Finally, the Arizona Cardinals get the respect that they deserve and take top spot in my power rankings. There is a very talented upper class in the NFL through six weeks and that's why I owe Dallas Cowboys fans an apology here. You are right to feel your team has been harshly treated as they drop out of the top five, I just couldn't ignore Baltimore's bullying dismantling of the Chargers.
The Cardinals keep providing an emphatic answer to every test placed in front of them and they have the look of a complete team built to last. The defense stepped up big at Cleveland with five sacks and three takeaways and we already know what the Kyler Murray-led attack can do.
The Bucs might be one of the quietest 5-1 teams in recent NFL history and the defending Super Bowl champs won’t mind that one little bit. Despite injuries in the secondary, the defense is top 10 thanks to an outstanding wall against the run. The offense ranks in the league’s top five in six different categories.
I’m not slamming the Bills too hard for their Monday night loss to Tennessee. But they showed once again that they struggle on the defensive side of the ball when they come up against a really physical opponent. With Josh Allen (353 yards and three touchdowns last week) at the helm, the Bills are still contenders.
Sean McVay is going to be driving around in his new Porsche this weekend, while his old Ford Fiesta sits parked on the other side of the field going nowhere. For those not keeping up with the clunky analogy, Matthew Stafford takes on Jared Goff this weekend as the Detroit Lions come to town. Awkward!
The Ravens did not have a single rusher gain more than 53 yards, Mark Andrews was the leading receiver with 68 and Lamar Jackson threw for just 167 yards. But Baltimore beat a quality opponent by 28 points, pressuring LA’s Justin Herbert on 33 of his 42 dropbacks last Sunday. That was Ravens football, right there.
Dallas have won five straight, including a big overtime win on the road in New England last week and I drop them three spots. What am I thinking? I’m thinking I really like those above them. I’m also thinking that this Dallas team is going to be in the mix come January, providing Dak Prescott’s calf is all okay.
You have to credit Aaron Rodgers with being able to play quarterback for one NFL team while owning another. There is not a huge amount of shine to the Packers at the moment but their business-like approach has seen them win five straight since losing to New Orleans in Jacksonville on opening weekend.
It was a bad day at the office for the Chargers, who are now on a bye week. Justin Herbert is too special to drop into a slump at quarterback. The real issue is how do the Chargers shore up a run defense allowing 162.5 yards per game on the ground? That’s 21 yards per game more than the next-worst in Houston.
The Chiefs are a mystery and a bit of a lottery. On the one hand, you can say that ill-fated turnovers in the playoffs could bury them. But you could also argue that their scoring explosions could also take down a fancied opponent. I tend to believe the turnovers have to be cleaned up or they will down this contender.
The Joe Burrow-Ja’Marr Chase connection rightly grabs our attention because they serve up a highlight reel play every weekend. But let’s also give a nod to Cincinnati’s defense which ranks eighth in the NFL in yards allowed and fifth in scoring. That unit is a big reason these Bengals are 4-2 through six weeks.
Derrick Henry is as close as you will come to a one-man band in the ultimate team sport. The Titans know that as well and will keep feeding the beast until he wears down. We’re in the midst of greatness when it comes to Henry. Appreciate his every run if you can because this guy is destined for the Hall of Fame.
The injury list is longer and more dramatic than Baker Mayfield’s Hail Mary touchdown pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones last week. It starts with the quarterback but extends to both offensive tackles, running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, as well as wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The Browns could be in season-destroying trouble.
The Silver and Black will fancy their chances of recording a home win against Philadelphia this weekend. And if they do that, the Raiders will be 5-2 on the season and right in the thick of the playoff race. Derek Carr continues to be the driving force as he ranks second in the NFL with 1,946 passing yards.
Sean Payton spent a fortune on yo-yos, imploring every player on his team not to be an up-and-down performer. They gave alternated wins and losses on the season. Coming off a bye, it’s the turn of the losses as the Saints visit Seattle. But I think they can buck that trend and get the win to stay alive.
This flaky team is fun to watch, providing you are a neutral. The offensive firepower was on display during last week’s win over Carolina as the Vikings put up 571 yards (third-most in franchise history). Also evident was another defensive meltdown and another late-game kicking adventure featuring Greg Joseph.
