NFL Power Rankings, Week 5: Bengals hit top three; Steelers fall

  • By Elliot Harrison
  • NFL Media analyst
  • Published: Oct. 6, 2015 at 07:59 a.m.
  • Updated: Oct. 6, 2015 at 11:59 a.m.

The Week 5 Power Rankings are here — and so is some serious movement. Yes, at the quarter pole, we’re reshuffling the deck. Hey, but that’s what makes this whole deal fun, right? Almost as fun asporing over the fine print in the NFL rulebook …

Agreed on the first point. The Lions had 55 minutes to do something on offense. And yes, we’ll never know what would’ve happened from the 1-yard line. Oh, and I’m going with mint-chocolate ice cream cake, maybe with a plastic Sylvester Puddy Tat on top — instead of the SpongeBob piece Baskin-Robbins always puts on there nowadays. No SpongeBob.

Detroit wasn’t the only team to experience misfortune in Week 4.
And they are down two more players — ugh.

Yes, you will find that those Cowboys dropped more than a couple spots, based on more than justlosing to one of the NFL’s weaker teams. In fact, they were leapfrogged by a division rival in the process, keeping the NFC East’s highest-ranked team parked squarely at 15. (At least it’s the top half, right?)

For the full hierarchical breakdown, take a look below. Feel free to share your take: @HarrisonNFL is the place. If you decide to hold out on leaving a comment, make sure you at least get more money.

Let the dissension commence!

NOTE: The lineup below reflects changes from our Sept. 29 Power Rankings.

PREVIOUS RANKINGS: Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1 | Preseason

 

RANK

1

4-0 PACKERS

 

If you close your eyes and think of nothing else through a quarter of the season, dream only ofAaron Rodgers rolling to his left, flicking a 40-something-yard throw perfectly over the shoulder of a 49ers defensive back to a guy wearing 89 in green and white, hugged up against the sideline, arms outstretched. The gorgeous teardrop to James Jones set up a score that gave Green Bay a 14-3 advantage in San Francisco on Sunday. Consider it yet another exhibit of how unstoppable this team can be in significant situations, as Jones’ grab-and-drag converted a third-and-seven in a 7-3 ballgame, on a day when the Packers did not look like the offensive juggernaut they are. Man, what a play from the league’s MVP and a wideout clearly on his wavelength.

 

 

RANK

2

3-0 PATRIOTS

 

The bye week in New England meant additional time for Patriots fans to send along their tweets regarding how awesome their team is. No fanbase tweets such things more …

Ravens fans hop on Twitter as much, but in their case, it’s more “Hey, we’re still kinda good!” or — a favorite — “Your (sic) an idiot.”

Truth is, New England is a premier team right now — and surprisingly, the defense is a large reason for that. The unit might not be setting the world on fire, but 17th in points allowed is solid enough for Tom Brady, who, well, is setting the world on fire.

 

 

RANK

3

4-0 BENGALS

1

How difficult it must be to gameplan for these Cincinnati Bengals right now. You never know who’s going to get the football or be the focal point of the offense. On Sunday, Giovani Bernard got more touches out of the backfield than Jeremy Hill, but the latter scored three touchdowns. A week after A.J. Green posted 227 yards, he was outgained by Mohamed Sanu (84 yards on four catches), who had posted all of 77 yards combined through the three prior weeks of play. Meanwhile, the run-pass ratio was fantastic, with coordinator Hue Jackson overseeing 26 run plays versus 24 passes. You couldn’t draw it up any better.

 

 

RANK

4

4-0 BRONCOS

1

If Wade Phillips doesn’t win the Assistant Coach of the Year award this season, seriously strange things will be afoot at the NFL Honors show … like Matt Hasselbeck walking away with the MVP. Give DeMarcus Ware — who sometimes looks like a 17-year-old with old-man strength out there — and Von Miller heaps of glory. Sing songs about T.J. Ward‘s game-clinching hit-turned-forced-fumblein Sunday’s win over Minnesota (and about his postgame hat selection). But make no mistake, it’s clear who this team’s MVP is: Wade. Phillips.

