Five weeks into the season, the contenders are beginning to emerge across the NFL.
After a prime time shellacking of the Dallas Cowboys, it is truly beginning to look like the San Francisco 49ers are the team to beat in the entire NFL, but the Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs, and Detroit Lions all had the kind of performances over the weekend that solidified their status as legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
Who moved up, who tumbled, and which teams should be looking closer at the 2024 NFL Draft, after just over a month of action? Here's a look at our power rankings, following Week 5:
1. San Francisco 49ers (5-0)
Previous: No. 1
It's beginning to look like the San Francisco 49ers, and then a sizable gap with the rest of the league.
This is the most talented and deepest roster in the NFL, and head coach Kyle Shannahan is wielding the offensive weapons like a versatile battering ram against any doubters. Sunday night was the working definition of a statement win over the Cowboys, a 42-10 shellacking that underscores that the 49ers are in fact the team to be in the NFC. Not only did the 49ers' swarming defense intercept Dak Prescott three times, but Brock Purdy continues to make significant strides each week, and passed for 252 yards with four touchdowns against one of the league's more talented defenses. It's now fair to wonder who the 49ers' biggest challenger will be this season.
2. Miami Dolphins (4-1)
Previous: No. 5
There aren't many teams built to withstand, or counteract, the onslaught of speed that the Dolphins throw at defenses on every single snap.
Once again on Sunday, Tyreek Hill and D'Von Achane issued a reminder that the Dolphins are capable of scoring on every snap, as Miami unleashed a blitzkrieg on the Giants in a 31-16 blowout that was only that close because of a Tua Tagovailoa pick-six. Hill caught eight of nine targets for 181 yards with a touchdown while Achane rushed for 151 yards with a touchdown while averaging 13.7 yards per carry. Good luck slowing the Dolphins down ...
3. Philadelphia Eagles (5-0)
Previous: No. 3
The Eagles continue to stack early-season wins, but Sunday in Los Angeles against the Rams, Jalen Hurts and the offense seemed to rediscover the winning formula that powered Philadelphia's run to the Super Bowl last season.
Sunday, it was the Eagles' offensive line that paved the way both to keeping Aaron Donald at by to allow Jalen Hurts to pass for 303 yards with one touchdown to one interception but also opening up running lanes as Philadelphia averaged 4.1 yards per carry. Philadelphia is experienced enough, and talented enough to challenge San Francisco, and the December 3 showdown at Lincoln Financial Field could represent a battle for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. That is, if Hurts and Co. can survive a brutally difficult upcoming stretch of the schedule relatively unscathed.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (4-1)
Previous: No. 4
Kansas City went up to Minnesota and flew home with a workmanlike victory.
The Chiefs can also breathe a sigh of relief that Taylor Swift's boyfriend was able to return to action after suffering an ankle injury against the Vikings. There wasn't much pretty about this game, other than Patrick Mahomes coming up clutch, again, while passing for 281 yards with two scores. Kansas City now opens a stretch of three straight division games which could create significant separation in the AFC West.
5. Detroit Lions (4-1)
Previous: No. 7
Look. Out. For. The. Lions.
David Montgomery continues to look like a franchise running back, taking advantage of strong offensive line play Sunday afternoon while rushing for 109 yards and one touchdown. Jared Goff remains a steadying force offensively, lighting up the Panthers for 236 yards with three scores. Detroit dominates along both lines of scrimmage, has a strong secondary, and a ridiculously competitive persona that mirrors its head coach. This is no longer some cute little story, the Lions are a team with all the pieces to make a legitimate run at challenging San Francisco to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2)
Previous: No. 17
How long until the Jaguars petition the NFL to officially relocate to London, full-time?
The best thing to happen for Jacksonville was having consecutive games staged oversees, and as a result the Jaguars are flying home with a victory over the Falcons and a signature win that provides some legitimacy over the Buffalo Bills. Travis Etienne ran roughshod over the Bills, for 136 yards with a pair of touchdowns, while averaging 5.2 yards per carry, and Trevor Lawrence was locked in with Calvin Ridley and Zay Jones all afternoon. Jacksonville has the best quarterback in the AFC South, a balanced offense, and suddenly some dominance along both lines of scrimmage, which could make this a dangerous team the rest of the way.
7. Buffalo Bills (3-2)
Previous: No. 2
In a vacuum, Josh Allen and the Bills' offense has all the pieces to compete at the top of the AFC. However, injuries are beginning to take a significant toll on Buffalo's defense, after a disastrous pair of games the last two weeks.
Already without Tre'Davious White, Buffalo lost stalwart linebacker Matt Milano to a fractured leg Sunday morning in London. While Josh Allen's three total touchdowns masked some of the Bills' issues running the football, it's starting to look like this is going to be a battle of attrition for this team the rest of the way.
8. Seattle Seahawks (3-1)
Previous: No. 9
Prior to the bye week, Seattle announced its presence as an elite defense on the national stage.
