NFL Power Rankings, Week 5: Cardinals fly into No. 1 spot, Cowboys hit top 10

It's officially anarchy atop the Power Rankings.

Our new No. 1 wasn't even in the top 10 a week ago. Our previous No. 1 barely held on to a top-10 slot this week. The Packers, Chiefs and Browns all won ... and dropped in the rankings.

Some of this might confuse you. Some of this might even enrage you. But remember this: I didn't create the madness that defines Our League as we enter Week 5. I only seek to make sense of the senseless. It's a challenging job, and I perform it to the best of my abilities.


Watch the NFL Power Rankings show with Dan and Matt "Money" Smith every Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET on NFL Network.

NOTE: Up/down arrows reflect movement from the Week 4 Power Rankings.

Arizona Cardinals

Previous rank: No. 11

That right there was a certified, no-doubt-about-it, oh-helllllll-yes, Statement Win™. The Cardinals went to Los Angeles and laid the smackdown on a Rams team that spent the week being hyped up as a Super Bowl favorite (we may have played a small role in this space). What made the 37-20 triumph especially impressive was that it wasn't all about a dynamo performance by Kyler Murray, though the rising third-year quarterback was again excellent. Instead, this was a team effort: The offense had its way with the Rams' elite defense, while the Cards' defense forced two early turnovers and kept the Matthew Stafford-led Rams air attack out of sync all afternoon. The victory was the first for the Cardinals in nine tries against Sean McVay's Rams. Said cornerback Byron Murphy Jr.: "I feel like, as a team, we're building towards something."

Previous rank: No. 2

The Bucs landed more than an iconic quarterback with an unmatched résumé when they signed Tom Brady a year ago in March. Tampa Bay also received a generous supply of Brady Magic, that invisible pixie dust that pushed Nick Folk's go-ahead field goal attempt into the left upright to secure Tampa's 19-17 win over the Patriots. Brady didn't throw a touchdown in his much-ballyhooed return to Foxborough, while Mac Jones -- his true successor in New England -- completed 19 consecutive passes at one point. But Brady led the Bucs to the go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter, then watched from the sideline as Bill Belichick's gamble on Folk came up snake eyes. Brady's had dozens of "special" wins in his career -- we imagine this one is up there.

Buffalo Bills

Previous rank: No. 4

The Bills are absolutely humming on defense right now. This was extremely bad news for young Davis Mills, the third-round Texans rookie QB who threw four interceptions and led the Houston offense to just over 100 yards in a 40-0 Buffalo victory at Orchard Park. The Texans aren't near the Bills' weight class, but great teams flex their muscles against the league's have-nots, which is exactly what we saw on Sunday. This coming Sunday, we'll get a major, prime-time showdown with the Chiefs -- a rematch of last season's AFC Championship Game ... and possibly a preview of this season's AFC Championship Game. The Bills can only hope they'll have star linebacker Matt Milano, who exited in the first half on Sunday with a hamstring injury.

Previous rank: No. 3

Aaron Rodgers enjoyed victories big and small on Sunday against the Steelers. The reigning MVP steered the Packers to a relatively stress-free 27-17 win at Lambeau in a game that featured a huge contribution from Randall Cobb, the veteran wideout Rodgers single-handedly brought back to Green Bay during the QB's infamous summer of discontent. Cobb was a non-factor in Green Bay's first three games, but he busted out against Pittsburgh with five catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns. Rodgers said prior to the season that he deserved a say in how the Packers build a roster around him; Cobb made his old friend look Ken Jennings-level smart on Sunday.

Previous rank: No. 5

The Ravens knew what they needed on the final play Sunday. With their streak of 100-yard rushing games in jeopardy, Lamar Jackson took the snap and shuffled to his left before sliding down for a 5-yard gain. The rush put Baltimore over the century mark and tied an NFL record -- and more importantly, capped a decisive victory over the previously undefeated Broncos in Denver. Jackson threw for more than 300 yards for just the second time in his career, while Marquise "Hollywood" Brown atoned for his disastrous Week 3 with a gorgeous diving touchdown catch. The defense took it home: Don "Wink" Martindale's group allowed just 254 yards of offense. It can take time, but the Ravens always seem to figure it out on that side of the ball.

