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Week 5 NFL Power Rankings: the Chiefs and Patriots have dug the trenches

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The battle lines at the top have been drawn, and may not change for a while

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AFC Championship: New England Patriots Vs Kansas City Chiefs At Arrowhead Stadium Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

As the Week 5 NFL Power Rankings are released, I can’t help but think about the fall of 1914. As World War I began, the Germans had quickly advanced through Belgium and France before being stopped at the Marne. Both armies dug in. The trenches ran from from the northern coast of France to the Swiss border. For three long years — until the United States entered the war — they would remain almost exactly where they were.

Now the New England Patriots are firmly on top of the rankings, and the Kansas City Chiefs are solidly in second place. It may stay that way for a while. But which team represents the French and British, and which represents the Germans? This week’s MMQB poll may provide a clue.

Here’s a sampling of this week’s NFL power rankings:


NFL.com: 2

(unchanged from 2)

So much for a dome environment unlocking even greater powers for Patrick Mahomes. The reigning MVP threw for 315 yards, but finished without a touchdown pass against the Lions at Ford Field -- ending a 14-game streak in which he’d thrown at least two TD strikes per game, one short of the NFL record. Still, Mahomes made magic when it mattered most for the undefeated Chiefs. Down 30-27 and facing a fourth-and-8 with less than two minutes to play, Mahomes scrambled 15 yards to move the chains. Darrel Williams would cap a 13-play, 79-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge. Meanwhile, the decision by Chiefs corner Bashaud Breeland to scoop up a loose football at his own goal line and run it back 100 yards the other way for an uncontested touchdown will serve as a teaching tool for offensive and defensive coaches going forward. (The lesson? Play through the damn whistle!) A 14-point swing in a game ultimately decided by four points. — Dan Hanzus


ESPN: 2

(unchanged from 2)

FPI chance to make the playoffs: 99.1%

How to increase their playoff chances: Improved defensive efficiency. The Chiefs have allowed opponents to score on 43% of their possessions, which is 25th in the league. The Chiefs are 4-0 despite this, so they’re going to make the playoffs regardless. But cutting down on opponent scoring drives will give them more margin for error. Adam Teicher


Sports Illustrated MMQB: 1

(up from 2)

Chiefs vault Patriots for first time this season, thanks to quality of wins and opposition. K.C. and New England could jockey at the top of these rankings until they actually play on Dec. 8.


Pro Football Talk Football Morning in America: 2

(down 1 from May ranking)

The Chiefs have had two gut-check wins in a row: 33-28 over Baltimore and 34-30 at Detroit. And though Patrick Mahomes wasn’t his best Sunday, he made enough plays to win, particularly on the late 79-yard drive that clinched the game. The Chiefs’ D is a worry, and they’ll probably have to score in the thirties to ensure winning January games. But that’s what Mahomes does. I figured out Sunday that Mahomes, in his first 23 NFL starts, has thrown for 1,431 more yards than Dan Marino in his first 23 starts. Sheesh. The Chiefs will be a tough out in January, either in Foxboro or Kansas City … or in south Florida, site of the Super Bowl. — Peter King


CBSSports.com: 2

(up from 3)

So now they know they can win when Patrick Mahomes doesn’t throw a touchdown pass. The defense needs to be better and the interior of the offensive line is an issue. — Pete Prisco


Yahoo! Sports: 2

(unchanged from 2)

The Travis Kelce-to-LeSean McCoy lateral might be my favorite play from the first month of the season. The Chiefs are the most entertaining team in the league, and might be as long as Patrick Mahomes is their quarterback. — Frank Schawb


The Sporting News: 2

(unchanged from 2)

The Chiefs don’t get style points for what they did on the road, either. But in a game where he didn’t have any touchdown passes, dazzling or otherwise, Patrick Mahomes still showed all of his playmaking and toughness in late comeback mode. — Vinnie Iyer


USA Today: 2

(unchanged from 2)

Of next five games, one is on road (Denver) and one is against team above .500 (Packers). This is the time to put AFC West out of reach. Nate Davis


The Washington Post: 2

(unchanged from 2)

Patrick Mahomes was not at his breathtaking best against the Lions. But it says plenty that he still was quite good and that he and the Chiefs found a way to win. — Mark Maske


Mile High Report: 2

(unchanged from 2)

Reason to root: Patrick Mahomes is on your fantasy team and you won’t be able to root for him once the Broncos are playoff contenders.

— Just_JoRo


Bleeding Green Nation: 2

(unchanged from 2)

The Chiefs looked surprisingly vulnerable in Detroit. Maybe it was just a classic Andy Reid letdown game. In any case, they were fortunate to escape with a win. — Brandon Lee Gowton