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NFL Power Rankings Week 5: Defense Paves the Way


Oct 02, 2019

 

The Power Rankings were due for a huge shakeup going into Week 5, but both the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs were able to survive scares on the road.

But we did see more movement in the NFC, which seems to be a weekly occurrence. The Los Angeles Rams have moved out of the Top 5 after a disheartening 55-40 loss to Tampa Bay at home, and two of the top teams in the conference went head-to-head when the Dallas Cowboys met the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night.

As we are now a quarter of the way through the season, the true contenders for the 2020 Super Bowl are starting to reveal themselves — but there is still a lot of football to play.

Here are your official power rankings for Week 5 of the 2019 NFL season.

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Week 5 Power Rankings


1. New England Patriots (4-0)

Last Week’s Ranking: 1

Week 5 Opponent: at Washington Redskins (0-4)

It took four weeks, but the Patriots finally faced a challenge at the quarter point of the season.

New England’s 16-10 victory over the Bills in Buffalo proved what we already know — this team may have a future Hall of Famer at quarterback, but they’ll only go as far as their defense will take them.

The defense dominated Buffalo, intercepting quarterback Josh Allen three times before he was knocked out of the game in the third quarter. Then, on the Bills final possession of the game, Jamie Collins picked off backup Matt Barkley to seal the road win.

But it wasn’t just the defense that showed its strength. In the first quarter, J.C. Jackson blocked a Buffalo punt and Matt Slater returned it for an 11-yard score to put New England up 13-0.

For a closer look at how dominant this Patriots defense has been — Devin McCourty currently leads the league with four interceptions and Jamie Collins is second in the NFL with three.


2. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)

Last Week’s Ranking: 2

Week 5 Opponent: vs. Indianapolis Colts (2-2)

Kansas City finally looked human in Week 4, needing a last-minute touchdown to escape with a win in Detroit.

Patrick Mahomes was tasked with leading the Chiefs to victory after another lackluster performance from their defense, which has been the team’s glaring kryptonite so far this season.

The Chiefs are happy to put up 30 or 40 points a game, but for them to potentially get to Miami for the 2020 Super Bowl, their defensive unit will have to lock down offensive opponents on both levels — Matt Stafford threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns while Kerryon Johnson went for 125 yards on the ground against Kansas City.

Chiefs opponents are scoring on almost half of their possessions, which is a problem that head coach Andy Reid and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo need to address head on.


3. New Orleans Saints (3-1)

Last Week’s Ranking: NR

Week 5 Opponent: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2)

The Saints jump right back into the top spot in the NFC after an impressive 12-10 win over the Cowboys in the Superdome on Sunday night.

New Orleans’ defense is the saving grace of this team in the absence of Drew Brees. They forced two key fumbles and picked off Dak Prescott on the Cowboys final play of the game to secure the win. They also held Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott to a pedestrian 35 rushing yards on 18 carries.

While Teddy Bridgewater is a more than capable backup for the undisclosed time that Brees will be out, it will be the Saints defensive unit that will determine the team’s fate in the interim.

Brees’ injury has also highlighted the importance of Michael Thomas as a safety blanket for a backup quarterback being thrown into the fire — Bridgewater found Thomas nine times on Sunday night for 95 yards.


4. Dallas Cowboys (3-1)

Last Week’s Ranking: 3

Week 5 Opponent: vs. Green Bay Packers (3-1)

The Cowboys offense was finally grounded in New Orleans.

The honeymoon period between offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and quarterback Dak Prescott is over and the duo will need to regain cohesion as Dallas heads into a difficult stretch.

The loss against New Orleans is just a sample size, but it did show that the Cowboys can’t rely too heavily on Elliott to be their entire offensive production. Several times they would give Elliott consecutive carries that garnered no momentum and stalled the offense out.

The Saints defensive fortitude obviously shook Prescott, as Moore called a conservative game, never letting Prescott stretch the ball down the field. Prescott’s 6.8 yards per pass attempt was his lowest of the season so far.

This loss can be a good thing, though. The Cowboys have Super Bowl aspirations and a tight test on the road against a fellow NFC contender will only force them to sharper their game as they get deeper into the season.


5. Chicago Bears (3-1)

Last Week’s Ranking: NR

Week 5 Opponent: at Oakland Raiders (2-2)

Can the Bears win a Super Bowl without a quarterback? It sure looks like it.

After Mitch Trubisky went down in the opening minutes of Chicago’s Week 4 meeting with the Vikings, things looked grim. Backup quarterback and 10-year veteran Chase Daniel came in to provide a steady hand, but it was the monstrous Bears defense that propelled Chicago to victory once again.

Coming into the game as the NFL rushing leader, Vikings back Dalvin Cook was stifled at Solider Field, only mustering 35 yards on 14 rushing attempts.

The Bears were two minutes away from shutting out their division rivals, but a 2-yard rush from Cook in the dying minutes prevented the defensive milestone.

Chicago is fifth in the league in total defense (290.8 ypg) and third in rushing defense (61.5) and could be the most formidable foe in the dense NFC North four games into the year.

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