Rick Gosselin's Week 5 NFL rankings -- NFC stronger than AFC except at the top

Teddy Bridgewater (5) photo courtesy of USA Today

Seven of the top nine teams in this week's poll are from the NFC, led by the Saints at No. 3

Editor's note: Rick Gosselin is in his 47th season reporting on the NFL in 2019. He has covered the Lions, Giants, Chiefs and Cowboys in his career plus 37 Super Bowls. He has served on the Hall of Fame selection committee and is a member of both the senior and contributor sub-committees. Gosselin also is one of the 12 voters for the AP 32, the weekly ranking of NFL teams conducted by the Associated Press. Here is his ballot for Week 5:

1. Kansas City Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes has proven to be human – but his Chiefs remain unbeaten. Mahomes failed to throw a TD pass last weekend for the first time this season but the Chiefs still moved to 4-0 with a comeback victory over the Lions in Detroit.

2. New England Patriots. Tom Brady also has proven to be human – and his Patriots remain unbeaten as well. Like Mahomes, Brady failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season. Unlike Mahomes, he threw his first interception of the year…but a special-teams touchdown enabled the Patriots to escape Buffalo with a 16-10 victory.

3. New Orleans Saints. Teddy Bridgewater is now 2-0 since replacing the injured Drew Brees as the starting quarterback, engineering upset victories at Seattle and at home against Dallas. The one request a team has of its backup quarterback is don’t make the mistakes that can lead to defeat. Bridgewater has committed only one turnover in his two starts – an interception of a pass that clanged off the hands of Saints wide receiver Ted Ginn last Sunday night.

4. Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys lost. The Rams lost. The Chiefs and Patriots probably should have lost. It wasn’t a good weekend for the Super Bowl aspirants at the top last week’s poll. But the Dallas defense continues to shine. It’s gone eight quarters now without allowing a touchdown.

5. Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks are one of only three teams that has not thrown an interception this season. Kansas City (Mahomes) and Tennessee (Marcus Mariota) are the other. When Russell Wilson plays well, the 3-1 Seahawks are a Super Bowl contender. And he’s playing well this season with eight TD passes and two more rushing scores. His only turnover was a fumble in the second week against the Steelers.

6. Los Angeles Rams. The turnovers finally caught up with Rams QB Jared Goff last weekend. He has committed a turnover every game this season but the Rams always overcame them in a 3-0 start. But last week against Tampa, Goff threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in a shocking home loss to the Buccaneers. The giveaways dimmed the light on his 517-yard passing performance.

7. Green Bay Packers. Davante Adams led the NFC in touchdown receptions last season with 13. He’s still looking for his first this season after four games. He has 25 receptions without reaching the end zone.

8. Chicago Bears. Are the Bears a better team with Chase Daniel as their quarterback? He came off the bench for the injured Mitch Trubisky and completed 23 of 30 passes with a touchdown to lead Chicago to a victory over Minnesota. Trubisky had been underwhelming in the first three games of the season with only three TD passes and two interceptions.

9. San Francisco 49ers. Thanks to a bye last weekend, the 49ers remain one of only three unbeaten teams left in the NFL. San Francisco returns to action this week to host the Cleveland Browns. The 49ers have allowed the fewest sacks in the league this season – two.

10. Buffalo Bills. The Bills are one of only four teams that ranks in the NFL’s Top 10 in both offense and defense this week along with the Cowboys, Rams and 349ers. Buffalo ranks ninth in offense and second in defense.

11. Detroit Lions. The Lions are one of two teams with a bye this week along with the Miami Dolphins. That will give prize rookie TE T.J. Hockenson an extra seven days to mend from the concussion he suffered last weekend against Kansas City.

12. Los Angeles Chargers. The NFL has not had a two-way player since Chuck Bednarik in the early 1960s. But Desmond King has about the heaviest individual workload in the NFL. He starts at cornerback for the Chargers and also is the primary kickoff and punt returner. He ranks third in the NFL in kickoff returns with an average of 25.0 yards. He also has 2 ½ sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery on defense.

13. Philadelphia Eagles. Through four weeks, only four NFL teams have not missed when kicking for points – Baltimore, Jacksonville, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Jake Elliott of the Eagles have converted all 10 of his conversion kicks and all four of his field-goal tries.

14. Carolina Panthers. The 2-2 Panthers share the league lead in sacks with the Patriots at 18. They picked up 14 of those sacks in the last two weeks to win twice with their backup quarterback (Kyle Allen). Carolina sacked rookie Kyler Murray eight times two Sundays ago and DeShaun Watson six times last weekend.

15. Jacksonville Jaguars. Gardner Minshew isn’t playing like a rookie quarterback. And he certainly isn’t playing like a sixth-round draft pick. He has yet to throw an interception in his three starts in place of the injured Nick Foles. He won his last two starts, throwing 2 TD passes against Tennessee and two more last week at Denver in rallying the Jaguars from a 14-point deficit against the Broncos.