But, Clint Hurtt will have a legitimate barometer game after the break, when Seattle heads to Cincinnati to take on Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase, and the suddenly resurgent Bengals. While Kenneth Walker has looked at times like Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks might need quarterback Geno Smith to be at full strength, after being banged up and knocked from the game last Monday night at MetLife.
9. Dallas Cowboys (3-2)
Previous: No. 6
The Dallas Cowboys arrived in Santa Clara, hoping to make a statement that the gap had closed on the 49ers, and that this was a tougher roster boasting a more menacing defense than San Francisco had seen in recent years. None of that shone through Sunday night.
San Francisco thoroughly embarrassed the Cowboys in all phases, issuing a stark reminder of how much further Dallas needs to climb in order to compete at the top of the NFC. Dak Prescott tossed three interceptions, Micah Parson was completely neutralized, and the Cowboys' running game was nonexistent. More than anything, this was a wake up call for the Cowboys, who really don't have the ability to make the kind of personnel changes necessary to change the outcome should these teams meet again.
10. Los Angeles Chargers (3-1)
Previous: No. 10
Prior to their bye week, Los Angeles seemed to have figured out how not to Charger away games in the waning moments.
The way this division is shaping up, if the Chargers can maintain its end-of-game success, this is easily the biggest threat to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in the AFC West. Oct. 22nd offers the first opportunity to see if Justin Herbert and Co. can take down the reigning champs.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1)
Previous: No. 11
Baker Mayfield's renaissance was one of the top storylines of the NFL's first month, but, for the Buccaneers to make a real run Mayfield's going to need to sustain it.
If Tampa winds up making a run at the playoffs, they'll certainly have earned it. The Buccaneers face the NFL's 14th-toughest remaining schedule, including clashes against the San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills, and Jacksonville Jaguars, among others. It's about to be prove-it time for Mayfield.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2)
Previous: No. 20
The Steelers have myriad issues, but somehow keep finding ways to win.
When was the last time Pittsburgh struggled as mightily as this year's Steelers do? Sunday, Pittsburgh managed just 87 yards on the ground. In the absence of a ground-and-pound mentality, the Steelers are winning on the back of its swarming defense. Sunday, it took all three phases, as the special teams delivered a blocked-punt safety, Joey Porter Jr. intercepted Lamar Jackson in the back of the end zone, and Kenny Pickett converted the rookie cornerback's pick into a game-winning drive. Pittsburgh just wins ugly. That much hasn't changed.
13. Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
Previous: No. 8
For all the preseason excitement about Lamar Jackson's supporting cast, injuries have tempered much of the enthusiasm about this offense.
Sunday, the passing game never quite got into a rhythm and uncharacteristically the Ravens' offense was only able to scratch out 125 yards on the ground with Jackson accounting for 45 of them. There's plenty of talent on defense, but when you only surrender 15 offensive points and lose ... that's troubling.
14. Cleveland Browns (2-2)
Previous: No. 16
The Bengals are coming. The Steelers are coming. Who knows what the Ravens are going to be.
But, as far as the Browns' chances in the AFC North, Cleveland is going to need much more from Deshaun Watson, who has only shown momentary glimpses of the franchise cornerstone and difference-making quarterback he was during his tenure with the Houston Texans.
15. Indianapolis Colts (3-2)
Previous: No. 18
Jonathan Taylor's return cued up a breakout performance for ... Zack Moss. Moss ran all over the Titans, finishing with 165 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Meanwhile, linebacker Zaire Franklin looked every bit the part of a First-Team All-Pro with one of the more dominant performances of his dominant 2023 campaign. Quarterback Anthony Richardson's shoulder injury, though, casts a pall over much of the optimism of what the Colts are building right now.
16. Cincinnati Bengals (2-3)
Previous: No. 26
A trip to the desert was exactly what the doctor ordered for Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase, and the struggling Cincinnati Bengals. Burrow, for the first time this season, looked relatively healthy, and Chase was downright explosive, as a result. Chase set a franchise record with 15 receptions, producing 192 yards and reaching the end zone three times as the Bengals left Glendale with a 14-point victory. That Cincinnati weathered the early storm, and Burrow's limitations due to injury, and now find themselves just one game out of the AFC North division lead is a minor miracle.
17. Los Angeles Rams (2-3)
Previous: No. 12
Wide receivers Puca Nakua and Tutu Atwell continue to be revelations for Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, but the Eagles' ability to completely neutralize Aaron Donald is alarming for a team that must overcome the likes of the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks twice apiece in the NFC West.
18. Atlanta Falcons (3-2)
Previous: No. 22
Desmond Ridder gave the Falcons the kind of bounce-back performance they desperately needed, and he might have needed just to keep his starting job. Atlanta lit up the Texans for 351 passing yards, including wide receiver Drake London getting in on the fun with a trick play. Maybe most importantly, Kyle Pitts exists, again. Pitts led the Falcons with 87 receiving yards, perhaps as a harbinger of things to come.
