NFL Power Rankings Week 5 1-32 poll plus the biggest surpris


Week 5 NFL Power Rankings: 1-32 poll, plus eye-opening surprises for each team

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NFL Power Rankings Week 5: 1-32 poll, plus the biggest surprise for every team

While were not at the one-quarter mark of the season yet (thanks to the new 17-game schedule), the NFL Power Rankings thought this week was the perfect time to discuss each teams biggest surprises in the early going.

Some of these surprises are quite good, such asCooper Kuppbeing one of the NFLs top receivers for theLos Angeles RamsLamar Jacksonshowing increased passing chops for theBaltimore Ravensor theArizona Cardinalsbecoming the it team in the leagues hottest division. Others arent good at all, like the Washington Football Team regressing on defense, theIndianapolis Coltsnot being able to keep their main players healthy and theTampa Bay Buccaneersrunning out of cornerbacks. But good or bad, we asked the reporters of all 32 teams to identify the one thing about the teams they cover that has startled them most through 23.52% of the season (we did the math).

How we rank in our Power Rankings: Our power panel -- a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities -- evaluates how teams stack up throughout the season.

Biggest surprise:Defensive dominance

Why its a surprise:The fact that the Bills defense is playing well is not surprising, but its the numbers that the unit has put up that couldnt have been expected. Buffalo has forced three or more turnovers in each of the past three games and has held two opponents scoreless in four games -- including a40-0 winagainst Houston on Sunday. No matter the opposing offenses -- the team has faced three backup quarterbacks -- thats a big accomplishment in the NFL. That success has led to a plus-90 scoring margin. The Bills are the fifth team to be plus-80 or better through four games in the past 20 years. --Alaina Getzenberg

Biggest surprise:Success is happening so quickly

Why its a surprise:Its not that the Cardinals being good is surprising, its thateverything is clickingso early in the season. The offense added some important pieces this season and it was expected that they would all jell, but for all of it to come together and to be undefeated, lead the NFC West, have one of the best offenses in the league and anearly MVP candidateat quarterback -- well, that is whats surprising. The early meshing of everything is as good of a scenario as it gets for the Cardinals. Even though Arizona started hot last year and then went into a tailspin, this start feels different. --Josh Weinfuss

Why its a surprise:In his fifth NFL season, Cooper Kupp has established himself as quarterbackMatthew Staffords favorite target and has exploded to become one of the top receivers in the league. Entering Monday night, Kupp leads the NFL with five receiving touchdowns and ranks third with 431 receiving yards. Kupp has also been targeted a league-high 46 times, catching 30 passes. Kupp was expected to be a top performer in the Rams offense, but few could have predicted that he would be among the most productive receivers in the league. --Lindsey Thiry

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Biggest surprise:The large number of injuries

Why its a surprise:After making it all the way to the Super Bowl and winning, the Buccaneers had a terrific training camp in terms of injuries. That luck has changed quickly, with all three starting cornerbacks potentially out now afterCarlton Davisleft their Week 4 win against the Patriots with a quad injury. In addition,Jason Pierre-Paulhas missed multiple games with rib fractures, andAntoine Winfield Jr. has entered the concussion protocol. The once-strong defense has taken a big hit four weeks in. --Jenna Laine

Biggest surprise:The offensive line holding up

Why its a surprise:Life without All-Pro LTDavid Bakhtiari(recovering from ACL surgery) and Pro Bowl GElgton Jenkins(missed the past two games with an ankle injury) hasnt been the death knell to the offense that it could have been. The Packers have held their own with one experienced lineman (Billy Turner), two rookies at center and right guard (Josh MyersRoyce Newman) and second-year pros at left tackle and left guard (Yosh NijmanJon Runyan).

Aaron Rodgerssaid it best Sunday after facing a second straight team with a dominant defensive front, first the 49ers and then the Steelers. If you wouldve told me early in the season wed be without arguably two of our best linemen for a couple of games and play those two fronts, I wouldve been ecstatic with two wins. --Rob Demovsky

Biggest surprise:How quickly the defense has come together

Why its a surprise:After finishing 19th in defensive efficiency last year, the Browns overhauled their defense in the offseason,bringing inor drafting eight new starters. The talent upgrade across the board was evident. But how quickly this defense has jelled in four weeks is still surprising. Already led by the leagues No. 1 pass rush win rate, the Browns own a defense that has the look of a championship-caliber unit. --Jake Trotter

Biggest surprise:Lamar Jacksonranking in the top half of the NFL in passing yards

Why its a surprise:It was expected that Jackson would take a step forward as a passer, especially after the Ravens lost their two top backs (J.K. DobbinsandGus Edwards) before the start of the regular season. But this has been a big step forward. Baltimore ranked last in the NFL in passing last season, and Jackson finished 22nd in passing yards in each of the past two years. This season, Jackson has really stretched the field. His 19 completions of 20-plus yards rank third in the NFL, trailing onlyTom Brady(23) andDerek Carr(21). --Jamison Hensley

