Our NFL Power Rankings enter the Bye Weeks (weeks 5-14) portion of the season, and the following teams took a well-earned rest:
Los Angeles Chargers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Some upsets and another so-called “elite” team fell. That team, the Bills, were upset, but they played at a considerable disadvantage, and the NFL will need to address that. Then there’s the Dallas Cowboys, who went to San Francisco in the game of the week only to be embarrassed and laughed off the field. Right now, there are only a few “elite” teams in the league, but then again, maybe we’re seeing greater parity than most want to admit. Let’s get to this week’s NFL Power Rankings, people!
Note: Numbers in parentheses by team name note their ranking last week and we’re jumping from “Week Four” from last week to reflect the power rankings entering the current week, thus, these are the “Week Six” NFL Power Rankings.
NFL Power Rankings: The Elites
San Francisco 49ers (1) Record: 5-0 – last week, I said the Niners are a machine and moved them up from second in the power rankings to No. 1. It was a brilliant move as they systematically destroyed a top-tier team in the Dallas Cowboys. Their play from every facet shows no current chinks in the armor outside some early red zone issues this season. That could still come back to haunt them, but overall, QB Brock Purdy is no longer a feel-good story as much as he’s playing at a top-tier level. To be a second-year player and play like a veteran as the last pick in the NFL draft proves what a crap shoot drafting can sometimes be. Again, they’re a machine playing at an elite level in every facet. They’ll eventually lose a game, but which team will beat them remains to be seen.
Kansas City Chiefs (2) Record: 4-1 – the Chiefs are a veteran team with enough talent; they can come in and not be 100 percent and still win. That’s what we’re seeing now. QB Patrick Mahomes is enough of a veteran to know he has more than one weapon and responds to it. His play also opens an average rushing attack to look much better. However, all that said, how they face later in the season against other elite teams remains a question considering they’re showing chinks in the armor. The question is if anyone can exploit them.
Philadelphia Eagles (3) Record: 5-0 – the Eagles are winning but winning ugly. However, that’s the mark of a veteran and a team that knows how to win. That said, their first five opponents have a combined record of 9-15, and we need to see how they do against an elite team. The best they’ve done so far is to defeat the upstart Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are now 3-1. The Eagles’ defense, ranked No. 16 entering Week 5, clamped down when they had to against the high-flying Los Angeles Rams, who welcomed WR Cooper Kupp back. Finally, when you shut one weapon down with the Eagles, QB Jalen Hurts finds another, and this week, it was TE Dallas Goedert 8-117-1-9. While yet to be tested, they improve every week.
NFL Power Rankings: Elitism is on their Radar
Buffalo Bills (4) Record: 3-2 – poor Bills. They came away with a dominant win against the Miami Dolphins in Week Four. After losing their opener, they ripped through opponents until this week when they couldn’t defeat “jet lag.” They had to travel across the ocean, deal with a new city, jet lag, and everything that goes with it. The NFL stacked the odds against them, and it showed. This loss was partly the fault of the league itself in making sure the Jaguars had the advantage going in, as the Bills looked terrible with discipline (penalties and no rush attack) and looked awful to the point you knew the trip over the pond to London helped create the atmosphere for them to lose. Two losses in this division may end up being devastating. We’ll see, but this loss does come with a bit of an asterisk when looking at the power rankings. Finally, so much for the return of DE Von Miller, who only played 18 snaps, and worse – the loss of LB Matt Milano (leg) with a broken leg is also brutal.
Miami Dolphins (6) Record: 4-1 – the New York Giants were the antidote the Dolphins needed after an embarrassing loss to the Bills the previous week. I say this because the Dolphins didn’t play their best ball despite the highlight reel plays; it allowed them to get back on the winning track playing their brand of football. You can’t take much out of this game for the Dolphins outside of the fact they took care of a team they were supposed to. The loss last week is still going to stick with them and analysts. It was that brutal against another top-tier team. The Dolphins should destroy teams like the Giants and did that, thus showing they can rebound and not let a significant loss detract them.