Dallas Cowboys

Previous rank: No. 14

The explosive Cowboys offense has garnered much of the headlines in the early going, but the biggest breakout star is playing on the other side of the ball. Cornerback Trevon Diggs is up to five interceptions on the season after two Sam Darnold picks helped produce 10 Dallas points in a 36-28 win over the Panthers at Jerrah World. The 23-year-old became the first Cowboy since the merger to record an interception in each of the first four games of a season. Carolina got back into the game in the fourth quarter -- a portion of the contest Diggs watched from the sideline with what the team termed "tightness in his back." The young playmaker's presence on the field has quickly become essential.

Previous rank: No. 10

After the Chargers finished off the Raiders to move into a three-way tie atop the AFC West, they received a high compliment from an unlikely source. "They're going to go places this year," Raiders coach Jon Gruden told the assembled media at SoFi Stadium after the Bolts' 28-14 win. "They're going to be a force to be dealt with." Justin Herbert delivered another star turn with three touchdown passes, but the QB didn't do it alone. Los Angeles got huge performances from running back Austin Ekeler (145 total yards, 2 TDs) and the entire defense, which held the Raiders to season lows in production across the board. Fill up that stadium, Chargers fans!

Previous rank: No. 6

The Chiefs still have their issues. Their defense was unable to force so much as a single punt against the Eagles. And yet, they have Patrick Mahomes and the brilliant offensive mind of Andy Reid to cover up the blemishes. Kansas City had seven possessions on Sunday; one ended with a Mahomes interception and the rest with the Chiefs celebrating in the end zone. Mahomes threw five touchdown passes, the first a Skee-Ball "Only Mahomes" toss to Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the final a 44-yard bomb to Tyreek Hill, who was straight uncoverable all day. After the game, Reid received a commemorative game ball for becoming the first head coach in NFL history to win 100 games with two different teams. Big Red forever.

Los Angeles Rams

Previous rank: No. 1

Let the events of Sunday serve as a reminder to the Rams: If you don't bring your "A" game in the NFC West, you have the potential to get embarrassed. That's what happened in a 37-20 loss to the Cardinals at SoFi Stadium, a game that made the good vibes of the Rams' pristine September feel like they came years ago. Two early turnovers -- one a Matthew Stafford interception, the other a fumble by Sony Michel that set Arizona up near the red zone -- were turned into Cardinals touchdowns, while Stafford and his receivers struggled to find a groove. The normally reliable defense has also encountered turbulence, surrendering 911 yards and 61 points in the past two weeks. The Rams need to adjust on the fly with the Seahawks up next on Thursday night

Cleveland Browns

Previous rank: No. 8

When the Browns' defense dominated the Bears in Week 3, it felt such a mismatch of personnel and scheme that it was difficult to distill signs of actual progress. Sunday's 14-7 win over the Vikings was different: Cleveland went into a hostile environment and shut down an opposing offense that had been humming as well as any unit in football in the season's first three weeks. All the Browns need now is balance. Baker Mayfield completed less than half his passes in one of his worst performances in recent memory. Mayfield has always been a streaky quarterback, but he was a liability on Sunday. Cleveland will continue to win games with a stingy defense and elite running game, but Mayfield must improve to make the Browns true Super Bowl contenders. 

Las Vegas Raiders

Previous rank: No. 9

The Raiders have been slow starters all season, and on Monday night, they dug a hole they were unable to climb out of. Playing in front of a sellout crowd made up mostly of Silver & Black fans in Los Angeles, the Raiders spotted the Chargers 21 points before finally getting on the board in the third quarter. A Derek Carr touchdown pass to Darren Waller brought Vegas within a touchdown, but the Bolts pulled away late to grab a share of the AFC West lead. The Raiders' offense was humbled for the first time, setting season lows in points, total yards and first downs in the loss. "We cannot come out and take that many punches in the first round," Jon Gruden said after the game. "That was ridiculous."

Seattle Seahawks

Previous rank: No. 17

"We don't lose three in a row around here." Those were the words of left tackle Duane Brown after the Seahawks delivered their best all-around performance of the season in a 28-21 win over the 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Russell Wilson accounted for three touchdowns, while the Seattle defense -- so thoroughly outclassed in Minnesota a week earlier -- shut down the San Francisco attack in an important NFC West showdown. There was some good fortune mixed in. Niners QB Jimmy Garoppolo exited at halftime with a calf injury, and San Francisco kicker Robbie Gould was scratched moments before kickoff with a groin issue, but the Seahawks showed up ready to play and got the job done. For the record, Seattle hasn't had a three-game losing streak in 10 years.

