By Angelo Inglisa
Coming into this season, if you had said that one Super Bowl team would be 4-1 and in prime position to make another postseason run, and the other 1-4 looking extremely flawed, I’d say that the Broncos would struggle and the Panthers would continue their excellence. Ahh, so that’s what foot tastes like.
Trevor Siemian has shown he has a place in the NFL, combining with a still ferocious defense to surge to the top of the AFC through 5 weeks. Meanwhile, in Carolina, Cam Newton has gotten no help from his tackles, and the secondary is getting torched on a weekly basis.
Not to forget, usually frustrating teams like Dallas, Philadelphia, Oakland and Atlanta are a combined 15-4, while projected fringe playoff teams like the Jets, Giants, Colts and Bengals are 7-13. The NFL is a beautiful creation. Nonetheless, here are my Power Rankings for Week 6.
Biggest Riser: Dallas Cowboys (15->10)
Biggest Faller: Carolina Panthers (11->16)
1.) Minnesota Vikings (+1)
The NFL’s last unbeaten is winning with the best defense in the league and with Sam Bradford playing as a perfect game manager. The defense leads the league in Pts/Game (12.6) and sacks (19).
2.) New England Patriots (+1)
So, where’s the rust? Granted, they did play the Browns, but the Patriots brought back Tom Brady with a vengeance. The best quarterback of this generation put up 400 yards and three touchdowns, with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett torching Cleveland. Good luck, AFC.
3.) Denver Broncos (-2)
Who would’ve thought the defending champs would miss their 7th round quarterback? Paxton Lynch struggled against the Falcons much-maligned defense, never looking comfortable in the pocket. Trevor Siemian’s QB Rating (99.6) ranks ninth in the NFL.
4.) Green Bay Packers (+/-0)
The defense helped secure the win Sunday night, but the Packers offense has some issues if Eddie Lacy and James Starks can’t go Sunday. The only back left standing at the moment is fullback Aaron Ripkowski, who has a whopping two carries in his career.
5.) Pittsburgh Steelers (+/-0)
Since getting embarrassed by Philadelphia Week 3 and getting Le’Veon Bell back, the Steelers offense is looking like last year's juggernaut, and the defense is finally looking competent for the first time in a long time. Excluding Week 3, Pittsburgh is scoring 34 points per game, and only surrendering 15.
6.) Seattle Seahawks (+/-0)
The week off should let the Seahawks be at full strength on offense for the first time since Week 1. With the defense giving up the fewest yard per game, Russell Wilson, Jimmy Graham, and Christine Michael should prime the Seahawks to reclaim the NFC West throne.
7.) Atlanta Falcons (+3)
Alright, we get it. These aren’t last year’s Falcons. Atlanta did a great job with their game plan, using Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman as receivers against Denver’s slower middle LBs. Freeman and Coleman combined for seven catches for 167 yards and a TD, expect a similar strategy against Seattle and the Legion of Boom.
8.) Oakland Raiders (+1)
With Denver falling to Atlanta last week, Oakland has tied them in the AFC West. Derek Carr is looking more and more like the best QB out of the 2014 class, with Manziel out of the league, Bortles undergoing some serious regression this season, and Teddy Bridgewater losing a season due to injury. Carr has thrown 11 TDs (Tied third most) and only two interceptions.
9.) Philadelphia Eagles (-1)
Wentzylvania took a slight hit this weekend, throwing his first pick and suffering his first loss. The lack of skill possession players is this team's only drawback, but Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz have these guys punching way above their weight class.
10.) Dallas Cowboys (+5)
Dallas brought a 1970s style of play to 2016, and it has worked wonderfully. Ezekiel Elliott is tearing apart defenses like midriffs of his shirts, and Dak Prescott, along with Sam Bradford, remains the only quarterback to start four games and not throw an interception.
11.) Cincinnati Bengals (-4)
The Bengals desperately need someone to step up on offense. The offensive line has been terrible, which hasn’t helped Andy Dalton any. Getting Tyler Eifert and his 13 TDs from last year will help, but second round pick Tyler Boyd needs to start doing something across from AJ Green.
12.) Arizona Cardinals (+2)
A dose of 49ers can help remedy any team mired with problems. Larry Fitzgerald still refuses to age, and Carson Palmer should be back in time to lay waste to the sad excuse of a secondary in New York. With the Seattle on the horizon, now is the time to get the offense back on track.
13.) Houston Texans (-1)
They could’ve fallen farther, but it was the Vikings that blew them out. A huge problem with this team is Osweiler hasn’t been the $72 million man in Houston. Unless $72 million buys completing 58% of your passes, six touchdowns and seven interceptions, in which case I could be worth at least $10 million.
14.) Baltimore Ravens (-1)
Firing Marc Trestman was a move in the right direction. Replacing him with Marty Mornhinweg may be a step in the wrong one. Still, John Harbaugh should keep him on a short leash, which means the Baltimore offense can have some semblance of balance. Terrance West has averaged 6.5 yards per catch in the past two weeks but has only received 32 carries compared to 60 pass attempts for Joe Flacco.
15.) Washington Redskins (+3)
The defense pulled out their best performance of the season, stifling the Ravens to only 10 points. Cousins still hasn’t looked like the world beater from last year, but Jay Gruden has them on a three game winning streak, and the upstart Eagles coming to FedEx Field this week is a great place to make a statement.