Detroit Lions (7) Record: 4-1 – the Lions are improving weekly, which is scary. QB Jared Goff is playing at his highest level in his pro career. This week, the defense showed how they can put a team away that they should put away. This victory wasn’t magical, but a dominant one you expect from a potentially elite NFL team. The Lions are where they need to be, and barring injuries could end up moving up into the elite level (Chiefs, Eagles, and 49ers) before it’s said and done. The final caveat offensively, they were without WR Amon-Ra St. Brown and RB Jahmyr Gibbs and didn’t miss a beat. It was the Carolina Panthers; the point is, they took care of business against a team they were supposed to.
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Better than Average but Still has Kinks to Work Out.
Seattle Seahawks (9) Record: 3-1 – Bye Week.
Jacksonville Jaguars (11) Record: 3-2 – the Jaguars had the advantage here facing the juggernaut Bills. Jacksonville had been in London for two weeks and had no issues with jet lag or adjustments. They still had to win, and many, including analysts, believe the Jaguars must take the next step this season. The Jags are ready with the talent and skill to take the AFC South on paper. It was a significant victory and sends ramifications across the league, handing the Bills a second loss while they’re in a dogfight against the Dolphins. They must take this win and return to the States to win again, or it will be a fluke. Let’s not forget the Jaguars didn’t play brilliant ball with drops, penalties, and fumbles. They were lucky the Bills didn’t acclimate in time for this game.
Dallas Cowboys (5) Record: 3-2 – the Boys’ first loss to the Arizona Cardinals this year had many stating trap game, and I agreed. However, this loss against the top team in the league shows how far off and inconsistent they can be against the elites. They’re pretenders to the throne, but the season is young. Is this a good loss? No, because it showed how bad they can be in a game and not be able to recover. Instead of fighting back, they pressed. That falls on QB Dak Prescott, who threw three interceptions. The Cowboys have lucked out in finding quarterback talent, but they’ve not developed them (Tony Romo and Prescott) to play well enough to take them to the next level. This team also lacks fundamentals, too, at times. We don’t know what to make of them as they’ve beaten the Giants, Jets, and Patriots, three teams with a combined 4-11 record. The Niners are the only team with a winning record they’ve faced. We’re not sure what we have here anymore. It’s another wait-and-see situation.
Cleveland Browns (10) Record: 2-2 – Bye Week.
NFL Powe Rankings: Pretenders or Contenders?
The Baltimore Ravens (8) Record: 3-2 – the Ravens made the mistake of letting the Pittsburgh Steelers hang around through inopportune turnovers and, not realizing when you have a team down, put your foot on their neck and take them out. Their turnovers will become the bane of the Ravens’ existence this season as they go towards a more pass-happy offense. Learning the offense, gelling with players, and a quarterback learning to throw the ball from the pocket will see more turnovers early on than not. That was the case here and could be the case for the foreseeable future. The Ravens are contenders, but they’re probably one year away from being elite and being able to challenge a team that can go all the way.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12) Record: 3-1 – Bye Week.
New Orleans Saints (17) Record: 3-2 – the Saints’ defense looked like the elite defense we heard talked about all offseason. A 35-0 win speaks dominance in every facet of the game. This game also helped take pressure off offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, but not any long-term stress. He’s been the coordinator since former head coach Sean Payton left the team two years ago. He’s been abysmal. The key here is to see if the Saints can carry this win over. QB Derrick Carr (shoulder) is looking much better since his AC joint sprain two weeks ago. Time heals those types of wounds, along with a cortisone shot. RB Alvin Kamara’s return and the continuing building of chemistry between Carr and the offense bolds well. They’ll have a mixed record come the end of the season, but if they can gel as they hope to, they will be a formidable potential playoff team. Don’t forget, the NFC South is wide open.
Los Angeles Chargers (15) Record: 2-2 – Bye Week.
