Week 5 brought a bevvy of upsets, intrigue, close games and the first London game of the year. With defeats to four of the teams in last week’s top 10, the pack continues to be shuffled as we search for who really has the best squads.
1. New England Patriots 5-0
It was a routine win for the Patriots against a poor Redskins team so there’s not too much we can learn about the true identity of this team. It seems as though every week, the Patriots face off against the also-rans of the league. Thus far, this season the Pats have played against teams that have a combined five wins between them (and four of those belonged to the Bills) which doesn’t say much about the other teams they have played. Still, you can only beat what’s in front of you and so far, that’s exactly what they’ve done. This week, the Giants head to Foxborough to face the challenge.
2. Kansas City Chiefs 4-1
After tasting defeat for the first time this season, I was debating moving this team down the pecking order from the #2 spot they’ve held since Week 1. However, Patrick Mahomes has earned the benefit of the doubt and was also a little banged up after sustaining an ankle injury so I will keep them here for the time being. That said, much will be made of how the Colts were able to keep Mahomes and the Chiefs offense off the field. They ran the ball 45 times for 180 yards to completely dominate time of possession, allowing the Chiefs only 22’45” with the ball. Is this the blueprint for beating this team? Only time will tell. It’s the Texans at home next.
3. New Orleans Saints 4-1
Teddy Bridgewater authored his best start in a Saints jersey on Sunday passing for a total of 314 yards, four TDs and 1 INT. In doing so, he also started to show real chemistry with star wideout Michael Thomas who caught 11 balls for 182 yards and 2 TDs. This Saints team is starting to click even without the services of their future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees. Now 3-0 since his departure, the Saints have set themselves up for a tilt at a play-off bye and another deep run into January and potentially beyond. They travel to Florida to face the Minshew-led Jaguars in Week 6.
4. Seattle Seahawks 4-1
It was a close 30-29 win for the Seahawks against their divisional rivals Rams on Thursday Night Football, after Rams kicker Greg ‘The Leg’ Zuerlein pushed the potential game-winning field goal wide right from 44 yards. In what is a very narrative-driven sport, we would very well be singing the praises of the Rams had they made the kick. Instead, Seattle led by Russell Wilson in MVP type form (If you haven’t already seen it go back and watch his touchdown throw to Tyler Lockett), get the credit as they make what appears to be another push towards the playoffs (as has come to be expected) under Head Coach Pete Carroll. It’s a trip to the Dawg Pound and the Browns up next.
5. San Francisco 49ers 4-0
A very impressive win for the Niners on MNF against the Browns pushes them up two spots and they may need to move up further in the coming weeks if they continue to play as they are. Nick Bosa announced his arrival onto the prime-time stage with a beastly display against a woeful Browns O-line. If Bosa led from the front he was closely followed by his teammates who helped put Baker Mayfield under near-constant pressure throughout the contest, combining for four sacks and helping to force two interceptions. When coupled with the potent ground attack that this team posses (275 total yards on the ground), it’s clear that this team is going to be very difficult to beat. They face their first divisional game of the season on the road against the Rams on Sunday.
6. Philadelphia Eagles 3-2
In what was a routine win for the Eagles, they took care of business 31-6 at home against a poor Jets and their third-string QB Luke Falk. As mentioned with the Pats above, not too much can be learnt from these games against overmatched opponents languishing at the foot of these rankings. Next week’s trip to Minneapolis to face the Vikings should be far much illuminating and entertaining.
7. Green Bay Packers 4-1
Aaron Rodgers continues to dominate in Jerry World. What else is new? The Packers rolled into town after suffering their first defeat of the year and without star receiver Davante Adams, all of which proved to be unimportant as Aaron Jones scurried for 182 yards from scrimmage and four rushing TDs. The defense did what it has done all season thus far (barring last week’s defeat to the Eagles), which was get to the QB and create turnovers. This team is still yet to play well for a full game but they are 4-1 and look to be a challenge for any team. They face the Lions at Lambeau on MNF.
8. Buffalo Bills 4-1
The Bills took care of business on the road against the Titans, taking the tilt 14-7. They had a bit of luck with the now former Titans kicker Cairo Santos going 0-4 on field goal attempts on the day. But yet again, it was a case of their suffocating defense doing most of the heavy lifting, and the offense doing just enough to get over the line. Should this team start to click on offense at any time in the coming weeks, they could be seriously scary opposition. If not, they will still be very tough to beat but the games are likely to remain close. Except for this week of course, as they face the awful Dolphins at home.
