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NFL Power Rankings, Week 5: Denver Broncos claim No. 1 spot

Jigsaw puzzle.

With the bye weeks here, the Week 5 Power Rankings are a disorderly lot, taking shape with uneven records and, ultimately, uneven performances. The Steelers got destroyed by the Eagles, then on Sunday night, looked like the 1950-51 Rams (speaking of looking, look upthose Rams teams). On the subject of the Rams, they keep winning ugly. Heck, they're 3-1. The Seahawks represent one of those losses, yet they've been world-beaters the last two weeks. What to do, what to do ...

Nice check-in from Scotland. I wouldn't want to be you, man -- you look cold. But mad respect for the rainbow beanie.

Until it is too legit to quit.

Gave the Bears love, Kasper. I took your recommendation of "just a little" very seriously.

Lots of movement across the board this week, including a new No. 1. Don't expect much rejiggering of the bye teams. At most, they will move one spot, week to week -- like the Packers. Your moving diatribes about the rankings are welcome, though: @HarrisonNFL is the place.

Let the dissension commence!

NOTE: The lineup below reflects changes from our Sept. 27 Power Rankings.

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

Can't leave these fellas out of the top spot anymore. Seeing how the Patriots got blown out at home with a backup QB while the Broncos comfortably won on the road with their No. 2, putting Gary Kubiak's squad at the top spot in the rankings makes complete sense. At the quarter mark, Denver has proven that the ancillary (non-QB) parts are premium -- SEE: entire defense, C.J. Anderson, special teams -- so any deficiency under center is mitigated, even when compared to the top teams in the league. Kubiak called Trevor Siemian (sprained non-throwing shoulder) "day to day" on Monday. If he can't go in Sunday's game against the potent Falcons, will Paxton Lynch be a downgrade? Who knows? But the kid sure does trust his arm.

Much love for Sam Bradford going around. Announcers are all Keith Sweat in their affectionate tones toward the Vikings quarterback. It's deserved. The defense continues to cash every check the offense -- when it falters -- writes. Yet, above it all, this is Mike Zimmer's team. He is the face of the franchise, and his Vikes have his likeness stamped all over their performance. This is a gritty bunch of bad@#$es, don't you know?

Not sure there has been an uglier showing from the Patriots since the Lawyer Milloy game against the Bills. You remember: Bill Belichick cut the popular safety right before the season, only to see him catch on with Buffalo and help the Bills author a 31-0 shutout in Week 1. There was plenty of knee-jerk speculation after the loss that Belichick had "lost the team." Of course, New England won the Super Bowl five months later. Let's be real here: Sunday was putrid. Monday, Tom Brady walked into the building. I imagine (sane) Patriots fans are quite pleased with a 3-1 start from the Jimmy Garoppolo/Jacoby Brissett-led outfit.

Lost in the Rams' upset of the Cardinals, the Bills thrashing of the Patriots, and Ben Roethlisberger heaving about 18 touchdown passes ... Russell Wilson put on quite a show just across the Hudson River from Broadway. Wilson carried the Seahawks on his back for as long as he needed to -- until the defense forced Ryan Fitzpatrick to look like Ryan Fitzpatrick -- hitting 23 of 32 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns. Peering closer into that stat line, the hobbled QB averaged nearly 10 yards every time the football left his hand. Tell you what, Seahawks fans: With that kind of aerial showing, and a top-shelf defense, it's time for J├Ągerbombs.

Usually the early bye week is not a wonderful thing, as most teams are more banged-up later in the season -- i.e., Week 8 or 9. (We're not just talking injury-report stuff, but also the general body aches that spawn from training camp, preseason and half a regular season.) However, in the case of the Packers -- who were missing some players in the Week 3 win over Detroit -- maybe this early respite hit the spot. Two weeks to prepare for the Giants at home ain't bad. In fact, Green Bay's next three games are in Lambeau.

One of only two teams with last weekend off -- bye week light. But I wouldn't be surprised if the Eagles players REALLY didn't want the down time. This group was rolling, having just decimated a top-flight team in Week 3, with both the offense and defense firing on all cylinders. (Well, Ryan Mathews has been up and down, but you can't have it all.) So where does Philadelphia go from here? Well, at Detroit, at Washington, then home vs. Minnesota. Take two of those three, and this team is absolutely for real. By the time the Eagles square off with the Vikes' talented defense, there will be plenty of tape on Carson Wentz.

What a response from the Pittsburgh Steelers! And actually, in the time that it took you to read that sentence, Ben Roethlisberger just launched another 50-yard touchdown pass! When Markus Wheaton starts catching perfectly thrown balls down the field, you know things are rolling. What was supposed to be marquee matchup between two of the most exciting running backs in the league became a Sixburgh sprint relay. Steelers fans aren't pissed.

