Aaron Rodgers looks like, well, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are humming at an undefeated 4-0. But it is not just a time to marvel at Rodgers and his ability to bring the best out of his receivers, Green Bay also have an explosive running back in Aaron Jones and one of the game’s emerging corners in Jaire Alexander.
There are plenty of concerns on the defensive side of the ball with Minnesota gaining 449 yards on Sunday night and the sooner Jamal Adams returns from injury the better. He can at least make some splash plays. But this team is still a genuine and strong contender thanks to the magical play of Russell Wilson.
The defending champs are off top spot and the obvious place to start is with a defense that allowed the Las Vegas Raiders gain 490 yards and score 40 points on Sunday. But how about the constant pressure being placed upon Patrick Mahomes? The line is a sudden concern and it affected Mahomes in Week 5.
There will be outrage in Baltimore. The Ravens absolutely hammer Cincinnati in a 27-3 beatdown and still fall one spot in these rankings. The defense was sensational in sacking Joe Burrow seven times last week, but my main worry is that teams seem to be having some success in slowing Baltimore’s run game.
The Titans played like a team desperate to get back on the field on Tuesday night. They were rolling against the Bills with Ryan Tannehill making plays in the pocket and on the move. Derrick Henry was beastly (why you treating Josh Norman like that?) and Malcolm Butler sent a “remember me” to the rest of the NFL.
Another season and another talented young receiver emerges. This year it is Canadian rookie Chase Claypool, who scored four touchdowns in last week’s win over Philadelphia. What is also notable is that Big Ben is playing well on his return from injury and we know the defense is not going anywhere soon.
The headlines coming out of Washington were about Alex Smith’s NFL return and then the sub-plot was a four-sack display from the outstanding Aaron Donald. But we should also give a nod to a Rams offense that sees Jared Goff leading the NFL with an average of nine yards per pass attempt in 2020.
The Bills never recovered from that early Josh Allen interception that went in and out of his receiver’s hands. There were plenty of mistakes on a forgettable Tuesday night in Nashville. That is how Buffalo will lose this year – they will contribute to their own downfall. Tidy things up and this team will be fine.
The Patriots are coming off a Covid-19-enforced bye and remain a tough team to work out. They most definitely have some deficiencies on the talent front, especially at receiver, but they can out-physical many opponents and having Cam Newton back at quarterback is going to make them tough to beat.
The Brownies have won four in a row and are 4-1 for the first time since 1994. There are ups and downs from quarterback Baker Mayfield but also a couple of constants with this team. The running game is going to be a foundation of the offense all season long and Myles Garrett will play like a beast every Sunday.
I feel like Drew Brees is always going to get his passing yards in Sean Payton’s offense (he threw for 325 on Monday Night Football) but his form is on my radar. Is he good enough to lead the Saints to the Super Bowl, which was their goal this year, or does Sean Payton have to coach around his ageing quarterback?
Coming into 2020, there were many questions about how good Tom Brady would look at the age of 43. I think he is just fine. The issue that needs clearing up in Tampa is a lack of discipline that manifests itself in the form of multiple penalties each week. The loss of defensive tackle Vita Vea to injury is also big.
Heading into Week 5, Derek Carr had thrown more passes to running backs and tight ends than any other quarterback in the league. He ripped the guts out of that particular narrative as he went bombs away against Kansas City with 219 of his 347 passing yards coming on throws covering more than 20 air yards.
Colts head coach Frank Reich said that quarterback Philip Rivers is the least of his worries. I think the form of the 38-year-old passer is a major concern. Rivers has four touchdown passes and five interceptions in five weeks and does not have a single game in which he has thrown multiple scoring strikes.
I cannot get excited about anyone on Chicago’s offense outside of wide receiver Allen Robinson. But the defense is back to its best and while a lot of praise will be thrown in the direction of edge rusher Khalil Mack, I think the return from injury of defensive tackle Akiem Hicks is just as important.
The Cardinals enjoyed a nice ‘get right’ game against the New York Jets last week and now Kyler Murray heads home to take on the Dallas Cowboys (he grew up 12 miles from AT&T Stadium in Bedford, Texas). It’s scary to think what Murray and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins might do to that porous defense.
The Cowboys are emotionally reeling from the loss of quarterback Dak Prescott, but they have a reserve situation better than any other team in the league. Andy Dalton has 133 regular season starts to his name, but he has never enjoyed offensive weapons like now. What can he do for a career encore in Texas?
History shows that coming off a Super Bowl loss can be devastating to a team the following year. The 49ers are not about to buck that trend as they are shredded by injuries and led by a quarterback who has much to prove for the remainder of this year in Jimmy Garoppolo.
Cast your mind back to the spring when the Panthers used every draft pick they owned on the defensive side of the ball. It’s beginning to pay off as Carolina have held opponents to 21 points or fewer in three straight victories. First-year head coach Matt Rhule has this team playing with a youthful exuberance.
Don’t worry about the fact your team has lost four straight close games, Chargers fans. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this year is not about the wins and losses. This is about the development of super-impressive rookie QB Justin Herbert. And the upcoming offseason is about surrounding him with talent.
The Vikings leaned heavily on a physical, ball-control offense on Sunday Night Football and it almost resulted in a surprise road win in Seattle. That’s the formula if this 1-4 start is to be turned into anything remotely positive. The Vikings have been one of the biggest disappointments of this 2020 campaign.
I’ve spoken about Ryan Fitzpatrick quite a lot in these power rankings this season and he is absolutely the right man for the job in Miami at the moment. But let’s give a nod to his big-play receivers in Devante Parker and Preston Williams, whose return from injury has provided a major boost to this offense.
Carson Wentz has thrown at least one interception in every game this season and is on pace for his worst year of his career when it comes to picks. With no front-line receivers at his disposal, Wentz is hanging onto the football and getting hit a lot. That’s a worrying formula with the Baltimore Ravens up next.
There was reportedly a happier and cosier feel to life inside the Houston Texans’ building this past week since Bill O’Brien was fired. But it will take a minor miracle to get this 1-4 team back into the playoff picture. That said, I do still love watching Deshaun Watson do his thing and Brandin Cooks is getting hot.
There are a lot of positives surrounding the early-season form of rookie quarterback Joe Burrow. But he did endure a tough day at the office against Baltimore and this offensive line is a real concern. If they allow Burrow to get beaten up each week, that could affect the clock in his head and his confidence.
The Lions are coming off a bye week and have to find a way to hold onto some of the leads they are jumping out to each week. Head coach Matt Patricia’s job depends on it. His seat remains warm.
The Broncos should have Drew Lock back at quarterback for their re-arranged Week 6 meeting with New England and he needs to toss it to Jerry Jeudy as much as possible. The Broncos are not terrible, but they have been hit hard by key injuries in what will be another lost season.
The Jags have regressed badly since their Week 1 win over Indianapolis and there is little get excited about outside of the occasional high presented by Gardner Minshew at quarterback. The defense is a mess.
The Falcons insist there will be no fire sale of talent following the firing of head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff, but a rebuild is coming that could take years to bear fruit. Atlanta are going to be $35 million over the cap in 2021 and might as well start off-loading for draft picks now.
There were signs of offensive life on Sunday night, but we should remember that it came against the Dallas Cowboys. Let’s see if the Giants can keep it going against Washington this week. Daniel Jones must clean up his act and take better care of the football. Fumbles remain an issue for him.
I hope Washington start Alex Smith at quarterback because his comeback journey will at least make this team semi-interesting the rest of the way. Mind you, there is also a part of me that doesn’t want to see too much more of Alex behind that struggling line.