NFL Power Rankings: Week Five

Five weeks in, and it seems about 3/4 of the league’s teams are in the middle of an identity crisis. A good win one week is followed by a horrible loss, and outside the top five, this list is a total toss up right now. The Broncos solidified their spot at No.1 with the gutty win against a Dallas team that showed it’s planning on hanging around for awhile. Outside of that, the Saints are our new No. 2 with a great performance at Soldier Field.

Here are the Week Five Power Rankings accompanied with, as always, the stat you need to know this week.

1. Denver Broncos (5-0, Last Week: 1): The Stat: 3. How good is the Broncos offense? You’re not getting a Peyton Manning stat (at least not directly) this time. I could tell you he ran for a touchdown for the first time since 2008 or that his 20 touchdown passes before throwing an interception is an NFL record or that he surpassed Dan Marino for 2nd all-time in passing yards. Nope, not going to point out any of that. I’m just going to mention that the Broncos have punted the ball THREE times in the last three games. That’s a stretch of 31 drives, 21 of them ending in scores, four in turnovers, three punts, and three running out the game clock.

45d26-saints2. New Orleans Saints (5-0, LW: 3): The Stat: 11. The Saints saw a couple impressive streaks end with the win at Soldier Field but a couple continued as well. Drew Brees was under 300 yards passing, breaking his record tying streak of nine straight games of 300+, and Jimmy Graham was held without a touchdown for the first time in six games. That was the bad. The good: the Saints are 5-0 for the first time since their Super Bowl winning season of 2009. And Brees didn’t see his other mark end. He completed 25-or-more passes for the 11th straight game, breaking his own NFL record.

7bab9-seahawks3. Seattle Seahawks (4-1, LW: 2): The Stat: 6-0. The Seahawks run just about half their plays under center and the other half from the shotgun, but they get markedly different results from the two set ups. It shows up most for Quarterback Russell Wilson. In the shotgun, Wilson has 3 TDs and 4 INTs with a 74.2 QB Rating. Put him under center, though, and the numbers are 6 TD, 0 INT, 129.5 QB Rating. Interestingly enough, it’s just the opposite in the run game where they average 5.6 yards out of the shotgun and 3.8 under center.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (5-0, LW: 5): The Stat: 5-0. It isn’t just the fact that Kansas City is 5-0. The Chiefs have been good plenty of times before. It’s the way they’ve done it, though. This Chiefs team is the first one in NFL history to win two games or less one season, then start 5-0 the next year. Some people like to say that coaching isn’t all that important in today’s NFL, but check two of the three teams that are still undefeated. The Chiefs and Saints were without two of the best coaching minds in the game a year ago.

5. Indianapolis Colts (4-1, LW: 6): The Stat: 9.5. When the Andrew Luck era began in Indy before last year started, there was a definite cleaning house that took place, officially bringing an end to the Colts careers of many of the players that helped bring success while Peyton Manning was there. That included defensive end Dwight Freeney, but his line mate Robert Mathis stayed, and it’s paying big dividends this year for Indianapolis. Mathis already has 9.5 sacks, nearly two per game. The 11-year veteran has a career high of 11.5 sacks, so he should shatter that mark before all is said and done this season.

6. New England Patriots (4-1, LW: 4): The Stat: 52. This one can’t be glossed over. Tom Brady was held without a touchdown pass against Cincinnati, ending a streak of 52 straight games with one. The leaves Brady two shy of the record set by Drew Brees. Brees’ run was ended just before Thanksgiving last year. Johnny Unitas held the mark at 47 for 52 years before Brees and Brady both topped it. The next closest: Brett Favre at 36 straight games from 2002-2004. So, no record for Brady but an extremely remarkable run. Peyton Manning has the longest active streak at 28.

