NFL Power Rankings, Week 5: 49ers vault back into top five, send Rams tumbling out of top 10

Parity remains a calling card of the NFL as we hit the quarter point of the regular season.

The league currently has one unbeaten team (Eagles), one winless squad (Texans), seven teams at 3-1, seven more at 1-3 and a whopping 15 squads at 2-2 -- a long list of .500 outfits that includes both Super Bowl participants of a season ago.

This makes for a dense fog in the land of the NFL Power Rankings. Time to throw up the high beams and see our way through this.

Wait, we're supposed to turn the headlights off? You're messing with me. Forget it.

Let's buckle up and get to work.

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 4 Power Rankings.

Previous rank: No. 1

Adversity came for the Eagles on Sunday, and they turned it away. Playing in rainy conditions and with multiple important players forced out of action with injuries, Philly relied on its ground attack (210 yards rushing) and an opportunistic defense (five turnovers) to hold off a game Jaguars team at the Linc. Quarterback Jalen Hurts looked pedestrian for the first time all season, so Miles Sanders did the heavy lifting, with 134 yards and two scores on 27 carries. The NFL's lone undefeated team, the Eagles should have another favorable matchup this Sunday against the inconsistent Cardinals.

Buffalo Bills

Previous rank: No. 2

The Bills were getting pushed around by the Ravens during what had the makings of a classic Statement Game for John Harbaugh's lot, a blowout conquest that would change the perception of two superpowers. Then, in a manner few teams in the league can even approach, Buffalo flipped a switch. After spotting the Ravens an early 17-point lead, the Bills reeled off the final 20 points of a 23-20 win in Baltimore. Josh Allen, per usual, was the engine on offense, but Jordan Poyer was the star of this day: The safety had two interceptions, including the end-zone pick of Lamar Jackson that kept the score tied and set up Buffalo's march to the game-winning field goal as time expired. Championship mettle by the team from Western New York.

Previous rank: No. 5

Patrick Mahomes used the prime-time stage of Sunday Night Football to remind the world that he remains -- even in a golden age of quarterback play -- a one-of-one proposition. The Chiefs superstar was unstoppable in a 41-31 win over the Bucs, gleefully shredding Todd Bowles' well-regarded defense. The highlight that will play one day during his Canton-induction sizzle reel? The scramble and acrobatic flip to Clyde Edwards-Helaire for an absurd touchdown in the second quarter. "The NFL hasn't seen anything like Mahomes -- I promise you that," Travis Kelce said after the victory. "You saw it today -- he's the Houdini of our era."

Previous rank: No. 4

When it was over, FOX cameras captured Packers coach Matt LaFleur removing his headset with a look of epic relief etched across his face. A home affair against a lesser Patriots team playing its third-string, rookie quarterback should not have stretched to overtime, but Green Bay is a team fighting itself while still in possession of enough muscle memory to win in the process. "This way of winning I don't think is sustainable because it puts too much pressure on our defense," Aaron Rodgers said. "And obviously, I've got to play better and will play better." Rodgers is far from the problem. In fact, the reigning MVP made several brilliant throws Sunday. He just needs more help from his collection of mostly unproven receivers.

Previous rank: No. 11

The Niners picked a nice moment to deliver their best performance of the year. San Francisco used the Monday Night Football spotlight to stick it to the defending champions. The 24-9 win over the Rams sends all four NFC West teams into Week 5 with identical 2-2 records. The Niners' defense sacked Matthew Stafford seven times, and breakout safety Talanoa Hufanga iced the game with a fourth-quarter pick-six. The Jimmy Garoppolo-led offense was in fine form, as well: Nearly three quarters of Garoppolo's 239 passing yards came after the catch. "We're getting the YAC Bros back," Jimmy G said after the win. "That's for sure."

Previous rank: No. 10

Bengals back? We think so! Joe Burrow passed for 287 yards and two scores, including the game-icing fourth-down TD flip to Hayden Hurst that sealed a 27-15 win over the previously undefeated Dolphins. After the victory, Burrow complimented his offensive line, a maligned unit that stepped up and kept Joey Franchise clean throughout the night (just one sack). Burrow's favorite target was -- once again -- a receiver other than Ja'Marr Chase: Tee Higgins went off for 124 yards and a touchdown on seven catches. It feels like the Bengals are back to beast status. We'll know for sure after Sunday night's showdown with the Ravens in Baltimore.

