Marquist Parker Sports Editor
The NFL season is starting to heat up as we head into week 5. While some teams have already separated themselves from that pack, other teams have looked to already be playing for draft picks. Now that a quarter of the NFL season has been played, its easy to see that the Patriots and Chiefs have been a level above the rest of league, and look to be on a crash course for a meeting in the AFC Championship Game. Let’s look at who sits atop the league with the Campus Lantern’s NFL Power Rankings:
1. The New England Patriots- This Patriots team has looked dominant on defense to start the season. The Buffalo Bills looked like they would finally knock New England from the undefeated circles, dominating Tom Brady and his offense. Holding that team to 16 points would seem to be the best chance at an upset, but the problem came in the form of an elite Patriots defense who contributed five more sacks and three more interceptions. The has allowed just one TD over four games. The offense will find its way again, in the meantime, having the best defense in football will be enough to win games.
2. The Kansas City Chiefs- Another elite team that suffered a scare in week 4, Kansas City went to Detroit and put up 30 points, but their offense wasn’t as explosive as usual in a 30-27 comeback win over the Lions. The Lions made Patrick Mahomes work for everything; he threw for 315 yards but failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in 14 games. The NFL MVP still found a way to come from behind on the road by putting together an electric 79-yard drive with a touchdown to win the game. An argument could be made for the Chiefs to be number one, but the historic dominance of the Patriots defense has them at two for the time being.
3. The New Orleans Saints- The Saints are 2-0 since the NFL world was wondering if this team was finished after the injury to Drew Brees. The most impressive thing about this is that New Orleans hasn’t played weak teams, this team went down to Seattle and beat a very good Seahawks team and followed it up by going home and beating an even better Dallas Cowboys team by shutting down their new-look offense.
Against Dallas, the Saints’ defense forced three turnovers and held a talented Cowboys attack to just 257 yards in a 12-10 win. It was the rarest of outcomes for New Orleans, which won for the first time in the Payton era without scoring a touchdown. As long as Teddy Bridgewater can hold the fort down until their Hall of Fame QB gets back, this team will be poised to make a run at the Super Bowl.
4. The Dallas Cowboys- Kellen Moore’s offense was dominated when they went to New Orleans, scoring just 10 points. However, this is still a talented team and will bounce back when they return home to play the Green Bay Packers. Dak and Zeke in particular won’t be stifled by a defense in back-to-back weeks, expect fireworks in Dallas and a return to form for the NFC contender.
5. The San Francisco 49ERS- An early “worst to first” candidate, the Niners have looked like a good team early on in the season. What changed? First, the defense has been much improved in the early part of the season. San Francisco has forced seven turnovers in three games, matching their total for the entire 2018 season.
Secondly, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert have anchored an elite running game. The running game has been important for the continued rehabilitation of Jimmy Garoppolo’s ACL injury. While Jimmy G has been solid to start the season, it is clear that he isn’t fully healthy so it would behoove them to lean on the running game to ease the pressure on their recovering star.
6. The Seattle Seahawks- It appears as though the trade Jadeveon Clowney has already paid dividends for the Seahawks. His pick-six against the Cardinals was a highlight in a 27-10 win that moved Seattle to 3-1 on the season. This team has another early season test, the defending NFC champion Rams are coming to town for a Thursday night division battle featuring two elite teams. I would be remiss to talk about this Seattle team without mentioning Russell Wilson. The Seahawks QB looks like an MVP Candidate and he has shown an ability to carry teams in the past, expect him to lead Seattle to the playoffs.