With Ezekiel Elliott's second straight 100-yard game (and then some), and Dak Prescott winning his third straight start, it's easy to get excited about the Cowboys. Demarcus Lawrence comes back from suspension this week. Dez Bryant should return sooner than later. Tony Romo is getting healthier. Before we go, though, how about giving some props to a pair of overlooked dudes who are contributing? Consider Morris Claiborne Exhibit A of what playing with confidence will do for your career. Meanwhile, Alfred Morris only impresses with his quality spot play. What a smart runner. What a smart free-agent acquisition.

Impressive victory -- or do the Dolphins really just suck? Questions, questions ... we've got answers. The Bengals are a slightly-above-middling football team right now, the kind that loses on Wild Card Weekend. From what I've seen thus far, the secondary has been the biggest problem, after performing quite well last season. (How much do Cincy fans miss Reggie Nelson, or does he have nothing to do with it? @HarrisonNFL.) The run game is awfully inconsistent, but should get better when tight end Tyler Eifert gets back in the fold -- not because Eifert is an overpowering in-line blocker, but rather his presence means opposing box defenders must guard against his slipping into the middle of the field. One more thing to think about -- and often, one less foe creeping toward the line.

Interesting thought delivered by Cris Collinsworth on the Chiefs-Steelers telecast Sunday night: Matt Ryan is the league MVP right now. Why not? Who would you put over the Falcons' quarterback? You can't put the Broncos' defense on the trophy. Dak Prescott has been efficient, not otherworldly. Ditto Carson Wentz, who's been more rock solid than prolific. Don't get us started on last year's Most Valuable Player. Postgame wardrobe effort doesn't count. Ryan's numbers thus far: 72.1 completion percentage, 368.3 yards per game, 11:2 TD-to-INT ratio and a 126.3 passer rating. Most notably, Ryan is averaging 10.5 yards per pass attempt.

Worry abounds in Miami over Ryan Tannehill's development -- or lack thereof. Jaguars fans still don't know what they have in Blake Bortles. Meanwhile, in Oakland, Derek Carr outplays his fellow young AFC quarterbacks -- and a bunch of veterans -- each and every week. Sunday in Baltimore was no different. Yes, Carr posted his lowest yardage total of the season (199), but he delivered a 66-yard touchdown drive with the game on the line. Oh, and he notched four scoring strikes, including the winning touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree -- an absolute dime to the back of the end zone. It was the Raiders' first win in Baltimore since the "Ghost to the Post" win over the Colts during the 1977 playoffs -- the last time the John Madden/"Snake" Stabler duo won a postseason game. Like that legendary contest 39 years ago, this matchup came down to the Raiders' quarterback making big plays at the end -- and the NFL's best young gunslinger in 2016 was up to snuff.

Not a huge jump up from last week's rankings, due to the J.J. Watt injury. On to brighter news: Will Fuller might make catching the football an adventure, but he sure is making a case for Offensive Rookie of the Year. While Ezekiel Elliott and Carson Wentz present the strongest competition early, you don't see either of them housing punt returns. That's not a dimension they offer. The Texans sorely needed Fuller's clutch, 67-yard sprint to paydirt. Sprint to paydirt. When's the last time you heard that phrase? I'm bringing it back. #gridiron

First place, yo. The last time the Los Angeles Rams were in first place in the NFC West through Week 4 was back in 1989, when Jim Everett was heaving long balls to Henry Ellard and Willie "Flipper" Anderson (whose record of 336 yards receiving in one '89 game remains the standard Julio Jones was trying to catch on Sunday). Greg Bell ran for over 1,000 yards that year. Yeah, but defenses sure didn't focus on Bell the way they hone in on Todd Gurley -- which is why all the talk about the Rams being 3-1 "without Gurley doing anything" is nonsense. Watch the games. Case Keenum is getting open looks downfield because of the opposing defense's preoccupation with Gurley on standard running downs. Opponents are basically saying, "We'll make Case Keenum, Brian Quick and Kenny Britt beat us." On Sunday, they did just that.

Drop for the Ravens following a one-point loss to Oakland. Honestly, it's just hard to read this team right now. Baltimore is 3-1, with every game coming down to the bitter end. They're tied with Pittsburgh atop the AFC North. They also won't stick with the run game (55 dropbacks vs. 25 rushing attempts against Oakland), had zero sacks on Sunday (after the pass rush saved them in Jacksonville) -- and then there's the on-again, off-again play of Joe Flacco. On that last note, had a fun debate with Ike Taylor in respect to the "elite" discussion that constantly surrounds Baltimore's franchise quarterback. Taylor, a long-time Steelers corner, took the Flacco side. Power Rankings poll (looking for unbiased Ravens fans here ...): Does Flacco deserve to be considered elite because he won a Super Bowl? ( @HarrisonNFL)

The numbers from Rex's win, er, the Bills' win over the Patriots are flat staggering. Buffalo handed New England its first shutout loss at home since 1993. Dennis Thurman's defense forced a stop on 11 of 12 third downs. Especially cool -- and we're going to go all micro view here -- was ILB Zach Brown's rendering of what quality individual defense is. How about this: 18 tackles ( 18!), a sack, three tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles? The only thing he missed was the pregame fight.