Biggest surprise:Defensive takeaways

Why its a surprise:The Cowboys have10 takeawaysin four games, which is second in the league and the best in the NFC. How did this happen? They did not record their 10th takeaway a year ago until the 11th game of the season. It helps thatTrevon Diggsis having a breakout season with five interceptions in the first four games. The last Cowboy cornerback to have five interceptions in a season wasTerence Newmanin 2010. The defense still has some faults, but if it can continue to get takeaways, that will give an offense that is rolling more possessions. Right now, the Cowboys havea perfect feelfor complementary football. --Todd Archer

Biggest surprise:CBAsante Samuel Jr.

Why its a surprise:Nobody knew exactly what they were getting when Samuel was drafted with the 47th pick. Hes not his dad, but he has surprised just about everyone with interceptions in consecutive games (the first off ofDak Prescottin Week 2, the second off ofPatrick Mahomesin the red zone in Week 3). Samuel has four passes defensed and was named Defensive Rookie of the Month but says Ive still got to grind. Hes already made a name for himself in theClass of 2021. --Shelley Smith

Biggest surprise:The Raiders defense

Why its a surprise:A season ago, late collapses against the Chiefs, Chargers and Dolphins were the difference between an 11-5 playoff season and the middling 8-8 the Raiders finished with. Yeah, four weeks is a small sample size, but defensive coordinator Gus Bradleys re-imagined scheme is getting off the field and, yes, making plays. The best benefit for Las Vegas -- the improved play on the defensive side of the ballis helpingquarterback Derek Carr, too. --Paul Gutierrez

Why its a surprise:The Chiefs have put much emphasis and many hours on the practice field to improve their defense inside the 20-yard line -- which was worst in the league last season -- but thingshave only gotten worse. The Chiefs have allowed a touchdown in the red zone 79% of the time, which is fifth worst and two percentage points worse than last season. Its the biggest reason the Chiefs are31st in points allowed. --Adam Teicher

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Why its a surprise:If anyone said they predicted before the season that Darnold wouldlead the NFL in rushing touchdowns(five) through four weeks, they would have been lying. Darnold had only five rushing touchdowns in three seasons with the Jets. He wasnt considered a running threat. But teams are leaving lanes open, and Darnold is taking advantage. These arent quarterback sneaks. These are read-options or QB draw-type plays (credit OC Joe Brady) that Carolina was used to seeingCam Newtonrun. --David Newton

Biggest surprise:Jamal Adamsdoesnt have a sack

Why its a surprise:The Seahawks arent giving Adams as many opportunities to rush the passer as they did last season, when he set an NFL record for sacks by a defensive back with 9.5 in only 12 games. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. suggested over the summer that Adams might not blitz as much this season. Still, it is surprising that he isnt blitzing more given how up and down Seattles pass rush has been -- generating nine sacks in four games. Without taking advantage of Adams best strength, the Seahawks arent getting the most out of their$17.5 million per year safety. Adams has rushed the passer 13 times through four games after averaging 8.25 rushes per game last year, per ESPN Stats & Information research. --Brady Henderson

Why its a surprise:On one hand it shouldnt be a surprise, as its been quite some time since the Broncos special teams units and consistency were paired together. But with the investment made in adding more speed to the roster in the offseason, the Broncos have surrendered a 38-yard kickoff return in the season opener and a 102-yard kickoff return for a TD in Week 2, have been called for a taunting penalty after downing a punt and surrendered a 42-yard punt returnin Week 4. In a 3-1 start, none of those plays have cost them. But if this team really wants to be in the playoff conversation, repairs need to be made or those kinds of plays will cost them. --Jeff Legwold

Why its a surprise:Samuel showed up to training camp leaner, healthier and a more well-rounded receiver. He looked poised for a big season, but even the biggest Samuel believers probably didnt see this coming. Four games in, Samuel isfirst in the NFLin receiving yards (490) and yards after catch (266) and fifth in yards per reception (17.5). His 490 receiving yards through four games is the second-most by a Niner behind only Jerry Rices 522 in 1995. --Nick Wagoner

Biggest surprise:The Bengals strong defense

Why its a surprise:The Bengals have struggled to field a quality defense in coordinator Lou Anarumos first two seasons. However, this year the Bengals are among the best in the NFL through the first four games. Cincinnatiranks fifthin yards per play allowed and seventh in points per drive allowed. Granted, the opposing offenses havent been great, but the improvement in Anarumos unit has been very notable. Defensive endTrey Hendrickson, whosigned a $60 million dealwith the team in the offseason, is second in the NFL in pass rush first pressures, according to ESPN Stats & Information. --Ben Baby

