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Big Moves In NFL Power Rankings, Except At The Top

The record shows that the Kansas City Chiefs are 4-0 and looking very much like a team that could repeat as Super Bowl champs.

Superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes has another season of maturity, the Chiefs have added new weapons, the defense is stellar and Coach Andy Reid is now known as a coach who does know how to win a Super Bowl.

In consecutive games, the Chiefs have dominated two of their top AFC rivals – the Ravens and Patriots – though New England played without starting quarterback Cam Newton, who is quarantined after a positive test for COVID-19.

Unstoppable KC, right?

Alas, the playoffs don’t start today, and the Chiefs must play 12 more regular-season games to earn the right to defend their title. That’s a long road to travel.

Every year, the NFL tends to look a lot different in January than it did in October, mainly due to injuries, and that’s the catch as we take measure of the Chiefs’ chances to grab a second Pete Rozelle Trophy.

Can Kansas City stay healthy? In the midst of a pandemic, never has such a question been so multi-faceted for professional sports teams. If the Chiefs can navigate their way to the postseason with manageable injuries – and Mahomes at full strength – it’s difficult to see which NFL team can topple them.

But that’s why they play the games.

NFL Power Rankings, Week 5

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) – The offense wasn’t explosive against the Patriots, who limited Mahomes through the air and did not allow 100 yards rushing. Kansas City still won by 16 points. Look for bigger numbers against the Raiders.
  2. Baltimore Ravens (3-1) – Bounced back from the thrashing by the Chiefs to handle Washington. Lamar Jackson had a 50-yard touchdown run in the game. He plays quarterback. This is why I’m keeping them at No. 2.
  3. Buffalo Bills (4-0) – Slow-starting defense came alive in the second half against Miami, while the offense – dare we say it? – turned in another efficient effort. Josh Allen to Stefon Diggs is becoming a thing. If the Bills win their next two games, they’ll be the talk of the NFL. Just beat the Titans on Sunday followed by the Chiefs on Thursday.
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0) – Got some unexpected time off when COVID-19 hit the Titans and pushed their game to Week 7. Now the Philadelphia Eagles roll in with their record of 1-2-1, which currently is good enough for first place in the wasteland known as the NFC East.
  5. Seattle Seahawks (4-0) – Russell Wilson has 16 touchdowns in the first four games of the season, matching a record set by Peyton Manning in 2013. The Seahawks handled a decent Miami Dolphins team and now catch a not-so-decent Minnesota Vikings team that has an underrated weapon in Dalvin Cook and an above average starting quarterback in Kirk Cousins, but the bet here is Seattle gets its fifth win.
  6. Green Bay Packers (4-0) – Aaron Rodgers has been brilliant – he’d challenge Mahomes for league MVP if a vote were held today – and the Packers defense has been good enough. The Packers have a talented young tight end in Robert Tonyan (3 TDs against Atlanta) and it only gets better when top receiver Davante Adams returns from injury.
  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1) – After a season-opening loss to the Saints, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers are rolling. Fell behind 24-7 to the Chargers, who were then helpless as Brady’s five touchdown passes led a 38-31 win. The quality defense makes Tampa the most balanced team in the NFC South. 
  8. Tennessee Titans (3-0) – By all rights should be ranked ahead of 3-1 Tampa, but right now I just think the Bucs are better. Tennessee is undefeated but reeling after 21 members of the organization tested positive for COVID-19, forcing a rescheduling of their game against Pittsburgh. So far it’s all clear this week, but the Titans are bound to be distracted as they prepare for a showdown with Buffalo on Sunday.
  9. Los Angeles Rams (3-1) – Didn’t look great against the winless New York Giants, but you know the longer an NFL team goes without winning, the harder it is to beat them. The Giants at least showed some fight. The entire NFC West got one gift from the NFL schedule maker: They all play the entire NFC East this season. That’s the Washington So-Called Football Team this week for the Rams.
