Written by Emilio Peña
The NFL teams are starting to separate. There are some who are establishing themselves as true Super Bowl Contenders, some surprising up with their hot starts, and others who are a lot worse than initially advertised. After 5 weeks, it’s become more clear than ever who is good, and who is bad.
1. Philadelphia Eagles (-)
The Eagles continue to win games. Until they are defeated, they will remain the top dog. They have won in multiple different ways this season. Blowout wins, comeback wins, and now they have a hard fought cross country close win on their resumes. While there were blunders on The Cardinals end that helped Philly escape with a win, they found a way, and that’s what matters.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (-)
Travis Kelce had a career high 4 touchdown receptions Monday night at home against the Vegas Raiders. Kansas City was down 17-0 at one point in the first half, but were able to fight back and win the game, as they typically do. We’ve entered LeBron James territory with Mahomes, where what he does has become the norm. The Chiefs could be down 28-0 at halftime, and I wouldn’t count out #15.
3. Buffalo Bills (-)
The Pittsburgh Steelers showed up to Orchard Park without their best player in TJ Watt, and rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett making his first NFL start. It won’t be a game he’ll remember for all the right reasons. On the first possession of the game, Gabe Davis caught a 98 yard touchdown that set the tone for the rest of the game. The final score was 38-3, and Josh Allen had 348 passing yards at half with 4 touchdowns.
4. San Francisco 49ers (+5)
The 49ers traveled to Charlotte to take on the struggling Carolina Panthers, and took care of business. They won 37-15 and their stifling defense continued to play well, with 6 tackles for loss and a pick six. Jimmy G continues to improve his play each week, after replacing Trey Lance. Nick Bosa did not finish the game with a groin injury, if he misses major time, The Niners will be in trouble.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-)
Despite not having their most impressive game, Tampa got back on the winning track. They beat divisional rival Atlanta Falcons at home, with a little bit of help with the refs (see Atlanta ranking). After a slow start to the season, Tom Brady has put together a string of games that resemble, well, Tom Brady. Tampa will need an impressive showing next week against Pittsburgh to maintain their top 5 ranking.
6. Minnesota Vikings (+1)
You like that!?!? Is what I imagine Kirk Cousins said after sneaking in a 4th quarter rushing touchdown to put The Vikings up by a score against the Chicago Bears. Cousins also started the game 17-17 which set a Vikings franchise record. Minnesota was up 21-3 in the second quarter, before allowing Chicago to storm all the way back to take a 22-21 lead in the 4th. The Vikings have now won 3 straight comeback wins where there has been a lot of good, and some bad. Minnesota will need to finally beat down a team to justify their high ranking.
7. Dallas Cowboys (+4)
How ‘bout those Cowboys! The Dallas Cowboys went to LA to challenge the defending Super Bowl Champs in a home away from home game. On The Rams third offensive play, Dallas forced Matthew Stafford to fumble and the Dallas D scooped the ball up for a defensive touchdown. Dallas’ defense has continued to impress this season, it’s a top 5 unit in the league. They’ve ridden it, as well as backup quarterback Cooper Rush to 4 straight wins. A major test on the road in Philadelphia awaits them, as they wait for Dak Prescott to get healthy.
8. Baltimore Ravens (+2)
It wasn’t pretty for much of the game, but the Baltimore Ravens escaped M&T Bank Stadium with a massive divisional win against the defending division champs. This one was very important too, after allowing 41 points in each of their losses to Cincy last season, the defense only allowed Cincy to score 16 points. Baltimore’s D has been a major problem this season as well, so it was very encouraging for them to help prevent the Bengals from doing what they have done to them in the past.
9. Green Bay Packers (-3)
After getting out to an early lead in London, Green Bay looked like a completely different team in the second half. Going into the half up 20-10, Green Bay surrendered 17 straight points from the Giants. Something will need to change in Green Bay for things to turn around. A narrow win against Bailey Zappe, and now a loss to the Giants doesn’t bode well for Rodgers and co.
