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NFL Power Rankings, Week 5: Bengals hit top three; Steelers fall

The Week 5 Power Rankings are here -- and so is some serious movement. Yes, at the quarter pole, we're reshuffling the deck. Hey, but that's what makes this whole deal fun, right? Almost as fun as poring over the fine print in the NFL rulebook ...

Agreed on the first point. The Lions had 55 minutes to do something on offense. And yes, we'll never know what would've happened from the 1-yard line. Oh, and I'm going with mint-chocolate ice cream cake, maybe with a plastic Sylvester Puddy Tat on top -- instead of the SpongeBob piece Baskin-Robbins always puts on there nowadays. No SpongeBob.

Detroit wasn't the only team to experience misfortune in Week 4.

And they are down two more players -- ugh.

Yes, you will find that those Cowboys dropped more than a couple spots, based on more than just losing to one of the NFL's weaker teams. In fact, they were leapfrogged by a division rival in the process, keeping the NFC East's highest-ranked team parked squarely at 15. (At least it's the top half, right?)

For the full hierarchical breakdown, take a look below. Feel free to share your take: @HarrisonNFL is the place. If you decide to hold out on leaving a comment, make sure you at least get more money.

Let the dissension commence!

NOTE: The lineup below reflects changes from our Sept. 29 Power Rankings.

PREVIOUS RANKINGS: Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1 | Preseason

If you close your eyes and think of nothing else through a quarter of the season, dream only of Aaron Rodgers rolling to his left, flicking a 40-something-yard throw perfectly over the shoulder of a 49ers defensive back to a guy wearing 89 in green and white, hugged up against the sideline, arms outstretched. The gorgeous teardrop to James Jones set up a score that gave Green Bay a 14-3 advantage in San Francisco on Sunday. Consider it yet another exhibit of how unstoppable this team can be in significant situations, as Jones' grab-and-drag converted a third-and-seven in a 7-3 ballgame, on a day when the Packers did not look like the offensive juggernaut they are. Man, what a play from the league's MVP and a wideout clearly on his wavelength.

The bye week in New England meant additional time for Patriots fans to send along their tweets regarding how awesome their team is. No fanbase tweets such things more ...

 Ravens fans hop on Twitter as much, but in their case, it's more 
 *"Hey, we're still kinda good!"* or -- a favorite -- 
 *"Your (sic) an idiot."* 

Truth is, New England is a premier team right now -- and surprisingly, the defense is a large reason for that. The unit might not be setting the world on fire, but 17th in points allowed is solid enough for Tom Brady, who, well, is setting the world on fire.

How difficult it must be to gameplan for these Cincinnati Bengals right now. You never know who's going to get the football or be the focal point of the offense. On Sunday, Giovani Bernard got more touches out of the backfield than Jeremy Hill, but the latter scored three touchdowns. A week after A.J. Green posted 227 yards, he was outgained by Mohamed Sanu (84 yards on four catches), who had posted all of 77 yards combined through the three prior weeks of play. Meanwhile, the run-pass ratio was fantastic, with coordinator Hue Jackson overseeing 26 run plays versus 24 passes. You couldn't draw it up any better.

If Wade Phillips doesn't win the Assistant Coach of the Year award this season, seriously strange things will be afoot at the NFL Honors show ... like Matt Hasselbeck walking away with the MVP. Give DeMarcus Ware -- who sometimes looks like a 17-year-old with old-man strength out there -- and Von Miller heaps of glory. Sing songs about T.J. Ward's game-clinching hit-turned-forced-fumble in Sunday's win over Minnesota (and about his postgame hat selection). But make no mistake, it's clear who this team's MVP is: Wade. Phillips.

What in the world has gotten into these Falcons? Dan Quinn certainly has exceeded everyone's expectations, especially on defense. The undefeated Falcons now have a turnover differential of plus-six (including four takeaways on Sunday), second only to Carolina in the NFL.

On a day when the Falcons racked up 48 points, how in the world did Julio Jones only catch four passes for 38 yards? If you're a Jones fantasy owner, seeing the final score and then seeing Jones' output must have been like getting excited after finding the four quarters you need to wash your underwear ... only to learn your landlord suddenly changed the price to five quarters. Not to be too specific or anything. Not like I recommended Jones in daily fantasy last week on national TV or anything.

You think Carson Palmer would like to have that last throw back? Watching Rams-Cardinals live, I thought there was no way Arizona was losing the game. If you missed it, Palmer had rookie David Johnson wide open on a slant on fourth-and-2 with his team down by two points late in the fourth quarter -- and overthrew him by a couple of yards. Of course, Johnson's fumble on the opening kickoff set an ominous tone for the day.

