Updated: Oct 15, 2021
I will be the first to say that players and teams can earn their way into the spotlight. Avoiding losses, quality wins, and consistent scoring - that should get you on mainstream sports broadcasts. I believe this is why College Football has a flawed system - those teams who earn the spotlight (although boring to admit) are not always the best teams. Does anyone really believe that Oklahoma, Cincinnati, and Iowa can really beat Alabama? All of those teams are ranked higher. We fall guilty of this mindset as we rank NFL teams as well.
The numbers can say one thing, but my eyes, gut, and brain tell me these are still the top 5 teams in the NFL.
Which NFL Teams did not make the Top 5 List?
First, let's talk about the teams not on this list that quite possibly could be.
Lamar Jackson is now 4-1 with INCREDIBLE performances. If the season ended today, I would name him MVP. The Ravens may very well win that division. But ultimately, their roster falls short in may areas, and if Lamar can't be INCREDIBLE for 3-4 games straight in the playoffs, they won't win.
I love Baker. I love Chubb/Hunt. I love the Browns Defense. The Browns are a really good team. But they fall off of my Top 5 list mainly because I see at least 5 teams better than them. Is any part of their team Top 5? I would say the run game is obviously #1 but is that enough? They have had a couple opportunities to change my mind and have come up just short.
Aaron Rodgers is a baaaad man. Davante Adams may be even better. After a dismal offseason and a hiccup in Week 1, the Packers have been nearly perfect, winning four straight. They don't make my Top 5 for two main reasons. First, that messy offseason got in the way of possibly recruiting some helpful free agents that would have made a difference down the stretch. Second, relying so heavily on one receiver has rarely gone well in the postseason. Playoff teams find a way to minimize that threat. When Aaron Rodgers won his Super Bowl, he completed passes to 8 different receivers (none of them were named Davante Adams). Can he consistently utilize other weapons enough to beat great teams if Adams was shut off? I am not really impressed by any of Green Bay's wins thus far, as opponents total a record of 10-15. For now, they are Top 10, but not Top 5.
If I had the time to watch every Cardinals game by itself after Red Zone, I would gladly do so. You just never know what Kyler Murray is going to do. When the ball is in the air, you know Deandre Hopkins is working harder than anyone else to get to it. Their whole receiving group has been amazing. The Cardinals are playing fun-to-watch football. But. Do I think they can do this for four more months in the hardest division and conference in the league? No, I don't. They should have lost to Minnesota. Their wins against Jacksonville and San Francisco don't mean much to me. Beating the Rams was an absolute shock, and that gets them on this list, but I highly, highly doubt they get Sean McVay twice.
Justin Herbert is all that and a bag of chips. Another MVP candidate, he is Top 5 in most passing stats. He is a proven winner, capping off quality wins with 4th quarter drives. The Chargers defense is also incredible. Before Sunday, their defense had only given up a max of 24 points -and that was to Patrick Mahomes. They struggled against the Browns, but Herbert found a way to win. If this was a Top 6 list, the Chargers would be on it.
What are the Top 5 NFL teams going into Week 5 of the 2021 season?
5. Kansas City Chiefs
Yea, I said it. The 2-3 Chiefs are better than the teams I listed above for two main reasons: Super Bowl 54 & Super Bowl 55. Of course, what I mean by this is that the Chiefs still have Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes -and most of his weapons. While the defense has been less impressive than we have seen in recent years, I believe they have the staff and the team capital to fix that. Why are they 2-3? Simple. Turnovers. The Chiefs LEAD THE LEAGUE in turnovers (tied with Jacksonville). I watch the games. Many of these turnovers have been flukes. Through receivers' hands, batted balls at the line, fumbles - does anyone think the Chiefs' receivers will continue to drop and deflect passes to defenders as often as they have been? Me neither. Nobody likes what-ifs, but if just half of those turnovers would have instead led to scoring drives, the Chiefs would be 5-0 and lead the league in scoring (they are still 5th). Get this: in five games, the Chiefs have only punted eight times. They have scored 20 touchdowns, 5 field goals, turned the ball over 11 times, and only punted 8 times. These champions are going to stop turning the ball over. Patrick Mahomes will right the ship and continue to prove that he is the best QB in today's NFL. I am still worried about the defense, but more times than not, Mahomes will make up for it.
4. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams only loss belongs to the only undefeated team in the league. I expect the rematch later this season will go LA's way. As we look at the roster, we see veterans leading both sides of the ball. Matthew Stafford was a massive upgrade (although I don't hate Goff) and he has connected with Cooper Kupp as if they have played together for years. Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey are more of a dynamic duo than we give them credit for. Sean McVay is a mastermind. These stars I have mentioned are not just elite at their positions, but starving for success. Lombardi is the goal and anything else would be a disappointment. It sucks that Cam Akers went down before the season, but I think Darrell Henderson and Sony Michel can manage a decent run game as the passing attack resides at center stage. They have all the pieces. I look for the Rams to get better each week and be an absolute force in the playoffs.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
He's 44. He shouldn't be doing this to all of these world class athletes in their prime. But he is. Tom Brady leads the NFL in passing yards, is 2nd in passing touchdowns, and has his offense at #3 in points/game. The reigning champs brought every single starter back this year. Injuries have been a problem early, but that is not always a bad thing when you plan on playing for four more months. I decided I was going to stop saying "he can't win another one" when that 28-3 lead evaporated in Super Bowl LI. The Bucs are the most tried and true team in the league and we have seen that through Week 5.
2. Buffalo Bills
While the Bucs are tried and true, the Bills have a lot to be seen. 5 days ago, I wouldn't have had them on this list. But beating the Chiefs like they did said a lot to me. Their defense is for real. It was puzzling when they blew that lead to the Steelers in Week 1, but they handled business with authority in the next 3 weeks. While those opponents were not strong, the Bills have a league leading +102 point differential (2nd is +62 -Cardinals). The win against the Chiefs, after losing to them in the AFC Championship last year, showed that the Bills have gotten better and will continue to score (lead the league) and cause turnovers (lead the league). Nobody wants to go through Buffalo at any point throughout the season, but definitely not in January. I don't see any teams in the AFC beating out the Bills for that #1 seed, so get ready to see Buffalo travel the 2,500+ miles to LA in February.
1. Dallas Cowboys
If you have been following us here at Brothers In Cards, you may know that Andy is a DIE HARD Cowboys fan. I promise you, he has no influence on this article. Dak Prescott is an MVP and CPOY candidate. Ezekiel Elliott is a Top 5 running back. They may have the best receiving room in the league when Michael Gallup gets healthy. When the line is healthy, they are top of the league. We expected to come into this year and see points go up on the board for the Cowboys. But did anyone expect this young defense to be this dynamic? Trevon Diggs is a front runner for DPOY. Micah Parsons is a front runner for DROY. Only the Bills have created more turnovers than the Cowboys. Only the Bills have scored more points than the Cowboys. Why do I have the Cowboys above the Bills if I care about those stats? The Cowboys are a missed field goal away from being undefeated despite a significantly more difficult schedule, with opponent records totaling 14-6 outside of the Dallas matchups. They have played very well against good offenses and good defenses. Sky is the limit for these playmakers. Will the lack of postseason experience halt this red hot squad? Will Mike McCarthy get in Kellen Moore or Dan Quinn's way? Only time will tell. Through Week 5, Dallas is #1.