If it’s been said once, it’s been said thousands of times – anybody can beat anybody on any given Sunday. That’s especially true in a week-to-week league like the NFL, with teams so closely bunched in terms of separation. The flip side is that things are muddled as can be from the top to the bottom of every division after a weekend full of improbable upsets and some downright awful play on the football field from some teams.
Doing as much as one can to sort through all that and factoring in everything from overall roster strength, to quarterback play, to the coaching staff, 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. Kansas City Chiefs
Last week: 1
Good teams win, great teams cover. The ending of the Chiefs’ victory over Washington will be talked about for a long time by some folks but it’s extremely clear this is the best team in the league by a solid margin and by far the most well-rounded group through the first quarter of the season.
2. Detroit Lions
Last week: 4
It wasn’t pretty, but Detroit getting a win like that against the Vikings is one you could very well look back on as being the difference in winning the division. Still, you would hope that the offense doesn’t have another off day like it did against a quality defense down the road.
3. Atlanta Falcons
Last week: 2
Maybe we can write off that performance against the Bills as a surprising aberration given some of the injuries the team suffered during the course of the game, most notably that of Julio Jones. It was pretty clear that the offense slowed to a halt after the wide receivers started dropping like flies but at least the Dolphins coming to town will allow Matt Ryan and company to work on things before that big Super Bowl rematch toward the end of the month.
4. Green Bay Packers
Last week: 7
Nobody had a better week than Green Bay, which beat up a division rival at home and then will have extra time to prepare for that trip to Dallas. Aaron Rodgers is in MVP form right now but the team is starting to get a little beat up around him.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last week: 11
Believe it or not, but the Patriots’ struggles have led oddsmakers to say that Pittsburgh is actually the Super Bowl favorite now. We’re not completely convinced but this is a team that might be rounding into form ahead of that humungous game at Kansas City.
6. Philadelphia Eagles
Last week: 8
That second half in Los Angeles had to be concerning if you’re an Eagles fan but the team still emerged from the weekend leading the division after four games and perhaps a little ahead of schedule from where we thought they would be. LeGarrette Blount’s breakout day on the ground was the bright spot as the team enters a critical stretch of five games before its bye where things could go either way.
7. Washington Redskins
Last week: 13
The narrative around this team would have changed drastically had Josh Doctson been able to come up with that near-catch in the end zone late in the game. Instead, Washington is 2-2 and will have to hope that mighty thin secondary (and especially Josh Norman) can get healthy on their bye week.
8. New England Patriots
Last week: 3
The panic across New England is real and it’s deserved because that defensive unit is awful. Bill Belichick’s track record suggests he’ll eventually turn things around (especially in the uncommunicative secondary) but there won’t be a Super Bowl defense if the Pats keep relying on Tom Brady’s heroics. If things don’t improve — on a short week no less — down in Tampa Bay then things could really get interesting for the team some thought could go undefeated.
9. Denver Broncos
Last week: 14
It may be difficult to truly take this group seriously until a three-game road trip at the end of October but gutting out a win against the Raiders is a great development after looking so out of sorts against Buffalo.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last week: 12
Is Tampa Bay closer to the team we’ve seen at home or the one who looked dreadful on the road? We’ll find out against the Patriots on a short week Thursday but there are tons of mental mistakes that need to be eliminated if the Bucs want to keep racking up the wins.
11. Los Angeles Rams
Last week: 17
Your fortunes can change in an instant in the NFL and nobody is confirming that theory quite like the 3-1 Rams. While the defense isn’t quite to the level it was a year ago, the offense is light years better and even then left a ton of points on the board against Dallas.
12. Houston Texans
Last week: 16
How in the world did this coaching staff actually believe Deshaun Watson wasn’t ready to start the season? The better development that came out of the blowout against the division rival Titans was the Texans’ defense finally started to look like the unit we all thought it would be.
13. Minnesota Vikings
Last week: 10
Everybody in the Twin Cities will be talking about the mistakes that cost their team a win against Detroit and set them further behind the eight-ball chasing the two division leaders. Still, the defense is very much for real and the offense still kept this a one-score game despite playing with a backup quarterback and losing their young tailback as well.
14. Dallas Cowboys
Last week: 9
While you could possibly write off that loss to the Broncos, falling to the Rams on Sunday underscored that this is not last season in Big D. The offensive line isn’t close to where it was a season ago and whatever gains the defense made early, have by now been lost. While Dak Prescott is still looking solid under center, he needs a lot more help and can’t be putting the team on his shoulders to win or lose every week.
15. Seattle Seahawks
Last week: 15
We didn’t learn a thing from this team throttling the Colts at home on Sunday night but Russell Wilson is probably tired of having to make nearly every play on offense by this point.
