NFL Power Rankings Week 5 | Tier 4
Each of the teams in this tier of the NFL Power Rankings has massive flaws currently keeping them from consistently competing. However, each roster has high points, and some of these teams can compete when they’re at their best.
27) Pittsburgh Steelers
This is a bad football team. They’re constructed poorly on offense and made suboptimal decisions in the offseason. Now, they’re reaping what they’ve sowed. Pittsburgh’s offensive line is in shambles, and they lost key members in their secondary to free agency.
This franchise has been blessed with never-wavering consistency throughout its entire existence. 2021 will be the first season in Mike Tomlin’s career that he’s lost more games than he’s won.
It’s over. This is the end of an era — and not having the future quarterback on the roster or on the NFL Draft horizon is a scary proposition. Big Ben is cooked, but it’s difficult to see a scenario where they bench him, given his status in the organization and the lack of talent behind him.
26) Miami Dolphins
It’s time for some brutal honesty, Dolphins fans. Your head coach and the front office made a mistake with their co-offensive coordinator system. I’m not sure who is calling plays, but none of the options are good. The entire offense, even with a healthy Tua Tagovailoa, was an absolute trainwreck.
If this was simply a story of a team missing their starting quarterback, the Dolphins could be given some slack — but this offensive system was doomed even with a healthy Tua under center. The Dolphins need to make some drastic changes — and those changes need to happen immediately — or this will be just another disappointing season for fans in Miami.
25) Philadelphia Eagles
Jalen Hurts returned to his non-Cowboys form against the Chiefs. He played well trying to will the Eagles to a victory against a team that greatly overmatched them offensively.
Philadelphia’s defense simply couldn’t get off the field. Despite having talent along their defensive line, they aren’t able to overcome good offensive lines. Meanwhile, the Eagles’ offensive line seemingly hasn’t stayed healthy since their Super Bowl run in 2017.
The rest of Philadelphia’s 2021 campaign should be focused on grooming their younger players and trying to figure out what they have in Hurts. But they’ll have to do all that toward the bottom of the NFL Power Rankings.
24) Chicago Bears
Justin Fields only had to throw the ball 17 times against the Detroit Lions, but he made the most of his opportunities. Matt Nagy finally figured out that his passive quick game attack wasn’t going to mesh with Fields, who loves to push the ball vertically.
It would still be nice to see the Bears get Fields involved on the ground. He’s a talented passer, and while he is not a “running quarterback,” he’s a darned good runner and an unbelievable athlete. It’s fine to run Fields just three times in a contest that was decided early, but you’d like to see this offense really open up in a more competitive game.
23) Minnesota Vikings
You never want to see Kirk Cousins hit 10 times throughout the course of a game. That’s not a recipe for success. Minnesota’s offensive line woes were finally felt in Week 4. They were unable to run the ball, even with Dalvin Cook on the field.
The Vikings have now played in four close games in 2021, and they’re 1-3 heading into Week 5 against the Lions. If they want to remain relevant in the NFC, Minnesota must wake up and dominate a bad Detroit team in Week 5, then beat the Panthers to get back to 3-3 before the bye week.
22) Washington Football Team
The Football Team has an infuriatingly talented defense that is struggling mightily to get off the field on third down. They’re currently 31st in the NFL in third-down stop rate, and that comes down to the dynamic duo of Montez Sweat and Chase Young failing to get home.
Offensively, we’ve seen Washington score points against the Giants and Falcons, but the offense is only converting on 26.5% of its third downs. That’s worst in the NFL, and it probably won’t get much better given their current quarterback situation.
21) Indianapolis Colts
The Colts looked like a team staring down the barrel of an 0-4 start and the beginning of #DraftSZN. Instead, they dominated the Miami Dolphins in the third quarter, taking a 7-3 lead before extending it to 20-3 near the start of the final quarter.
Carson Wentz spread the ball out to 10 different receivers on the day and looked far more in control of his environment than in previous games. Even the analytics community enjoyed his performance, as he completed a fantastic 13.5% of passes over expectation for the game.
With a Monday Night Football showdown against the Baltimore Ravens on the horizon, it was a good time for the Colts to show some life. They’ll need a win against Baltimore to have a realistic shot at the AFC South title. With the Titans facing injuries to key contributors, it could be time for Indianapolis to gain some ground.
