We are now through five weeks of the 2022 NFL regular season, but it doesn't feel like we have any more clarity when it comes to the playoff picture we will be attempting to break down in a few weeks time. The Buffalo Bills are still the favorites to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, but there are a couple of other teams that could be dark horses.
The Philadelphia Eagles look like a legitimate contender, as they are the last remaining undefeated team in the NFL. What's even more surprising is that the two NFL teams that play in New Jersey are above .500 for the first time since Week 9 in 2015! Below, we are going to rank the 14 NFL teams that have won three or more games through five weeks of the regular season. Which teams are legitimate contenders, and which have fraudulent winning records?
14. New York Jets (3-2)
I don't want to take anything away from the Jets' start, as they are above .500 through five or more games for the first time since 2017. New York is on a two-game win streak since Zach Wilson returned to the starting lineup, but it's the Jets run game that has been impressive. Breece Hall rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown last week in the win against the Miami Dolphins, and also caught two passes for 100 yards! He is the first Jets running back to record 100 receiving yards in a game since LaDainian Tomlinson did so in 2011. Michael Carter is a legitimate back as well, but Hall is an Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite for good reason.
The Jets defense has been better as well, as they pressured the Dolphins on 22 of 38 dropbacks last week. Believe it or not, the Jets have the No. 10 pass defense in the NFL -- led by another rookie stud in Sauce Gardner. When it comes to the Jets and their ceiling in 2022, it really hinges on their quarterback, Wilson.
There is no doubt that the BYU product looks better than he did in his rookie season, and he's played the best football of his career in each of the last two fourth quarters. Still, he didn't throw a single touchdown in a 40-17 victory. If Wilson can continue to improve, then I may look silly for having the Jets at No. 14 on this list. Either way, this team is on the right track.
13. Los Angeles Chargers (3-2)
The Chargers are a tough team to evaluate due to injuries. Star quarterback Justin Herbert and wide receiver Keenan Allen are working through issues, J.C. Jackson hasn't looked like himself after ankle surgery and then Joey Bosa and Rashawn Slater are already on injured reserve. The Chargers have won their last two games, but they were also blown out by the Jacksonville Jaguars just three weeks ago.
We know Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler are good players that can go for 100 yards any given week, but the L.A. defense absolutely has to be better. The Chargers allow 27.2 points per game, which ranks third-worst in the NFL. I thought Brandon Staley was a defensive-minded guy.
Entering this season, the Chargers were a team I thought could win the Super Bowl. It's possible they can pick up steam and challenge the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West, but I just don't feel great about this team right now.
12. Tennessee Titans (3-2)
After two embarrassing losses to open the season, the Titans have reeled off three straight victories, and are once again kings in the AFC South -- for now. Yes, Mike Vrabel's squad sometimes operates as if Sammy Baugh never showed us what what the forward pass was capable of, but the Titans' style works. Derrick Henry has rushed for over 100 yards in each of the last two contests, and has scored five touchdowns in five weeks. The Tennessee run defense has noticeably improved as well, although questions remain in the secondary.
Remember, the Titans earned the No. 1 seed in the AFC last year despite missing Henry for more than half the year, and playing with a record-setting amount of different players. But without A.J. Brown, the Titans have scored just 14 total points in the second half this year. That's right, Tennessee averages 2.8 points per game in the second half -- good for worst in the league.
11. New York Giants (4-1)
I think it really says something about this Giants team that they've defeated the Tennessee Titans on the road, and Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in London. The Giants' wins are more impressive than the Jets' wins at this stage, and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has been awesome.
I don't know how likely it is that Daniel Jones will be Brian Daboll's franchise quarterback, but he has not been bad this season -- especially when you consider that he's working with one of the worst wide receiving corps in the NFL. In the 27-22 win over the Packers, Jones completed 21 of 27 passes for 217 yards. The main headline for the Giants of course is the resurgence of star running back Saquon Barkley. New York has the second-best rushing offense in the NFL this season, and Barkley leads everyone in scrimmage yards with 676. The offensive line hasn't been great, though, as Andrew Thomas is the only starter with a PFF grade over 60.
