NFL Power Rankings Week 6: Rising Teams That Are Playoff Contenders

Steven GerwelContributor IIIOctober 8, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 7:   Christian Ponder #7 of the Minnesota Vikings looks for a receiver before the snap against the Tennessee Titans at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on October 7, 2012 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

We're still waiting for the Houston Texans and the New York Jets to face off on Monday Night Football, and that game could really shake things up if the Jets find a way to win. But now that Sunday's action is done for, let's revisit the power rankings and decide where each team stands overall. 

After either starting slow or being considered irrelevant entering the season, three teams are starting to rise through the rankings and could ultimately compete for a playoff spot. Those three teams are Pittsburgh (2-2), Minnesota (4-1) and St. Louis (3-2). 

Pittsburgh is obviously a perennial playoff contender, but the Steelers had a slow 1-2 start. This week, they came up with a big Week 5 win against Philadelphia. As of now, it looks like the Steelers could be back. 

St. Louis and Minnesota were considered non-factors entering the year, but both teams own winning records and have pulled off impressive wins. 

Here are the overall rankings, and you can see where those three teams stand. 


1. Houston Texans (4-0)

Barring a complete disaster, the Texans should preserve their perfect record against the struggling New York Jets on Monday Night Football.  


2. Atlanta Falcons (5-0)

RGIII and the Washington Redskins took a shot at the undefeated Falcons, but they lost by a touchdown, 24-17. The Falcons look like the team they were supposed to be last season.  


3. San Francisco 49ers (4-1)

The loss to Minnesota made some people skeptical, but now that the Vikings are 4-1, it's not such a joke anymore. The 49ers are still a very dangerous football team, and they're coming off a landslide 45-3 victory over Buffalo. 


4. Baltimore Ravens (4-1)

Baltimore is coming off an ugly 9-6 victory over Kansas City. The Chiefs have been awful this year, so the game should have been a blowout. Overall, the Ravens are still a top-notch team. 


5. New England Patriots (3-2)

The loss to Arizona raised some concern, but with a 31-21 victory over the Broncos, it's clear that Tom Brady and the offense are starting to roll.  


6. Chicago Bears (4-1)

The wins weren't pretty at first, but with a 41-3 thumping over Jacksonville, the Bears have clearly arrived.  


7. Minnesota Vikings (4-1)

The Vikings have defeated low-level teams like the Colts, Jaguars and Titans, but their win over the 49ers legitimized them.  


8. Philadelphia Eagles (3-2)

Michael Vick has been struggling, and the Eagles are coming off a narrow 16-14 loss to Pittsburgh, but overall, the Eagles have been pulling it off.  


9. San Diego Chargers (3-2)

The Chargers are coming off of a troubling loss to the New Orleans Saints on prime time. But it was an emotional game for the Saints with Drew Brees' record and Sean Peyton's presence, so it's somewhat excusable.  


10. New York Giants (3-2)

They have wins over the Buccaneers, Browns and Panthers, but the Giants have yet to beat a difficult opponent this season.   


11. Green Bay Packers (2-3)

The Packers haven't had the best luck, especially with their "loss" in Seattle. Everyone was expecting great things from the Packers this season, and they have not delivered.  


12. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2)

The Bengals are coming off a loss to an inferior opponent in Miami. Other than that, it looks like they'll challenge Baltimore for the division. 


13. St. Louis Rams (3-2)

The Rams own a winning record for the first time since November 2006. The offense is brutal to watch at times, but their defense has been vicious under new head coach Jeff Fisher.  


14. Arizona Cardinals (4-1)

The Cardinals are coming off a loss to the Rams, and Kevin Kolb was sacked nine times. They certainly didn't look like a 4-1 team in that game. 


15. Denver Broncos (2-3)

Peyton Manning has been performing up to expectations, but the Broncos have not been able to put games away. They're certainly still in it, but they need to get it going.  


16. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2)

The Steelers took down the Eagles in a 16-14 victory. They are returning to form after a slow start. 


17. Seattle Seahawks (3-2)

The Seahawks were able to beat Carolina, but they'll continue to sink as long as Russell Wilson struggles.  


18. Dallas Cowboys (2-2)

What happened to that team we saw in the opener against the Giants? The Cowboys are lucky to have a bye week, because they need to figure things out.  


19. Washington Redskins (2-3)

The RGIII hype was reaching absurd proportions after the Redskins' season-opening win against New Orleans. But now that the Saints are 1-4, we know it wasn't all that impressive.  


20. New York Jets (2-2)

A win against the undefeated Houston Texans on Monday Night Football is exactly what the Jets need to get their season back on track. But don't hold your breath.  


21. Miami Dolphins (2-3)

The Dolphins looked like the disaster team of the season based on their clear dysfunction on HBO's Hard Knocks. But they are settling down and just pulled off a solid win against Cincinnati.  


22. Detroit Lions (1-3)

The Lions were supposed to have an explosive offense that could not be stopped, but Matthew Stafford is not himself.  


23. Indianapolis Colts (2-2)

The Colts are already getting what they've paid for in Andrew Luck, who has been great. Now if they can just improve the talent around him.  


24. Buffalo Bills (2-3)

The Bills were supposedly the most improved team entering the season, but they have been incompetent so far.  


25. Carolina Panthers (1-4)

For all the great things Cam Newton was able to do as a rookie, the one thing he didn't do was win games. In 2012, that again appears to be a problem. But it's a team sport, so the entire roster needs to get it together.  


26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3)

The Buccaneers were such a young and talented team in 2010; they were up-and-comers. But now they're just a mess.  


27. Tennessee Titans (1-4)

The Titans thought they were moving in the right direction by getting rid of Jeff Fisher and drafting Jake Locker, but things are getting progressively worse.  


28. Oakland Raiders (1-3)

They Raiders were beginning to improve over the last couple years. Too bad they change head coaches three times a year, or else they might actually be able to establish a foundation.  


29. Kansas City Chiefs (1-4)

More often than not, the Chiefs not only lose, but they lose in a blowout. Absolutely horrendous for a team with so much young talent.  


30. New Orleans Saints (1-4)

Most people assumed the Saints would not be the same without their head coach, but no one knew it would be this bad. They had the big prime-time win against San Diego, but they'll have to do better than that if they want to move up in the rankings. 


31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4)

Maurice Jones-Drew should have never returned from his holdout. The Jaguars are awful, and Jones-Drew would have all the leverage at this point.  


32. Cleveland Browns (0-5)

Rookies Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden have done some positive things, but the Browns are still awful.