We’re a quarter of the way through the NFL regular season and the number of question marks surrounding teams has gone down significantly. We also are starting to have a feel for who might make the playoffs and who should already start scouting for next year’s draft.
At this point, we’re starting to see some clear separation between the few elite teams at the top and the rest of the parity-filled league. Factoring in everything from overall roster strength, to quarterback play, to the head coach’s track record, here is the latest edition of NFL power rankings and where every team stacks up from 1 to 32.
Week 5 NFL Power Rankings
1. New England Patriots
Last week: 1
Deflategate is finally and officially over and Tom Brady is back in the building. Not even a lackluster shutout loss at home can put a damper on that news nor knock the Pats off the top spot.
2. Minnesota Vikings
Last week: 3
The Vikings’ defense hasn’t just helped the team win, this unit has shut down Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Eli Manning in three straight weeks.
3. Denver Broncos
Last week: 2
The defense continues to look like one of the best of the league and continues to improve each week. While Trevor Siemian may be back as the starter after a shoulder injury, it sure seems like the Paxton Lynch era is about to begin in Denver.
4. Green Bay Packers
Last week: 4
No change in the rankings for the Packers, who are unlucky to get the early bye, but there should be a sense of heightened urgency in Green Bay given what the Vikings have been doing.
5. Philadelphia Eagles
Last week: 5
That win over the Steelers continues to look better and better and a bye week, while early, provides a nice breather for rookie Carson Wentz.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last week: 6
So maybe that game against the Eagles was a bit of a one-off. It’s not surprising to see the defense look better against the same offensive scheme but the offense humming once again was the best result from demolishing the Chiefs.
7. Seattle Seahawks
Last week: 8
Russell Wilson’s knee looked fine against a feisty Jets front seven and the defense played like the top-ranked unit in the league.
8. Dallas Cowboys
Last week: 12
We’re to the point where the Dak Prescott replacing Tony Romo talk is not completely crazy, especially if fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott continues to get better each week to take a load off the quarterback spot.
9. Atlanta Falcons
Last week: 16
Not only are the Falcons rolling on offense but they’re a full two games up in the division heading into a huge stretch against two Super Bowl contenders.
10. Houston Texans
Last week: 13
Going to be plenty of plays from the win over the Titans on Will Fuller’s Rookie of the Year highlight tape.
11. Oakland Raiders
Last week: 17
Even last year, beating Baltimore on the road in the final few minutes doesn’t happen. It does this year however thanks to Derek Carr and the underrated Michael Crabtree.
12. New York Giants
Last week: 11
It wasn’t just the fact that Eli Manning looked unsettled all night against the Vikings or Odell Beckham Jr. couldn’t get going but the fact that the re-tooled defense couldn’t come up with a stop to keep it a one-score game late on Monday night that made Giants fans think not much has changed with this team.
13. Baltimore Ravens
Last week: 9
Terrance West made the most of his opportunity against the Raiders and Steve Smith looked 10 years younger than he is against that Oakland defense, but the team just couldn’t get the win in the end. It will be interesting to see if these Ravens rebound or if the increase in competition this week makes Sunday’s result a sign of things to come for Baltimore.
14. Cincinnati Bengals
Last week: 15
A.J. Green has been fantastic to start the season and now he gets the Cowboys’ secondary to feast on next week. If the defense continues to show out like it did against Miami, things could be looking up despite a tough schedule this month.
15. Kansas City Chiefs
Last week: 10
It’s hard to have as big of a turnaround on defense as Kansas City did from the Jets win to the Steelers loss.
16. Los Angeles Rams
Last week: 24
The defense is the strength of the team as expected but the offense getting going even a little bit more would help add to the inexplicable 3-1 start.
17. Washington Redskins
Last week: 21
Washington has strung together a pair of back-to-back wins but there’s still a bit of mystery as to how good the team can be. At least Kirk Cousins and the offense are starting to click a little better in the red zone.
18. Miami Dolphins
Last week: 18
Ryan Tannehill never had a chance on most of his drop backs against the Bengals but it’s still concerning to see how the Dolphins’ offense hasn’t been able to get going under Adam Gase.
19. Carolina Panthers
Last week: 7
We knew the defense was in trouble this season but not 503 yards to Matt Ryan bad. To think Julio Jones gets another shot this year to abuse the Panthers’ secondary is a tad scary after his 300-yard day.
20. Arizona Cardinals
Last week: 14
Are the Cardinals the most disappointing team in the league right now? Only the Panthers have a case against them.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last week: 26
They had to go all the way to London to get their first win of the season but the better news is that, after beating Indy, there’s still a chance to get going in the lackluster AFC South.
22. New Orleans Saints
Last week: 27
Drew Brees had to relish that kind of comeback win at San Diego after his career took a turn there all those years ago. The team still isn’t all that great but seeing the veteran signal-caller do his thing when called upon is still worth tuning in to.
23. Buffalo Bills
Last week: 28
An encouraging win on the road at pesky nemesis New England is nice but not as nice as getting back both Marcell Dareus and Seantrel Henderson for their game at the Rams.
24. Detroit Lions
Last week: 19
The Lions’ defense continues to be an issue and if the run game can’t get going to help take a little pressure off, then things will only get worse in Detroit.
25. Indianapolis Colts
Last week: 20
At some point we’re all going to look back at the past few years and wonder why the Colts’ brain trust never made it a priority to upgrade Andrew Luck’s offensive line because they sure are wasting the prime years of his career.
26. New York Jets
Last week: 22
Ryan Fitzpatrick likely remains the starter with two tough road games upcoming but if there’s no progress on offense, what does the team have to lose by making a change under center?
27. San Diego Chargers
Last week: 23
Blowing two double-digit second half leads, the latest in front of a home crowd, is a good way for the Ken Whisenhunt interim head coach era to begin in San Diego.
28. Tennessee Titans
Last week: 29
It’s a sign of progress that the Titans have had a chance to win every game this season in the final quarter but at some point those losses need to turn into wins.
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last week: 25
Could you blame the tens of thousands of fans who didn’t want to wait out a weather delay the way the Bucs played on Sunday afternoon?
30. Chicago Bears
Last week: 31
It was pretty encouraging to see the defense step up against a Lions offense that can make you pay for mistakes but Brian Hoyer’s efficient play is one reason why there’s now a question as to who starts at quarterback going forward when Jay Cutler is fully healthy.
31. San Francisco 49ers
Last week: 30
To sum up things in the Bay Area sports scene after losing to the Cowboys: Hey look, the Warriors are starting preseason ball.
32. Cleveland Browns
Last week: 32
Cody Kessler looks serviceable for a rookie on a talent-deficient team and it doesn’t seem like a winless season will be happening at the very least. But that first W won’t be happening next week.
— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.