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Biggest surprise:The 31st-ranked passing offense

Why its a surprise:The Saints are averaging just 144 passing yards per game, whileAlvin Kamarahas set career highs with 24 and 26 carries, respectively, over the past two weeks. That kind of run-pass disparity worked when the Saints were running out the clock in big wins over Green Bay and New England but has been called into question now after theyallowed the Giants to rallyfor a stunning comeback win Sunday. At some point, Sean Payton may need to rely more heavily onJameis Winstonand the passing offense. It will certainly help if WRMichael Thomasreturns from his ankle injury when eligible after the Week 6 bye. --Mike Triplett

Biggest surprise:The struggles on offense

Why its a surprise:The Titans offense averaged 30 points per game last year. Tennessee was expected to maintain its high-scoring ways after addingJulio Jonesto the mix. Through four games, Tennessee is averaging 23.8 points per game. Jones has yet to post a touchdown, whileA.J. Brownonly has one.Neither receiver was availableto the Titans last week, but they still scored 24 points. The problem is they should have scored more. The Titans are not as efficient in the red zone anymore either. Theyve gone from 75% touchdowns in the red zone last season to only 50% this year. --Turron Davenport

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Biggest surprise:Defensive struggles

Why its a surprise:Washington ranked second in yards and fourth in points last season. It boasted a top young line, the defensive rookie of the year (Chase Young) and added parts in the offseason through free agency (cornerWilliam Jackson III) and the draft (linebackerJamin Davis, cornerBenjamin St-Juste). But after four games, they rank 29th in yards allowed and 30th in points. Its not just about having a harder schedule, its about playing -- and coaching -- poorly. There has been a big blown coverage assignment every week and theyre not applying enough pressure (sacks on 4% of dropbacks compared to 7.8% last season). QuarterbackTaylor Heinicke-- another surprise -- has bailed out the defense. When he became the starter, the belief would have been for the opposite scenario. --John Keim

Biggest surprise:Struggling offensive line

Why its a surprise:The group ofIsaiah Wynn(LT),Mike Onwenu(LG),David Andrews(C),Shaq Mason(RG) andTrent Brown(RT) was supposed to be a strength of the Patriots offense, but rookie QBMac Joneshas taken 34 hits through four games. Also, the running game has been inconsistent, as evidenced by gaining minus-1 yard on eight carries Sunday night against the Buccaneers. Browns right calf injury, which has knocked him out of action for everything but the first series of the season, has been a factor in the performance, but is far from the only reason for the struggle. --Mike Reiss

Biggest surprise:The number of injuries to key players

Why its a surprise:Carson Wentzhas no idea what its like to play behind the projected starting offensive line because the group has dealt with injuries. Right tackleBraden Smithcontinues to be out with a foot injury, left guardQuenton Nelsonison injured reservewith a high ankle sprain and left tackleEric Fishermissed the first game of the season while continuing his recovery from an Achilles injury. And thats just the start. ReceiverT.Y. Hiltonis on the IR with adisc injury. Starting safetyKhari Willis, pass-rusherKwity Payeand cornerbacksXavier RhodesandRock Ya-Sinhave all missed games with injuries, too. Injuries are part of the game, but the Colts have been ravaged with them through the first four weeks. --Mike Wells

Why its a surprise:Minnesota signed Breeland to shore up the secondary and put a player with experience and good coverage skills (ranked 18th byPro Football Focusin 2020) oppositePatrick Petersonat outside corner. Through four games, Breelands play has been a disaster. He has been targeted 23 times and allowed 20 receptions for 281 yards (14.1 yards per reception), has given up four touchdowns and is allowing a near-perfect passer rating (157.2).Against Cleveland, Breeland left the game after six plays with an illness and didnt play again after being the closest defender on a 21-yard pass that converted a third-and-long for the Browns. --Courtney Cronin

Why its a surprise:After an uninspiring 2020 season, Quinn has been all over the field for the Bears defense through four games. The veteran pass-rusher leads the team with 4.5 sacks and has recorded multiple tackles for loss. Quinn said he is in a better place mentally and spiritually this season -- and its showing on the field. When Quinn is paired withKhalil Mack, the Bears have one of the most formidable edge rusher duos in the NFC North. --Jeff Dickerson

Biggest surprise:Pass rush struggles

Why its a surprise:The Steelers got plenty of pressure out of the four-man rush in Week 1, but havent been able to replicate the same results the past two weeks. WithoutT.J. WattandAlex Highsmith, the Steelers didnt record a single sack against the Bengals, and against the Packers, they only had two -- including one that appeared to just be a trip by Watt. Watt, who sustained a groin injury against the Raiders, said he felt healthy enough to play against the Packers, but he -- and the rest of the Steelers front -- havent performed to the same level they did in Week 1. The Steelers have shown an ability to play championship-level defense, butthe lack of replicationis surprising. --Brooke Pryor