16.) Carolina Panthers (-5)
Tom Petty’s Free Falling perfectly describes the Panthers. Even if Cam Newton comes back, the Saints are the kind of team to fully exploit the poor Carolina secondary. The Panthers had 24 interceptions last season, and are only on pace for 16 this year.
17.) Buffalo Bills (+3)
The new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn has the Bills offense rolling, helping key the Bills to rattle off three straight victories with a new found running game. LeSean McCoy has turned back the clock, totaling 100 yards from scrimmage in each win. Outside of Kansas City and Baltimore, there isn’t a lot of push for the Wild Card.
18.) Kansas City Chiefs (-2)
Speaking of Kansas City, Andy Reid team’s off the bye have historically had a lot of success. With the Raiders up next, they’ll need every advantage they can get. It remains to be seen what they can expect from Jamaal Charles, and the defense has been a mixed bag, 21st in yardage but first in interceptions.
19.) New York Giants (-2)
The exact opposite of the Redskins, the Giants have lost three straight, and have a plethora of issues. Odell Beckham’s mentality and McAdoo’s offense are a problem, but the biggest is Eli Manning. He’s only thrown four touchdowns, but he’s turned the ball over seven times in comparison.
20.) Indianapolis Colts (+1)
Instead of talking about how bad the Colts are, I’m going to defend Andrew Luck, since it’s become cool to give a quarterback without a true number one receiver (T.Y. Hilton is a No. 2 wide receiver on a complete team), youth in the backfield (Frank Gore is doing his darndest), and 80% of an offensive line all the blame for why they can’t win games. Did I mention the Colts are bad?
21.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3)
Roberto Aguayo had the most roller coaster of a game, missing 2 FGs but hitting the game winner against the Panthers Monday night. The Buccaneers, at 2-3 and having a win over the impressive Falcons, might have a legit shot at winning the NFC South when all is said and done.
22.) Los Angeles Rams (-3)
To be honest, I thought I was going to have to write about the Rams being 4-1. I’m realized I don’t. The Rams made some interesting calls against the Bills, but at least they made the effort to force-feed Gurley. Also, when is Jared Goff going to provide a better chance to win than 220 yards, one touchdown and 1.5 turnovers a game?
23.) Detroit Lions (+4)
Just when you want to count out Detroit, they give you every reason question whether their good or not. Matt Stafford led the Lions to 3 straight touchdowns against the Eagles, but then went scoreless in the second half until the defense recovered a lucky fumble that set up the game-winning field goal. I truly don’t know what to expect from this team.
24.) New Orleans Saints (-1)
Like I said earlier, Brees might be able to carry the Saints to a victory this weekend. The guy has torched defense after defense, showing no signs of slowing down. Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead are talented enough to bully the youthful Panthers secondary. If Saints ever discover defense, who knows, maybe they’ll have one more good season with Brees leading the way.
25.) Jacksonville Jaguars (+/-0)
If Jacksonville can build off their London victory, Gus Bradley might be able to salvage this season. Blake Bortles of last season needs to stick around, since the defense is finally stepping up, ranking 10th in DVOA this season.
26.) New York Jets (-4)
The Jets secondary continues to be equally concerning as Ryan Fitzpatrick not being the same QB as last year. Sammie Coates decimated them last week and the offense struggled to generate anything. Bowles also continued his annoying trend of boneheaded challenges and time management, which plagued him last year.
27.) Tennessee Titans (+3)
If Marcus Mariota can play like he did against the Phins (4 total TDs, 0 TO), he and DeMarco Murray, who is playing like the best back in football, may steal the AFC South from the Texans. Their offensive line has done a great job, as well as the defense, which currently ranks in the top 10 in yardage.
28.) Miami Dolphins (-2)
It’s a race o the bottom of the AFC East. Heck, after the Browns, you could argue the Dolphins are the worst team in the AFC. The offense is devoid of established talent, the talent on the back end of the defense just doesn’t exist. When are the Dolphins going to realize having Mike Tannenbaum in your front office is a bad thing.
29.) San Diego Chargers (-1)
Philip Rivers is doing all he can to carry the Chargers, and they could be 4-1 if they stopped choking in the fourth quarter. The Chargers rank fifth in offensive DVOA, and 15th in defensive DVOA, which tells me this team has potential to play spoiler down the road.
30.) Chicago Bears (-1)
It’s a new era in Chicago. Brian Hoyer has done a great job considering the smoldering ruins that he left in Houston and Jordan Howard looks to be the future at running back for the Bears. Hoyer has thrown for 300 yards and 2 TDs in every game he’s started without throwing a pick, and Howard has run for a hundred yards in every game since Jeremy Langford got hurt.
31.) San Francisco 49ers (-1)
Kap is back, and I’m excited to watch the option offense with him and Carlos Hyde. Blaine Gabbert was never taken seriously as a runner, but Colin Kaepernick should be. If Kaepernick takes the eight carries a game Gabbert got, the Niners offense could prove to be challenging to defend.
32.) Cleveland Browns (-1)
Seeing as this probably won’t change anytime soon, since the Titans look capable of beating bad teams, I’ll just say this: if the Jets lose to Cleveland Week 8, I’ll buy the jersey of whomever starts a quarterback for the Browns that week.
And I mean that.