NFL Power Rankings – Week 6

(Philadelphia, Pa) – I love this time of the year, because separation starts between the good teams, middle of the road teams, bad teams, and wretched teams, that are “Believing in Later”, looking towards the draft in April.  As we get closer to the mid-point of the NFL season boundaries will become clearly defined between these different levels of teams.  That is not to say though that there will be some “Any Given Sunday” games where a surprise upset unfolds.  One of the bigger parts of this time in the NFL schedule is that byes (weeks 4-10) are crucial for resting injured players, making personnel moves, and overall reflection for teams to see where they stand post training camp/early season as they prepare for a playoff run or the draft.

A certain thing is that the NFL is very close this time of the year.  The current standings show just how little separation there is between teams as there are only two undefeated teams left (Giants 4-0 and Titans 5-0); six (4-1) teams including the Broncos, Steelers, Redskins, Cowboys, Panthers, and Bills; the (3-1) Patriots and four (3-2) teams including the Bears, Buccaneers, Falcons, and Cardinals.  So there are only 13 total teams with winning records in the NFL (only 41%).  That leaves 19 teams in the parity-laden league that are .500 or have a losing record including four (2-2) teams – Ravens, Jets, Dolphins, and Colts – who we will soon know if they are contenders or pretenders.  The under .500 bunch includes a glut of seven (2-3) teams – Vikings, Saints, Jaguars, Chargers, Eagles, Packers, and 49ers; three (1-3) teams – Raiders, Seahawks, and Browns; the (1-4) Chiefs; and the “Believe in Later” no wins bunch consisting of the (0-4) Texans, Rams, and Lions along with the only (0-5) team in the NFL, the Bengals. 

Now on to the rankings for this week

1. Giants (4-0) – Sorry Plaxico, but not even you could put a halt to the Coughlin Express as the G-Men throttled the Seahawks without their malcontent receiver.  The NFL cupcake tour continues for the Super Bowl champs as this week they travel to Cleveland to face a rested 1-win Browns team on ESPN Monday Night Football.

2.  Titans (5-0) – The wheels almost fell off for this undefeated team in Baltimore, but it was veteran quarterback Kerry Collins and his favorite target TE’s coming to the rescue as the Ravens fell at home.  During the bye week, the Titans will rest up  while head coach Jeff Fisher tries to figure out whether to stick with the chemistry that Collins brings to the table or go back to the game-breaking skills of Vince Young.

3.  Redskins (4-1) – The NFL’s biggest surprise team continued their road warrior mentality by out-physicalling the Eagles in Philly behind a nasty rushing attack.  It will be interesting to see if interim head coach Jim Haslett makes a difference for the winless Rams as the ‘Skins come to the Edward Jones Dome.

4. Cowboys (4-1) – The ‘Boys continued to show some signs of weakness, but they did just enough to get a “W” versus a surprisingly competitive Bengals squad.  An interesting game awaits Tony Romo and the rest of the cow pokes as they face an eager to prove their mettle Cardinals team in Arizona.

5.  Panthers (4-1) – It was a total shellacking of the lethargic Chiefs as the Panthers ran wild, especially improving back DeAngelo Williams, on their way to a shutout victory.  A big NFC South showdown is on tap this weekend as the Panthers travel to Tampa to face quarterback Jeff Garcia and the Bucs.

6.  Patriots (3-1) – The Niners put up a fight, but in the end big plays like the Matt Cassel bomb to Randy Moss were the keys to victory for the Pats.  Belichick kept his team out on the West Coast this week as the Patriots return to San Diego for a Sunday Night Football grudge match reuniting two teams that have played  the past two years in the playoffs.

7. Steelers (4-1) – Sunday Night on NBC was alive as Big Ben and the Steelers stood tall as they withstood early mistakes on their way to a tough road win over the Jags.  The Steelers get a much-needed bye this week as they need time to heal a multitude of injuries.

8.  Bills (4-1) – It was finally snake-eyes for the living on the edge Bills as the  Cardinals put a hurting on them in Arizona.  The Bills get the bye week at a good time as it will give quarterback Trent Edwards time to recover from a concussion sufffered from a vicious Adrian Wilson hit.

9.  Colts (2-2) – In huge character building win, the winless Texans gave the Colts all they could handle as it took an unprecendented 21-point outburst in less than 5 minutes to erase an almost impossible 17-point lead.  Baltimore’s new team (the Ravens) comes to Lucas Oil Stadium to face the city’s old squad (the Colts), who left in the middle of the night back in the day.

10.  Broncos (4-1) – Mike Shanahan’s team was tough and physical as they knocked out Bucs’ quarterback Brian Griese on the way to a grind-it-out win.  There will be playoff type feel as the desperate Jaguars come to town for a game that will show who is the contender and who is the pretender.

11.  Buccaneers (3-2) – The Broncos defense proved that they were tough enough with a win in a “statement game” as Bucs quarterback Brian Griese was knocked out by a shoulder injury.  There is no time to sulk for the Bucs as the Panthers come to town for a key NFC South battle on a 2-game roll.

