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NFL power rankings, Week 5: Saints go marchin' up

One month into the NFL season, and it's still tough to get a read on the league's best teams that aren't playing in Denver or Seattle. The Saints sure are making a strong case to be near the top with another convincing win. Meanwhile, the NFC East continues its slide into futility.

Chris Graythen

The 2013 NFL season has passed the quarter mark. What better way to survey where things stand than with a subjective list attempting to define which teams are the best and which ones have absolutely no hope for the next three months?

Here are last week's power rankings. While the top two teams are the same, New Orleans has climbed into third place, thanks to an undefeated run that's been more impressive than New England's 4-0 start (the Patriots were No. 3 last week). On the other end of the list, the NFC East continues its slide. In between, the other teams moved around just enough to infuriate or delight fans, somewhat irrationally.

Dive in, and don't forget to leave your thoughts in the comments.

1. Denver Broncos

Denver has won 15 regular season games in a row now, all by at least seven points. Is there anything that can stop the Broncos from their hellish ride of destruction -- besides themselves?

2. Seattle Seahawks

Seattle's defense is pretty good at stopping things, quarterbacks in particular. The Texans nearly had that one in the bag, until Richard Sherman accepted that pick-six from Matt Schaub. Oh, Bruce Irvin comes back this week, and Percy Harvin should be around in time for the holidays.

3. New Orleans Saints

The 17 points the Dolphins scored ties a season high in points allowed for the Saints defense. All Drew Brees did was throw four touchdown passes, and the Saints kept right on steamrolling expectations.

4. New England Patriots

This is the most "meh" Patriots team since the one Matt Cassel quarterbacked. But they win. What else is new?

5. Chicago Bears

Just when we got all aflutter about Jay Cutler and Marc Trestman, the old version shows up to torpedo a game.

6. Cincinnati Bengals

Did Andy Dalton get things straightened out yet?

7. Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck is 14-6 as a starter now. Of all the quarterback taken first overall in the draft since the merger, only John Elway has as many wins in his first 20 games. It's not a stretch now, with the way Houston's playing, to think that the AFC South goes through Indianapolis like it used to.

8. Kansas City Chiefs

Andy Reid swept through most of the NFC East last month, and the Chiefs are 4-0 for the first time since 2003. You can't argue with results.

9. Baltimore Ravens

With the injuries and losses on the offensive side of the ball, you can expect up-and-down play from the Ravens this season. However, losing to Buffalo and throwing five picks in the process ...

10. Houston Texans

You're so totally going to regret burning that Matt Schaub jersey. Or maybe not. Because pick-sixes or not, do you really think Matt Schaub is the kind of player you tell your grandkids about?

11. Miami Dolphins

It was such a good start for Ryan Tannehill until it wasn't. That's what happens when the offensive line is an afterthought. That's 18 sacks taken by the second-year signal caller now.

12. Green Bay Packers

The Packers are struggling, but a win this week over the Lions would push the world's axis, or at least the NFC North's, closer to where you'd expect it to be.

13. San Francisco 49ers

Jim Harbaugh owes Jeff Fisher a steak dinner or something in return for a free tune-up last Thursday. Was it enough? A game against the Texans this week will tell us more.

14. Detroit Lions

Give Scott Linehan some credit here too. He's got Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush working in perfect harmony. Factor in the defensive line duo of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, who are now adding touchdowns of their own, and the Lions look like a threat to steal the division crown.


15. Tennessee Titans

Just when Jake Locker was becoming a viable starting quarterback, he gets hurt. Can the Titans sustain their momentum without him?

16. Atlanta Falcons

Those red zone statistics are ugly (1-for-6 against the Patriots). Something has to change, and fast, if Mike Smith's going get this team to the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year.

17. San Diego Chargers

Hey, it's Philip Rivers, above-average quarterback. I remember him.

18. Dallas Cowboys

I got hate mail last week when I suggested that the Cowboys were bound for their best 8-8 season under Jason Garrett. I misspoke. I meant 7-9 season. But save your hate mail -- that's good enough for a division title and a home playoff game this year.

19. New York Jets

Even when you're not butt fumbling, you're butt fumbling. To be fair, Geno Smith will be fine with experience and some additional talent around him.

20. Carolina Panthers

If you were waiting for Ron Rivera to get fired this weekend, I hope you used that time to make a nice thank-you gift for Tom Coughlin and the Giants.

21. Cleveland Browns

Is Brian Hoyer elite? Let's just go ahead and get that conversation started, responsibility be damned.

22. Minnesota Vikings

Adrian Peterson had his best game yet. So did Christian Ponder, while he watched Matt Cassel rekindle that old game-managin' magic.

23. Buffalo Bills

E.J. Manuel is the first rookie quarterback to defeat the defending Super Bowl champs ... in September. Hey, put all the qualifiers you want onto that, Manuel's having a well-managed start to his career. There's hope in Buffalo.

24. Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals bounced back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter for a win over the Bucs on Sunday. Never underestimate a big-armed QB late in the game and Greg Schiano's incompetency.

25. Philadelphia Eagles

So Philadelphia's defense was no match for Peyton Manning and a loaded Broncos offense. No surprise there. Also no surprise, Michael Vick might not be the best fit for Chip Kelly's offense.

26. St. Louis Rams

It was old home night in St. Louis, as the team welcomed back legends like Eric Dickerson, Kurt Warner and others. On the field, Jeff Fisher choreographed his own salute to the past with an homage to the Rich Brooks-era Rams.

27. Washington Redskins

28. New York Giants

It's an NFC East twofer, because what else is there to say? Two terrible secondaries. Good quarterbacks playing like backups. There were visible signs of the old RGIII in Washington's win over the Raiders, and Eli Manning connected with Victor Cruz like it was 2011.

29. Pittsburgh Steelers

The last time the Steelers started the season 0-4 was 1968, the same year Richard Nixon was elected president. Speaking of Nixon, if he were around to call in plays to Nixon-esque Todd Haley, it might actually help.

30. Oakland Raiders

Matt Flynn was so bad that Dennis Allen criticized him in a Monday press conference. Hell, he took a veiled shot at the decision to trade for him in the first place. Easy does it, buster. Mark Davis might just hold that against you, unless he holds it against Reggie McKenzie first.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

When in doubt, crash the other team's victory formation, take the ball and go home. It's only slightly more looney than leaning on your rookie quarterback to preserve a double-digit lead. In some dystopian future, Greg Schiano will be a great coach.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars

Countdown to Clowney (or Teddy Ticker, since Blaine Gabbert isn't really a long-term solution): Seven months and eight days.

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