Previous rank: No. 7

The Ravens are clearly a dangerous team, but man, do they know how to lose. Baltimore built a 20-3 first-half advantage over the powerhouse Bills, only to watch it all slip away in a last-second loss that left John Harbaugh answering questions about a fourth-down gamble that went terribly awry. "So, hindsight, you could take the points," Harbaugh said of the decision to bypass a go-ahead field goal and instead go for it on fourth down with just over four minutes remaining. "But if you look at it analytically, you understand why we did it." Understandable? Sure. But poor execution -- Lamar Jackson floated a pass into the end zone that was intercepted by Bills safety Jordan Poyer -- led to a defeat every bit as bitter as the fourth-quarter meltdown against the Dolphins in Week 2. Get this out of your system now, gang.

Previous rank: No. 8

The Bucs got several important starters back in the lineup for Sunday night's showdown against the Chiefs, but Patrick Mahomes and his collection of playmakers are simply ahead of Tom Brady and his supporting cast at this point. The result: a 41-31 loss that never felt particularly competitive. A disappointing setback, no doubt, but Tampa Bay got out of the teeth of its schedule in respectable shape, with a much softer slate of opponents ahead. Let the morning TV screamers honk about what's wrong with Brady and Co. -- we're pushing pause on any serious cause for concern.

Previous rank: No. 9

The Vikings responded to a humbling prime-time loss to the Eagles with back-to-back four- and three-point victories. This bodes well for a team that figures to play in plenty of close games this season. The biggest development in Sunday's win over the Saints in London was the return of Justin Jefferson as a prolific playmaker. After a pair of quiet outings, the third-year wideout scored untouched on a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter, then had the 39-yard reception that set up Greg Joseph's game-winner in the final minute of play. Jefferson is Kevin O'Connell's one true trump card: When he's on one, Minnesota can play with any team in the league.

Miami Dolphins

Previous rank: No. 3

The Dolphins lost for the first time this season against the Bengals on Thursday Night Football, but the story after the game surrounded Tua Tagovailoa, and the head and neck injuries that sent him to a Cincinnati-area medical center after a second-quarter sack. Tua was quickly released from the hospital and flew back to Miami with the team, but questions linger about whether the QB should have been on the field at all after his head was slammed to the turf in the Week 3 win over the Bills. The NFL Players Association terminated the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant involved in Tagovailoa's concussion check, and changes to the league's concussion protocol are being implemented. On Monday, Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel ruled Tua out of Sunday's game against the Jets. Expect Miami to handle this situation with extreme caution moving forward.

Los Angeles Rams

Previous rank: No. 6

It's officially time to start worrying about the Rams. Facing a stout Niners defense in a loud road environment, the Matthew Stafford-led Los Angeles attack looked flat and punchless in a 24-9 loss that promises to be an impossible film watch for Sean McVay and friends. Stafford was sacked seven times, threw a game-ending pick-six and generally looks like a quarterback who doesn't have a lick of trust in anyone other than Cooper Kupp. In related news, the much-hyped addition of presumptive No. 2 receiver Allen Robinson (two catches, 7 yards on Monday) is fast approaching boondoggle territory. How's that knee feeling, Odell?

Tennessee Titans

Previous rank: No. 12

Sunday had to be a soothing day for the defending AFC South champions. Derrick Henry ran all over the rival Colts like in the good old days, and Tennessee pulled itself back to .500 with a 24-17 win over its longtime rival. Mike Vrabel's team is back on track, but issues linger -- most distressingly, the ones coming out of the halftime tunnel. The Titans have been strangely inept in the second half of the first four games, outscored by a whopping total of 64-7 in those contests. It didn't cost them against a struggling Colts offense on Sunday, but better opponents will storm through the door the Titans keep leaving open.

