The Week 6 Power Rankings are in, and we have a new No. 1, folks.
OK, so you probably saw the headline. But I just want to make sure Carsen Willey doesn't jump the gun:
I already have 3 disapproving tweets saved in my drafts to send to @HarrisonNFL if NE is still ranked below GB in this weeks power rankingsâ Carsen Willey (@CarsenAF) October 12, 2015
Package those tweets, big guy. And please, ask your parents what's up with your name spelling. I have enough trouble typing Akbar Gbajabiamila and Charcandrick West. Mr. West plays for the Chiefs, by the way. They took a plunge this week. One team that didn't take a plunge? Our cleanup hitter, which is just crushing opposing offenses thus far:
You are correct, Chris. In fact, I am going to write a little about that in Thursday's Game Picks column. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. These are the Power Rankings! Let's give 'em their due.
So take a gander below and feel free to share your take: @HarrisonNFL is the place.
Let the dissension commence!
NOTE: The lineup below reflects changes from our Oct. 6 Power Rankings.
Let's be real: Patriots at Cowboys was a mismatch of "Harry Hamlin vs. The Kraken" proportions. And the fact that the football player who has referred to himself by the latter name managed to lay a few licks on Tom Brady didn't translate to diddly-poo in terms of the outcome. Often, sacks are overrated, like when they come in the first quarter of a contest that ends up 30-6 in favor of the other guys. New England is making everyone and everything (that is, any word with a "gate" on the back end) fade into bolivian right now, and it's becoming more and more difficult to keep the Patriots from the top perch in these here rankings. Never mind -- I just moved them.
"You see?! He's not a machine! He's a man!!" Somewhere, Duke from Rocky IV was watching Aaron Rodgers toss not one but two picks at Lambeau -- his first such transgressions there since 2012. One pick came on a tipped ball, while the other was the result of some real professional thievery by Trumaine Johnson. Meanwhile, the Packers drop a spot -- but not because of any shortcomings at home against the Rams. (Well, besides the run defense against Todd Gurley. But that guy's a beast. Whatcha gonna do?) Rather, the Patriots have been walking all over everyone on the schedule -- and they deserve a bump for that.
Wow. What a response in the second half from the Bengals, down 24-7, to climb back into that football game. Andy Dalton is deserving of the rose petals suddenly being thrown at his feet, much like King Joffer, but don't forget the defense, which got after Russell Wilson in the fourth quarter and overtime. Stopping the run -- Seattle finished with 200 yards on the ground -- is another matter, but let's not spoil a 5-0 start.
Another W for the defense, another week questioning Peyton Manning's effectiveness. That's Denver Broncos football these days, and maybe that's not such a bad thing. As long as Manning struggles in stretches, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' guys know they must pick up the slack. It's not all too different from the 2000 Ravens, who realized early on that Tony Banks and Trent Dilfer might only put up 17 points per game ... if that. And by the way, what a crazy-slick move Von Miller put on Raiders right tackle Austin Howard on that strip-sack in the second half. That boy good.
Some queasy stomachs in Atlanta late Sunday, until Kirk Cousins gave everyone in red and black -- including the Coach of the Year Through Five Weeks (not that that is an award or anything) a huge gift: the old chuck-and-duck. Robert Alford's pick-six saved the day in a game where the Redskins were game. That's alright. A win is a win is a win. #5-0
If you didn't see the bomb Carson Palmer threw to John Brown from his own end zone, here it is again. You're welcome. The Cardinals have established themselves as the NFC West's best team -- the question now becomes whether they can challenge the Packers. In case you were wondering, Green Bay plays at Arizona in Week 16.
Rest time for the Panthers, our highest-ranked team with a Week 5 bye. Important for the coaching staff this week: develop a passing game by committee. As well as this football team -- and, to an extent, Cam Newton -- is playing, it will be extremely tough to beat top competition with the 29th-ranked passing game. Carolina has only produced nine pass plays of 20 yards or more, second-fewest in the NFL. No bueno.
Off week for New York -- well, not for the city that never sleeps, but for the Jets, who are 3-1 and still seeking respect following their Week 4 overseas trip. No one seems to trust this football team. There is a complex equation that is responsible for this development: TRF *2 + ATSTJ, where TRF = The Ryan Fitzpatrick Factor and ATSTJ = They're Still the Jets. Said it many times: As long as they can run the football with that defense, the Jets can win games 20-17, and that's what matters. Well, that and Leonard Williams and David Harris finding more health in the downtime.
The loss in Cincy came courtesy of an unimaginative offense that, devoid of its best player, couldn't pick up first downs when needed. If the Seahawks of the past three seasons had been up 24-7 anywhere, it would have been pretty much game over. That's not true of these guys. Thomas Rawls produced (169 rushing yards and a touchdown), but too often, Seattle's offense was left standing around waiting for Russell Wilson to make a play. Jimmy Graham still isn't doing much, and this offensive line is still below mediocre.