  10. New Orleans Saints (2-2) – That road win in Detroit was a crossroads survived. Drew Brees looked like himself – almost 10 yards per pass attempt — and with superstar receiver Michael Thomas still sidelined with an ankle injury, Brees is starting to click with veteran Emmanuel Sanders and rising star Tre’Quan Smith, a third-year pro. Then there’s the game’s most dazzling running back in Alvin Kamara. The questions start in New Orleans’ depleted secondary.
  11. New England Patriots (2-2) – One week without Cam Newton showed us why the Patriots went after the mercurial star. He’s more than critical to the offense – the drop off is severe to backups Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham. The New England defense was mostly good enough against the Chiefs, but the Patriots so far have been to mistake-prone to hang with the top teams.
  12. San Francisco 49ers (2-2) – They hold on to a lofty ranking only because quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will be back, and not soon enough. Nate Mullens was awful against the Eagles, who fought hard for a win and got it. The 49ers are hanging in there and the team that played in the Super Bowl last year should be back on the field soon. But they’d better not let the Seahawks get too far ahead in the NFC West.
  13. Indianapolis Colts (3-1) – No surprise that they took down the Bears, who were a fortunate 3-0 coming into the game. The Colts defense is legit and Phillip Rivers is the kind of steady leader this team needed at quarterback. Who knew this week’s early season matchup with the Browns would be one of the league’s top matchups?
  14. Cleveland Browns (3-1) – When the No. 12 team plays the No. 13 team on a meaningless list of power rankings, something’s gotta give. If the Odell Beckham Jr. who torched Dallas last week shows up two weeks in a row, the Browns likely have enough offense to outshine the Colts. But the Colts have the veteran QB.
  15. Carolina Panthers (2-2) – You always hear about the college coaches who couldn’t make it in the NFL. This will not be the outcome in Carolina. Former Baylor coach Matt Rhule is already doing a great job with the Panthers, making two of his best moves: signing quarterback Teddy Bridgewater away from the Saints and handing the offensive coordinator’s job to Joe Brady, the former Saints and LSU offensive coach who helped Joe Barrow and the Tigers to last year’s national championship. Bridgewater is thriving in Brady’s offense and the Panthers are a feisty bunch that is ahead of schedule. 
  16. Las Vegas Raiders (2-2) – The schedule has not been kind to the Raiders, who have dropped consecutive games to the Patriots and Bills. So how does this week look? Oh, on the road at Kansas City. Raiders will be heard from. May or may not be this Sunday.
  17. Chicago Bears (3-1) – Last week this was the worst 3-0 team in the league and really, it’s now the worst 3-1 team in the league. Still, I say any team that is 3-1 at least deserves to be ranked in the top half of the NFL’s 32 teams, and that is exactly what the Bears deserve. The offense is painful to watch. At least Bears fans get to watch Tom Brady and the Bucs this week.
  18. Arizona Cardinals (2-2) – Two losses in a row and the game plan against the Cardinals is clear: Shut down DeAndre Hopkins and see what else Arizona can do. Meanwhile, the Cardinals defense looked helpless in letting Carolina roll up 450 yards of offense. Looking like a team that could go either way, and if I had to bet ….
  19. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2-1) – You don’t often see first-place teams barely cracking the top 20 in a 32-team league, but this is the NFC East, which by rule is allowed at least one team in the playoffs. That should be this team, which in this division actually has the most talent, and to the Eagles credit they pulled it out against a better 49ers team. Now they get the Steelers, who expect to win this game and probably will.
  20. Miami Dolphins (1-3) – Played a respectable game against a very good Seattle team, but the offense stalled too much to keep pace with Russell Wilson. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been solid, but the Dolphins have doomed themselves with critical mistakes. Could surprise in San Francisco this week.
  21. Dallas Cowboys (1-3) – Whatever questions anyone had about quarterback Dak Prescott have given way to panic that Dallas doesn’t have a clue on defense. The Cowboys retreat by air or land and have allowed a franchise-record 36.5 points per game so far this season. Sure, the Browns aren’t bad, but 49 points says something’s wrong in Dallas.
  22. Minnesota Vikings (1-3) – Won a hapless showdown with the Houston Texans, who were so ashamed they fired their coach. Dalvin Cook is an unheralded but elite running back, but this offense badly misses Stefon Diggs, who is delighting the fans in Buffalo. There’s just something uninspired about this Vikings team.
