Tuesday, October 9, 2012

NFL Power Rankings- Week 5

Another week of NFL action and the cream continues to rise to the top while a league of mediocrity or severely flawed teams continue to show their true colors.  Now for the Week 5 Power Rankings, the top five teams in the NFL and some outliers.

1. Houston Texans

Last Game:  W at New York Jets
Next Game: 10/14 vs Green Bay 8:20 on NBC

A lackluster win against the lowly Jets does little to take the shine on what is undoubtedly the best and most balanced team in the NFL.  Behind the legs of Arian Foster, the arm of Matt Schaub, and the hands of Andre Johnson the offense is perhaps the most explosive in the league.  Their defense is dominant and ready to jump on any mistake by the oppositions offense.  Will the Monday night injury to Brian Cushing hurt the Texans or will their depth keep them on track? 

2. Atlanta Falcons 

Record: 5-0 
Last Game: 24-27 W at Washington Redskins
Next Game: 10/14 vs Oakland 1:00 on CBS*

It's pretty simple: The only thing holding this team back is reputation.  After five weeks they've shown themselves to be one of the elite teams in the league yet people still are not sure of what to make of the Atlanta Falcons.  A history of late season failure by Matt Ryan and a lack of known names on the defensive front lead many to wonder of the staying power of the Dirty Birds but for now they're undefeated and look good in being so.

3. San Francisco 49ers

Record: 4-1 
Last Game: 45-3 W vs Buffalo Bills
Next Game: 10/14 vs. New York Giants 4:25 on FOX*

How odd is it that when the record books are looked into Steve Young and Joe Montana aren't mentioned in several records?  Improbable bust-to-boom Alex Smith continues to manage the game and the offense.  The threat of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham have opened up the oppositions defense and given Frank Gore new life.  Always strong and physical defense leaves little concern when Smith and Co. don't have the ball.

4. Chicago Bears

Record: 4-1
Last Game: 41-3 W at Jacksonville Jaguars
Next Game: 10/22 vs. Detroit Lions 8:30 on ESPN

Defense is the constant.  Chicago has always had a solid defense.  Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs, Isreal Idonije, "Peanut" Tillman all provided sturdy depth and dependability even during the injured years and fall off of mainstay Brian Urlacher.  The thing that held these teams back from being consistently good to great is the offense.  A new offensive coordinator and new weapons in Alshon Jeffrey and old teammate Brandon Marshall have Jay Cutler slowly going back into the quarterback he can be which opens up room for Michael Bush and Matt Forte.  Any consistency by Cutler and this is a dangerous, dangerous team.

5. Minnesota Vikings

Record: 4-1
Last Game: 30-7 W vs Tennessee Titans
Next Game: 10/14 at Washington Redskins 4:25 on FOX*

The improbable recovery of Adrian Peterson from a torn ACL gives the Vikings their theme for the 2012 season: Ahead of Schedule.  A team that looked to be into full on rebuilding mode has seen Christian Ponder become a good compliment to Peterson.  The versatile Percy Harvin is not only their leading receiver but an extremely dangerous kick returner.  The defense has turned back the clock and resembles the defense that went to the 2009 season's NFC Championship Game.

Outsiders: Five on the Cusp

Baltimore Ravens (4-1): A strong offense, powered by a big running game and Joe Flacco (who wobbles between Elite and Very Good) backed by a largely over rated and defense who bends but never quite breaks.  Can that trend continue?

New England Patriots (3-2): No longer simply Tom Brady.  Bolstered by their best running game in ages the offense takes on a whole new look.  Defense still remains an issue but is slowly maturing.  If Brady can put up 30+ per game it may not matter.

New York Giants (3-2): The reigning champs are finding their stride as injuries have felled parts of their team.  Eli Manning continues to convince those that don't believe, he is Elite.  Defense is still tough but lacks a bit of bite.

Philadelphia Eagles (3-2): Easily the most talented team in the NFL.  On offense and defense loaded with absolute studs.  Still have yet to mesh into a cohesive team.  Until they do will remain individuals playing together.

Arizona Cardinals (4-1): They have one loss through five weeks yet it feels like smoke and mirrors.  Hard to believe in anything beyond Larry Fitzgerald on the offensive side.  Defense is the real deal.  Strong, sturdy, can keep the offense in the game giving them a chance to win.

*Check local listings

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