Many have asked exactly how to use the Power Rankings. At its most basic these rankings are a statistical snapshot of how teams are performing so far this season. When a team wins they were the better team that day. Bounces of the ball, penalties, turnovers and sometimes luck play into the final outcome. So sometimes teams win and do not move up or they may even move down.
Of course it would be great if we could look at the rankings and say if a team is higher ranked they will beat a lower ranked team but that is not always the case. What the rankings are saying is if both teams play an average game, based on what they have done so far, than the higher ranked team will win barring those variables that are sometimes lucky or unlucky. These numbers will also be off from what the point spread is because the spread takes into account the public perception of teams. This is where looking at these rankings has value. Look for teams that are unusually high or unusually low based on record. Those are teams that may be over valued or under valued by the public and as such the odds makers.
So here we go with the week 5 power rankings
1. San Francisco 49ers – 32.51 (+2)
Not a huge surprise at number 1 after they destroyed the Jets and Buffalo in back to back weeks. The 49ers average game is a 29-13 win. Currently they are my number 1 rated defense by a full 3.5 points over second place. They have revenge on their minds this week as the Giants come back to the scene of the crime. NY stole one from the 49ers in the NFC Championship game and SF would like some payback. The rushing numbers say the Giants will have a hard time slowing down SF.
2. Denver Broncos – 28.28 (-)
Here is the team that many have hated to see at number 2. I don’t love them at 2 but what the computer is saying is they have played the toughest schedule by far. You say, sure but they’ve still only won 2 games. That is true but the computer looks to not only what they did in the game but what the outcome should have been based on stats. Denver has outplayed most teams this year except for one glaring stat, turnovers. Denver is -6 in give/take and tied for next to last in the AFC. With a much easier schedule from here on Denver could win 9 more games easily and win the AFC west. With that easier schedule, however, they will need to be that much more dominant to stay near the top of the rankings. SD is up next and the projections are for a big passing day from Peyton.
3. Chicago Bears – 27.91 (+5)
The Bears have been slowly climbing their way up the rankings and now find themselves at number 3 ahead of a couple of undefeated teams. The Bears have been impressive the last two weeks winning by a combined 75-21. Chicago 6th in defense and a surprising 6th in offense. They are averaging just about 30 ppg and getting it done on the ground at 123.6 ypg. The Bears get this week off.
4. Atlanta Falcons – 27.55 (-)
Atlanta stays at 4 after winning in Washington. Not a hugely impressive win and maybe not a win at all if RGIII does not get injured. But Atlanta remains a solid 7th in defense and 10th in offense. The red flag for Atlanta is run defense. Currently they are giving up 142.6 ypg on the ground. This week they get Oakland who has not rushed it very well at all so that figure may drop. Our projections have Oak getting 94 on the ground. This is a very winnable game for Atl and if they do they will get to 6-0.
5. Houston Texans – 26.84 (-4)
Well they win on the road on Monday night and they fall 4 spots. Kind of a low ranking for an undefeated team but they have really not had many tough opponents outside of Denver. This weeks matchup is a bit more intriguing as they get the Packers at home. GB has struggled with pass protection. It would look to be a good matchup for Houston. GB is projected to throw for 239 yards in the game.
6. New England Patriots – 26.11 (-1)
The Pats got a big win at home against the Broncos last week. They were able to run the ball at will gaining 251 yards on the ground. New England is number 2 in offense but just 21st in defense. This week they go out west to Seattle to face a very good Seahawks defense. The projections has New England gaining a modest 348 total yards.
7. Baltimore Ravens – 25.33 (-1)
The Ravens did not look very good last week against the Chiefs. If not for some unforced turnovers the Chiefs win that game. The Ravens managed 9 points with just 165 yards passing. The offense drops to 12 overall scoring 26 per game. The defense is now 11 and looks to be improving. They will try and keep down the 14th ranked offense this week when Dallas comes in.
8. Green Bay Packers – 25.01 (+2)
The packers lose as a TD favorite on the road to a rookie QB and the Colts. Not a very good loss. They move up 2 spots however. The reason is their win over a now really good looking Bears team in which they dominated. That performance is keeping them afloat but it wont for long. They will need to look much better this week if they are going to go into Houston and win. The Packers have given up 21 sacks in 5 games. That is 2nd to Arizona. They have their work cut out for them this week. Houston is 2nd in the AFC with 16 sacks.
