Welcome back to the futile exercise of ranking the 32 NFL teams. There are new faces at the top and the bottom after an eventful Week 6. As always, these will be updated weekly, so be sure to watch out as teams move up and down. If teams continue to win, they will rise. If teams continue to lose, they will fall. Similarly, a loss does not necessarily equate to a team being ranked lower than their opponent.
Numbers in parentheses refer to last week’s rankings.
No.32: Detroit Lions (+0)
Detroit is 0-6. Yes, they have played in close games, but the team is underwhelming from a talent perspective. Even the perception that Detroit is competitive is fairly unfounded. San Francisco, Baltimore, and Minnesota dominated for the majority of their games, but Detroit had incredibly fluky circumstances to trim the leads. They needed an onside kick against San Francisco. They needed Marquise Brown to drop his only two passes of the season. While Greg Joseph and Justin Tucker did nail long kicks to beat Detroit, both kickers had missed earlier in the game. If you swap those kicks, Detroit is not losing as time expires.
No.31: Houston Texans (-1)
Davis Mills played better than his stats, but he was average at best. The defense acted as if it had two players, not 11 in a 31-3 loss to Indianapolis. Houston is a mess of a team, and they will have these weeks that they have the worst performance of any team. Week 6 was one of those weeks.
No.30: Washington Football Team (-3)
At least previous weeks of Taylor Heinicke had an edge. This week, he was totally neutered against a terrible Chiefs defense. He produced zero big-time throws. While he had no turnover-worthy plays, there was little in the way of upside with the offense. Defensively, Washington is quietly the worst team in the NFL. It is a far cry from 2020.
No.29: Miami Dolphins (-1)
Tua Tagovailoa was the only bright spot on an otherwise disgusting morning of football in London. While he had an egregious interception, he generally played well. He graded out in the 80s, and he guided the offense to more competence than the Jacoby Brissett-led offense. The defense was missing key pieces in Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, but it was Jacksonville. Seriously?
No.28: New York Jets (+1)
We live in a bizarre universe where the Jets are not among the bottom tier of teams in the NFL. Wow. The Jets were on a bye, and yet move into the top 28 because they have a unit that they can hang their hat on: the defensive line. Detroit, Houston, Washington, and Miami presently do not have a unit that is living up to the preseason hype. Are individual players doing so? Yes, Brandin Cooks is good at football. However, the vast majority of players on those teams have not been.
No.27: Jacksonville Jaguars (+4)
Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars finally escaped the zero-win column with a gutsy win over Miami in London. Both Lawrence and James Robinson impressed, and defensive end Josh Allen inspired the defense. Is this team good? Well, no. However, they have a pulse. For all of the Urban Meyer jokes, he is now 1-0 across the pond, a better record there than many head coaches.
No.26: New York Giants (+0)
Thankfully, last week’s rankings assumed Mike Glennon was the starting quarterback. Otherwise, Daniel Jones would have contributed to a large negative number. Jones was surprisingly good through five games, reducing his turnovers to almost nothing. The Rams came to town and Jones had to change his underwear almost immediately; turnovers were coming. Overall, it was a pitiful performance, but Jones had been competent for the first five weeks.
No.25: Atlanta Falcons (+0)
The Falcons were on a bye this week. Calvin Ridley is back with the team, so that is a win. Atlanta is quite unfortunate to be 2-3 rather than 3-2, and they have winnable games against the Dolphins and Panthers coming up. With Matt Ryan playing at a high level, they could be headed to New Orleans on November 7 with playoffs on the mind.
No.24: Philadelphia Eagles (+0)
Philadelphia might be bad, but they are a competitive bad. Jalen Hurts is a bettor’s worst nightmare, engineering late drives (and two-point conversions) to hurt their wallets. Injuries are still mounting, and Zach Ertz is now in Arizona via trade. If there is any consolation prize for the Eagles, they are likely to earn a first-round pick from the Carson Wentz trade. They also own Miami’s pick. 2022 should be a franchise-altering draft in Philadelphia.
