NFL Power Rankings Week 6: Rating All 32 Teams
This week's edition of the NFL Power Rankings features two rising California teams and falling ones from New York and Florida.
Week 6 was a tale in geography for the middle-of-the-pack of teams, so keep your maps handy. It's the Power Rankings coming at ya.
32) Miami Dolphins (0-4)
In my rankings, any team starting Matt Moore at quarterback automatically moves to 32nd, bye week or not. Hey, it worked for me all last year, and I’m a man of habit.
Moore threw 10 picks in just four games and had a passer rating of 57.5 for last year's 2-14 Panthers.
But hey, Dol-phans, don’t worry! You drafted a quarterback for the future just two years ago, remember? That stud ath-a-lete from West Virginia? Pat White? Anyone?
31) St. Louis Rams (0-4)
Here’s an idea, Rams: don’t practice at all this bye week. With the injuries going around this team, nothing good can happen when pads hit pads.
The Rams are one of the few teams without many positives. They have been outscored by 67 points, their only competent receiver (Danny Amendola) is injured, and “star” quarterback Sam Bradford averages just 5.6 yards per attempt, the worst of any still-starting signal caller.
Plus, the offensive line is truly offensive, as Bradford’s been sacked more than anyone else this year. And with his reconstructed shoulder? That can’t last.
30) Indianapolis Colts (0-5)
Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison. Curtis Painter to Pierre Garcon.
Pretty much equivalent, right? Not exactly.
But you can’t blame this loss on Painter, who looked competent and efficient throwing for 277 yards and two touchdowns, both to his new go-to guy, Garcon.
No, the blame falls on the Colts defense for giving up a 17-point lead to one of the worst offenses in the league. The secondary gave up four touchdown passes, and the front seven couldn’t stop a nosebleed.
Manning or not, Bill Polian’s team continues to circle the drain.
29) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4)
Poor Maurice Jones-Drew. The diminutive back is having one of the best seasons in his sterling career (five yards per carry), but the Jaguars offense is absolutely terrible.
How bad, you ask? The Jaguars scored their first second-half touchdown of the season yesterday, a fluky 74-yard bomb to a somehow-uncovered Jason Hill.
28) Arizona Cardinals (1-4)
Instead of opining on the Arizona Cardinals, I’ll just quote from the Associated Press article from the Minnesota Vikings game: “The Cardinals had six possessions in the first quarter, only once crossing their own 30.” By the time the offense started moving, Arizona faced a 28-0 deficit.
Arizona fans have been none too pleased with Kevin Kolb, and with good reason; the starter has nine turnovers so far this season and looks like, well, a rookie.
The Cardinals sacrificed a big bounty for Kolb, including their best defender and a huge contract. Until he proves his worth, doubts will linger in the Arizona heat.
27) Minnesota Vikings (1-4)
In case you forgot about Peterson’s talent, check out his first touchdown run, a vicious outside-to-inside cut.
Or you could see his second touchdown run, a mix of agility in the hole, speed to the sideline and pure strength to the pylon.
Or watch his third touchdown, when he carries a defender from the 6-yard-line into the end zone.
Did I mention these were all in the first quarter?
26) Cleveland Browns (2-2)
I don’t think it’s revolutionary to say Colt McCoy has a weak arm. McCoy struggles to connect on deep-seam passes and anything past 15 yards, and survives on screens, slants, and button hooks.
Even so, the Browns could have a solid offense with a balanced game plan of Peyton Hillis and McCoy.
Er, that’s what they should do. Instead, McCoy has thrown 172 passes, second most on average in the league. That’s 43 per game!
For the sake of McCoy’s arm, let’s hope coach Pat Shurmur reflects on this a bit over the bye.
25) Kansas City Chiefs (2-3)
Jamaal who? Running back Jackie Battle exploded from out of nowhere to rush for 119 yards on 19 carries and make everyone (except fantasy owners) forget for a moment about the injured Jamaal Charles.
Battle didn’t just come out of Nowhere, he came out of Nowhere’s version of Antarctica. The fifth-year veteran’s rushing total wasn’t just a single-game high but a season high as well. He touched the ball 21 times, more than in any of his previous four seasons. Who saw that coming?
The Chiefs hit their low-point in Week 2 and are rounding into a decent team by feasting on the weaklings in Minnesota and Indianapolis. I’d say they are firmly out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes, for better or for worse.
24) Denver Broncos (1-4)
Who’s ready for Tebow Time? Never have I seen a fan base get more excited about a 4-of-10 passing day. Still, even I have to say Tim Tebow impressed in his first extended action this season, almost rallying the Broncos back.
At 1-4, coach John Fox now has no choice but to start Tebow, especially as fan pressure will be incessant over the upcoming bye week.
Be ready for daily updates on The Chosen One. Tebow Time is finally here.
23) Seattle Seahawks (2-3)
Pete Carroll is a bit wacky, sure, but even he can see that Charlie Whitehurst is a major upgrade over Tarvaris Jackson, right?
