Entering Week 5 as the only undefeated team in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles have finally climbed into the top five of The Ringer’s weekly NFL power rankings. No offense in the NFL has a higher floor right now, and quarterback Jalen Hurts continues to get better every single week. The Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Chargers are both clinging to top-10 spots after improving to 2-2 with much-needed wins in Week 4. But the top two spots remain unchanged: the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs are the league’s only powerhouses through four weeks. Featuring the two best quarterbacks in football right now, Buffalo and Kansas City entered the season at no. 1 and no. 2, respectively, and haven’t budged.
The Best of the Best
1. Buffalo Bills (3-1 | last week’s ranking: 1)
Josh Allen is the best player in the NFL right now. After trailing the Ravens 14-3 at the start of the second quarter, Allen completed 16 of 27 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 62 yards and another score in the final three quarters of the game, helping the Bills secure a 23-20 comeback win on the road.
Allen ranks third in EPA per dropback (0.26) behind Patrick Mahomes and Tua Tagovailoa, while the Bills rank second in the NFL in total points allowed (58) and yards per play allowed (4.23). We likely won’t know if any team is better than the Bills until they travel to Arrowhead to square off against the Chiefs in Week 6.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (3-1 | last week: 2)
I’m legitimately scared of the versions of Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid we saw against the Bucs on Sunday Night Football in Week 4. Mahomes took three sacks and threw a fourth-quarter interception, but everything else was just sensational. The offense was truly firing on all cylinders (as it has been all season), and it was hard to even make sense of it all at times against one of the best defenses in the NFL.
3. Green Bay Packers (3-1 | last week: 3)
Sure, they went to overtime against a Patriots team that played its second- and third-string quarterbacks, but the Packers were quite obviously the better team on Sunday. The defense gave up some shots on play-action, rookie Romeo Doubs fumbled the ball and dropped what would have been a go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter, and Aaron Rodgers made a boneheaded end-of-half throw that resulted in a pick-six. The good news is Rodgers otherwise played at the level we’re accustomed to, and wide receiver Allen Lazard and running back Aaron Jones picked up the slack as needed—the duo combined for 231 yards on 25 touches. Don’t overreact to the close game; the Packers are still the team to beat in the NFC ahead of the Eagles (for now).
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-0 | last week: 7)
Week 4 showed us that there is just so much margin for error with this Eagles team. Jalen Hurts was late throwing a crossing route early in the first quarter, and the ball was ultimately intercepted for a pick-six. That mistake contributed to a 14-0 first-quarter hole in the pouring rain at home. But Hurts and the Eagles proved too talented and too well-coached for any early deficit to matter. Miles Sanders rushed for a career-high 134 yards and two touchdowns, and linebacker Haason Reddick recorded two sacks, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries in the Eagles’ 29-21 comeback win over Jacksonville. After withstanding a slow start from Hurts and surviving the unforgiving weather against a good Jaguars team, the Eagles look like a team that’s built to last.
Deep Postseason Contenders
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2 | last week: 4)
Tampa Bay fumbled the opening kickoff, and Travis Kelce strolled into the end zone to put the Chiefs up 7-0, all in the first 45 seconds of the game. The Buccaneers never recovered. They still managed to score 17 first-half points and finished the game with 31—their highest output of the season—but Tom Brady and the offense just couldn’t go strike for strike with Mahomes.
The Buccaneers defense, even after allowing 41 to Mahomes and Co. on Sunday night, still ranks top-five in yards per play allowed (4.79) and defensive EPA per play (0.12). And even though Brady doesn’t seem to be having as much fun as he probably hoped coming out of retirement, he’s playing well enough for the Buccaneers to still be considered contenders.
6. Baltimore Ravens (2-2 | last week: 5)
Lamar Jackson is having to do this alone. The Ravens are completely dependent on his heroics every single week to win football games. This week, Jackson was failed by his coaches. After going 12-of-16 for 108 yards and a touchdown in the first half, Jackson completed just eight passes for 36 yards and threw two picks in the second half against Buffalo. The Bills adjusted; Greg Roman didn’t. The longtime NFL offensive coordinator just isn’t putting Jackson (or the Ravens’ other skill players) in a position to succeed or capitalize on easy offense.