After a 1-3 start, the Steelers have scrabbled back to 3-3 without setting pulses racing along the way. Ben Roethlisberger and the entire offense have their limitations. While the defense led by T.J. Watt will have strong outings along the way, Pittsburgh are little more than a middle-of-the-pack team, to me.
I have to give credit to the way the Panthers fought back to take Sunday’s loss to Minnesota into overtime. But there are worrying signs for a team that has found its level. The defense has taken a slide in recent weeks and Sam Darnold’s mistakes are becoming more frequent. They need Christian McCaffrey back.
The Colts are looking more competitive and have won two of their last three. They were not far off that being three in a row before Baltimore’s late heroics in Week 5. Carson Wentz is playing better at quarterback, Jonathan Taylor is a playmaker at running back and T.Y. Hilton is back. All positive signs.
The Patriots are 2-4 and last week’s defeat to Dallas saw them suffer a third one-score loss of the season. That is instructive. It shows me that Bill Belichick can scheme his team into being competitive but, ultimately, they don’t have the horses to make much of a noise at the end of the race.
The Seahawks are 2-4 and off to their worst start since 2015. Their hopes of staying alive in the playoff race rest on the shoulders of a quarterback who has not won a start since 2014 in Geno Smith and with a defense allowing an NFL-high 433 yards per game. It’s already close to being a lost season for the Hawks.
It’s not just a question of who gets the nod at quarterback in Week 7? Who gets the ball for the remainder of this season? There are so many questions centred on Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance that we forget this team is under-achieving in a variety of areas in 2021. More was expected of this team this season.
The Broncos are much like Carolina in as much as they have found their expected level. After a red-hot 3-0 start, Vic Fangio’s men are back to 3-3 after three humbling losses. There are injuries across the board but one little-mentioned topic is that the defensive ranking of fourth flatters a unit not getting to the QB.
The Bears may have the NFL’s worst-ranked offense right now, but we have to give the 21-year-old Justin Fields time to grow and learn on the job. There is no point putting him back on the bench. Chicago will have to take their lumps and also lean on a defense that leads the NFL with 21 sacks in six games.
Matt Ryan is over his jetlag thanks to a bye week, but he must remember the London connection with the likes of Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson. If Calvin Ridley also returns this week, the Falcons can continue to grow under Arthur Smith. They’re not a playoff team, but they can be competitive.
Are we convinced Jalen Hurts is the answer at quarterback for the Eagles or is this team in play for Deshaun Watson ahead of the early-November trade deadline? With a decent-enough defense already in place, perhaps Hurts would be helped by more balance? Running backs are rarely spotted in Philly these days.
I talk about Washington’s terrible D every week and nothing changes. Let’s examine Taylor Heinicke’s claim that he deserves the long-term starting gig in D.C. He has thrown for 1,390 yards, nine touchdowns and six picks. He has thrown three interceptions in the last two weeks and his rating of 86.9 is nothing to write home about.
Daniel Jones is in trouble and running out of time in New York. His four turnovers last weekend once again highlighted his lack of care with the football or poise in the pocket. He needs to play his way out of trouble and that will be hard given how many skill position players around him are out with injuries.
Young kicker Matthew Wright saves Urban Meyer’s job with a couple of 50+ yard field goals in London and the coach immediately tells the media that the kid only opened his mouth to speak for the first time 10 minutes earlier? What’s that all about? I’m not sure about the guy steering the ship in Jacksonville.
Owner Stephen Ross is inching closer to a re-set. I’m not talking about head coach Brian Flores, but I think Tua Tagovailoa is in trouble and the continued collecting and hoarding of first-round picks won’t be allowed. Instead, Miami could be forced to trade selections to grab a proven commodity at quarterback.
The Jets are coming off their bye week and hopefully there have been long and honest conversations about how Zach Wilson needs to dial it down a notch or two and start to take what the defense gives him. There have been far too many go-for-broke throws so far, which have usually broken the Jets’ offense.
It doesn’t take a body language expert to know that Lions head coach Dan Campbell is done with Jared Goff. That trade with the Rams was always about acquiring draft picks for the Lions, not about Goff. Where that leaves the former number one overall pick remains to be seen. He looks lost and downtrodden.
It wasn’t too bad for the opening six quarters of the season, but the wheels have fallen off and the Texans have become exactly who we thought they would be. Their five-game losing streak has seen quarterback Davis Mills become a human highlight machine. Sadly, a lot of them are highlights for the defense!