Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity tool. There are some significant shifts this week as we now have three weeks of results with which to evaluate teams. We’ll indicate as we go which teams are moving up and down from the Week 4 comparison.
10 – Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets (UP A LEVEL), Pittsburgh Steelers – The Ravens beat the Broncos 31-17, even though they gave up a wad of passing yards to Kyle Orton and company. Aside from a loss at Cincinnati, the Ravens have been solid all season, including wins over the other two teams at this level. The Steelers, who get Ben Roethlisberger back next week, are on bye. The Jets won their fourth straight with a hard-fought 29-20 victory over the Vikings on Monday night. Now that Santonio Holmes and Calvin Pace are back, the Jets are at full strength, and they’re playing up to their talent.
9 – Green Bay Packers (DOWN A LEVEL), Indianapolis Colts (UP A LEVEL), New England Patriots – The Packers lost 16-13 at Washington, and as they did last season are showing some early-season cracks. They need to find a way to replace RB Ryan Grant, and that hasn’t happened yet. Now, if JerMichael Finley, Clay Matthews, and Aaron Rodgers miss some time, the Pack could take a few steps back. The Colts won a 19-9 dogfight against the Chiefs, proving that they can survive against a defensive force. It’s the kind of win that has made the Colts good for the last decade. The Patriots were on bye.
8 – Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans (DOWN A LEVEL), New Orleans Saints (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Falcons went to Cleveland and didn’t look all that impressive, but in the end a 20-10 road win works well. It keeps them a game ahead of the Saints, who lost 30-20 at Arizona. The Saints are really missing RBs Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas right now, and on defense they’re not getting the big plays they did last year. The Texans got blown out at home by the Giants, and losing a second-straight home game is a bad sign, as we detailed in Rise/Sink/Float.
7 – Chicago Bears (UP A LEVEL), Dallas Cowboys (DOWN A LEVEL), Kansas City Chiefs (UP A LEVEL), Miami Dolphins, New York Giants (UP A LEVEL), Philadelphia Eagles (UP A LEVEL) – The Bears moved to 4-1 despite a terrible performance by backup QB Todd Colllins. But when Jay Cutler returns, he’ll keep the Bears in playoff contention. The Cowboys lost at home to the Titans, and their mistake-plagued performance left them at 1-3. Dallas still has the ability to beat anyone, but the Pokes need to pile up some wins soon. The Chiefs move up despite their 19-9 loss in Indianapolis because their defense proved it can play at an elite level. The Giants went into Houston and destroyed the Texans, moving to 3-2 and playing well on the road for the first time all season. That was a great win for Big Blue. The Eagles moved to 3-2 behind Kevin Kolb with a win in San Francisco, and despite the QB quandaries the Birds are still in the hunt. Miami was on bye.
6 – Minnesota Vikings (DOWN A LEVEL), Tennessee Titans (UP A LEVEL), Washington Redskins (UP A LEVEL) – The Vikings lost 29-20 in New York, and despite Randy Moss’ touchdown, they struggled offensively in the first half. The passing game is going to have to be elite for the Vikings to make a legitimate playoff run. The Titans won in Dallas to move to 3-2, and while they have limitations, they always play hard. That makes them a solid team. The Redskins moved to 3-2 with an overtime win at home against the Packers. Washington is getting good defensive play, and Donovan McNabb makes one or two deep throws each week. That combination is working right now.
5 – Cincinnati Bengals (DOWN A LEVEL), Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers (DOWN A LEVEL), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (UP A LEVEL) – We discussed the Buccaneers in Rise/Sink/Float. They beat the Bengals 24-21, falling to 2-3 and losing home-field advantage. Carson Palmer’s fourth-quarter interceptions cost the Bengals the game, and they make Palmer worth watching to see if it becomes a trend. Denver lost 31-17 at Baltimore, but despite the loss the passing game showed that the Broncos can do one thing really well. That makes them dangerous. The Chargers fell to 2-3 and 0-3 on the road losing by eight to the Raiders. With the Chiefs ascending and the Broncos showing passing proficiency, the Bolts’ AFC West title reign is in trouble.
4 – Arizona Cardinals (UP A LEVEL), Jacksonville Jaguars, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks – We discussed the Jaguars in Rise/Sink/Float. The Cardinals started undrafted rookie Max Hall yet still beat the Saints 30-20 at home. Arizona is now 3-2 and atop the NFC West, and if Hall plays acceptably they have a chance to win their division over teams like the Rams and Seahawks. After solid home efforts, the Rams showed their youth in a 44-6 blowout loss in Detroit. Seattle, 2-2, was on bye.
3 – Cleveland Browns (DOWN A LEVEL), Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Browns played tough once again but fell to the Falcons at home. The Lions finally got their first win by blowing out the 49ers 44-6. They need to take this momentum and learn to win some close games. The Raiders took down the Chargers 35-27 to move to 2-3, but they must prove they can contend away from home before they start ascending the comparison. The 49ers fell to 0-5 with a 27-24 home loss to the Eagles. The Niners have been competitive in prime-time games, but they make crucial mistakes at crucial times.
2 – None
1 – Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers (DOWN A LEVEL) – We leave the second tier blank to show just how hopeless these two squads are at this point. Buffalo got a decent performance from Ryan Fitzpatrick but gave up 36 points to the Jaguars. The Panthers got four interceptions on defense but had such horrible quarterback play from Jimmy Clausen and Matt Moore. Neither team gives much reason for hope at this point.