No.23: Denver Broncos (-2)
Game-manager quarterbacks are great. It would be nice if the Broncos had a game manager instead of Teddy Bridgewater. In Week 6, Bridgewater was the only quarterback with more than three turnover-worthy plays (five), and he launched three interceptions to the Raiders defense. The rest of the team is competent, but Bridgewater is self-destructing.
No.22: Carolina Panthers (-3)
Game-manager quarterbacks are great. It would be nice if the Panthers had a game manager instead of Sam Darnold. In Week 6, Darnold was one of five quarterbacks to have three turnover-worthy plays, and he lost two turnovers to the Vikings defense. The rest of the team is competent, but Darnold is self-destructing.
Denver and Carolina have gone from 3-0 to 0-3, and it has almost entirely boiled down to inept quarterback play.
No.21: Seattle Seahawks (+1)
Geno Smith did not exactly impress against a stingy Steelers defense, but he did show something. The offense as a whole was able to move the football when Alex Collins touched it. He romped for 101 yards and a touchdown on a physical 5.05 yards per carry. Seattle played to expectations other than Collins shining.
No.20: Pittsburgh Steelers (+0)
Speaking of expectation, Pittsburgh might as well have scripted their game. They faced a slightly inferior team at Heinz Field and won in a manner that reflects “slightly inferior.” They blew a 14-0 lead before salvaging the game in overtime after some T.J. Watt heroics. This team inspires no one besides those who already own Terrible Towels.
No.19: Chicago Bears (-4)
If you have been living under a rock since 2008, yes, Aaron Rodgers owns the Bears. Chicago did do some nice things on offense, mainly Khalil Herbert things, but the team was generally flat compared to the Packers. Chicago is floating around playoff contention, but there is no bite to this team.
No.18: New England Patriots (+5)
Dallas dominated most of the game from a yardage perspective, however, that does not matter. The 2-4 record also does not matter. Mac Jones does. He was excellent. Jones earned the second-best PFF passing grade in Week 6, and he had zero turnover-worthy plays to go with three big-time throws. That is the future.
No.17: Indianapolis Colts (+1)
Wentz was the only quarterback to beat out Jones’ elite PFF grade. Wentz had one of the bests games of his career, firing four big-time throws on just 20 attempts. It was his first game with four big-time throws and zero turnover-worthy plays since Week 14 of 2017 (the game he tore his ACL in). Sure, it was a hapless Houston team, but quarterback play matters.
No.16: Las Vegas Raiders (+0)
The Raiders played exactly to expectation. While Vegas (the sportsbooks) had Denver as sizable favorites, Vegas (the football team) was significantly better in all facets. Even last week, this power ranking posted the Raiders five spots ahead of Denver, and that played out. Derek Carr had an impressive day, and Henry Ruggs is not a bust. Maxx Crosby is unstoppable. All is normal in Raiders Nation.
No.15: San Francisco 49ers (-2)
San Francisco enjoyed their bye week in Week 5. This has given Jimmy Garoppolo time to return, not necessarily the best sight for the 49ers at this point. With the Colts looming and the NFC playoff picture coming into focus, San Francisco needs a spark, not a self-destruct button.
No.14: New Orleans Saints (-2)
Like San Francisco, New Orleans enjoyed their bye week in Week 5. Michael Thomas seems to be on his way back, so that is a positive. As a whole, New Orleans drops two spots because two other teams impressed. The Saints currently occupy a playoff spot, and they could hold for the rest of the season.
No.13: Minnesota Vikings (+1)
The score was much closer than the game itself was. Carolina had an ultra-rare punt block leading to an immediate touchdown (which they had not done since 1998) to keep the game close. Additionally, Darnold turned into prime Peyton Manning for the final drive of regulation. If anything normal had happened in the second half, Minnesota would have won by 20.
No.12: Cleveland Browns (-2)
What was that? Just, what was that? Cleveland has lost back-to-back games, but how they lost to Arizona was disheartening. Baker Mayfield baked up some tasty turnovers for the Arizona defense, and Cleveland’s defense turned into a cheap lawn chair. Yes, Cleveland was without Nick Chubb, both tackles, and Kareem Hunt (for some of the game), but this was a laughable performance. Hunt and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah are both now on short-term injured reserve, and Chubb has been ruled out for Thursday Night Football.
