NFL Week 5 Power Rankings 2022 - 1-32 poll rating defenses


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NFL Week 5 Power Rankings 2022: 1-32 poll, rating defenses

Stephen A.: Mahomes put questions about Chiefs offense to bed (1:55)

Stephen A. Smith explains how Patrick Mahomes proved that no one should be worried about the Chiefs offense anymore. (1:55)

Welcome toWeek 5 of the NFL regular season.

Our power panel -- a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities -- evaluated how teams are stacking up through four weeks and named a new No. 1 team for the second week in a row.

The updated rankings reflect that theDallas Cowboysare surviving withoutDak Prescott, who could return in Week 5, as they climb back up the list. It also reflects theMiami Dolphinsloss on Thursday night to theCincinnati Bengalsafter quarterbackTua Tagovailoa(concussion) left the game on a stretcher. Tagovailoa already has beenruled out for Week 5. There are also 15 teams this week that have a 2-2 record.

Below, we checked in with NFL Nation reporters across the league and asked what the biggest issue faced by each teams defense is. From injuries to defending the run, every team has something it can improve on. We paired each response with the teams defensive efficiency rating and where that stacks up in the league.Defensive efficiency, powered by ESPNs Football Power Index, is rated on a 0-100 scale, based on the defenses contribution to scoring margin on per-play basis and adjusted for strength of opposing offenses faced.

So, lets get to it. Heres our new No. 1 team:

The biggest issue on defense is ...forcing turnovers.

The Chiefs have taken the ball from their opponent just four times. Only four teams have forced fewer turnovers, and all of them have losing records. The Chiefs are doing a nice job of pressuring the quarterback, so it figures the turnovers will come. In the meantime, the Chiefs have made the most of their four turnovers. They converted each into a touchdown. --Adam Teicher

The biggest issue on defense is ...injuries.

The Bills defense is ranked in the top five of almost every major category -- with third-down defense (41.3%, 19th) being one of a few concerns. But what has also stood out is how many injuries the Bills have accumulated, especially in the secondary. CornerbackDane Jacksonand safetyJordan Poyerhave returned, but CBChristian Benfordis still dealing with a right hand injury, SMicah Hyde(neck) is out for the season, DTEd Oliveris recovering from a right ankle injury and CBTreDavious Whitecontinues to rehab a torn ACL in his left knee. --Alaina Getzenberg

The biggest issue on defense is ...injuries to the secondary.

Even thats a reach, as cornersDarius Slay(forearm) andAvonte Maddox(right ankle) are expected back soon. But theres little to pick apart. The Eagles are first in sacks (16), tied for first in takeaways (10), third in yards allowed (277.3 per game) and 10th in points allowed (17.8). They look really solid from front to back, even with safetyChauncey Gardner-Johnson, formerly of theNew Orleans Saints, acclimating to a new position and team. --Tim McManus

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The biggest issue on defense is ...getting gouged on the ground, again.

Not only are the Packers allowing nearly 5 yards per rush, but theyre having troubling bringing runners down. There are only three teams allowing more rushing yards after contact than the Packers. This was an issue last year, and it continues to be one this season. --Rob Demovsky

The biggest issue on defense is ...defending the pass.

Miami currently has the second-worst pass defense in the NFL through its first four games, although that hasnt translated to the scoreboard. The Dolphins have been stout against the run, and the numbers theyve given up are a bit skewed consideringJosh Allens 63 pass attempts in Week 3 andLamar Jacksons prolific first half in Week 2. Presumably, theyll return to form onceByron Jonesreturns from the physically unable to perform list -- which hes eligible to do this week. --Marcel Louis-Jacques

The biggest issue on defense is ...injuries to the secondary.

The Rams have their best cornerback healthy (Jalen Ramsey) but have been dealing withseveral injuries in the secondaryearly in the season. The Rams were without cornerbacksTroy Hill(IR),David Long Jr. andCobie Duranton Monday night against the 49ers, although they did get safetyJordan Fullerback. Los Angeles defense, which ranked second in Football Outsiders rush DVOA going into the Week 4 matchup, ranks significantly worse against the pass (23rd in the NFL). The Rams do have four interceptions this season. --Sarah Barshop

The biggest issue on defense is ...soft coverage.

