Oct 1, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) calls an audible in the third quarter against the against the Denver Broncos at Broncos Stadium at Mile High

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Seth Dunlap's NFL Power 12 - Week 5

New contenders emerge

Seth Dunlap
October 02, 2018 - 8:03 pm
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The NFL has reached the quarter-pole of its season, which is the point every year where evaluating teams becomes a little easier, and predictions become a lot easier. 

There’s still plenty of fluidity in the league. A team at 1-3 isn’t completely buried, but those teams only make the playoffs about one out of every seven times, around 14 percent, in NFL history.  Likewise, teams at 3-1 are anything but a lock for the post-season.  Only 62 percent of teams in NFL history who’ve started the season 3-1 make the playoffs.  That means about three out of every eight 3-1 team will fail to make the playoffs.

While the quarter-pole provides a good measuring stick, you must look past the records to better understand the league’s hierarchy at this point.  Point and yardage differentials are a good starting point.   The Rams, once again the top team in the Power 12, looks great by both of those metrics.   Kansas City fans, meanwhile, should be much more concerned about the Chiefs maintaining their torrid start.  The Chiefs are actually being out gained by a whopping 41.6 yards per game, while giving up a staggering 451.8 yards per contest.  It’s highly unlikely Kansas City will remain undefeated for long if that continues.  It’s also unlikely first time starter Patrick Mahomes will go an entire season without an interception, and their +2 turnover margin looks precarious.

Still, the Chiefs are one of the league’s biggest surprises and perhaps the most fun team to watch in the NFL right now, and that probably won’t change.

So, be wary in making drastic changes to your season-predictions based off four weeks, but don’t be afraid to understand the good, and the bad, that’s staring you in the face.

Let’s get to the rankings for Week 5. 

 

NFL Power 12 - Week 5

1.  Los Angeles Rams (4-0) LW-#1:  The Rams continue to look every bit like the league’s best team.  From a practical standpoint, they won what could be a critical home game against supposed conference contender Minnesota which essentially guarantees they’ll stay away from Skol Dome in January.  Last week: W 38-31 vs. MIN, This week: @ SEA

2.  Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) LW-#2:  Setting aside the statistical discrepancy mentioned above, the Chiefs appear to be this year’s Championship Contender That Nobody Saw Coming.  Patrick Mahomes is the way-too-early front runner for League MVP, and Andy Reid may already be locking up Coach of the Year.  Last week:  W 27-23 vs. DEN, This week: vs. JAX

3.  New Orleans Saints (3-1) LW-#4:  Any Saints fans still panicking after the opening week loss to Tampa, followed by the too-close-for-comfort win over the Browns?  Yeah, didn’t think so.  The Saints are clearly a contender in the NFC, and should get to the bye week at 4-1. Last week:  W 33-18 @ NYG, This week: vs. WAS

4.  Jacksonville Jaguars (3-1) LW-#5:  Every team, even eventual Super Bowl winners, have an unexpected blemish or two on their resumes.  Well, unless you’re the 1972 Dolphins.  The Jaguars’ Week 3 loss to the Titans doesn’t look as bad after Tennessee followed that up by beating the defending champs.  Last week:  W 31-12 vs. NYJ, This week: @ KC

5.  New England Patriots (2-2) LW-#9:  Can we dispense with the ‘Are The Patriots Done’ headlines after they lose a game or two in the regular season?  It’s one of the silliest recurring exercises in sports media.  Last week:  W 38-7 vs. MIA, This week: vs. IND

6.  Green Bay Packers (2-1-1) LW-#7:  The shutout of the Bills will appease Cheeseheads for at least a week, but this still doesn’t have the feel of a true championship contender.  Their offense remains inconsistent, and their defense is likely to get exposed against the conferences better teams.    Last week:  W 22-0 vs. BUF, This week: @ DET

7.  Philadelphia Eagles (2-2) LW-#3:  It may not be panic time, but the Eagles are at-least on Yellow Alert.  Playoff seeding will be so incredibly critical in the NFC that a loss to a supposedly-inferior AFC team, even on the road, could come back to haunt the champs.  Last week:  L 26-23 @ TEN (OT), This week: vs. MIN

8.  Baltimore Ravens (3-1) LW-UR:  Many people have been saying this Ravens team is a sneaky contender in the AFC.  I haven’t been buying it, but a dominating win on their road against arch-rival Pittsburgh was a statement.  Watch out for Angry Flacco & Jilted John Harbaugh.  Last week:  W 26-14 @ PIT, This week: @ CLE

9.  Tennessee Titans (3-1) LW-UR: Last week:  The most impressive back to back wins of the season certainly belong to Tennessee who followed up a road win at Jacksonville by outlasting the Eagles in overtime. W 26-23 vs. PHI (OT), This week: @ BUF

10.  Chicago Bears (3-1) LW-UR:  With a +46 scoring differential and one of the best defenses in football, the Bears have unexpectedly become one of the stories of the NFL. Their unexpected rise feels oddly similar to the 49ers in 2011.  Remember, they're playing on a last place schedule too.  Last week:  W 48-10 vs. TB, This week: BYE

11.  Cincinatti Bengals (3-1) LW-UR:  A great rebound win by the Bengals on the road in Atlanta could be the eventual difference between a playoff berth, or watching from home in January.  Last week:  W 37-36 @ ATL, This week: vs. MIA

12.  Carolina Panthers (3-1)  LW-#11: The Panthers slide one spot on this list off a bye week.  I love the way Cam Newton is playing in Norv Turner’s system, and I think they are the Saints biggest challenger in the NFC South.  Last week:  BYE, This week: vs. NYG

Dropping out: 

  • Vikings, LW-#6
  • Dolphins, LW-#8: 
  • Steelers, LW-#10: 
  • Chargers, LW- #12

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