Another week brings more big changes to our NFL Power Rankings, as undefeated teams stay hot, bad teams continue to find new ways to lose and some teams find ways to surprise us.
In a week that saw the Kansas City Chiefs move to 6-0, the New York Giants fall to 0-6 and the Houston Texans feature more terrible quarterback play, you might not expect many big changes. But there are, thanks to teams showing themselves as legitimate contenders or pretenders after another week of play.
Who is the NFL's best team after six weeks? That shouldn't surprise you. Teams 2-32, though, might.
This Week's Rank: 32
Last Week's Rank: 31
There is nothing good for me to write about the New York Giants this week.
Eli Manning has thrown an unbelievable 15 interceptions compared to nine touchdowns. The run game has been inconsistent, but even when Brandon Jacobs came alive in Week 5, it was wasted by turnovers and mistakes on offense.
This isn't all on Manning. The protection up front has been bad. Receivers are running wrong routes and making the wrong adjustments. But largely, Manning is to blame for passes that sail too high, too wide or right to the defender.
The good news, Giants fans? The 2014 NFL draft class looks great. And Jadeveon Clowney would look nice opposite Jason Pierre-Paul.
This Week's Rank: 31
Last Week's Rank: 30
It's really too bad that Greg Schiano won't be around next season, because there's quite a bit of talent on this roster just waiting to come together.
The 2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers remind me of the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs. That team won just two games but sent six players to the Pro Bowl. A coaching change and a new quarterback have them at 6-0 and looking like a playoff team.
The Bucs have similar talent on defense and even more talent on offense than the Chiefs do. A coaching change and a new quarterback—maybe even Mike Glennon—would have this team headed in the right direction.
This Week's Rank: 30
Last Week's Rank: 32
You may not believe in moral victories, but I do—especially after watching the Jacksonville Jaguars battle the Denver Broncos. The game was never expected to be close, yet it was.
The Jaguars don't have a ton of talent, but they do have an exceptional coach. That Gus Bradley was able to motivate his team to play hard in this one makes him a Coach of the Week candidate. And once Bradley has the talent he needs on this team, it's going to be tough—very tough.
Hang in there, Jacksonville. The right people are in place to turn around this franchise.
This Week's Rank: 29
Last Week's Rank: 29
So Matt Cassel isn't the answer either.
Christian Ponder failed in his attempts to save his job as the starting quarterback, and on Sunday, Cassel did his best to throw it away too. Welcome, Josh Freeman, to the Week 7 starting lineup.
The Minnesota Vikings have many problems on both sides of the ball, but the quarterback play takes center stage. Considering the team made the playoffs last year, the 1-4 start is embarrassing. However, you really can't say we didn't see this coming.
The offense isn't alone in taking blame, as the defense has struggled to stop the run and pass equally this season. As the Vikings head into the meat of their schedule, things could get ugly fast.
This Week's Rank: 28
Last Week's Rank: 28
So much is broken in Washington, and it's unlikely that time will heal the wounds on this roster. The offense is a shell of its former self. The run game is inconsistent, as are the rushing lanes opened by the interior offensive linemen. While Trent Williams has played excellent football at left tackle, the rest of the line has looked replaceable each week.
Many of the problems will be blamed on Robert Griffin III, and it's clear he's not the same quarterback he was last season. And it's not just his knee injury and the lack of running. It's in his mechanics, reads and ball placement. It's in the way he throws the ball high on crossing routes. It's in his indecision on hot reads. The knee is obviously a concern, but the mental aspects of the game are as much of a problem right now.
Quarterbacks get in funks, and they play out of them. For Washington to have any chance at the postseason, Griffin has to snap himself out of the passing funk he's in right now.
This Week's Rank: 27
Last Week's Rank: 17
The easy headline here would be to tell you that the Houston Texans have a problem, but I never liked the movie Apollo 13 that much. Instead, I'll let you know that the Texans are screwed at the quarterback position.
And not in a good way.
The Texans fans may have booed when Matt Schaub went down, but the play of T.J. Yates was no better. In fact, it was eerily similar, as Yates threw two interceptions in the red zone and single-handedly helped the St. Louis Rams put the team away.
There is no silver lining here. Second-year quarterback Case Keenum is not the answer. The best course of action? Play Schaub and let it ride.
This Week's Rank: 26
Last Week's Rank: 15
A bye week came just in time for the reeling Atlanta Falcons. Can head coach Mike Smith find the Band-Aids needed to keep his roster from bleeding out?
