1. Minnesota Vikings (5-0) defeat Houston 31-13. Previously: 2
Lock it down. The Vikings will be undefeated coming out of their bye in Week 7 when Sam Bradford returns to Philadelphia. It will be the biggest test yet for Bradford, who has done everything the Vikings have asked of him in a season where the defense has played so well they could have won some games on their own.
2. Atlanta Falcons (4-1) defeat Denver 23-16. Previously: 8
It’s hard to write the Falcons off after their latest performance. Nothing says “we’re for real” quite like marching into the home of the undefeated defending Super Bowl Champions and thoroughly outplaying them. Throw in the fact that your running back Tevin Coleman goes off for 162 total yards at a stadium some thought he would be better off not playing in, and that’s just icing on the cake for this contender.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1) defeat New York Jets 31-13. Previously: 4
The Steelers, now with Le’Veon Bell in tow, continue to put the Week 3 hiccup against the Eagles in the rearview mirror. Bell has over 150 total yards in each of his two games back from suspension, and hasn’t even been the most integral cog as the Steelers rain bombs on opposing defensive backs. Sammie Coates had a bad drop Sunday, but is looking like the Martavis Bryant replacement Pittsburgh was in need of.
4. Denver Broncos (4-1) lost to Atlanta 23-16. Previously: 1
Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, Matt Ryan. The Broncos are 4-1 trotting out Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch against those quarterbacks, so one loss won’t see them tumble too far down this list. Next week is a big one to state their control of the AFC West as they travel to San Diego and face another fairly good QB named Philip Rivers.
5. New England Patriots (4-1) defeat Cleveland 33-13. Previously: 5
Welcome back, Tom Brady. In his first game with new toy Martellus Bennett, Brady found Bennett for each of his three touchdown passes. The Patriots two tight end set was back in force, as Gronk piled up a 100-yard day against Cleveland in the rare complementary performance. This may have been the easiest opponent Brady could return against, and a tougher matchup looms in the form of Cincinnati next weekend.
6. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) lost to Detroit 24-23. Previously: 3
The first loss, the first interception, the first questioning of rookie sensation Carson Wentz? Hardly. With a monstrous out-of-division schedule coming quickly, the Eagles need to take advantage of their NFC East matchups this season, and the first one comes this week when they visit Washington. If the team responds as well to their first loss as they did to falling down 14-0 against Detroit, they should be in good shape.
7. Seattle Seahawks (3-1) bye. Previously: 6
After Denver’s defense failed, the Seahawks’ stud unit will have the next crack at stopping the Falcons and Matt Ryan. They’ve had a week to prepare, so the game plan should be ready. This is one of next week’s games to hotly anticipate.
8. Green Bay Packers (3-1) defeat New York Giants 23-16. Previously: 7
Eddie Lacy’s ankle injury came during one of his best performances of the season (11 carries, 81 yards) and could hamstring the Packers’ sometimes inconsistent offense moving forward. A visit from the Cowboys next week suddenly looks much more challenging than it may have initially, but the Vikings’ bye week allows the Packers a chance to gain some ground on the division leaders.
9. Oakland Raiders (4-1) defeat San Diego 34-31. Previously: 11
If Oakland wants to prove they belong in the discussion for the AFC West crown, this their chance to make a statement and keep the pressure on Denver. Next week they host Kansas City, freshly rested from their bye and stale with embarrassment from the last time we saw them take the field against Pittsburgh. Oakland has to win this game at home.
10. Dallas Cowboys (4-1) defeat Cincinnati 28-14. Previously: 15
Sure, it was at home, but that was by far Dallas’ most impressive win of the season, and their most dangerous opponent. The Ezekiel Elliott train has firmly left the station after 134 yards on just 15 carries Sunday. The Cowboys offense is rolling, and they’re rolling without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. And the defense? All they did was shut down A.J. Green.
11. Buffalo Bills (3-2) defeat Los Angeles 30-19. Previously: 14
The reinvigoration of the Bills has everything to do with the reinvigoration of LeSean McCoy. He had150 yards on 18 carries this week and isone of the NFL’s premier runners is back. McCoy’s 89.3 yards per game this season ranks second highest in his career. His 5.3 yards per carry would be a personal best.
12. Houston Texans (3-2) lost to Minnesota 31-13. Previously: 9
A lot of teams have looked bad on offense against the Vikings, but boy did the Texans manage to look bad. The bigger issue is allowing a Vikings offense that had looked questionable to mow through a theoretically tough Houston defense without their best two weapons on offense (Stefon Diggs and Adrian Peterson).
13. Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) bye. Previously: 12
The Chiefs have had a week to think about how a defense that intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick six times two weeks ago let Ben Roethlisberger do whatever he wanted without being contested one week ago. The Raiders are fifth in points per game at 28.4 so it isn’t about to get easier. How involved will Jamaal Charles be after getting just two carries in the blowout against Pittsburgh?
14. Cincinnati Bengals (2-3) lost to Dallas 28-14. Previously: 10
The bad news for Cincinnati started even before their game against Dallas when Tyler Eifert was ruled out after a setback in his attempt to recover from a back injury. The Bengals offense has looked like a different animal in several different games this year. After running the offense through A.J. Green against Miami a week ago, they found him just four times Sunday. It didn’t work.
15. Washington (3-2) defeats Baltimore 16-10. Previously: 20
Without being particularly impressive along the way, Washington has turned an 0-2 start around to carry a three game win streak into their Week 6 game against Philadelphia. They’ll have a chance to jump ahead of the Eagles in the NFC East and keep up with Dallas, who beat Washington in Week 2.