Vikings opponents are catching 75% of their targeted passes, the second-highest rate in the NFL. Of the 97 pass completions against them, 69 have come by receivers who have at least three yards of separation at the time of the throw, the fourth-highest total in the league. --Kevin Seifert

The biggest issue on defense is ...sluggish starts.

The Bucs have given up 27 total points in the first quarter through four weeks -- fourth most in the league -- yet their 68 total points given up would be fifth fewest. Players and coaches have talked about the need to communicate more from the get-go, and not just as the game progresses. It didnt help that they spotted the Chiefs 14 points with two lost fumbles in Week 4. --Jenna Laine

The biggest issue on defense is ...finishing the game.

The Ravens have lost two games this season in which they have led by 17 points or more because they cant stop teams late in games. In the second half, Baltimore has given up an NFL-worst 1,019 yards while allowing 67 points. The Ravens used to get offenses off the field when they had Ray Lewis, Ed Reed andTerrell Suggsforcing clutch turnovers. This season, Baltimore defenders are making it too easy with missed assignments and no consistent pass rush. In the fourth quarter, opposing quarterbacks have posted an NFL-best 88.6 QBR against the Ravens, throwing five touchdowns and getting sacked twice. --Jamison Hensley

The biggest issue on defense is ...the pass rush.

Honestly, theres very little to nitpick the Bengals defense about. Cincinnati has one of the best defenses in the NFL. It ranks first in touchdowns allowed per drive and second in points allowed per drive. If theres one thing Cincinnati could improve, its the pass rush. The Bengals are 26th in sacks per dropback, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, and are tied for 22nd in total sacks. But that could also be a function of how much teams are throwing against Cincinnati. Its defense has faced the third-most pass attempts in the NFL this season. --Ben Baby

The biggest issue on defense is ...stopping the run.

This might be a minor quibble given how well the unit is playing as a whole. The Cowboys have not allowed 20 points in a game yet and have allowed just one touchdown in each game. But when the players say they still need to get better, slowing the run is their biggest must. They are allowing 5 yards per carry and have given up 20 runs of 10 yards or more in four games, including two runs of at least 33 yards in the past two games. With an Eagles team that runs the ball effectively in their division, the Cowboys have to get better.-- Todd Archer

The biggest issue on defense is ...the 49ers offense.

The Niners defense has been mostly dominant for the seasons first month, but the win column doesnt reflect just how good it has been. San Francisco ranks near the top of the NFL in nearly every major defensive category, but the offense has been near the bottom of the league in a number of areas, most notably points scored. If the 49ers defense can stay reasonably healthy, they dont need an offensive juggernaut to be a contender. But they do need much more than what theyve gotten thus far. --Nick Wagoner

The biggest issue on defense is ...injuries.

The Chargers defense appeared dominant -- on paper -- entering the season. But injuries to key players have made it difficult for the unit to develop an identity through four games. Pro Bowl cornerbackJ.C. Jacksonmissed Weeks 1 and 3 after undergoing ankle surgery in August, and when he did give it a go in Week 2, he said he was playing at less than 100 percent. The Bolts are also having to adjust without Pro Bowl edge rusherJoey Bosa, who was placed on injured reserve after tearing his groin in Week 3. --Lindsey Thiry

The biggest issue on defense is ...effectively rushing the passer.

The Giants have a top-10 pass defense at the moment. But theyre going to have to rush the passer more effectively if that is going to continue. The Giants are 19th in the NFL with a pass rush win rate of 41.2%. They dont have an edge rusher with more than one sack and have called the third-most blitzes (57) so far this season. It might work against the quarterbacks they faced, but life is about to get much more difficult withAaron RodgersLamar JacksonTrevor LawrenceandGeno Smithon deck. --Jordan Raanan

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The biggest issue on defense is ...the run defense.

The Jaguars had allowed just 55 yards per game on the ground through the first three games, but gave up 210 yards and four touchdowns rushing to the Eagles on Sunday. DTFolorunso Fatukasihad been a key part of the success, but he went down with a quad injury against the Eagles and his status going forward is unclear. The Jaguars have to figure out what went wrong because they faceDameon PierceJonathan TaylorandSaquon Barkleythe next three weeks. --Michael DiRocco

The biggest issue on defense is ...allowing explosive plays.

