Back-to-back impressive road wins has Carolina making a big move up the rankings
After five weeks, you would think we would have a good read on just about every NFL team. While that’s true for some like Kansas City, Green Bay and others, this past Sunday showed we still don’t have a truly good grip on those teams that hover between the middle of the pack and below thanks to a bevy of upsets.
Doing as much as one can to sort through all that and factoring in everything from overall roster strength, to quarterback play, to the coaching staff, here is the latest edition of NFL power rankings and where every team stacks up from 1 to 32.
Week 6 NFL Power Rankings
1. Kansas City Chiefs
Last week: 1
Another impressive win on Sunday night that further cemented Andy Reid’s team atop the rankings and Alex Smith as the early leader for league MVP. The injuries are starting to mount however and could be a bit of a longer-term concern, especially on defense.
2. Green Bay Packers
Last week: 4
Do not give Aaron Rodgers time. Do not give him time. Dallas found that out twice in 2017 as the Packers look more and more like the NFC favorite if they keep playing like they have. The impressive running of rookie Aaron Jones also gives the team some rare backfield depth that has not been the case in Green Bay for a while.
3. Philadelphia Eagles
Last week: 6
That close loss to the Chiefs in Arrowhead is not a bad blemish to have at this point and it will take quite the collapse for the Eagles not to win the NFC East the way things have played out so far. We’ll find out just how real the team is on Thursday night and if they can pass that test, it might be time to include them in the postseason bye discussion.
4. Atlanta Falcons
Last week: 3
The early bye doesn’t really benefit Atlanta long term, but getting wide receivers back is priority No. 1 heading into that game against the Dolphins, which will serve as a tune-up for the looming trip to Foxborough.
5. Carolina Panthers
Last week: 16
After a few weeks where he didn’t quite look right, Cam Newton finally appeared healthy when slicing up Detroit’s defense. More importantly, we saw the full array of weapons at his disposal as his big wideouts were tough to cover and Christian McCaffrey was a dangerous option on third down and in the end zone.
6. New England Patriots
Last week: 8
Defensive woes? What defensive woes? Although they gave up yards, the Patriots’ defense held a pretty lethal Buccaneers offense to just 14 points despite it being a short week of preparation — including holding on some turnovers. This is still not the juggernaut we all expected in the preseason but that Thursday game was a good sign of things turning around in New England.
7. Detroit Lions
Last week: 2
A slight setback against Carolina hampers some of the early momentum but make no mistake, this is still a dangerous team that is still capable of winning the division. A trip to New Orleans presents a good opportunity to get back on track next Sunday.
8. Washington Redskins
Last week: 7
Bye week and then the 49ers coming to town is a nice breather before a make-or-break stretch the next four weeks that will show us if this is a team capable of getting back to the playoffs.
9. Denver Broncos
Last week: 9
Coming off their bye, the next two weeks are a perfect spot for Denver to show that these Broncos need to be taken seriously before heading to Kansas City. If they stumble against either the Giants or Chargers however, things might not be quite as rosy as the 3-1 start has indicated.
10. Seattle Seahawks
Last week: 15
The offensive numbers weren’t much to write home about but they didn’t get tripped up against the Rams like they have been in the past and grabbed a big division tie-breaker. More importantly, the defense we all expected to see showed up and contained the highest-scoring offense in the league while also forcing a bunch of turnovers. If the offensive line can gel some more, the team may be turning a corner.
11. Los Angeles Rams
Last week: 11
Not the end of the world to lose by six to Seattle, but the manner in which they lost is a little concerning after such a fluid start on offense by Jared Goff and company. This is still a team that doesn’t quite know how to win games but the Rams are right on the cusp.
12. Dallas Cowboys
Last week: 14
Dallas discovered its run game in the fourth quarter but it’s still puzzling why the offense takes so long to get going, putting even more pressure on Dak Prescott’s shoulders. While the sophomore quarterback was still terrific on Sunday, he and the team came up a minute short.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last week: 10
Short week, at home, against a defense that was one of the worst of the league seemed like a perfect spot for the offense to pile up some points. That was not the case against New England and now we’re left wondering what exactly this team is capable of after being a trendy early pick in the division.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last week: 5
Not even the Steelers themselves seem to know what this team is all about. The Ben Roethlisberger comments about his play and Le’Veon Bell’s talk about running the ball are cause for concern if you’re Mike Tomlin even beyond the effort on Sunday. The division is still winnable but that looks a long ways away at the moment.