It won't get easier from here; that's for sure. Not without Julio Jones and not with the NFC South schedule heating up. The Falcons offense has been flat even with Jones, but taking him away and dealing with the hobbled Roddy White at the other wide receiver spot spells doom for the team. The Falcons need someone to step up and help Tony Gonzalez on offense, and I'm not confident Harry Douglas is that guy.
Defensively, there is no pass rush, and that's affecting everything they do. Until the Falcons can dial up some pressure on opposing quarterbacks, their talented secondary can't be asked to hold offenses down.
That's what's on the docket for Smith and his coaches as they attempt to save the season in Week 7.
This Week's Rank: 25
Last Week's Rank: 25
For three quarters, the Oakland Raiders hung with the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, but eventually, the talent gap between the two teams showed up.
The Raiders allowed 10 sacks of mobile quarterback Terrelle Pryor, a problem that will plague even the best teams in the league. A patchwork offensive line couldn't get anything going for Oakland, and it showed in the Raiders' limited output on that side of the ball.
Defensively, the Raiders played a very good game overall, allowing just 216 yards and forcing a turnover, but the offense couldn't capitalize.
This Week's Rank: 24
Last Week's Rank: 27
The Pittsburgh Steelers finally get a win in a week that features the AFC North continue to struggle. Could this team have found new life after the bye week?
The biggest change in Week 6 was the protection of Ben Roethlisberger. While the offensive line was far from good, it was improved from previous weeks. That allowed Big Ben time to throw and open up the offense. He had just seven incompletions in 30 attempts.
The Steelers' season isn't over—as surprising as that may seem—but they need to continue to show the offensive prowess they did against a talented New York Jets defense. That win, and the efficiency, can't be taken lightly.
This Week's Rank: 23
Last Week's Rank: 26
Cam Newton has his best game in, well, maybe ever, and the Carolina Panthers get a big win over the reeling Minnesota Vikings. Feels good, doesn't it?
Newton's 272 total yards propelled the offense, and his offensive line held up against a talented Minnesota defensive line in a game that says a lot about the talent level on this team. Newton, DeAngelo Williams, Mike Tolbert and the defense all showed up big in a game that gets the Panthers to 2-3 and keeps them alive in the wild-card race in a crowded NFC.
If this game is any indication as to what the Panthers offense will look like moving ahead, teams need to worry about the fast and loose style we saw in Week 6.
This Week's Rank: 22
Last Week's Rank: 23
No one expected the Buffalo Bills to compete with the Cincinnati Bengals—especially not with a quarterback who had just been elevated from the practice squad earlier in the week. But this is why they play the games.
Quarterback Thad Lewis did his best EJ Manuel impersonation in a game that the Bills nearly stole from the Bengals. The all-around effort by the offense was phenomenal when you consider the short time Lewis had to get up to speed and the defense the Bills were facing.
Doug Marrone's team might not win a ton of games this season, but you can tell it is well coached and will keep things interesting every week.
This Week's Rank: 20
Last Week's Rank: 21
The Cleveland Browns are back to being who we thought they were. And that's simply not very good on offense.
With Brian Hoyer out for the year, we got to see Brandon Weeden against a thin Detroit Lions secondary. Early in the game, it looked like Weeden was red-hot, but two interceptions in a close game sealed the deal and allowed the Lions to pull away.
The Browns' struggles should only continue from here if Weeden continues to play at quarterback. We know who Weeden is a year and a half into his career—and he's just not good enough to consistently deliver the ball accurately and on time.
That's too bad, as the Browns' offensive line and defense are good enough to win ballgames. With two first-round picks in next year's draft, fans in Cleveland might want to spend their Saturdays looking at Teddy Bridgewater and Marcus Mariota.
This Week's Rank: 20
Last Week's Rank: 19
The Arizona Cardinals played the San Francisco 49ers close for three quarters, but that was all they could hold on for.
The talent gap between the teams became obvious after that point—especially once the Cardinals had to survive multiple Carson Palmer interceptions. While Palmer did give Arizona a first-quarter lead with a long touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald, it was clear early on that in a game controlled by defense, turnovers would be the death of one side.
That was the case for Arizona. Mistakes piled up, and a loss was the result. The tough defense in Arizona is good, but not good enough yet to shut down an athletic team like the 49ers.
