Parity reigns supreme, and an old sheriff in town is knocking on the door of the top spot in our Week 7 NFL Power Rankings.
First, consider these parity numbers: Through just six weeks of football, 21 of the 32 NFL teams have at least three losses, and the San Diego Chargers could make it 22-of-32 with a loss on Monday night to the Denver Broncos.
Shockingly, almost two-thirds of the NFL currently has a record of .500 or worse. No dominant team has emerged yet. Yes, parity still rules the day in the NFL.
About that old sheriff.
The reigning world champion New York Giants made a strong case to be the top team in the Week 7 Power Rankings. Traveling 3,000 miles to take on a team that had outscored opponents 79-3 over the last two weeks, New York dominated the San Francisco 49ers in an NFC Championship Game rematch.
The Giants' 26-3 win was as complete and impressive a win as we've seen in the NFL this season.
We're still not comfortable bumping the Giants over the NFL's lone undefeated team, but the idea was heavily considered.
Here are our full NFL Power Rankings after Week 6:
1. Atlanta Falcons (6-0)
Matt Ryan throwing three interceptions and the Raiders piling up almost 500 yards of total offense in the Georgia Dome were among the many unsightly stats coming out of the Falcons' sixth straight win to start this season. But in the end, all that really matters is that this team remains unblemished. There's something to be said about consistently winning close games like the Falcons have in 2012.
2. New York Giants (4-2)
The NFL's game of the week turned into a laugher in San Francisco. After David Akers' short field goal with two minutes left in the first quarter, New York outscored the 49ers 26-0 over the final 47 minutes. Ahmad Bradshaw went for over 100 yards and a score—the first time that has been done by a running back against San Francisco in some time—and Alex Smith threw three picks. You won't find a better performance by a football team on the road than what the Giants completed on Sunday in San Francisco.
3. Baltimore Ravens (5-1)
The Ravens got another close win on Sunday to improve to 5-1, but at what cost? Ray Lewis (triceps), Lardarius Webb (knee) and Haloti Ngata (knee, shoulder) will each have MRIs on Monday. Lewis and Webb could be done for the season, with Webb almost a certainty with a likely torn ACL. This was a defense that struggled with everyone healthy; how does it recover now? The final 10 weeks could be a real challenge for this Ravens team.
4. Houston Texans (5-1)
The Texans came crashing back to earth at home on primetime television. But let's not read too much into Houston's 18-point loss to Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers (six touchdown passes) is still the best player in the game, despite any "struggles" over the first five weeks. The deeper problem from Sunday night was the Texans' inability to run the football against a banged-up Green Bay front. Arian Foster averaged just 1.7 yards a carry on Sunday night. Houston won't win many games with that kind of production from the run game.
5. San Francisco 49ers (4-2)
A simple reality from Sunday's 26-3 loss to New York: The 49ers have an offense that is ill-equipped to play from behind. The Giants gave them a few punches early, and San Francisco couldn't recover. Bleacher Report lead writer Sigmund Bloom might have put it best Sunday: "The 49ers are like a turtle flipped over on its back when they fall behind by more than a touchdown." San Francisco couldn't flip back over on Sunday. Now, we'll find out over the next month whether the 49ers are the clear favorite in the NFC West with three straight coming inside the division.
6. Chicago Bears (4-1)
The Bears had a bye in Week 6. At 4-1, Chicago sits all alone atop the NFC North.
7. Seattle Seahawks (4-2)
The Seahawks had won three games before Sunday's come-from-behind win over the Patriots, but Russell Wilson had been mostly a sideshow to the bigger story. Not on Sunday. Wilson took over this game in the second half, willing the Seahawks to a win for the first time in his NFL career. His throw over Cover-2 to Sidney Rice on the deep post was picture perfect. The Matt Flynn talk should now be dead, if it wasn't already.
8. Green Bay Packers (3-3)
What a difference 60 minutes can make for a football team. Traveling to 5-0 Houston, the Packers were staring a 2-4 start straight in the eyes. Aaron Rodgers was swimming through a flood of criticism. Not now. The Packers are a healthy 3-3, and Rodgers is back where he was to end 2011: atop the NFL in passer rating (105.4). He's now on pace for 43 touchdowns, too. Is the Pack back? It looked like it on Sunday night.
9. New England Patriots (3-3)
What could have been a really nice road win turned into an ugly choke job in Seattle. You expect a Patriots team that is up 13 with less than nine minutes left in a game to close it out, especially against a rookie quarterback. The offense couldn't move the sticks, and the defense was toasted against downfield. This team now needs to pick itself up off the floor for a suddenly huge game with the first-place New York Jets next Sunday.
10. Minnesota Vikings (4-2)
The Vikings were beaten at their own game on Sunday in Washington. The Redskins, unlike the last month for Minnesota, matched the Vikings' physicality in the trenches. Christian Ponder had a forgettable first three quarters, too. Minnesota's comfortable cushion over the Packers is now down to just a game in the NFC North.
11. Arizona Cardinals (4-2)
Has any field-goal kicker went from hero to goat faster than Jay Feely? He nailed a game-tying field goal from 61 yards before clanking a short kick off the upright that would have won the game in regulation. Losing Kevin Kolb (rib) hurt in the extra period as John Skelton's terrible pick handed Buffalo a win. 4-2 is tough to swallow when 5-1 was right there for the taking.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3)
The Eagles might kick themselves for this one down the stretch. Up 10 with under five minutes to go, the Lions rallied to beat Philly in overtime. A couple of plays late stick out: Ndamukong Suh knocking down Michael Vick's third-down pass, and Vick taking two terrible sacks deep in his own territory in overtime. If any of those go differently, the Eagles probably win the football game.
