Who do you trust in the NFL right now?
I mean, really trust. I trust the Bills, who are loaded with talent and have been through the wars. I trust the Eagles, who are consistent, balanced and armed with an ascendant young quarterback. I trust the Chiefs, because of the guy on the sideline and the dude under center.
After that? Eh, I don't know. The Ravens have blown games in grisly fashion. The Packers don't get stops on defense. The Niners have Jimmy G. The Bucs have yet to put together four impressive quarters in a row. The Vikings are, well, the Vikings.
Every NFL season is a mystery that slowly reveals itself. If the season were a movie, we'd be just entering the second act, and I'd be whispering to my wife in the crowded theater:
"Honey, what the hell is going on?"
She doesn't know. I certainly have no clue. Guess we just need to sit back, eat some popcorn and wait for it to make sense.
Don't forget to check out the NFL Power Rankings Podcast with Dan Hanzus and Colleen Wolfe. New episodes every Tuesday all season long.
NOTE: Up/down arrows below reflect team movement from the Week 5 Power Rankings.
Previous rank: No. 2
The Steelers showed up to Western New York with a rookie quarterback making his first start and a defense playing without T.J. Watt. The results were as one-sided as you might expect: a 38-3 Bills victory that put Buffalo back in sole possession of first place in the AFC East. Josh Allen cut through 20 mph winds with ease, connecting on a pair of long TD passes to Gabriel Davis in a first half that included an absurd 348 passing yards for the star QB. Buffalo coasted from there, but Allen still managed to set a franchise record for passing yardage in a game that ended in regulation (424). When the Bills start cooking, there's not another team in the league that can handle the heat emanating from their kitchen.
Previous rank: No. 1
The Eagles keep answering the bell in different ways. Win a shootout? Check. Blow a team off the field? Check. Rally from multiple scores down? Check. Win a close one in a hostile environment? Got that, too. Sunday's 20-17 triumph at Arizona came with a dollop of good fortune: Kyler Murray's premature slide short of the first-down marker set up an ugly miss by a temporary kicker to close the game. But you tend to get these kinds of breaks when things are going good. "Every win isn't easy," Jalen Hurts said. "Personally, I have mixed emotions about the game itself, but we found a way." The Eagles are 5-0 for just the third time in franchise history.
Previous rank: No. 3
Can't say I'm totally on board with the Never Cover Travis Kelce strategy deployed by the Raiders on the goal line, but the Chiefs weren't complaining after their star tight end gobbled up all four of Patrick Mahomes' short touchdown passes in a 30-29 prime-time win at Arrowhead. Kansas City dug itself out of a 17-0 first-half hole thanks to a Mahomes-led offense that, when warmed up, operates like a runaway freight train going downhill. Kelce remains at the center of everything, a prodigious producer who always seems to deliver his best moments when the lights are brightest. In an NFL bereft of consistent playmaking at tight end, Kelce is a cheat-code outlier.
Previous rank: No. 5
The 49ers took care of business against a Panthers team set adrift, coasting to a 37-15 road win that put San Francisco in sole possession of first place in the muddled NFC West. The victory came at a cost, however: Emmanuel Moseley, a rising star at cornerback who registered a pick-six on Sunday, tore the ACL in his left knee and is out for the season. San Francisco also finished the game without star pass rusher Nick Bosa (groin) and kicker Robbie Gould (knee). Any length of absence for Bosa will be felt: The two-time Pro Bowler entered Sunday leading the NFL in sacks and pressures.
Previous rank: No. 7
We hope the Ravens and their fans never take for granted the unprecedented greatness of Justin Tucker. The best kicker in NFL history was at it again on Sunday night, booting a 58-yard field goal in the third quarter, then the game-winner as time expired to lift the Ravens to a critical 19-17 win over the rival Bengals. Per Next Gen Stats, Tucker's 43-yard clincher quite literally split the uprights. Tucker is 17-for-17 lifetime on attempts in the final minute of regulation. Said Lamar Jackson: "We got the G.O.A.T. at kicker." It's the truth -- and it gives the Ravens a huge advantage in every close contest they're a part of.
