NFL power rankings: Bills bump Chiefs, Dolphins to challenge 49ers; Steelers, Bengals plummet for Week 5

Week 4 in the NFL provided more opportunities for the best teams in the league to separate and several didn’t disappoint. On the flip side, some underachieving teams met familiar fates of failure. 

With the 18-week schedule, the unofficial first quarter of the 2023 regular season will be in the book just ahead of Week 5. There are plenty of games to be played and a lot can still change. But the teams that are good or bad will still want to get better.

Here are Sporting News’ updated NFL power rankings, 1-32, going into the season’s first byes:

MORE: How Cowboys handed Bill Belichick worst loss of career

NFL power rankings Week 5

1. San Francisco 49ers 4-0 (previous ranking: 1)

Christian McCaffrey might allow the 49ers to literally run away with the NFC all the way to the Super Bowl. Brock Purdy isn’t just along for the offensive ride — he keeps making big plays too.

2. Buffalo Bills 3-1 (5)

Josh Allen is going ballistic again with his arm and legs. He’s locked in with his two starting wide receivers and the running game is helping, too. But how about the Bills’ defense going into dominant mode? After the Jets stumble in Week 1, they are looking like the best AFC team early to challenge the Chiefs.

3. Kansas City Chiefs 3-1 (2)

The Chiefs got a scare against the Jets in prime time but even through their offense is grinding through things with Patrick Mahomes, they just have too much clutch passing and running to be denied in lower-scoring games.

4. Philadelphia Eagles 4-0 (4)

The Eagles are a rather imperfect perfect team record-wise. They are missing some key offensive and defensive influencers and personnel and all things considered, have transitioned well with nothing close to a true Super Bowl hangover.

5. Dallas Cowboys 3-1 (7)

How about the Cowboys having a third blowout win in four games? The defense took care of business early to let the offense mostly relax. They need Dak Prescott to raise his game with a trip to the red-hot 49ers next Sunday night.

6. Detroit Lions 3-1 (6)

The Lions now have early prime-time wins at Kansas City and Green Bay on their resume. Jared Goff, the offensive line and running game are playing well. Aidan Hutchinson has been awesome, too. They’re battling Dallas to be the third-best NFC power.

MORE: Khalil Mack flirts with NFL single-game sack record

7. Miami Dolphins 3-1 (3)

The Dolphins got sloppy with Tua Tagovailoa and their passing game while they kept running well in Buffalo. Their defensive holes keep getting exploited without a healthy Jalen Ramsey in the secondary.

8. Baltimore Ravens 3-1 (9)

The Ravens had a tough matchup in Cleveland until they got a break from facing an overwhelmed rookie QB starting on short notice. The big thing is that Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews are back doing their thing to spark the offense.

Todd Bowles, Baker Mayfield

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-1 (12)

How about Baker Mayfield? So much for the Eagles’ game being a reality check. He balled out again in New Orleans to help his team separate as the surprise solo first-place team in the AFC South. Now they need to hope Mike Evans is fully healthy after the bye.

10. Seattle Seahawks 2-1 (13)

The Seahawks are battling a lot of injuries on both sides but Pete Carroll is keeping them together well to overachieve again. They have enough pop offensively to have a chance every week around Geno Smith and Kenneth Walker.

MORE: Is Baker Mayfield this year’s Geno Smith?

11. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-2 (16)

The Jaguars showed the complete effort from Trevor Lawrence and the defense that they expect to see in most of their games this season. They now get a good overall AFC contention test vs. the Bills back in London next week.

12. Cleveland Browns 2-2 (8)

Deshaun Watson not playing gave them little chance to beat the Ravens, especially without Nick Chubb. Their defense now has Myles Garrett hurting, too. The bye is early, but it comes at a much-needed time to regroup early.

13. Green Bay Packers 2-2 (10)

Jordan Love continues to show playmaking moxie but as expected he can make those mistakes tied to errant passes. But he gives them a chance every week if the defense and running game can cooperate a little.

14. Los Angeles Rams 2-2 (18)

The Rams are making just enough plays defensively with youth serving them well. Puka Nacua has been incredible and had his most important game yet with Cooper Kupp. Los Angeles looks ready to linger in the NFC wild-card race.

MORE: How the Chargers beat the Raiders despite Brandon Staley’s play-calling

15. Los Angeles Chargers 2-2 (21)

The Chargers didn’t “Charge” against the Vikings and Raiders, making the big defensive play in the end to preserve a stellar offensive-minded victory with Justin Herbert. Brandon Staley can feel much cooler.

