NFL Power Rankings, Week 6: Vikings at No. 1; Falcons vault up

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The Power Rankings curse!

Each of the past three editions of this piece has featured a new team in the pole position. And in each instance, the new No. 1 went down the Sunday after its coronation. The Steelers were flattened in Philadelphia in Week 3. One week later, the Jacoby Brissett-led Patriots suffered an epic hangover at home against Buffalo. And on Sunday, Denver's imposing defense was exposed all over the field by the Falcons' dynamic backfield duo.

So you can't blame fans if they're worried about assuming the throne ...

Understood, Scott. You look shady.

That I am a doubter.

And some fans ask ...

... and they shall receive. See below, big money. Received many tweets with #skol mentioned somewhere.

The Vikings got their respect. Those Falcons received plenty of love, too, climbing deep into the top 10. For the full rundown, see below. Your take is welcome: @HarrisonNFL is the place.

Let the dissension commence!

NOTE: The lineup below reflects changes from our Oct. 4 Power Rankings.

PREVIOUS: Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1 | Preseason

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5-0 VIKINGS

1

How do you keep the Vikings out of the top spot? They're the only undefeated team left, have beaten three playoff participants from last season and are allowing the fewest points per game in the NFL. What makes this new No. 1 even more fun: This our fifth different pole sitter of the young season. Minnesota smacked around the Texans on Sunday, giving Houston receivers little room to breathe while making Brock Osweiler look like a pedestrian quarterback. (Maybe he is a pedestrian quarterback.) The Texans went a combined 1 for 14 on third and fourth downs while totaling 214 yards of offense.

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4-1 PATRIOTS

1

Tom Brady was so rusty Sunday. He missed on two of his first 10 passes! He even overthrew Julian Edelman on a potential touchdown!! Gimme a break. In 2053, when we've mastered the arts of cloning and reanimation, I want us to put Brady and Don Coryell on the same sideline. Let 'em air it out. The future deserves this. With Brady in the lineup, anticipate both tight ends being threats (Gronk eclipsed 100 yards receiving Sunday, while Martellus Bennett snagged three touchdown passes), James White being more involved, and guys like Chris Hogan having the occasional 100-yard half.

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3-1 SEAHAWKS

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Seattle was on a bye last week, allowing Seahawks fans to enjoy a Sunday free of serious stress about their offensive line. So given that unit's previous struggles, why are the Seahawks not lower? The return of Germain Ifedi, the team's top draft pick, has much to do with it. The rush totals weren't great in Week 4 at New York, but even the Great Wall of Dallas couldn't get Seahawks running backs to average 5 yards per carry against that Jets front. That said, there were also plenty of pass plays where Russell Wilson was getting more than enough time to throw. Look no further than the long touchdown to Tanner McEvoy (... whom nobody started in fantasy).

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4-1 FALCONS

6

What a showing. What. A. Showing. Tevin Coleman (163 scrimmage yards) and Devonta Freeman (123 scrimmage yards) sprinted, meandered, cut, curdoodled, spun and frolicked their way through the Broncos' defense Sunday. They were like William Andrews and Gerald Riggs out there, circa 1983. Too dated a reference? Fine. How about a more recent callback, while staying in this division: 'Member when Warrick Dunn and Mike Alstott were so difficult to stop on those Tony Dungy Bucs teams? Atlanta controlled the entire affair in Denver, partially due to fantastic play calling from Kyle Shanahan. Over the past two weeks, the Falcons have scored 71 points on the two Super Bowl combatants from last year. #riseup #dirtybirds #juliojones #julioiglesias #4-1

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4-1 BRONCOS

4

Certainly not a team in disarray, but a drop is warranted for the Broncos. Gary Kubiak's health is of prime concern -- so much of this football team's consistency comes from the steady hand of its head coach. The home loss to the Falcons was dispiriting, as Atlanta's running backs controlled the day. Most disturbing to the fans, though, must have been the play of the offensive line, which was absolutely brutal against a middling Falcons pass rush.