 

 

RANK

5

4-0 FALCONS

2

What in the world has gotten into these Falcons? Dan Quinn certainly has exceeded everyone’s expectations, especially on defense. The undefeated Falcons now have a turnover differential of plus-six (including four takeaways on Sunday), second only to Carolina in the NFL.

On a day when the Falcons racked up 48 points, how in the world did Julio Jones only catch four passes for 38 yards? If you’re a Jones fantasy owner, seeing the final score and then seeing Jones’ output must have been like getting excited after finding the four quarters you need to wash your underwear … only to learn your landlord suddenly changed the price to five quarters. Not to be too specific or anything. Not like I recommended Jones in daily fantasy last week on national TV or anything.

 

 

RANK

6

3-1 CARDINALS

3

You think Carson Palmer would like to have that last throw back? Watching Rams-Cardinals live, I thought there was no way Arizona was losing the game. If you missed it, Palmer had rookie David Johnson wide open on a slant on fourth-and-2 with his team down by two points late in the fourth quarter — and overthrew him by a couple of yards. Of course, Johnson’s fumble on the opening kickoff set an ominous tone for the day.

For now, Arizona is 3-1 with a clear lead in the NFC West. The Cards have the Lions, Steelers,Ravens and Browns heading into their Week 9 bye. When they travel to Seattle in Week 10, Bruce Arians could be 6-2 and fighting for first place. Don’t want to look ahead, but we’re looking ahead.

 

 

RANK

7

4-0 PANTHERS

3

Why does nobody talk about the Carolina Panthers? Should we start calling them the little Carolina Panthers, since they are vastly ignored? Sure, your friendly writer doesn’t have them ranked as high as other undefeated teams … but he did predict they’d win the NFC South even after Kelvin Benjamin went down. That’s the one spot in the universe where the masses and Panthers parted ways this season. Yet, all this club has done is win nine of its last 10 games.

 

 

RANK

8

2-2 SEAHAWKS

 

I don’t want to tip you off the deep end, Seahawks fans, but this Darrell Bevell offense struggles so much that it might be too much for even a top-flight defense to overcome. Fortunately, Seattle’s defense is even better than top-flight — with Kam Chancellor back in the fold, that is. Twenty drives in the past two games: 18 punts, one fumble, one field goal allowed. Good grief, these guys are dominant. Remember Week 1, when the Seahawks lost 34-31? Yeah, those days are gone.

 

 

RANK

9

3-1 JETS

4

Oh, Chris Ivory, how you make games interesting. Still not sure whether that was a fumble toward the end of this week’s international match. I’d say no. Either way, count me among the millions (thousands?) who thought the game was over at that point. Given the holding penalty to extend the Dolphins‘ last-gasp drive (Miami was down 27-14 with less than seven minutes to play) in the fourth, then the OPI on the apparent Jarvis Landry touchdown, then the Ivory fumble non-fumble, followed by the Darrelle Revis interception … thought this tweet the most appropriate way to describe the New York win:

 

RANK

10

2-2 BILLS

4

Mistakes ruled the day in Buffalo. The score might have been 24-10, but this was one of those games Bills fans will look back on as a lost opportunity. Especially considering the loss to theGiants was at home. That’s not to say the Giants didn’t earn the win, but when you suffer through 17 penalties, go 0 for 3 in the red zone and turn the football over twice, you’re suffering abuse at your own hands. Major kudos to the Bills mafia, who solved our Power Rankings Trivia question last week (answer: Joe Cribbs) in droves, to the point that we couldn’t respond to every answer.

 

 

RANK

11

2-2 VIKINGS

 

The Vikings hung tough in a game most didn’t give them a chance to win, thanks to some timely catches by youngster Stefon Diggs, a timely (and explosive) Adrian Peterson run and a reaaal timely read-and-react pick by Harrison Smith. What a play that was. So Vikings fans are disappointed with the loss, and Ragnar has parted ways with the organization, but 2-2 with an interconference loss is no big deal. If Mike Zimmer can push this roster to 10 wins, Sunday’s “L” won’t factor into tiebreakers.