Congrats to Big Blue, which more than earned that win Sunday night, as well as the right to never have to watch a daily fantasy commercial again. Eli Manning, for what it's worth, looks like a completely different player than he did in 2012 and 2013. To maestro that game-winning march, with the bargain-basement parts he had on offense, was beyond impressive. Helluva catch there, Larry Donnell.
It wasn't pretty, Bills mafia. Well, that's not totally true; T-Mobile's touchdown run with Buffalo down 10-zip was sweet. The Bills could barely muster anything through the air in Nashville, finishing with 209 yards total, but Rex Ryan's group emerged ugly ... and victorious. The fight for the AFC's two wild-card spots will be much fun.
No game in Week 5 for the 2-2 Vikings. Thus far, consider the 2015 edition of this team good, bad and ugly. The good? Many things, but most notably the defense, which is only allowing 18.2 points per game. The bad? The passing game, which has been totally absent at spots. (At least the wideouts make up for it by not getting any yards after the catch.) The ugly? That Week 1 loss in San Francisco, which looks more and more like an aberration. But it wasn't as ugly as those 49er unis, so that's nice.
Was it the right call or the wrong one? ( @HarrisonNFL) Either way, it worked out. Give Mike Vick a ton of credit for that scramble late, as well as the throw to Heath Miller at the 1-yard line. Most importantly, Lawrence Timmons saved the game with that third-down pass deflection on the Chargers' preceding drive. Keenan Allen would still be running if Timmons hadn't batted that ball.
It's impossible not to pull for Matt Hasselbeck. He runs around with the energy and enthusiasm of a 25-year-old, while treating every drive with a sense of urgency. Not talked about enough from his performance Thursday night: The absolutely gorgeous throw to T.Y. Hilton to seal the game. That's not an easy toss in that situation. It was a third down, where many teams would run to burn clock. That tells you the confidence this team has in its backup. #respect
I'll say this: The Rams' defense came to play Sunday at Lambeau. It would've been nice if the passing game had done anything in the first 58:57. If you remove Stedman Bailey's 68-yard catch-and-run late, Nick Foles threw for 73 yards. Total. Johnny Hekker looked more effective on his 20-yard lob. He's a punter, by the way.
The Chargers had zero business losing that game Monday night. Philip Rivers couldn't get an ounce of help from his offensive line. And Brandon Flowers, who has been a fantastic player in the past, is getting beat week in and week out. He already has allowed four touchdown receptions. Problem is, neither of these issues are going away.
Washington moves up only based on the injuries and failures of the Chiefs, Cowboys and Ravens. Kirk Cousins simply can't make that last throw. Like the guy, but ducking a blitzer and slinging the pigskin outside the numbers where a corner is expecting the throw, in that kind of situation, is asking for a loss. And, in this case, it did lose the game. In fairness, many plays lost the contest down in Atlanta, like averaging 2.1 yards per rush. In fairness, football isn't fair.
I'm not moving Philly up over Washington, not after the Eagles lost there in Week 4. Yes, we are getting to the point where head-to-head matchups don't mean everything in these Power Rankings. But we need to see another week of solid play from this Eagles defense and DeMarco Murray to trust either. Murray still looks more effective running when not in that shotgun, though. How about six tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles from Fletcher Cox? This dude is so underrated.
No drop for the Raiders this week, as they gave a top-five team with a top-one defense all it could handle in Oakland. Interesting point from my NFL Now "GameDay Blitz" buddy Maurice Jones-Drew, who said Derek Carr's costly pick-six was caused by receiver Seth Roberts not turning around for the football. Tough deal for Carr and the boys -- many thought they'd pull off the upset. #nextweek
Gary Barnidge -- you can't even hope to stop him. Speaking of suddenly-dominant 30-somethings ... Josh McCown! After Sunday's 457-yard outing -- which, yes, was a franchise record -- McCown's season stats look like this: 102.8 passer rating, 67.8 completion percentage, 6:1 TD-to-INT ratio. Yup, this is the guy Browns fans wanted firmly parked on the bench. It's been a long time since an entire fan base owed the head coach such a mea culpa. What a win.
Is the season over for Baltimore? With Cincinnati a spotless 5-0, and a series of wild-card contenders at least two games ahead, it's going to be hard for the Ravens to climb back in the mix. Issue No. 1: Joe Flacco has no weapons to target -- at least none that are healthy. Issue No. 2: The secondary is in a competition with the Giants' unit for most-heavily-toasted group in the league. You are allowed to give up 457 yards to a Browns quarterback when his name is Otto Graham. Not when it's Josh McCown. (And by the way, no, Graham never threw for 457. Just sayin'.)
So Greg Hardy played on Sunday -- and early on, he was able to destroy whomever New England lined up at left tackle. In a football sense, he will help the team. But of course, there were throngs of Cowboys fans who didn't want to see him sign with Dallas in the offseason, given his off-the-field issues. We'll see how that plays out over the season. The Cowboys' pass rush was able to decimate the Pats' protection several times in the first half, one of the few bright spots on the day for Dallas. Unfortunately, Brandon Weeden decimated any confidence people had in this Cowboy team sans Tony Romo.
