Here we go again with another edition of the Not So Scientific Power Rankings. For those who missed last week’s rankings, you can go here for the explanation.
Week 5 is usually the week you find out which teams really stand out above the rest, which teams are not going to the playoffs and which teams we may have overrated or underestimated prior to the season. The rankings I have, while not perfect, do reflect some of those factors, I believe.
1. New England 2 1 1 1 – 1.25
Unquestionably the best offense in the NFL. Their defense isn’t a top five unit but has been playing better than some may have expected. The real tests for the Patriots are the Broncos and the Jets, who have two of the best defense in the NFL.
2. Green Bay 1 4 3 3 -2.75
Football Outsiders’ DVOA breakdown indicates one Achilles heel the Packers have: Special teams, ranked 13th by FO. Time will tell if that keeps them from reaching the Super Bowl, but the Packers are the early favorites.
3. Arizona 6 2 2 2 – 3
The gap between Green Bay and Arizona is closer than you may think. Sure, you can point out the Cardinals dropping a game to St. Louis, but they are dominating weak opponents, as great teams should.
4. Cincinnati 3 7 4 5 – 4.75
The Bengals are slowly taking down the narratives about them. There are other narratives that remain, but this looks like the most complete Bengals team in many years.
5. Atlanta 5 3 13 6 – 6.75
The Falcons’ ranking is boosted largely because of their offense. Football Outsiders is skeptical, though, no doubt because the defense isn’t as good as that of the four teams ahead of the Falcons.
6. Denver 4 11 10 4 – 7.25
Were it not for the Broncos’ sluggish offense, they would be ranked higher. They have arguably the best defense in the NFL, and just as importantly, their special teams has improved significantly from last season (ranked fourth by FO).
7. Pittsburgh 9 6 5 10 – 7.5
We might have our AFC sleeper team here. Despite not having Ben Roethlisberger in the lineup, the Steelers are finding ways to win. They are very much in the hunt for the AFC North title.
8. New York Jets 12 5 6 8 – 7.75
The Jets are largely fueled by their defense and a good running game. Their special teams, though, is a problem (Football Outsiders ranked it 30th). But the defense and ground game may be enough to get the Jets a wild card berth.
9. New York Giants 13 8 8 9 – 9.5
The Giants keep finding ways to win games and that’s what has them in the driver’s seat in the NFC East. Their offense and special teams have been good and the defense is getting better. It remains to be seen if they can close the gap with the top three NFC teams, though.
10. Seattle 7 12 9 11 – 9.75
Last week’s loss to Cincinnati exposed that the Seahawks aren’t as good as they were made out to be. While they are still a playoff contender, their offensive line has been bad and the weak spots in their secondary are getting exposed.
11. Carolina 8 19 11 7 – 11.25
I think Pro Football Reference is too hard on the Panthers, but that goes to show you that no ranking system is perfect and everyone looks at different aspects. The Panthers could improve their standing, though, if they beat the Seahawks this weekend.
12. Buffalo 18 9 7 12 – 11.5
What’s really hurt the Bills this year are costly penalties. That area must be cleaned up if the Bills want to earn a wild card berth.
13. Philadelphia 16 10 12 13 – 12.75
I don’t think the Eagles are as bad of a team as some make them out to be. There are legitimate questions to ask about whether Chip Kelly is qualified to have final say on personnel, but the Eagles have the talent to slip into the playoffs.
14. Tennessee 19 17 14 14 – 16
It’s no doubt a frustrating season for the Titans, who are better than their record indicates. But failing to get a two-point conversion against Indy and letting the Bills come back have been costly. Continued mistakes like that will cost them the NFC South.
15. Minnesota 10 18 21 16 – 16.25
Nothing has really changed about my opinion on the Vikings. They aren’t a playoff contender yet but they could be a spoiler.
16. St. Louis 15 14 18 19 – 16.5
See Minnesota, only they could help their playoff cause with divisional wins. They already have one against Arizona.
17. Oakland 14 22 17 15 – 17
Let’s be honest: The Raiders are no longer the weak link in the AFC West. They have a very good chance of beating San Diego in Week 6.
18. Baltimore 23 16 16 17 – 18
Again, the Ravens are not mathematically out of the playoff hunt, but they need a lot to fall into place for that to happen. But given how well Cincinnati is playing and that Pittsburgh is finding ways to win, it will be easier said than done.
19. Dallas 17 15 24 18 – 18.5
I think it’s clear the injuries to Tony Romo and Dez Bryant have cost the Cowboys any chance of making the playoffs. The defense isn’t good enough to compensate.
20. Washington 27 13 15 20 – 18.75
I’m not as high on Washington as Pro Football Reference and Football Outsiders are. Andrew Mason’s ranking, though, seems about right.
21. Indianapolis 11 23 22 21 – 19.25
In this case, it’s Pro Football Focus who is being too generous. I don’t think the offensive line or the defense will hold up in the long run. The Colts may win the division, but they’ll have to face a team such as Pittsburgh or the Jets in the first round of the playoffs and could easily be one and done.
22. Cleveland 20 20 19 22 – 20.25
As with the Ravens, they aren’t mathematically out of the playoff hunt. I’m just not sure if the Browns have enough to get past Cincy or Pittsburgh.
23. San Diego 26 21 20 23 – 22.5
I may have overrated the Chargers going into this season. Their defense and special teams are both weak. The offense can’t carry them every week.
24. Kansas City 21 24 23 24 – 23
Quite a change in Pro Football Focus’ ranking from last week, all because Jamaal Charles is out for the season.
25. Tampa Bay 32 32 27 25
Maybe I spoke too soon when I suggested the Bucs were in line for the No. 1 overall pick. However, it might be worth asking if Lovie Smith is the right head coach for this team.
26. Jacksonville 22 31 25 26 – 26
You could ask the same thing about the Jaguars. They are slowly getting pieces into place but Gus Bradley might not be the guy to get them over the hump.
27. New Orleans 25 26 26 29 – 26.5
If pundits were still thinking the Saints had a shot at the playoffs last week, they aren’t now. This is a bad team.
28. Houston 24 30 31 28 – 28.25
You know the quarterback quote.
29. Chicago 28 28 30 27 – 28.25
It looks like the Bears will avoid the No. 1 overall pick at least.
30. San Francisco 29 25 32 31 – 29.25
NaVarro Bowman is a great player, but he can’t do everything by himself.
31. Miami 30 29 29 30 – 29.5
You want an AFC East team to get an LOL designation? Here you go.
32. Detroit 31 27 28 32 – 29.5
Well, if they get the No. 1 overall pick, at least it won’t wreck their salary cap.