The Giants are a fun storyline and a team that's going to compete, but I'm not taking them to make the playoffs.
10. Minnesota Vikings (4-1)
This will be a controversial ranking, but I don't like that the Vikings allowed Justin Fields and the lowly Chicago Bears to score 22 points on them in Week 5, and allowed a New Orleans Saints team that was missing Jameis Winston, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas to hang around with them in London. Minnesota is on a three-game winning streak, but it has trailed in the fourth quarter of each game, and has failed to cover the spread in each contest.
I like this Vikings offense, as Kirk Cousins has been solid, Dalvin Cook is a bonafide stud and Justin Jefferson may be the best wide receiver in the NFL. However, I want to see a bit more from the defense, as they rank No. 24 in yards allowed per game (369.8 yds). Don't get me wrong, they have stepped up in the fourth quarter in clutch spots. But they could be better overall. The Vikings have a clear road to the playoffs, but it remains to be seen if they are a contender.
9. Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
I've been telling everyone all year that the Ravens are the most entertaining team to watch in the NFL. Lamar Jackson leads an explosive offense, but on the flip side, the Ravens have one of the worst defenses in the league. Baltimore actually has the worst pass defense in the NFL, as it allows 290.2 passing yards per game. Marcus Williams being placed on injured reserve is just another hit to this struggling secondary. The former Saint recorded three interceptions in his first two games as a Raven.
Jackson is a legitimate MVP candidate, but his defense will allow just about anybody to erase the leads he builds. Through the first 26 seasons in franchise history, the Ravens were 100-3 all time when leading by 17 or more points in a game. This season, they are 1-2 when leading by 17 or more points in a game.
8. Miami Dolphins (3-2)
Injuries have hurt Miami, but Tua Tagovailoa could be back relatively soon. We all saw how special this offense could be through the first few games of the regular season. Tagovailoa was leading comebacks, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle were running wild in the secondary and first-year head coach Mike McDaniel was identifying mismatches that he was able to exploit. The past few weeks haven't looked good for the Dolphins, but keep an eye on the run game. McDaniel made his name known as a talented run-schemer, and we saw a little bit of that last Sunday, as Raheem Mostert finally broke loose for 113 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Like several of the teams we have already gone over on this list, the Dolphins need more help from their defense. They rank eighth-worst in the NFL in yards allowed per game (386.8 yds), and have the fifth-worst pass defense in yards per game (276.8 yds). Additionally, only three NFL teams have allowed more points than them this season (131 points).
7. San Francisco 49ers (3-2)
It's hard to get the image of Jimmy Garoppolo running out of the back of his own end zone as the 49ers collectively stumbled down the stretch vs. a not-good Denver Broncos team out of my head, but we saw over the last two weeks what this team is capable of. Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans is going to be a head coach somewhere in 2023, and his unit will ensure the 49ers have a chance at the postseason this year. The 49ers have held opponents under 20 points in each of their five games. As long as the San Francisco defense and the run game are controlling tempo, the 49ers will be solid. Keep an eye on if this team is able to make an impressive run down the stretch like they did last year.
6. Green Bay Packers (3-2)
The Packers have looked like the furthest thing from a top 10 team over the past two weeks, but this ranking is a bit of a projection as well. There's no doubt about it. Green Bay shouldn't have gone to overtime vs. Bailey Zappe, and shouldn't have blown a 17-3 lead to the Giants. Still, I think the Packers' best football is ahead of them.