 

 

RANK

12

2-2 RAMS

5

The NFL got its first real dose of Todd Gurley on Sunday. Man, oh man — if that’s what we’re in for … Move over, A.D., and take notice, Le’Veon Bell. Gurley looked awesome. For a big man with an almost Eddie George-esque body, Gurley produced some gorgeous runs. Then the rookie had the presence of mind — or good sense to listen to his teammates in the huddle — to down himself and burn clock late. That play reminded me of a similar occurrence when Brian Westbrook was toasting the Cowboys in 2007 and tackled himself after a big run late in the game, to keep the clock running. This Gurley kid has some of Westbrook’s shimmy, with the stature to be a bell-cow back in the era of the committee. As a non-SEC watcher, am I overreacting on Gurley? ( @HarrisonNFL)

 

 

RANK

13

2-2 STEELERS

4

Mixed reviews regarding Mike Vick on Thursday night. Some felt the vet fared well, while others thought he was terrible (mostly due to the throw on fourth down). The answer probably lies somewhere in between, although it was clear offensive coordinator Todd Haley was hamstrung in his play-calling ability. Feel for Josh Scobee, who for years had been one of the top kickers in pro football. Kicking 49 yards on grass into the wind is no gimme.

 

 

RANK

14

2-2 COLTS

 

Sans Andrew Luck — and, apparently, Frank Gore’s ability to hold onto the football — the Matt Hasselbeck-led Colts got away with a victory Sunday. That’s two football weekends in a row this team has pulled an escape act. Wondering how the Colts did it vs. Jacksonville? Here’s the answer: They made the plays when they had to, starting with — but not limited to — Adam Vinatierimaking his kicks. Like it or not, that’s part of the game. Here’s what’s not the answer for this team: firing Chuck Pagano midseason. Show me multiple times that’s worked in pro football.

 

 

RANK

15

2-2 GIANTS

4

Sneaky, sneaky, these Giants are. Big Blue is 2-2 and suddenly tied for first place in the NFC East, albeit with a head-to-head loss to the Cowboys. Yet, with the latter starting Brandon Weeden, absorbing numerous injuries and having lost two in a row, New York is in the driver’s seat. The division win versus the Redskins eventually could loom large, as well. Effort of the day in Buffalo:Rashad Jennings‘ catch, move, run and GET OFF ME! stiff arm to put his team up 24-10 in the fourth quarter. Doesn’t matter who you root for — that was a staggeringly awesome football play by an underrated running back. #respect

 

 

RANK

16

2-2 CHARGERS

2

Aaron Rodgers seemingly has sealed up another MVP trophy (OK, maybe it’s a little early …), discussion abounds about Peyton Manning and his arm, and people lament the punchless Steelerssans Ben Roethlisberger. Meanwhile, one QB continues to call plays at the line, holler incessantly and play Hall of Very Good (if not Hall of Fame) football. Philip Rivers looked fantastic again on Sunday, racking up 358 yards and three touchdowns through the air. He avoided throwing a single interception, and currently boasts a robust 105.3 passer rating on the season. Some yawn — we take notice. #17

 

 

RANK

17

1-3 CHIEFS

5

The season started off so glowingly, or swimmingly, or whatever word would aptly describe Travis Kelce punching footballs in the end zone and Alex Smith wingin’ it like Len Dawson out there. Three tough games have come and gone since that season-opening victory over the Texans, and theChiefs have no more wins now than they did then. Look, hosting Denver, then traveling to undefeated Green Bay and Cincinnati was clearly a tall order. What Kansas City needed was merely to steal one of those games. That Jamaal Charles fumble late in the loss to the Broncos is the play of the Chiefs‘ young season thus far. Next up: hosting the Bears. Call it a must-win. Seriously.

 

 

RANK

18

2-2 COWBOYS

3

The hits keep coming — except this isn’t like the 1999 Rangers with Pudge, Palmeiro and Juan Gone. Nope, these are the IR kind. Lance Dunbar — he of the University of North Texas (a fine, fine institution a certain NFL.com hack may or may not have attended) — is now out for the season.Sean Lee is in the league’s concussion protocol. The good news is … Well, there isn’t too much good news, other than the fact Dallas is hanging in games. At least the Patriots are coming to town. That should go well.

