Shutdown Corner NFL Power Rankings; Falcons and Texans have fallen hard and fast

Frank Schwab
October 8, 2013

After Week 13 last year, a Houston-Atlanta Super Bowl looked like the most likely way the 2012 season would end.

Both teams were 11-1 at that point. We're handed reminders all the time that the NFL changes dramatically and without warning, and the Falcons and Texans are great examples.

Since starting last season a combined 22-2, the Texans and Falcons are a combined 6-12 in the regular season. The Falcons are 1-4 this season, coming off two straight home losses and now four games behind the Saints in the NFC South. The Texans are 2-3, very lucky to not be 0-5, and looking like a team in disarray given quarterback Matt Schaub's struggles.

Neither team's season is finished – fortunes can turn for the better in the NFL just as suddenly as it can turn bad – but it's stunning how they've slipped in the league's hierarchy in such a short time, considering the core of each roster remained mostly the same.

Keep that in mind when you look through the post-Week 5 power rankings. Your team might be great or terrible right now. But it can all change with very little notice.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5, LW: 32)
Why wouldn't you trade Maurice Jones-Drew if you can get something for him? Nobody's going to accuse you of tanking, Jacksonville. We won't know the difference.

31. New York Giants (0-5, LW: 30)
If you can't beat a scuffling Eagles team at home after Michael Vick got knocked out of the game, you have earned this spot.

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4, LW: 31)
I still don't know how they'll score. But at least they have a good defense. The Giants have nothing.

29. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4, LW: 29)
They're allowed one horrendous year every few decades. This is a good organization that just got old in some spots and couldn't fix holes at others. They'll bounce back fast.

28. Buffalo Bills (2-3, LW: 22)
Sorry for this low ranking, because there are some things to like about this team. But it's going to get ugly with Thad Lewis at quarterback.

27. St. Louis Rams (2-3, LW: 28)
They beat their FCS opponent this week. Need to see more than that before they move up.

26. Washington Redskins (1-3, LW: 26)
Dallas' Tony Romo threw for 506 yards against Denver. It's scary to think what he might do against the awful Redskins secondary this week.

25. Minnesota Vikings (1-3, LW: 23)
I like the Josh Freeman signing. You know Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel aren't the long-term answer at quarterback. Nothing to lose by seeing if Freeman can be.

24. Carolina Panthers (1-3, LW: 18)
Do you trust the Panthers to: A) Make inspired, creative hires when they can Ron Rivera and Mike Shula, or B) Get receiver help for Cam Newton? I don't.

23. Arizona Cardinals (3-2, LW: 24)
With stud linebacker Daryl Washington back from suspension, this defense is pretty nasty. There's a lot of young talent on that side of the ball. Offensively? Nope.

22. San Diego Chargers (2-3, LW: 20)
The Chargers are allowing 6.5 yards per play, worst in the NFL and the same mark that the putrid 2012 Saints defense posted. They still have two games against Denver remaining.

21. Oakland Raiders (2-3, LW: 27)
I'm going to come out and say it: I'm sold on Terrelle Pryor. I think he's going to be a really good NFL quarterback.

20. Philadelphia Eagles (2-3, LW: 25)
Nick Foles has a great chance to solidify himself as a legitimate starting NFL quarterback. If he plays well, there's no reason to turn back to Michael Vick.

19. Atlanta Falcons (1-4, LW: 15)
The Falcons weren't 13-win good last year, and they're not 1-4 bad this year. They had some good fortune last year. That luck has totally turned around in 2013.

18. Houston Texans (2-3, LW: 13)
You can't give me half the solution to a problem. So don't say "Bench Matt Schaub!" unless you think that the Texans are really better off with T.J. Yates (spoiler alert: they're not).

17. New York Jets (3-2, LW: 21)
This is the Geno Smith everyone saw in the first half of last season at West Virginia, when he looked like a surefire future franchise quarterback.

16. Tennessee Titans (3-2, LW: 16)
Really wish this team still had a healthy Jake Locker. The Titans are just too limited with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. Solid team otherwise, though.

15. Cleveland Browns (3-2, LW: 19)
It's a great story. But their schedule gets real tough in a hurry, and they have to navigate it with Brandon Weeden.

14. Miami Dolphins (3-2, LW: 12)
The Dolphins' biggest problem right now is that if running back Lamar Miller isn't producing early, they show no patience with him. They can't win with 11 rushing attempts and 40 passes, which is what happened against Baltimore.

13. Baltimore Ravens (3-2, LW: 17)
Really strong statement by the defending champs at Miami. The offensive issues are real, but they're not going to fade away quietly.

12. Dallas Cowboys (2-3, LW: 14)
DeMarcus Ware is a choker, can never be a championship pass rusher and he lost his team the Broncos game (trust me, it sounds just as illogical when you say the same thing about Tony Romo).

11. Detroit Lions (3-2, LW: 8)
The defense competed very well against the Packers' offense. Too bad Matthew Stafford turns into Sam Bradford when Calvin Johnson isn't around to help him look decent.

10. Chicago Bears (3-2, LW: 10)
The Saints are really good this year, so you can't dock the Bears too much for losing last week. They're still a good team. Just not as good as New Orleans. A lot of teams can say the same.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2, LW: 11)
That defensive performance against New England on Sunday is why people were picking them as a Super Bowl dark horse. They'll stay under the radar, but look out if the offense gets going.

8. Indianapolis Colts (4-1, LW: 9)
I was critical of the Browns' trade of Trent Richardson. But, at the time, I was still under the impression Richardson was good. The evidence is mounting that he might not be.

7. Kansas City Chiefs (5-0, LW: 7)
I know, still too low. But I don't think they can beat teams like the Packers or a healthy Patriots squad until Alex Smith shows he can make some great plays, not just avoid the terrible ones.

6. Green Bay Packers (2-2, LW: 6)
Take a look at the Packers' schedule. They're going to be favored in 10 or 11 of their final 12 games, and heavily favored in most of them. Don't say I didn't warn you.

5. New England Patriots (4-1, LW: 4)
Go ahead and rip them for the Bengals loss, but we'd be celebrating any other team that started 4-1 with the same type of injuries the Patriots have dealt with already.

4. San Francisco 49ers (3-2, LW: 5)
Strong, playmaking defense and a solid running game make up for an ineffective quarterback ... the 49ers won plenty of games with that formula when Alex Smith was their quarterback, and can do the same with Colin Kaepernick.

3. New Orleans Saints (5-0, LW: 3)
In the non-Peyton Manning division, you can make a case that tight end Jimmy Graham is the MVP of the league after five weeks. What he's doing, especially compared to the other tight ends, is unbelievable.

2. Seattle Seahawks (4-1, LW: 2)
I never said they'd go undefeated. Playing at a hot Indianapolis team was a tough schedule spot for the Seahawks, a week after winning an overtime game at Houston. They're fine.

1. Denver Broncos (5-0, LW: 1)
If the Cowboys drove down and kicked a game-winning field goal, there would be a lot more conversation this week about a Broncos' defense that showed some serious flaws. It's a valid concern.

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