Cincinnati Bengals (24) Record: 2-3 – this analyst asked how far the Bungles can drop after last week’s game. Watching this game, it was clear QB Joe Burrows was not quite back but did progress exponentially with his calf injury. The Bengals are an elite team when healthy, despite not having an offensive line. Without Burrows, they’re near the bottom of the pack. He’s that much of a difference-maker. If he’s genuinely back, they become the favorites to take the AFC North, as the Ravens are too schizophrenic now with their play as they continue to implement a new offense – one more note. Burrow’s injury shows how little of a true offensive genius Zak Taylor is. They’re not competitive when Burrows isn’t 100 percent.
The Rest of the Best or Pretenders
Los Angeles Rams (13) Record: 2-3 – The Rams welcomed Cooper Kupp back into the fold from his hamstring injury. However, it wasn’t enough, and this team continues to lack discipline in critical moments and will never get it together this season with Sean McVay as the head coach. The recipient of a Super Bowl brought on with mercenaries and gifted to them by the refs; this team is a fantasy football machine that will end the season with mixed results. Coaching is critical on teams like this, and many Super Bowl head coaches never deserved accolades as their teams got there despite them. McVay’s one of those, and this year, he must work with what he has as the team blew its salary cap load a few years ago and is nowhere near competitive for a playoff run, much less a Super Bowl run. While competitive, they’ll pull off some upsets but aren’t serious players for the postseason.
Pittsburgh Steelers (22) Record: 3-2 – the Steelers were outplayed on offense by the Ravens, but the Ravens let them hang around until the end of the game when they stole the win. The defense made some key turnovers, and they’ll take the win, but overall, that offense isn’t playing well. It will be the bane of their existence. We’re unsure if it’s an issue with the offensive play-calling or second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett. Time will tell, but right now, this offense can’t hang with anyone, and this defense will have to keep them in the running in the AFC North. It’s a big ask, considering the defense entering Week 5 ranked a paltry No. 23 overall. A significant positive, however, is the connection from Pickett to WR George Pickens – 6-130-1-10 – finally came through after a great preseason. Let’s see if that can continue to develop.
Indianapolis Colts (19) Record: 3-2 – if you’re a fantasy football owner, you probably put RB Jonathan Taylor in your lineup, and no one can blame you. However, his output of 6-18-0 should surprise no one. He’s not in game shape, and remember, he had no training camp and hasn’t been active since January of this year. Thus, you’re looking at a running back who likely won’t do much until three or four weeks from now. Rookie QB Anthony Richardson (shoulder) again failed to finish a game. Is he injury-prone? The team had better hope, not because he is their future. That said, is 1970s porn-stache throwback Gardner Minshew the best backup in the NFL right now? It’s tough to argue he isn’t. Right now, this team is playing team football to use everything they can to come together to win. It’s working and a testament to quality head coaching, a staff that teaches and stresses fundamentals, and being a team, not individuals. The Colts are in the battle for the AFC South. They are legitimate contenders for the division.
Tennessee Titans (14) Record: 2-3 – a WR DeAndre Hopkins, 8-140-0-11, sighting this week. The receiver finally came alive in the loss to the Indianapolis Colts, but one wideout won’t change the Titans’ fortunes. He went for the money, so we know he’s enjoying those checks, but more losses await him and the team. And worse, the Titans are a physical team, and the Colts took it to them and played more physically, which was vital in the Colts’ victory and the Titans’ loss. As stated last week, how RB Derrick Henry goes determines how the Titans win and lose, respectively. This week, Henry went 13-43-0, and they lost. The Titans need to figure out how to play as a multi-dimensional team and not count solely on Henry’s legs, but that’s who they are. This season could be ugly for the Titans, or Henry could get hot, and they fight for a wild-card spot, but we don’t know where they stand so far, outside of losing more than winning.
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NFL Power Rankings: The Get it Together or Else and Overachievers Section
The New York Jets (20) Record: 2-3 was a revenge game for the Jets after Broncos’ head coach Sean Payton didn’t lie but told the truth about how pathetic a job Jets offensive coordinator Nathanial Hackett did as the Broncos head coach. Truth is. Hackett’s not that good. It took him an entire game before someone told him to play to QB Zach Wilson’s strength. However, a rushing attack and a vigorous defense in creating turnovers took control (barely) to win this one out. Wilson’s improving, and the jury is out on how good this team can be. That said, they’re on the outside looking in with the Bills and Dolphins in their division right now.