This Week's Rank: 19
Last Week's Rank: 18
A disappointing loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers exposed some flaws in the New York Jets' machine, but also offered encouraging moments the young team can build on. The biggest takeaway? Rex Ryan is the right man to coach this team.
Yes, the offense struggled to get points on the board, but that's going to happen as rookie quarterback Geno Smith acclimates to the NFL. And let's not pretend that Smith has a ton of talent around him at the skill positions or on the offensive line. This Jets offense is lacking, yet Smith is able to make things happen.
The defense is very solid and still a few players away from being at full capacity. If the Jets can develop or add a quality pass-rushing outside linebacker, they're going to be deadly. In the meantime, they'll continue to be one of the toughest teams in the NFL on a weekly basis.
This Week's Rank: 18
Last Week's Rank: 21
Beating the Indianapolis Colts at home on Monday Night Football gives the Chargers a marquee win in Week 6. Philip Rivers and the offense were able to do enough to win while the stout San Diego defense held Andrew Luck and co. in check all night.
The Chargers have some issues, but when they're clicking few people can keep up with them. The key is playing for a solid four quarters. That's something the team had trouble with early in the year, but it seems like they're turning that corner each week.
You have to watch out for the Chargers. The offense and defense are starting to get in sync, and with great coaching from Mike McCoy and staff, they're dangerous.
This Week's Rank: 17
Last Week's Rank: 24
The hype surrounding the Philadelphia Eagles was out of control after an impressive Week 1 win, and then it seemed like everyone forgot about this team after a loss and slowdown on offense. But now, the Eagles sit at 3-3 and look like the NFC East's most complete team.
Nick Foles executed on offense in ways that Michael Vick hasn't, playing efficient football and moving the chains by throwing his guys open. Against a talented Tampa Bay secondary, the Eagles moved the ball effortlessly. That's a huge credit to Foles and Chip Kelly.
The Eagles are alive, but don't expect to hear much about them from other outlets. And that's exactly where Kelly and the staff want this team.
This Week's Rank: 16
Last Week's Rank: 22
The St. Louis Rams have found their groove—and that should scare the rest of the NFC West.
Winners of two straight games, the Rams are getting production from Sam Bradford and have managed to find a run game with rookie tailback Zac Stacy. They're also getting incredible pressure from defensive linemen Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers and Chris Long.
Balance on both sides of the ball is what the team lacked early in the year when they were off to a slow start, but the offensive game plan in Week 6 was the best I've seen from the Rams all season. And it's not like they played an easy team to move the ball on, as the Houston Texans have the talent to match up with anyone.
This could be the swing in momentum the Rams needed. We know the talent and coaching are there for this team to make a run.
This Week's Rank: 15
Last Week's Rank: 12
A second straight loss sends the Tennessee Titans to an even 3-3 record, but the team has to feel good about its play in Seattle without Jake Locker. If you can find encouragement in a loss, the Titans should in this one.
The Titans defense was, once again, stout, holding the Seahawks to just 20 points, but the offense couldn't answer and added just six points. Without Locker, it's clear that the offense is too conservative and safe to win ballgames against a good defense.
That said, the Titans are going to win games between now and Locker's return on the back of their defense. It's just a matter of facing an opponent that isn't as talented as the Seahawks.
This Week's Rank: 14
Last Week's Rank: 14
A prime-time win for Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys is huge after their Week 5 loss to the Denver Broncos. Even better, this one came within the division.
The Cowboys enter Week 7 tied at 3-3 with the Philadelphia Eagles within the NFC East. That said, injuries on defense could hurt this team down the stretch. They're already without Anthony Spencer, and DeMarcus Ware left the game Sunday night early. If both bookend pass-rushers are out, it'll take an impressive Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli coaching effort to find replacements.
This might be the year we finally see the Cowboys live up to their potential and make the playoffs. Through six weeks, they're off to a good start.
This Week's Rank: 13
Last Week's Rank: 13
The Week 6 bye allows the Miami Dolphins time to rest, heal and prepare for the next 11 weeks of an intense battle in the AFC East. With the season nearly at the halfway mark, they find themselves very much alive in the postseason race.
The Dolphins are getting production on offense, but the bye week had to be spent scheming ways to better protect Ryan Tannehill. Some of that is on the second-year quarterback to speed up his internal clock, but the offensive line must do better as well. Their ability to fix this problem—through personnel, play-calling or scheming—will dictate the success of the 2013 Dolphins.