No.11: Los Angeles Chargers (-3)
The Ravens slapped the Chargers. It was a beatdown in every sense of the word. Justin Herbert sat in a circle, and the Baltimore defense took turns roasting him. John Harbaugh had a masterclass of a performance while Brandon Staley must have forgotten that he had a brain. This game was likely an outlier, but it was ugly from start to finish.
No.10: Cincinnati Bengals (+7)
Yes, it was Detroit. No, it does not matter. Cincinnati took care of business for the most part. The offensive line held together, and Joe Burrow looked like a demigod besides one terrible throw. Ja’Marr Chase is an All-Pro caliber talent, and it is good to see that Joe Mixon is a capable NFL player again. Logan Wilson is tremendous, and the Bengals are moving up.
No.9: Tennessee Titans (+2)
Win or lose, Tennessee showed moxie against Buffalo. They ended up winning as Josh Allen tumbled to the turf, but Tennessee had a well-rounded performance. Derrick Henry ran for 143 yards and three touchdowns in a vintage performance. The defense allowed 31 points, but they exemplified the “bend, but don’t break” style. Ryan Tannehill needs to be better, however.
No.8: Kansas City Chiefs (+1)
Kansas City won by 18, but it felt as if it needed to be 81 to get back in a groove. Patrick Mahomes was delivering big-time throws (four), but he also had a pair of turnover-worthy plays. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce played to expectation, and Juan Thornhill was a welcome addition to the Chiefs secondary. This team is still the Chiefs, but they are making too many self-inflicted errors.
No.7: Dallas Cowboys (+0)
As mentioned in the New England blurb, Dallas dominated in Foxboro. The score did not indicate that, but the way the Cowboys played did. Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, and Randy Gregory were standouts. Trevon Diggs did get torched for a late touchdown, but he had a pick-six the play before. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard were not incredibly productive as runners, but they excelled out of the backfield. This is a dangerous team.
No.6: Baltimore Ravens (+0)
Baltimore is now the only 5-1 team in the AFC. They have won five in a row, and they rank in the top 10 in scoring on both sides of the ball. Baltimore still needs a performance that both Lamar Jackson and the rest of the team have an elite week, but they are moving in the right direction.
No.5: Buffalo Bills (-4)
Buffalo still ranks first in both scoring and total defense, but it feels almost disingenuous now. Tennessee scored on six consecutive drives (excluding kneel-downs), and Buffalo was helpless to stop A.J. Brown and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine when the game mattered. Quarterback Allen also came up small in a huge moment.
No.4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+1)
Tampa Bay took care of business against Philadelphia. It was Tom Brady‘s worst game of the season by PFF grade (grading just 64.9 overall), but that speaks to just how clinical he had been in the first five weeks. Tampa Bay is not healthy on defense, but the offensive roster talent is undeniable.
No.3: Los Angeles Rams (+1)
The Rams won by 27, and they had a run of 38-0 on Sunday, but it felt almost too turnover-dependent. Matthew Stafford dominated statistically, but the throws themselves did not match the stats. Stafford had an interception and a fumble (recovered by the Rams) that served as a dampener on an otherwise exciting game.
No.2: Green Bay Packers (+1)
The Green Bay Rodgers & Adams rolled once again. Rodgers accounted for three touchdowns and a 128.0 passer rating. Davante Adams had a relatively down game, going for only 89 yards on four catches. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon also had productive days even if their rushing totals were inflated by one huge run for each.
No.1: Arizona Cardinals (+1)
Arizona won all four quarters in a resounding humiliation of the Browns. Kyler Murray had an efficient 129.0 passer rating and managed to recover all four of his fumbles. A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, and DeAndre Hopkins (twice) hauled in touchdowns. Arizona forced three turnovers of Baker Mayfield. Outside of a miraculous Hail Mary, Arizona cruised.
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