2012 NFL Power Rankings: Week 5
Change at the top? Not this week.
The Texans, thanks to a defense-driven rout of Tennessee, became the first No. 1 to hold serve in 2012. Even though the Falcons needed late-game heroics to beat Carolina at home, our voters (ESPN.com's John Clayton, ESPN.com's Ashley Fox, NFC East blogger Dan Graziano, AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley and NFC West blogger Mike Sando) saw enough to keep Matt Ryan and Co. at No. 2.
That's where the good news ends for the AFC and NFC South. While Houston and Atlanta are sitting pretty at 4-0, their divisional rivals are struggling. No other South team has more than one victory, and the highest ranking from that group belongs to the Buccaneers at No. 22.
Is this significant in the big picture? Well, it's probably a sign that neither the Texans nor Falcons are going anywhere. Both teams already have proved they're for real, and a favorable divisional schedule will only help matters.
But it's not as though the South divisions are hopeless as a whole. Cam Newton and the Panthers have shown flashes. Andrew Luck and the Colts have clear upside. And you can't forget about Drew Brees and the Saints, who are always dangerous despite being 0-4.
So maybe the Texans and Falcons will be challenged down the road. For now, though, the drop-off is precipitous.