13. San Diego Chargers (3-2)*
14. Denver Broncos (2-3)*
The Chargers and Broncos face off on Monday night in San Diego.
15. Washington Redskins (3-3)
Barring any kind of injury that keeps him out a significant period of time, Robert Griffin III is the runaway favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. He is just incredible, but I find myself writing that every week now. The Redskins hit a home run here that has transformed an entire franchise. One added stat here: Washington is ranked second in the NFL in rushing through six weeks at 166.0 yards a game. Two rookies—Griffin III and Alfred Morris—are to thank for that ascension.
16. New York Jets (3-3)
A team that was once written off, left for dead and buried, the Jets are now sitting in first place in the AFC East. Unbelievable. New York is still a deeply flawed team, but that locker room will be a happier place this week. And what about the game upcoming on Sunday? What a message the Jets could send by going to New England and finding a way to win.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3)
The Steelers started a Week 6 trend on Thursday by uncharacteristically blowing a late lead in the fourth quarter. As we've learned, five games is far too small of a sample size to crown or write off any team. But the Steelers have some issues, especially on the offensive line and defensively. Maybe 10 wins is the ceiling for this team.
18. St. Louis Rams (3-3)
The Rams continue their home-road woes. 3-0 at home, 0-3 on the road. However, this has still been a rapid rebuilding effort from Jeff Fisher, and the Rams do return back to St. Louis for Week 7. The problem? Green Bay, fresh off drubbing Houston, is also making the trip to the Gateway to the West on Sunday.
19. Cincinnati Bengals (3-3)
The Bengals now have back-to-back bad losses, falling to the Dolphins and Browns the last two weeks. Andy Dalton has suffered through some issues after blistering through a three-game win streak. Bengals vs. Steelers in Week 7 should give us a better gauge on both teams before Cincinnati hits the bye week.
20. Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
The Cowboys admittedly botched the clock management late, but at least they gave themselves opportunity after opportunity to win the football game. You just have to cash in on those opportunities to beat good football teams. A clear drop from Dez Bryant on the two-point conversion and a missed kick from over 50 yards blew what should have been a season-altering win for the Cowboys.
21. Miami Dolphins (3-3)
Look at Joe Philbin and his rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Three wins and tied for the top of the AFC East after six weeks. Who saw that coming? Credit Tannehill for finding a way to score enough points on Sunday despite getting just 17 total yards from the run game.
22. Detroit Lions (2-3)
Over the last five minutes and into overtime Sunday, the Lions took a defibrillator to their 2012 season. Falling to 1-4 would have been disaster to the Nth degree. But once again, Matthew Stafford found a way in the fourth quarter. He now has seven come-from-behind wins in the final period or overtime in his short NFL career.
23. Buffalo Bills (3-3)
The Bills were gifted a win in overtime, and you can bet there were a few who thought the game was over when Feely lined up for a short kick to end the fourth quarter. Buffalo shouldn't care. After the last eight quarters of football, the Bills just needed a win. They got it. And now the Bills still sit in good shape in the AFC East.
24. New Orleans Saints (1-4)
The Saints had a bye in Week 6. They return to face the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay on Sunday.
25. Indianapolis Colts (2-3)
Emotion is such a hard thing to carry over two weeks in a row, especially on the road. That dynamic showed on Sunday in New York. The Colts, who rode the emotional wave in the second half to beat Green Bay, couldn't contain it against the Jets and were blown out. Let's not forget where Indianapolis is at in this rebuilding process.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3)
Tampa Bay got its finest performance to date from quarterback Josh Freeman, who threw for over 300 yards and three scores against a reeling Chiefs team. The Bucs couldn't afford to fall to 1-4, so winning at home on Sunday was a must. They can all but eliminate the Saints next Sunday when New Orleans travels to Tampa Bay.
27. Tennessee Titans (2-4)
Matt Hasselbeck did his best Ben Roethlisberger impression on Thursday night, leading the Titans back after being down seven with under eight minutes left. It was an impressive ending for the veteran quarterback on his last NFL legs. Tennessee even got 91 yards from the much-maligned Chris Johnson.
28. Oakland Raiders (1-4)
The Raiders outplayed the NFL's lone unbeaten team on the road, but that doesn't mean Oakland is any better off in the win-loss column. 1-4 is still 1-4. Carson Palmer, for how well he played otherwise, killed this team with his late pick-six. It's something that most are accustomed to seeing out of Palmer. The Raiders have now lost 10 straight games after the bye week, the longest active NFL streak.
29. Carolina Panthers (1-4)
The Panthers got a much-needed bye week. A visit from the Dallas Cowboys to Carolina awaits in Week 7.
30. Cleveland Browns (1-5)
The 2008 Detroit Lions can pop their champagne bottles. The Browns will not be the second NFL team in history to go 0-16, and getting that first win gets Cleveland out of the power rankings cellar. Credit Brandon Weeden and the Browns for getting it done without Trent Richardson for much of Sunday, too.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4)
The Jaguars had a bye in Week 6. Jacksonville travels to Oakland next Sunday.
32. Kansas City Chiefs (1-5)
The Chiefs fall to the bottom of the rankings after an embarrassing 28-point loss to the Buccaneers on the road. At the very least, the bye week in Week 7 gives Kansas City a chance to find its bearing. This is a football team that should be better than its 1-5 record.
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