Previous rank: No. 7

Jimmy Garoppolo is dealing with yet another injury, this time a calf contusion, and Kyle Shanahan will once again spend the week fielding questions about the quarterback position. Trey Lance delivered an uneven performance in Sunday's loss to the Seahawks, but his athleticism and playmaking ability might be San Francisco's best shot, with a showdown against Kyler Murray and the high-flying Cardinals up next. The Niners' offense seems stuck in a rut with Garoppolo behind center -- that remained the case in Jimmy G's two quarters against a Seattle defense that was hemorrhaging yardage and points before Sunday. If Shanahan decides now is the time to pull the trigger and move to the kid, the decision will be justified.

Carolina Panthers

Previous rank: No. 13

The Panthers took their first loss of the season because of a disastrous third quarter in Dallas. Carolina went into the tunnel up 14-13 at the half, but was outscored 20-0 over the next 15 minutes of game time. The Cowboys' defense rattled Sam Darnold by shifting to a blitz-heavy scheme that produced a long field-goal miss, a three-and-out, then back-to-back Trevon Diggs interceptions. Darnold and the offense did well to battle back in the fourth quarter with two touchdown drives, but Dallas successfully ran out the clock with its power running game. One brutal quarter aside, the Panthers acquitted themselves well against a high-quality opponent. No need to panic.

Cincinnati Bengals

Previous rank: No. 19

The Bengals have a share of first place in the AFC North, and Joe Burrow very much looks like The Franchise. The second-year quarterback picked apart the Jaguars in a 24-21 win, showing poise and presence as he led the Bengals to four consecutive scoring drives in the second half of a comeback victory. Burrow is averaging 9.2 yards per attempt (third in the NFL among qualified passers), and he's getting much better protection: Cincinnati has allowed just one sack in the past two weeks after surrendering 10 in the season's first two games. If the Bengals keep their young star upright, something special could be brewing in the Queen City.

Denver Broncos

Previous rank: No. 12

Sunday's showing against the Ravens is unlikely to convince doubters that Denver's perfect September was more about who the Broncos are than who they played. They were unable to stop Lamar Jackson through the air, and the offense couldn't get anything going in a dispiriting 23-7 loss at Mile High. Teddy Bridgewater struggled to move the offense before exiting the game with a concussion; Drew Lock took over in the second half and was unable to produce a single point as Broncos fans jeered. "It's extremely disappointing," safety Justin Simmons said. "We knew how important this was, especially being able to come back home and play a team like Baltimore. We knew what the stakes were for it, and it's just disappointing."

Minnesota Vikings

Previous rank: No. 16

It was so easy for Kirk Cousins and Co. in the first three weeks. On Sunday, that trend seemed destined to continue when the Vikings marched straight down the field for a touchdown in their opening drive against the Browns. Then the script flipped. Minnesota had 11 possessions from that point onward and never scored again in a disappointing 14-7 loss at U.S. Bank Stadium. Cousins was knocked out of his groove by a consistent Cleveland pass rush, and Dalvin Cook spent more time on the sidelines with that ominous ankle issue. The Vikings still feel like they have the DNA of a playoff team, but a 1-3 start puts them in a difficult position. They won't find the postseason if they can't find consistency.

Tennessee Titans

Previous rank: No. 15

The Titans played without A.J. Brown and Julio Jones on Sunday, but you can't hang a painful loss to the previously winless Jets solely on the banged-up wide receiver corps. The offensive line failed to adequately protect Ryan Tannehill, the back end of Tennessee's defense was victimized by Zach Wilson on multiple deep strikes and Randy Bullock missed the potential game-tying field-goal try in overtime in a 27-24 loss. At 2-2, the Titans know they have stars at running back and quarterback. After that, things are way too dicey for Mike Vrabel's team. "We're just frustrated because we got our tails whupped," safety Kevin Byard said after the game. "It's consistency with us."