Six weeks in, they have to feel good about where they are, but now, we will find out if this is a playoff team or a roster that's one year away.
This Week's Rank: 12
Last Week's Rank: 11
Losing to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers doesn't say much about the Baltimore Ravens, at least not in my opinion. Losing to a team with an upper-level offense doesn't make Baltimore better or worse than it was last week.
In fact, the Ravens will find a lot of positives coming out of this one.
The play of Tandon Doss is very encouraging and might signal that the team finally has another wide receiver it can go to. On defense, the Packers did a great job containing Rodgers' offense early before the Packers' scheme finally found openings in the secondary.
The Ravens have had a tough schedule and some big obstacles to overcome, but they still sit here at 3-3 with a chance to win the AFC North.
This Week's Rank: 11
Last Week's Rank: 16
It's safe to say that I've been underrating the Detroit Lions here on a weekly basis. It was high time to adjust that.
The Lions, at 4-2, are tied for the NFC North lead. And we're not talking about an easy division to win in. With a high-powered offense, a much-improved offensive line and a defense that's very good in the front seven, the Lions have proven they can win big games. Now they have to finish better.
With Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush, Calvin Johnson and newfound superstar Joseph Fauria at tight end, the Lions offense is capable of scoring with ease. Thanks to a defensive line that's constantly in the backfield, they can shut down offenses as well.
The Lions didn't make much noise in 2012, but they have to be taken seriously this season.
This Week's Rank: 10
Last Week's Rank: 10
Lost in the success that teams like Denver, Kansas City and Indianapolis are having is the fact that the Chicago Bears are a very good team—especially once they get healthy on defense.
Through six weeks, we've seen the Bears play in blowouts and close games, and we've seen the best Jay Cutler of his time in Chicago. The offensive line, anchored by three new starters, is protecting and opening rushing lanes. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery has emerged as a stud option in the passing game. Marc Trestman's offense has been huge for the Bears, and their NFC North-best record shows it.
Oddly enough, the defense might be where this team is hurting. Losing Henry Melton and D.J. Williams to injury forces young guys into the lineup. Against Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford, you need to be at full strength.
Chicago has a talented enough team to make a deep playoff run, but someone in the front seven on defense must step up.
This Week's Rank: 9
Last Week's Rank: 9
The good Green Bay Packers were on display in Week 6, getting a big win over the Baltimore Ravens. Now the question is whether they can keep it up.
The Packers won despite injuries to James Jones and Randall Cobb, but for a third straight game, they were able to rely on the run game to help set up the pass. That's a new wrinkle in Green Bay and has prevented defenses from pinning their ears back and attacking Aaron Rodgers.
If the run game is here to stay, the Packers' explosive edge playmakers could become even more dangerous, as the offensive line gives Rodgers more time to make plays.
The defense didn't miss Clay Matthews as much as many feared, thanks to Nick Perry stepping up in his place. With Perry attacking the backfield, the Packers can still make plays, but the secondary has to cover deep much better than it did against the Ravens. Otherwise, Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall will have field days against this defense in division matchups.
This Week's Rank: 8
Last Week's Rank: 6
The Colts may have got caught looking ahead to Week 7 and their match up with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, but in doing so they forgot to take care of another AFC West team. The San Diego Chargers took advantage by punching the Colts in the mouth with ball control, power offense and a penetrating defense.
The Colts will regroup from this, but we continue to see a team without much identity on either side of the ball. Are they a power run team? Are they airing it out? Where's the pass rush come from when Robert Mathis is contained like he was in Week 6?
There's a lot of talent here, but there are equal number of questions.
This Week's Rank: 7
Last Week's Rank: 7
The Cincinnati Bengals continue to win but have played poorly in recent weeks. A win is a win, though, and that's all that matters right now for the AFC North-leading Bengals.
Andy Dalton has been shaky throughout the year, but he's still coming up big when the team needs a play. It helps that he has A.J. Green on the edge, but we're also seeing guys like Gio Bernard, Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert starting to make big plays. If the young players on this roster develop in-season, Dalton doesn't have to do much more than distribute the ball on time and in the right place.
The secondary is a concern here, though. Even against Thad Lewis and the Buffalo Bills, it allowed too many big plays. If the Bengals are to make the playoffs for a third straight season, and if they want to actually win a playoff game, they need the secondary to come together down the stretch.