What do you do with film like what the Chiefs produced Sunday night? That stuff made the "Dukes of Hazzard" movie with Seann William Scott and Jessica Simpson seem watchable. "Dude, Where's My Car?" contained more drama. When I began this blurb, it was 29-zip, Pittsburgh. I hadn't reached this line before it was 36-nothing. Not joking. What a time for a bye. Kansas City has two weeks to sit on this sucker.

Boy, when I watched "All or Nothing", I didn't realize the answer in 2016 was going to be "nothing." Holy crap. Arizona is 1-3. The Rams have a two-game lead in the NFC West, in addition to the head-to-head advantage over the Cardinals. Carson Palmer is in the concussion protocol. Chris Johnson hurt his groin. Ditto Tyvon Branch. So there's really only one thing to look forward to: Arizona plays the similarly 1-3 49ers on Thursday. But is that game anything other than an even match at this point?

The Redskins survived on Sunday. They also survived the *previous* Sunday. For about 30 teams, that's precisely what the league is: getting by week to week, stringing together wins to buy a chance to get into the tournament come January. The presentation this week wasn't pretty or even close to cute. It was a "W" in a beer goggles kind of way. Washington committed far too many penalties, couldn't stop the Browns on third down and -- oh, yeah -- won. All that panic from two weeks ago has fallen off. Perhaps the loveliest development at FedEx Field was seeing tight end Jordan Reed in the end zone, with the ball in his hands (twice!). Get that guy more involved in the coming weeks, please.

Let's put the Panthers' decision to part ways with All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman this offseason right up there with publishing companies passing on "Harry Potter" and Napoleon thinking it'd be a good idea to march into Russia. Oh well. Maybe Sunday's loss to the Falcons can be pinned on a mere bad performance ... or eight. Letting Julio Jones burn you for a few big plays is one thing, but for 300 freaking yards?! How about Matt Ryan searing the once-vaunted Carolina D for over 500 yards passing? That's the same Matt Ryan who was sacked six times and picked twice by this unit in Atlanta two seasons ago.

Why the Giants -- down 14 points with two minutes and change remaining -- were throwing none-yard outs and 5-yard crossers is anyone's guess. The offense seems out of sync and, frankly, has been that way most of the young season. At the center of the offensive dysfunction -- or distraction -- is Odell Beckham Jr. My editor has stated that I am too hard on him. Fair enough. I'm going to just leave this here: 23 yards.

You are officially allowed to panic, Jets fans. Press the button! Just don't press the receiver button on your PS4 controller ... Ryan Fitzpatrick might attempt a pass, something that hasn't turned out so well for the Jets of late. Fitzpatrick has tossed nine interceptions over the last two weeks. That's the most in a two-game period since Steve DeBerg heaved as many for the 1986 Bucs. Here's the difference, though: That year, Tampa Bay was a 2-14 abomination that could've lost to James Van Der Beek's West Canaan Coyotes. (Trust me, you didn't want DeBerg's life.) Fitzpatrick is leading a team with fantastic wideouts, a steady running back and an immensely talented front seven. Brandon Marshall might never lobby for something again.

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot -- Dick Cheney didn't even misfire this badly. The Lions' offense didn't get into the end zone all day against one of the weaker defenses in the NFL. Detroit's D, meanwhile, didn't produce a takeaway against a Bears team starting a backup quarterback and backup tailback. Andre Roberts darn near saved the day with his punt-return touchdown late in the fourth quarter -- that is, until the Lions committed a penalty on the ensuing onside kick. At least they were consistent; it was their 10th foul of the day. If Jim Caldwell's group plans to play any significant football in January, the Lions should qualify this week as a must-win. Guess who is flying into Motor City next? The undefeated Eagles.

When a team promotes an offensive coordinator to head coach, it can only mean wonderful things for the quarterback, right? Well, in the case of Jameis Winston and Dirk Koetter's Bucs, 2016 has turned up rotten (or has it been a rotten turnip?) thus far. Winston, who currently has more giveaways (10) than touchdown passes (eight), doesn't seem to have taken a hop, much less a leap, from his rookie season.

Here's a bit of football musing: If you tack head-coaching duties to the job description of a previously successful offensive coordinator, does it make said coordinator less effective with his offensive players? In other words, results are bound to change when the circumstances do, and the current circumstances dictate that Koetter is responsible for the whole team. Now Koetter is telling the media he is "very" concerned about his young quarterback's play. Too bad the Bucs' defense stinks worse.