For now, Arizona is 3-1 with a clear lead in the NFC West. The Cards have the Lions, Steelers, Ravens and Browns heading into their Week 9 bye. When they travel to Seattle in Week 10, Bruce Arians could be 6-2 and fighting for first place. Don't want to look ahead, but we're looking ahead.

Why does nobody talk about the Carolina Panthers? Should we start calling them the little Carolina Panthers, since they are vastly ignored? Sure, your friendly writer doesn't have them ranked as high as other undefeated teams ... but he did predict they'd win the NFC South even after Kelvin Benjamin went down. That's the one spot in the universe where the masses and Panthers parted ways this season. Yet, all this club has done is win nine of its last 10 games.

I don't want to *tip* you off the deep end, Seahawks fans, but this Darrell Bevell offense struggles so much that it might be too much for even a top-flight defense to overcome. Fortunately, Seattle's defense is even better than top-flight -- with Kam Chancellor back in the fold, that is. Twenty drives in the past two games: 18 punts, one fumble, one field goal allowed. Good grief, these guys are dominant. Remember Week 1, when the Seahawks lost 34-31? Yeah, those days are gone.

Oh, Chris Ivory, how you make games interesting. Still not sure whether that was a fumble toward the end of this week's international match. I'd say no. Either way, count me among the millions (thousands?) who thought the game was over at that point. Given the holding penalty to extend the Dolphins' last-gasp drive (Miami was down 27-14 with less than seven minutes to play) in the fourth, then the OPI on the apparent Jarvis Landry touchdown, then the Ivory fumble non-fumble, followed by the Darrelle Revis interception ... thought this tweet the most appropriate way to describe the New York win:

Mistakes ruled the day in Buffalo. The score might have been 24-10, but this was one of those games Bills fans will look back on as a lost opportunity. Especially considering the loss to the Giants was at home. That's not to say the Giants didn't earn the win, but when you suffer through 17 penalties, go 0 for 3 in the red zone and turn the football over twice, you're suffering abuse at your own hands. Major kudos to the Bills mafia, who solved our Power Rankings Trivia question last week (answer: Joe Cribbs) in droves, to the point that we couldn't respond to every answer.

The Vikings hung tough in a game most didn't give them a chance to win, thanks to some timely catches by youngster Stefon Diggs, a timely (and explosive) Adrian Peterson run and a reaaal timely read-and-react pick by Harrison Smith. What a play that was. So Vikings fans are disappointed with the loss, and Ragnar has parted ways with the organization, but 2-2 with an interconference loss is no big deal. If Mike Zimmer can push this roster to 10 wins, Sunday's "L" won't factor into tiebreakers.

The NFL got its first real dose of Todd Gurley on Sunday. Man, oh man -- if that's what we're in forĀ ... Move over, A.D., and take notice, Le'Veon Bell. Gurley looked awesome. For a big man with an almost Eddie George-esque body, Gurley produced some gorgeous runs. Then the rookie had the presence of mind -- or good sense to listen to his teammates in the huddle -- to down himself and burn clock late. That play reminded me of a similar occurrence when Brian Westbrook was toasting the Cowboys in 2007 and tackled himself after a big run late in the game, to keep the clock running. This Gurley kid has some of Westbrook's shimmy, with the stature to be a bell-cow back in the era of the committee. As a non-SEC watcher, am I overreacting on Gurley? ( @HarrisonNFL)

Mixed reviews regarding Mike Vick on Thursday night. Some felt the vet fared well, while others thought he was terrible (mostly due to the throw on fourth down). The answer probably lies somewhere in between, although it was clear offensive coordinator Todd Haley was hamstrung in his play-calling ability. Feel for Josh Scobee, who for years had been one of the top kickers in pro football. Kicking 49 yards on grass into the wind is no gimme.

Sans Andrew Luck -- and, apparently, Frank Gore's ability to hold onto the football -- the Matt Hasselbeck-led Colts got away with a victory Sunday. That's two football weekends in a row this team has pulled an escape act. Wondering how the Colts did it vs. Jacksonville? Here's the answer: They made the plays when they had to, starting with -- but not limited to -- Adam Vinatieri making his kicks. Like it or not, that's part of the game. Here's what's not the answer for this team: firing Chuck Pagano midseason. Show me multiple times that's worked in pro football.

