The ranks of the undefeated held strong in Week Six as the protégé toppled the mentor in Denver. The Bengals and Ravens clashed for the top spot in the AFC North, the Eagles and Falcons soared off of their bye week, and the Browns and Panthers saw a ray of sunshine in an otherwise cloudy season. Let's run through No. 1 to No. 32...
1. New York Giants (5-0)—Yet another cupcake opponent in the Raiders for the G-Men but they ended this one as early as possible. Banged-up QB Eli Manning was resting by the second quarter and the Giants are off to their first 5-0 start since 1990, one of their three Super Bowl Championship years.
2. New Orleans Saints (4-0)—The bye week may be just what the Saints needed to game plan for this week’s showdown with the Giants in a HUGE matchup for Week Six. QB Drew Brees looks to get back on track and will try to get the Superdome rocking in one of the biggest regular season games in the building’s history.
3. Indianapolis Colts (5-0)—Peyton Manning has five consecutive 300-yard games for the first time in his career and the Colts are looking as efficient as ever on offense. They earned their bye week rest and will see the Rams coming out of it which is almost unfair for St. Louis.
4. Minnesota Vikings (5-0)—The Vikings made pretty quick and easy work of the Rams as they remained unbeaten. Favre, Peterson, and even defensive end Jared Allen all got in the scoring mix; that flexibility should help when they host the Ravens this week.
5. Denver Broncos (5-0)—Head coach Josh McDaniels proved he was up to the task as he beat former boss Bill Belichick in an overtime battle in Denver. Despite wearing one of the ugliest uniforms of all-time, Kyle Orton made huge plays including the game-tying throw to Brandon Marshall in the fourth quarter. It’s off to rival San Diego this week to try to keep the streak alive.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (4-1)—The emotional Bengals managed their third straight last-minute victory over the Ravens and shot up the power rankings board. Cedric Benson became the first rusher to pick up over 100 yards on the Ravens in 40 games and, as the NFL’s leading rusher, is pacing Cincy to this 4-1 start.
7. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1)—The Eagles came out firing on all cylinders against the Bucs this past Sunday. Donovan McNabb was efficient and the Philly defense forced three turnovers to go along with three sacks. Facing the Raiders in Week Six should continue the easy ramp-up period out of the bye week.
8. New England Patriots (3-2)—While there is no need to hit the panic button after a road loss in OT, the Pats simply aren’t as sharp as when Brady was under center in 2007. The timing should come back soon but they can’t afford too many more losses while trying to position themselves for a postseason run.
9. Atlanta Falcons (3-1)—QB Matt Ryan had a career-high 329 passing yards as the Falcons put a hurting on the 49ers in San Francisco. WR Roddy White put up huge numbers and Atlanta forced three turnovers to put them back on track after the bye week.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2)—Ben Roethlisberger has upped his completion percentage to a league-high 73.8 percent and the Steelers have scored eight TDs in their last eight trips to the red zone. Safety Troy Polamalu should be returning in time for them to host the Browns this Sunday.
11. Chicago Bears (3-1)—The Bears will come out of their bye week right into a matchup with the Atlanta Falcons who torched the 49ers for 45 points in Week Five. Perhaps the rest is what they needed.
12. Baltimore Ravens (3-2)—The Ravens had a tough time moving the ball on the Bengals’ defense and managed only seven offensive points in yet another loss that was marred by crucial penalties. They will need to right the ship immediately as they head into the dome to face the Vikings this Sunday.
13. New York Jets (3-2)—The Jets have prided themselves on defense all season but after forcing no sacks or turnovers and letting up over 400 yards of offense, it’s time for a gut-check. The 31 points allowed is not acceptable in head coach Rex Ryan’s locker room.
14. San Francisco 49ers (3-2)—The 49ers go into the bye week on a bad note, suffering a 35-point defeat at home. But, this will allow star RB Frank Gore to get healthy and head coach Mike Singletary to fix the defensive issues that yielded nearly 500 yards of offense to the Falcons.
15. Dallas Cowboys (3-2)—Dallas seemed to go for Miles and Miles and Miles in that fourth quarter and OT in Kansas City. Miles Austin, that is. His record-breaking performance saved the ‘Boys from another blown lead but doesn’t keep me from scratching my head on the rest of the team’s effort headed into their bye week.