New Orleans Saints

Previous rank: No. 18

Who are the Saints? That's a fair question to ask after a 2-2 start in which New Orleans has alternated looking like a legit contender and a conference also-ran. We got a little bit of both on Sunday against the Giants: The Saints jumped out to a 21-10 lead behind a pair of Taysom Hill touchdown runs, but the offense went cold as the defense faltered in crunch time. New Orleans surrendered 11 unanswered points to close the fourth quarter, then allowed the Giants to march down the field for the winning touchdown on the first drive of overtime. Playing in front of a sold-out home crowd at the Superdome for the first time in 637 days, the final result couldn't be considered anything less than an epic letdown.

Previous rank: No. 20

Beating the Packers at Lambeau Field requires a precision performance by the offense. The Steelers couldn't deliver that on Sunday, and they'll take a three-game losing streak into Week 5 as a result. The running game remains non-existent in Matt Canada's offense, and Ben Roethlisberger and his receivers aren't doing enough. On Sunday, Roethlisberger and JuJu Smith-Schuster left points on the field with failures to connect on two pass plays that should have gone for scores. Roethlisberger could have been more accurate on the throws, while Smith-Schuster could have helped his QB by flashing the playmaking ability that marked his first two seasons in Pittsburgh. The attack is not as dynamic as it needs to be, and it's made the Steelers a middling team.

Indianapolis Colts

Previous rank: No. 26

It's a start. The Colts went down to Miami for a must-win Week 4 contest and got the job done with a 27-17 victory over the Dolphins. Indy was the superior team in all three phases and got breakout games from Jonathan Taylor (103 yards, TD) and tight end Mo Alie-Cox (two touchdowns). Carson Wentz displayed improved mobility two weeks removed from his double ankle sprain, providing hope that Indy can dig itself out of an 0-3 hole. It helps that the Colts play in the AFC South: As Indy found its way into the win column on Sunday, the Titans were falling on their face against the Jets. The division remains there for the taking ... Who wants it?

Previous rank: No. 23

The irony is that Bill Belichick would never have settled for that 56-yard field-goal try in steady rainfall if Tom Brady was still his quarterback. Mac Jones had played an extremely efficient game to that point, but gaining Belichick's trust in game-deciding moments remains a work in progress. So, facing fourth-and-3 from the Bucs' 37, Belichick instead sent out Nick Folk, who clanked the ball off the left upright in a 19-17 loss to the defending champions. It was a difficult ending to an evening in which the Pats' defense didn't surrender a touchdown pass to Brady and held Tampa Bay to its lowest point total of the season. Still, Brady's team found a way at Foxborough. The same old story ... with a twist.

Previous rank: No. 24

With each passing week, Taylor Heinicke builds the case that he deserves the starting quarterback job, regardless of Ryan Fitzpatrick's availability. Heinicke led Washington on back-to-back touchdown drives in the fourth quarter on Sunday, turning a 30-22 deficit into a 34-30 win over the Falcons in Atlanta. He ended the day with 290 yards passing while leading the Football Team to scores on four of their five second-half possessions. With the Washington defense continuing its surprising disappearing act (where have you gone, Young & Sweaty?), Heinicke is being asked to keep his team's season afloat. So far, so good.

New York Giants

Previous rank: No. 30

When the Giants selected Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones in back-to-back drafts, the plan was for the pair of top-10 picks to lead Big Blue for years to come. A disappointing 2020 season brought complications to that plan, but the duo performed like young stars in a stunning 27-21 road win over the Saints. Jones threw for a career-high 402 yards and commanded the offense with confidence, while Barkley scored two touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime, and looked very much like the player who dominated the league for stretches before suffering a torn ACL last September. The Giants put themselves in a deep hole with their 0-3 start, but a closer look under the hood shows a team with the ability to get hot.

Previous rank: No. 22

The Eagles rolled up over 450 yards of offense on the Chiefs and never had to send their punter on the field. It was another promising effort by the offense, but also another game filled with unforced errors that doomed Philly to its third straight loss. The Eagles had three touchdowns taken off the board by penalties in drives that eventually ended with field goals. Longtime NFL personnel man Mike Lombardi calls these instances "four-point plays" for the number of points you leave on the field by trading a touchdown/PAT for a field goal. The math ain't pretty: The Eagles had three "four-point plays" on Sunday in a game they lost by 12. Nick Sirianni's team needs to clean it up.

