Welcome back to another week of NFL Power Rankings!
The ramifications of COVID has altered the schedule yet again, as the Patriots and Broncos game was moved to Monday, while the Titans and Bills game was moved to Tuesday. It’s adding uncertainty to the state of the season, but you won’t see that reflected too much in my rankings.
My top 9 and bottom 3 teams are exactly the same as last week, in part due to the circumstances games are being played under. It’s early in the season, and as long as you’ve won one game you still have a chance. In other words, sorry to Houston, Atlanta, and both New York (Jersey) teams.
Speaking of Houston, we saw our first head coach firing this past week.
As the season goes on we’ll continue to see teams establish and solidify themselves, while others will falter. For now, we try to guess who those teams will be.
And with that, my rankings.
Biggest rise: Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings (up 7 spots)
Biggest fall: Arizona Cardinals (down 8 spots)
1. Kansas City Chiefs (PR: 1)
Record: 4-0 | Week 5 opponent: Las Vegas Raiders (home)
The Chiefs found a worthy opponent on Monday, as New England held their offense to just 19 points, but KC’s defense scored a TD, benefitting from the Cam Newton-less Patriots. This is still the best team in the league, but for where they want to finish this season, they’ll need to learn from that game.
2. Green Bay Packers (PR: 2)
Record: 4-0 | Week 5 opponent: BYE WEEK
Green Bay enters their bye week at 4-0, and continues to impress this season. Funny you can say that about a team that went 13-3 and made the NFC Championship Game a year ago, but they are much better this season. A complete offense and serviceable defense. The latter needs to improve, but the former has been excellent.
3. Seattle Seahawks (PR: 3)
Record: 4-0 | Week 5 opponent: Minnesota Vikings (home)
Russell Wilson had his worst game of 2020 last Sunday, but even then he was still very good. I still worry about their pass defense as the season goes on, but if Russell Wilson can sustain this level of play things will be fine.
4. Baltimore Ravens (PR: 4)
Record: 3-1 | Week 5 opponent: Cincinnati Bengals (home)
The Ravens bounced back after a loss against KC, continuing to prove as long as they don’t face Kansas City, it’s almost a near-certainty they will win. Baltimore, like the other teams listed, will need to shore up their defense, but they are not far off in that respect.
5. Buffalo Bills (PR: 5)
Record: 4-0 | Week 5 opponent: Tennessee Titans (away), Tuesday
Buffalo has been excellent this season, largely thanks to the massive leap seen from QB Josh Allen. My biggest concern for this group after their postseason loss was their resiliency, but through 4 games I like what I see. If Allen can keep this up, this is a Super Bowl contender.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (PR: 6)
Record: 3-0 | Week 5 opponent: Philadelphia Eagles (home)
We missed a chance to see the Steelers against some real competition last week, as the teams they’ve beaten thus far are currently 1-11. Still, through 3 games this team has been impressive, and more tests are on the way.
7. New England Patriots (PR: 7)
Record: 2-2 | Week 5 opponent: Denver Broncos (home), Monday
I might be biased, but I can’t penalize the Patriots for the game they played against KC. They left points on the board throughout the game, and easily could have won if Cam Newton was able to play. They’ve faced adversity this season due to COVID, and their game on Monday with just one practice will not be easy, but I’ll never doubt a Bill Belichick-coached team.
8. Tennessee Titans (PR: 8)
Record: 3-0 | Week 5 opponent: Buffalo Bills (home), Tuesday
The Titans have faced major adversity due to COVID, as 13 players have tested positive for the virus. They were not able to practice for 11 days, which is a major disruption to the chemistry of the group. I feel for this team, and it will be no easy task to play well under these circumstances.
9. Los Angeles Rams (PR: 9)
Record: 3-1 | Week 5 opponent: Washington (away)
The Rams found themselves in a closer game than they likely expected last week against the Giants, but found a way to win. Jared Goff also came back down to Earth after a great first 3 games. Do I trust a team with Jared Goff? No, but that doesn’t make them awful.