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4-1 STEELERS

1

Not getting too high on the Steelers quite yet. Even their most ardent fans will tell you they have a maddening habit of dropping games to way lesser teams -- like the Dolphins this coming weekend? -- in the Mike Tomlin era. No bumblin' and stumblin' for the Steelers this past Sunday, though. Sammie Coates caught the home-run ball and dropped the easy 1-yarder. Tight end Jesse James picked him up, though, with a touchdown grab on the very next play, setting off chants of "Heeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaathhhhh" from some in the stadium. (Never mind that former Steelers tight end Heath Miller has been retired for eight months.) Notice who we're talking about here: Coates and James. These guys, RT Chris Hubbard, and other spare parts contributed in a big way. The Jets came out with a game plan to stop No. 26 and A.B. -- only to get beat by everybody else.

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3-1 PACKERS

2

Weird win at Lambeau Field on Sunday night. Did it feel like the Packers played well? No, because Aaron Rodgers was uncharacteristically off and several drives stalled. Meanwhile, Dom Capers' defense balled out with a performance that was especially impressive given the unit was devoid two corners. What an intriguing matchup, historically speaking, between the Giants and Packers (with the Cowboys on deck this Sunday). New York and Green Bay faced off in back to back NFL title games in the early days of the playoff system, 1938 and '39. The two franchises then played for the championship again in 1944. Vince Lombardi's Packers would face the Giants -- the team he first broke into the NFL with, as a successful offensive coordinator -- in the 1961 and '62 championship games, with the Pack winning both bouts. Later that decade, Lombardi met Tom Landry and his Dallas teams in the '66 and '67 NFL title games, with the Pack winning both of those, too. Competing as coaches was old hat to Landry and Lombardi, as Landry was the Giants' defensive coordinator at the same time Lombardi was directing the offense. Imagine those practices.

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4-1 COWBOYS

No place to move for the Cowboys despite the impressive win. It's a steady group north of this spot. The Seahawks were on a bye, while the Packers won again and are better on defense. Then you have the Steelers, who look unstoppable on offense. Dallas plays Green Bay on Sunday, Philly two weeks after that and Pittsburgh two weeks after that. Interesting stretch. While Ezekiel Elliott piles up the yards and Dak Prescott gets all the non-Billy-Bush-related press, how about that secondary? Andy Dalton was under fire, but much of it was because his first read was blanketed.

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3-1 EAGLES

3

Hard to get after Carson Wentz for chucking the deep ball ( that was ultimately intercepted) on the Eagles' last-gasp attempt in Detroit. Wentz has performed brilliantly, and he threw his first pick on the 135th pass of his young career. Now, Ryan Mathews' fumble? Dude. It's third-and-2, and the sweep play didn't have a prayer of making the first down. Cover up the ball. At the very least, carry the ball in the offside arm. Mathews' primary job was to run the clock down, which requires keeping the ball. Obvi.

Power Rankings side note: Yes, the Eagles blew out the sixth-ranked Steelers in Week 3, but that Pittsburgh team did not have Le'Veon Bell in the fold yet. Now that he's back, this is a different Steelers squad. It's like the Pats with Tom Brady. In case you were wondering.

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4-1 RAIDERS

1

Another thrilling, late win for the Raiders, who are probably freaking out their fan base with all the close calls. Every game comes down to the wire, with different heroes each week. In Week 4, it was Michael Crabtree and Marquette King. (The latter of whom is flat-out awesome to watch. I don't care if he's a freaking punter. He's awesome.) This past Sunday, it was Amari Cooper and little-known defensive tackle Stacy McGee. A former sixth-round pick, McGee posted four tackles, 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles on a day Oakland really needed it. #4-1

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3-2 BILLS

4

Merely a guess here, but thinking Rex Ryan's job is not in jeopardy right about now. So will these Bills break their fans' hearts? If the defense performs as it has the last three weeks, some integral parts get healthier (please, Sammy Watkins) and LeSean McCoy continues to rip off Shady-style runs, anything is possible. There are no world-beaters in the AFC right now. The Patriots already fell to these guys (though they were without Mr. Brady). The Steelers are vulnerable in the secondary. The Broncos have trouble stopping the run (hello again, Shady). You get the point. #Billsmafia