7. San Francisco 49ers (3-2, LW: 8): The Stat: 7. The 49ers’ 34-3 dismantling of the Texans was the 7th time in the Jim Harbaugh era that San Fran has held an opponent to a field goal or less. That’s the most in the NFL in that span of 2+ years. The Niners have played 42 times since the start of 2011, so they’re making it happen every six games, incredibly impressive in the passing league the NFL has become.

8. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2, LW: 11): The Stat: 2. It seems one of the keys for the Bengals to win games this year is to cause turnovers and then turn them into points. Three times Cincinnati has caused two or more turnovers. Those three games they scored 31 points off the turnovers. They won all three games. The other two games, the team caused just one total turnover and didn’t score any points off it. They lost both games.

9. Chicago Bears (3-2, LW: 7): The Stat: 218. The Bears lost to the undefeated Saints this week, but fans had to be pleased with the monumental effort of Alshon Jeffery. The 2nd year receiver has been somewhat of a disappointment so far, developing slower than the team hoped, but he might have finally arrived. Jeffery caught 10 passes for a Bears record 218 yards and a touchdown in the game. If Jay Cutler can rely on both Jeffery and Brandon Marshall (mirrors of each other at 6’4″, 230 lb) Chicago will be extremely difficult to shut down.

10. Green Bay Packers (2-2, LW: 12): The Stat: 1,300. As a receiver, the 1,000 yard mark is usually one of the marquee goals on any preseason check list. With most teams, one guy usually has a great chance to get there, maybe two if the quarterback is really good. Four games into 2013, the Packers are on pace for a trio of not 1,000, but 1,300 yard receivers. If they keep up current production Jordy Nelson (on pace for 1,484 yds), James Jones (1,356) and Randall Cobb (1,300) will be the first trio to ever accomplish this feat. In fact, the last Green Bay player to even do it by himself was Javon Walker in 2004.

11. Detroit Lions (3-2, LW: 9): The Stat: 22. As good as Detroit looked against the Bears the previous week, the Lions looked that bad in Green Bay. Sure, it made a difference that Calvin Johnson sat out, leaving the Packers to key on Reggie Bush. History certainly wasn’t on their side either. The Lions have now lost 22 straight times in the state of Wisconsin, dating back to December of 1991. At that time, Brett Favre’s career in Green Bay hadn’t even begun.

12. Baltimore Ravens (3-2, LW: 17): The Stat: 19. On opening night, everyone watched the new Ravens defense gets absolutely shredded by the Broncos and most people declared it would be a long season in Baltimore. At that time we didn’t realize just how good the Broncos were, and we definitely overexaggerated the demise of the Ravens D. With six sacks Sunday, the Ravens have 19 for the season, 2nd best in the NFL. Terrell Suggs seems back to his old self as well. He had three of the six alone this past week.

13. Miami Dolphins (3-2, LW: 10): The Stat: 24. The defense has improved and is still looking ready for the bright lights for the most part, but if the Dolphins offensive line doesn’t do a better job, it’s going to be tough for young Quarterback Ryan Tannehill to have success. Tannehill has been sacked a league high 24 times this year, 10 times in Miami’s back-to-back losses. He’s been sacked on 11.7% of his drop backs, and though he has shown a lot of poise through it all, he won’t last back there taking that many hits every week.

14. Tennessee Titans (3-2, LW: 13): The Stat: 4, 11. Defensive Back Alterraun Verner is quietly having a career year for the Titans. The fourth year player from UCLA already has four interceptions and 11 passes defended. Both numbers are the best in his young career, and both are tied for the NFL lead. He also has an interception returned for a touchdown. His abilities on the corner have helped the Titans be one of the better pass defenses in the league this year.

15. San Diego Chargers (2-3, LW: 16): The Stat: 28. Here’s a reason to doubt the Chargers’ chances of making the playoffs in 2013. Despite how good Philip Rivers has been, San Diego is 28th in the NFL in turnover ratio. Why is that even worse than it sounds? The Chargers have made the postseason five times in the past ten years. In those seasons, the team’s turnover ratio was no worse than 11th in the league. In the five other seasons (including this year), it’s been no better than 14th, with four of the five at 23rd or worse.