7. Miami Dolphins (3-1 | last week: 6)
The biggest story line coming out of the Dolphins’ 27-15 loss to the Bengals is just how poorly the NFL and the team handled Tua Tagovailoa’s Week 3 injury against the Bills and the subsequent concussion Tagovailoa suffered four days later, Thursday night in Cincinnati. Head coach Mike McDaniel announced Monday that Tagovailoa will miss the team’s Week 5 matchup against the Jets.
Teddy Bridgewater will get the start against New York. McDaniel’s offense is explosive and creative enough to survive Bridgewater being a step back in timing and accuracy from Tua, but Tagovailoa will need to be the healthy starting quarterback for Miami if its deep postseason aspirations will ring true.
It will be interesting to watch the betting line on this game throughout the week, as last week’s line shifted from Bengals -1 to Bengals -3.5 even before Tagovailoa’s injury. The Dolphins opened as 3.5-point favorites on the road against the Jets.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2 | last week: 10)
The Bengals should be 4-0. Slow starts and bizarre miscues in weeks 1 and 2 against the Steelers and Cowboys, when they were outscored 34-9 in the first halves of those games combined, cost Cincinnati two games it was favored to win. Instead, the Bengals are just 2-2, riding back-to-back wins against the Jets and Dolphins and their backup quarterbacks.
Joe Burrow is handling pressure better every week, and the defense enters Week 5 ranked sixth in EPA per play. Burrow ranks second in EPA per dropback (0.25) over the past two weeks, and he ranks fifth in the same stat on pressured dropbacks. Head coach Zac Taylor is still (very rightfully) under fire for questionable play calling and fourth-down decisions, but Burrow and Co. are more than talented enough to overcome his shortcomings just as they did on their way to a Super Bowl last season.
9. Los Angeles Chargers (2-2 | last week: 9)
Week 4 served as a get-right game for the Chargers. Justin Herbert was automatic, Austin Ekeler scored his first three touchdowns of the 2022 season, and, hell, even Jerry Tillery beat a block cleanly for a strip-sack. Even with injuries to edge rusher Joey Bosa and left tackle Rashawn Slater, Los Angeles closed out Week 4 ranked fourth in quarterback pressure rate (43.6 percent) on defense and 11th in pressure rate allowed (27.5 percent) on offense. The final score (Chargers 34, Texans 24) was closer than the game ever was for the Bolts.
Now, let’s not get too drunk on the Chargers Kool-Aid. The Texans are still the worst team in the NFL. Eventually, the injuries to Bosa and Slater will rear their ugly heads against better teams, and L.A. will need to play near-perfect complementary football to overcome them. Herbert, of course, gives the Chargers that chance.
10. San Francisco 49ers (2-2 | last week: 14)
The 49ers defense is legit. On the heels of an absolute gem of a game from defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans against the Rams on Monday Night Football, San Francisco ranks first in yards per play allowed (3.81) and defensive EPA per play (0.19). Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t have to be anything more than a game manager to keep the team on track for another deep postseason run if Ryans and Co. keep it up.
11. Los Angeles Rams (2-2 | last week: 8)
Without Andrew Whitworth, Odell Beckham Jr., and Von Miller, the Rams just don’t have enough star power to beat good football teams right now. The Rams now have two ugly losses, first to the Bills and now the 49ers—two top-10 teams on this list. Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp have to do everything for the offense to move the ball, and Aaron Donald is the only player creating consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Los Angeles ranks 31st in quarterback pressure rate, according to TruMedia, and the offense is tied for 25th in EPA per play (-.08).
12. Minnesota Vikings (3-1 | last week: 11)
We’re learning that any time Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen get one-on-one matchups, and if Kirk Cousins is generally protected up front, the Vikings will be uber-competitive. It happened Sunday in London against the Saints. New Orleans entered Week 4 dead last in quarterback pressure rate, and that trend continued. Cousins had plenty of time, and the Jefferson-Thielen combo won most of the one-on-one matchups with the secondary en route to a combined 18 receptions for 219 yards. Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore shadowed Jefferson for most of the game, and it wasn’t pretty.