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3-2 RAMS

1

Tie ballgame ... late in the third quarter ... with the defense playing well ... And Case Keenum forces an intermediate throw toward the sideline. It's a risk that he and the Rams, simply can't afford to take. It would have taken a howitzer to get the ball to Pharoh Cooper before Nickell Robey-Coleman closed. The Bills CB personified the Pyramid of Success with competitive greatness, picking off the ball and sprinting into the end zone to put Buffalo up 23-16. Los Angeles isn't good enough to overcome spotting the other team points. The Rams must play quality defense, which they did -- save for some unsavory LeSean McCoy runs -- and solid special teams to win. On the latter point: The (failed) fake punt, deep in their own territory, was gutsy. Maybe too gutsy.

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2-3 CARDINALS

4

Win the turnover battle and you often win the battle. I still remember sitting with the researchers at the NFL West offices toward the end of the 2014 season, and for the life of them, they couldn't figure out how the Cardinals were winning with Drew Stanton at QB. I suggested a potential factor: fourth-quarter turnovers. We looked it up, and sure enough, Arizona had forced 14 turnovers in the fourth quarter to their opponents' four takeaways. Last Thursday, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Marcus Cooper picks Blaine Gabbert to set up a Chandler Catanzaro field goal. That put the Cards up a comfortable 10 points. Huge play in the game.

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2-3 BENGALS

5

There's really no getting around it: Cincy got pushed around on both sides of the ball. Watched every play of the second half, when the Bengals actually played better and the Cowboys tapped the brakes considerably (playing clock ball). Still, too many times, Andy Dalton's protection couldn't hold the fort past the three-second mark. Moreover, Dallas was sending four rushers, running stunts and twists. First half? Don't even go there.

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3-2 REDSKINS

3

Once again, Sunday's win was no Picasso. Yet here the Redskins are, nipping at the Cowboys' and Eagles' heels in the NFC East. Kirk Cousins looked like a happy man postgame, even on a day when the offense needed a huge boost from the special teams ( see: Jamison Crowder). In fact, Cousins was so chill he simply wanted a Nationals update from the media throng in Baltimore. Redskins fans want more defense like they saw on Sunday. Wheeeeeere did that come from?!

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3-2 TEXANS

4

Going to try and hold steady with the Texans, but think they deserve a more significant drop, based on how bad they've looked in their two losses. So what gives? Well, for one thing, the Vikings' defense has made everyone and everything look silly -- every offensive scheme, every play call, every playbook, every 15-play script and every $72 million quarterback. Gotta say, though: Loved the screen pass to Will Fuller on fourth-and-16 in the second half. It netted 4 yards. #winningfootball

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2-2 CHIEFS

1

What an awful time last week was for a bye. Could you imagine? You have a cruddy day at work, where you fail to deliver on time -- wouldn't that make your ensuing vacation to Legoland kind of suck? That stuff would sit with you, whether you had a margarita (no salt) in your hand or not. Thinking the Chiefs' secondary will be supremely motivated Sunday in Oakland. In other news, I found myself at the premier of E!'s "Catching Kelce," Travis' new dating show, in Los Angeles. More talent on that deal than in the Chiefs' secondary. Wait a minute: That's not what I meant to say. It was ... interesting. Kelce owns a sweet plaid suit straight out of 1973, man. Seriously.

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3-2 RAVENS

4

At this point, after all of the nail-biters, Baltimore games need to start being accompanied by one of those medical disclaimers: Raven games can cause lack of sleep, anxiety, headaches, boundless diarrhea, bleeding eyeballs. Please consult your doctor before watching. Sunday's loss vs. regional combatants proved no different, as the outcome hung on a final Ravens drive. Mike Wallace must catch that ball.