Sure looked like the Titans were going to win on Sunday. What an anticlimactic finish: Down by a point with 1:41 remaining, Marcus Mariota was picked off on the very first play of the drive. He merely needed to move the offense 35 yards to get into Ryan Succop's range. Instead, he forced the ball to Kendall Wright, ignoring the bevy of Bills in the vicinity. Nice to see the kid use his legs in this game, though. Been waiting for that development.
If you're gonna beat up Jay Cutler when he doesn't play well, you gotta give it up when he leads his team back from the dead. The win in Kansas City gave the Bears two straight victories. It also gave Chicago a second straight week of heart-attack fanfare -- especially with the drop-the-football-pick-it-up-and-wing-it-to-my-running-back-in-the-end-zone-with-18-seconds-left play to steal a win. And let me tell you, that was stealing a win in Arrowhead on Sunday. How about Cameron Meredith, an undrafted rookie from Illinois State, catching three balls on the final two scoring drives, all of them for first downs? #scouting
Not sure any fan base took it on the chin as bad as the Chiefs Kingdom on Sunday. Kansas City has no excuse for losing to the Bears, having held a double-digit lead late in the fourth quarter. Not to mention -- but we'll mention -- both touchdowns looked like Jay Cutler simply chucked the ball out there, particularly the game-winner to Matt Forte. Also, losing your best football player on top of the loss? Ugh.
This is as far up as we are moving the Bucs for now, based on the fact that their two wins came against two of the weaker teams in the league. (The Saints and Jags are both 1-4.) Still, nice job by Lovie Smith and company, who shut out the noise following Jameis Winston's miserable day vs. the Panthers, stuck with a game plan that didn't ask for too much from the rookie QB and prevailed. The recipe for success in Tampa: Have Winston drop back 25 times -- tops -- and let the ground attack and defense try to go win the game. Dougie Martin looked fresh Sunday. I see your 123 and two touchdowns.
Blake Bortles' day from a fantasy perspective. The kid posted a sparkling 125.4 passer rating -- and apparently,
he did so with a sprained AC joint. Looks like Jacksonville has found its quarterback.
But -- you knew there would be a "but" -- he just can't throw that second-quarter pick to Bradley McDougald. Not when Allen Robinson is wide open over the middle. And going 2-for-8 on third down hurt Jacksonville, as well.
Of course, Gus Bradley's discipline is the defensive side of the ball -- and giving up 6 yards per play is worse than anything Bortles did. Hard to wrap your arms around these Jags. This is the kind of game -- playing a struggling Tampa Bay team with a rookie QB who turned the ball over four times one week prior -- they need to win. It's that cut and dried.
Love Dan Campbell getting the interim-coaching assignment. Loved him as a player, too, especially with the Giants and Cowboys. In Dallas, Campbell was a gritty guy who could block and catch a key pass and, quite simply, played the game the right way. In 11 years as an NFL tight end, Campbell caught 91 balls -- or roughly a Jimmy Graham season's worth in his New Orleans days. But rather than griping about not getting the ball -- ahem ... like Graham in Seattle -- he was the kind of player who did all the little things to win. This part of his football personality is what this Dolphin squad needs, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
Colin Kaepernick showed up. So did the 49ers. Yet, how the defense managed to let Shane Vereen beat it time and again on that final drive is anyone's guess. Defensive coordinator Eric Mangini didn't seem to call for any type of bracket coverage on the Giants' third-down back -- and it certainly burned San Francisco. The screen pass on third-and-10 was an absolute killer. All of this after the Kap-led offense marched 88, 80 and 80 yards in the second half to score touchdowns. Tough loss.
Once again, Drew Brees put up big numbers ... But turnovers, combined with a defense that couldn't stop anybody, set the scene in Philly. The Eagles ran up 519 yards on 79 plays Sunday. Seriously, 79 plays is a crap-load of plays. Meanwhile, all the highlight packages showed Rob Ryan and Sean Payton "arguing" on the sidelines. Didn't look like much to me. And really, how much back-and-forth is needed when your defense lets the other guys roll up a 5-1-9 spot? That's what we call a one-sided debate.
Bill O'Brien isn't toying with the media or fans in changing his mind on the starting quarterback -- he's toying with the football team, and not in a good way. As former head coach Brian Billick said to us on "NFL HQ" Friday morning, no coach wants to be where the Texans' head man is right now. It's just a horrible spot to be in. Of course, either QB could make it easier on him by simply playing better. The correct choice? Brian Hoyer.
Lions fans. Had to do it -- No. 32 it is for Detroit. Yes, it's certainly bad to be the last remaining winless team in the NFL. But it's a whole lot worse when you've already matched your regular-season loss total from last season. We're just over a month in here, folks.
Well, at least the franchise quarterback isn't getting benched for someone like, say, Dan Orlovsky. That would really be stepping out of bounds for an organization.
Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.