12.  Chargers (2-3) – In a game that will surely make everyone question whether the Chargers are overrated, the Dolphins rode the “Wildcat” to a big home win.  In a NBC Sunday Night Football game that has been circled on NFL Calendars for months, the Bolts will be looking for revenge at home against a Patriots team that has knocked them out the playoffs for two straight years.

13.  Bears (3-2) – It was the Bears turn to beat-up on the pathetic winless Lions as they rolled up big yardage on their way to a laugher win in Motown.  In a surprisingly anticipated game, the Bears travel to Atlanta as they face an improving Falcons team looking to get some respect.

14.  Eagles (2-3) – The Birds went down to their second straight defeat as the Redskins ran all over them as everyone is now trying to figure out are they contenders or pretenders.  The Eagles will try to get their season back on track as they travel to the West Coast to face a dangerous Niners team.

15.  Cardinals (3-2) – It was a totally different Cardinals team as they protected the football and pounded the formerly undefeated Bills.  Ken Whisenhunt’s team gets another opportunity to silence their critics as they host the Cowboys in a playoff type game.

16.  Jets (2-2) –  Despite being on a bye last week, the J-E-T-S gained ground on the surprisingly defeated Bills.  I am sure veteran graybeard quarterback Brett Favre is preaching to his teammates about avoiding a letdown as they host the winless, but tough Bengals.

17. Packers (2-3) – Quarterback Aaron Rodgers showed his toughness playing through a shoulder injury, but rookie quarterback Matt Ryan and Falcons stole the show in a big road win.  Another big “you need to win to show that you are legit” game awaits in Seattle as the Pack faces a Seahawks team looking for a soft place to land.

18.  Jaguars (2-3) – A national television audience on NBC Sunday Night Football could not spurred the Jags past the determined Steelers in a game that could have future playoff implications.  A put-up or shutup game awaits in Denver as the Jags need to get back to .500 to gain some ground on the idle AFC South leading Titans.

19.  Dolphins (2-2) – No one thought that the ‘Phins could beat the fast rising Chargers, but they did as “Wildcat” single-wing offense worked again.  The Dolphins will look to get to a winning record as they travel to Houston to face a desperate Texans squad.

20.  Ravens (2-2) – The defense did their job, but the offense couldn’t muster up much as the Titans won a squeeker in Baltimore.  The Ravens will battle for the honor of the Charm City as they travel to Indy to face the Colts.

21.  Falcons (3-2) – Maybe now rookie quarterback Matt Ryan and the Falcons will get some respect as they won a statement game at Green Bay.  A playoff type game awaits as the upstart Bears come to town in a battle of (3-2) teams.

22.  Vikings (2-3) – The Vikes showed their mettle on MNF in a wild win over the Saints in game that featured a blocked field goal touchown, 50-yard field goals, and punt return touchdowns.  It is the Vikings turn to beat-up on the NFL’s weakling franchise as they host the Detroit Lions.

23.  Saints (2-3) – It was the Reggie Bush show on  ESPN’s Monday Night Football,  but it was not meant to be as the Vikings pulled out a close victory.  The Saints will look to get back on track against the dysfunctional Raiders, who tried to pull it together over a bye week.

24.  49ers (2-3) – The Niners tried to show the NFL that they deserve to get more notice, but they came up short against the mighty Patriots.  In an interest must-win game of two (2-3) teams, the Niners host the up and down Eagles.

25.  Seahawks (1-3) –  The Super Bowl champion G-Men made a mockery of the Seahawks as they beat them from pillar to post in a blowout victory.  Head Coach Mike Holmgren faces his old team the Packers for one last time as Green Bay travels to Seattle.

26.  Browns (1-3) – After a bye week to heal their injuries and get everyone on the same page, the Browns may have a mission impossible as they host the undefeated New York Giants on ESPN Monday Night Football.

27.  Bengals (0-5) – Yes the winless Bengals look like the “Bungles” most of the time, but they gave a very good effort in almost beating the Cowboys in Texas Stadium.  In a game where they could catch the Jets napping, the Bengals travel to the Meadowlands.

28.  Raiders (1-3) – Hopefully the bye week allowed new head coach Tom Cable to fix some of the NFL’s biggest dysfunctional family’s problems, but I doubt it.   My advice is don’t punt the ball to Reggie Bush as the Raiders try to stop the Saints.

29.  Texans (0-4) –  In a game that typified their current tough-luck season, the Texans failed to finish the job against the Colts.  The Texans host the Dolphins as they should expect to see a lot of Ronnie Brown and the Wildcat offense.

30.  Lions (0-4) – Sure former CEO/GM Matt Millen was the only problem…yeah right.  The Bears had a a field day in a blowout victory of the NFL’s most downtrodden franchise in the last couple of years.  An NFL black and blue division special awaits as the Vikings and Adrian Peterson host the Lions at the Metrodome.

31.  Chiefs (1-4) – You have to ask yourself, “Did any of the Chiefs even show up against the Panthers?”  The answer is “No” as DeAngelo Williams and the Panthers ran up and down the field.  Thank Goodness for the bye week as the Chiefs really really need it. 

32.  Rams (0-4) After a much-needed bye week, fiery head coach Jim Haslett makes his Rams head coaching debut as the Reskins come to town.  Hopefully the score will not be much larger than 40-10 for the ‘Skins, because they are the hottest team in the NFL right now.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

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