16. Houston Texans 2-2 (28)

C.J. Stroud is on point every week as their rookie starting QB and now they’re getting more big-play support from Will Anderson Jr. and DeMeco Ryans’ remixed defense. After beating the Jaguars last week, don’t sleep on this team to win the division.

CJ Stroud

17. Indianapolis Colts 2-2 (24)

The Colts lost but looked great with Anthony Richardson doing it as they are now in a four-way tie for first and last in the AFC South. They also do well against the run and can still run with Richardson, Zack Moss, and soon, maybe, Jonathan Taylor. The pass defense is the major issue, though.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers 2-2 (11)

The Steelers’ personnel didn’t come through in Houston, having more of the same offensive dysfunction and poorly time defensive breakdowns, much to the chagrin of Mike Tomlin, who’s always expecting more from his team. Now they are facing another setback with Kenny Pickett hurt.

MORE: Steelers’ Mike Tomlin threatens changes after loss to Texans

19. New Orleans Saints 2-2 (15)

What was that? Derek Carr forced himself into the lineup with a bad shoulder and the offense went into the tank as a compressed mess with Alvin Kamara back. Put Dennis Allen on the hot seat radar should the Saints not come through as default NFC South favorites.

20. Atlanta Falcons 2-2 (17)

The Falcons are doing their best to hide Desmond Ridder. Although he can flash at times throwing and running, it’s not enough yet to provide an efficient passing game to support Bijan Robinson. The defense also keeps having too many 

Bijan Robinson

21. New York Jets 1-3 (19)

The Jets are doing their best with trying to manufacture offense with Zach Wilson and can just hope to get progressively better there to get back into the wild-card playoff picture by beating bad teams with defense

22. Washington Commanders 2-2 (20)

Sam Howell has some good weapons and is a gamer, but this team cannot seem to put together everything offensively and defensively against tougher opponents. Ron Rivera remains on the rocks, and he badly needs his current team to beat his former team, the Bears.

MORE: Ja’Marr Chase vents frustration as Bengals offense sputters again

23. Tennessee Titans 2-2 (25)

The Titans got their offense going with a little more creativity for Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. They also picked the right time to shore up their pass defense to the point of domination. They’re doing their best to stay right in the AFC South race.

24. Cincinnati Bengals 1-3 (14)

The Bengals’ hard-fought win over the Rams in Week 3 was followed up by an absolute uninspiring dud with more of a contained Joe Burrow in Tennessee. They are what they are for now and need badly to somehow beat the Cardinals and Seahawks in back-to-back weeks to get to .500 and go from there.

25. New York Giants 1-2 (22)

Daniel Jones seems headed to more of a roller coaster season as tough defenses are still difficult for him, especially with still limited receivers and now no Andrew Thomas or Saquon Barkley. With the Eagles and Cowboys playing so well again, there’s little margin for error left.

26. New England Patriots 1-3 (23)

Bill Belichick can’t be happy with either Mac Jones or the defense as the Patriots look headed for a surefire losing season should those two entities keep letting down. What is bad enough to make him think twice about the future? We will never know.

MORE: Why Mac Jones was benched, replaced with Bailey Zappe

27. Las Vegas Raiders 1-3 (26)

Has the Aidan O’Connell era really begun, in what might be the end soon of the short Josh McDaniels era? The Raiders seem headed to an inevitable coaching change, again.

28. Arizona Cardinals 1-3 (27)

The Cardinals are hanging in there with Joshua Dobbs at QB, along with some of key offensive weapons. But defensively they remain overmatched vs. better offenses.

Josh Dobbs

29. Minnesota Vikings 1-3 (29)

The Vikings worked on holding on to the ball a little more, despite Kirk Cousins giving up an early pick six in Carolina. They are finding their way on the ground to help their attacking in the air. Now they need to build on it for Kevin O’Connell.

30. Denver Broncos 1-3 (31)

The Broncos move up one measly spot for needing an epic comeback including a defensive TD to get their first win under Sean Payton. At least Russell Wilson is playing well again but the defense is a mess.

MORE: Chase Claypool told to stay home during Bears-Broncos game after calling out offense

31. Carolina Panthers 0-4 (30)

Bryce Young is doing his best but might need a little more time in relation to Stroud and Richardson because they have more scheming and personnel in their favor. The offensive line and defense aren’t putting him in comfortable situations, anyway.

32. Chicago Bears 0-4 (32)

Justin Fields played well, until he didn’t. The defense held up while shorthanded, until it didn’t. The Bears seemed to just lose it all once against the Broncos, very troubling for the future of Matt Eberflus.

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