  23. Cincinnati Bengals (1-3) – Department of Telling Stats: A week after Joe Burrow took 18 hits and eight sacks, he was sacked only once by the Jacksonville Jaguars. And wouldn’t you know it the Bengals won the game, carried by Burrow and running back Joe Mixon, who stepped up with 181 yards and three scores. Not a great team, but it’s fun to watch Burrow and company. 
  24. Detroit Lions (1-3) – The Lions should be in the Hall of Fame for their ability to generate depressing stats. The latest is that last week they became the first team in nine years to lose three of their first four games by blowing double-digit leads. Raced out to a 14-0 lead over New Orleans, then became spectators to five consecutive Saints touchdowns. It’s the classic Lions team. They’re not horrible, and they’re not good.
  25. Los Angeles Chargers (1-3) – No one expected them to beat Tampa Bay, and even when they jumped out to a 24-7 lead I looked at the score and thought, “Should be over, but it’s Brady.” We know how that ended. But the Chargers have a real-deal, starting NFL quarterback in rookie Justin Herbert, who directed four touchdown drives and has shown off the big arm that made him the sixth overall pick. They’ll measure this season by progress.
  26. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) – When you allow 505 yards of offense in a loss to the Bengals, whose previous best effort was a tie against the Eagles, and your own quarterback is Gardner Minshew, maybe it’s time to start playing the younger guys. Only problem for Jacksonville is the young guy they’d love to play is Trevor Lawrence, but he is in his final season as starting quarterback for Clemson University.
  27. Denver Broncos (1-3) – Stopped the reeling with a win over the New York Jets, keyed by much better defense and a new quarterback in Brett Rypien, who didn’t exactly explode onto the scene but was able to outplay Brett Bortles. The Broncos badly need starting quarterback Drew Lock to return and will need its D to stay in games until then.
  28. Atlanta Falcons (0-4) – Just when I thought Falcons coach Dan Quinn might be the first coach to get fired this year, Houston’s Bill O’Brien took the honor instead. The Falcons are 0-4 for the first time this millennium and look bad on both sides of the ball. Heck, against the Atlanta secondary, the Packers Aaron Rodgers only had six incompletions. He’s probably so disappointed in himself.
  29. Houston Texans (0-4) – This team took a big step back in firepower when O’Brien traded away superstar DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona and it may have been the move that ultimately cost the coach his job. Yet as time goes by O’Brien’s four AFC South titles in six seasons might look pretty good. For now, veteran coach Romeo Crennel takes over for his former boss. 
  30. Washington Football Team (0-4) – I think I’ve come up with a name. How about the Washington (Alleged) Football Team? I can hear the PA announcer now, “And here come the Allegations!”
  31. New York Giants (0-4) – They fight harder than the other New York team. It may not look great these days for Giants fans, but there is a nucleus of young talent there. Still, in a league with rules designed to aid the offenses, is anything more boring than watching a team that struggles to score?
  32. New York Jets (0-4) – The word is if they fire head coach Adam Gase, the interim coach might be defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, whose unit is a disaster. Always telling when the head coach keeps his job because the assistant he hired who could be next in line is even worse.

Keep coming back for weekly updates as the season continues!

Join the conversation about your NFL picks in our community forum!

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About The Author
David Meeks
David Meeks
David Meeks has never hesitated to speak truth to power. He’s uncovered shady coal mine operators in Alabama, corrupt politicians in Louisiana and supported single fathers in Florida. When New Orleans flooded after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Meeks, then Sports Editor of The Times-Picayune, refused an evacuation order. He commandeered a newspaper truck, assembled a team of journalists and won two Pulitzer Prizes. He has worked for the Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and was the Managing Editor of USA Today Sports. He is Alabama-born and Michigan-raised, and today lives with his family in Washington, D.C.
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