15. Baltimore Ravens
Last week: 21
Joe Flacco looked elite against a pretty feisty defense over in Oakland in the weekend, further muddling the outlook on just how good or bad the Ravens actually are.
16. Minnesota Vikings
Last week: 13
The defense continues to keep the Vikings in every game they play but there are even more questions about the offense after Case Keenum had to replace Sam Bradford at quarterback. Given the way things have played out so far, it might be time to give the former another start because the latter just isn’t the best option right now.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last week: 28
Lost amid the euphoria of that 30-9 win in Pittsburgh and the defense grabbing all those turnovers – Blake Bortles was just 9-for-14 for 95 yards and a pick. If that doesn’t turn around, Sunday was an outlier for a squad with a terrific defense and one rookie bright spot on offense.
18. Houston Texans
Last week: 12
Deshuan Watson’s five touchdown passes helped reinforce the fact that the concerns are not really on offense with this team. With J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus both gone for the year, the focus will be on the defense trying to get back above water.
19. Oakland Raiders
Last week: 17
Come back soon Derek Carr. Hopefully he brings some cornerback help with him once he returns to the starting lineup.
20. Tennessee Titans
Last week: 18
Losing to a Dolphins franchise in a bit of disarray is disappointing, especially considering that game in Miami was there for the taking. The Matt Cassel experiment further reinforces why it’s ludicrous the team signed Brandon Weeden instead of a certain other out-of-work, backup quarterback.
21. New Orleans Saints
Last week: 20
Two good defensive performances was something nice to take into the bye week. The bigger question is if that can continue as the competition level gets bumped up with the Lions and Packers in consecutive weeks.
22. Cincinnati Bengals
Last week: 25
A.J. Green helped keep things close against Buffalo, but he also helped the Bengals to a win thanks to his play. Now that trip to Pittsburgh looks a lot more interesting than it did a few weeks ago as these two sides are going in opposite directions.
23. Buffalo Bills
Last week: 19
Disappointing loss to Cincinnati but every fan of the Bills has to like the 3-2 start that is good enough to be tied for the division lead at this point in the year.
24. Arizona Cardinals
Last week: 23
Remember when the Cardinals had one of the best defenses in the league, capable of putting pressure on the quarterback while locking down receivers on the back end? Those days seem like forever ago after that lackluster loss to Philly.
25. Chicago Bears
Last week: 24
The Mitchell Trubisky era is upon us and that wasn’t a half bad debut for the rookie at all on “Monday Night Football.” Still, this team has a lot to clean up — especially with penalties — but the offensive creativity and solid defensive play against the Vikings are things to build on.
26. New York Jets
Last week: 26
It’s perfectly Jets for the team to tear the roster down for parts in order to draft a top quarterback, only to see the team pull the football version of Major League and make a surprising rally to shockingly tie for the division lead in mid-October.
27. Miami Dolphins
Last week: 27
Any positive feelings from that win over the Titans was quickly erased later on Sunday afternoon as Adam Gase is quickly entering an important stretch as a head coach.
28. Los Angeles Chargers
Last week: 30
The Los Angeles Chargers got their first win as a franchise in decades and flew across the country to do it. Unfortunately, things don’t get any easier after that.
29. Indianapolis Colts
Last week: 29
Jacoby Brissett continues to do a solid enough job keeping the team afloat in Andrew Luck’s absence. Given the struggles elsewhere around the division, that just might be enough at this point.
30. New York Giants
Last week: 22
Nobody saw this kind of season coming for the Giants and things can only get worse after seeing nearly every wide receiver lost for the year on Sunday. If there’s a bright side, the team can pip their New York rivals for a top quarterback and smooth the transition from Eli Manning easier than expected.
31. San Francisco 49ers
Last week: 31
The bright side for 49ers fans is that they don’t have a more talented roster than Cleveland, but they do have the better coaching staff. It may not result in wins right now but this team is getting closer.
32. Cleveland Browns
Last week: 32
The Browns blew their two best shots at wins this season in back-to-back weeks and any good early play from rookie DeShone Kizer has been wiped out lately. At least they’re way out in front for that top pick and won’t have to sweat things out in December.
— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.