The prior two installments of power rankings saw a lot of shifting, but I think what you’ll see for this week is some stability. It’s only October, and teams have 10-12 games to play this season, but at least for the early portion of the season, we’re seeing who’s been great, good, in the middle, and bad.
Biggest rise: Indianapolis Colts (up 5 spots)
Biggest fall: Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns (down 5 spots)
1. New England Patriots (PR: 1)
Record: 6-0 | Week 6 opponent: New York Giants (home); won
It took until Week 6 for the Patriots to allow a passing touchdown, and it took a perfectly placed pass to Golden Tate (one that DB Jonathan Jones got his fingertips on). The unit was still able to intercept Daniel Jones three times, and scored a touchdown off of a Jon Hilliman fumble; they’re really good. The offense is still finding itself, and many are pointing to Brady saying he’s not the same, but I’m not worried yet. The offensive line needs to improve, and hopefully Isaiah Wynn can come off of IR soon. The Patriots have done nothing to relinquish their current reign as the best team in the NFL.
2. New Orleans Saints (PR: 3)
Record: 4-1 | Week 6 opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars (away)
The Saints defeated a Tampa Bay team coming off of a huge win in Los Angeles against the Rams, continuing to win despite not having Drew Brees under center. Teddy Bridgewater had his best game of the season, throwing for 314 yards and 4 TDs. They’ve been the most consistent team in the conference thus far, and have played the best football through 5 weeks, which is a statement to just how good this team is even through the adversity they have faced.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (PR: 2)
Record: 4-1 | Week 6 opponent: Houston Texans (home)
The Chiefs suffered a stunning loss at home to the Indianapolis Colts, scoring only 13 points, their lowest output in the Patrick Mahomes Era. Mahomes looked to be in pain due to a nagging ankle injury, limping at several times after being hit. It looked like the key to the Colts victory was keeping the ball out of Kansas City’s hands (especially in the second half), rushing Mahomes, and using a lot of man coverage. The Chiefs are too good for this to be a persistent issue, but it shows (like every other team) they can be beat.
4. Green Bay Packers (PR: 5)
Record: 4-1 | Week 6 opponent: Detroit Lions (home)
Green Bay snapped back after their first loss of the season and beat a 3-1 Cowboys team many have given Super Bowl hopes to. Running back Aaron Jones had a monster day, rushing for 182 yards and scoring 4 TDs. Aaron Rodgers was not super impressive statistically, but managed it beautifully, continuing a successful trend for this Packers team. They’re building a lot of credibility early on, and with a huge game against the Chiefs on the 27th, they could prove how legit they are in short order (don’t slip at home to Detroit and Oakland).
5. Seattle Seahawks (PR: 5)
Record: 4-1 | Week 6 opponent: Cleveland Browns (away)
Russell Wilson is currently the MVP of the NFL. Yes, it’s extremely early, but he has just been that good (and finally getting due notice). They’ve been balanced on offense, and look to be improving as the season progresses. For a team that has always been stronger in the second half, this strong start should scare the rest of the NFL. The NFC is strong, but with an elite QB playing as good as ever, and a team making necessary adjustments to win, Seattle will be in the picture.
6. San Francisco 49ers (PR: 7)
Record: 4-0 | Week 6 opponent: Los Angeles Rams (away)
Last week it was the Browns who had a statement victory, and this week it was the 49ers. They’ve had a top five offense and defense, and their rushing attack is the best in the NFL. Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t been asked to do much, but even on Monday he did great in the role he was given (more managerial). Kyle Shanahan is showing the NFL he is still a great offensive coach, and this 49ers defense is showing the NFL how talented they are. Their schedule has been relatively easy to start (I give them credit for beating Tampa Bay and Cleveland), but they still have to face Seattle and the Rams two times each (starting tomorrow with LA), as well as Green Bay and New Orleans. A good start, but to stay at the top, they’ll need to earn it.