16. Carolina Panthers
Last week: 20
Will the real Panthers please stand up? Yes the New England defense is one of the worst units in the league right now but it’s still eye-opening to see the offense finally start to click after a full three games of false starts. That trip to Foxborough could be a real turning point for this team and if Carolina can beat the Lions next week then it might be time to pencil these Panthers back in as a Super Bowl contender out of the NFC.
17. Oakland Raiders
Last week: 5
It was the double-whammy for Jack Del Rio’s team on Sunday afternoon – a second straight disappointing offensive effort and a road loss to a division rival that puts you even further behind the Chiefs. Add in the loss of Derek Carr for a few weeks and it’s getting close to the time where you hit the panic button in Oakland.
18. Tennessee Titans
Last week: 6
Even if Marcus Mariota is held out with that pesky hamstring the next few weeks, this team will be favored in every game until November. The question is can the Titans correct their numerous issues on both sides of the ball (while getting their QB right) before they hit a fairly tough stretch against the AFC North next month?
19. Buffalo Bills
Last week: 21
The first-place Buffalo Bills. The first-place Buffalo Bills? The first-place Buffalo Bills. Soak it up because it may not last but beating Denver and Atlanta back-to-back is as impressive a stretch as any team has had through the first quarter of the season.
20. New Orleans Saints
Last week: 18
The Saints shutting out a team — even if it was overseas — might be one of the biggest surprises of the 2017 season. Still, they’re back to .500 when they return from London and things are suddenly a little more interesting in the NFC South if this team keeps getting better on defense.
21. Baltimore Ravens
Last week: 19
Coaches never want a team to beat you twice but it seems like that loss to Jacksonville in London shattered the confidence of Joe Flacco and the offense following another lackluster showing. There are a few winnable games on the schedule the next few weeks to get back into things but the Ravens are going nowhere if they don’t figure things out at the quarterback position.
22. New York Giants
Last week: 23
Everybody totally expected the Giants to be the New York team that started 0-4, right? Yes they’re better than the record indicates but it’s still a winless first quarter for Eli Manning and leading a bunch of fans to wonder if tanking for Saquon Barkley might be a pretty good move in the long term.
23. Arizona Cardinals
Last week: 26
The Cardinals are somehow 2-2 but have not looked particularly great at any point this season. Yes the loss of David Johnson is a huge factor but there’s still a long ways to go for a team that seems pretty set at third place in the division.
24. Chicago Bears
Last week: 24
All things considered, the Bears played their division rival Packers okay as a mediocre team going on the road with a short week. Still, 35-14 losses are still losses all the same — except in Chicago’s case as it finally forced the hand of the coaching staff to play Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback. Now it’s time to see what the rookie’s got.
25. Cincinnati Bengals
Last week: 29
It was against Cleveland so you can’t read too much into things, but that was a nice response on the road by Andy Dalton and an offense that suddenly showed signs of life. Whether that will be enough to turn one win into two remains unclear but a nice effort after looking completely dead early in the season.
26. New York Jets
Last week: 30
The Suck for Sam (Darnold) campaign really took a twist nobody could have seen coming… uh, last Thursday. Even if this group doesn’t win again, two wins in four tries is way ahead of what anybody predicted for the Jets.
27. Miami Dolphins
Last week: 22
Just when you thought it couldn’t be much worse than losing to the Jets, the Dolphins follow things up by looking even more dreadful in London against the Saints. They escaped with their only win of the season thanks to a late field goal and now the offense has gone nowhere in two weeks. Perhaps that Jay Cutler experiment’s shelf life is shorter than we all thought.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last week: 25
The bright side of that awful overtime loss to the Jets is it could actually pay off come draft time next spring. The bad news is it probably ends any hope of the current regime turning things around and saving their job.
29. Indianapolis Colts
Last week: 28
For a half, the Colts kind of fooled everybody into thinking that they might actually be able to pull off the improbable and come home from Seattle with a win. Then the second half rolled around and Indy showed exactly what team this is going to be even if Andrew Luck returns to practice this week.
30. Los Angeles Chargers
Last week: 27
Every San Diego fan has to be thrilled at seeing the same old Chargers lose close games despite several chances to secure a win. As for the fans in Los Angeles, well, you might want to get used to things because it’s just what this team does.
31. San Francisco 49ers
Last week: 31
This 49ers team has gone from a one half-type of team that can keep things interesting for a half to a three quarters team under Kyle Shanahan. That’s not enough to get the goose-egg out of the win column given all the mistakes they seem to make in big moments but it’s pretty clear San Francisco is inching closer to a victory at some point this year.
32. Cleveland Browns
Last week: 29
It was brought up quite a bit this weekend that the Browns passed on getting Deshaun Watson but the flaws for Cleveland run much deeper than the quarterback position. Losing to the Bengals, in that fashion, may actually have wiped out any of the recent gains we thought the franchise was making between the lines early in 2017.
— 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.