Previous rank: No. 8
The Bucs continue to trudge through the early portion of their schedule, winning more often than not but rarely looking like a team that's playing to its full potential. The defense bounced back from Week 4's humbling prime-time loss to the Chiefs, but a fourth-quarter letdown was halted by an absurdly generous roughing-the-passer call that kept Tom Brady on the field and allowed the home team to run out the clock in a 21-15 win over Atlanta. It's a break the Bucs won't apologize for ... and they shouldn't. But they will need to be sharper when the schedule tightens up again. "Five games in, and we've got a lot of work to do," Brady said. "We're not nearly at the point of where we're capable of being."
Previous rank: No. 9
You can flip the calendar and reboot the coaching staff, but some things will never change with a Kirk Cousins-led offense. Take Sunday, for instance: Cousins completed his first 17 passes against the Bears, leading the Vikings to touchdowns on their first three possessions while building a 21-3 lead. The blowout was on! Until it wasn't. The offense went cold, and Minnesota allowed Chicago to crawl back in the game and even take the lead in the fourth quarter. Then Cousins and Co. regrouped to score the go-ahead touchdown in an eventual 29-22 win, but the hot-and-cold nature of the Vikings' attack remains mystifying. "I'm not where I was at the end of last season in that old system," Cousins said, "but we're developing it and we're getting there and I'm excited about that continued growth."
Previous rank: No. 4
On paper, the Packers would appear to have a dominant defense. But that's not what we've seen on the field this season. For the second straight week, Green Bay failed to make key stops against an offense compromised by injuries. The Packers survived a scare from Bailey Zappe and the Patriots in Week 4, but Brian Daboll's Giants made them pay with a humbling loss in London. It's not all on the D. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense were shut out in the second half and continue to search for their big-play identity in a post-Davante world. Per NFL Media research, Rodgers finished 0-for-6 on deep attempts of at least 20 air yards.
Previous rank: No. 6
Joe Burrow and the Bengals' offense seemed well set up to shred a Ravens defense that entered Sunday Night Football allowing more passing yardage than any team in football. Unfortunately for Cincinnati, past performance was not indicative of future results. Burrow struggled to attack downfield, with Tee Higgins sidelined by an ankle injury, while Ja'Marr Chase was (again) limited to modest gains in a 19-17 loss to the Ravens. By the end of last season, Chase was a YAC monster who could not be contained. Bengals coach Zac Taylor needs to pop the hood on his offense and figure out why that's no longer the case.
Previous rank: No. 13
The stellar Cowboys defense has produced one of my favorite, most straightforward stats of the 2022 NFL season: Dallas has allowed exactly one touchdown in each of its five games this season. The defending champion Rams were the latest team to go one-and-done in a 22-10 Cowboys win at SoFi Stadium. The offensive star was Tony Pollard, whose 57-yard touchdown run gave Dallas the lead back for good and served as the latest reminder that Ezekiel Elliott is not the best running back on Mike McCarthy’s team. Speaking of McCarthy, we loved his line from last Thursday when alerted by a reporter that the Rams were favored in Sunday’s game. Replied the coach: “We’re nobody’s underdog.” Indeed.
Previous rank: No. 12
The Titans have had rotten injury luck all season, and you could see the cracks along the offensive line in a 21-17 win over the Commanders. Dennis Daley (starting at left tackle after Taylor Lewan's season-ending knee injury) was bullied by Montez Sweat, while the interior line struggled on a day Ryan Tannehill absorbed five sacks. The offense did manage to crack the end zone three times, and David Long Jr. stepped up with the goal-line interception in the final seconds to secure a win. The Titans are a team that's still trying to figure things out; luckily, they play in an AFC South that appears more adrift than ever at the moment.
Previous rank: No. 14
Brandon Staley owes Cade York a beer. York pushed his 54-yard field-goal attempt wide right in the final seconds, allowing the Chargers to escape Cleveland with a 30-28 win. Minutes earlier -- in a decision that was gutsy at best and reckless at worst -- Staley opted to keep his offense on the field on fourth-and-2 at his own 45-yard line with just over a minute to play. When Justin Herbert's subsequent pass fell incomplete, the Browns looked like a team given an early Christmas gift by the opposing head coach. But credit the Los Angeles defense, which stood strong and forced the long field-goal attempt. "So glad he missed that," tweeted Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen, inactive with a hamstring injury. "Cause man, man, man."