 

 

RANK

19

2-2 RAIDERS

3

Considering his postgame comments, Latavius Murray surely isn’t sticking his chest out over this latest performance. Speaking of his chest, let’s hope he doesn’t let any more footballs bounce off it. You have to feel for the guy, who was, after all, one of the reasons Oakland got off to a promising 2-1 start. He has 377 total yards of offense in four games, and before the season is done, will probably average over 100 yards from scrimmage per game. Murray is legit, and despite the fact that the highlight shows are making him look like anything but right now, he will be one of the top running backs in football this year. #markitdown

 

 

RANK

20

2-2 REDSKINS

1

Pierre Garcon’s clutch-and-brace effort at the goal line on Sunday was a thing of football beauty. Making that kind of grab — then holding on despite immediately getting popped — is worthy of a division win in and of itself. Leaning on the running game (32 rushes for 127 yards) and one of the better front sevens in the league led to Washington winning third down — and, ultimately, the game. Philly went 4 for 13 on third and fourth downs, while the ‘Skins were 9 for 17 — all the difference in a 23-20 contest. Nice poise, Kirk Cousins.

 

 

RANK

21

1-3 RAVENS

1

As Cousin Eddie would say, the AFC North has been on John Harbaugh’s club like flies on a rib roast. The Ravens escaped Pittsburgh with a win of tremendous import to their season. At 1-3, we’re saying there’s a chance. Major props to Justin Forsett, who hasn’t panicked — and looked the part of a feature back Thursday night. Up until then, he had been plowing into walls, not holes.

 

 

RANK

22

1-3 EAGLES

2

DeMarco Murray might want the ball more, but is that the difference between winning and losing for Chip Kelly’s bunch right now? Sitting on the set of “NFL GameDay Blitz” on NFL Now (fun show, if you haven’t caught it), Ike Taylor kept reminding us how different it is for a back like Murray orAdrian Peterson to get the ball out of the shotgun, as opposed to receiving it in the pistol or I-formation, where a back can get some push-off. It’s a worthy thought. Meanwhile, against the ‘SkinsSam Bradford looked more like the quarterback we saw in the second-half comeback vs. Atlanta than what, or who, we saw against the Cowboys or Jets. #PowerRankingspositivethoughts

 

 

RANK

23

1-2 TITANS

1

It was bye time in Nashville — Toby Keith, Brooks & Dunn and the guy with the seashell chokers all took the week off. So did the 1-2 Titans, who have been far peppier through three games than most anticipated. Sure, the Week 3 loss to the division-rival Colts was gut-wrenching, but I don’t want to be a Negative Nancy: How about the fact that Tennessee isn’t laying down for anybody right now?

The biggest area to improve going forward? Limiting big plays in the passing game.

 

 

RANK

24

0-4 LIONS

1

You’ve heard about the definitive play — and the apparent missed call — ad nauseam by now. It was a horrible break for a team that climbed back into a tough football game. Did it lose the game? No. Rarely does one play do that. Does Detroit’s defense deserve way more credit for its performance? Absolutely. I was listening to some really bad ’80s music with Daniel Jeremiah in the locker room at NFL Network, discussing what the problem is with the Lions‘ offense, and DJ brought up this new system and whether it’s the appropriate fit for Matthew Stafford. He isn’t the only one to suggest Stafford misses Scott Linehan. The Lions‘ attack this season looks dysfunctional even by Lions standards.

Side note 1: Ziggy Ansah is a difference maker.

Side note 2: “Brand New Lover” was DJ’s song of choice.

 

 

RANK

25

1-3 JAGUARS

1

Is this a bad time to let Jags fans know Josh Scobee is available? Too soon? People were merciless in their ripping of Scobee, who missed two kicks into a 10 mph wind while kicking hurt for the Steelers. Meanwhile, Jason Myers misses two long kicks — in what is essentially a dome — and keeps his job. You don’t have to tell Jags fans that Myers should’ve made that last one — and you also don’t have to tell them what an outstanding pro Scobee was in Jacksonville.(Remember this 59-yarder to beat the Peyton Manning-led Colts back in 2010?)

Random thought: Blake Bortles showed signs of being the QB the franchise was hoping for, but I still wish he used his legs even more.