7. Los Angeles Rams (PR: 8)
Record: 3-2 | Week 6 opponent: San Francisco 49ers (home)
The Rams are coming off of two straight losses for just the second time during the Sean McVay Era (luckily for them, they’ve yet to lose three straight during his tenure). It’s been tough on offense for this team as Todd Gurley hasn’t looked like his old self, and the defense is coming off of two straight weeks of getting their doors blown off in the pass game. They got a lot of rest and time to reflect, but will now face an undefeated 49ers team. If San Fran can run the ball on this team like Seattle did, the Rams could be 3-3 by the end of tomorrow. This could be a season-defining type of game.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (PR: 11)
Record: 3-2 | Week 6 opponent: Minnesota Vikings (away)
This has less to do with the Eagles beating the Jets the way they did than their body of work thus far compared to the Cowboys. The Eagles have a bad loss under their belt to the Falcons (a game they were close in), but a solid victory at Green Bay. They’ve also had more consistent showing than some of their peers in the league. They have a tough stretch ahead as they’ll be on the road the next 3 weeks, but if they come out of it with at least 2 wins, it will bode well for the rest of their season.
9. Dallas Cowboys (PR: 4)
Record: 3-2 | Week 6 opponent: New York Jets (away)
Dallas suffered their second straight loss of the season, losing at home to Green Bay, and they’re beginning to give off the “we can only beat awful teams” vibe. Well, that’s what’s being said, but I disagree to an extent. I just think New Orleans and Green Bay are really good, but in each game they were in it until the end (although you can argue that about last week). I still think this is a good team that should have high expectations, but they’ll need to re-establish their running game in the next few weeks, and Dak needs to clean up his play, if they want to reach their full potential
10. Buffalo Bills (PR: 10)
Record: 4-1 | Week 6 opponent: none (bye week)
Buffalo grinded out a victory against the Titans to move to 4-1, and love them or hate them, but they’re one of 7 teams at this moment with at least 4 wins. Their defense has been remarkable, as they have yet to allow a QB to pass for 250 yards all season, and as a whole they have yet to allowed 20+ points. With 11 games to go, their biggest tests left are Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, Tom Brady (again) and Lamar Jackson. Seeing how they’ve done so far, I think it’s time to really consider this team a playoff contender. Can their offense do enough to be a legit contender? So far, the answer is no.
11. Indianapolis Colts (PR: 16)
Record: 3-2 | Week 6 opponent: none (bye week)
What a huge win last week. I said last week that their previous game against Oakland would not be the norm for this team, and they absolutely proved that statement to be correct. This is a team with a smart head coach, a solid defensive coordinator, and great talent in the trenches. Jacoby Brissett hasn’t been flashy, but has been one of the better QBs in the NFL this season, which is remarkable given the situation he was thrown into before the season. This type of performance might be tough to replicate on a weekly basis, but the Colts are showing us that they can punch above their perceived weight. They’ll be in the fight for the playoffs all season.
12. Chicago Bears (PR: 9)
Record: 3-2 | Week 6 opponent: none (bye week)
Well, that was a tough loss. After regaining some momentum, they had their worst game of the season against the Oakland Raiders. It was close (this team is very good at staying in games), but they allowed a season-high 24 points and allowed 398 yards. Maybe it was more of a statement for the Raiders, but it’s a go-back-to-the-drawing-board type of loss for Chicago.
13. Detroit Lions (PR: 12)
Record: 2-1-1 | Week 6 opponent: Green Bay Packers (away)
The Lions move down a spot due to the jump of the Colts (this prevented other teams from moving too), and didn’t have a chance to move any further due to being on a bye. They’ll have had 2 weeks to prepare for Green Bay by the time they play Monday, and if their first 4 games have meant anything, expect this to be a close game. We’ll get to see if this team has staying power based on the outcome of that game.
14. Houston Texans (PR: 15)
Record: 3-2 \ Week 6 opponent: Kansas City Chiefs (away)
The Texans might have only beat a lowly Atlanta Falcons team, but Deshaun Watson put on a masterpiece, with 5 touchdown passes, and only 5 incompletions. Another huge sign? He was not sacked. We’ve discussed all season how good Watson can be when he’s not being hit, and this was the biggest piece of evidence to support that claim. They get rewarded for showing how good he can be.