Previous rank: No. 19
The Giants aren't the most talented team in the NFC, and they're far from the healthiest, but they compete like hell and put themselves in the best position to win each week. We saw that again on Sunday in London, where Big Blue scored an eye-opening 27-22 comeback victory over the Packers. Defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale cooked up a scheme that didn't allow Aaron Rodgers to score chunk plays (Green Bay was shut out on offense in the second half), while the undermanned offense was once again the recipient of multiple impact plays from Saquon Barkley, who absolutely deserves to be in any MVP conversation through five weeks. Speaking of five weeks, that's how long it took the Giants to match their win total from 2021.
Previous rank: No. 15
The script is beyond tired for the Raiders. Josh McDaniels' team was once again on the wrong side of a coin-flip game, this time an excruciating 30-29 defeat to the Chiefs at Arrowhead that dropped Vegas into the AFC West cellar. The circumstances on Monday night were particularly cruel: Josh Jacobs came up inches short on a 2-point conversion try that would have put the Raiders ahead with 4:27 to play. On the ensuing possession, Davante Adams had a sideline reception to put the team in field-goal range in the final seconds wiped away by an official review. When Adams and Hunter Renfrow collided on the subsequent fourth-and-1 pass attempt, it was a fitting end to an infuriating night -- another chapter in an infuriating season -- for the team from the desert.
Previous rank: No. 11
Los Angeles is a defending Super Bowl champion with a broken offense. It's Sean McVay's responsibility to figure out how to fix it before it's too late. The Rams managed just one long Cooper Kupp touchdown and 323 yards of total offense in a 22-10 loss to the Cowboys at SoFi. Kupp's score represents the team's only touchdown in the past nine quarters. Afterward, McVay shut down the idea of putting the blame at the feet of the quarterback. "I love Matthew Stafford. He is competing and doing everything in his power for this team, (and) he needs some help," McVay said. "I think he's doing everything he can. I think he needs more help."
Previous rank: No. 18
That was it. The idealized version of the Taysom Hill Experience. The Saints' jack of all trades was at his very best against a porous Seahawks defense, rushing for three scores and throwing for another in a 39-32 win. His final touchdown, a breakaway 60-yard jaunt with less than six minutes to play, was the difference-maker, as New Orleans snapped its three-game losing streak. With Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas sidelined, Hill got help from Alvin Kamara, who piled up 194 yards of total offense and looked -- for the first time in quite a while -- like, well, Alvin Kamara. He remains the Jenga piece of the Saints' attack -- the whole thing topples over without the running back doing his thing.
Previous rank: No. 26
The Jets closed out Sunday’s 40-17 win over the Dolphins like a young team that’s starting to believe in itself. New York used a dominant rushing attack and big-play defense to reel off 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, snapping a 12-game losing streak versus AFC East opponents. Carl Lawson sealed the win with a strip sack of Dolphins third-string QB Skylar Thompson (a play that allowed Quinnen Williams to stiff-arm "disrespectful" Tyreek Hill into another time zone), while Breece Hall announced his arrival as an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate with 197 total yards and a score. Returns have been exceedingly positive on a 2022 draft class that includes instant-impact starters in Hall, cornerback Sauce Gardner and wide receiver Garrett Wilson. Tip your cap to Joe Douglas.
Previous rank: No. 10
The Dolphins have cooled off after their hot start, and injuries at the game’s most important position help to explain why. Tua Tagovailoa (concussion) sat out Sunday's game against the Jets, and backup Teddy Bridgewater lasted one play before he, too, was sidelined after being evaluated for a head injury. Bridgewater passed the tests administered by doctors on Sunday, but was ruled out due to the new "ataxia" addendum to the league's concussion protocols. Third-string QB Skylar Thompson performed admirably on short notice, but struggled to take advantage of Miami's explosive playmakers. The result was an average Dolphins attack that all but disappeared in the fourth quarter, when the Jets reeled off 21 unanswered points to turn a tight contest into a laugher for the home team in green.
Previous rank: No. 17
The best teams find ways to win. On Sunday, the Cardinals found ways to lose. A scrambling Kyler Murray went into a protection slide just short of the first-down marker, setting in motion a chain of events that ended with fill-in kicker Matt Ammendola badly pushing a 43-yard field goal attempt wide right. The end result? A painful 20-17 loss to the Eagles, ruining what could have been a major statement win against the NFL's lone undefeated team. "We've got a lot of season left," Murray said. "We've got a great team, great locker room. I am confident in everybody in that locker room. We've got to get it together. Right now, we're not playing complementary football."
