The NFL season is getting wacky, with games being delayed a week, others being postponed until later in the season, and the threat of cancellation hanging overhead. In addition to star players being diagnosed with COVID-19, some players are still suffering injuries that may be reflective of a nonexistent preseason. Still, football is a brutal sport, and devastating injuries are part of the game. Week 5 was a painful reminder of that.
Cam Newton is recovering from coronavirus. Dak Prescott broke his ankle. Alex Smith returned from his own atrocious injury. This was a big week for quarterback news, but at least for Newton and Smith, it was somewhat positive. The big shakeup in our rankings this week is due to Kansas City losing its first game since November 10, 2019. The Chiefs are hardly toast, but they certainly looked unsettled on defense against Las Vegas this weekend. Let’s see how it affected our latest power rankings!
32. New York Jets (0-5, Last week: 32)
The Jets are giving up over 32 points per game defensively, which is actually not last in the league. It is tied for 31st, though, and the worst scoring defense (36.0) belongs to Dallas, who also has the third-highest scoring offense (32.6). The Jets? Well, they’re dead last in that category, at 15 points scored per game.
Next week: at Miami (2-3)
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4, Last week: 30)
Very little went the Jaguars’ way on Sunday. Gardner Minshew avoided throwing a pick, but he was sacked three times and lost a fumble. James Robinson also lost a fumble, and Stephen Hauschka missed both of his field goal attempts. Jacksonville has been outscored by 38 points on the season, a margin which ranks fifth-worst in the league.
Next week: vs. Detroit (1-3)
30. Atlanta Falcons (0-5, Last week: 31)
Another one bites the dust. Their fifth straight loss to open the season cost head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff their jobs. Atlanta needs a major overhaul in the offseason, but Calvin Ridley and Todd Gurley are two potential building blocks for the team moving forward.
Next week: at Minnesota (1-4)
29. Washington Football Team (1-4, Last week: 28)
Regardless of what happens the rest of the season, Alex Smith may have already locked up Comeback Player of the Year. After 17 surgeries and the threat of losing his leg, Smith returned to action on Sunday in relief of new starter Kyle Allen. Allen and Smith were sacked a combined eight times, however, and Washington has given up at least 30 points in four straight games.
Next week: at New York Giants (0-5)
28. New York Giants (0-5, Last week: 29)
The Giants are getting closer to their first win of 2020, but it still has yet to happen. Kyler Fackrell ran an interception back for a touchdown, Dalvin Tomlinson notched two tackles for loss and a sack, and Darius Slayton put up 129 yards on eight catches against Dallas Sunday night. It wasn’t enough to withstand a last-second field goal, although this team is perhaps trending up.
Next week: vs. Washington (1-4)
27. Denver Broncos (1-3, Last week: 26)
Denver’s game against New England has been postponed to next weekend due to further positive tests in the Patriots’ facility. They will now play in Foxborough on Sunday the 18th at 1pm ET.
Next week: at New England (2-2)
26. Detroit Lions, (1-3, Last week: 25)
The Lions did not lose, which allowed Matt Patricia to cool his seat for a little while longer.
Next week: at Jacksonville (1-4)
25. Cincinnati Bengals (1-3-1, Last week: 20)
The AFC North contains three very good teams. Baltimore, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh are a combined 12-2 right now, and Cincinnati is more competitive than they were a year ago. Things will get better for the Bengals, but they need to protect Joe Burrow much more than they have been, and A.J. Green looks like a man who wants to be traded. Keep your chin up, fans.
Next week: at Indianapolis (3-2)
24. Houston Texans (1-4, Last week: 27)
Winless no more! After dismissing Bill O’Brien, the Texans secured their first win of the year over division rival Jacksonville. Brandin Cooks tallied 161 receiving yards and a score on eight catches, and Whitney Mercilus and J.J. Watt each recovered a fumble. Houston has star power, and they may now be motivated by the desire to keep their own positions secure under a new G.M. and head coach.
Next week: at Tennessee (4-0)
23. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3-1, Last week: 19)
Miles Sanders scored two touchdowns on the ground, and Travis Fulgham put the league on notice in the Eagles’ loss to Pittsburgh Sunday. Fulgham snagged 10 of 13 targets for 151 yards and a score. An anomaly behind Sanders’ big day is that he compiled six yards on 10 carries if you exclude his 74-yard touchdown run.
