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The first quarter of the NFL season is over, and there's now a near-consensus top three in the major power rankings heading into Week 5.
The Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots are alone at the top in every ranking with the Pats holding a 5-2 edge in terms of votes for the top spot. They were on their bye week in Week 4 while the Packers suffocated the San Francisco 49ers en route to a 17-3 win.
As for the No. 3 team, the Cincinnati Bengals are now in that spot in six of the seven major power rankings heading into Week 5. NFL.com's Elliot Harrison offered the most in-depth reason why everyone is now jumping aboard the Bengals bandwagon:
How difficult it must be to gameplan for these Cincinnati Bengals right now. You never know who's going to get the football or be the focal point of the offense. On Sunday, Giovani Bernard got more touches out of the backfield than Jeremy Hill, but the latter scored three touchdowns. A week after A.J. Green posted 227 yards, he was outgained by Mohamed Sanu (84 yards on four catches), who had posted all of 77 yards combined through the three prior weeks of play. Meanwhile, the run-pass ratio was fantastic, with coordinator Hue Jackson overseeing 26 run plays versus 24 passes. You couldn't draw it up any better.
Bleacher Report also had very favorable things to say about the Bengals:
The Bengals are so deep offensively that four different pass-catchers recorded a 30-plus-yard reception Sunday during a win over the Kansas City Chiefs. That happened while running back Jeremy Hill scored three times, and for the second straight week, quarterback Andy Dalton averaged a ridiculous 12-plus yards per pass attempt (he finished at 13.4 Sunday). Winning isn't supposed to be this easy.
The lowest ranking the Bengals got this week was at ESPN, who still had them at No. 5 following their 36-21 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. It's fair to see why the experts and analysts on ESPN might be hesitant to raise the Bengals' ranking. Of their four wins, all have come against teams ranked in the 17-20 range of ESPN's latest rankings.
It's also worth noting that Cincinnati will face easily its biggest test of the season when the Seattle Seahawks come to town next Sunday. The two-time NFC winners are now ranked in the 6-8 range in all but one power ranking (SB Nation has them at 10). The Bengals will likely be favored in this matchup, but this is still arguably their toughest opponent through the first five weeks of the season.
Here's a roundup of all the current power rankings compared to last week.
|CBS Sports (Pete Prisco)||4||3||1|