9. Los Angeles Rams 3-2
The Rams drop three spots after a tough loss in Seattle, which makes it two straight losses since starting the season 3-0. Although they played a lot better than in Week 4and were a missed field goal away from being 4-1, there are many question marks about this team. Hopefully, we will some answers this week when they host the undefeated Niners.
10. Detroit Lions 2-1-1
A small rise in the rankings for the Lions due to the performance of other teams, as they were on a bye. They travel to Green Bay to face the Packers on MNF, which should be a good measuring stick for this team.
11. Dallas Cowboys 3-2
Are these Cowboys flat-track bullies or serious contenders in the NFC? After consecutive defeats to the Saints and Packers, it certainly feels like the former. At home against the Pack, they were simply unable to stop Aaron Jones running free into the secondary and it ultimately cost them the game. Luckily for the Cowboys, they travel to New Jersey to face an awful Jets team.
12. Carolina Panthers 3-2
A two-spot rise for a Panthers team that have now won three games on the spin. RB Christian McCaffrey is playing at an MVP level and carried this team on his back yet again, totalling 237 yards from scrimmage and three TDs. CMC has now amassed 866 scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns through five weeks and shows no signs of slowing down. This team could pose a real threat to the Saints in the NFC South. This week, the Panthers travel to London to face the Bucs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
13. Houston Texans 3-2
A huge day for Deshaun Watson, who passed for 426 yards, five TDs and no picks against the Falcons. With Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins at wideout, the Texans arguably have the best 1-2 punch in the NFL on present form and it is allowing Watson to torch the opposition. There are still huge question marks over their defense but offensively, they match up well with anyone. A mouth-watering trip to Arrowhead awaits in Week 6 in what is sure to be a shootout between two of the best young QBs in the game.
14. Chicago Bears 3-2
A four-spot drop in these rankings for a Bears team that didn’t show up until the second half in London against the Raiders. Down 17-0 at the half, the much-praised Bears defense was nowhere to be seen as the Raiders ran the ball down their throat at will. A rather fortunate early fumble recovery in the second half breathed life into the Bears, who roared back into a 21-17 lead on three quick TD drives. It was at this point they allowed the Raiders to drive 97 yards for the game-winning score. Maybe it was an off week but for a team that prides itself on defense, it was a very poor showing. The Bears have their bye this week.
15. Minnesota Vikings 3-2
Kirk Cousins and the Vikings were able to get back on track with a win against the Giants. There are still many questions about this team, like “are they really any good?” and “can they only beat the bottom dwellers of the league?” We will find out if they can finally beat a half-decent team when the Eagles come to town this week.
16. Baltimore Ravens 3-2
A Justin Tucker field goal deep into overtime, which snuck through the uprights, was enough to take the Ravens back above .500 and to the top of the AFC North. It was far from pretty but at least they found a way to win on a day where QB Lamar Jackson threw three picks and was sacked five times. After flying out the blocks early in the season, it appears this Ravens team are closer to the mean in terms of ability. In what is shaping up to be a poor division, 9-7 may be enough to gain a playoff birth. This week, they face the 0-5 Bengals at home.
17. Oakland Raiders 3-2
A huge win for the Raiders, and Jon Gruden in particular, in London. After being the butt of all jokes for trading away Khalil Mack to the Bears last season, Gruden made it his mission to make sure that Mack was not the reason they lost this game. He did that by leaning heavily on rookie running back Josh Jacobs who carried the ball 26 times for 123 yards and 2 TDs. At 3-2 and off the back of two straight wins, the Raiders will be feeling more like themselves again as they head into their bye week.
18. Indianapolis Colts 3-2
A very impressive win for a banged-up Colts team to go into Arrowhead and come out with the win. At many times this season, this Colts squad could have laid down and used one of a number of excuses and everyone would have understood. However, that has not been the case and they now find themselves at 3-2 and tied for first place in the AFC South. It is clear that you cannot rule this team out. They have their bye week this week to get healthy for their Week 7 divisional match-up with against the Texans.
19. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-3
The Jags gave the Panthers almost as much as they could handle as Gardner Minshew continued to look at home in the NFL against the league’s best pass defense coming into the game. He passed for 374 yards and 0 picks (plus one lost fumble). Unfortunately for the Jags, things don’t get any easier this weekend as they welcome the Saints.
20. Los Angeles Chargers 2-3
A big drop in these rankings for a Chargers team that has not lived up to the pres-season hype. Injuries have certainly been a factor as this team feels a little snakebitten but losing at home of a previously winless Broncos team is inexcusable. They host a Steelers team this week that will likely be starting their fourth-string QB so it should present a good opportunity to get back to .500. Any slip-up and they will face a huge uphill challenge to make the playoffs.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-3
The game on the road against the Saints seemed a game too far for this Bucs team. They showed in Week 4 that on their day, they can play with any side in this league but back-to-back road games against last seasons NFC championship competitors was always going to be tough. They travel to London to face the Panthers this week.
22. Tennessee Titans 2-3
I asked the question last week in these rankings “Who are these Titans?” and it is becoming clear that they are a talented but wildly inconsistent bunch who can play up or down to their opponent on any given Sunday. This week, they go the Denver to face the Broncos.
23. Cleveland Browns 2-3
A truly awful loss for the Browns on MNF. After beating the Ravens in Week 4, it looked as though the arrow was pointing up for this team. That narrative – and Baker Mayfield – came crashing down as the Niners’ defensive line spend the entire evening in the backfield. The Browns face the Seattle Seahawks at home on Sunday.
24. New York Giants 2-3
The more talented side won on Sunday in New York. Based on the talent on this roster, an 8-8 finish would represent real progress. Daniel Jones continues to develop and it will be exciting to see what he looks like once Saquon Barkley returns. Unfortunately, that will not be this week and he will also be without Evan Engram against the Patriots on TNF.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers 1-4
Another tough loss for the team on the banks of the three rivers. Not only did they lose to their arch-rival inside their own building, they lost their second-string QB Mason Rudolph to a serious-looking head injury on a brutal hit from Earl Thomas. Just as it looked as though they may steal the win in overtime, Marlon Humphrey punched the ball out of JuJu Smith-Schuster’s hand to set up the Justin Tucker game-winning field goal. At 1-4 and with a QB who started the season fourth on the depth chart, this team looks cooked. A trip to LA to face the Chargers awaits this week.
26. Denver Broncos 1-4
The Broncos finally recorded their first win of the season on the road against the Chargers. Although it is unlikely to change the fortunes of their season, I’m sure Vic Fangio is happy to get his first career win as a Head Coach. This week, they host the Titans.
27. Atlanta Falcons 1-4
What a disappointing season thus far for the Falcons who have fallen a long, long way since the 2016 Super Bowl. Team owner Arthur Blank says he is fully behind Dan Quinn but his seat will surely start to warm if they play out the rest of the season in this fashion. The good news is that they face a trip to play the Cardinals this week in a game they could – and probably should – win.
28. Arizona Cardinals 1-3-1
The Cardinals registered the first career win for both head coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray. That is bound to feel good even if it did come against the Bengals. Can they make it two from two at home against the equally weak Falcons?
29. Cincinnati Bengals 0-5
In a season that started with a great performance on the road against the Seahawks, this team has regressed massively. Zac Taylor was brought in as a young offensive mind to unlock the talent that this team possesses. Clearly, this has not been the case. They travel to Baltimore this week amid trade rumours swirling around AJ Green. Will this be the wideout’s last season in Cincinnati?
30. New York Jets 0-4
Another poor performance from a Jets team that lacks direction under Adam Gase, who looks as much like a one-and-done HC as you possibly can. The one piece of good news is that QB Sam Darnold returns to the huddle this week so hopefully, they should be a little more watchable than they have been in recent weeks. They play host to the Cowboys this week.
31. Washington Redskins 0-5
Jay Gruden was fired as the Redskins Head Coach this week as this team tries to find a direction. As long as Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen remain at the helm of this franchise, it looks as though it will never truly compete. They face off with the Dolphins this week in what may be one of the worst games ever.
32. Miami Dolphins 0-4
A bye week last week fortunately spared ‘Fins fans – and our eyeballs – from having to watch this side. Sadly, they return to the field this week as they host the equally atrocious Redskins.