10. New Orleans Saints (PR: 15)
Record: 2-2 | Week 5 opponent: Los Angeles Chargers (home), Monday
The Saints were down by double digits early and things looked like they could get ugly, but the Saints quickly came back and held on to win. Sure, it was against Detroit, but it was must-win game for this team, and it had to feel like more than one win after their previous 2 weeks.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (PR: 12)
Record: 3-2 | Week 5 opponent: Chicago Bears (away), Thursday; lost
Tom Brady was excellent last Friday and showed the ceiling of this team when he is clicking, but their loss on Thursday showed there’s still areas they need to improve (i.e. discipline). I don’t like to judge Thursday games too harshly because they mostly all look ugly, but this was a game the Bucs gave away.
12. San Francisco 49ers (PR: 11)
Record: 2-2 | Week 5 opponent: Miami Dolphins (home)
It’s hard to get a good gauge on this group. They’re 2-2, but have had a plethora of injuries to major players. Despite that they’ve won 2 games, but their wins were against arguably the worst teams in the NFL. We’ll get a better picture as players began to come back (i.e. Jimmy G), but for now I think this is a fair spot.
13. Indianapolis Colts (PR: 16)
Record: 3-1 | Week 5 opponent: Cleveland Browns (away)
The Colts continue to be the team I’m keeping a close eye on this year, as their defense has been excellent. This has made life easier for the offense, which hasn’t had to do much, and I think their ability to win in the trenches serves them well as the season goes on.
14. Cleveland Browns (PR: 18)
Record: 3-1 | Week 5 opponent: Indianapolis Colts (home)
Cleveland is one of the surprises of the NFL at 3-1, and it’s been behind the play of their running game. Kevin Stefanski seems to have successfully brought that element over from Minnesota. That, combined with the steady (but nothing more) play of Baker Mayfield has been a successful formula thus far.
15. Chicago Bears (PR: 13)
Record: 4-1 | Week 5 opponent: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (home), Thursday; won
The Bears are 4-1, and it just seems like a fluke. They keep finding ways to win when down, so that deserves respect, but it also seems like they’re facing teams who beat themselves more than they’re going out and beating teams. Still, they have an elite defense, and these wins give the offense time to figure things out.
16. Las Vegas Raiders (PR: 14)
Record: 2-2 | Week 5 opponent: Kansas City Chiefs (away)
The Raiders had a lot of hope after a 2-0 start, but are now 2-2 and their next 3 games are against KC, TB and CLE. It’s a tough schedule, and things could go south pretty quick. I don’t think they’re far off from where they want to be; one win in the next 3 games would be a success.
17. Carolina Panthers (PR: 24)
Record: 2-2 | Week 5 opponent: Atlanta Falcons (away)
I don’t think Carolina is special but they’re winning games without their best player, which is good. Maybe this is a case of Ewing Theory, maybe it’s a fluke. Maybe they just aren’t as bad as I thought they were (very well could be the case).
18. Arizona Cardinals (PR: 10)
Record: 2-2 | Week 5 opponent: New York Jets (away)
I seem to have gotten on the Cardinals hype train too early, but I’m not getting off just yet. I still have faith in Kyler Murray, but after losses against 2 less than stellar opponents, it shows this group still has work to do.
19. Dallas Cowboys (PR: 17)
Record: 1-3 | Week 5 opponent: New York Giants (home)
We can’t keep giving the Cowboys breaks. I might be the only one saying that, but their defense has been inexcusable. They get behind in games and it forces Dak Prescott and the offense to carry a huge load to stay in games week-after-week. Tomorrow is a must-win.
20. Los Angeles Chargers (PR: 19)
Record: 1-3 | Week 5 opponent: New Orleans Saints (away), Monday
You have to feel for Tyrod Taylor, who literally did nothing wrong but lost his starting job due to the team doctor puncturing his lung. Still, Justin Herbert has been excellent and has earned this, you just wish his opportunity didn’t have to come like this.
