The story of the 2011 NFL regular season continues to be “Comebacks.” Lost in the collection of fourth quarter rallies, actual fumbles not called fumbles by officiating crews and a Dream Team which can’t awaken from it’s seemingly never-ending nightmare are the defending Super Bowl champs, who just continue to get the job done while leaving plenty of room on the front pages for other more flashy stories. I’m sure that’s just fine with Aaron Rodgers and company.
2011 Week 5 NFL power rankings
32. Minnesota Vikings (0-4): Yikes. Minnesota signed Adrian Peterson to a humongous deal less than a month ago. Is it too early to think about shutting him down? With Detroit and Green Bay in the division, I say “nope.”
31. St. Louis Rams (0-4): That’s the last time I have faith that the Rams will turn things around. With the 49ers currently at 3-1, it might be time to put those “the Rams play in the NFC West, so they could still end up hosting a playoff game!” jokes to bed.
30. Denver Broncos (1-3): I don’t think anybody really expected the Broncos to win in Green Bay this past Sunday. That doesn’t change the fact that this team remains an absolute mess on both sides of the field.
29. Miami Dolphins (0-4): I’m assuming Tony Sparano’s job is safe for at least the next couple of weeks simply because the Miami front office has yet to find a suitable replacement. The Dolphins have to be a “Most Disappointing Team in Football” contender at this point of the season.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3): It’s clearer and clearer with every snap that the Jags were just lucky to catch a Titans team unprepared to begin the regular season in Week 1. Choosing not to start Blaine Gabbert right from the beginning put Jacksonville in a hole the team isn’t crawling out of anytime soon.
27. Indianapolis Colts (0-4): The Colts are moving up in the world despite not winning a game. Say what you will about the talent on this roster. Indy is showing a lot of heart.
26. Arizona Cardinals (1-3): I have little sympathy for the Cards. The call regarding the Victor Cruz fumble/non-fumble was the wrong one, but the refs didn’t give up a game winning touchdown pass, nor did they fail to come up with a score despite having plenty of time on the clock to engineer a game winning drive at home.
25. Kansas City Chiefs (1-3): Good for the Chiefs, who, like the Colts, have showed some life in the past couple of weeks. This still isn’t a very good football team, but it’s one that’s certainly not the league’s worst.
24. Seattle Seahawks (1-3): Seattle gave a rather underwhelming Atlanta team a scare at home. That’s something, I suppose.
23. Carolina Panthers (1-3): QB Cam Newton continues to learn on the job, and continues to have more ups than downs. That’s as good as Carolina fans could have hoped for heading into this season.
22. Cleveland Browns (2-2): Maybe an early bye week isn’t the worst thing for the Browns. Cleveland could use a week off to reassess some things after getting absolutely ca-rushed at home by the Titans.
21. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3): No mistake here. The Dream Team Eagles seem to be nothing more than a slightly better Minnesota Vikings. Philly blows leads, can’t close teams out at home, has a horrendous offensive line and serious problems on defense.
20. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2): Some making predictions back in early September wondered if Cincy could win two games all season. Don’t sleep on the Bengals. They play with purpose and have a hard hitting defense which will keep the team in games later this fall.
19. Dallas Cowboys (2-2): The Cowboys plummet in NFL power rankings this week, and deservedly so. I don’t care how good the Lions are playing right now. Blowing a 24-point second half lead at home is inexcusable, and you can’t blame just Tony Romo for the loss. Absurd play calling and a lack of defense cost Dallas a win.
18. San Francisco 49ers (3-1): A comeback win in Philly should, in theory, have San Fran even higher in NFL power rankings. After all, the 49ers might be the only team a few wins away from securing a division title.
17. Chicago Bears (2-2): Chicago has only lost to the best of the best in football this season, but I still find myself not trusting that offense. I see the Bears as a middle-of-the-road team right now.
16. Oakland Raiders (2-2): Losing to the New England Patriots isn’t anything to feel bad about. The loss may have proven, however, that Oakland is a team destined to hang right around the upper-middle portions of NFL power rankings throughout this season.
15. Atlanta Falcons (2-2): I’ve no idea what to think about the Falcons right now. They’re either still in early September mode, or they’re not nearly as good as many thought them to be at the start of the season. This coming Sunday’s contest against Green Bay should tell us a lot about this team.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2): Pittsburgh plays every team tough, but that offensive line coupled with Big Ben’s need to try to make the “big play” are going to get Roethlisberger absolutely killed. Throw the ball away, Ben.
13. Washington Redskins (3-1): They don’t win pretty. They don’t look like world beaters. The Redskins are 3-1 heading into the bye week, however, and they’ve certainly earned those three victories.
12. New York Jets (2-2): I’ve been saying it for a few weeks. The Jets just don’t look right. Mark Sanchez was undeniably awful against Baltimore, but his offensive line, with or without Nick Mangold, hasn’t been great this season.
11. Tennessee Titans (3-1): Beating up on the Browns doesn’t put the Titans in the top ten of this week’s NFL power rankings. With that said, this defense appears able to hang with any offense in the league.
10. Buffalo Bills (3-1): Let down game, sure, but losing to the Bengals definitely has a few Bills fans I know a bit concerned. It will be interesting to see how the team responds.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1): Tampa Bay can close teams out, but the Bucs have to start playing better throughout contests if they’re planning on hanging with the best of the best in the NFC. Tampa Bay could easily be 1-3 right now.
8. New York Giants (3-1): Sure, the Giants are a bit lucky. Yes, Washington beat New York several weeks ago. Big Blue is showing the team can get the job done when it matters most.
7. San Diego Chargers (3-1): San Diego continues to beat not-so-good teams early in the season. Good enough for now.
6. Houston Texans (3-1): Big win against the Steelers overshadowed by Andre Johnson injury, one we still don’t know a whole lot about right now. The Texans will suffer if Johnson misses any considerable time.
5. New England Patriots (3-1): Guess the Pats are going to be OK, after all. This was as solid as a bounce-back win as you’ll see this season.
4. Baltimore Ravens (3-1): Three defensive touchdowns in one game is impressive regardless of how poorly the opposing quarterback performed in that contest. Baltimore’s defense is bringing back memories of a certain team which won a championship roughly a decade ago.
3. Detroit Lions (4-0): Certainly worthy of praise, certainly worthy of such a high spot in NFL power rankings. With that said, you can’t help but wonder when, not if, playing just two quarters of football in a game will catch up with this undeniably talented team.
2. New Orleans Saints (3-1): The Saints don’t need to look like world beaters to win football games. It’s still somewhat funny that 23 points is the lowest amount scored by New Orleans in a regular season contest thus far this season
1. Green Bay Packers (4-0): An impressive 26-point win over a hapless Denver team going in the wrong direction keeps the champs comfortably atop NFL power rankings for another week. A Sunday night contest at Atlanta should certainly test Green Bay.