NFL Power Rankings: Updated Look at Every Team Heading into Week 7
Spectacular finishes and huge upsets highlighted an exciting slate of games on Sunday, leading to some drastic changes atop the NFL power rankings.
Nobody predicted the visiting St. Louis Rams would take the Houston Texans behind the woodshed, and it was just as surprising to see the Jacksonville Jaguars hang with the Denver Broncos at home.
The New York Giants continue to plunge deeper into the abyss, while the Kansas City Chiefs are quietly establishing themselves as formidable playoff contenders.
After a wild weekend, here's how the league stacks up heading into Week 7.
1. Denver Broncos
The Peyton Mannings survived a first-half scare at home against the Jaguars to maintain an undefeated record heading into Week 7, thanks to three rushing touchdowns by Knowshon Moreno.
The Broncos now have Von Miller back after he served his six-game suspension.
Miller's ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks will help Denver's porous secondary, making this team much more dangerous from here on out.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
There isn't a hotter defense in the league right now than the one Kansas City features.
The Chiefs sacked Terrelle Pryor 10 times on Sunday and forced him to throw three interceptions. And this isn't anything new. No team in the league can match the pressure Kansas City brings up front, as through six games, this team has tallied 31 sacks.
Alex Smith is playing within himself and the team's game plan, and the Chiefs are 6-0.
3. Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson plays with exceptional poise for such a young quarterback, and he rarely makes plays that hurt his team.
Combined with the team's incredible defense and one of the league's most punishing rushing attacks, the Seahawks have a winning formula and will be a team to be reckoned with in the playoffs.
4. Indianapolis Colts
Watching Andrew Luck pilot the Colts these days is like turning back the clock three years and watching him play at Stanford. His old college offensive coordinator, Pep Hamilton, is calling the shots this year for Indy's offense, which is one of the most physical units in the entire league.
Luck showed off his spectacular arm as a rookie, but he's been just as happy to hand the ball off to one of his running backs this year, as his offense wears teams down in the fourth quarter.
5. New England Patriots
New England has won ugly this year, but that's little comfort to the rest of the AFC.
Tom Brady continues to cement his legacy as a quarterback who makes players around him better. Working with a group of receivers that has sometimes looked completely lost this year, he consistently finds ways to win.
6. New Orleans Saints
Rob Ryan's defense has been incredible this year, but the Patriots wore it down by running the ball with regularity.
Coming into the game against New England, the Saints were one of the hottest teams in the NFL, and they still are.
7. San Francisco 49ers
Frank Gore is the key to San Francisco's offense—not Colin Kaepernick.
Since offensive coordinator Greg Roman shifted his focus from the passing game to establishing the run three weeks ago, the 49ers haven't lost a game.
Rookie safety Eric Reid continues to make general manager Trent Baalke look like a genius for letting Dashon Goldson walk, and he leads a secondary that has turned teams over with regularity this year.
8. Chicago Bears
Watching Jay Cutler lead the Bears offense this year, it's easy to understand why the team dumped defensive-minded Lovie Smith in favor of Marc Trestman, who is a noted offensive guru.
The Bears need to get healthy on defense, but this is a team that looks poised for a deep playoff run.
9. Green Bay Packers
It was the second week in a row in which he was able to consistently make headway on the ground. The Packers have shown a commitment to the run that will be extremely beneficial later in the season when the weather changes and the playoffs approach.
James Jones and Randall Cobb were both injured on Sunday, however, and depending on how long they're out Green Bay could lean even more on Lacy and the running game in upcoming games.
10. Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Dalton must drive Bengals fans crazy. He routinely makes poor decisions, but just when you're ready to count him out, he makes a tremendous play under pressure that helps his team win a game.
And win games the Bengals have. At 4-2, this team is in first place atop the AFC North.
11. Miami Dolphins
Miami has got to figure out a way to protect Ryan Tannehill. Even after taking the week off with a bye, Tannehill "leads" the league in sacks with 24.
This team has the ingredients to make a playoff run, with a defense that gets after the passer and offensive weapons capable of busting a game wide open. But if Tannehill continues to get sacked at this rate, the Dolphins will struggle to win half their games.
12. Detroit Lions
It's hard to gauge the Lions. After making the playoffs in 2011, this team tanked last season, but it appears to be on the rise once again.
If Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson can get healthy and stay healthy, then the Lions will continue to challenge the Packers and Bears for the NFC North title.
13. Baltimore Ravens
Green Bay exposed Baltimore's biggest weakness on Sunday, sacking Joe Flacco five times and holding Ray Rice to just 34 yards rushing. The Ravens offensive line was atrocious, and you can expect teams to continue attacking with blitzes going forward until they stop working.
That said, the Ravens feature an impressive defense that makes every game winnable.
14. Tennessee Titans
The Titans performed admirably in Seattle, losing by just seven points.
Featuring one of the league's stingiest defenses, Tennessee has hung tough in every game this year. If Jake Locker can return healthy in a few weeks and can play like he did before his injury, then the Titans could be a sleeper playoff team as the month of December approaches.
15. Dallas Cowboys
Dallas has issues that will linger throughout the season.
The team's secondary locked down Washington's receivers for most of the night on Sunday, but the Redskins have been struggling all year. In the two games prior, this team gave up 815 yards and seven touchdowns to Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning.
On offense, the running game continues to be nonexistent, and given enough chances, Tony Romo always finds ways to make critical mistakes in big games.
16. St. Louis Rams
Raise your hand if you predicted Sam Bradford to throw three touchdowns against the Houston Texans, leading his team to a blowout road victory.