 

 

RANK

26

1-3 BROWNS

2

Whole lotta folks have been howling for Johnny Manziel. Well, Josh McCown just shot them all a one-finger salute with his stellar performance Sunday in San Diego. For all those people who arestill howling for John Football — side note: McCown might be old enough to actually have seen“The Howling” in the theater — the Browns staff clearly feels that the veteran gives the team the best chance to win. Hard to argue with 32-of-41 passing for 356 yards, two touchdowns and no picks.

 

 

RANK

27

1-3 DOLPHINS

 

The Joe Philbin era is over. The Dan Campbell era has begun — on an interim basis, of course. Last time I saw Campbell, he was sporting Sammy Hagar “OU812” hair and catching a touchdown pass in Texas Stadium vs. the Chiefs. The tight end-turned-head coach now faces the challenge of leading an AFC East squad that has both games left against the Patriots, as well as road tests vs. the Bills and Jets. Miami might go 0-6 in the division. One month ago, many analysts had this team challenging New England.

 

 

RANK

28

1-3 SAINTS

3

So much to say about the Sunday Night win — most importantly, how nice it was to see the Saintsfinally get some ROI on an offseason move. In this case, it was C.J. Spiller paying out major dividends with the 80-yard, game-winning catch-and-sprint. The acquisitions of the last few years (Jairus ByrdMax UngerBrandon Browner and so on) largely have failed to translate into wins. On Sunday, the Spiller pickup reversed this trend. And for all those claiming Drew Brees is showing clear signs of regression, tell me this: How do you measure the value of team leadership? Just wondering.

 

 

RANK

29

1-3 49ERS

 

That much-maligned 49ers defense came to play in The Giant Alter to Denim on Sunday. OK, so maybe San Francisco has dropped three in a row since the season-opening win, but holding Aaron Rodgers to 17 points and 5 for 15 on third down is pretty doggone good — even if no one in the Bay Area has ever uttered the phrase “doggone good.”

The offense? 3.9 yards per play. No more commentary needed. Or wanted, I bet.

 

 

RANK

30

1-3 TEXANS

5

Houston got Arian Foster back in the fold and played a team that had just given up 28 first-half points to Brandon Weeden. So where in the world did Sunday’s 48-21 debacle emanate from? Bear in mind, that score came with the Falcons tapping — er, stomping on — the brakes in the second half. It’s back to the drawing board for a defense that really could use Wade Phillips right now. There, I said it.

 

 

RANK

31

1-3 BEARS

1

Props to Robbie Gould, who has made more than his fair share of big kicks for the Bears over the years. (The 2006 divisional-round win over Seattle immediately springs to mind.) The longest-tenured member of the team sealed the deal on a much-needed “W” — one that came against aRaiders club that is clearly no joke.

And hey, if you are going to rip Jay Cutler on a routine basis, you’d better give him credit when he goes 5 for 8 while driving the team nearly 50 yards in the two-minute drill, setting up Gould forthe game-winning boot. (Oh, and that included a bad drop, too.)

 

 

RANK

32

1-3 BUCCANEERS

2

Before you start pulling out the turnover tabulator on Jameis Winston, who logged four interceptions on Sunday, how about a little perspective? Vinny Testaverde, who ended up having a distinguished career, threw 35 picks in Year 2 for this very franchise. (OK, so Vinny’s best days might not have come in the creamsicles, but I digress.) How about Eli Manning, who has led the NFL in interceptions three times — and has almost as many Super Bowl rings in a strong box somewhere. (Do people still use strong boxes or is that too “Da Vinci Code”?)

 

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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20 Responses to “NFL Power Rankings, Week 5: Bengals hit top three; Steelers fall”

  1. jp says:

    IT NEVER ENDS.. TE ANTHONY BECHT BLAMES TEBOW PRE SEASON FOR EAGLES NOT FOCUS ON IMPORTANT THINGS … FOR EAGLE WOES

  2. lex says:

    geez. it never ends- the negative comments.

  3. Sage says:

    Not much to cheer about for Tebow fans. At least the pain is subsiding for me, and it feels good to not even be clicking the major sports media anymore. I gave up cable a long time ago, and TV itself. Occasionally see a game at a pizza shop, etc., but hope to stop carrying completely before too long.

    Meanwhile, it’s fun to see some of the NFL teams and honchos self-immolate.

