Power Rankings Week 5

Our weekly power rankings take you through the winners and losers in week 4. One team climbs 7 spots, another falls a lot more than that...

Pickwatch

5 Oct, 2020

 

Rank

Change

Team

Record

1

 

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4-0

The Chiefs underwhelmed, sure, but they will be judged on their ability to beat the two teams that they faced in the last two weeks, the Patriots and Ravens. That 2-0 record is more meaningful than everyone else's in the NFL right now, because a lot of teams have yet to face two teams as close to them in ability. Are there concerns? Kind of. A better Patriots QB than Brian Hoyer would have given the Pats the lead and made them sweat for it, but I suspect that was part of the issue and an element of complacency crept in.

2

 

 

=

4-0

How good are the Packers? So good that Aaron Rodgers tore apart the admittedly woeful Falcons D with a bunch of guys pretty much off the street catch his passes. I don't think you can overstate how good that performance was, in fact it was a close run thing between the Chiefs underachieving and the Packers proving themselves as big time Super Bowl contenders with their offensive creativity. 

3

 

 

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4-0

The Seahawks continue to show why they are way more dynamic than previous seasons. In a year of big scoring teams, Seattle ranks second in points per game and never looked in real danger of losing against Miami. Every game in the NFL is designed to give the losing team a chance to get within 1 score by the end of the game, but there was very little reason to feel the Dolphins being 8pts adrift was anything other than the Seahawks playing a sensible gameplan of churning the clock. An interesting Vikings team comes to town this week, marking one of the few losing teams they will play this season (the next will likely be Philly in week 12 or the Giants in week 13)

4

 

 

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3-1

The Ravens had a bit of a gimme this week and remain in station as the league's 4th team. This was Lamar Jackson's first rushing TD of the season, which is unusual but indicative of why the Ravens are not quite looking as dominant as they did in 2019 yet. Ultimately, Jackson's ability run the ball will largely dictate this team's chances of winning the Super Bowl.

5

 

 

5

4-0

Are the Bills legit? It is becoming increasingly likely that the answer is in the affirmative. Stefon Diggs has opened up the offense, Devin Singletary is capitalizing and Josh Allen has overcome his week 1 struggles with accuracy. Sunday was a complete performance and they are rightly one of our biggest risers.

6

 

 

1

  2-2

The Pats are an odd 2-2 team that are probably better than this record. They've proven that defensively they can compete, but like any team, without a starting QB they'll suffer, particularly against the league's best. Encouragingly, their gameplan against the Chiefs almost kept them in the game despite their no.2 and no.3 QB's being unable to capitalize.

7

 

 

1

3-0

The Steelers haven't suffered physically during this Covid crisis, which keeps them more or less holding station, but losing a bye week isn't ideal. Still, nobody really made a huge push this week to send them down this list, so maybe it wasn't a terrible time to have a break. A mismatch against the Eagles awaits, giving them 2 bye weeks in a row.

8

 

 

3-1

Sunday was the first time the Bucs looked like something special on offense - and they did it without key piece Chris Godwin, without Mike Evans for some of the game, and they've largely done everything without Gronk even when he's playing. They can't afford to put themselves in deep holes like that regularly, but coming back from it indicates a change in mentality from previous years.

9

 

 

2

3-0

I hate to punish the Titans for a situation that is not reflective of them as a football team, but there is a chance the Titans will be the first team to suffer severe disruption to their season. It is looking increasingly unlikely that they will play Buffalo next week, which means that they will not only lose their bye week like Pittsburgh, but also have to squeeze at least one more game in at some point. That's before we even know if any players have any lingering issues. The Titans are a cautionary tale, let's hope they're an anomaly.

10

 

 

2

2-2

Very hard to gauge where the Niners are without Jimmy Garoppolo. I picked the Eagles to win and they duly did so, but two huge mistakes from Nick Mullens really defined that game. There is a lot to like here, but time is running out. After Miami this week, they play the Rams, Patriots, Seahawks, Packers, Saints, Rams again, and Bills. There is a strong likelihood that the only remaining time the 49ers play a team with a losing record is in week 14 against Washington. You hate to label anything win-or-bust in week 5, but in the strongest division in football, the Niners are clinging to this second place spot by virtue of us not knowing how good they are until Jimmy G is back. 

11

 

 

1

3-1 

The Rams are gatekeepers to the 'kind of ok' mid-tier teams. We have in the next few slots a group who are likely playoff contenders under the new 14-team system, but all have flaws. The Rams flatter to deceive at times, making hard work of a very poor Giants team. The Rams put up a combined total of just 10pts in the first half of their last two games and often look unconvincing on both sides of the ball. They need to put Jared Goff in better situations, because the evidence is that he will not outplay those around him, or a mediocre gameplan.

