NFL Power Rankings Week 6: Setting the Records Straight
I have never been a fan of "Power Rankings," and I do not expect to be converted any time soon.
I think ranking NFL teams is just free reign for people to say, "You were wrong about this," or "You were wrong about that."
Still, I think the rankings system that is put in place by the mainstream media is atrocious, so I decided to put my own spin on this topic, which is one of the hottest in the NFL.
I think rankings should be based solely upon the team's win-loss record, with strength of schedule as a secondary judgment. From there, it is the writer's opinion, but win percentage is the key here.
For instance, you will notice Cincinnati (4-1) is ranked ahead of all 3-1 teams, because they have a better overall win percentage. Teams who have had to play more games have had more chances to lose.
I hope it is clear how these rankings have been developed. Without a shadow of a doubt, I know that these will not stand for an entire week, but for now, this is how it is. Plain and simple.
1. Denver Broncos (5-0)
The Denver Broncos are not only the NFL's biggest surprise, they may very well be the team to beat right now.
Josh McDaniels has led the Broncos to their first 5-0 start since 1998, and they have beaten the likes of New England (3-2), Dallas (3-2), and Cincinnati (4-1), along with the Browns and Raiders.
Their strength of schedule, by far, has been the toughest of any undefeated team, and they are No. 1 in this week's rankings because of it.
2. Minnesota Vikings (5-0)
The Vikings, as I expected, are a complete team with Brett Favre under center. No longer can teams stack eight or nine in the box to force Tarvaris Jackson, or another name-tag at quarterback to beat them.
Favre adds a much needed dimension to the Vikings' offense. Their defense isn't too bad either. Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Chad Greenway, Antoine Winfield, and Pat Williams all seem destined for the Pro Bowl.
Minnesota has beaten San Francisco (3-2), Green Bay (2-2), Cleveland (1-4), Detroit (1-4), and St. Louis (0-5). Their competition has been stale, but figures are to get tougher in the next couple of weeks.
3. Indianapolis Colts (5-0)
The Colts have been dominant this season, plain and simple—but there is a reason. Indianapolis has not beaten a single team with a winning record, which is why they rank third on this list.
Their run defense has also been a question mark, but their offense has made plays when it mattered most.
4. New York Giants (5-0)
Like his brother, Giants quarterback Eli Manning has led his team to five victories, but over very poor competition.
New York did beat Dallas, but that was their only opponent with a winning record, and they won by two points.
I hate to discredit 5-0 starts, because the Giants have been impressive, but you have to be "nit picky" when doing these kinds of rankings. New York has played two 0-5 teams in the Chiefs and Buccaneers, and the 1-4 Oakland Raiders.
5. New Orleans Saints (4-0)
I initially had the Saints ranked No. 2, but they have a lower win percentage than the Minnesota Vikings, and it wouldn't be fair at this point to rank a team ahead of another if they have not had to play as many games.
The Saints' victories have been fairly impressive, the most notable coming against the New York Jets. They will face off against the No. 4 New York Giants this weekend.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (4-1)
The Bengals have really been quite a story this year, earning the nickname "The Cardiac Cats" for their late-game heroics.
After a loss in Week One to the Denver Broncos, and the "Immaculate Deflection", the Bengals have won four straight games and are really rolling. They have beaten Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Green Bay.
7. Chicago Bears (3-1)
After Week One, it seemed the Bears were destined for failure this season.
Jay Cutler threw four picks in his Chicago debut after guaranteeing victory against the Green Bay Packers, and Brian Urlacher was lost for the season after a defeat to one of their bitter rivals.
Since then, Cutler and the Bears have been rolling, and they started it all by beating the reigning Super Bowl champions.
8. Atlanta Falcons (3-1)
Matt Ryan and the Falcons are coming off of a blowout victory over the San Francisco 49ers, and they have a tough matchup next Sunday night against the Chicago Bears.
Their strength of schedule has not been daunting, but they have the most convincing collection of victories among 3-1 teams.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1)
Again, I hate to discredit victories, so I won't. Philadelphia has beaten the tar out of three different teams, and they had their own butts whipped by their only legitimate competition in New Orleans.
I'm sorry, but when your three victories are against Tampa Bay, Kansas City, and Carolina, you have a little bit more to prove in my opinion.
10. New England Patriots (3-2)
The New England Patriots are ranked 10th in my list, because they have played, quite possibly, the toughest schedule of any team in the NFL.
If you include the 0-0 record of the Buffalo Bills in Week One, the Pats have played an undefeated team every week so far this season, and they have held up pretty well.
The loss to Denver in overtime was deflating, but this team is well-coached, and very talented.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2)
Pittsburgh is really off to a slow start, and they are still 3-2. They have caught a couple breaks playing 0-5 Tennessee, and 1-4 Detroit, but they certainly cannot be counted out of the AFC contender conversation just yet.
Ben Roethlisberger is leading an elite passing attack, and the defense will be getting a huge boost from the return of safety Troy Polamalu.
12. Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
The Ravens have suffered two heartbreaking losses in a row. Joe Flacco looked awesome in the first two contests, but has been a little lackluster the past two games.
The Ravens are a solid team, but they need to find a way to win close games, or they will not be considered a legitimate contender.
13. Dallas Cowboys (3-2)
The Cowboys have two losses to two teams with a combined record of 10-0. That being said, their defeated opponents boast a combined one victory.
Dallas was on the ropes against Kansas City after losing a thriller to Denver in Week Four, and they are simply a poorly coached team. There is no way a team with this much talent should be 3-2.
14. New York Jets (3-2)
The Jets started off 3-0, and have lost two straight games to the Saints and Dolphins.
