The NFL Power Rankings are back for Week 5, and we’re probably starting to actually learn more about the 32 NFL franchises in 2022. There is a distinct lack of dominance in the NFL.
There is a lack of continuity from week to week as if the college game has leaked into its professional counterpart. Records are important, but early-season scheduling has been far more grueling for some than others.
The product on the field is what matters, and that painting is finally starting to take shape.
NFL Power Rankings Week 5: Tier 7 | Winless in a league of parity
You aren’t necessarily what your record says you are, but being winless through four weeks of play is a pretty good indicator that your franchise’s season is in the dumps.
The Houston Texans are a bad football team. Their roster is a work in progress, and if one thing is clear through four weeks, it’s that we should all be shocked if they pass on one of the top QBs in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Davis Mills isn’t an awful quarterback, but in a league with Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow, and Lamar Jackson, being serviceable won’t get the job done.
The team battled back from a huge deficit against Los Angeles, but they head into Week 5 at 0-3-1.
Tier 6 | Definitely bad team
It would be an absolute shock if any of the teams in Tier 6 made a push for the playoffs, but anything is possible in a league with so much randomness.
Baker Mayfield and the Carolina passing attack are struggling. Matt Rhule and company seem to have another failed experiment on their hands. And unfortunately, they’re paying over $36 million to two QBs who can’t help them win games.
I thought Mayfield would struggle a bit in an offseason shortened by rehab. His mechanics took a hit while he was injured, and he didn’t have the time to get the reps in to fix it in the offseason. However, I also didn’t predict that he’d be arguably the worst starting QB in the NFL.
The Chicago Bears are difficult to watch, at least on the offensive side of the ball. Justin Fields completed only 11 of his 22 attempts, and the Bears couldn’t manage a touchdown in any of their three red-zone attempts.
Darnell Mooney is the only target of significance for Fields, and if this team struggles to move the ball on the ground, they struggle to methodically drive their way downfield.
The Detroit Lions feel like a mid-tier Big 12 team from back in the day. They’re endlessly entertaining. Detroit scores points in bunches and keeps games competitive and fun no matter who seems to line up across from them.
But this is still a team that hasn’t learned how to win. They’re not tanking, at least not purposefully. But they’re well on their way to being an entertaining team with a solid foundation who could have a chance to nab their franchise signal-caller in the 2023 NFL Draft.
New Orleans Saints
Having to play the Vikings on short rest without Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, and Jameis Winston is not ideal. Winston’s injury history was reason enough to bring in an experienced backup like Andy Dalton.
The Saints defense was strong in the red zone against Minnesota, and their offense kept things close, but nothing has felt easy for New Orleans so far in 2022, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
New York Jets
It was very nice to see Zach Wilson back on the field. He looked more comfortable than a season ago working from within the pocket, but he still has a very long way to go before we can definitively say that he’s the future in New York.
The Jets have a lot of nice pieces that they’re building around. The roster simply isn’t quite in a position to compete on a weekly basis in this league, as we’ve seen when they share the field with legitimately good football teams.
The good news is that Kenny Pickett didn’t throw a single incompletion in his 13 passing attempts. The bad news is three of those receptions were to the wrong team. With that said, none of the three interceptions were atrocious decisions.
Pittsburgh hasn’t had a losing season since Mike Tomlin became head coach. There have been recent seasons where they probably should have, but the team found a way to claw themselves back into even territory. This season will most likely be their first in over 16 years.
It’s never pleasant to run into arguably the best defense in the NFL when your offense is struggling, but that’s exactly what happened to Washington against the Dallas Cowboys.
The result was 3.5 net passing yards per play. The rushing attack gave Dallas some problems, but between the Cowboys’ pass rush and their impressive secondary, Washington couldn’t find anything through the air.
But the worst part is their lack of discipline. It’s difficult to win games in the NFL, and it’s nearly impossible with 11 penalties for 136 yards.
Tier 5 | The probably bad teams
The teams in Tier 5 are either playing incredibly bad football with seemingly talented rosters, or they’re currently overachieving.
The Falcons have a positive point differential through four weeks. They battled Los Angeles and almost completed an unexpected comeback in that game but ultimately came up short.
Every game they’ve played has been within four points. Atlanta feels a bit like the Detroit Lions. They’re a plucky team that doesn’t go away. But the difference with Atlanta is they’ve finished two games. And while they probably won’t contend for a playoff spot, they’ve been fun to watch so far this season.
The Colts can’t seem to get out of their own way. They immediately turned the ball over against their division rival, and they allowed Tennessee to get out to a 24-3 lead before scoring just before halftime.
Matt Ryan fumbled twice and threw an interception to boot, while Jonathan Taylor fumbled once. The Titans scored 14 points off two Ryan turnovers. Additionally, Taylor suffered a high ankle sprain against Tennessee, which will likely sideline him. Indianapolis does not have adequate depth at the position to sustain a long hiatus from Taylor.
New England Patriots
The Patriots had no business making this an overtime game. Mac Jones was out with a high ankle sprain. Brian Hoyer started in place of Jones, but then he got hurt early in the game, forcing rookie fourth-round pick Bailey Zappe into the game.