15. Baltimore Ravens (PR: 14)
Record: 3-2 | Week 6 opponent: Cincinnati Bengals (home)
Baltimore beat the Steelers, but they had to do so in overtime. Lamar Jackson had another sloppy performance, and it is beginning to make their Week 1 domination of Miami look like more and more of an outlier. They’re still averaging 25.5 PPG if you exclude that game, so maybe that’s an overreaction, but the past few weeks are showing that although they might be a good team, they aren’t yet ready to play at the level of a true contender.
16. Minnesota Vikings (PR: 18)
Record: 3-2 | Week 6 opponent: Philadelphia Eagles (home)
The Vikings had a solid victory last week and maybe stopped the bleeding from the first 4 games of their season. Kirk Cousins was great, playing his best game of 2019, and the running game was solid as well, an overall good balance. Still, like we think the Cowboys might be, this team (at least under Kirk Cousins) IS one that sucks against better competition. Until they prove otherwise, they won’t be rising to far in these rankings.
17. Carolina Panthers (PR: 20)
Record: 3-2 | Week 6 opponent: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (away, London)
What a gritty team. Like their division rivals in New Orleans, Carolina is 3-0 under their backup QB. Their wins have been less impressive than New Orelans, but they are still wins, and they’re rising as a result. Christian McCaffery is playing out of his mind, and everything else is built around that. Cam Newton will not play tomorrow against Tampa Bay, and with their bye week coming up, a decision at QB is approaching for this team. Newton has been extremely helpful to Kyle Allen during this process, and I love Newton as a QB, but as I’ve said before, if Allen is leading this team to wins (which was not happening with Newton), they should continue to ride that wave.
18. Cleveland Browns (PR: 13)
Record: 2-3 | Week 6 opponent: Seattle Seahawks (home)
Well, this one hurts. I still think Cleveland is talented, and I thought beating Baltimore was a huge step in the right direction, but clearly it was one step forward for the proceeding two steps back. Maybe the 49ers are just really good, or maybe this team isn’t ready for this stage (or a combination of both). As I’ve said, this is a tough stretch, but they should be able to win easier games to finish the season and look respectable… but Baker needs to figure it out. He has been awful, and I know this isn’t who he is, and I think it’s more on the coach than him, but something has to give moving forward.
19. Los Angeles Chargers (PR: 17)
Record: 2-3 | Week 6 opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers (home)
Sloppy, sloppy game. Philip Rivers was not good, and quite frankly, his final statline is what people seem to think Brady does every week (32 for 48 with 211 yards). They just have yet to find their groove from a year ago. With Melvin Gordon back in the fold, it should help as the season progresses, but it will be a continued process. I think there is talent here, and a smart head coach, but as Philip Rivers has found out through his career, sometimes that’s simply not enough.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (PR: 19)
Record: 2-3 | Week 6 opponent: Carolina Panthers (home, London)
After an impressive win against the Rams, Tampa Bay came back down to Earth against New Orleans. The Saints are a really good team, so it’s not that big of a regression. Even though it was not his best game, Jameis Winston did not play terrible, continuing to build on the solid stretch he’s had following Week 1. With Bruce Arians coaching this team, they’ve played a lot better, and although it might not translate to a playoff birth this season, it’s a huge step in the right direction for the organization.
21. Oakland Raiders (PR: 23)
Record: 3-2 | Week 6 opponent: none (bye week)
Yeah, I’m impressed. The Raiders just beat the Colts and Bears in back-to-back weeks (two 2018 playoff teams), and have a winning record through 5 games for the first time since 2016, and for just the third time since 2003. Josh Jacobs had a huge game against Chicago, and the running game as a whole looked solid. Maybe Jon Gruden knew what he was doing after all.
22. Tennessee Titans (PR: 21)
Record: 2-3 | Week 6 opponent: Denver Broncos (away)
The Ttians lost a close game to the Bills last week, moving to 2-3 and outside of the better teams in the conference. This team will never be truly bad, and have the ability to put together a really good win from time to time, but they don’t have the ingredients to do so consistently. They’ll continue to tease you here and there, but it’s still a work in progress.