Previous rank: No. 21
The Browns are quietly having an absurd season. Cleveland has played five games, won two and allowed victory to slip away in brutal fashion in three defeats. Jacoby Brissett is at the center of all the madness. The backup QB has played the best football of his career, but each of his three interceptions have come at crucial late junctures to seal -- or help seal -- the Browns' fate in their losses. On Sunday, it was a killer end-zone pick with less than three minutes to play in a 30-28 defeat to the Chargers. Brissett threw 34 passes in the loss, or double the amount of carries Nick Chubb had in the game. Kevin Stefanski might want to make an adjustment there.
Previous rank: No. 25
We no longer live in the days of endless summer in Foxborough, but you have to give the organization -- and specifically, Bill Belichick -- credit: If you come into New England and aren’t ready, you can still be embarrassed. Case in point, the Lions, who showed up Sunday with the highest-scoring offense in football but headed back to Detroit as 29-0 losers. The Pats attacked the Swiss-cheese Detroit defense on the ground, while Belichick’s defensive scheme put Jared Goff in a mental blender. The Pats are a Week 6 win over the Browns away from getting back to even ground at .500. Will Mac Jones (ankle) be back in the lineup?
Previous rank: No. 22
In another dimension, the referee keeps the penalty flag in his pocket, Marcus Mariota takes the field after a Bucs punt, and the Falcons score a touchdown in the final seconds to shock Tom Brady back into retirement. Unfortunately for Atlanta, a flag (for unnecessary roughness) was thrown on Grady Jarrett's pivotal fourth-quarter sack, and the opportunity to complete a stirring comeback was taken from Arthur Smith's bunch. "I'm not talking today," Jarrett said after the game. We feel you, big man. After the loss, the team announced the trade of Pro Bowl linebacker Deion Jones and a seventh-round draft pick to the Browns in exchange for a sixth-round pick.
Previous rank: No. 16
It’s not too early to panic. Russell Wilson and the Broncos' offense delivered another anemic performance under the prime-time lights, a 12-9 overtime loss that fully exposed to the football-viewing public how broken Denver’s attack appears to be five weeks into the season. Embattled first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett deserves his share of the blame for the struggles, but it’s Wilson who was supposed to elevate the Broncos to title contenders. Instead, he’s held them back with inconsistent play and costly mistakes. That Wilson underwent a procedure on his throwing shoulder on Friday only summons more storm clouds over Mile High.
Previous rank: No. 23
The Seahawks are an entertaining team, but a consistently overmatched defense might stop them from being anything more than that. A week after getting pushed around by the Jared Goff-led Lions, it was the Saints’ turn -- Taysom Hill (accounted for four touchdowns) and Alvin Kamara (194 total yards) did pretty much whatever they wanted in a 39-32 Seattle loss. It’s a shame, too, because Geno Smith continues to defy expectations as one of the NFL’s best passers through five weeks. Geno will be without a key piece going forward: Rashaad Penny is done for the year after fracturing his fibula on Sunday. Penny is a talented player who can’t shake the injury bug.
Previous rank: No. 20
Trevor Lawrence had a five-turnover meltdown against the Eagles in Week 4, but you could point to the wet and slippery conditions as a major factor behind his struggles. But Sunday? A home game in good conditions against the winless Texans? Lawrence should have been far better than his two-interception, zero-touchdown showing in a disappointing 13-6 loss. Lawrence got a pass for a rocky rookie year marred by Urban Meyer’s malfeasance, but the five-game sample Lawrence has submitted in Year 2 under Doug Pederson has been frustratingly inconsistent. It's time for Lawrence, touted as a generational talent entering the league, to step up.
Previous rank: No. 24
The Lions have been a mess on defense all season, but the offense was there to keep the team competitive and afloat. Sunday’s 29-0 loss to the Patriots is what happens when Jared Goff and Co. don’t put their best foot forward. The cracks are showing for a Dan Campbell regime that is high on charisma and likability, but still dangerously low on tangible success. "To me, this is about as bad as it gets,” the coach said Sunday. “... I believe we hit rock bottom, so now the only place to go is back up." Detroit will use its bye to examine everything, including fourth-down decision making: The Lions went for it on fourth down six times on Sunday and failed to convert even once.