Jefferson told the media after the game just how confident he is in one-on-one situations compared to the double and triple coverage he’s seen in recent weeks. Concerns remain for how the Vikings’ offense will fare when teams throw multiple defenders at Jefferson and force Cousins and Co. out of their comfort zone, but there’s enough time in the season for first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell to adjust for that and keep the Vikings on track for the postseason.
13. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2 | last week: 13)
Trevor Lawrence turned the ball over five times in bad weather and the Jags still nearly pulled out a win against the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL. Don’t regress to the “lol classic Jags” thinking just yet. Lawrence and Doug Pederson are still at the helm of a very talented, much-improved Jaguars team and share first place in the AFC South with the Titans. Expect a bounceback against the Texans at home in Week 5.
14. Denver Broncos (2-2 | last week: 12)
The Broncos can’t sustain or finish drives right now. The team ranks 23rd in third-down conversion percentage (35 percent), 30th in first downs per game (16.5), and dead last in red zone efficiency (30 percent) through four weeks. Adding injury to insult, they’re now without starting running back Javonte Williams for the rest of the season after he suffered an ACL injury in the Week 4 loss against the Raiders. Quarterback Russell Wilson and first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett have to be on the same page and get better in high-leverage situations like third downs and red zone chances before they can even think about the postseason.
On the Bubble
15. Arizona Cardinals (2-2 | last week: 15)
Kyler Murray gave the Panthers life when he threw a second-quarter pick-six to linebacker Frankie Luvu, but the rest of the game went the Cardinals’ way. Arizona scored 23 second-half points to beat Carolina on the road, 26-10, and improve to 2-2 on the season. There isn’t much else to take away from this game, however. The Cardinals’ offense is still too dependent on Murray making plays outside of structure to believe it could be sustainable. And the slow starts are reaching an unfathomable level. The Cardinals enter Week 5 ranked last in point differential (-57) and tied for 30th in total points scored (30) in the first three quarters of games.
16. Dallas Cowboys (3-1 | last week: 20)
Cooper Rush is keeping the ’Boys alive right now, and I really can’t believe it. After a 25-10 win over the Commanders in Week 4, Rush remains undefeated in the NFL as a starter and has the Cowboys tied for second with the Giants in the NFC East. I wrote the Cowboys off after the injury to Dak Prescott in the team’s embarrassing Week 1 loss to the Buccaneers, but Rush and a Micah Parsons–led defense have proved me wrong. Dallas still isn’t deep-postseason competitive until Prescott returns to the starting lineup healthy, and there are still concerns with the team’s lackluster receiving corps and offensive line, but the door is open for Dallas to be a surprise playoff contender in January as long as the Cowboys keep grinding out wins with Rush at the helm.
17. Tennessee Titans (2-2 | last week: 17)
The Titans have won back-to-back games, but their offensive line is in shambles, especially with Taylor Lewan out for the season with a knee injury. Derrick Henry, who ranks 28th among the 29 backs with 40-plus carries this season in yards before first contact per attempt (0.75), has to be a superhero every week to get the run game going. And quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been under pressure on 39 percent of dropbacks this season, the third-highest rate in the league. It’s going to be a struggle each week for Tennessee to put up points.
18. Indianapolis Colts (1-2-1 | last week: 16)
The Colts have to protect Matt Ryan and stop turning the ball over if they want a shot at the postseason. Ryan ranks 10th in EPA per dropback when kept clean, but second-to-last in EPA per dropback when pressured. The offense has also turned the ball over nine times, tied for the second-highest total in the league. Star running back Jonathan Taylor, who suffered an ankle injury last week, is tied for third in carries (81) through four games, but his efficiency behind the Colts’ underperforming offensive line is disastrous. He averaged just 2.1 yards per carry in the Week 4 loss against Tennessee and ranks just 20th in yards per carry (4.05) among backs with 40-plus carries on the season. There’s a path to success for Indianapolis, but there might be too many obstacles in front of them to actually get there in time to salvage their 1-2-1 start.
19. New Orleans Saints (1-3 | last week: 18)
Jameis Winston, Michael Thomas, and Alvin Kamara all missed the game on Sunday, and New Orleans’ defense didn’t win enough of their one-on-one matchups with Minnesota’s talented receiver duo.