Miami Dolphins

Previous rank: No. 21

This was supposed to be the season Miami put it all together and became a power player in the AFC. Four games into the season, the only thing remarkable about this team is how mediocre it is. The Dolphins welcomed a winless Colts team into their building on Sunday and were thoroughly outplayed in all phases of a 27-17 defeat. The Fins, losers of three straight since their season-opening win in Foxborough, have been outscored 62-17 in two home losses. Up next is a daunting road matchup against Tom Brady and the defending champion Bucs. If it's not crisis time in Miami, it's getting close to it. 

Atlanta Falcons

Previous rank: No. 25

The Falcons were all set up. They were in their building and in possession of a 30-22 lead over the Washington Football Team with less than 10 minutes to play. If they closed the game out, they'd head to London with the chance to move above .500 with a win over the rebuilding Jets. Unfortunately for the Falcons, the end was as grim as it gets: Atlanta's defense surrendered two touchdowns with the offense unable to answer back in a 34-30 loss. "We had multiple opportunities to win that game and we didn't," said Falcons coach Arthur Smith, who might age like a sitting U.S. president this season. "... We have to get a lot of things fixed in a hurry."

New York Jets

Previous rank: No. 32

Zach Wilson made several throws to excite the Jets and their fanbase in Sunday’s 27-24 overtime win over the Titans at MetLife Stadium, but one stood out above the rest: With the game tied at 17 in the fourth quarter, Wilson rolled to his right on a naked bootleg and spotted Corey Davis downfield. Wilson, seeing that the Titans’ deep safety had drifted out of position, motioned to his wide receiver to go deep, then delivered a perfect strike for a 53-yard touchdown. The play showed off Wilson’s improvisational skill and next-level arm talent, and instantly refilled the well of Jets fan optimism that had dried up over three losses to start the season. Said Robert Saleh of his young QB: "I think he was awesome.”

Chicago Bears

Previous rank: No. 29

Week 4 brought undeniable progress for the Bears and their beleaguered offense. Chicago scored on David Montgomery touchdown runs in each of its first two possessions en route to a 24-14 win over the woeful Lions. Justin Fields was better in his second career start, and the offensive line did a much better job protecting the rookie QB (funny how that works when it’s not Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney screaming around the edges). Also notable was a schematic shift for the Bears, who saw offensive coordinator Bill Lazor take over play-calling duties to positive results. Matt Nagy didn’t seem thrilled to talk about the switch after the win, but Chicago’s offense is probably better off with the head coach out of the captain’s chair.

Previous rank: No. 31

Urban Meyer called Thursday’s night’s 24-21 overtime loss to the Bengals “devastating” and “heartbreaking.” You get it: Meyer isn’t used to losing, and he’s now dropped four consecutive games for the first time in a head-coaching career that dates back to 2001. The Jaguars coughed up 14-0 and 21-14 leads in Cincinnati, but Jacksonville played a much more competitive brand of football than we saw over the season’s first three weeks. Monday brought needless drama, as Meyer was forced to address a viral video that showed a woman dancing close to his lap in a Columbus, Ohio, bar. "I just apologized to the team and staff for being a distraction," Meyer said.

Detroit Lions

Previous rank: No. 27

The hits keep on coming for the Lions. Linebacker Romeo Okwara, Detroit’s most important player on defense, is done for the year after tearing his Achilles tendon in Sunday’s 24-14 loss to the Bears. It’s the same devastating injury that ended the season of 2020 first-round pick Jeff Okudah back in Week 1. It’s all crushing news for a Lions team that had one of the thinnest rosters in football to begin the season. With attrition setting in, Detroit’s talent disparity is compounded. Now Detroit's the lone remaining winless team in the NFC, and it’s on head coach Dan Campbell to keep the Lions from losing hope.

Houston Texans

Previous rank: No. 28

The Texans showed fight in the first three weeks, even managing a win in the season opener against the Jaguars. Sunday’s 40-0 loss to the Bills makes you wonder how many more times David Culley’s team will taste victory before the season is through. The Texans need Tyrod Taylor back in the worst way: Rookie Davis Mills simply isn’t ready to face top NFL competition, a reality laid bare in a nightmarish performance against the Bills that produced as many interceptions as passing first downs (four each). Of course, the Texans’ struggles run deeper than the kid under center. “You could put Joe Montana out there today, and the way we played, you're not going to have any success on offense,” Culley said.

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