9. Dallas Cowboys – 24.31 (+4)
They get a week off and a big move up the list. Currently ranked 8th in defense but just 14th in offense. The offense gets an improving Raven defense on the road this week. Dallas needs to do a better job with turnovers. They are now -7 in giveaways, tied for last in the NFC.
10. Detroit Lions – 23.63 (+6)
Detroit is another team that benefited in the rankings from a week off. The Lions should be better than their record shows right now. The Tennessee loss seems like it may have been an anomaly. Detroit has been impossible to throw on giving up just 194 ypg in the air. This week they get the Eagles. Our projections show Detroit will hold Philly to just 219 yards passing.
11. NY Giants – 23.54 (-)
It did not look good early but the Giants roared back against the Browns and won convincingly. This offense has been unstoppable. 30.4 ppg, 120 ypg on the ground and 309 ypg in the air. They are my number 1 rated offense but they get the number 1 rated defense this week. The big difference is SF has the number 5 offense and the Giants are just 26th in defense.
12. Philadelphia Eagles – 23.35 (-3)
The Eagles lost a tough one on the road in Pittsburgh and drop 3 spots. The Eagles are now -7 in giveaways. Vick can not protect the ball and that is what has killed them all season. The defense has been very good ranked 4th overall. The offense ranked 21 is what is surprising. They are too explosive to be this low but they are. They take on an under performing Lions team this week. Their defense will be tested as the Lions are ranked 3rd in offense.
13. Minnesota Vikings – 23.12 (+1)
Quietly the Vikings are starting to look pretty good. Ponder continues to impress. Last week they won easily 30-7 over Tennessee. Minnesota has done a real nice job against the run. Teams are rushing for 24 yards less per game against them than their average. This week they face Washington on the road. We look for close to 300 yards from Ponder in this one.
14. Seattle Seahawks – 22.76 (-2)
The Seahawks continue to slide after being ranked so high earlier in the season. They did get a win this week but against a week Panther team. Defensively this team is very good ranked 2nd on my list. They give up 5 less points per game than their opponents average. But they score 3.5 less than opponents give up. Tough matchup with a top offense this week in New England.
15. Arizona Cardinals – 22.55 (-8)
The Cards are also slipping after being ranked so high after a 4-0 start. They lose a big 8 spots this week after suffering their first loss. The Cardinals can not get it done offensively, ranked 22nd. The run game is non existent gaining just 62.8 ypg on the ground. They host a team that has been awful, the Buffalo Bills. The projections have Arizona’s offense moving it a bit better against the worst defense in the league. If they can not expect a big drop next week for Arizona.
16. St. Louis Rams – 21.77 (+3)
Nice win on Thursday for the Rams over division rival Arizona. But in the win they lose their only quality WR Danny Amendola. And even with him the offense has not been pretty ranked 23rd. The Rams go to South Florida and face an improving Dolphins team. We look for St. Louis to struggle with the Miami run game.
17. Miami Dolphins – 21.60 (-2)
The Dolphins get a nice win but slide a couple of spots this week. The fish are near the middle of the pack in both offense and defense. The one thing they have done very well is hold teams to 32 less yards per game rushing than they average. This weeks matchup with St Louis could move Miami up if they can put together a convincing win at home.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers – 20.96 (-)
Kind of odd to see Pittsburgh so low. Maybe its because of the name and what we expect from them. But they are ranked 19th in offense and 15th in defense. Pittsburgh can not run the ball. They are one of the worst at 44 yards less per game than opponents average. Luckily for them Tennessee rushes it just 65 yards per game.
19. Washington Redskins – 19.77 (+2)
Washington lost RGIII last week and it may have cost them the game. The Redskins have not won a home game since week 2 of 2011. That is amazing. The Redskins have run it very well, 166 ypg. Morris has become a must start back in fantasy. But you can throw it on the Redskins all day. The pass defense gives up 328.6 yards per game. This week they face a team that has passed it well the Vikings.