Though rookie receiver Chris Olave and running back Latavius Murray, who was elevated off the practice squad, played well enough against Minnesota, the Saints need to get healthy and stay healthy if they’re going to remain in the On the Bubble tier on this list. Both sides of the ball are talented in New Orleans, but the newness in the coaching staff with Sean Payton gone, the injuries, and now a 1-3 start are all stacking the deck against them.
20. Cleveland Browns (2-2 | last week: 19)
The Browns aren’t built to come from behind, and if opposing teams can get out to leads, as the Falcons did with their 10-0 first-quarter start in Week 4, Jacoby Brissett and the offense will struggle. Cleveland’s ideal offense runs through Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, as the Browns rank first in EPA per rush, per TruMedia, and only 15th in EPA per pass. Chubb and Hunt combined for 77 of their 167 total rushing yards in the fourth quarter against Atlanta, but it wasn’t enough. Cleveland must get that duo going earlier to be successful.
Long-Shot Playoff Hopefuls
21. Las Vegas Raiders (1-3 | last week: 22)
Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams took a torch to the Broncos defense in Week 4. Jacobs hadn’t surpassed 70 rushing yards in a game for the first three weeks, yet he gashed the Broncos for 144 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries. And even though Broncos cornerback Patrick Surtain II was in lockstep with Adams for much of the game, the Raiders’ star wideout still hauled in nine passes for 101 yards on 13 targets. The Raiders need big games from their stars like Jacobs and Adams if they’re going to overcome their porous offensive line and underperforming defense week in and week out. The 1-3 start to the season still might be too deep for Las Vegas to sneak into the playoffs, but the winning formula is obvious.
22. New York Giants (3-1 | last week: 25)
Saquon Barkley leads the NFL in rushing yards (463) and looks reborn while playing for new head coach Brian Daboll—and he admirably filled in as a wildcat QB Sunday against the Bears after both of the Giants’ quarterbacks suffered injuries. Daniel Jones’s health will be the Giants’ most important story line heading into Week 5 against Green Bay in London; if he can’t play, Daboll will have to turn to Davis Webb and lean even more heavily on Barkley, who for now seems up for the challenge.
23. Atlanta Falcons (2-2 | last week: 26)
Perhaps no player or unit in the league is exceeding expectations more than the Falcons’ offensive line. Atlanta leads the NFL in yards before first contact per rush (2.64), according to PFF/TruMedia. Even with Cordarrelle Patterson sidelined for the next month with a knee injury, the team’s rushing attack should continue to roll. That success on the ground combined with a strong play-action attack (ranked eighth in offensive EPA per play at 0.06 entering Week 5) will keep the Falcons competitive, even if the defense (ranked 30th in defensive EPA per play) continues to struggle.
24. Seattle Seahawks (2-2 | last week: 27)
Geno Smith leads the NFL in EPA per play and completion percentage above expected (CPOE) composite through four weeks, per RBSDM.com. I sat at my keyboard and read that back five times just now. That’s absolutely insane.
Smith is running the offense like coordinator Shane Waldron is drawing it up, delivering accurate, on-time passes in and outside of play-action with league-leading consistency. And Rashaad Penny is maximizing the Seahawks’ overperforming offensive line and ranks third in the NFL in yards per carry (5.96) entering Week 5. They’re going to be a tough out every single week.
25. Detroit Lions (1-3 | last week: 21)
In true roller-coaster, fun-to-watch fashion, the Lions lead the NFL in total points scored (140) and points allowed (141). A lot of that offense has been generated when trailing big late in games, specifically against the Eagles last month and most recently against the Seahawks in Week 4, but there’s no question that this Detroit team can score. The offense was without leading receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and leading running back D’Andre Swift in Week 4 and still scored a season-high 45 points. It’s a great place to be for a rebuilding team still looking for a long-term answer at quarterback. Fans can celebrate points and losses in droves as they steer the course toward the Bryce Young/C.J. Stroud sweepstakes in 2023.
26. New England Patriots (1-3 | last week: 23)
Matt Patricia called an NFL-low 12 play-action plays through the first three weeks of the season. With a combination of Brian Hoyer and Bailey Zappe under center in Week 4, he called nine play-action plays against Green Bay. The Pats averaged 10 yards per play on those snaps, which included a touchdown. It still wasn’t enough of a spark to pull out the win for New England, but it feels like progress for what has been an inept Patricia-led offense to start the season.
