Week 5 was symbolic of the highs and lows of an NFL season. The slate of games began with a star quarterback sustaining an injury and ended with an MVP contender leading a dramatic, high-scoring comeback win that required overtime.
Between all that was plenty of chaos.
Five games were decided by a field goal or less, several came right down to the wire, and much of the drama was a result of some horrendous kicking errors.
There were an astounding 13 missed PATs in Week 5, which set a new record. Some of those costly missed points will inevitably impact the playoff races later this season.
The Saints, 49ers, Falcons and Jets are off, signalling the beginning of bye weeks.
Five down. Thirteen to go. Let’s dig into these updated tiered rankings ahead of Week 6’s action.
CREAM OF THE CROP
1. Buffalo Bills (4-1; Last week: 2)
2. Dallas Cowboys (4-1; Last week: 8)
3. Los Angeles Chargers (4-1; Last week: 9)
4. Arizona Cardinals (5-0; Last week: 1)
5. Los Angeles Rams (4-1; Last week: 3)
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-1; Last week: 4)
7. Baltimore Ravens (4-1; Last week: 7)
8. Green Bay Packers (4-1; Last week: 5)
9. Cleveland Browns (3-2; Last week: 6)
With five weeks now in the books, we feel these are definitively the top nine teams in the NFL right now. While a couple teams in the lower tiers have the potential to join this top group, it’s starting to feel like it would be rather surprising to see any team outside of these nine win the Super Bowl.
We have the Bills leapfrogging the Cardinals and Cowboys and Chargers moving past the Rams and Bucs despite all of them winning this past week. Why is that? Well, Buffalo scores the most points with that wagon of an offence, and the defence is allowing the fewest yards and points while forcing the most turnovers. The Cowboys rank second in yards, points and turnovers and look like they have the most well-rounded offence in the NFC. We’re also loving that Justin Herbert and the Chargers have seemingly taken that next step in a similar way to the Bills of last season. The Chargers are playing well on both sides of the ball and are a Week 2 walk-off FG loss to the Cowboys away from being 5-0.
The NFL has become an offence-first league, so it’s fitting this top group is comprised of the nine highest-scoring teams thus far this season.
Far and away the two best matchups on the Week 6 docket are Chargers at Ravens and Cardinals at Browns, so we could see a shakeup near the top depending on how those contests unfold. – Johnston
A STATEMENT WIN OR TWO AWAY FROM THE TOP TIER
10. San Francisco 49ers (2-3; Last week: 14)
11. Kansas City Chiefs (2-3; Last week: 11)
12. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2; Last week: 15)
13. New Orleans Saints (3-2; Last week: 17)
14. Tennessee Titans (3-2; Last week: 19)
At what point should we worry about the Chiefs? Their success over the past few years has led us to never count them out, but their defensive struggles have proven to be too much for even Patrick Mahomes to overcome these past few weeks. Sunday’s blowout loss to Buffalo exposed every weakness, and it wasn’t pretty.
Even still, we’re not panicking quite yet. All three of their losses have come against formidable opponents – the Bills, Chargers and Ravens — and they should be back up to .500 this time next week after a date with Washington’s porous defence.
All five teams in this tier, in fact, can still go either way – and in the case of the Saints and Titans, two entirely unpredictable clubs on a weekly basis, they have.
The most surprising of the group, however, is undoubtedly Cincinnati. The fact the Bengals were just one made field goal (a tall task, apparently) away from beating Green Bay should have the Browns and Ravens a little nervous about their place in the AFC North. – Sadler
TOO MANY QUESTIONS TO FEEL CONFIDENT
15. Carolina Panthers (3-2; Last week: 13)
16. Minnesota Vikings (2-3; Last week: 20)
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3; Last week: 21)
18. Philadelphia Eagles (2-3; Last week: 25)
19. Denver Broncos (3-2; Last week: 16)
20. New England Patriots (2-3; Last week: 18)
21. Chicago Bears (3-2; Last week: 24)
22. Seattle Seahawks (2-3; Last week: 12)
A Thursday loss to the Rams typically wouldn’t result in the Seahawks falling this much, but news that Russell Wilson is expected to miss at least the next month has us worried about their playoff chances. Perhaps it’s an overreaction. We’ll see how Geno Smith does against the Steelers in his first start of the year.
New England and Minnesota are the only sub-.500 teams with a positive points differential, while the Bears are the only team averaging fewer than 20 points per game (they currently rank 30th, scoring 16.8 points per game). – Johnston
HOW WILL RAIDERS RESPOND POST-GRUDEN?
23. Las Vegas Raiders (3-2; Last week: 10)
Despite the framing of his feeble apology, Jon Gruden is not simply a “distraction” to the Raiders, nor was he an anomaly in the league, one bad seed given a powerful platform.
The players on this team (and all around the league) deserved far better leadership than what they’ve had, and now face an uphill battle because of it. – Sadler
PLAYOFF CONTENDERS TOO FAR BEHIND THE EIGHT BALL
24. Indianapolis Colts (1-4: Last week: 22)
25. Washington Football Team (2-3; Last week: 23)
Had the Colts bent and not broken Monday against the Ravens they would’ve been close to the Titans in terms of odds to win the AFC South. Instead, it’s a much steeper uphill climb after falling to 1-4. They did have the league’s most daunting schedule over the first five weeks, which is why they haven’t yet fallen to the bottom tier. Washington, meanwhile, has a tough upcoming schedule and could continue to fall. – Johnston
HOW DO YOU GROW THE GAME ACROSS THE POND…
26. Atlanta Falcons (2-3; Last week: 29)
27. Miami Dolphins (1-4; Last week: 26)
28. New York Jets (1-4; Last week: 28)
29. New York Giants (1-4; Last week: 27)
30. Houston Texans (1-4; Last week: 31)
31. Detroit Lions (0-5; Last week: 30)
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5; Last week: 32)
…when this is what we send? The Falcons beat the Jets in England this past week, while the Dolphins and Jaguars travel there this week.
While we’re here, Dan Campbell and the Lions deserve better results but simply cannot catch a break. – Sadler