Nice-size jump for the 1-3 Jaguars. Why? Well, being surrounded by the cruddiest teams in the league makes it easier to move. While Allen Robinson got in the end zone during Sunday's win over the Colts, and Allen Hurns produced a big gain -- bringing back memories of the halcyon days of 2015 -- it was the defense that made the plays to win the game. Other than a blown coverage on the Phillip Dorsett touchdown, time and again, the Jacksonville defense came up with stops. And even on the Dorsett play, Jacksonville didn't just goof up; the defense really gave you your money's worth -- he was open by 30 yards. So, basically, the Jags do everything well.

Don't look now, but the Colts are 1-3 with no relief in sight. The defense actually turned in a viable performance in Sunday's loss, but the offense couldn't get out of neutral most of the day on the London pitch -- that is, until somebody in the Jags' secondary screwed up on the Phillip Dorsett bomb. Watching the game on the set of "NFL Fantasy Live," I thought Luck was going to bring the good guys (at least to most folks reading this blurb) back down the field on that second-to-last drive. The highest-paid QB in the league looked like the most-pressured QB in the league after narrowly missing that fourth-down throw to Dwayne Allen. By "pressure," I mean Luck knows he's going to have to deliver three to four wins by himself.

If only Saints defensive backs could intercept balls as well as John Kuhn. With two scores to his name already on the day, the Touchdown Vulture Hall of Famer appeared to leap up to grab Coby Fleener's would-be touchdown reception late in the fourth quarter; then, on the next play, Kuhn plunged into the end zone for his third TD to help New Orleans pilfer a game on the road. What a victory for a previously winless ballclub. Drew Brees played far from his best football in his first game in San Diego since a career-opening stint as the Bolts' quarterback came to an end in 2006. It's difficult to think of him in any other uni, yet, there was a time the Chargers' front office faced an epic salary cap-laced conundrum with Brees. That was before a meaningless fumble changed NFL history. This video is a must-watch if you are a Saints or Chargers fan.

Chargers receiver Travis Benjamin looked plain miserable after fumbling late in the loss to the Saints Sunday. The defeat was huge when viewed through the prism of postseason aspirations. Over the 26 seasons since the playoffs were expanded, only 14.3 percent of the teams that have started 1-3 have reached the postseason. What makes it worse is that San Diego probably should be 3-1. Bad teams find ways to lose football games. Banged-up teams can't afford to find ways to lose football games.

The Titans hung tough against the presumed premier team in the AFC South, until the special teams ultimately let them down. Don't you worry, though -- Marcus Mariota didn't play well again (13 of 29 passing for 202 yards and one interception). With the running game continuing to perform admirably (124 yards on 32 carries), Tennessee should be producing more downfield, but it's just not happening frequently enough. Drives stalled. These guys were still in position to pull off the road win. Why didn't they graduate from in position to actually doing it? Hello, 11 penalties.

The Niners started strong, building a quick 14-zip lead over the Cowboys before a series of happenings put Chip Kelly at 1-3. Penalties went against San Francisco, NaVorro Bowman went down (more on him in a second) and Blaine Gabbert pulled the 2011 version of himself out of mothballs. The Cowboys got the football, started running and wouldn't let go. As far as Bowman is concerned, one of the league's most popular players (at least, with the people who cover the sport) suffered another devastating, season-ending injury after missing all of 2014 with an ACL and MCL tear. It flat-out sucks. Period.

The Bears' 17-14 triumph over the Lions was the out-of-nowhere win of this past weekend, hands down, no contest, more shocking than the Bills blanking the Patriots. A defense that was run over by the Cowboys in Week 3 made mincemeat of the Lions' run game (49 rushing yards on 16 carries, excluding a pair of quarterback scrambles) while reducing Detroit's Matthew Stafford to "second-best quarterback on the field" status Sunday. How about Jordan Howard, who rushed for over 100 yards, bank-rolling every 0-3 fantasy owner who used their waiver priority on the Bears' starting running back?

The Dolphins looked absolutely abysmal last Thursday night. Other than when blown coverage allowed Kenny Stills to roam free deep for a quick six, Miami didn't do anything well. Ryan Tannehill got sacked by his own guard at one point. It's become so frustrating for the team's fans that I'm getting lobbied to change their ranking ... to No. 32.

Another weird week for the Browns, who lost yet another contest in which they were right there in the fourth quarter, while a team that might be lousier than they are won a game first (see: No. 30). Then there's the ongoing saga of Josh Gordon. Well, on the plus side, another nice day for Terrelle Pryor, who scored again while catching five passes. Wondering if the Patriots are going to come in Sunday and put the new cover sheet on the T.P.S. At any rate, one of these weeks, the Browns are going to come out of a nail-biter with a win. OK, probably not this week.

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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