Below are the Week 5 NFL team power rankings, according to Boston All-Sports radio station WEEI:
1. New Orleans Saints (Last week, 4) 4-0-0 Who would have thought the Saints defense would be the difference-maker four weeks into the season? New Orleans continues to cause turnovers and then capitalize on them. The Saints have 10 interceptions and are tied for first in the NFL with plus-7 in the takeaway/giveaway department.
2. Indianapolis Colts (3) 4-0-0 Peyton Manning and the Colts offense are at the top of almost every offensive statistic possible. They rank first in passing yards, passing touchdowns and receiving yards. The Colts are firing on all cylinders.
3. New York Giants (1) 4-0-0 The Giants have only their weak schedule to blame for falling a couple spots in the rankings. The undefeated G-Men are one of the best teams in the NFL and will be competing for the top spot all year. Many are looking forward to Week 6, when the Saints and Giants square off in New Orleans. Eli Manning has upped his game another notch this year after many thought he would suffer with the loss of Plaxico Burress. The Giants rank first in the NFL in total defense.
4. New York Jets (5) 3-1-0 Mark Sanchez and the Jets came back to earth on Sunday in New Orleans, where Sanchez finally looked like a rookie. However, the New York defense is still one of the best in the league, allowing an average of 14.2 points per game. The Jets will take advantage of their easy schedule over the next five weeks — they play Miami, Buffalo, Oakland, Miami and Jacksonville leading up to their rematch against the Patriots in Foxboro.
5. New England Patriots (6) 3-1-0 New England’s defense has shut down top offenses in back-to-back weeks without its best defensive player (Jerod Mayo). This defense only can get better. Brandon Meriweather is flying around the field making plays, and the Pats have received valuable contributions from unexpected players such as Brandon McGowan and Gary Guyton.
6. Minnesota Vikings (7) 4-0-0 Jared Allen showed the country that Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson aren’t the only two players on the Vikings. Favre said it best when he called Jared Allen a “beast.” Number 4 is playing great after four weeks, and he says his arm feels good.
7. Baltimore Ravens (2) 3-1-0 I have a feeling the Ravens will get a chance to see the Patriots again this season. Baltimore has great talent on both sides of the football.
8. San Francisco 49ers (14) 3-1-0 Patrick Willis is leading this 49ers defense, one of the best in the league. San Francisco is allowing 13.2 points per game, ranking second in the NFL. Plus, if the rumors are true about Michael Crabtree, the 49ers could be adding a major piece to their offense.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (9) 2-2-0 The Steelers running game is led by Rashard Mendenhall, who finally showed up on Sunday. Ben Roethlisberger threw for more than 300 yards for the second time this year and seems to be finding a great rhythm with tight end Heath Miller. When Troy Polamalu returns, this Pittsburgh team will be one of the best in the league.
10. Atlanta Falcons (12) 2-1-0 Matt Ryan and the Falcons will have had two weeks to prepare for the 49ers come Sunday. They will be fresh and ready to show the NFL if they are for real or not.
11. Chicago Bears (11) 3-1-0 Chicago goes into its bye week with a three-game winning streak. Jay Cutler and the offense have started off great. However, the defense has allowed the second-most 17th-most yards in the NFL. That is an area the Bears will need to improve on if they want continued success this season.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (10) 3-1-0 The Bengals drop down a few spots after almost losing to one of the most pathetic teams in football, but you have to love watching this team. The Bengals are playing with confidence and tenacity, and it’s fun to watch. Cedric Benson said it best after the game: “We had nothing to lose. … It’s either a tie or a loss, and a tie is pretty much a loss anyway.” I couldn’t agree more! Who wants to see a tie after five quarters of football?
13. Denver Broncos (17) 4-0-0 It’s tough to ignore the 4-0 record and the outstanding defensive play by the Broncos. It wouldn’t be fair of me not to mention that the Broncos are allowing just 6.5 points a game, or the fact that they are second in the league in sacks with 15. With all that said, I’m still not sold. The lack of talent on the opposing teams they have faced is alarming. Let’s see what they can do against the Pats.