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2-3 LIONS

3

Detroit's first drive of Sunday's ballgame against Philly: 11 plays, 75 yards, touchdown. Second drive: nine plays, 80 yards, touchdown. Third drive: 12 plays, 75 yards and Matt Stafford's third TD throw in as many drives. All this against a defense that had allowed 20 points total over its first three games. Former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, now running the Eagles' D, made the proper adjustments after that initial onslaught. But give Teryl Austin a, uh, postgame handshake for the way his unit stepped up.

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2-3 GIANTS

Valiant effort by the Giants' defense in the second half to keep the offense in the game. Yet, after multiple dud drives from Eli and Co. and six Brad Wing punts, Steve Spagnuolo's unit didn't have the gas to stop the Packers in the end-game scenario. Unfortunate, considering Big Blue's offense finally woke up with five minutes to go. Beautiful toe-drag swag (thank you, @Nate13Burleson) by Odell Beckham Jr. to get that touchdown. I also appreciate his affection toward the kicking net, but that might not be the net's love language.

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1-4 JETS

We can talk fourth downs, Darrelle Revis or the slumping offense all day long, but the broader point is that the season is slipping away fast. Recently spoke with my colleague -- and lifelong Gang Green fanatic -- @DanHanzus (his name is Dan, not @Dan) regarding the Jets' fortunes. We both feel that winning on opening day would have been paramount to them having a good season, given how tough the schedule is. New York controlled that Week 1 bout versus the Bengals and had no business losing. Now the Jets are 1-4.

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2-3 BUCCANEERS

1

Observing a few of the play calls late Monday night -- particularly after Jameis Winston forced a throw to Mike Evans with Kurt Coleman over the top -- it was obvious Dirk Koetter had more faith in an insult-free presidential debate than Winston airing it out in the end. Well, he might have had less confidence in his kicker. Lo and behold, both young players came through in the end. Bold prediction: Roberto Aguayo misses just two kicks the rest of the year.

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1-4 PANTHERS

4

Here we are, hours later, and I still can't believe Derek Anderson forced that ball into double coverage on first-and-goal from the 1. Panthers fans can't believe the play call from OC Mike Shula. (I'm right there with them.) But Anderson still could've chucked the throw out of the end zone. How about letting Mike Evans convert a third down when he was the only wide receiver on the field? Remember this bold prediction for Carolina?

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1-3 JAGUARS

The Jags got a bye fresh off the game in London, which is normal ... Well, unless you're the Colts. Taking the weekend off after playing overseas makes sense, even if a Week 5 bye is not ideal (too early). Wonderful that Jacksonville finally landed in the win column, and the bye gave Julius Thomas' elbow a chance to heal, but can we get Chris Ivory going? The prized free-agent acquisition has 20 carries for 43 yards. #getexcited

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25

2-3 COLTS

Late-game deep ball to T.Y. Hilton saves the day a week after a late bomb to Phillip Dorsett almost did the same in London. Speaking of, many wondered why the Colts didn't get a week off after their trip over the Atlantic. Judging by the defense Sunday, they could've used it. How this group allowed a Brian Hoyer-commanded attack to put up well over 500 yards of offense is anyone's guess. Well, Indy fans will point to the GM's office. The GM apparently points the finger at this quarterback. So, I'll give you 101 guesses who is right -- and the first 100 don't count.

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26

2-3 TITANS

2

Every week in the NFL, there is a win that flies under the radar -- lost among the big-market teams, lost among wide receiver temper tantrums, lost among Dak/Wentz mania. This past weekend's nominee: Those pesky little Titans taking it to the Dolphins in Miami. Tennessee has been in every game. Maybe could have won at Houston in Week 4. Right now, though, fresh off a road win, the Titans are one game back of those Texans. With 235 rushing yards Sunday, still feeling confident about that bold prediction back in July.