10. New York Giants (+6)
Brian Daboll’s effect on this football team is evident. They are far from the most talented team in the league, they are far from being the healthiest team in the league, but they keep winning. Led by Saquon Barkely, this Giants team knows they’re the underdog, and are using it to fuel themselves. There’s still plenty of season to be played, but it’s not farfetched to see this team playing in January.
11. Tennessee Titans (+6)
In typical Titans fashion, this team started slow and made us all believe Malik Willis would be starting games this season. Also in typical Titans fashion, they’ve now won 3 straight and have sole possession of the division lead in a division full of not so great teams. They’re on BYE this upcoming week, and then play Indy the following week, which they’ll probably win and nobody will notice that either.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (-4)
This team gives me headaches. Right when they start to hit their stride, they get stuck in the mud. An ugly loss to divisional rival Baltimore caused them to fall below .500 right after getting there. This team has way too much talent on the offensive side of the ball to have their defense keeping them in football games. Joe Burrow and The Bengals travel to New Orleans to see if they can get back on the right track.
13. Los Angeles Chargers (+1)
As much as Brandon Staley tried to give this game to Cleveland, it seemed like Cleveland tried a little harder to give it to LA. Up by 2, 4th and short, 1:14 left in the game, on their own 46 yard line, Staley opted to go for it. They failed to convert, giving Cleveland the ball relatively close to field goal range. Fortunately for The Chargers, rookie Cade York missed the 54 yard kick that would’ve given Cleveland the win. A win is a win though, and The Chargers will be happy to have won this one.
14. New York Jets (+6)
J-E-T-S, JETS, JETS, JETS. The Jets have won 2 straight games for the first time in 2 seasons. They not only won, but won big 40-17. Granted, they were up against Dolphins 3rd string quarterback Skylar Thompson, who made his NFL debut, but The Jets will take any victory they can. Rookie running back Breece Hall helped carry them to victory with 197 all purpose yards. This team is not only picking up wins, but confidence too. For a young team like this, that is dangerous.
15. Miami Dolphins (-11)
After starting 3-0, The Miami Dolphins are free falling. Losing their second game in a row, they also lost their backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a head injury. It’ll be interesting to see how head coach Mike McDaniel has his team respond, as they prepare rookie quarterback Skylar Thompson for his first start against the rolling Vikings.
16. Los Angeles Rams (-4)
The Super Bowl hangover is real. The Rams lost their second straight and were dominated at the line of scrimmage. Cooper Kupp scored a touchdown early in the 2nd quarter to give The Rams a 10-9 lead, before Dallas scored 13 unanswered. Kupp’s touchdown was The Rams only one in their last 9 quarters of football. Sean McVay has a lot of work to do to turn this team around.
17. New Orleans Saints (+7)
The New Orleans Saints need to give Taysom Hill the ball more. Like, every single play (this is a joke). In all seriousness though, when The Saints have given Hill the ball, good things happen. He had 3 rushing touchdowns and 1 through the air on Sunday to help lead The Saints to a victory over Seattle.
18. Cleveland Browns (-3)
As mentioned in the Chargers ranking, it appeared that Cleveland wanted to lose this game. The theme of their season so far has been the timely, costly turnovers at the hands of Jacoby Brissett. Brissett threw an endzone interception that would’ve given Cleveland the lead late in the game. They also missed a 54 yard field goal with less than 10 seconds left. The Browns could be 5-0, but they are 2-3.
19. New England Patriots (+9)
This was the most New England win you could imagine. The visiting Lions came into the game as the highest scoring offense in the league and left Foxborough without scoring a single point. Bailey Zappe managed the game as well as one could, and Rhamondre Stevenson was unleashed. It’s hard to count a Bill Belichick team out this early in the season. A win next week against Cleveland will have them at .500 again.
20. Arizona Cardinals (-2)
The Arizona Cardinals are destined to remain anywhere from 16-22 in the rankings all year it feels like. A Kyler Murray scramble just short of the 1st down, setting in motion a chain of events that ended with replacement kicker Matt Ammendola (who was cut from The Chiefs a few weeks ago) shanked a 43-yard field goal attempt wide right that would’ve sent the game to overtime. The margin between good teams and bad teams is razor thin, and this game didn’t do any favors for Arizona.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars (-8)
Maybe The Jaguars aren’t ready to be big time. Last week they played the #1 team in the rankings in torrential rain which could be pointed to for their turnover riddled performance. This week, the team could not claim the same. Lawrence threw 2 interceptions and didn’t have a single touchdown. They lost to the last remaining winless team in their divisional rival Texans. It was a chance to establish themselves and they failed.