20) New York Giants
It didn’t happen right off the bat, but after the first half, Daniel Jones had to sling it to bring the Giants back from the depths of an 0-4 start. He finished the game with 40 attempts and more than 400 yards after throwing the ball 12 times in the first half for 116 yards.
Don’t look now, but Jones has only 2 turnovers through four games. The fumbles still show up for Jones from time to time, but they haven’t killed him in 2021 as they have in the past.
Maybe this was just a bad day at the office for the Saints’ defense. But if Jones can play this way consistently, the Giants could surprise some people with their offensive weaponry.
NFL Power Rankings Week 5 | Tier 3
This group of teams graces the middle of the NFL Power Rankings because we’re not sure what to do with some of them. They’re either dealing with injuries or playing inconsistent football.
19) New England Patriots
The Patriots simply don’t have the offensive firepower to keep up with some of the better teams in the league. That was evident in Week 3 when they fell behind the Saints and struggled to move the ball or mount a comeback attempt.
Bill Belichick is a defensive wizard, and New England’s defense will typically keep things close. But when push comes to shove, Mac Jones and Co. have neither the weapons nor the firepower to claw their way back into games. They need to play their brand of ball-control football, and that style is becoming increasingly more difficult in the modern NFL.
Against a Buccaneers team down all three of their starting cornerbacks, the Patriots were unable to take advantage, managing only 17 points. New England’s defense stymied Tampa Bay’s offensive attack, but the offense couldn’t do enough to win the game — despite Josh McDaniels getting deep into his bag of tricks.
18) Tennessee Titans
It’s tough to pile on the Titans after losing to the Jets, even if it was the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets.
Losing A.J. Brown and Julio Jones is going to hurt any offense. When I saw the injury report on Friday, I immediately called my dad to see if he could move away from the Titans in his survivor league, but he was unable to change that late.
What I’m saying is, I didn’t necessarily expect Tennessee to lose, but the possibility became far greater with Brown and Jones missing. Tack on a struggling secondary unit that’s also missing players, and it was the perfect recipe for an upset loss.
Luckily, the Titans get the Jaguars next week. They better take care of business in Week 5 if they want to be taken seriously for the rest of 2021.
17) Carolina Panthers
Last week I called the Panthers a paper tiger, and they proved it this week when they finally faced proper competition. They’re a young team that still needs to grow.
The Cowboys admittedly sat Randy Gregory and Trevon Diggs late, but the Panthers showed a lot of fight to make the final score look more respectable. Carolina looks good, but they are still most likely a year away from legitimately competing. They need help on the offensive line, and they need Jaycee Horn to return healthy in 2022.
Nevertheless, Joe Brady has created an offense that can move the ball while Phil Snow’s defense is creative and fast.
16) New Orleans Saints
The Saints might be who many thought they were heading into 2021. They’re a talented team fighting inconsistency after seeing their Hall of Fame quarterback get a hairline revival and a broadcasting job.
I didn’t have the Saints’ defense getting dog-walked by the Giants’ offense on my bingo card. If Jameis Winston struggles here and there, nobody will bat an eye. However, New Orleans’ defense faces higher expectations after dominating the reigning league MVP in Week 1.
I don’t know what to think of the Saints in the long run, which means they can’t sit too low or too high in the NFL Power Rankings.
15) Cincinnati Bengals
In true Thursday Night Football fashion, the Bengals’ game against the Jaguars was not pretty. In fact, it felt like this game was hit over the face with a frying pan 1960s sitcom style.
After allowing Jacksonville to build a 14-point cushion, Cincinnati finally woke up from their slumber and played some football. Once they tied the score, the outcome felt inevitable.
Joe Burrow is playing well as he continues to work his way back from a serious knee injury. He’ll have to be near perfect to propel his team to a win in Week 5 against the Green Bay Packers.
14) Denver Broncos
I still have hope for this roster, but today Teddy Bridgewater crashed back down to Earth and then missed the second half with a concussion. Denver finally ran the ball well, but the game flow didn’t allow them to tote the rock enough, as they trailed for a majority of the contest.
The Broncos’ secondary struggled against the Ravens, which doesn’t make much sense considering they should outclass Baltimore’s pass catchers. Everybody has tough days at the office, but I didn’t expect the Broncos to flounder against the Ravens.
Additionally, Denver has the least appetizing quarterback room in the AFC West — and that’s not a good recipe for success.