12

 

 

5

3-1

Was I wrong? Are the Colts good? No, it's the children who are wrong. (I don't use enough tenuous and obscure Simpsons references in these rankings). Indy have a ceiling that much like the Rams, is capped by their QB and whether he drops off a cliff in any given game. Their defense is playing well but I do worry about the poor quality of opponents this far being slightly misleading as to their overall ability.

13

 

 

1

 3-1

Cleveland are another big riser. They comprehensively outplayed the Cowboys for 3 quarters (stop me if you've heard this one before...) but almost coughed the game up in a wild finish. The truth is that the Browns were always at least a field goal to the good even when things looked shaky, so no need to panic. The loss of Nick Chubb for an extended time would hurt most teams, but the Browns may be one of the few who are set up to handle such a problem.

14

 

 

2

2-2

The Saints are just not their old self. They were given a freebie by the Lions (who looked like their old selves) but as we said earlier this year, New Orleans has an 8-8 vibe about them and any aura or mystique they had about them has evaporated, but the midfield in the NFL is also very weak and almost every team has major flaws. Given that only 5 NFC teams are above them in these rankings, the playoffs may be possible if only by the two sweetest words in the English language: Default.

15

 

 

2

2-2

Ouch. Back down to earth with a bang against the Bills, the Raiders do not look like a team who is about to start beating other winning teams, which probably says everything about them right now. They have certainly reverted to undisciplined mistakes and even worse, now face the Chiefs, Bucs, Browns and Chargers in what looks like a season-defining stretch.

16

 

 

7

2-2

The aforementioned Raiders will be wary of the Chargers after their spirited play over the last 3 weeks. Justin Herbert's arm is ridiculous (I enjoyed Tyron Johnson's shock as the ball caught up to him in mid-air and almost overshot him as he slowed down on Sunday) but there was a sense that the Chargers will again be the type of team that feasts on their own and can't quite beat the big dogs. Still, an encouraging start for them under Herbert.

17

 

 

8

1-3

Oh wow. I mean I picked the Browns to win so Sunday was not as shocking here in Pickwatch HQ as it was in a lot of places, but the Cowboys are on the rocks and have essentially morphed into the Bucs from last season. At the current pace, Dak Prescott is going to throw for 6,760 yards and obliterate the league's passer record by over 1,000yds. That probably won't happen, but nothing about the Cowboys 32nd ranked defense suggests they're going to be able to turn things around. If the Giants can get substantially above the 11.8 points they average so far on Sunday, it will be a useful barometer of how bad things can get.

18

 

 

3

2-2

At 2-2, the Cards are the worst team in the NFC West, but would actually be the best team in the NFC East. Their strong start against the 49ers now looks like the exception rather than the rule, as they fell to the Panthers in convincing fashion. The Cardinals have a gimme against the Jets, but the schedule is going to get substantially worse over the rest of the season. Ideally, they needed to come out of this early phase 3-1 to have much shot of getting to the playoffs, but it likely all hinges on their divisional games. Of note, Kyler Murray was mistake-free but an average of 4.3 yards per tells us that he isn't getting the ball downfield enough to give the team's best weapons (Hopkins and Kirk) a chance to beat opponents.

19

 

 

3

2-2 

The Panthers could go higher than this but let's not get carried away just yet. What is encouraging is how balanced the Panthers are. If they can stiffen up vs the run (21st) and get a pass rush together (32nd) they will have an outside shot of a playoff run, but regardless, they have shown themselves to be no pushovers, which was pretty much the best that could be hoped for before the opener. How nice it was to see Teddy Bridgewater juking his way to a running touchdown after everything he's been through, too.

20

 

 

2

1-3

Tua time is coming. I am a huge Ryan Fitzpatrick fan, but it is clearly the case that he will try 4 or 5 throws a game that he is simply not capable of making. He is really not the problem, but like with Patrick Mahomes once upon a time, I think the difference we will see between Fitz and Tua once he takes over will be huge. I do like the Dolphins committing to allowing him time to grow and wonder if they have earmarked the weeks 10 and 12 games against the Jets (sandwiched around a bye week) as a chance to blood him.

21

 

 

4

 3-1

Nick Foles is never the answer, unless the question is 'who is not the answer?' in which case, Nick Foles is always the answer. 

22

 

 

2

1-2-1

Joe Burrow got his first win against the Jags. In last week's Upset Watch I mentioned that I had it in my head that the Jags were a prime upset choice, but that the stats said otherwise and changed my mind. I'm glad that I stuck with the data. Burrow and the Bengals hugely improved and he managed a season high 8.3 yards per attempt, which is encouraging. I think the reality for the Bengals is that they're not that good this season, and they matchup very badly against Baltimore. Still... progress.