The Packers right now statistically have a top 10 offense, but obviously the passing game has been subpar with the loss of Davante Adams. Randall Cobb still has that connection with Rodgers, Allen Lazard has flashed at times and then rookies Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson are going to continue to develop. The defense statistically is a top five unit, and I think it's possible they get better as the year goes on. I still have Green Bay as the best team in the NFC North, and will try to "R-E-L-A-X" as Rodgers has told us before.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2)
I don't want to sugarcoat it. The Buccaneers have not looked great to start the year. They haven't put together a complete game yet, and even their wins have felt gross. Injuries to the wide receiving corps and offensive line are reasons why the Bucs didn't fly out of the starting gates, but Tom Brady hasn't been fantastic either. Overall, Tampa Bay has the No. 21 offense in the league entering Week 6. If it weren't for that Grady Jarrett flag last Sunday, Brady may have found himself on the second three-game losing streak of his entire career.
The Bucs defense has done a nice job of keeping the team in games, as they are currently the No. 6 unit in the league. Even with the poor start, the Buccaneers still look like the best team in the NFC South. I'm not ready to rule Brady and Co. out just yet.
4. Dallas Cowboys (4-1)
The Cowboys have been one of the biggest surprises this season for a couple of reasons. One, Cooper Rush is winning games as the starting quarterback, and two, Dallas has one of the best defenses in the league. Rush has been pretty decent in place of the injured Dak Prescott, but it's very clear that the defense sparked this winning streak.
The Cowboys have allowed under 20 points in five straight games to start the year for the first time since 1972. They are third in points allowed per game (14.4), fifth in yards allowed per play (4.7) and first in pressure percentage (41.9 percent). Just last Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams, Micah Parsons registered a 91.4 PFF pass-rushing grade and recorded six pressures while notching two sacks and a forced fumble. He is currently tied for the NFL lead in sacks with six, and is in the top three in tackles for loss (seven) and QB hits (12). He may be the Defensive Player of the Year.
The Cowboys did not look good in the first few quarters of the season with Prescott at the helm, but if he returns and immediately improves the offensive attack, the Cowboys are a legitimate contender.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (4-1)
You could easily make an argument for the Chiefs to be No. 1 or No. 2 on this list, but their inconsistencies have come close to costing them wins. They cost themselves a loss against the lowly Indianapolis Colts a couple weeks ago, and allowed the Las Vegas Raiders to jump out to a 17-0 lead on Monday night. The Chiefs had the No. 1 rush defense entering last week, but Josh Jacobs absolutely torched this unit for 154 yards and a touchdown.
With Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, you're always going to be a contender. Additionally, I don't think we've seen the best from this new group of wide receivers yet. Despite all of the hype that was created this offseason with the moves the other three teams in the AFC West made, the Chiefs are still kings.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (5-0)
This is just the third team in franchise history to start 5-0. The last time this happened, back in 2004, Philly made the Super Bowl. The Eagles are one of the few well-rounded squads in the NFL -- solid on both sides of the ball. While they probably should have defeated the Arizona Cardinals by more than just three points last week, a win is a win.
Jalen Hurts looks improved as a passer, he's deadly on the ground and has several targets that can not only get separation in the secondary, but turn nothing into something. A.J. Brown has been reliable, DeVonta Smith is certainly building on his impressive rookie season and Dallas Goedert is a top five tight end. While Philly is the lone remaining undefeated team in the NFL, I think its best days are ahead of them. The defense has the potential to be a top three unit, and Hurts could be set to take another step forward as we continue to march through the regular season.
With how weak the NFC is, the Eagles are going to have an opportunity to make a deep run.
1. Buffalo Bills (4-1)
The Bills were the favorites to win the Super Bowl before the start of the season, and they have not disappointed through five weeks. Buffalo has the No. 1 offense in the league (440.4 total yards per game), and the No. 2 defense (260.4 yards allowed per game). The fact that Sean McDermott's squad is so complete and possesses depth is a big reason why they are No. 1 on this list, and unlike last year, the Bills aren't messing around with inferior opponents. This past week, the Bills handed the Pittsburgh Steelers a 35-point loss, which is the worst loss the Steelers franchise has suffered in over three decades. The Bills recorded 11 plays that went for at least 20 yards, and Josh Allen threw for 348 yards just in the first half. The Bills look like the best team in the NFL at this juncture.