Another week, another set of results that start to separate the contenders from pretenders, even when the wins and losses don't line up the way we might expect. While it's still too early to make real sense of the NFC North, we do have better feel for which teams have a shot at the playoffs than before thanks to our proprietary ColdHardFootballFacts Quality Stats, and that includes at least one team with a losing record.
Without further ado, here's five big takeaways from where things stand after Week 5 of the 2019 season:
5) As always, the further we get into the 2019 season, the more predictive the ColdHardFootballFacts become. We've now seen enough consistency in the Power Rankings to know that the Patriots are the early season cream of the crop, and the 49ers are at the very least intriguing contenders to the throne. That was further emphasized this week, with San Francisco rising to No. 2 in the Power Rankings behind the Patriots, who continue to lead the way.
4) Despite being blitzkrieged by the Packers, the Cowboys somehow are holding on to a top-five spot in the Power Rankings ... a full four spots ahead of those same Packers. Rather than Green Bay (which dropped in the Power Rankings despite its victory), the big mover in Week 5 was the Vikings, who leapt all the way up to No. 3, with the Chiefs hanging on to the No. 4 spot despite their loss to the Colts.
3) Speaking of the Colts, Indy jumped into a tie for the top spot in the Offensive Hog Index, with Indianapolis and Dallas now sharing the top ranking in our proprietary offensive line statistic. The performance that got them there couldn't have been more telling: A 19-13 slobberknocker victory against the Chiefs in which Indianapolis took ball control and game management to a new height. As part of the performance, second-year left guard — and sideline country music crooner — Quenton Nelson was so dominant he produced the highest Pro Football Focus grade by a left tackle in seven years, as detailed by our weekly Hog Report feature. If that continues, the Colts really could be right in the mix come December.
2) Just like the Power Rankings, the Intelligence Index has rounded into form with, you guessed it, the Patriots living comfortably at the top as if they just moved into a Cape Cod beach house for the full summer (or maybe Nantucket, given coach Bill Belichick's affinity?). In other words, don't expect them to move off their perch anytime soon. Things get considerably more interesting after that, with the Bears hanging on to their No. 2 spot despite a surprising setback to the Raiders in London, the Titans surviving at No. 3 despite a dispiriting 14-7 loss to the Bills (missed field goals will kill you), and the Packers and 49ers rounding out the top five (no surprise there). Given their persistent grip on a top-five spot in the index, the Bears and Titans may be primed as surprising second half surge teams. Stay tuned.
1) Passer Rating Differential has been called the Mother of All Statistics by our Kerry Byrne, and it's still arguably the most predictive stat in football. So it's no surprise to again see the Patriots leading in that category, or to see the 49ers, Seahawks and Chiefs following in spots 2,3 and 4 respectively. The surprise package in Passer Rating Differential? The Lions, who slipped in front of the Cowboys and held off the Packers on their bye week. Now Green Bay and Detroit will face off Monday night, with the winner almost certain to ascend into a top-five spot in the ever-critical indicator of winning football and a key too for our members' betting advantage.