16. Dallas Cowboys (2-3, LW: 19): The Stat: 7. What people should be talking about is the 506 yards and 5 touchdowns Tony Romo threw for against the undefeated Broncos Sunday. What they are talking about is the lone interception of the day, coming deep in his own territory to set up Denver’s game winning field goal. Romo has developed a reputation as a quarterback that can’t deliver in the clutch, but the stats actually don’t back that up. Since 2006, he’s thrown 7 interceptions (in 272 pass attempts) in the final 3:00 of a one score game. Eli Manning, on the other hand, has 15 (in 220 attempts). Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger both have 13. So, the reputation isn’t a fair one for Romo, and the Boys move up the rankings this week because of their performance.

17. Cleveland Browns (3-2, LW: 20): The Stat: 2002. That’s the last time the Browns were in first place five games into the season. That team was tied with Baltimore and Pittsburgh at 2-3, and the Browns won 7-of-11 the rest of the way for their only playoff berth since returning to Cleveland. The Steelers won the division at 10-5-1 that year, while the Ravens fell to 7-9.

18. Houston Texans (2-3, LW: 15): The Stat: 4. I’m taking the easy way out on this one. Matt Schaub sets an unwanted NFL record with his fourth consecutive game with an interception returned for a touchdown. He wasted no time getting the record out of the way Sunday, throwing the pick six on the game’s first pass attempt. Even worse, in his last eight games, Schaub has thrown 13 INTs, five of them returned for touchdowns.

19. Philadelphia Eagles (2-3, LW: 22): The Stat: 5-12. That’s the Eagles record since 2010 when Mike Vick can’t finish a game or doesn’t play at all due to injury. Philadelphia fans have got a little bit of everything from the brilliant to the awful when he’s on the field, but they have seen consistently bad play when he doesn’t suit up. The team is 1-3 when he’s forced out of the game and 4-9 when he doesn’t play. In games that he has started and finished for the Eagles, they’ve gone 19-17.

20. Arizona Cardinals (3-2, LW: 25): The Stat: 12. How good is Arizona’s Patrick Peterson? He’s finished two seasons in the NFL, was a Pro Bowler both years and an All-Pro once. He also has 12 interceptions in his 37 career games. That total is second best in the league in that span behind only the most talked about DB in the NFL, Richard Sherman (14). Peterson has snagged three so far in 2013, putting him on pace to beat his career mark of seven from last year.

21. Atlanta Falcons (1-4, LW: 14): The Stat: 47.3. There are a lot of horrible defensive teams in the league this year putting up some historically bad numbers, but when it comes to failing to stop your opponent, an argument could certainly be made against the Falcons. Atlanta is giving up points on 47.3% of opponents’ drives, worst in the NFL. That number is 3.4% higher than the next to last team. For comparison’s sake, the team on top of this list is the Chiefs, who only give up a score 16.2% of the time their opponent gets the ball. The Falcons are also last in the NFL, giving up 2.4 points per drive.

22. New York Jets (3-2, LW: 26): The Stat: 11-11. The Jets’ offense has left plenty to be desired most of this season, but when you’re struggling to score touchdowns you at least need a reliable kicker and New York definitely has that. Though he hasn’t been tested from 50 yards or more, Nick Folk is a perfect 11-11 on field goals, two better than anyone else in the league. The Jets definitely needed him Monday night when his 43-yarder at the gun gave them the win over the Falcons.

23. Buffalo Bills (2-3, LW: 18): The Stat: 4. Rookie Kiko Alonso has an NFL best four interceptions in his first five games as a pro player. In fact, last week he became the first player since 1960 to snag four picks in his first four games. He’s also tied for the league lead with 21 assisted tackles, with 23 solo tackles added in.

