It's safe to say that Week 5 was not kind to all of last season's dozen playoff teams…but not without good reason.
The New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks both lost their first games of 2013. On the plus side, those setbacks came via the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts, respectively, a pair of postseason participants a year ago.
Both the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons lost their third straight game, the former to the two-time defending NFC West champion San Francisco 49ers and the latter on the final play of the contest to the upstart New York Jets.
This week, the only head-to-head meeting between 2012 playoff teams comes in Baltimore, where the Super Bowl XLV champion Green Bay Packers clash with the Ravens, winner of Super Bowl XLVII. It shapes up as an intriguing clash indeed.
So here is the weekly look and ranking of how last season's postseason field is faring in 2013. Feel free to add your own thoughts…
12. Washington Redskins (1-3)
Two weeks ago, Mike Shanahan's team finally got its first win of the season at the expense of the Oakland Raiders. This Sunday night in Dallas, they face a Cowboys team that scored 48 points against the Denver Broncos last Sunday and still came up short. Last season, Washington swept this series for the first time en route to winning the NFC East. And these Cowboys have struggled defensively as of late, allowing a combined 81 points in their last two games. And every team in the division is giving up at least 27 points per game. Ouch!
11. Minnesota Vikings (1-3)
It's been a busy two weeks for Leslie Frazier's team, which looks to make it two wins in a row when the Carolina Panthers come to town this week. Matt Cassel was the starter when the team got its first victory of 2013 in Week 4 vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers. Christian Ponder returns this Sunday but the Vikings did sign Tampa Bay Buccaneers castoff Josh Freeman. How does he fit into the team's plans this season? Stay tuned…
10. Houston Texans (2-3)
From a 2-0 start to a 2-3 record in the blink of an eye? Suddenly, the Texans find themselves two games behind the Indianapolis Colts and one game behind the Tennessee Titans in the AFC South. Houston has allowed the fewest yards per game in the league but has allowed 139 points in five games, which includes five return touchdowns by opposing defenses and special teams. And it's safe to say it has been a rough few weeks and days for quarterback Matt Schaub…
9. Atlanta Falcons (1-4)
Just a reminder in case you were not aware. The Falcons were the NFC's top seed two of the previous three seasons and finished 13-3 in both 2010 and 2012. At 1-4 and riding a three-game losing streak, Mike Smith's team is already four games out of first place in the NFC South. Atlanta has allowed 134 points in five games, all but three of those points in the final three quarters. And now quarterback Matt Ryan will be without wideout Julio Jones, who leads the NFL in receptions. It's going to be a long off week…
8. Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
John Harbaugh's up and down defending Super Bowl champions got their first road win of the season last week against the Dolphins by taking advantage of Miami's struggling offensive line. There seems to be questions surrounding the Ravens running game (27th in the NFL). Quarterback Joe Flacco has thrown eight interceptions (5 touchdown passes) in five games this season, part of 10 Baltimore turnovers (Harbaugh's team only had 16 turnovers in 16 games a year ago). A continued work in progress…
7. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2)
Kudos to Marvin Lewis and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer as the Bengals put an end to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's streak of consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass, halted at 52 straight contests. It's still been an erratic year for quarterback Andy Dalton but Lewis' defensive unit has allowed only eight touchdowns in five games. But with this week's trip to Buffalo, the Bengals better be prepared to score more than 19 points, their combined total in their last two games…
6. Green Bay Packers (2-2)
Once again, the Packers did what they do best of all and that's beat the Detroit Lions in the state of Wisconsin. While the Green Bay attack was limited to one touchdown in the 22-9 win, the Pack limited the Lions to 286 yards of total offense and sacked quarterback Matthew Stafford five times. Second-year outside linebackers Nick Perry had two of those sacks and will be counted on even more now that teammate Clay Matthew will be shelved with a broken thumb…
5. San Francisco 49ers (3-2)
Is Jim Harbaugh's team back on schedule? Do consecutive wins over the St. Louis Rams and Houston Texans by a combined 69-14 score apparently wiped out two straight losses (to the Seahawks and Colts) by a 56-10 count? The Niners' ground game has been solid but quarterback Colin Kaepernick remains a little up and down. But you have to like what you have seen from San Francisco on defense as of late. A win over Arizona this week would seemingly be in the "cards"…
4. New England Patriots (4-1)
Last week at Cincinnati, Tom Brady failed to throw a touchdown pass in the regular season for the first time since 2009. But let's look at the positives for a Patriots team that is averaging less than 20 points per game. Bill Belichick's club has allowed only 70 points in five games this season and was pretty stout against the Bengals despite not having defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. But will the Pats be able to keep up with the New Orleans Saints on Sunday?
3. Seattle Seahawks (4-1)
Pete Carroll's club is back at home this week, where the Seahawks have won 10 straight games dating back to last season. Despite last week's narrow loss to the Indianapolis Colts, are there some concerns about quarterback Russell Wilson and the offense? The second-year pro has been sacked 15 times, committed seven turnovers in five games and is completing less than 60 percent of his passes. Seattle's offensive front could get a test from the Tennessee Titans defense this Sunday…
2. Indianapolis Colts (4-1)
Chuck Pagano's team spent a lot of last week trailing the previously-unbeaten Seattle Seahawks. But when it was all said and done, the Colts came away with a third straight win and continue to look like a more confident club. Of course, wins over the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers in recent weeks will do that for a club. Will Andrew Luck be ready for prime time on Monday night he and his team visit the San Diego Chargers?
1. Denver Broncos (5-0)
Quarterback Peyton Manning has now thrown 20 touchdown passes and only one interception and his team has put an amazing 230 points on the board. But you have to be concerned from what you saw from the Denver defense last Sunday at Dallas, riddled by Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo for 506 yards and five scores (and, of course, that one interception). Outside linebacker Von Miller returns next week, which is good news indeed. But will the winless Jacksonville Jaguars (51 points in 5 games) get to the 20-point mark on Sunday?
Russell S. Baxter has been covering the NFL for 30-plus years on all platforms. He is the founder of ProFootballGuru.com, writes for numerous websites and publications across the country and is blessed with an encyclopedic memory. Ready to talk NFL? Follow him on Twitter at @BaxFootballGuru.
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