Sneaky, sneaky, these Giants are. Big Blue is 2-2 and suddenly tied for first place in the NFC East, albeit with a head-to-head loss to the Cowboys. Yet, with the latter starting Brandon Weeden, absorbing numerous injuries and having lost two in a row, New York is in the driver's seat. The division win versus the Redskins eventually could loom large, as well. Effort of the day in Buffalo: Rashad Jennings' catch, move, run and *GET OFF ME!* stiff arm to put his team up 24-10 in the fourth quarter. Doesn't matter who you root for -- that was a staggeringly awesome football play by an underrated running back. #respect

Aaron Rodgers seemingly has sealed up another MVP trophy (OK, maybe it's a little early ...), discussion abounds about Peyton Manning and his arm, and people lament the punchless Steelers sans Ben Roethlisberger. Meanwhile, one QB continues to call plays at the line, holler incessantly and play Hall of Very Good (if not Hall of Fame) football. Philip Rivers looked fantastic again on Sunday, racking up 358 yards and three touchdowns through the air. He avoided throwing a single interception, and currently boasts a robust 105.3 passer rating on the season. Some yawn -- we take notice. #17

The season started off so glowingly, or swimmingly, or whatever word would aptly describe Travis Kelce punching footballs in the end zone and Alex Smith wingin' it like Len Dawson out there. Three tough games have come and gone since that season-opening victory over the Texans, and the Chiefs have no more wins now than they did then. Look, hosting Denver, then traveling to undefeated Green Bay and Cincinnati was clearly a tall order. What Kansas City needed was merely to steal one of those games. That Jamaal Charles fumble late in the loss to the Broncos is the play of the Chiefs' young season thus far. Next up: hosting the Bears. Call it a must-win. Seriously.

The hits keep coming -- except this isn't like the 1999 Rangers with Pudge, Palmeiro and Juan Gone. Nope, these are the IR kind. Lance Dunbar -- he of the University of North Texas (a fine, fine institution a certain hack may or may not have attended) -- is now out for the season. Sean Lee is in the league's concussion protocol. The good news is ... Well, there isn't too much good news, other than the fact Dallas is hanging in games. At least the Patriots are coming to town. That should go well.

Considering his postgame comments, Latavius Murray surely isn't sticking his chest out over this latest performance. Speaking of his chest, let's hope he doesn't let any more footballs bounce off it. You have to feel for the guy, who was, after all, one of the reasons Oakland got off to a promising 2-1 start. He has 377 total yards of offense in four games, and before the season is done, will probably average over 100 yards from scrimmage per game. Murray is legit, and despite the fact that the highlight shows are making him look like anything but right now, he will be one of the top running backs in football this year. #markitdown

Pierre Garcon's clutch-and-brace effort at the goal line on Sunday was a thing of football beauty. Making that kind of grab -- then holding on despite immediately getting popped -- is worthy of a division win in and of itself. Leaning on the running game (32 rushes for 127 yards) and one of the better front sevens in the league led to Washington winning third down -- and, ultimately, the game. Philly went 4 for 13 on third and fourth downs, while the 'Skins were 9 for 17 -- all the difference in a 23-20 contest. Nice poise, Kirk Cousins.

As Cousin Eddie would say, the AFC North has been on John Harbaugh's club like flies on a rib roast. The Ravens escaped Pittsburgh with a win of tremendous import to their season. At 1-3, we're saying there's a chance. Major props to Justin Forsett, who hasn't panicked -- and looked the part of a feature back Thursday night. Up until then, he had been plowing into walls, not holes.

DeMarco Murray might want the ball more, but is that the difference between winning and losing for Chip Kelly's bunch right now? Sitting on the set of "NFL GameDay Blitz" on NFL Now (fun show, if you haven't caught it), Ike Taylor kept reminding us how different it is for a back like Murray or Adrian Peterson to get the ball out of the shotgun, as opposed to receiving it in the pistol or I-formation, where a back can get some push-off. It's a worthy thought. Meanwhile, against the 'Skins, Sam Bradford looked more like the quarterback we saw in the second-half comeback vs. Atlanta than what, or who, we saw against the Cowboys or Jets. #PowerRankingspositivethoughts

It was bye time in Nashville -- Toby Keith, Brooks & Dunn and the guy with the seashell chokers all took the week off. So did the 1-2 Titans, who have been far peppier through three games than most anticipated. Sure, the Week 3 loss to the division-rival Colts was gut-wrenching, but I don't want to be a Negative Nancy: How about the fact that Tennessee isn't laying down for anybody right now?

The biggest area to improve going forward? Limiting big plays in the passing game.