I don't know how many wins Mark Sanchez has under his belt this season, but he is going to need to play mistake free football if the Jets are going to contend in the AFC.
Their defense is great, but they can only carry you so far. Sanchez needs to be efficient, and the addition of Braylon Edwards helps that a bit.
15. San Francisco 49ers (3-2)
The 49ers looked like an elite NFC team, until the Atlanta Falcons came into their house and beat them 45-10.
Patrick Willis may be the best defensive player in the NFL, and they need a healthy Frank Gore to continue to win this season.
Despite the poor performance against the Falcons, I think this defense can carry them to the playoffs.
16. Arizona Cardinals (2-2)
The Cardinals have been a disappointment so far this season, but they played well last week against the Texans.
Their defense has not looked great so far this season, but with their explosive offense, you can never count them out of games.
Kurt Warner needs to get back on track with Larry Fitzgerald, and the running game needs to get going if Arizona is going to defend their NFC title.
17. Green Bay Packers (2-2)
The Packers were my wild card pick for the favorites in the NFC. Aaron Rodgers is a fantastic quarterback, but the Packers' offensive line has me worried they may be destined for mediocrity.
Rodgers is in danger of going down for a long time if he doesn't get some protection. Green Bay's offensive line is just simply atrocious, and Jared Allen made them look like scared puppies.
18. San Diego Chargers (2-2)
This year's Chargers squad reminds me a lot of last year's Denver Broncos, without the dominant offensive line.
Philip Rivers is an elite quarterback, and Vincent Jackson has emerged as one of the league's top receivers, but the Charger defense is like Swiss cheese. They are absolutely horrendous, and losing Jamal Williams does not help at all.
19. Miami Dolphins (2-3)
The Dolphins can really run the football. They have the top rushing attack in the NFL, but how long can this offense hold up without Chad Pennington?
If Monday night's game is any indication, this team will be just fine in that regard. Chad Henne was nearly flawless in their victory over the Jets, and the Dolphins have scored 69 points the last two games.
Not coincidentally, they have won both. Consider this team one on the rise.
20. Seattle Seahawks (2-3)
Seattle is confusing. They have shut out two different teams, and have gotten crushed by three others.
Matt Hasselbeck is made of glass, but as long as he is in the game, he gives the Seahawks a great chance to win.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3)
What a disappointment this team has been since their breakout season two years ago.
Fresh off a 41-0 defeat at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks, this Jaguars team appears to be one that could be in for a long ride.
Maurice Jones-Drew has not been his usual self, and the loss of Fred Taylor appears to be hurting more than anyone anticipated.
22. Houston Texans (2-3)
Houston continues to disappoint me. Their offense has such potential, yet they never seem to reach it.
Andre Johnson is, in my mind, the best wide receiver in the game today, and Matt Schaub can really sling the rock. Steve Slaton is in a bit of a sophomore slump, and the defense has not lived up to the hype.
At least they are starting off 2-3, so that when they get hot late this season, they will already have a couple of wins under their belts.
23. Washington Redskins (2-3)
The Redskins have been embarrassing this year, and if not for wins against the Rams and Buccanneers (both winless), they would probably be considered the worst team in the NFL.
Jim Zorn could be gone before season's end.
24. Carolina Panthers (1-3)
The Panthers were supposed to contend for the NFC title this year, after finishing 12-4 just a year ago.
They have yet to dip into their potential, and are suffering because of it, largely due to their massive amount of turnovers.
Their running game has not been impressive so far either, which is odd considering the talent they have in the backfield.
25. Detroit Lions (1-4)
Detroit is a talented team, but they are a couple of years away from being division contenders.
Calvin Johnson has established himself as an elite receiver in this league, and Matthew Stafford looks like a rookie, and not one that should be getting paid in excess of $40 million.
26. Cleveland Browns (1-4)
Cleveland's lone victory was a 6-3 snooze fest against the Buffalo Bills. There was more scoring in the Red Sox-Angels game going on simultaneously.
The Browns are a mess, but they found a way to the winner's circle last week.
27. Oakland Raiders (1-4)
The Raiders will be lower than this by season's end.
This may be the worst team I have ever seen.
Their coach is facing assault charges, their quarterback is the least accurate in the NFL, and once again, their defense can't stop anybody.
What's more is they have scored 3, 6, and 7 points, respectively, in their last three games.
28. Buffalo Bills (1-4)
Buffalo is off to a horrendous start, and there is no way to sugarcoat it.
They are suffering in the injury department, in a bad way, and don't appear to be getting back on track any time soon.
29. Tennessee Titans (0-5)
The Titans have been the league's worst disappointment, and are a game away from doubling last year's loss total.
Fans are calling for Vince Young to get some playing time, and Jeff Fisher may just pull the trigger on that move sooner, rather than later.
30. Kansas City Chiefs (0-5)
The Chiefs have lived up to expectations prior to the season. They are a bad team. They have a terrible offensive line, and Matt Cassel is not all he was hyped up to be.
Todd Haley does not appear to be doing a great job motivating his players, and they reflect a lack of heart on the field.
31. Tampa Bay Buccanneers (0-5)
Josh Johnson has stepped in at quarterback for the Bucs, who most likely are going to end up with a top two or three pick in next year's draft, but that was expected.
They are not a good team, but they will at least be fun to watch with Johnson under center. The only thing I wonder, is when they will call on Josh Freeman to take over at quarterback.
32. St. Louis Rams (0-5)
I have no words for the Rams, really. I feel sorry for their fans.
This team is pitiful, but their fans can get excited about bringing the number one pick to town next offseason.