    I use Scoreboard.com and Vegas Insiders Moneyline to see who’s playing and what the score is. Brandi on Twitter and just a couple of other Twitter sources.

    This isn’t the 21st Century I was expecting. Tonight (Tuesday) the Drudge report links to a rare and interesting interview of him (Drudge). Worthwhile, IMO.

    • Larry says:

      Wasn’t that great?! Scary & depressing, but great. And I love the fact that he refused to have his pic taken. I never thought I’d like Alex Jones, but I’m starting to.

  4. Danny says:

    Tebow would NEVER do this!

    Dolphins HILARITY! You can’t make this stuff up!

    http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/sources-say-tension-with-dolphins-had-been-mounting-for-weeks-in-practice/

    Sources say tension with Dolphins had been mounting for weeks in practice
    Posted October 5, 2015

    It was an extremely tense week in London surrounding the Miami Dolphins prior to them being embarrassed by the New York Jets and subsequently firing coach Joe Philbin upon their return to the United States.

    Frustrations have been mounting for weeks, and escalated Saturday during practice prior to the game. Philbin has also been struggling on how to handle his franchise quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, who had been getting rattled even in practice sessions.

    On Saturday during practice, Tannehill, after a couple of practice squad players forced turnovers, Tannehill made negative comments toward them, including saying: “Enjoy your practice squad paycheck, enjoy your practice squad trophy.”

    Sources say this has been going on for the past few weeks as the practice squad players have been intercepting Tannehill and frustrating the former Texas A&M wide receiver turned quarterback.

    The frustration for Tannehill stemmed from the entire situation as well as the Dolphins haven’t won a game since the season-opener. Tannehill is an extremely competitive person, and the struggles of the offense have angered him significantly.

    Philbin told the practice squad players to take it easy on Tannehill to not affect the young quarterback’s confidence.

    However, that didn’t prove to be an effective strategy.

    Follow me on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL

  5. Sage says:

    From Twitter:

    Ryan Tannehill cap hit

    2015: $4.8 million
    2016: $11.6 million
    2017: $20.3 million
    2018: $19.8 million
    2019: $21 million
    2020: $19.5 million

  6. David says:

    This is the Eagles’ schedule and it looks like they may be able to go 2-14 if they can beat Tampa Bay.
    http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com/cda-web/schedule-module.htm?vv=hd&view=HD&previewMode=true&print=true

  7. shaztah says:

    I don’t understand the logic in this ranking. Eagles should be WAY lower. They suck and it all starts from their fragile QB. He is not only fragile physically but also mentally. I still believe him and Sanchez were the main reason Tim was cut. Sanchez has lived the pressure of Tim being on the team and him and Bradford were scared. I think the fans need to wake up and realize that neither of their QB’s will do anything to salvage the season and Chip won’t pull Bradford cuz he doesn’t want to be proven wrong. As far as the player blaming Tebow for their losses, PLEASE!!!They need to take responsibility for their own failures as a team and the lack of leadership from their CURRENT QB. The Jets did the same thing trying to blame Tim for their failure….

    • ck says:

      Shaztah: Wouldn’t put it past the both of them and Mr. “butt fumble” as much as stated he did not want Kelly to add Tebow to the roster and even denigrated him to the point that he was a “camp arm” w/Barkley repeating same! He could have outplayed them ALL and, YES, THE WERE INTIMIDATED IMO TOO!!!

  8. Andrea says:

    Entering my third year of not watching Football games. Day trips for me on Sunday. Where I live I can hit Gettysburg PA, Harpers Ferry WV, Washington D.C. fairly quickly.
    Now that autumn is here I look forward to going to Western Maryland and seeing the beautiful change of colors on the trees.

    I follow Tebow Zone and my brothers keep me informed once in awhile of what’s happening but other than that I will continue my boycott of the NFL until they wise up and let Tebow be Tebow.

  9. LuitLipton says:

    Why hasn’t Tebow fired his agent yet? He should have fired him after the Jet debacle

    • ck says:

      LuitLipton: Good question b/c he is the same agent that represents “Rotten Rex” or so have been led to believe…HMMM!
      Buzzy Says Jimmy Sexton

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