20. San Diego Chargers – 19.26 (-)
The Chargers have yet to beat a quality opponent and they now add a weak opponent loss to the resume. It was on the road and they were an underdog however. The Chargers continue to struggle throwing it averaging 231.4 ypg. They rank 30th in offense and a respectable 14th in defense. They have division rival Denver coming in. If they have plans on winning the division they must win this game.
21. Indianapolis Colts – 19.25 (+6)
Big win for Luck and company as they knock off Green Bay and get a 6 spot bump up. They have passed the ball well averaging 52 more yards throwing it than opponents have given up. They rank 9th in offense. But the good news stops there. They are one of the worst defenses ranked 27th. They get a wounded Jets team this week on the road. The Jets pass defense has been their strong suit so it will be a battle of strengths.
22. Cincinnati Bengals – 18.88 (-5)
The Bengals lose to Miami at home and drop 5 spots this week. The Bengals come in 16th in offense and 23rd in defense. They have run it decently at 104 ypg but that is less than their opponents give up on average. They face rival Cleveland this week and they have been torched for 142 ypg on the ground.
23. NY Jets – 18.28 (+1)
They had a shot to knock off Houston but Sanchez could not get it done. His eery 66.6 passer rating has callers to WFAN in NY calling for Tebow. It was only a matter of time. The Jets are 17th in offense and just 19th in defense. It’s time for Rex Ryan to prove he wasn’t made famous by hall of fame defensive players and that he can actually coach defense.
24. Kansas City Chiefs – 18.28 (-2)
How brutal can you be inside the red zone. The Chiefs turned it over 3 times in the red zone and 4 times in all. They now lead the league at -15 in giveaways. Kansas City can run the ball though. 177 ypg so far. They will need to do more of that this week against a team that plays the run well in TB.
25. Carolina Panthers – 17.71 (-2)
I was afraid the league caught up to Cam and so far I have been right. The offense is ranked 25th right now. Cam is throwing it for 223 yards per game. It does not help that he has been sacked 13 times. The defense has been a little better at 18th. They will get a week off to regroup.
26. New Orleans Saints – 17.02 (+2)
Finally a win for the Saints. The move up 2 spots this week but are still a shocking 26th. This is not an offensive problem as they are ranked 8th but the defense could not be worse, unless they were Buffalo. The Saints give up 83 more yards than opponents average. They gain 42 more yards than opponents give up. They need to close that gap and the best way is with better defense. I am not sure they can, This week they get the bye.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 15.54 (+2)
Many thought this team could have some upside surprise but they have been very disappointing. We thought they would be able to rush it better than 91 ypg. Passing it 185 ypg is just not going to get it done in the NFL in 2012. Defensively they are ranked 20th. They give up too much in the passing game. When you can’t throw it and can’t stop the pass you can get blown out quite often. They are at home and favored this week over KC.
28. Cleveland Browns – 14.99 (-3)
They started out so good last week but the Giants just steamrolled them from the 2nd quarter on. Cleveland is still winless but has been in a lot of games. I am not sure why theu are not running Richardson more but they are only averaging 77.8 ypg on the ground. They give up almost double that. This week look for Cincinnati to be able to run the ball on this defense.
29. Tennessee Titans – 13.74 (+1)
The Titans get blown out by Minnesota last week. We didn’t think they would be able to rush it and they couldn’t gaining just 52 on the ground. Tennessee gives up 140 yards on the ground and rushes it for 65. They face the weak rushing Steelers at home this week and try and turn things around.
30. Oakland Raiders – 13.53 (+2)
Oakland gets a week off and moves up 2 spots as some bad teams looked worse behind them. Oakland is another bad team who can not run it and can not stop the run. 61 ypg running aganist 128.5 ypg against. This week they go to Atlanta who has not been very good at stopping the run either. If Oakland’s run game was ever going to show up it would be this week.
31. Buffalo Bills – 13.28 (-5)
Buffalo looked like a college team against SF last week. Blown out 45-3. And now they get to stay out west and face a tough defense in Arizona. Not a fun task for the 15th ranked offense. But the defense is the worst in the league right now. They face a real bad offense though with Arizona gaining just 270 ypg total.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars – 12.82 (-1)
This weeks worst ranked team is not a shock. The Jags are plain bad and Chicago embarrassed them. Jax is averaging just 143 ypg throwing it. That is less than some teams can run it. They average just 13 points per game and give up 27.6. They get the bye this week.