23

 

 

3

1-3 

The Vikings are mediocre and beat one of the NFL's worst teams on Sunday, so let's not get carried away, but they have shown that they have some parts of a working offense, which is a good start. That strong defense, a Mike Zimmer hallmark, is 24th or worst in passing yards allowed, rushing yards allowed and points allowed. That - added to Kirk Cousin's throwing 6 interceptions so far - is ultimately, is why the Vikings are where they are despite a strong run game. A trip to Seattle on Sunday will likely not help those rankings on either side of the ball.

24

 

 

3

1-3

Ah Detroit, you show a little bit of ankle and then we got carried away dreaming of what was under your skirt. The answer was sadly some kind of Venus fly trap. They started well on Sunday and were 14-0 ahead after a few minutes. It was all looking so good. Unfortunately, their defense is a lot like Minnesota's and terminally prevents them from recovering from this start, despite Matt Stafford playing good football and some encouraging offensive signs. I wouldn't give much chance of Matt Patricia being in charge beyond January though.

25

 

5

1-3

Back down to earth for the Jags, who still figure as a banana skin team for some opponents. They face the 0-4 Texans in the week's least interesting game. Both teams playing for whatever constitutes pride in the AFC South... Look the Jags are exactly where they should finish this season - not good, not the worst team in the NFL. They actually match up badly against the Texans (their passing strength mitigated by the Texans incongruous 5th ranked passing defense) but if they start 2-3, just remember not to start thinking they're legit.

26

 

4

 1-2-1

WHO THE **** THIS GUY? said Conor Mcgregor once upon a meme, and here come the Eagles out of nowhere, beating the 49ers in a game that only yours truly predicted they could win. The Eagles cement first place in the haunted ghost town of the NFC East by virtue of not losing as many games as the others, which is not exactly a stirring Henry V style speech, but there are glimmers of hope. If they could cobble together an offensive line, they could even aim as high as .500 this season.

27

 

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1-3

I am genuinely happy for the Broncos getting their win on Thursday. They have played hard in extraordinarily unfortunate circumstances, losing not only their starting QB but their best defensive player in Von Miller. I think their defense is actually still doing pretty well, considering the Broncos can't move the ball on offense and have 8 offensive turnovers so far through a collection of QB's. All I'm saying is don't be surprised if this team leaps up the rankings when Drew Lock returns. Until then? Yayyyy 27th place.

28

 

3

0-4

The Texans stay above the Falcons by virtue of firing the guy who made this all possible. What is amazing about Bill O'Brien is how unanimously he was regarded as the outright cause of Houston's problems, not only on the field but off it. Seemingly unable to get on with some of his star players, O'Brien made a trade that will be notorious for years to come when he sent DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona for David Johnson and some picks. It wasn't even that unbalanced, but it took away the Texans' best player at a time when they had no draft capital to address it. As for this season, it is over, but it wouldn't be a huge shock to see Romeo Crennell do a rebound job on the Jaguars this week.

29

 

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0-4

Oh Atlanta. There really is not much to say. Maybe if you fired Dan Quinn, I could move you above the Texans? The problems here run deep, but they are almost all tied to the defense. Atlanta have given up a league worst 13 passing TD's this season and concede 34.5 points per game. Like the Cowboys, the Falcons and their potent passing attack simply won't be able to air it out constantly and overcome such deficiencies. They have some chance this week to rectify their zero wins, but it appears that the only question left is when Dan Quinn is fired, not if.

30

 

2

1-3

Reverse everything I said about the Falcons and you have the answer as to why the dreadful Washington team is failing. A terrible offense punctuated by a busted flush of a QB undoing the work of a much improved defense who have 6 takeaways this season so far. Unfortunately, the offense has given it away 8 times (second in the league) and that is one of the major problems. Their next opponents, the Rams, are not at the peak of their powers, but until the Football Team move away from Dwayne Haskins, they will not win with regularity.

31

 

1

0-4

FINALLY. The Jets move up by virtue of not being the Giants. They lost to the Broncos and their third string QB at home on Thursday and pound for pound have the least talented roster in the NFL. Them moving up by one is not a recommendation, it is me saying that if I could have two teams in 32nd spot, I would. Fire Gase, fire half the team and start again. They're done.

32

 





1

0-4

Knock knock
Who's there?
11.8 points
11.8 points who?
11.8 points is not enough to win a game in the NFL.

The Giants offense is now officially worse than the Jets. There has been no hope for their offense this year, no breakout where they just scored a bunch of points in garbage time, no momentum. The staggering thing is that their defense is actually... ok! There is hope there, but as with Washington, it's becoming clearer by the week where the problem lies...