doesn’t really make losing 27-3 to your division rival feel any better, but it is nice to have a silver lining.
28. Denver Broncos: 1-3 (Last Week: 28)
Few teams benefit as much from a week off as the Broncos. Denver gets a chance to allow KJ Hamler, Noah Fant, Jeremiah Attaochu, Mike Purcell and maybe even Drew Lock a chance to get back on the field in Week 6. Lock would obviously be the most significant development. While the defense was able to overcome Brett Rypien’s three interceptions against the Jets, that is a much tougher task against the Patriots. Denver still has an outside shot at a playoff run. Dropping to 1-4 makes that outlook a whole more bleak.
29. Washington: 1-4 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 30-10 vs. Los Angeles
As just about everyone did this week, let me take a moment to acknowledge the incredible feat that Alex Smith accomplished in returning football. He took it a step further by weathering an onslaught from the Rams defense. Aaron Donald along had four sacks. Los Angeles’ defense racked up eight in total, with Smith taking six of them. The offensive line has deteriorated quickly in Washington and no matter who is at quarterback, I don’t see things getting better before it is stabilized.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-4 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 30-14 at Houston
That Week 1 win over that Colts feels awfully long ago right about now. Jacksonville has a pedestrian defense with no pass rush. Offensively, the team moves the ball up and down the field, but does not score anywhere near enough points. It is hard to pinpoint exactly where the main issue lies with this team. It is much easier to see now why everyone expected the Jaguars to end up with the first overall pick.
31. New York Giants: 0-5 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 37-34 at Dallas
While it was a bitterly close against a division rival, it was good to see the Giants’ offense show signs of life. Granted, it might have been against the worst defense in the NFL, but beggars can’t be choosers. On the flip side, Daniel Jones continues to struggle with ball control. He was strip sacked and the fumble was returned for a touchdown. Miraculously, Jones did not throw a touchdown pass, despite New York finishing with 34 points. Ultimately, this team cannot find a way to win, even with the Cowboys rolling out their backup quarterback.
32. New York Jets: 0-5 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 30-10 vs. Arizona
Adam Gase Watch enters what feels like a sixth year. The Jets lost by double digits yet again and barely looked competitive against a reeling Cardinals team. To top that off, New York released Le’Veon Bell on Tuesday night after failing to find a trade partner for him. The franchise knows it is destined for a top-five pick and a potential reset on its rebuild. The sooner the team decides to move on from Gase so it can start evaluating players like Sam Darnold and Lamical Perine, the better.