Dallas Cowboys

Previous rank: No. 13

It felt like the Cowboys were doomed when Dak Prescott went down with a Week 1 thumb injury that required surgery. Instead, Dallas finds itself riding a three-game win streak, thanks in large part to a defense that's been close to dominant. The Cowboys have given up a single touchdown in each of their four games, taking the pressure off Cooper Rush and allowing the backup QB to play in a controlled environment with a positive game script. Rush has taken that nice setup and run with it, building chemistry with CeeDee Lamb and immediately finding a connection with Michael Gallup -- playing in his first game since suffering a torn ACL in January -- in Sunday's win over the Commanders. There's no question this remains Dak's job, but there's no need to rush him back when you've got ... Rush.

Previous rank: No. 15

Say hello to Jamaree Salyer. The Chargers have been besieged by injuries at multiple positions, and it's Salyer who might be the most important new figure amongst the cavalry of replacements. The sixth-round pick's first start in place of injured Pro Bowl left tackle Rashawn Slater went off without a hitch: Justin Herbert was kept mostly clean in a 34-24 win over the Texans. A match with a lowly opponent like Houston is a nice spot to get your feet wet, but the challenge will be far greater if Myles Garrett returns to the lineup for the Browns in Week 5. For now, the Bolts will savor a small victory after the barrage of casualties that has threatened to upend their season.

Las Vegas Raiders

Previous rank: No. 21

It starts with one. It has to start with one. The Raiders finally cracked the win column on Sunday, opening the October portion of their schedule with a vitally important, potentially season-saving 32-23 win over the rival Broncos. The star of the day was Josh Jacobs, the former first-round pick who looked like a man reborn. Jacobs displayed speed, patience and power in a 144-yard, two-touchdown day. If he can keep this up, he'll go from a summertime-cut candidate to the recipient of a contract extension. A Week 5 matchup against the Chiefs is another tough lever pull by the schedule gods, but the Silver & Black can at least go into that Monday night matchup feeling good about themselves.

Denver Broncos

Previous rank: No. 14

We'll start with the good news: Russell Wilson is starting to look more like his old self. On Sunday, the quarterback connected on multiple downfield shots, kept plays alive with his legs and accounted for all three of Denver's scores. The bad news? Pretty much everything else. The Broncos lost to a division rival, their defense made Josh Jacobs look like Bo Jackson and Melvin Gordon had yet another killer fumble. Oh, and defensive end Randy Gregory and running back Javonte Williams were both carted off with knee injuries. Gregory will miss at least four games after undergoing knee surgery, but the news on Williams was especially dismaying: The former second-round pick's season was ended by a torn ACL/LCL, and there is an arduous journey ahead.

Arizona Cardinals

Previous rank: No. 20

Another week, another slow start for a Cardinals offense that seems incapable of sustaining rhythm on a weekly basis. Luckily, the alarm clock on Kliff Kingsbury's attack went off in time for Arizona to put away a subpar Panthers team on Sunday. Suspended receiver DeAndre Hopkins can return after two more games. When he does, he'll find he now has a legitimate complement on the field in Marquise "Hollywood" Brown. The offseason addition has given Kyler Murray a playmaker when Arizona needed one most. The Cards desperately missed someone like Brown opposite Hopkins in 2021 -- it will be fun to see what kind of music they can make together. We'll learn soon enough.

New Orleans Saints

Previous rank: No. 19

If I were NFL Commissioner, double-doinks from 61 yards out would count double. Unfortunately for the Saints ... I am not. Wil Lutz's long-range attempt to force overtime was not meant to be, sending the Saints to Week 5 at 1-3 despite a game effort without Jameis Winston, Alvin Kamara or Michael Thomas in the lineup. Andy Dalton played well in the second half against the Vikings, and it remains an open question whether Dennis Allen will stick with the Red Rifle or turn back to Winston, who was ineffective in two games after suffering his Week 1 back injury. The Saints have yet to receive a productive four-quarter performance from a QB.

New York Giants

Previous rank: No. 22

Where would the Giants be without Saquon Barkley this season? The veteran running back is healthy and back to full-dynamo status, the driving reason behind Big Blue's surprising 3-1 start. Barkley's value reached unforeseen new levels on Sunday when New York lost both of its quarterbacks to injury, and Brian Daboll turned to his star to take direct snaps out of the Wildcat to seal a win over the Bears. The early schedule has been extremely favorable, but give the Giants credit. In an NFC defined by parity, the G-Men are stacking wins with an eye on an improbable playoff return.