23. Jacksonville Jaguars (PR: 22)
Record: 2-3 | Week 6 opponent: New Orleans Saints (home)
It breaks my hear to say this, but Gardner Minshew and the Jacksonville Jaguars lost. Minshew himself had arguably his best start of the season, and helped keep the Jags in this game until the bitter end. The more he plays, the more I think this team truly might have found something. Their defense isn’t playing as good as it has in past years, but I still envision this team winning 6-7 games this season.
24. New York Giants (PR: 24)
Record: 2-4 | Week 6 opponent: New England Patriots (away); lost
You have to give the Giants credit: they went into Gillette Stadium, a notoriously difficult place to play, and kept up with the Patriots through 3 quarters. After New England took a 14-0 lead in the second quarter, Daniel Jones found Golden Tate for a long score, and on New England’s next possession, the defense forced Tom Brady to fumble, and returned it for a touchdown. The offense couldn’t do much else in the second half, and eventually the defense was just gassed by being on the field so long (New England had the ball for 39 minutes in the game), but it was a promising performance. This team will build off of it.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers (PR: 25)
Record: 1-4 | Week 6 opponent: Los Angeles Chargers (away)
The Steelers are just having their roughest season in a very long time. They were playing the Ravens close, but starting QB Mason Rudolph had to exit the game after suffering a concussion on a hard hit in the third quarter. In came undrafted rookie QB Devlin Hodges, who was able to keep the game close, and it did go to OT, but the Ravens were able to win the game after a huge play by Marlon Humphrey. With rumors of Washington being interested in Mike Tomlin, things keep getting weirder for the NFL’s most stable franchise.
26. Denver Broncos (PR: 27)
Record: 1-4 | Week 6 opponent: Tennessee Titans (home)
I’d like to say I made this victory possible in the form of a reverse jinx last week. Denver’s defense shut down the Chargers, and the Broncos were finally able to win their first game under Vic Fangio. Joe Flacco is playing his best football since 2014 (not great, but better than the past few season), which is fun. For a season that will likely not have too many high points, getting at least one win down is good.
27. Atlanta Falcons (PR: 26)
Record: 1-4 | Week 6 opponent: Arizona Cardinals (away)
The trainwreck continues. Not much here to say, and not much left to expect. Onto 2020.
28. Arizona Cardinals (PR: 28)
Record: 1-3-1 | Week 6 opponent: Atlanta Falcons (home)
In the battle of winless teams, Kyler Murray and the Cardinals were able to prevail over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Cards were winning 23-9 in the 4th before Cincy was able to tie it with 2 minutes remaining, but Kyler Murray was awesome from there, leading his team down the field into field goal range, where the GW kick was made. This is Murray’s second impressive 4th quarter, a very good sign.
29. Cincinnati Bengals (PR: 29)
Record: 0-5 | Week 6 opponent: Baltimore Ravens (away)
To be fair, Andy Dalton is throwing for a lot of yards, but pretty much everything else around this team has been awful. He’s probably out the door next season, but wholesale changes are needed for this roster. Time to start trading pieces for picks and rebuilding.
30. Washington (PR: 30)
Record: 0-5 | Week 6 opponent: Miami Dolphins (away)
At least Jay Gruden doesn’t have to endure this anymore. Has anyone brought up the fact that Bill Callahan has now replaced both Jon AND Jay Gruden during his coaching career? Pretty neat. If they can actually get Mike Tomlin… no, even if they did, this team will never go anywhere until Snyder sells the team and they truly start from scratch. What a fall from grace.
31. New York Jets (PR: 31)
Record: 0-4 | Week 6 opponent: Dallas Cowboys (home)
I thought about moving them up a spot, because at least they’ve been losing because Sam Darnold has been out (and to rather good teams), but not yet. Now that he is back, they should be able to improve a bit as the season goes on, but clearly they aren’t ready yet.
32. Miami Dolphins (PR: 32)
Record: 0-5 | Week 6 opponent: Washington (home)
I’m going bold: they’ll beat Washington tomorrow.
Credit to photo above goes to Tony Avelar/AP
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