16. Arizona Cardinals (2-2)—The Cardinals blew a 21-0 lead but were saved by their defense who returned a pick for a TD and then held strong on a goal-line stand in the fourth quarter. Kurt Warner battles Matt Hasselbeck next week in a big NFC West showdown.
17. San Diego Chargers (2-2)—The Chargers host divisional rival Denver in a Monday night matchup right out of their bye week. This may be the perfect storm to cause Denver’s unbeaten run to come to an end.
18. Green Bay Packers (2-2)—The Lions do not seems to be the pushover they were last season, so Green Bay cannot take them lightly after having Week Five off.
19. Seattle Seahawks (2-3)—Matt Hasselbeck was back in the lineup after missing two games and was exactly what was missing for the Seahawks; he completed 60 percent of his passes and threw four TDs. The defense picked it up too, limiting the Jags to less than 200 yards of offense.
20. Miami Dolphins (2-3)—Chad Henne, Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, and the Wildcat offense were all heroes on Monday night. After a rough start to the season, the Dolphins have put up 69 points in the last two games and go into their bye week in a good frame of mind.
21. Houston Texans (2-3)—Matt Schaub put up fantasy football numbers that made all of his owners thrilled but his key interception with two minutes left cost the Texans the game. This team seems destined to continue its up-and-down season next week in Cincinnati.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3)—David Garrard was sacked five times and lost two fumbles as the Jags were blanked by Seattle, 41-0. When you have almost as many penalties (nine) as you had first downs (ten), it will most assuredly be a long day for your team.
23. Carolina Panthers (1-3)—Jake Delhomme’s gutsy first-down run with less than two minutes left sealed the victory and embodied the grit that the Panther showed in their come-from-behind win. With Tampa and Buffalo up next, they may get back on the road to respectability and more…
24. Washington Redskins (2-3)—The Redskins picked up just 198 yards of offense and blew a 15-point second half lead. It’s safe to say Jim Zorn is not proving his offensive genius to anyone right now and has serious work to do to save his job for the remainder of this season.
25. Detroit Lions (1-4)—Playing with experienced backup Duante Culpepper, the Lions hung tough against the defending champs. They will need to protect the QBs better, no matter who plays, as the seven sacks allowed were indicative of their inability to sustain drives on offense.
26. Tennessee Titans (0-5)—Kicking three field goals is no way to fight a battle against the Colts. Injuries are mounting as quickly as losses are in Tennessee and Vince Young’s return to the starting lineup is a real possibility. This team has too much pride to completely pack it in but the playoff hopes are essentially extinguished already—amazing…
27. Cleveland Browns (1-4)—Derek Anderson went 2-17 for 23 yards and one INT for a 15.1 passer rating, the lowest such number for a winning QB in several decades. On a positive note, Jamal Lewis pounded the ball for 117 yards to help the Browns earn the 6-3 victory in Buffalo, their first of the season.
28. Buffalo Bills (1-4)—The Bills had the Browns at home in what should have been a golden opportunity to pick up their second victory of the year. Instead, they turned the ball over three times, scored three points and now their win over Tampa Bay now looks like a complete fluke. Everyone is on the hot seat in Buffalo which may not be such a bad thing considering the climate in upstate NY…
29. Oakland Raiders (1-4)—After their 44-7 drubbing at the hands of the New York Giants, the Raiders are 25-75 in their last 100 games, the worst 100-game stretch in NFL history. Tom Cable still may be charged with a felony assault, so…there’s that, too…
30. Kansas City Chiefs (0-5)—While the Chiefs hung in against the Cowboys and pushed them to overtime, key missed tackles resulted in big plays and yet another loss as they remain winless. Again, there are no moral victories in the NFL.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-5)—Putting your newbie QB in a position to throw the ball 50 times in a game is never a good idea. Doing it against the blitz-happy Eagles is an even worse idea, which resulted in three picks and plenty of tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
32. St. Louis Rams (0-5)—Another no-doubter of a loss for the Rams as they turned the ball over four more times. They are now in the midst of a 15-game losing streak, the longest active streak in the NFL, and are averaging less than seven points a game; they may be regressing in each phase of the game.