Here is our Football Relativity comparison after Week Five. We’ve noted where we’ve moved teams up a level or down a level from the Week Four comparison.
10 – New York Giants – It seems as though no matter how many injuries they have, the Giants continue to beat teams the way they should beat them. Their game against the Saints this week will show just how good both teams are, but the Giants are proving they are the class of the league.
9 – Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints – The Colts won their third straight blowout, and now they’re as scary as any team in the league. They haven’t played ideal competition, but so far, so good. The Vikings, who are undefeated as the Colts are, fit in the same boat. As both teams are tested, we’ll see if they deserve to move even further up the comparison. The Saints were on bye, but they face their biggest test to date at home against the Giants this week. That’s going to be a fun one to watch. The Patriots lost for the second time, but both losses have been on the road against good teams (the Jets and Broncos). We may be too bullish on them, but this week we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
8 – Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens (DOWN A LEVEL), New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers – The Falcons proved their status as one of the league’s better teams with a solid 45-10 win at San Francisco. If Atlanta’s defense continues to play that way, the Falcons become a very dangerous team. The Eagles took care of business against the Buccaneers and continue to be a team no one will want to face. The Steelers got a win in Detroit, which is more of a test than it was last year. They’re still a team that will be around at the end of the season. The Ravens thumped their chest as a truly elite squad earlier this season, but losing at home to Cincy shows that they’re not perfect. They’re a good team, but not good enough to run away with the highly competitive AFC North. The Jets showed defensive holes for the first time, but that was against a Miami team that’s coming on. We won’t move them down for a road loss in division, but we’re watching to make sure those defensive holes don’t become a trend.
7 – Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals (UP A LEVEL), Denver Broncos (UP A LEVEL), San Diego Chargers – The Bears and Chargers were on bye this week. Both teams need to continue to prove that they belong among these teams that we now expect to make the playoffs. The Chargers in particular must step up given how the Broncos are emerging as a quality team. Denver is getting good play from its defense, and Kyle Orton is making enough plays and few mistakes, which makes the offense work. Josh McDaniels’ team is making a habit of winning close games, and those habits seem to persist over a season for NFL teams. The Bengals are also winning close games late, and their win at Baltimore was a statement that they’re legit this season. The running game and defense are good enough to win with, and Carson Palmer is making plays when it counts.
6 – Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins (UP A LEVEL), San Francisco 49ers – The Cowboys barely eked out a win in Kansas City to move to 3-2. While the Cowboys are on the fringe of playoff contention, I’m still not convinced they’re all that good. They look like a 9-7 team with major flaws to me. We’ll see. The Packers were on bye, and they signed Mark Tauscher to help on the offensive line. If Tauscher can improve at all on the abysmal play the Pack has been getting at left tackle, he’ll help. The 49ers got blasted at home by the Falcons, but we’re going to consider it just one of those days and leave them ahead of the Cardinals and Seahawks in the NFC West. None of those teams in the West is great, but the 49ers still look on the whole like the best of the lot. After starting 0-3, the Dolphins have now won two in a row, and they look like they’re building some momentum. Perhaps their start was a result of tough games at Atlanta and against Indy and not an indictment on how good they are. Don’t count the Fins out of the playoffs yet.
5 – Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans – The Cardinals jumped out to a big lead over the Texans, then almost blew the lead. The Texans showed some moxie, but ultimately they lost a game that a good team probably would win. The bottom line is that both of these teams are competitive but flawed. If they get past .500 for the season, it will be because they improved from where they are right now.
4 – Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars (DOWN A LEVEL), Seattle Seahawks – Seattle might deserve to move up a level after blasting the Jaguars 41-0, but we’ll wait one more game before we buy in. Still, with Matt Hasselbeck healthy, the Seahawks are at least dangerous, and they might be a real competitor in the NFC West. But there have been too many injuries in Seattle for us to assume that’s the case. Jacksonville is the most Jekyll-and-Hyde team in the league, and the Hyde side was downright scary this week. It’s hard to take them seriously given how inconsistent they’ve been. Kudos to Carolina for finally getting a win, but they beat a pretty bad team in the Redskins. We’ll see if the momentum of coming from behind builds into a winning streak, but for now the Panthers stay in place.
3 – Buffalo Bills (DOWN A LEVEL), Tennessee Titans (DOWN A LEVEL), Washington Redskins – The Bills were the uglier team in a brutal game against the Browns. After some early signs of life, they’ve regressed and now look to be falling into the dregs of the league. Tennessee continues to fall down, and now it’s safe to say there’s something seriously wrong with the Titans’ defense. The Redskins have played the league’s easiest schedule in terms of opponents’ record, and have been supremely unimpressive in doing so. This is a bad team.
2 – Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs – The Browns finally won a game, but Derek Anderson completed just two passes in the 6-3 edging of Buffalo. As it turns out, that was just a battle of two bad teams. The Browns may be inching forward, but we’ll need to see results against better competition before we really believe it. The Lions are fatally flawed on the offensive line and in the defensive secondary, but they compete to the end of the game, which is a credit to them. They’re going to jump up and surprise a team or two by the end of the season. The Chiefs competed against a so-so Dallas team but ultimately lost in OT. But K.C. has not been able to follow up on its good efforts the next week, which is the reason we’re leaving them on this level.
1 – Oakland Raiders (DOWN A LEVEL), St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – As usual, the Rams and the Bucs both were run out of the building by good teams. They are not even competitive at this point. And the Raiders, after some decent performances early in the season, have lost that competitiveness as well, which is why they’re now on the hopeless portion of this comparison.