Through four games, Tennessee has given up five plays of 40 yards or more. Four of them came through the air, which has sparked questions about the secondary. Outside of rookieRoger McCreary, all of the Titans primary cornerbacks have been beat for explosive plays. The nickel package has struggled with veteranTerrance Mitchelland second-year playerCaleb Farleyfinding their way as they rotate opposite ofKristian Fulton. Reinforcements could be on the way ifUgo Amadirecovers from an ankle injury that held him out of the past two games andElijah Moldeneventually returns from injured reserve. --Turron Davenport

The biggest issue on defense is ...the nickel package.

The Broncos had surrendered only six points in the second half of their first three games combined, so they were rolling. However, in the Week 4 loss to the Raiders, the Broncos were pushed off the ball far too often in run defense. This was especially so when Denver was forced into its nickel package on defense and the Raiders then pounded away at it. They had a pile of big gains against the nickel, including a 43-yard run byJosh Jacobsin the third quarter. Jacobs finished with 144 yards rushing with two touchdowns as the Raiders rushed for 212 yards overall. This is something that needs to be corrected for Week 5. --Jeff Legwold

The biggest issue on defense is ...a banged-up defensive line.

Cleveland was missing three of its four starters along the defensive line in Sundays loss to the Falcons, including star pass-rusherMyles Garrett. Coach Kevin Stefanski said Garrett could return next Sunday following last weeks single-car crash. But Garrett is going to have to play through left shoulder and right biceps injuries, at least in the short term. DEJadeveon Clowneyhas missed the past two games with an ankle injury. Without either, the Browns couldnt get pressure, while the Falcons ran the ball at will. With explosive offenses coming up, the D-line better healthy fast. --Jake Trotter

The biggest issue on defense is ...getting home.

The Cardinals four sacks are the fewest in the NFL, and their sacks per pass attempt rate is a league-low 2.88%. LosingChandler Joneshas taken a greater toll on Arizonas pass rush than expected. The Cardinals have been able to get to the quarterback and get their hands on him at times, as was the case against Kansas CitysPatrick Mahomes, but getting opposing quarterbacks down has been a struggle. --Josh Weinfuss

The biggest issue on defense is ...Jamal Adamsabsence.

Thats not to oversimplify whats gone wrong for Seattles defense, which has had all sorts of issuesduring another awful start. The Seahawks are getting gashed against the run, in part because theyre struggling in their transition to a 3-4 but also because theyre missing tackles. They havent gotten a consistent pass-rush from anyone other than linebackerUchenna Nwosu. Theyre losing one-on-one matchups and committing too many penalties on the back end, where theyre playing three young corners plus a backup at safety inJosh Jonesbecause of the serious knee injury Adams suffered in the opener. A healthy Adams would be making a difference as a run defender and a pass-rusher. --Brady Henderson

The biggest issue on defense is ...getting off the field on third down.

The Falcons are allowing opponents to convert 44% of third-down chances, ranking 24th out of the 32 teams. The defense has been much improved from a season ago, but this is the next step toward being the type of unit that defensive coordinator Dean Pees wants to have in Atlanta. --Michael Rothstein

The biggest issue on defense is ...getting pass rush from someone other thanMaxx Crosby.

Crosby has four of the Raiders five sacks -- cornerbackNate Hobbshas the other -- and while thats a good early return on Las Vegas four-year, $98.98 million investment via the extension Crosby got this offseason, the Raiders need more from the defensive line in general,Chandler Jonesin particular. Jones has occupied double-teams and affected the passer, but for Crosby to remain effective, the Raiders would love for Jones, who signed a three-year, $51 million free agent deal with Las Vegas this spring, to start getting home, too. --Paul Gutierrez

The biggest issue on defense is ...third-down conversions.

The Jets are allowing opponents to convert 51% of the time on third down, which ranks 31st out of 32 teams. Heres the weird part: Its not because of the pass rush. Theyre actually getting decent pressure on the quarterback, with a 35% pressure rate (19th) on third down. The problem is the coverage, specifically the safeties and linebackers. CornerbacksD.J. Reedand rookieSauce Gardnerare holding up nicely on the outside, but theyre giving up too many chunk plays in the middle of the field. SafetyLamarcus Joyneris coming off his best game (two interceptions), but the Jets need better coverage from SJordan Whiteheadand MLBC.J. Mosley. --Rich Cimini

The biggest issue on defense is ...a consistent pass rush.

