Five weeks in to the 2021-22 NFL season, we’re getting a much better picture of how the league’s 32 teams stack up against each other. The sample size of games […]
Five weeks in to the 2021-22 NFL season, we’re getting a much better picture of how the league’s 32 teams stack up against each other. The sample size of games continues to grow, and one-off performances, be they good or bad, carry less weight when evaluating which teams are the best in the league.
As a result, the movement in these Power Rankings isn’t quite as drastic as it has been over the last four weeks. There are still a couple of big movers though: a team that started 3-0 fell four spots this week, with the team that beat them rising five spots and showing signs of hope.
The biggest question this week is at the top of the Power Rankings: the Arizona Cardinals claimed the top spot last week, and still hold the NFL’s only undefeated record. But the Buffalo Bills are on fire with four straight wins all coming by 18 points or more, most recently against a Kansas City Chiefs team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season. The Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all belong in the conversation as well.
As always, if you’d like to discuss or debate my rankings, the best pace to do so is @SakSports on Twitter.
I was torn between keeping the Cardinals at the top or handing the crown to the Buffalo Bills, but Buffalo’s four-game win streak has been too good to ignore. After losing to the Steelers 23-16 in Week 1, Josh Allen and the Bills have clobbered their opponents for four straight weeks, beating Miami by 35, Washington by 22, the Texans by 40 in a shutout performance by the defense, and on Sunday night, downing Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs 38-20. Beating the Chiefs in Kansas City was the cherry on top that allowed me to pick Buffalo as the league’s top team, in the third straight week with a new #1 team.
Arizona Cardinals (5-0) [Last Week: 1]
Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals offense failed to put up 30+ points for the first time this season, but the defense put up their best performance of the season in a 17-10 win over Trey Lance and the 49ers. Truth be told, the Cardinals resume, with wins over the Titans, Vikings, Rams, and 49ers, is more impressive than Buffalo’s. But while Arizona has a +62 point differential, Buffalo has a whopping +108 mark, even with one loss. Make no mistake, I’m still super high on the Cardinals, I just can’t ignore how dominant Buffalo has been over the past month.
Los Angeles Rams (4-1) [Last Week: 3]
The Los Angeles Rams rebounded from their first loss of the season with a 26-17 win over the Seahawks on Thursday Night Football, and remain one of the most complete teams in the NFL.
Baltimore Ravens (4-1) [Last Week: 4]
This Baltimore Ravens may not like to make things easy, but they continue to find way to get it done. This week, that meant scoring 22 unanswered points and beating the Colts 31-25 in overtime on Monday Night Football. It was the fourth one-score game Baltimore has participated in this year, with three wins and one overtime loss to the Raiders in those four games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-1) [Last Week: 5]
Tom Brady and Tampa Bay Buccaneers chugged along with a 45-17 blowout of the Dolphins for their fourth win of the season. Brady tossed a casual five touchdown passes, bringing his total to 15 on the season, on pace for 51 in the leagues first 17-game season.
Green Bay Packers (4-1) [Last Week: 6]
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers haven’t lost since Week 1, though the Bengals definitely gave them a scare in a 25-22 overtime affair in Cincinnati.
Los Angeles Chargers (4-1) [Last Week: 8]
The Los Angeles Chargers came out on top in a thrilling 47-42 shootout with the Browns on Sunday. Justin Herbert threw for 398 yards and four touchdown passes as Los Angeles kept the pace for best record in the AFC. I would love to put the Chargers even higher, as they appear to be one of the best teams in the league this season. The gap between the Rams at #3 and the Chargers at #7 is relatively small.
Cleveland Browns (3-2) [Last Week: 7]
After back-to-back dominant defensive performances, the Cleveland Browns defense took the day off in their 47-42 loss to the Chargers. Baker Mayfield was great though, completing 72% of his passes for 305 yards and two scores. On the ground, Nick Chubb tallied 161 yards and a score while Kareem Hunt found the endzone twice.
Dallas Cowboys (4-1) [Last Week: 10]
Dak Prescott threw for three touchdowns as the Dallas Cowboys won their fourth straight game, downing the Giants 44-20. Only the Bills average more points than the 34.0 points per game Dallas’ offense is putting up through five weeks.
Kansas City Chiefs (2-3) [Last Week: 9]
After their third loss in four weeks, #10 might seem a bit high for Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. But the three teams that beat them, the Raven, Chargers, and Bills, are all Top 10 teams. At the end of the day, I’m still picking the Chiefs over the 22 teams beneath them. There’s still room for some panic though, as Kansas City’s defense has allowed an NFL-high 163 points this season.
New Orleans Saints (3-2) [Last Week: 15]
The New Orleans Saints have had some up-and-down play through five weeks, and their rise four spots to #11 is less about their 33-22 win over Washington and more about teams around them faltering.
Tennessee Titans (3-2) [Last Week: 16]
Like the Saints, the Tennessee Titans need to be more consistent, and only get the positive nod due to performance and injury issues from the next few teams. Tennessee beat Jacksonville 37-19 this week, but they aren’t out of the doghouse yet for their Week 4 loss to the Jets.