Rookie running back Zac Stacy also played well, and the team's defense appears to be turning the corner.
If the Rams ever figure out how to use Tavon Austin, the league is in trouble.
17. Philadelphia Eagles
Is there a quarterback controversy brewing in Philadelphia?
If he plays well again in Week 7 against Dallas, leading the Eagles over the Cowboys to take first place in the division, then Chip Kelly will be hard-pressed to put Michael Vick back into the starting lineup when he's healthy enough to play.
18. New York Jets
New York's defense is impressive—especially the young guys up front. Rex Ryan has this unit playing with fire, and the Jets have a chance to win every game behind the strength it provides.
Unfortunately, Geno Smith is a rookie, and he plays like it.
After throwing three touchdowns against Atlanta, putting together his first turnover-free game of the season, Smith threw two costly interceptions in a losing cause against Pittsburgh at home on Sunday.
19. Arizona Cardinals
Speaking of turnovers, Carson Palmer has been goaded into a few this year. Well, maybe more than a few.
Through six games, Palmer has thrown 11 interceptions, and his two against the 49ers on Sunday gave San Francisco a huge momentum shift early in that game.
The Cardinals feature an impressive defense, but it's not good enough to overcome these mistakes.
20. Cleveland Browns
Brandon Weeden is bad.
That is all.
Seriously, though, he threw the worst interception of Week 6, and his inability to get rid of the ball in a timely manner dooms Cleveland's offense to failure.
21. San Diego Chargers
San Diego's "defense" is downright embarrassing.
Allowing 406 yards per game, the Chargers feature one of the worst secondaries in the league. Philip Rivers has been amazing at times, but he doesn't have enough weapons around him to win games against high-powered offenses.
22. Buffalo Bills
The Bills clearly have something good going under rookie head coach Doug Marrone.
Unfortunately, Buffalo can't keep quarterbacks healthy. EJ Manuel was already out before backup Thad Lewis got hurt on Sunday.
With these injuries, the Bills were forced to desperate measures. Matt Flynn will be signed, as noted by ESPN's Adam Schefter:
Bills plan to sign QB Matt Flynn.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 14, 2013
If he's pressed into action, the Bills are doomed.
23. Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton finally had a breakout game on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings after struggling badly all year. Before fans get too exited, however, it's worth noting that the Vikings haven't been able to stop anybody this year.
Carolina's defense is the real deal, and this unit will keep the team in most games, but Newton's lack of discipline and awareness will continue to doom the Panthers.
24. Oakland Raiders
Kansas City abused Oakland's porous offensive line on Sunday, and Terrelle Pryor was forced into three interceptions.
The Raiders are still playing better than anyone expected, however, and Pryor will bounce back against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 8 after the team's bye.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers finally won a game, thanks to an efficient performance by Ben Roethlisberger and the team's first two forced turnovers of the season.
Pittsburgh still can't find a running game, however, and the team's defense is still suspect against the run.
26. Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta had a bye in Week 6, and it desperately needed the early break.
Julio Jones is out for the year with a foot injury, and he was the glue holding the Falcons offense together before getting injured in Week 5.
Atlanta's defense is a mess, too, as was clearly illustrated on Monday Night Football against the Jets when Smith shredded the team's secondary.
27. Washington Redskins
Robert Griffin III is still struggling, but he's not the real problem in Washington.
The team isn't running the ball like it did last year, and even more concerning is the fact that the Redskins don't tackle on defense.
Like, at all.
Yes, this unit played much better against Dallas this Sunday than we've seen this year, allowing just 213 yards, but there were still plenty of missed tackles in the open field that directly led to the loss.
28. Minnesota Vikings
Vikings fans were upset when analysts like myself were skeptical about the team's surprising playoff berth last year.
Perhaps that perception has changed.
Minnesota doesn't have a quarterback, and teams that don't have quarterbacks lose games.
Josh Freeman will almost certainly get his chance to run the offense in Week 7 against the New York Giants, as the Vikings have absolutely nothing to lose by giving him a shot.
29. Houston Texans
Speaking of quarterbacks, the Texans don't have one, either.
Will Matt Schaub turn things around in 2013?
Matt Schaub has been atrocious this year. Even when he isn't throwing pick-sixes, his throws aren't coming out with any velocity.
After he left Sunday's game with a lower-leg injury—to the delight of thousands of sick, disturbed fans—backup T.J. Yates threw a pick-six that stunned the previously cheering crowd into silence.
The Texans are now 2-4, and considering the miraculous way this team won both of its first two games, Houston is lucky it isn't 0-6.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Glennon looked really sharp in the first half against Philadelphia, but he finished the game with a whimper. Furthermore, Philly's pass defense this year has been atrocious, which puts a dampener on any real excitement about his first-half performance.
The Bucs haven't won a game yet, and at this point, a top-five pick in the 2014 NFL draft seems assured.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
Gus Bradley and his team put up a tremendous fight against Denver this Sunday, which is why the Jaguars no longer occupy the worst spot in these rankings.
Justin Blackmon has been phenomenal since returning from his four-game suspension, but he's the only bright spot on Jacksonville's offense.
32. New York Giants
Eli Manning is a train wreck this season. He's already thrown 15 interceptions in six games, and he looks like a shell-shocked rookie on the field right now.
Just as alarming is the fact that the Giants have only sacked opposing quarterbacks five times this year.
From top to bottom, New York is a mess.
If Tom Coughlin doesn't get his team turned around soon, it might finally be time for the Giants to let the old coach go.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78
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