22. Atlanta Falcons (-1)
The Atlanta Falcons got screwed by the refs in Tampa. On a crucial third down (what would’ve been a massive stop), Grady Jarrett sacked Tom Brady but it was called for roughing the passer, allowing Tampa to continue their game icing drive. While The Falcons had plenty of chances earlier in the game to put more points up, they weren’t given a chance to tie or win the game because of the blown call.
23. Denver Broncos (-4)
The panic button is not ready to get hit yet in Denver, but boy are we close. A home TNF game against the equally struggling Colts was a missed opportunity for Denver. Only mustering 9 points on 3 field goals, The Broncos offense continues to look anemic. a red zone interception allowed Indy to score 6 unanswered to win in probably the most boring game of the season. Game management continues to be an issue for head coach Nathaniel Hackett as well. Hopefully the long break between games allows for Denver to get things back on track.
24. Seattle Seahawks (-1)
Geno Smith and The Seattle Seahawks offense has been a major surprise this season. A career backup, Smith is playing better than his predecessor Russell Wilson this season. If only their defense could play a little better, they would certainly be higher in the rankings. A season ending injury to Rashaad Penny made matters even worse.
25. Indianapolis Colts (+2)
While the Indianapolis Colts were able to escape Denver with a win last Thursday, it didn’t feel like it. They were gifted the ball back late in the 4th quarter which allowed them to tie the game and eventually win. Denver going brain dead late in the game was truly a blessing for Indy, something they’ll be lucky to have happen again this season. Two divisional games against Jacksonville then Tennessee will give The Colts a chance to prove me wrong.
26. Las Vegas Raiders (-4)
Vegas was up 17-0 against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead, and ended up losing 29-30. With a lead of that magnitude, against a team of that magnitude, you must win those. Now at 1-4, it feels like an impossible task for this team to rebound. Especially after star wide receiver Davante Adams pushed a stadium crew member to the ground in frustration. Litigation and a potential suspension are looming, and it’s the last thing this team needed.
27. Chicago Bears (-2)
The Chicago Bears arguably had their best showing of the season, despite the loss. Down 21-3 in the 2nd quarter, Chicago fought back to take a 1 point lead in the 4th quarter. With a chance to take the lead, Chicago fumbled twice and lost one on them, which iced the game. Justin Fields had his best passing game of the season, and Chicago will have to let him continue to throw if they want him to grow.
28. Detroit Lions (-2)
Entering the game The Lions had the #1 scoring offense in the whole league. They scored ZERO points on Sunday. Dan Campbell couldn’t help himself either, going for it on 4th down 6 times and not converting a single time. Those are the types of decisions that lose people jobs. While the aggressiveness is what makes Campbell who he is, he’s going to have to kick field goals/punt at the right times to give his team a chance.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers (-)
Sunday was a rough day for The Steelers. The Steelers were outmatched in every facet of the game. With an brutal schedule ahead, Tomlin appears destined to finally suffer his first losing season as head coach
30. Houston Texans (+2)
After fighting and clawing all season, Houston got their first win of the season. They had strong performances from rookies Derek Stingley Jr. and Dameon Pierce. Having their young players play well is imperative for this team to have hope, after a couple of tumultuous seasons.
31. Washington Commanders (-)
The rollercoaster that is Carson Wentz was very rollercoaster like on Sunday. All types of twists and turns that surely have Washington fans looking for some Tylenol. With a chance to win the game with a couple of seconds left, Wentz threw an interception. The quarterback play is holding this team back, which was best put by head coach Ron Rivera.
32. Carolina Texans (-2)
After their week 5 performance, The Carolina Panthers opted to fire Head Coach Matt Rhule. The team was not competitive against the Niners. Steve Wilks will take over as interim head coach. There isn’t much hope to turn this team around.