Next week: vs. Baltimore (4-1)
22. San Francisco 49ers (2-3, Last week: 15)
Jimmy Garoppolo returned to the lineup after two weeks of tending to an ankle injury. He was completely ineffectual, though, and was replaced by C.J. Beathard in the second half. Neither quarterback could overcome the tidal wave of Dolphins players who contributed six tackles for loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions.
Next week: vs. Los Angeles Rams (4-1)
21. Dallas Cowboys (2-3, Last week: 23)
Dallas lost quarterback Dak Prescott for the season with a gruesome ankle injury, which is the dominating headline coming out of this game. In Prescott’s absence, Andy Dalton and Ezekiel Elliott put up 37 points to stave off a motivated Giants team. The Cowboys now hold first place in the NFC East with their 2-3 record.
Next week: vs. Arizona (3-2)
20. Minnesota Vikings (1-4, Last week: 21)
The Vikings held the ball for what felt like all of the first half against Seattle, and they took a 13-0 lead into the third quarter. Then the wheels fell off, as Dalvin Cook left with a groin injury, Kirk Cousins threw an interception, and the Seahawks rolled up 21 straight points in under two minutes. Cousins and Adam Thielen added another score, but a failed fourth-down attempt gave Seattle the ball with enough time to score the winning touchdown.
Next week: vs. Atlanta (0-5)
19. Los Angeles Chargers (1-4, Last week: 22)
Justin Herbert is proving to be as good as any rookie this year, if not better. The Chargers’ new starting quarterback threw four touchdowns and zero interceptions to force overtime against the Saints in New Orleans. Justin Jackson also provided a spark on the ground, and Mike Williams made some highlight-reel catches en route to 109 yards and two scores.
Next week: idle
18. Miami Dolphins (2-3, Last week: 24)
The saga of Fitzmagic continues. Ryan Fitzpatrick eviscerated the 49ers’ defense on Sunday, piling up 350 yards and three touchdowns. Miami’s defense got in on the action as well, with seven pass deflections, five sacks, and three takeaways.
Next week: vs. New York Jets (0-5)
17. Carolina Panthers (3-2, Last week: 17)
Teddy Bridgewater is looking like his old Pro Bowl self. Bridgewater threw for 313 yards and a pair of scores to help the Panthers secure their third consecutive win. Carolina’s defense deflected five Matt Ryan passes, and Christian McCaffrey will be back on the field soon. This team has been one of the young season’s most pleasant surprises.
Next week: vs. Chicago (4-1)
16. New England Patriots (2-2, Last week: 9)
Perhaps waiting another few days to play Denver will allow Cam Newton to return to full health. Of course, until the outbreak is contained, all game statuses are moot.
Next week: vs. Denver (1-3)
15. Indianapolis Colts (3-2, Last week: 7)
For the third week in a row and fourth time in five weeks, our 7th-ranked team has lost. The Colts fell victim to Cleveland’s relentless pass rush, and Philip Rivers donated a pick-six and a safety to the Browns’ cause. Defensively, Indianapolis gave up more points and yards in the first half than their per-game averages over the first four games.
Next week: vs. Cincinnati (1-3-1)
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2, Last week: 8)
Tampa Bay made some plays but not enough to overcome Chicago on Thursday night. That feels like a while ago, because it was! In case you’ve forgotten: Tom Brady had the chance to win in the end but looked to have forgotten what down it was. He threw incomplete to Cameron Brate on fourth down and then held up four fingers as though that had been third down. It may have been the biggest mental error of his sterling career.
Next week: vs. Green Bay (4-0)
13. New Orleans Saints (3-2, Last week: 13)
Cameron Jordan was responsible for three of the Saints’ eight tackles for loss Monday night. Jordan and his linemates also sacked Herbert three times and hit him 12 times. New Orleans’ offense has lost a good deal of its past explosiveness, but as long as their defense can continue to harass opposing quarterbacks at this rate, they will remain contenders for the NFC South.
Next week: idle
12. Chicago Bears (4-1, Last week: 16)
The Bears won, but they can’t be thrilled with Nick Foles’ substandard play through his two starts. Of course, with Khalil Mack doing Khalil Mack things, even average quarterback play will suffice. The question becomes: what will Chicago do if they find themselves in a shootout and need a passer to make plays for them to win?