16. Baltimore Ravens. The 2-2 Ravens lead the NFL in time of possession with more than 35 minutes per game. That stems from their commitment to the run, which winds the clock and shortens the game. Baltimore leads the league with 140 rushes. QB Lamar Jackson and HB Mark Ingram have both had 100-yard rushing games in the first month of the season.

17. New York Giants. The change of quarterbacks has recharged the Giants’ season. After an 0-2 start under Eli Manning, the Giants have now won two in a row with rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. But Manning played against two Top 10 defenses and Jones two sub-par defenses (Tampa Bay and Washington). He’ll get his first real test this weekend against the Vikings and their Top 10 defense.

18. Tennessee Titans. Keenan Allen (Chargers) and Mike Thomas (Saints) share the NFL lead with 34 receptions apiece. Each has more catches than the top three wideouts on the Titans combined (26). Tight end Delanie Walker remains the primary target in the Tennessee passing offense with 17 receptions.

19. Cleveland Browns. The Browns have been assessed a league-high 368 yards in penalties. But the yellow flags have been flying less frequently of late. After being penalized 18 times in a season-opening loss to Tennessee, the Browns were penalized nine times the second week against the Jets, eight times the third week against the Rams and only six last Sunday against the Ravens.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers have turned in the second- and fourth-best individual receiving games of the season – by two different receivers. Pro Bowler Mike Evans posted a 190-yard game in Week 3 against the Giants and Chris Godwin a 172-yard game against the Rams in Week 4.

21. Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are one of six teams averaging better than 5.0 yards per rush. Baltimore leads the league at 5.9 yards per carry, followed by Jacksonville (5.7), the Giants (5.5), Minnesota (5.2), Houston and Oakland (5.1) and Buffalo (5.0). Rookie Josh Jacobs has rushed for 307 yards with a 5.0-yard average for the Raiders.

22. Minnesota Vikings. QB Kirk Cousins is struggling. He has thrown only three TD passes through the first four games despite the presence of two Pro Bowl-caliber receivers on his flank, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Thielen has two of the touchdowns and Diggs one. The Vikings rank 31st in the NFL in passing, which is a big part of the reason they find themselves 2-2.

23. Houston Texans. DeShaun Watson led the NFL with 62 sacks last season. After his sack-sack pounding at the hands of the Carolina Panthers last weekend, Watson is on pace to be sacked 72 times this season. That’s no way to treat a franchise quarterback.

24. Indianapolis Colts. 2-2 The 2-2 Colts have held up in the secondary quite well this season despite starting two rookies, ranking 13th in the NFL in pass defense. But rookie CB Rock Ya-Sin (second round) and safety Khari Willis (fourth round) will have their hands full Sunday night against Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs and the NFL’s No. 1-ranked pass offense.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers. The last time the Steelers waited as late as Sept. 30 for their first victory was in 2013. After an 0-4 start that year, Pittsburgh finished 8-8. But that was with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, not Mason Rudolph.

26. Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan and Patrick Mahomes are the only two quarterbacks to pass for at least 300 yards in all four of their starts this season. But Mahomes has a 4-0 record to show for his efforts. Ryan and his Falcons are sitting on 1-3. Mahomes has committed only one turnover, losing a fumble in the second week. Ryan is sitting on nine giveaways – eight interceptions and fumble.

27. Cincinnati Bengals. Eight NFL teams made head-coaching changes in the offseason. After a month of the season, half of them are still looking for their first NFL win, including Cincinnati’s Zac Taylor. The others are Vic Fangio of the Broncos, Brian Flores of the Dolphins and Kliff Kingsbury of the Cardinals.

28. Arizona Cardinals. Larry Fitzgerald caught five passes last weekend and is now the NFL’s second all-time leading receiver with 1,326 catches, trailing only Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (1,549). Fitzgerald is in his 16th season. Rice played 20 years.

29. Denver Broncos. The winless Broncos are still looking for their first defensive takeaway of the season. They remain the only NFL defense without a turnover. Four years ago when Denver was Super Bowl champion the Broncos forced 27 turnovers on defense.

30. New York Jets. Sam Darnold has been given the go-ahead to start throwing again. He has been sidelined since the season opener with mononucleosis. The winless Jets need him back on the field to restore some stability to the quarterback position. The Jets have started three different quarterbacks in their three games this season.

31. Washington Redskins. When do the Redskins go to first-round draft pick Dwayne Haskins at quarterback? They are winless through four games but Haskins was underwhelming in his NFL debut off the bench last weekend when he threw three interceptions in 17 passes against the Giants. But with New England and the AFC’s best pass defense up next, Haskins’ starting debut is likely on hold.

32. Miami Dolphins. Could the winless Dolphins go 0-16? They rank 31st in the NFL in offense and 32nd on defense. They are 0-4 with three of the losses coming at home. Their next game might present Miami its best (and possibly last) shot at victory when it hosts winless and reeling Washington. The Dolphins have a bye this week, which gives them two weeks to prepare for the Redskins.

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