You've heard about the definitive play -- and the apparent missed call -- ad nauseam by now. It was a horrible break for a team that climbed back into a tough football game. Did it lose the game? No. Rarely does one play do that. Does Detroit's defense deserve way more credit for its performance? Absolutely. I was listening to some really bad '80s music with Daniel Jeremiah in the locker room at NFL Network, discussing what the problem is with the Lions' offense, and DJ brought up this new system and whether it's the appropriate fit for Matthew Stafford. He isn't the only one to suggest Stafford misses Scott Linehan. The Lions' attack this season looks dysfunctional even by Lions standards.

 **Side note 1:** 
 Ziggy Ansah is a difference maker. 
 **Side note 2:** 
 "Brand New Lover" was DJ's song of choice. 

Is this a bad time to let Jags fans know Josh Scobee is available? Too soon? People were merciless in their ripping of Scobee, who missed two kicks into a 10 mph wind while kicking hurt for the Steelers. Meanwhile, Jason Myers misses two long kicks -- in what is essentially a dome -- and keeps his job. You don't have to tell Jags fans that Myers should've made that last one -- and you also don't have to tell them what an outstanding pro Scobee was in Jacksonville. (Remember this 59-yarder to beat the Peyton Manning-led Colts back in 2010?)

 **Random thought:** 
 Blake Bortles showed signs of being the QB the franchise was hoping for, but I still wish he used his legs even more. 

Whole lotta folks have been howling for Johnny Manziel. Well, Josh McCown just shot them all a one-finger salute with his stellar performance Sunday in San Diego. For all those people who are still howling for John Football -- side note: McCown might be old enough to actually have seen "The Howling" in the theater -- the Browns staff clearly feels that the veteran gives the team the best chance to win. Hard to argue with 32-of-41 passing for 356 yards, two touchdowns and no picks.

The Joe Philbin era is over. The Dan Campbell era has begun -- on an interim basis, of course. Last time I saw Campbell, he was sporting Sammy Hagar "OU812" hair and catching a touchdown pass in Texas Stadium vs. the Chiefs. The tight end-turned-head coach now faces the challenge of leading an AFC East squad that has both games left against the Patriots, as well as road tests vs. the Bills and Jets. Miami might go 0-6 in the division. One month ago, many analysts had this team challenging New England.

So much to say about the Sunday Night win -- most importantly, how nice it was to see the Saints finally get some ROI on an offseason move. In this case, it was C.J. Spiller paying out major dividends with the 80-yard, game-winning catch-and-sprint. The acquisitions of the last few years ( Jairus Byrd, Max Unger, Brandon Browner and so on) largely have failed to translate into wins. On Sunday, the Spiller pickup reversed this trend. And for all those claiming Drew Brees is showing clear signs of regression, tell me this: How do you measure the value of team leadership? Just wondering.

That much-maligned 49ers defense came to play in The Giant Altar to Denim on Sunday. OK, so maybe San Francisco has dropped three in a row since the season-opening win, but holding Aaron Rodgers to 17 points and 5 for 15 on third down is pretty doggone good -- even if no one in the Bay Area has ever uttered the phrase "doggone good."

The offense? 3.9 yards per play. No more commentary needed. Or wanted, I bet.

Houston got Arian Foster back in the fold and played a team that had just given up 28 first-half points to Brandon Weeden. So where in the world did Sunday's 48-21 debacle emanate from? Bear in mind, that score came with the Falcons tapping -- er, stomping on -- the brakes in the second half. It's back to the drawing board for a defense that really could use Wade Phillips right now. There, I said it.

Props to Robbie Gould, who has made more than his fair share of big kicks for the Bears over the years. (The 2006 divisional-round win over Seattle immediately springs to mind.) The longest-tenured member of the team sealed the deal on a much-needed "W" -- one that came against a Raiders club that is clearly no joke.

And hey, if you are going to rip Jay Cutler on a routine basis, you'd better give him credit when he goes 5 for 8 while driving the team nearly 50 yards in the two-minute drill, setting up Gould for the game-winning boot. (Oh, and that included a bad drop, too.)

Before you start pulling out the turnover tabulator on Jameis Winston, who logged four interceptions on Sunday, how about a little perspective? Vinny Testaverde, who ended up having a distinguished career, threw 35 picks in Year 2 for this very franchise. (OK, so Vinny's best days might not have come in the creamsicles, but I digress.) How about Eli Manning, who has led the NFL in interceptions three times -- and has almost as many Super Bowl rings in a strong box somewhere? (Do people still use strong boxes, or is that too "Da Vinci Code"?)

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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