You never know what you’re going to get in the NFL from week-to-week, but the first month of the season seemed special and sure concluded with a bang. Things started out with a wild shootout in Los Angeles on Thursday night and Sunday didn’t slack off with three — three! — games going to overtime and four more finishing within a field goal. Maybe more to the point after a few weeks of chaos, things seemed to settle down to the natural order of things with only a handful of super surprising results.
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. Los Angeles Rams
Last week: 1
If it wasn’t official before that thriller against the Vikings, it became very clear that Sean McVay is the best play-caller in the NFL. The Rams' offense is what can take them all the way to the promised land, but this group still has to get better on defense and develop more of a pass rush off the edge if they want to hold up the Lombardi Trophy in the end.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Last week: 2
The legend of Patrick Mahomes grows even more with that Monday night game for the ages. It felt like there was pressure in his face just about every snap and yet the young QB never let the moment get to him. Maybe the bigger development for Kansas City was how the defense played on the road.
3. New Orleans Saints
Last week: 4
Alvin Kamara and Drew Brees are the talk of the town but that’s now two of the past three weeks where there have been some signs of life on defense. Good thing too considering the brutal stretch this team is about to go on the next month of a half.
4. Green Bay Packers
Last week: 5
Aaron Rodgers didn’t seem all that happy about the play-calling in that romp over the Bills but nobody is really complaining after seeing that effort out of the defense in a shutout.
5. Tennessee Titans
Last week: 11
Mike Vrabel may be a rookie head coach but he might be the NFL Coach of the Year through the first quarter of the year by winning a variety of ways. With Marcus Mariota looking a lot healthier, this is a team that won’t go away in the AFC because of their tenacity and penchant for timely big plays.
6. Baltimore Ravens
Last week: 15
The Ravens are second in the NFL in point differential and have some of their toughest games left in the division at home. The schedule is manageable but the run game has to start improving considering Lamar Jackson is the second-leading rusher right now.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last week: 8
The Jags took care of business against an overmatched Jets team but Leonard Fournette’s status continues to put an artificial limiter on how good this team can be. Next week in Kansas City may very well be a huge tiebreaker for home-field advantage come playoff time.
8. Cincinnati Bengals
Last week: 19
Good Andy Dalton showed up in Atlanta and not surprisingly, A.J. Green did A.J. Green things late. We’ll see how Tyler Eifert’s absence will effect this team going forward as injuries continue to mount but this is your AFC North leader right now.
9. Philadelphia Eagles
Last week: 3
Are we starting to see that Super Bowl hangover show up in Philly? Kind of seems like it after such an uneven start to the year. Carson Wentz has been okay since returning but his protection has not been, a worrying trend given the slate coming up through Thanksgiving.
10. Carolina Panthers
Last week: 10
Ron Rivera will grumble about the early bye but it does give the team additional time to get free agent Eric Reid up to speed.
11. Chicago Bears
Last week: 17
Nobody will ever expect to see that kind of performance out of Mitchell Trubisky again but it was still extremely encouraging if you’re a Bears fan to see that kind of ceiling out of your quarterback. Between him and Khalil Mack looking like the league’s MVP right now, things are not bad at all in the Windy City after this week.
12. Minnesota Vikings
Last week: 6
Whoever predicted the Vikings would have just one win after the first month of the season better go play the lotto tomorrow. While Kirk Cousins carried this team against the Rams, the continued defensive lapses have to be setting off alarm bells for Mike Zimmer and the rest of his staff in Minnesota.
13. New England Patriots
Last week: 16
The safest bet in the league on Sunday was for the Patriots to bounce back at home against the Dolphins. It was encouraging to see the run game get going but the bigger development might be that seven spot the defense allowed (which really was a shutout prior to garbage time).
14. Los Angeles Chargers
Last week: 14
It must be maddening to be a Chargers fan considering the inability for the team to look even competent in the kicking game. The jury still seems like it’s out for this team being an actual AFC contender until something gets figured out on special teams but a nice little run could be in store over the next month against a soft schedule.