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27

1-3 SAINTS

1

It was rest-and-relaxation time for the Saints after a hard-fought win in San Diego. Well, unless you're the assistant coaches. Dennis Allen must figure out a way to play viable team defense with a bunch of guys who, quite frankly, wouldn't start for the majority of teams in the league (and wouldn't see playing time in Seattle, Denver or Minnesota). Analysts, particularly the fantasy types, have poked fun at his unit. Bear in mind this group is awfully banged up, having lost eight starters for at least one game this season. That includes their top draft pick (Sheldon Rankins) and their best cover corner (Delvin Breaux). The early bye week, at least in the Saints' case, is a blessing.

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1-4 CHARGERS

1

Sent this tweet out on Sunday and stand behind it fully. It absolutely boggles my mind that people can consider Joe Flacco or Eli Manning to be better than Philip Rivers simply because of a ring (or two). This is pro football, not effing Mordor. Rivers has been consistently outstanding for the bulk of his career, and while those other guys have displayed moments of brilliance, they've also been consistently mediocre. Rivers single-handedly keeps the Chargers afloat while everything around him crumbles. Would anyone have watched "The Hunt for Red October" if Sean Connery wasn't in it -- and it only featured Alec Baldwin with slicked-back hair working with the Jurassic Park guy in a big stolen sub? Rivers' hold on being an all-timer is a helluva lot firmer than his holder's -- tell you that right now. Alright, I'm done. Rant over.

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1-4 49ERS

Whispers ... then rumors ... Colin Kaepernick off the bench? More than a few folks are wondering when the former franchise quarterback will start to again garner headlines in the football -- not social -- sphere. Will Chip Kelly address the quarterback position soon? It's certainly fair to question how much longer Blaine Gabbert will be the answer. Through five games this season, Gabbert is completing 58 percent of his passes while averaging a paltry 5.93 yards per attempt, and he's tossed more interceptions (six) than touchdown passes (five). He's motored out of the pocket well, but a sub-70 passer rating and 1-4 record won't earn you a Fathead on some San Jose kid's wall. (UPDATE: Tuesday after publishing, Chip Kelly announced that Colin Kaepernick would start San Francisco's Week 6 game in Buffalo.)

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30

1-4 BEARS

Don't put 1-4 on Brian Hoyer. That guy was a stud Sunday. If you don't believe me, ask Texans fans who watched a quarter of the Osweiler product in Minnesota. Hoyer produced a staggering 397 yards in Jay Cutler's stead against the Colts. In his second career start, rookie running back Jordan Howard rushed 16 times for 118 yards. That's over 7 yards per tote, man. So, what went wrong for the Bears? Well, we've decided to whittle the un-success down to one play as a microcosm of the non-Cubs issue in Chicago.

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1-4 DOLPHINS

No fan base lobbies like the Dolphins ... to be No. 32. For the second straight week, received tweets imploring me to call out Miami as the worst team in the league. Here's the problem: Even if I made that play, it would be nullified by a false start, holding penalty or some other ill-timed Dolphins infraction. Give Miami 83 more yards of penalties on Sunday and 23 total fouls over the last three games. Hey, at least the Dolphins make up for it by not even converting 30 percent of third downs. Miami ran 41 plays this weekend. That's a horrific number. The Patriots ran 41 in the first half in Cleveland.

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32

0-5 BROWNS

So Cody Kessler won't be the third Browns quarterback to be put on ice. Good thing, too, because the great savior -- of football, anyway -- lasted about a half after Kessler left Sunday's game. For a minute there, I was wondering if it was going to be Brian Sipe time. How about Todd Philcox? Does anyone remember him? (@HarrisonNFL) Terrelle Pryor is the team's premier weapon, so you can't let him take too many snaps -- unless you want him to also end up on the sidelines in street clothes, à la RGIII and Josh McCown. In the oddest of ironies, there was Derek Anderson, the onetime Browns Pro Bowler who won 10 games for Cleveland in 2007, slinging the ball around the park for Carolina on Monday night (... and turning it over -- so maybe it wasn't ironic, but congruent). I'm looking for an excuse to put another team in this spot.

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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