Defensively, rookie cornerback Jack Jones, a fourth-round pick out of Arizona State, played a career-high 72 defensive snaps and logged a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a pick-six in the Patriots’ Week 4 loss against Green Bay—and then he talked some trash to Aaron Rodgers. It’s a bold move for a rookie, but a bright spot for a Patriots team that hasn’t had many of them this season.
27. Washington Commanders (1-3 | last week: 24)
Carson Wentz knows what has to change if the Commanders are ever going to right the ship with him under center. He told the media after Washington’s Week 4 loss to the Cowboys that he just has to be better and more consistent, but those are merely words. The reality is that Wentz has taken more sacks (17) than any other quarterback this season, and he is tied for second in the league in interceptions (5). He ranks 27th in EPA per dropback (-.10) and is tied for 27th in PFF passing grade (58.8). This type of performance is exactly why I hated the Wentz trade for Washington this offseason, and I don’t see it getting any better anytime soon.
Bottom of the Barrel
28. New York Jets (2-2 | last week: 31)
Zach Wilson is healthy and still playing hectic, anxiety-inducing hero ball, but he was a superhero in the fourth quarter on Sunday against Pittsburgh. Wilson was wildly inaccurate and made head-scratching decisions to start the game, averaging -0.51 EPA per dropback through the first three quarters, which ranked 28th among quarterbacks in Week 4. Then, trailing 20-10 in the fourth quarter, Wilson went 10-of-12 for 128 yards and a touchdown to cap the comeback win and improve the Jets’ record to 2-2 on the season. Wilson simply can’t play like he did to start the game if the Jets are going to continue to build around him long-term, but the fourth-quarter output was a breath of life New York desperately needed more of, and the Jets could be on their way out of the quarterback hell they’ve been stuck in for over a decade.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3 | last week: 28)
Mike Tomlin benched Mitchell Trubisky after the QB took three sacks while going 7-of-13 for 84 scoreless yards and a pick in the first half against the Jets. Trailing 10-6, rookie Kenny Pickett injected much-needed life into the offense and helped the Steelers build a 20-10 fourth-quarter lead. Pickett was accurate, on-time, and fearless under pressure—everything Trubisky wasn’t this season.
Zach Wilson, however, outplayed him in the fourth quarter. Pickett threw a costly interception up 20-17 with just under four minutes left to play that he later admitted he was trying to throw a lot higher to avoid an interception.
Pickett brought juice to a hapless offense, but that’s not enough. The Steelers are still a long way away from getting back into the hunt after three consecutive losses.
30. Carolina Panthers (1-3 | last week: 29)
Baker Mayfield doesn’t have it. He isn’t him. He enters Week 5 ranked second-to-last in EPA per dropback among quarterbacks with 80 or more dropbacks (-.23), and the only quarterback below him, Trubisky, was benched at the half in Week 4.
Head coach Matt Rhule isn’t even 100 percent sure if Baker is the starting quarterback of the team, and I’m not even 100 percent sure how long Rhule stays the head coach. He is 1-26 in his NFL coaching career in games where opposing teams score 17 or more points. “Fire Matt Rhule” chants erupted at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, and I’m 100 percent sure they were warranted.
31. Chicago Bears (2-2 | last week: 30)
For the first time this season, second-year quarterback Justin Fields didn’t look freaking awful. He entered Week 4 ranked 28th in EPA per dropback (-.14), but made multiple highlight-reel throws en route to a season-high 174 yards and zero interceptions against the Giants. (The Bears still lost.) The bar has to be much higher than that if Chicago is going to climb out of the depths of this list and commit to Fields long-term, but it’s a step in the right direction for Fields truthers and Bears faithful alike.
32. Houston Texans (0-3-1 | last week: 32)
The Texans are officially the only winless team in the NFL. They’re not without exciting flashes, like the 75-yard touchdown run from rookie Dameon Pierce in Week 4, but any success is too sporadic for the team to close out games. And you can’t convince me this isn’t the absolute best-case scenario for Houston. Every week their chances of earning the first pick in the 2023 NFL draft increase is a massive win for a rebuilding Texans team desperate for a quarterback to kick off a legitimate rebuild.