19. New York Jets (2-3)
Previous: No. 21
There are revenge games, and then there's what the Jets just did to the Broncos over Sean Payton's preseason comments about offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Breece Hall, finally off a pitch count, had a field day barnstorming for 177 yards and a touchdown while averaging 8.0 yards per carry as defensively the Jets made it look like Father Time had hogtied Russell Wilson. Afterwards, Aaron Rodgers and the Jets' social media department piled on Payton, for good measure.
20. New Orleans Saints (3-2)
Previous: No. 23
New Orleans went into New England and waxed Bill Belichick's Patriots. However, blowout wins over Belichick's Pats have lost some of their luster this season. The good news for the Saints, is that Alvin Kamara seems to be heating up, rushing for 80 yards with a touchdown which could give New Orleans' offense the chance to be multiple moving forward.
21. Las Vegas Raiders (2-3)
Previous: No. 29
The Raiders' defense stole a victory over the Packers on Monday night, despite head coach Josh McDaniel's shaky end-of-game decisions. There are few players as disruptive in the entire NFL than Raiders EDGE Maxx Crosby, who terrorized Jordan Love and the Packers with five total tackles, one sack, and one tackle for loss. The Raiders' defense intercepted Love three times, including on the game's final snap. Vegas is going to need to get more out of Jimmy Garoppolo and the offense, though, if they are going to make waves.
22. Houston Texans (2-3)
Previous: No. 14
The Texans are knocking on the doorstep, but they'll need to weather C.J. Stroud growing pains, such as Sunday's outing, but that was what the 2023 campaign was always going to be about. Houston can take some comfort in Stroud leading a fourth quarter drive to pull within two points in the game's final moments.
23. Green Bay Packers (2-3)
Previous: No. 15
Jordan Love struggled mightily, with the kind of performance that raises some questions about his decision-making, despite an onslaught of pressure. But, this entire season is about evaluating whether Love is the Packers' future, and he just has not seized the moment.
24. Tennessee Titans (2-3)
Previous: No. 19
How much longer are the Titans going to cling to the illusion that they can compete in 2023? With young quarterbacks Will Levis and Malik Willis waiting in the wings, it's difficult to envision now that even Derrick Henry is showing signs of slowing down that Tennessee would continue to stick with Ryan Tannehill. It may be time to explore selling at the deadline.
25. Washington Commanders (2-3)
Previous: No. 13
From henceforth, Ron Rivera will be known as Rowboat Ron. The hyper-aggressive gambler on fourth down and in two-point situations is long gone. Quarterback Sam Howell continues to show some promise, passing for 388 yards with two touchdowns to one interception, but the Commanders' defense is suddenly a sieve.
26. Minnesota Vikings (1-4)
Previous: No. 24
Sunday was one of Kirk Cousins' best statistical performances of the season, but it wasn't enough, and the Vikings dropped another one-score game. There seems to be some strife developing between All-World wide receiver Justin Jefferson and Cousins, which is always fun. As the season trudges towards the trade deadline, if the Vikings don't dig out of this early hole it will be difficult to justify not selling off.
27. Arizona Cardinals (1-4)
Previous: No. 25
In a lot of ways, the Cardinals served as the Bengals' 'get-right' game, but Joshua Dobbs and the offense kept things relatively competitive, especially in the first half. This isn't the Caleb Williams tank-job that many envisioned, but the roster just isn't all that close to competing, either.
28. Denver Broncos (1-4)
Previous: No. 31
The Broncos showed ... Fight? Keeping the game close against the Jets isn't exactly a moral victory, but it's more than any of the teams ranked below them this week were able to accomplish. With each passing loss it feels closer to a tinderbox igniting between head coach Sean Payton and Russell Wilson. Wilson looked cooked against the Jets' defense, passing for just 196 yards with two touchdowns, but seeming to leave plenty of opportunities on the field.
29. New England patriots (1-4)
Previous: No. 27
It's starting to look like the Patriots might have a very real chance to draft Caleb Williams. It's also becoming certain that neither Mac Jones or Bailey Zappe are the answer at quarterback. Bill Belichick suffered the most lopsided defeats of his career the past two weeks, which could bring on some very uncomfortable conversations in New England.
30. Chicago Bears (1-4)
Previous: No. 32
That was the offense that the Bears hoped to see this season. D.J. Moore looked every bit the part of the No. 1 wide receiver Chicago hoped they were trading for leading up to this spring's draft, catching eight passes for a game-high 230 yards with three touchdowns. Over the past two games, Justin Fields has passed for 617 yards with eight touchdowns to one interception. Might it be possible that the Bears are ... Heating up?
31. New York Giants (1-4)
Previous: No. 28
This Giants' offense is historically inept. Through five weeks, Daniel Jones and the offense have yet to take the field with a lead, and, after absorbing a barrage of 16 sacks the past two games, Jones could miss meaningful time after suffering a neck injury. Defensively, the Giants have allowed 30 or more points three of New York's first five games. It's difficult, if not impossible, to win that way.
32. Carolina Panthers (0-5)
Previous: No. 30
It's still the beginning of the beginning of Bryce Young's career, but it is getting more difficult each week to defend the Panthers' selection of Young over C.J. Stroud. Every other issue is compounded by taking the wrong quarterback.
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