A pick-six definitely helped keep New England competitive here. But Zappe and the Patriots put a few impressive touchdown drives together. They ran the ball well, picking up 10 of their 17 first downs on the ground.
Games against the Lions and Browns will give us a clearer picture of who this team is.
New York Giants
Don’t let the 3-1 record fool you. The New York Giants are fraudulent. While the defense seems competent under new defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, they’ve yet to face a good offense this season.
But it’s the offense that makes this team pretenders. Calling the passing attack non-existent would be disrespectful to non-existent entities far and wide. Luckily for them, Daniel Jones has made things complicated for defenses with his legs, and Saquon Barkley has busted some massive runs to help a largely hopeless Giants offense survive.
Tier 4 | Wait and see
Each team in this tier has talent, but significant questions about their performance or roster keep them from creeping into the good-team territory.
I’m still flabbergasted by the Las Vegas line for the Cardinals’ game against the Panthers. Arizona may have been underwhelming to start the season, but they’re a far more talented team than Carolina.
Things weren’t always pretty against the Panthers, but the Cardinals took care of business in the second half. Keeping up with the Eagles next week would go a long way in their standing in the NFL Power Rankings.
I’m not sure if Jacoby Brissett can continue playing as well as he is. The defensive backfield was never supposed to be what’s keeping this Browns team from reaching its ceiling, but here we are.
Cleveland could have used a win against the Atlanta Falcons, because their schedule isn’t getting any easier. They have the Chargers, Patriots, Ravens, and Bengals before their bye week. But if they can just hang on until Deshaun Watson’s return in Week 11, they should be a playoff contender.
As with the Browns, we’re in a wait-and-see pattern with the Dallas Cowboys. Being 3-0 after losing Dak Prescott is a welcome sight, but the Cowboys’ offense is still a massive work in progress. Even when Prescott returns, there’s no guarantee they’ll turn things around on that side of the ball.
Dallas’ defense, however, is suffocating. The secondary is playing some outstanding football, and they rush the passer incredibly well. Dan Quinn has mixed up looks on the front seven and has seen several clean looks for rushers with line games. The defense is why they’re on a three-game win streak.
While Denver took a loss in Las Vegas, Russell Wilson played his best game as a Bronco, and the offense as a whole looked the best it has all season, albeit against an underwhelming Raiders defense.
The problem is, they just didn’t get the ball a whole lot against the Raiders. Denver went through a bit of a dry spell with three three-and-outs in a row in the third and fourth quarter, but the passing attack was smoother in general.
The Jaguars seemed to be well on their way into entering the “probably good” tier after getting off to a 14-0 lead against Philadelphia. Jacksonville might actually be a good football team. But on Sunday, their quarterback let them down in the inclimate weather, and the Eagles’ offense took advantage of Jacksonville’s five turnovers.
With games against the Texans, Colts, and Giants coming up, there is a chance that the Jaguars are 5-2 when they meet the Broncos. If they pass those three tests, they have a good chance of getting out of the “wait and see” tier.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders desperately needed to crawl out of the NFL’s basement, and a win against a divisional opponent is a good way to start. After dropping three games to the Chargers, Cardinals, and Titans, they finally finished the job against the Broncos on Sunday afternoon.
Las Vegas’ offense has struggled at times in 2022, but they came out swinging against a Denver defense that has been beating on teams so far this season. Davante Adams got the best of Pat Surtain II a few times as well, although the battle was outstanding to watch.
Because of their difficult schedule, the Raiders’ 1-3 record doesn’t destroy them in the NFL Power Rankings.
It might take all 17 games to figure the Vikings out. Playing across the pond in London can be tough. It’s a five-hour time difference from the East Coast, which is a larger time difference than any national travel in the states.
Minnesota moved the ball against a good New Orleans defense, but they could only manage two touchdowns. They did, however, score points on each of their final four offensive drives. Taking care of business next week against Chicago could go a long way, but the real eye-opener could be against Miami in Week 6, just before Minnesota’s bye.
The Seattle Seahawks cannot play a normal football game. Before the season, nobody could have convinced me that the Seahawks’ offense would ever put up 48 points and 555 total net yards on offense.
Geno Smith hasn’t been perfect in 2022, but he’s been a very pleasant surprise so far. Smith is completing nearly 80% of his passes, and in Week 4 against Detroit, averaged over 10 yards per attempt.
The Titans did all of their offensive work early against the Colts. They got the running game going early on with Derrick Henry, which allowed Ryan Tannehill and the passing attack to complement the run game, which is how Tennessee likes to operate.
But it’s the Titans’ defense that deserves flowers. Despite losing Harold Landry III for the season, Tennessee has found a way to pressure the quarterback better than expected. But what has helped immensely is their ability to defend the run (after Week 1).
NFL Power Rankings Week 5: Tier 3 | The probably good teams
Each team in Tier 3 has the talent to make a playoff push in 2022, but they’ve either played a difficult schedule at the top of the year or have underperformed relative to their talent level.