Previous rank: No. 18

The learning process for Trevor Lawrence goes on. Playing in sloppy, wet conditions, the Jaguars' second-year quarterback lacked awareness in the pocket and was too careless with the football in a 29-21 loss to the Eagles. Lawrence fumbled the ball four times (losing all four) and threw a crushing red-zone interception -- an avalanche of giveaways that allowed the undefeated Eagles to wipe away an early 14-0 deficit. A tough game for Lawrence, but he gets an ideal bounce-back opponent on Sunday in the Texans.

Cleveland Browns

Previous rank: No. 17

Jacoby Brissett has thrown just two interceptions through four games, but they've both been killers. In Week 2, he sailed a pass that sealed Cleveland's fate in a collapse against the Jets. On Sunday, another Brissett misfire in the final minutes was the difference in a frustrating 23-20 loss to the Falcons. The Browns fell despite another big performance by Nick Chubb, who has three 100-yard games in four weeks and very much looks like the favorite for the NFL rushing title in 2022. The big question in Cleveland: When will Myles Garrett return to the lineup following his scary car accident last week? He is the engine that makes the Browns' defense go.

Atlanta Falcons

Previous rank: No. 25

Oh, those frisky Falcons. Second-year coach Arthur Smith continued to show signs of growth with a narrow win over the Browns in which the team went over 200 yards rushing for the second time in four weeks. Rookie Tyler Allgeier rumbled for 84 yards, and Caleb Huntley chipped in with 56 yards of his own. Cordarrelle Patterson found the end zone, but the knee injury that hampered him leading into the Browns' contest has now sent him to injured reserve for at least four weeks. Allgeier figures to get a bigger role in the offense, but the absence of Patterson will ramp up pressure on quarterback Marcus Mariota, who has run hot and cold in his four starts so far.

Seattle Seahawks

Previous rank: No. 28

The Seahawks traded Russell Wilson and have gotten better on offense. That's hard to deny after watching Geno Smith and superfriends pile up 555 total yards, 27 first downs and 48 points in a shootout win over the Lions at Ford Field. Smith finished 23 of 30 for 320 yards and three total touchdowns against a Detroit defense off to a historically inept start. Regardless of the opponent, the journeyman QB's command and execution of the Seattle attack counts as one of the season's biggest early surprises. "(Shoot), he's been on fire all year," wide receiver DK Metcalf (7/149/0 on Sunday) said of Smith. "He keeps building, keeps getting better week by week, and our chemistry keeps growing, and we're finally building an identity for ourselves."

Detroit Lions

Previous rank: No. 16

You can have all the grit in the world, but if you don't have defense, none of it matters. Detroit continued to hemorrhage yards on Sunday, surrendering 555 of them to Geno Smith and a Seahawks attack that won't be confused with the 2007 Patriots anytime soon. The Lions' combination of high-flying offense and dismal defense is putting the team in the record books. According to NFL Media research, Detroit's total of 281 points -- 140 scored, 141 allowed -- are the most by any team in the first four games of a season in NFL history. The team deserves recognition for putting 45 points on Seattle with D'Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown out with injuries -- but if they allow 35.3 points per game, they'll be picking in the top five yet again come April.

Previous rank: No. 24

The plan was not for fourth-round rookie Bailey Zappe to be taking snaps opposite of Aaron Rodgers on Sunday at Lambeau Field, but such is the nature of an unpredictable sport. Zappe did admirable work given a nearly impossible situation, making a few throws and avoiding multiple catastrophic mistakes, but the end result was still -- commendable as it was -- an overtime loss. With Mac Jones down with an ankle injury and Brian Hoyer exiting the Green Bay game with a head injury, it’s possible Zappe could get another audition for the top backup job on Sunday against the Lions. After decades of QB serenity with Tom Brady, Bill Belichick is now seeing how the other half lives.