San Francisco 49ers (2-3) [Last Week: 13]
The San Francisco 49ers have lost three straight games: but all by one-score, with two losses to playoff teams from a year ago (Green Bay and Seattle) and most recently, a 17-10 loss to an undefeated Cardinals team. A loss is a loss, but the 49ers are still competing with some of the league’s best. Injuries to Jimmy Garroppolo and now possibly Trey Lance make the future muddy, but San Francisco has talent for sure.
Seattle Seahawks (2-3) [Last Week: 12]
The Seattle Seahawks lost on Thursday night 26-17 to the their NFC West rival Rams, but that isn’t the issue. Russell Wilson will be out for a month or two after undergoing surgery on his finger, and Seattle’s ceiling isn’t quite s high with Geno Smith at quarterback.
Las Vegas Raiders (3-2) [Last Week: 11]
Falling four spots is strictly a result of the Las Vegas Raiders’ 20-9 loss to Justin Fields and the Bears: the Jon Gruden fiasco is just a wildcard factor that could impact the team moving forward.
Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) [Last Week: 18]
Every now and then, a team can rise in these rankings despite a loss, and that’s exactly what Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals have done after going toe-to-toe with the Packers in a 25-22 overtime loss.
Carolina Panthers (3-2) [Last Week: 14]
Losing to a high-powered Cowboys team was excusable, but after a 21-18 loss to the Eagles, I’m not sure what to make of the Carolina Panthers. Besides an impressive 26-7 win over the Saints, Carolina has only beaten the lowly Jets and Texans.
Denver Broncos (3-2) [Last Week: 17]
Like the Raiders and Panthers, Teddy Bridgewater and the Denver Broncos have squandered a 3-0 start with back-to-back losses. After losing to the Ravens last week, Denver fell 27-19 this week to a Steelers team that hadn’t won a game since Week 1.
New England Patriots (2-3) [Last Week: 19]
I was ready to start moving the New England Patriots up after last week’s narrow loss to Brady and the Buccaneers, but after having an uncharacteristically hard time beating a bad team with a rookie quarterback (Davis Mills and the Texans) New England stays put this week.
Chicago Bears (3-2) [Last Week: 25]
The Chicago Bears aren’t without flaws, but they’re quietly 3-2 on the season after a 20-9 win over the Raiders. Justin Fields has had some up-and-down play, and Chicago faces a make-or-break gauntlet of a schedule over the next two months, with two meeting against the Packers as well as dates with the Buccaneers, Ravens, and Cardinals.
Minnesota Vikings (2-3) [Last Week: 21]
Although they almost blew it and needed a last-second field goal to overcome the Lions, the Minnesota Vikings got their second win of the season and improved to 2-1 at home.
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3) [Last Week: 22]
The Pittsburgh Steelers earned their first win since Week 1 with a 27-19 victory over the Broncos, but still have a ways to go to be considered a reliable team again.
Indianapolis Colts (1-4) [Last Week: 20]
If you’ve been keeping up with my Power Rankings, I might sound like a broken record, but Carson Wentz and the Indianapolis Colts aren’t that bad. The Colts are 1-4, but all four losses have come against playoff teams from last season, with two of them coming by one score against the Rams and Ravens. The upcoming schedule is a bit more forgiving, so Indy should get back in the win column soon.
Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) [Last Week: 27]
Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles got their second win of the season, with Hurts running for two scores against a solid Panthers defense in a 21-18 upset.
Washington Football Team (2-3) [Last Week: 26]
Washington Football Team scored in every quarter, but ultimately couldn’t keep up with the Saints in a 33-22 home loss. A highly-touted defense heading in to the season has allowed the second-most points in the NFL so far.
Atlanta Falcons (2-3) [LastWeek: 28]
Matt Ryan’s offense is heating up, with 28.5 points per game over the last two weeks. Still, the Atlanta Falcons have only been able to overcome the Giants and Jets this season, by a single score each, which isn’t super impressive.
Miami Dolphins (1-4) [Last Week: 24]
After a Week 1 win over the Patriots, the Miami Dolphins have dropped four straight games, and only one of them has been by one score. Jacoby Brissett hasn’t been bad, so the eventual return of Tua Tagovailoa might not even be Miami’s saving grace.
New York Giants (1-4) [Last Week: 23]
The New York Giants have been jerked around in these rankings, from #29 to #23 and back down to #28 this week. It’s less about the 44-20 loss to the Cowboys, which was close before Daniel Jones left with a concussion, and more about the mounting injuries to the offense, with Jones, Saquon Barkley, and Kenny Golladay all going down this week.
New York Jets (1-4) [Last Week: 29]
After a surprising win over the Titans last week, Zach Wilson and the New York Jets fell 27-20 to the Falcons in London. New York did score 17 second half points in a comeback attempt.
Detroit Lions (0-5) [Last Week: 30]
For the second time this season, Jared Goff and the Detroit Lions lost on a last-second field goal, falling 19-17 in Minnesota after previously taking the lead in the final minute.
Houston Texans (1-4) [Last Week: 32]
With Davis Mills at quarterback, I thought the Houston Texans were easily the NFL’s weakest team, but they showed signs of life against the Patriots and held a 15-9 halftime lead before losing a close 25-22 affair.
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5) [Last Week: 31]
The Jacksonville Jaguars haven’t won a game since Week 1 of last season, and fell 37-19 to the Titans at home this week. I’m not sure they’ll be the first team to go 0-17, but it’s possible.
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