16. Baltimore Ravens (3-2) lost to Washington 16-10. Previously: 13
Two home losses in a row is frustrating for the once 3-0 Ravens. If they trusted Terrance West enough to release Justin Forsett for the second time in a month, they should trust him enough to run the ball more than 11 times when he’s averaging almost nine yards a pop. Forcing 46 passes out of Joe Flacco didn’t help them win.
17. Los Angeles Rams (3-2) lost to Buffalo 30-19. Previously: 16
The Rams, who had done a good job of putting their forgettable season opener behind them, ran into the same problems most opponents have against the Bills defense of late: sacks, turnovers and a big lack of points. They shouldn’t have the same struggles moving the ball against Detroit next week.
18. Arizona Cardinals (2-3) defeat San Francisco 33-21. Previously: 18
An extra day of rest should be enough to get Carson Palmer on the stage Monday night against the Jets in a matchup of two 2015 contenders struggling to right the ship in 2016. Arizona has a leg up after they took apart the 49ers without Palmer last Thursday. The offense will have to keep itself hot over the long layover between games.
19. Detroit Lions (2-3) defeat Philadelphia 24-23. Previously: 25
The Lions came to play against the Eagles, halting both their three game losing streak and Philadelphia’s three game win streak. Matthew Stafford bounced back from a terrible performance against Chicago to throw three touchdowns — with tight end Eric Ebron sidelined — and did just enough to wind up in the win column.
20. New York Giants (2-3) lost to Green Bay 23-16. Previously: 21
Odell Beckham Jr. managed to make headlines for the right reasons this week, finally catching a touchdown pass. Beyond that though, the Giants star and the Giants offense were limited yet again, finishing with 219 total yards. You don’t expect the Giants to go win in Green Bay, but three losses in a row doesn’t look good in a division that is suddenly more competitive than expected.
21. New York Jets (1-4) lost to Pittsburgh 31-13. Previously: 19
Give the Jets credit, they stopped throwing interceptions. Unfortunately, it takes a little more to beat a team on the warpath the Steelers are on. Monday night in Arizona, the Jets will face a team in a pretty similar situation to themselves: expected to be a contender, with inexplicably poor performances. This team has to prove it didn’t peak in Week 2.
22. Indianapolis Colts (2-3) defeat Chicago 29-23. Previously: 27
The Colts bounced back from a London loss to win a game that became yet another shootout this season. Adam Vinatieri’s foot finished many of the drives that Andrew Luck’s arm and T.Y. Hilton’s hands created, as he went five-for-five on field goals Sunday. Next week they travel to Houston for a game that could let them take back their status as leaders of the AFC South.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) defeat Carolina 17-14. Previously: 28
Tampa became the most recent team to jump on the reeling Panthers, as Robert Aguayo finally came through at the close after missing two kicks earlier in the game. Rest assured, there was a crazy Panthers decision or two or three that let Tampa Bay walk away with this win, but beating last season’s conference champion is an important victory for a team that had dropped three straight since their (now bizarre) opening day victory over Atlanta.
24. Carolina Panthers (1-4) lost to Tampa Bay 17-14. Previously: 17
Not much has gone right for the Panthers in 2016. Just five games into the new year, they’ve quadrupled their loss total from a year ago. One bright spot is Greg Olsen, who has 516 yards receiving through five games after a 181-yard performance Monday night. But the Panthers are three games out of the division and counting.
25. New Orleans Saints (1-3) bye. Previously: 22
The Saints return from their bye to face Carolina at home, and that suddenly sounds almost appealing. Especially if Cam Newton isn’t ready to play again, the Saints could double their win total and leave Carolina all alone at the bottom of the NFC South.
26. San Diego Chargers (1-4) lost to Oakland 34-31. Previously: 23
The Chargers now have lost four games by a total of 14 points. That’s rough. Can they shock the world when Denver comes to town next week? As long as they have Philip Rivers, the answer to that question will be yes. Rivers, stuck on a last place team with his two best weapons injured, just added four touchdowns to his season total and has a QB rating of 108.4, on pace for the highest of his career.
27. Tennessee Titans (2-3) defeat Miami 30-17. Previously: 24
The Titans offense had their best showing of the young season in Miami. Marcus Mariota quit his turnover bug and found the endzone, and DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry joined forces with Mariota to churn out over 200 team yards on the ground. This is how they’ll win games. This, and playing the Dolphins.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) bye. Previously: 26
The Jaguars may hear a London calling after their first win of the season happened there a week ago, but Chicago might be just as welcoming a place to find their second next week. 2016 hasn’t been what fans expected in Jacksonville, but the Bears offer a ripe target for continuing to fix things.
29. Chicago Bears (1-4) lost to Indianapolis 29-23. Previously: 30
Brian Hoyer and Jordan Thomas continued to impress on offense with 397 and 118 yards, respectively. Somehow, that 500 yards of offense translated into 23 points, and it’s not hard to see how that translates into a loss.
30. Miami Dolphins (1-4) lost to Tennessee 30-17. Previously: 29
Ryan Tannehill has nine turnovers in the last four games. The Dolphins have no running game. They let the Titans come into their stadium and run all over them for 235 yards Sunday. Now they have to face Ben Roethlisberger and company, a week removed from allowing Marcus Mariota his first touchdown passes in two games.
31. San Francisco 49ers (1-4) lost to Arizona 33-21. Previously: 31
A second straight home loss for the Niners, and now they have to run across the country to face the resurgent Bills in a week. Now Colin Kaepernick will take the reigns. With Blaine Gabbert completing only 58 percent of his passes and only reaching 200-yards passing once in the first five games, it’s about time.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-5) lost to New England 33-13. Previously: 32
Reportedly, both Cody Kessler and Josh McCown could be ready to play in Week 6, so we won’t keep plummeting down the Browns’ depth chart at quarterback. Imagine being the consensus worst team in the league and losing three quarterbacks in the first five games