New York Jets

Previous rank: No. 31

Welcome back, Zach Wilson. The second-year quarterback made his season debut a memorable one, leading the Jets on back-to-back touchdown drives in the fourth quarter of a 24-20 win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Wilson was predictably rusty in his first game action since knee surgery in August, but the former No. 2 pick was in control during the game’s final scoring drive -- a 65-yard march in which Wilson went 5 for 5 through the air. When Breece Hall reached over the goal line -- juuuuust barely -- with the go-ahead TD, New York had its second stunning comeback in three weeks. Is the long-suffering franchise finally flipping the script after a decade of struggles? With Wilson back, the Jets have buzz.

Previous rank: No. 26

Mike Tomlin said he wasn’t going to do it. He said Mitchell Trubisky was his guy at quarterback. Then Sunday’s game reached halftime and Tomlin decided he’d had his fill. Enter first-round pick Kenny Pickett, who scored two rushing touchdowns and threw 13 passes that never touched the ground. Unfortunately, three of those connections were to Jets defenders in a 24-20 loss at Acrisure Stadium. After the game, Tomlin chose not to commit to a Week 5 starter, but he’s in too deep now. Pickett has gone from future to present as Trubisky has rightfully returned to a reserve role. Tomlin likely resisted this direction initially because he didn’t want to deal with rookie growing pains. In the end, Trubisky’s neck-straining ceiling left the coach no choice.

Indianapolis Colts

Previous rank: No. 23

What is it that the Colts do really well right now? They can’t beat you with their passing game, they struggle to protect their ancient quarterback, they don’t move the ball on the ground (and now Jonathan Taylor is injured) and their special teams have already cost them one win. Their run defense entered Week 4 as a bright spot, but even that was exposed by Derrick Henry, who piled up 99 yards in the first half alone of Sunday’s 24-17 loss to the Titans. Have we mentioned Shaquille Leonard has already been ruled out for Thursday’s game against the Broncos with a concussion? I don’t mean to be a downer here ... but the vibes ... they’re no good in Indy.

Previous rank: No. 30

Offense looks like hard work when you’re watching the Commanders. The pass protection is poor and Carson Wentz never seems comfortable as he repeatedly throws into tight windows. Washington’s struggles go beyond the quarterback, however. On Sunday against the Cowboys, there were 11 penalties for 136 yards, with two of those infractions wiping away Cooper Rush interceptions in a 25-10 loss. Ron Rivera is a respected figure throughout league circles, but this doesn’t feel like an organization moving in the right direction. A quick glance at the NFC East standings backs up that notion.

Chicago Bears

Previous rank: No. 27

Justin Fields set a season high on Sunday with 11 completions and in no way is that depressing. Yes, the growing pains rolled on for the young former first-round pick, who took six sacks and had three trips inside the red zone without scoring a touchdown in a 20-12 loss to the Giants at MetLife Stadium. You can imagine Matt Eberflus finds himself in a difficult situation: Fields represents the possible future of the Bears organization, but he’s been unable to lead the offense with any efficiency. The new coach is tied to the young QB in his debut season, for better or worse.

Carolina Panthers

Previous rank: No. 29

With each passing week, it’s become increasingly clear the Panthers still have no answer at quarterback. Baker Mayfield struggled mightily yet again on Sunday against the Cardinals, missing open receivers and seeing several of his pass attempts swatted down at the line of scrimmage. It’s time for a change, but it’s not that easy for Matt Rhule. It was reported -- and later confirmed by Rhule -- on Monday that Sam Darnold (last year’s offseason QB acquisition who didn’t work out) is not close to returning from his high-ankle sprain, while third-round pick Matt Corral exited the picture in the summer after sustaining a foot injury. That means Rhule is probably stuck with Mayfield, who was on the receiving end of a resounding chorus of boos from the Panthers faithful on Sunday. The times, they are not good in Charlotte.

Houston Texans

Previous rank: No. 32

The Texans are winless through four games for the fourth time since the franchise’s inception in 2002, but the news isn’t all bad. It’s become increasingly clear that running back Dameon Pierce was a draft steal in the fourth round. Pierce set a franchise rookie record with a 75-yard touchdown run that gave Houston some much-needed vitality in an eventual 34-24 loss to the Chargers. Pierce leads all rookie rushers with 313 yards on the ground and was finally granted a full workload by Lovie Smith. In fact, Pierce was the only running back who had a rushing attempt for the Texans in Week 4. Houston has a new horse.

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