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Biggest surprise: RBMiles Sandersusage

Why its a surprise:Sanders is the Eagles lead back, yet only has 37 carries through four games -- which is tied for 33rd in the NFL with the Cowboys No. 2 running backTony Pollardand Jets rookieMichael Carter. He has nine rushes total in the past two weeks. Meanwhile, rookieKenneth Gainwell(89 total yards and a TD vs. Chiefs) is heating up. Sanders and QBJalen Hurtswere expected to be a dynamic 1-2 punch out of the backfield, but its been slow going for Sanders to start. --Tim McManus

Biggest surprise:Poor offensive play

Why its a surprise:Name the offensive category and the Dolphins are either near or at the bottom of theNFLs rankings. Entering Monday night, Miami was 31st in scoring, 31st in total yards, 30th in first downs, 30th in passing yards, 26th in rushing yards -- need I go on?Tua Tagovailoas current stinton injured reservehas not helped, but even he cant single-handedlysolve Miamis offensive woes. The Dolphins offensive line also ranks 29th in pass block win rate and has given up the fourth most sacks -- despite seeing the eighth fewest blitzes in the league. It has been a surprisingly horrendous start to the season for a team that had playoff aspirations in 2021. --Marcel Louis-Jacques

Biggest surprise: RBCordarrelle Patterson

Why its a surprise:Patterson has been a revelation in an otherwise struggling offense in Atlanta, as he is on pace for the best rushing season of his career (he already has 27 carries for 119 yards) and his best receiving season (already having 18 catches for 235 yards). Arthur Smith has been able to find a way tocreate opportunities for him, which led to him scoring three touchdownsagainst Washington-- as many receiving touchdowns as he had in the past four seasons. Patterson has been a pleasant surprise for Atlanta in every way. --Michael Rothstein

Biggest surprise:Defensive struggles

Why its a surprise:The defense was supposed to be the strength of this Giants team. It isnt. It is ranked 22nd in the NFL allowing 382 yards per game. And its probably not going to get much better. The Giants still havent found answers at edge rusher and are without starting middle linebackerBlake Martinezfor the remainder of the season. Its hard to be a top defense like what was expected with a pedestrian pass rush. --Jordan Raanan

Biggest surprise:Defense has overachieved

Why its a surprise:The defense ranks in the top half of the league in points and yards allowed despite some tough circumstances. Top pass-rusherCarl Lawsonwas lost to a season-ending injury in the preseason, linebackerJarrad Davis(ankle) still hasnt played, free safetyLamarcus Joynersuffered a season-ending injury in Week 1 and three rookies are starting. Talk about adversity. Thanks to good coaching, plus terrific starts by LBC.J. Mosleyand DTQuinnen Williams, the Jets defense has managed to hold it together. --Rich Cimini

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Biggest surprise:Lack of production from RBPhillip Lindsay

Why its a surprise:Entering training camp, the Texans expected Lindsay to emerge as their lead back. Instead, Lindsay trails veteran running backsMark Ingram IIandDavid Johnsonfor carries and has just 31 yards and a touchdown on 24 attempts. Since Week 1, Houston has not run the ball well at all and ranks 31st in Football Outsiders rushing DVOA. It might get a little easier for the Texans in Week 5, as theNew England Patriotsdefense ranks 28th in rushing DVOA and allowed Tampa Bay to run for 119 yards Sunday night. --Sarah Barshop

Why its a surprise:Nobody expected the Lions to be a playoff team, but starting 0-4 isnt ideal -- even for the Lions. Against Chicago,they failed to scoreon four different red zone drives, which tied for the most by any team in a game since 2000 -- and Detroits most in a single game. QuarterbackJared Goffhas now lost six consecutive regular-season starts, which is the longest active streak among QBs. It hasnt been all his fault, with injuries and costly miscues haunting this team, but the Lions have to improve at limiting mistakes in scoring situations if they want to win a game. --Eric Woodyard

Biggest surprise:Josh Lambos struggles

Why its a surprise:There hasnt been much the Jaguars have been able to count on over the past several seasons other than Lambo. Lambo earned the Lambomatic nickname because he had made 95% of his field goal attempts with the Jaguars (76 of 80) from the time he joined the team in October 2017 through the 2020 season. But hes 0-for-3 this season,didnt play last weekbecause of personal reasons, and coach Urban Meyer said Lambo will have to compete withMatthew Wrightfor the kicking job this week. An offense averaging just 18.5 points per game needs a reliable kicker. If Lambo doesnt rebound this week, his time in Jacksonville is likely done. --Mike DiRocco