The Saints didnt have much of a pass rush to speak of to start the season, but they did get afterKirk Cousinson Sunday, finishing with three sacks. The Saints needMarcus Davenportand Cam Jordan to consistently step up, while getting production out of 2021 first-round pickPayton Turner, to have success moving forward. --Katherine Terrell

The biggest issue on defense is ...points allowed.

Detroit currently leads the league in scoring but also allows the most points in the league. The defense struggles in yards per rush, red zone efficiency and third-down conversions -- ranking last in all categories. Through four games this season, Detroit has allowed 141 points (35.3 points per game), which is the second most in franchise history -- trailing only the 0-16 squad from 2008. The Lions need to make some changes immediately, and head coach Dan Campbell knows it. --Eric Woodyard

The biggest issue on defense is ...forcing takeaways.

The Colts defense thrived on takeaways last season, producing 33 turnovers. But the unit ranks among the worst in the league this season in this regard, forcing just three turnovers through four games. A big reason for this is the absence of linebackerShaquille Leonard, who made his short-lived season debut on Sunday, only to leave with a concussion in the second half. Leonard has been ruled out for Thursday nights game at Denver. --Stephen Holder

The biggest issue on defense is ...defending the run.

After Baltimore totaled 126 yards in the second half in Week 3, and Green Bay totaled 199 yards on 35 carries overall in Week 4, it has exposed a vulnerability for the Patriots. Losing sturdy DTLawrence Guyto a shoulder injury is a contributing factor, but that alone doesnt fully explain the alarming past six quarters the defense has played against the run. The linebacker play has struggled too, leading to veteran Jamie Collins return to the team on Monday. --Mike Reiss

The biggest issue on defense is ...run defense.

The Bears are the NFLs worst team against the run, having allowed 733 rushing yards through four games (183.3 yards per game), and are on pace to reach historically low marks. As if getting gashed byAaron JonesandAJ Dillonwasnt enough to have the Bears licking their wounds after a Week 2 loss at Green Bay, Giants running backSaquon Barkleytotaled 145 yards on 31 carries and earned 94 of his rushing yards after first contact in Week 4. --Courtney Cronin

The biggest issue on defense is ...noT.J. Watt.

After dropping three straight, there are plenty of issues to point to on the defensive side, but the root of it stems from Watts absence. Since the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year tore his pectoral at the end of regulation in Week 1, the Steelers have given up an average of 23 points per game and recorded just three total sacks. Watt is the cog in the defense that makes everything go, and without a formidable pass rush, the rest of the defense isnt succeeding in picking up the slack. --Brooke Pryor

The biggest issue on defense is ...allowing big plays.

Washington has surrendered an NFL-best 12 plays of 30 yards or more -- 10 of those have been pass plays -- often because of blown coverages. Dallas struggling offense managed three pass plays of at least that length. On the Cowboys opening drive, one pass went for 31 yards while the other five plays managed a combined 9 yards. Sometimes inexperience has led to the big plays, but other times its just corners getting beat, whether outright or because they anticipated help that didnt arrive. The concerning part for Washington is that it lacks corner depth and its starters are both established vets --Kendall FullerandWilliam Jackson III. --John Keim

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The biggest issue on defense is ...the fourth quarter.

The Panthers are allowing 10.5 points a game in the final quarter to rank among the worst in the league. Thats been costly for a team that continues to lose close games, and fatigue might be a problem. The offense has been so bad with three-and-outs and turnovers that the defense continues to be forced back on the field. Sundays 26-16 loss to Arizona was a prime example as the Cardinals had the ball for just over 38 minutes to 21:25 for Carolina. --David Newton

The biggest issue on defense is ...defending the run.

The Texans are allowing 5.1 yards per carry and have allowed 688 total rushing yards, the second most in the NFL. Theyve allowed 34 first downs on the ground, the third most in the NFL. Its one of the many reasons theyre winless, and it has made them vulnerable in the play-action game, too. Theyve allowed 415 yards off play-action, which is the fourth most in the NFL. --DJ Bien-Aime

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