The Baltimore Ravens are most definitely a talented team, but they’re not necessarily a good football team right now. The Ravens are endlessly entertaining, but that’s not a good thing.
Baltimore’s had solid leads in each of their last three games, only to squander said lead in two of those games and almost doing so in the other.
We have regressed back to the mean, and the Cincinnati Bengals appear poised to become a contender in the AFC North again, tying the Browns and Ravens at two wins a piece.
Thursday night games on a short week can be difficult, particularly for road teams. Style points don’t matter to the standings, but they do to the NFL Power Rankings. Miami was beat up after playing in a slugfest against Buffalo in the heat on Sunday, where players on both sides were dropping like flies due to cramping.
It always felt like Cincinnati should win this game, and once Tua Tagovailoa unfortunately had to leave the game, the win became an inevitability.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are probably a pretty good football team, but they have a few issues that they can’t seem to get around. First, they are the Chargers, which means no matter how dominant they look, they will end up “Chargering.”
They did it again against the Houston Texans. After dominating the first half of the game, the offense faded away in the second half. They went punt, punt, punt, and fumble on four straight possessions, and allowed Houston to climb back into the game.
Good teams win games. Great teams take care of business while winning said games.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are a very different team than they were just a season ago. They have significant issues on the offensive line. They have problems on the interior, and Joe Noteboom has been an issue on the left side at tackle. It doesn’t help that Allen Robinson hasn’t been the weapon that Los Angeles needed him to be.
The Rams’ defense is still talented, but they lost key pieces on that side of the ball that will keep that unit from ascending to the elite level in 2022. And while they won a Super Bowl with Matthew Stafford a season ago, he’ll need to play cleaner football going forward, which is a difficult task given the team’s OL issues.
San Francisco 49ers
An elite defense can go a long way. The 49ers and Cowboys defenses are constructed and deployed in two very different manners, but they’re the top two defenses in the NFL today. Buffalo’s ceiling is higher, but losing Micah Hyde and being without Tre’Davious White and Dane Jackson pushes them down the totem poll a bit.
If the passing attack can continue to ask as little as possible from Jimmy Garoppolo while still producing because of yards after the catch, the Niners could be the most dangerous team in what appears to be a weak NFC.
Tier 2 | Definitely good teams
Expect every team in the next two tiers to make the playoffs in the 2022 NFL season.
Getting Jordan Poyer back came in handy against Baltimore. The veteran safety elevated for an interception off a Lamar Jackson tipped pass.
However, injuries at important spots and an off day on offense in the poor Baltimore weather hurts their stock in the NFL Power Rankings. Buffalo needs to get Dane Jackson back, and they could really use Tre’Davious White back and healthy to help offset the loss of Micah Hyde for the season.
Green Bay Packers
Football is weird. The Packers were heavy favorites against New England but needed overtime to finish off with a 3-1 record at the end of the evening.
They get the New York Giants next, which they’ll travel to London for. Their next three games appear very winnable before facing Buffalo in New York in Week 8.
Just as predicted, after a horrific start to the season against Minnesota, Green Bay has course-corrected into the upper echelon of NFL teams.
Kansas City Chiefs
When the Kansas City Chiefs offense flips the switch, there is nothing that can keep them from putting up points in bunches. They scored on each of their first three offensive possessions and in four of their first five possessions overall. The most impressive part of their offensive success on Sunday night was that they had five drives of nine plays or more.
The defense struggled against a healthier Buccaneers offensive attack, but some of that comes down to how the game unfolded. Teams are more prone to give up yards and points when up by three or more scores. Kansas City has played four teams who began the season as legitimate playoff contenders, and things don’t change until they hit their bye in Week 8.
The Dolphins are not having a good week. Losing to Cincinnati on a short week on the road is not a big deal. Losing Tua Tagovailoa for any sort of extended period after taking another blow to the head is far less ideal.
There shouldn’t be much worry that Teddy Two Gloves can survive in Mike McDaniel’s game plan with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. However, the ceiling on this offense is severely limited without Tua.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers needed to get things going on offense, and they did just that against the Chiefs. Unfortunately, their defense let them down early and often against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense, which looked to be out for blood after an embarrassing loss to the Colts a week ago.
Getting Mike Evans and Chris Godwin back on the field is exactly as important to Tampa Bay’s offensive success as you’d expect. Even the greatest quarterback ever needs help, and having two receivers who teeter around the top-10 mark in the NFL is a massive help.
With the Falcons, Steelers, and Panthers coming up on the schedule, Tampa Bay should be 5-2 when they meet Baltimore in Week 8.
NFL Power Rankings Week 5: Tier 1 | The Elite team
The Eagles are the only remaining undefeated team, and for now, they deserve to be in a tier of their own until another team impresses enough to join them.
Maybe if it hadn’t rained so hard in Philadelphia things would have gone differently for the Jacksonville Jaguars. But we aren’t dealing in hypotheticals here. After trailing 14-0, the Eagles scored the next 29 points!
The Philadelphia defense suffocated Jacksonville’s offense. They allowed just 219 total yards and forced six three-and-outs against a Jags offense that has been humming over the past few weeks.