Minnesota Vikings (23) Record: 1-4 – this team has no discipline and plays recklessly. They’re always in the game but do their best imitation of the Chargers to lose. The losing will continue until this team understands the importance of playing with discipline (penalties, dropped balls, missed assignments) and fundamentals (think proper tackling). Not to mention, who knows how long they’ve lost WR Justin Jefferson (hamstring). One must wonder if head coach Kevin O’Connell’s on the hot seat yet. He should be. The only caveat is they’ve lost to the Chargers, Chiefs, and Eagles, who have a combined record of 11-3, so it’s not like they’re losing to poor teams. You can see how high those teams are in our NFL Power Rankings. A little compassion for the Vikings, but not much!
Washington Commanders (16)Record: 2-3 – we don’t know what we’re getting with the Redskins anymore. They’ll play a team tough like the Eagles, then play down to their opponent, the Chicago Bears, and lose. The problem is a second-year quarterback, Sam Howell, is playing well but too erratic. You can’t blame him, as he’s dying out there with a league-leading 29 sacks against him. That’s on pace for 99 sacks this season alone. The record is 76 sacks in a season against David Carr of the Houston Texans. That goes back to 2002 (21 years ago). Worse, and the actual issue is head coach Ron Rivera’s horrible defense. This defense ranked 32 entering Week 5 and is showing no improvement. This subpar play is an issue because Rivera’s supposedly a defensive guru. Don’t look for Rivera to be coaching this team if this continues. He won’t make it to the end of the season. He deserves the firing; honestly, he’s not deserving of this coaching position.
Atlanta Falcons (27) Record: 3-2 – the hacks (fanboys who don’t know football) don’t want QB Desmond Ridder simply because he’s not a big name. Thus, they’ll dump on him and demand someone else. That’s the world we now live in. Ridder had an outstanding game and could’ve shrunk into a shell of himself, but he returned strong after a horrific previous week. They were facing a Houston Texans team in a complete rebuild. It’s a team playing with an exceptional rookie playing lights out. This week, the Falcons defense held the rushing attack and rookie sensation QB Damon Stroud in check. This win is a significant step forward for this team. Winning against a team they should beat. Expect future losses, but they’re playing for next year, not this year. Oh, there was also a TE Kyle Pitts sighting, 7-87-0-11, but can he do this consistently? Right now, we don’t know, but it’s nice to see Pitts finally get a positive mention in our NFL Power Rankings.
Las Vegas Raiders (29) Record: 2-3 – this was an ugly game the Raiders won against the Green Bay Packers, but they did win: resiliency and persistence and the outstanding play of their defense. Turnovers and we don’t care about the penalty and will horse-collar to take someone down attitudes that saved a touchdown are Raider trademarks. Yet, who would have ever thought the Raiders would commit an enormous penalty and no one complains? The Raiders team has yet to learn how to win under Josh McDaniels. They don’t know how to put a team away, but they’re rarely in a position to win, so they must learn that. This team is not very good but can be competitive. What we saw Monday night is what we can hope to see during their better outings, but a lot of these games will not go their way as it did this week. That is unless they learn how to begin dominating once they take control of a football game.
Green Bay Packers (21) Record: 2-3 – we all thought QB Jordon Love was the next coming, but he’s not. He will need this season to grow, but that’s not bad. It’s better to have a season where you begin rebuilding and creating chemistry as you implement your next potential franchise quarterback. Love has the tools but must learn to be a better player. The Packers under Aaron Rodgers were perennial playoff losers, but the regular season they owned. We’re not seeing that with Love; thus, it’s a regime that needs to realize they must play consummate team football to win. It’s not just the team but a spoiled coaching staff that must re-learn that. This season is a year where that happens, or the next few years will be a nightmare for the pack.