Next week: at Carolina (3-2)
11. Las Vegas Raiders (3-2, Last week: 18)
Henry Ruggs III, say hello to the end zone. Las Vegas’ first round pick blew the top off of Kansas City’s defense, and he reminded everyone why Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock invested in him. Derek Carr threw his first interception of 2020, but he also produced 347 yards and three touchdowns.
Next week: idle
10. Arizona Cardinals (3-2, Last week: 14)
It’s still hard to know who the Cardinals really are at this point of the season. Beating San Francisco in the opener looks less impressive now, and their other two wins came in blowouts against Washington and the Jets. Their loss in Carolina could be justified, but what about the loss at home to Detroit? Thankfully, we have 11 more games to figure them out.
Next week: at Dallas (2-3)
9. Cleveland Browns (4-1, Last week: 11)
Myles Garrett has thrown his name into the early Defensive Player of the Year conversation. The former first-overall pick has six sacks thus far, and the Browns are leading the NFL in both turnovers forced and points off of turnovers. Baker Mayfield and Wyatt Teller’s injuries may be troublesome moving forward.
Next week: at Pittsburgh (4-0)
8. Los Angeles Rams (4-1, Last week: 10)
Alex Smith got his “welcome back to the NFL” moment from Aaron Donald. Who else? Donald had four sacks against Washington, three of which were on Smith. Jared Goff added 309 passing yards and three total touchdowns to keep this one out of reach.
Next week: at San Francisco (2-3)
7. Buffalo Bills (4-1, Last week: 5)
Maybe Buffalo got a little full of itself after the attention it got for its 4-0 start. Or maybe it overlooked Tennessee, who everyone assumed would be sluggish and rusty after a long layoff. Whatever the cause, Josh Allen and the Bills were embarrassed on Tuesday night in Nashville. The good news is that they’re still alone atop the AFC East standings. The bad news is that their next game is against Kansas City, who is sure to be highly motivated.
Next week: vs. Kansas City (4-1)
6. Baltimore Ravens (4-1, Last week: 4)
Patrick Queen deserves a game ball. Check out these stats: nine total tackles, six solos, a sack, and TWO fumble recoveries–one of which he returned 53 yards for a touchdown. Queen set the pace for a Ravens defense that sacked Burrow seven times, recorded 11.5 tackles for loss, and accrued 15 total quarterback hits. There may be a sliver of concern about the offense’s production, but this looks like your standard Baltimore defense through five games.
Next week: at Philadelphia (1-3-1)
5. Kansas City Chiefs (4-1, Last week: 1)
The defending champs seemingly forgot how to cover opposing receivers. Ruggs has the speed to run past anyone in the league, but the Chiefs never put together an answer defensively. Patrick Mahomes also had to keep the ball himself instead of making the off-platform throws that we’re all used to seeing by now, as the Raiders’ coverage was excellent all day.
Next week: at Buffalo (4-1)
4. Tennessee Titans (4-0, Last week: 12)
Rusty? How about “well rested”? Tennessee was off the field for 16 days due to a COVID-19 outbreak closing their facility, but they announced to the league that they are still undefeated after dismantling the Bills on Tuesday night. If they have fully corralled the virus, the Titans can make some noise in 2020.
Next week: vs. Houston (1-4)
3. Seattle Seahawks (5-0, Last week: 3)
Russell Wilson’s latest fourth quarter heroics beg the question: how little time does Wilson actually need to lead a touchdown drive? After Seattle’s defense stopped Alexander Mattison on a fourth down run, Wilson connected with D.K. Metcalf and his other receivers to engineer a 94-yard drive, capped off by a touchdown with only 15 seconds left. K.J. Wright recovered a fumble and snared an interception in the key third quarter turnaround.
Next week: idle
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-0, Last week: 6)
Chase Claypool ran for one touchdown and caught three more, which is the best scoring performance ever by a Steelers rookie. Pittsburgh’s defense gave up a few big plays to intrastate rival Philadelphia, which may be a cause for concern. However, they sacked Carson Wentz five times and picked him off twice.
Next week: vs. Cleveland (4-1)
1. Green Bay Packers (4-0, Last week: 2)
Green Bay inherited the top spot thanks to Kansas City losing for the first time. Even when idle, the Packers found a way to win.
Next week: at Tampa Bay (3-2)