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WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 5

10.05.10 at 3:30 pm ET
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A quarter of the NFL season is already in the books, and the Ravens are the latest team to reign supreme in WEEI’s NFL Power Rankings.

Arguments can be made for almost every 3-1 team in the top five to be in the No. 1 spot. The No. 2 J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets have looked like one of the NFL’s elite teams after opening the season with a tough loss at home against the Ravens. The Steelers, who fall two spots and sit at No. 3, will enjoy the return of Ben Roethlisberger behind center. The Saints and Falcons round out the “fabulous five” after both teams grinded out wins late in the fourth quarter.

Week 5 could be titled “The return of the suspended.” Roethlisberger isn’t the only big name returning to a contending team. Defensive Rookie of the Year Brian Cushing returns to the No. 7 Texans and the Jets offense will add another weapon with receiver Santonio Holmes, as he will make his debut in green.

Finally, just one undefeated team remains in the NFL, but there are four winless teams. The 49ers, Lions, Panthers and Bills are all searching for their first win. You can find those teams at the bottom of the barrel.

1. (Last week, 9) 3-1 Joe Flacco showed true poise down the stretch in Pittsburgh and led his team to a comeback victory. The Ravens defense is playing very well, as usual, and this Ray Lewis-led club has beaten two of the best teams in the league on the road in the Steelers and Jets.

2. (6) 3-1 It’s nice to be a Jets fan right now. Mark Sanchez is proving he can be a solid quarterback, LaDainian Tomlinson showed he has a lot left in the tank and, oh, yeah, Darrelle Revis, Calvin Pace and Santonio Holmes will be returning soon. Rex Ryan‘s crew is 3-0 in the division and heading into Week 5 with loads of confidence.

3. (1) 3-1 Pittsburgh is in a great position to make a big push to take the AFC. After four weeks without their Pro Bowl quarterback, the Steelers were a hair away from finishing the first quarter of the season undefeated. Now, Roethlisberger returns to an offense that ranks 30th in the league in passing.

4. (3) 3-1 The defending champs make big plays in critical moments, and that’s why they were able to pull out another close win. The tackle for a 4-yard loss on DeAngelo Williams followed by a sack of Jimmy Clausen putting Carolina out of field goal range is a perfect example of what championship-caliber teams do when the game is on the line. The injury bug has bitten the Saints this season, but once players like Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas and Roman Harper get healthy, I fully expect them to be defending their title come January.

5. (4) 3-1 The play of week came from Falcons wide receiver Roddy White when he made the Troy Brown-like strip of Nate Clements. Atlanta’s defense is putting good pressure on the quarterback and is forcing interceptions. The Falcons D leads the league with eight picks. If they can improve their play on special teams, the “Dirty Birds” can be a legitimate threat to the Saints for the NFC South title.

6. (11) 3-1 The Patriots once again took that “us against the world” mentality and crushed the Dolphins on the road. For a team that everyone thought would have to rely on its offense to put up big numbers every week in order to win, the Patriots defense and special teams was the story of the game. Tom Brady passed for just 153 yards and Randy Moss didn’t record a catch, but the defense made some big stops while forcing turnovers, and special teams scored two touchdowns. The Patriots roll into the bye week with loads of confidence that they will need for the rest of October as they enter a tough stretch of games. Up next is Baltimore (home), San Diego (road) and Minnesota (home).

7. (10) 3-1 Last year the Texans had the league’s leading passer in Matt Schuab. This year they have the league’s leading rusher in Arian Foster. If Andre Johnson can recover from an ankle injury sooner rather than later, the Texans offense can be one of the best in the league and a scary one to have to defend.

8. (2) 2-2 The story of the game Sunday was the baffling timeout call by coach Jim Caldwell in the final minute to allow the Jaguars a little more time to set up kicker Josh Scobee for a game-winning field goal. The Colts also need to improve their 29th-ranked run defense.

9. (5) 3-1 Despite winning, the Packers played a very sloppy and mediocre game against Detroit on Sunday. Coming off an 18-penalty game, the Packers turned the ball over four times and continuously allowed the Lions back into the game. Green Bay needs to play smarter football and find a consistent solution for its lack of a running game.

10. (17) 2-2 What a performance from linebacker Shaun Phillips ‘€” four sacks and an interception return for a touchdown. The Super Chargers looked very strong on both sides of the football. They’ll have their chance to make up some ground in their division over the next couple of weeks.

11. (8) 2-2 Chad Henne certainly took a step back on Monday night against the Patriots after making some very poor decisions and throwing some key interceptions. If the Dolphins are going to be successful, they need Henne to put them in a position to win rather than dig them a hole to get out of.

12. (7) 3-1 Surrendering nine sacks in the first half vs. the Giants is inexcusable and proves the Bears won’t be able to go very far if they make the playoffs. Jay Cutler and his offensive line are very much out of sync and are experiencing the same problems they did last year. There’s a combination of Cutler holding the ball too long and his offensive line not giving him enough time.

13. (14) 1-2 The Cowboys come off their bye week and will enjoy three of their next four games at home. Despite a poor record, America’s team still has a great chance of taking the NFC East title considering the rest of the teams in that division.