21. Miami Dolphins (PR: 21)
Record: 1-3 | Week 5 opponent: San Francisco 49ers (away)
Miami has lost to three of the better teams in the NFL, but in each of those games they have kept it close and had a chance to win late. This is a rebuilding group that was never supposed to thrive this year, but their ability to compete has been impressive.
22. Minnesota Vikings (PR: 29)
Record: 1-3 | Week 5 opponent: Seattle Seahawks (away)
Minnesota finally got over the hump last week against Houston. Kirk Cousins had his best game of the season, showing that when he’s able to compliment the Vikings strong running game this team should win most games they play. Minnesota will need his best tomorrow night in New Orleans.
23. Philadelphia Eagles (PR: 28)
Record: 1-2-1 | Week 5 opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers (away)
Similar to Minnesota, Philly finally won, and just like that they are in first place in the NFC East. Still, Carson Wentz has been putrid, and they almost blew their win against the 49ers late in the 4th. They have their work cut out for them against Pittsburgh and Baltimore the next two weeks.
24. Cincinnati Bengals (PR: 27)
Record: 1-2-1 | Week 5 opponent: Baltimore Ravens (away)
Another team that won their first game of 2020. Joe Burrow became the first QB in NFL history with 3 straight games of 300+ passing yards, doing so within his first 4 starts. Not too shabby. His development will be worth watching as the year goes on.
25. Detroit Lions (PR: 23)
Record: 1-3 | Week 5 opponent: BYE WEEK
Although not as disappointing as Week 1 against the Bears, the Lions gave up another double digit lead last week in a game they ended up losing. It shows they can compete week-to-week, but the ability to hold onto and win close games separates the good teams from the bad ones. Detroit is not good.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars (PR: 22)
Record: 1-3 | Week 5 opponent: Houston Texans (away)
The Jaguars continue to lose after their Week 1 win. They haven’t blown big leads like the Lions, but they’re similar in that they compete but cannot ultimately win. Minshew and the passing game has been good, but everything else about the team has been bad.
27. Houston Texans (PR: 20)
Record: 0-4 | Week 5 opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars (home)
Houston lost their first truly winnable game of 2020 against another 0-3 team, and it led to Bill O’Brien losing his job. Their run defense is being exposed week-after-week. Hopefully Romeo Crennel brings a sense of urgency to this group, because they are more talented than their record indicates… but you know what Bill Parcells famously said about a team and their record.
28. Washington (PR: 25)
Record: 1-3 | Week 5 opponent: Los Angeles Rams (home)
Washington has made a switch at QB, going from the second-year Dwayne Haskins to Kyle Allen. The logic was odd, but shows the success of many players in this league can be attributed to their situation on a given team. Ultimately his continued development does not seem to be the priority right now.
29. Denver Broncos (PR: 26)
Record: 1-3 | Week 5 opponent: New England Patriots (away), Monday
Denver, like their opponent on Monday, has had health-related issues at QB which has made things difficult for the whole team. With Drew Lock they have the ability to be a middle-of-the-pack team, but that’s not where they are right now.
30. Atlanta Falcons (PR: 30)
Record: 0-4 | Week 5 opponent: Carolina Panthers (home)
Matt Ryan deserves better. I think this team is haunted, it’s my only conclusion. They need a fresh start.
31. New York Giants (PR: 31)
Record: 0-4 | Week 5 opponent: Dallas Cowboys (away)
The Giants played the Rams well last Sunday but still lost. I respect the effort but ultimately they’re bad.
32. New York Jets (PR: 32)
Record: 0-4 | Week 5 opponent: Arizona Cardinals (home)
The Jets showed some life last Thursday but still lost… because they are very bad.
Top image via 360 Web Mag
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