24. Minnesota Vikings (1-3, LW: 21): The Stat: 21.5, 136, 1.5. In Adrian Peterson’s career, he’s coming off a Bye Week six times. In the four times on the road, he’s been good but not great three times and had one monster performance his rookie year. The Vikings have lost three of those four games. The two times Minnesota has been at home, the team has won and AD has gone off to the tune of 21.5 carries, 136 yards and 1.5 touchdowns. The Vikings and their 1-3 record return home this week against struggling Carolina.

25. Oakland Raiders (2-3, LW: 27): The Stat: 97.6. Who knows if it’ll last or if he’s the guy for the job, but Terrelle Pryor is sure doing a good job playing the role of NFL quarterback this year. Pryor is 8th overall with a 97.6 QB Rating. Players below him include Matt Stafford, Andrew Luck, RGIII, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco and a number of others. Pryor is averaging north of 200 yards per game through the air, 57 on the ground and he’s completing nearly 70% of his passes.

26. Washington Redskins (1-3, LW: 24): The Stat: -21. That’s the Redskins’ point differential four games into the season. Washington has scored 91 points with 122 against. That’s important because since 2001 the ‘Skins have finished with a positive point differential three times. All three times they made the postseason. It seems silly to talk about the postseason right now, but even at 1-3 they’re only a half game out of 1st place in the NFC East.

27. St. Louis Rams (2-3, LW: 28): The Stat: 0. I gave the same stat last week but with much more information this time around. We’re five weeks into the season, and the Rams have yet to score a rushing touchdown. That got me thinking about what their strategy has been in the red zone. Here it is . In 15 drives, St. Louis has run 44 plays. Only ten of them have been runs. That’s less than a quarter of the time that they’ve been running the ball inside their opponents’ 20. Even more surprising, inside the opponents’ 10-yard line, the Rams have kept the ball on the ground on just three out of 17 plays. Mind boggling.

28. Carolina Panthers (1-3, LW: 23): The Stat: 6-18, 8-4. It’s commonly talked about but even more surprising when put into numbers. Under Cam Newton, the Panthers really are two very different teams the first ten games of the season compared to the final six. Counting this year’s 1-3 start, Carolina is 6-18 under Newton to start the year. In back-to-back seasons, though, they’ve closed with a 4-2 mark to salvage hope for the next year. If things don’t improve soon, though, a similar strong finish this year won’t be enough to save some jobs.

29. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4, LW: 29): The Stat: 5. The Steelers may be 0-4, but there’s one winning formula on their side…coming out of a Bye week under Head Coach Mike Tomlin. Pittsburgh has five straight wins after their Bye week, and since Tomlin took over in 2007, they’re 5-1 on those weeks. The go on the road to the Jets this week, making it seven post-Bye road games in the past nine years.

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4, LW: 31): The Stat: 0. A lot of the stats at this end of the rankings seem to be 0, and it’s almost always in a negative light, but let’s give the Bucs an actual shout out in the midst of their horrible start. Tampa Bay hasn’t given up a single rushing touchdown in 2013. And it’s not like opposing teams are just taking advantage of bad pass defense. The Bucs have only given up five passing touchdowns, 7th best overall. The defense is not the problem in Tampa.

31. New York Giants (0-5, LW: 30): The Stat: 0. Not one 0-5 team has made the playoffs in the history of the NFL. Of course, I’d guess none of the previous 0-5 teams were only two games out of first place either, but I digress. The Giants have a lot more problems than the playoffs right now. First and foremost, the turnover bug is still strong with this bunch. They’ve hand the ball over 20 times in five games. That projects to 64 turnovers for the season. The team record is 58 back in the 3-12-1 season of 1983.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5, LW: 32): The Stat: 51. The Jaguars have scored 51 points this season, an average of 10.2 points per game. The Broncos just scored 51 points in a game and are averaging 46. These two teams play each other this week. That’s a scary thought for anyone still cheering for Jacksonville.