This Week's Rank: 6
Last Week's Rank: 5
Why do the San Francisco 49ers move down one spot after a win? It really has nothing to do with the 49ers and everything to do with other teams. The New England Patriots made a statement with their win over the Saints and moved up. With the Indianapolis Colts staying neutral until after Monday Night Football, the 49ers move down. Maybe temporarily.
The Week 6 win showed toughness from the team against a very good Arizona Cardinals defense. The play of Colin Kaepernick should silence critics after he torched the Arizona secondary for 252 yards—including an incredible 180 yards to tight end Vernon Davis. Once again, Kaepernick beat a team with his arm and proved that even without Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree, he can pass the team to a victory.
The defense didn't look lost without Aldon Smith for a second straight week. Big plays from rookies Corey Lemonier and Eric Reid showed, once again, that on a roster this deep, someone will continue to step up and make plays.
It's been a quiet start, thanks to two losses, but the 49ers are gaining steam as they head into the middle of the season.
This Week's Rank: 5
Last Week's Rank: 2
Normally, a last-minute loss to the New England Patriots wouldn't result in a drop this large. The New Orleans Saints had the misfortune of losing their first game, while the Kansas City Chiefs won to stay perfect. The natural shuffling of teams (New England and Kansas City, notably) means the Saints fall to No. 5 overall.
That's not to say the Saints aren't a great team. They are. In fact, they would be one of the top two seeds in the NFC if the season ended today. And they'll learn from the loss to the Patriots; that much is guaranteed.
Getting healthy, dusting themselves off and moving forward is something the Saints do very well. And there's no reason to think this team won't continue toward its goal of taking the top seed in the NFC. If the Saints play like they did for the first 58 minutes of Week 6, they'll do it too.
This Week's Rank: 4
Last Week's Rank: 8
A big move up the board this week for the New England Patriots, but a well-deserved one after beating the New Orleans Saints with a classic Tom Brady fourth-quarter drive.
The Patriots haven't been perfect this year, and even in victory there were too many drops, a questionable fourth-down decision by Bill Belichick and defensive miscues that allowed the Saints to pull ahead in the fourth quarter. And yet they won. This felt like an old-school Patriots win.
Brady, as we've grown accustomed to, was great late in this one. His ability to win on throws to undrafted rookie Kenbrell Thompkins is one of a kind. And it's why the Patriots, without Danny Amendola (left the game in the third quarter with a head injury) and Rob Gronkowski, were able to take down the undefeated Saints.
This Week's Rank: 3
Last Week's Rank: 3
The Seattle Seahawks continue to roll at home, putting away the Tennessee Titans and keeping their lead in the NFC West alive. The real questions will come on the road, though, where this team has struggled.
Traveling to Arizona and St. Louis on consecutive weeks might not give the Seahawks the real road test they need, but both teams play tough defense and can force turnovers. Neither contest can be completely written off at this stage.
What makes the Seahawks so dangerous, though, is that they can beat you at your own game. They're strong enough to pound it out on the ground, dynamic enough to throw the ball to win and so nasty on defense that they can suffocate a top-tier offense.
At home, they're unbeatable, and if they keep winning, a home-field advantage in the playoffs looks very real.
This Week's Rank: 2
Last Week's Rank: 4
The Kansas City Chiefs have managed to triple last season's win total by getting their sixth straight win. That matches the number of Pro Bowlers they sent to Hawaii last season.
No one expected this much of a transformation under Andy Reid, but here we are. The Chiefs have the league's top-ranked scoring defense and have proven they can get after the quarterback. Their 10 sacks of Terrelle Pryor on Sunday showed that no matter the athletic ability of the quarterback, they can get the job done.
On offense the team did struggle, especially in the first half, but the end result was a comfortable victory against a hated rival. With an easy schedule until Week 11, we could see a matchup of two undefeated teams when the Chiefs and the Denver Broncos square off on November 17.
This Week's Rank: 1
Last Week's Rank: 1
The Denver Broncos stay perfect, but not before getting a first-half scare from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Week 6 didn't bring the Broncos their first loss, but it did expose weaknesses on offense (the offensive line) and defense (the secondary). A better team may have been able to punch the Broncos in the mouth and smashmouth its way to a win on Sunday.
Yet the Broncos continue to win because they have Peyton Manning and an offense that will outscore nearly every team in the league. So, for another week at least, it's tough to bet against the Broncos as the best team in the league. A tough schedule ahead—including the Colts, Patriots and Chiefs—will tell us all we need to know about Denver.