Previous rank: No. 27
The Steelers were overmatched by a vastly superior Bills team on Sunday, falling behind by four touchdowns by halftime in an eventual 38-3 loss in Western New York. Pittsburgh’s defense -- lost without T.J. Watt -- surrendered a 98-yard touchdown strike from Josh Allen on the third play from scrimmage and rarely looked competitive after that. Mike Tomlin didn’t mince words after the game. "Satisfied with the effort?” the coach replied to a reporter’s query. “We got smashed. What are we doing here, man?" With an unforgiving schedule ahead, Tomlin appears destined to finally endure his first losing season as head coach. It’s fair to wonder if Pittsburgh ends this rebuilding campaign with one of the worst records in football.
Previous rank: No. 28
When it was over, the Colts were celebrating in Denver on Thursday night -- even if the result didn’t quite make sense. Per The Athletic, Quenton Nelson had this to say after the 12-9 overtime conquest: “A win’s a win, but I’m kinda also like … how?” The Colts can thank their defense for keeping the team above water during a brutal opening stretch for an offense that has averaged a league-worst 13.8 points per game. The prime-time star was Stephon Gilmore, the veteran cover man who intercepted Russell Wilson to thwart one red-zone drive and broke up an end-zone pass in the final seconds to ice the game. Ugly wins count just as much as pretty ones, but Matt Ryan and Co. will need to be far better to move Indy out of the pretender category.
Previous rank: No. 30
Sometimes a loss can feel like a win. That’s how Bears fans could optimistically look at a 29-22 setback to the Vikings that also served as a hopeful jumping-off point for Justin Fields. The quarterback, who had struggled mightily through the first four weeks of his second season, caught fire in the second half, finishing 12 of 13 for 135 yards and a touchdown in the final two quarters. He added 36 rushing yards and had a long TD run negated by a penalty. Fields’ hot streak allowed Chicago to erase a 21-3 deficit and put a serious scare into the NFC North leaders. "I think we took a step forward, for sure," Fields said. "A lot of teams in this league would have just laid down and stopped playing." It’s a start.
Previous rank: No. 29
It’s never a comfortable watch with Carson Wentz. There are twists, there are turns, there’s joy, there’s terror. Oh, and a fair bit of tragedy, like the goal-line interception thrown by the quarterback in the final seconds of a 21-17 loss to the Titans. Wentz’s deciding turnover overshadowed a 359-yard passing day that included two long touchdown tosses to Dyami Brown. At 1-4, Washington finds itself buried in last place of a division with two 4-1 teams and one 5-0 team. "We have dug a hole, but at the same time, there's a lot of games left, a lot of football," Wentz said. "The NFL is crazy. We try not to look at what happened the last couple of games and what's ahead. We just got to go 1-0 each week. We've dug ourselves a hole. We did it to ourselves."
Previous rank: No. 32
The Texans have joined the ranks of the living, with their first win of the season. They did it with a strong defensive effort against the Jaguars, harassing Trevor Lawrence into two interceptions in a 13-6 victory. Rookie Derek Stingley Jr. had one of those picks, his first career interception. There was more good news for the rookie class on the other side of the ball: Dameon Pierce rushed for 99 yards and his third touchdown of the season. Through five weeks, Pierce is fifth in the league in rushing, averaging a plump 4.8 yards per attempt. That kind of production places the fourth-round pick firmly in the Offensive Rookie of the Year discussion.
Previous rank: No. 31
The Panthers were non-competitive yet again on Sunday against the 49ers. Less than 24 hours later, the ax came down on Matt Rhule. Carolina fired the head coach on Monday, ending his run with the Panthers at 11-27 in two-plus seasons. Rhule didn’t fail alone: The Panthers have had dreadful instincts in addressing the quarterback position since cutting ties with former MVP Cam Newton. Sam Darnold was a bust in 2021, and Baker Mayfield has been just as bad (if not worse) as QB1 this year. It’s been a mess, and now it becomes the responsibility of defensive passing game coordinator/secondary coach Steve Wilks, who was elevated to interim head coach. Wilks will begin his run without Mayfield, out indefinitely after suffering a high ankle sprain against the Niners. With Darnold still shelved by his own high ankle sprain (this team, man), P.J. Walker is set to start Sunday against the Rams.