15. Washington Redskins
Last week: 18
This is the most mysterious team in the league right now and the early bye doesn’t help figure out if Washington is closer to the group that beat Green Bay or lost to the Colts.
16. Miami Dolphins
Last week: 7
The Dolphins ran into a buzz saw in Foxborough but we’ll have a better handle on this team during their upcoming game at Cincinnati. It’s not time to sell all your Miami stock but those flaw became giant cracks this past week against the Patriots.
17. Denver Broncos
Last week: 17
The Broncos will watch the film on Tuesday and rue a lot of little things that prevented them from beating the Chiefs. This is still a team that can rally to make it to the playoffs but blowing a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter at home is hard to fathom and will only increase the pressure on Vance Joseph in Denver.
18. Dallas Cowboys
Last week: 23
The Cowboys got the victory over the Lions but it wasn’t pretty (with the exception of Zeke) and did nothing to quiet questions about Jason Garrett. A strong run game and stout defense will still win you a lot of games though.
19. Atlanta Falcons
Last week: 9
Two weeks in a row, at home, where the Falcons scored 36 points — and lost. Injuries are one thing, the situational football that’s leading to these tough losses is another.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last week: 12
Is that lackluster offensive outing against Baltimore the impetus Le’Veon Bell needed to report in a few weeks? Given this kind of start by the Steelers to the season, even his return in a few weeks may not be enough to salvage things if this group doesn’t get going in October.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last week: 13
The FitzMagic is gone and to nobody’s surprise, the team is now in Jameis Winston’s hands. He can’t play defense however, which is the real issue in Tampa.
22. Oakland Raiders
Last week: 29
It wasn’t easy — and it took longer than expected — but Jon Gruden finally has returned to the win column. Still, fourth-quarter woes remain and will continue to limit the Raiders if they don’t figure out how to win the final 15.
23. Seattle Seahawks
Last week: 22
Pete Carroll caught a break down the stretch against the Cardinals to eke out a victory and make it to .500 on the year. This isn’t a great team by any stretch of the imagination and losing their best defensive player for the year in Earl Thomas officially marks the nail in the coffin for the Legion of Boom era.
24. Houston Texans
Last week: 28
Bill O’Brien needs to send a gift basket to Frank Reich for giving him the Texans’ first win of the year and prevent an angry mob from forming in Houston.
25. Cleveland Browns
Last week: 20
Baker Mayfield’s first start, in the Black Hole, went about as expected with some ups and some downs. Still, not even the No. 1 overall pick can help Hue Jackson overcome his allergic reaction to winning games on Sunday.
26. New York Giants
Last week: 24
Pat Shurmur was brought into to help juice the offense but the team has only scored more than 20 points once this year. Considering some of the skill position talent available, that’s not a great sign.
27. Detroit Lions
Last week: 25
It looks more and more like that effort against the Patriots will be a huge anomaly on the Lions' record by the end of the year. The defense doesn’t get any time off to fix things with Aaron Rodgers coming in on Sunday either.
28. Indianapolis Colts
Last week: 27
Frank Reich set the league on fire with his decision on fourth down in overtime. While you can admire his attitude in going for it, the losses all count the same and that one was firmly on his shoulders.
29. San Francisco 49ers
Last week: 31
Inspired effort on the road in the first game without Jimmy G. but it was another brutal week for the 49ers on the injury front down in L.A.
30. Buffalo Bills
Last week: 26
Back down to earth (hard) against Green Bay for the Bills after their big win. Even the return of LeSean McCoy didn’t help take some of the load off Josh Allen.
31. New York Jets
Last week: 31
Thirty-four (34) rushing yards isn’t going to help your rookie QB one bit. It was against a stellar defense but there’s no excuse for the Jets being that bad against Jacksonville.
32. Arizona Cardinals
Last week: 32
Josh Rosen’s debut resulted in a loss but you could see the flashes out of the rookie quarterback, who no doubt gives this team a better chance to win every Sunday.
— 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.