14. (16) 3-0 The Chiefs’ true test will come this Sunday against Peyton Manning and the Colts in Indianapolis. Matt Cassel needs to be more effective in the passing game. We’ll find out if the Chiefs are for real come Monday.

15. (15) 1-2 The next few weeks won’t be easy for Brett Favre and the Vikings. Minnesota has three road games in the next four weeks against teams with a combined record of 9-3.

16. (20) 2-2 Nine sacks in one half of football is pretty impressive, no matter how bad Jay Cutler and the Bears offensive line are. However, the most encouraging part of the victory over the Bears on Sunday night has to be the play of running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. The two rushers ran for close to 200 yards.

17. (25) 2-2 The Redskins did a great job running the football with youngster Ryan Torrain and veteran Clinton Portis on Sunday. The two rushed for a combined 125 yards. If the Redskins can get solid production from their run game, they’ll have a chance to win every week. It’s obvious what a difference a head coach can make in just one year. Mike Shanahan‘s team has put itself in a great position in the NFC East with a 2-0 record in the division.

18. (12) 2-2 The Eagles‘ offensive style will certainly change now with Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy both out with rib injuries. Vick’s ability to run the football really kept opposing defenses on their heels. Now, Kevin Kolb will likely be the starter for the next few weeks and will have to find different ways to move the chains.

19. (23) 2-2 Despite a run game that produced just 19 yards on 20 attempts, Kyle Orton was still able to lead his team to a victory. Orton threw the ball 50 times and racked up another 300-plus-yard passing performance. The Broncos are also playing extremely well on defense. Denver’s D held All-Pro running back Chris Johnson to just 53 yards, much to the chagrin of many fantasy owners across the country.

20. (19) 2-2 In the two losses the Titans have suffered this year, running back Chris Johnson has been contained and rushed for just 53 yards or less. In the two victories, Johnson has had over 100 yards on the ground.

21. (13) 2-2 Last year the Bengals were successful because running back Cedric Benson was able to pound the football and rush for close to 100 yards almost every game. This year, Benson has yet to have a 100-yard rushing performance and the Bengals suffered a devastating loss to one of the poorer teams in the league Sunday vs. Cleveland.

22. (26) 2-2 I guess that’s why they play the games. Josh Scobee knocked through a 59-yard field goal to beat division rival and defending AFC champion Indianapolis on Sunday in a huge upset. In the Jaguars’ two victories this season, the key has been the play of quarterback David Garrard. A good passing attack from Garrard opens up the Jags’ strong run game and allows them to keep opposing defenses on their heels by mixing in some play-action.

23. (28) 2-2 After four weeks, the Rams already have more wins in 2010 than they did in all of 2009. Rookie Sam Bradford looks like the real deal and running back Steven Jackson had a very gutty performance last Sunday with over 120 total yards despite a right thigh injury. Believe it or not, the Rams could make the playoffs this year, as they greatly benefit from playing in the worst division in football.

24. (21) 2-1 Rookie rusher LeGarrette Blount will take on the bulk of the carries in Week 5, according to coach Raheem Morris. This could be very beneficial to starter Cadillac Williams, who is coming off major knee surgery. The Bucs have a potentially deadly 1-2 punch.

25. (18) 2-2 Perfect time to head into a bye week for the Seahawks, after a pathetic performance against the Rams, when they were able to put just three points on the board. Seattle is lacking the big playmaker on offense and needs to improve its offensive line and run game.

26. (27) 1-3 The last-place Raiders continued to turn the ball over on Sunday and couldn’t stop the run. The news doesn’t get better in Oakland as the severity of Darren McFadden‘s hamstring injury was still unknown on Tuesday morning.

27. (22) 2-2 Derek Anderson finished Sunday’s game against the Chargers on the bench with two interceptions and a 23.2 passer rating. Was Matt Leinart really that much worse?

28. (24) 0-4 It’s difficult not to feel bad for Mike Singletary and the 49ers. San Fran, still looking for its first win of the season, is by far the most disappointing team in the NFL.

29. (31) 1-3 After Week 4 it’s safe to say that Seneca Wallace is a better option at quarterback than Jake Delhomme. The play of Peyton Hillis was certainly the difference-maker Sunday. He rushed for key first downs late in the fourth quarter to solidify Cleveland’s first win.

30. (30) 0-4 The Lions again played very competitively and had a chance to win Sunday, but in the end, mistakes killed them once again. Detroit dominated the battle of time of possession Sunday against the Packers. When franchise QB Matthew Stafford returns, the Lions should be able to pull out some victories.

31. (29) 0-4 Things are going from bad to worse in Carolina. It looks like Steve Smith is going to miss some time, fellow wide receiver Dwyane Jarrett was arrested early Tuesday morning, Jimmy Clausen has a lot of room for improvement, and coach John Fox will more than likely be getting fired in the near future.

32. (32) 0-4 When your coach can’t even argue that your team isn’t the worst in the NFL, you know your team has major problems. The good thing for the Bills is that they can only get better from here.

Read More: Ben Roethlisberger, Brian Cushing, NFL Power Rankings, Santonio Holmes
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