14. Green Bay Packers (13) 2-2-0 The Packers’ inability to protect Aaron Rodgers certainly was exposed on Monday night. Rodgers was constantly forced out of the pocket and sacked eight times.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (15) 2-1-0 After a week of rest for the Eagles, Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook both returned to practice on Monday. The bye week came at a much-needed time for this team.
16. San Diego Chargers (8) 2-2-0 The Chargers have underperformed through the first four games. Shawne Merriman hasn’t been that unstoppable force that made him so great before he got injured.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars (22) 2-2-0 The Jaguars are on the way up after beating the Titans by 20 points. Jacksonville proved its offense can pass the ball just as well as run the ball. David Garrard threw for 323 yards and three TDs. He’s only thrown one interception this year.
18. Arizona Cardinals (19) 1-2-0 The Cardinals are off to a slow start. Let’s see if they can use this bye week to their advantage and get Kurt Warner and the offense going again.
19. Houston Texans (23) 2-2-0 Currently, the best football team in Texas is in Houston. However, that’s not saying much.
20. Dallas Cowboys (16) 2-2-0 Tony Romo is the mayor of Struggle City, USA. Once again, the Cowboys quarterback fails to get the job done when he is needed most. I don’t understand the strategy of constantly throwing the ball toward the best cornerback in the NFL.
21. Miami Dolphins (24) 1-3-0 The Dolphins shocked everybody on Sunday when they routed the Bills without Chad Pennington. Miami faces another tough test Monday night against the Jets.
22. Seattle Seahawks (20) 1-3-0 Seattle’s defense was no match for Peyton Manning and the Colts. The Seahawks have been nagged by injuries to key players such as Matt Hasselbeck, offensive lineman Walter Jones and defensive end Patrick Kerney.
23. Tennessee Titans (18) 0-4-0 Starting Vince Young at quarterback won’t fix any problems, because Kerry Collins isn’t the reason this team is struggling right now. Tennessee has one of the worst pass defenses in the league and ranks 27th in points allowed.
24. Buffalo Bills (21) 1-3-0 The Bills haven’t been able to get anything done offensively. It’s time to simplify the offense and find a way to move on from the no-huddle strategy.
25. Carolina Panthers (25) The Panthers likely used their bye week trying to solve their turnover problems. Carolina is last in the league in the giveaways/takeaways category with a minus-8.
26. Detroit Lions (26) 1-3-0 I don’t think anyone really expected the Lions to beat the Bears. Matthew Stafford injured his knee in the loss to Chicago, but according to reports only is suffering from some swelling.
27. Washington Redskins (27) 2-2-0 After an embarrassing loss to the Lions last week, I expected the Redskins to come out of the gate strong against a bad Tampa team. I think it’s time for the end of the Jason Campbell era if the Redskins want to win games.
28. Kansas City Chiefs (30) 0-4-0 The Chiefs’ third-down woes continued against the Giants on Sunday. Kansas City converted just 2-of-15 attempts on third down following an 0-for-11 performance against the Eagles the previous week.
29. Cleveland Browns (31) 0-4-0 After a devastating loss, Browns receiver Braylon Edwards allegedly punched a friend of LeBron James in the face at a club later that night. This is after Edwards didn’t make a single catch in the game against the Bengals. The Browns have serious problems.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (29) 0-4-0 The Bucs are at or near the bottom of every important team statistic in football — they’re 27th in total offense, 31st in total defense, 26th in points allowed and 28th in points scored.
31. Oakland Raiders (28) 1-3-0 “Bad Boys, Bad Boys, watcha gonna do?” … when they arrest your head coach?
32. St. Louis Rams (32) 0-4-0 The Rams turn the ball over more than they take it away. In addition, they allow an average of 27 points a week and they rank 30th in total offense.