What the Hell, We Have No Clue or Playing for Draft Positions
Houston Texans (18) Record: 2-3 – did the Texans fool us? They’re a fun team to root for. One that’s in a complete rebuild, and yet, they have a rookie, in QB C.J. Stroud, playing lights out and looking like a veteran. It came crashing down this week with a rush attack that the Falcons neutralized, and Stroud’s play wasn’t enough to make up the difference. They will win nothing this year, but they still have enough of a presence to pull off an upset here or there, possibly. That said, their inexperience in not knowing how to win consistently at this level will get them more losses than wins. This year, this is their likely lot in life with our NFL Power Rankings but again. They’re fun to watch!
Arizona Cardinals (26) Record: 1-4 – How can you not root for QB Joshua Dobbs? He’s a fighter and is living the dream as a quarterback no one ever thought would be starting. Not only is he starting, but he’s also improving. The Cardinals hang tough, but eventually, opponents’ natural talent takes over. They’re learning to play together, develop chemistry, and win. They’re no factor this year but look for them to be the losing team that no one wants to play late in the season because they’re physical and don’t give up. It is another loss but another game to gain experience as their rebuild is ongoing.
Denver Broncos (25) Record: 1-4 – this team is terrible, and QB Russell Wilson is part of the problem. His past few years of regression have shown itself since becoming part of the Broncos. Can head coach Sean Payton turn it around? He will, but not this year. This year’s team is playing for jobs next year to set the foundation of Payton’s offense and make their move next season. This loss this week isn’t surprising, but they were competitive, and that’s a positive after a 70-point shellacking two weeks ago. That said, they still remain near the bottom of the league in our NFL Power Rankings.
Chicago Bears (32) Record: 1-4 – What can you say? Last week, we saw Justin Fields finally beginning to play the quarterback position as he should. Drop back and then use your legs after you go through your reads. He was progressing through his reads and finding the open player. Fields is scary good when poised, standing firm in the pocket. Because of that, look for this team to turn it around – at least with their offense. If he continues his play, look for the Bears to pull off some upsets and move up the NFL Power Rankings.
Carolina Panthers (31) Record: 0-5 – more reps for rookie QB Bryce Young, the overall No. 1 pick. However, his development looks ugly to where we need to see more significant improvement. Is he improving? That’s up for debate, but in his defense, they lack a rushing attack and quality top-tier wideouts in their prime. Some will say he has his moments, but the problem is that greatness comes out of broken plays, pressures, etc. He’s showing none of that, and that’s the concern. We’re not saying bust, but we’re disappointed so far.
New York Giants (30) Record: 1-4 – the offensive line is still a wreck. The defense doesn’t know how to tackle; overall, this team has no discipline or fundamental play. Not to mention, they’re not playing with any urgency. All this falls on the feet of head coach Brian Daboll, but he’ll get a pass despite the fact this team is terrible and will not improve much this year. Not to mention QB Daniel Jones (neck) got hurt, and while it appears minor, they can ill-afford to lose him at this point. That said, it’s not like he’s providing the team a spark or leadership role. Has there been a more significant embarrassment from a playoff team the previous year to the following year? I’m not sure. One last point on Jones: he’s the second-most sacked quarterback in the league with 28 and is on pace for 95 sacks. That would shatter the record of 76 sacks in a season.
New England Patriots (28) Record: 1-4 – the last two games, the Patriots have scored only three points to their opponents 72. It doesn’t get much worse, and head coach Bill Belichick is talking about starting over. That’s a nice thought with no ability to make it happen. This team is playing even worse than last year when they had a defensive coordinator playing the offensive coordinator role. Right now, they’re in a complete funk, and no one knows how they can right the ship. It doesn’t matter who the quarterback is, Mac Jones or backup Bailey Zappe, as this team’s problems are much deeper than just quarterbacks. They have massive issues in every facet of the game.
There you have it my friends. The NFL Power Rankings – Week Six. Let us know if you agree or disagree and where we went wrong.