Jackson threw an inexcusable interception to Aaron Ross toward the end of the first half, while all Whitehurst did was lead a clutch, game-winning, fourth-quarter touchdown drive. Going forward, Whitehurst clearly is a better option.
The Seahawks better hope Jackson’s chest injury doesn’t heal too much over the bye week. Whether Carroll thinks so or not, the longer Jackson remains out, the better off for Seattle.
22) Carolina Panthers (1-4)
Despite the 1-4 record, Panthers fans should be excited with the season’s development. Cam Newton has been stellar and clearly passes the eyeball test, and Steve Smith is back to his old form.
The defense needs some work, sure, but coming after a dismal two-win season, it’s hard not to get excited for their future.
Carolina has given every opponent fits and kept each game within seven points. The breaks haven’t fallen their way quite yet, but this looks like a team poised for a big second half of the season.
21) Cincinnati Bengals (3-2)
The Red Rifle strikes again! Aside from having the best nickname ever, rookie Andy Dalton has looked like a perfectly capable quarterback for the 3-2 Bengals.
Meanwhile, the Bengals’ defense and pass rush is better than ever.
Cincinnati reminds me of last year’s Tampa Bay Bucs, a decent team in a stacked division that manages to win a lot of close games. The top three defenses in yards allowed right now are the Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Baltimore Ravens. Now that’s too tough for the Red Rifle to fight through.
20) Philadelphia Eagles (1-4)
Is anything better than watching a hyped-up team fall flat on its face? Between the Miami Heat and the Eagles, 2011 has been a good year for schadenfreude.
The Eagles have a number of problems, and their linebacking core is chief among them. Fred Jackson slaughtered Philadelphia with almost 200 yards from scrimmage.
Even with all their offseason additions, the Eagles might have one of the worst defenses in the league.
19) Chicago Bears (2-2)
Devin Hester can make up for a lot of mistakes, but this team has major holes.
How else to explain a series of terrible offensive metrics: a 28-percent third-down conversion rate, the third-fewest number of first downs per game, and an average time of possession less than 27 minutes.
Someone please explain to me all these genius accolades applied to Mike Martz.
Sorry, Bears fans, but the defense isn’t much better. They allow the second-most yards of any team and cannot stop the pass whatsoever.
Unless Hester absolutely takes over the game, Chicago will struggle.
18) Atlanta Falcons (2-3)
The fact that the Falcons are in Super Bowl-or-bust mode makes me worried. Good franchises are more concerned about long-term prospects, and trading almost two draft classes for a flashy wide receiver doesn’t strike me as down-the-road thinking.
That receiver, Julio Jones, was supposed to be the missing piece to take back the NFC from the Green Bay Packers. Jones made little impact Sunday night before pulling up lame in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury.
Like most everything else in Atlanta this season, things have not gone according to plan.
17) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2)
Well, that was ugly.
The Young Bucs will have to wipe that loss from their minds as soon as possible if they want to recover for a big division showdown against the New Orleans Saints this week.
With Atlanta struggling, now should be the time to talk about winning the division, not coming back from a depressing blowout.
The crux of the matter for the Bucs this season has been the play of the defensive line. Like any young squad, inconsistency reigns supreme. They shut down the running games of the Falcons and Indianapolis Colts, but couldn’t stop the San Francisco 49ers from marching right down their throats.
16) New York Jets (2-3)
The Jets base their philosophy on running the ball and stopping the pass. That’s a good idea, in theory.
The only issue is that the Jets can’t actually run the ball. Both Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson are averaging just above three yards a carry, and their season-long run is 20 yards. That won’t get it done.
Mark Sanchez can’t pick up that load, and neither can the ineffective receiving core. Even with an elite defense and special teams, the Jets need major offensive improvements to get their swagger back.
15) Tennessee Titans (3-2)
For a team based around Chris Johnson, the Titans could really use the good old Chris Johnson. He’s been plain bad in almost every measure this year, and averages just three yards a carry. Also, no receiver on the roster can fill Kenny Britt’s role.
Without those two, the Titans lack explosion, and that won’t cut it against the top teams.
Still, in the weak AFC South, they have a great chance for the division title.
14) Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
You can play the “What if” game every week with the Cowboys so far. All of their games were decided by four points or fewer, making their wins euphoric and their losses excruciating.
With the microscope still pressed firmly on Tony Romo, now would be a good time for some Ryan-family braggadocio, featuring shaggy defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Anything that lessens the scrutiny on Romo makes Dallas a better team down the road.
13) Washington Redskins (3-1)
Take a moment to digest the first-place Washington Redskins.
The rise of the pass rush is the primary reason for that jump, and Washington leads the league in sacks per game and fumbles forced.
Wunderkind Ryan Kerrigan has dominated all around, but the real surprise has been end Adam Carriker. The former first-round bust has almost as many sacks this season as he’s had in his entire career. Between he and Rex Grossman, the 'Skins thrive off of a number of unheralded castoffs.
12) Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2)
Man, that Roethlisberger guy is something special. Against the Titans, he limped up and down the field and dissected their defense, throwing five touchdown passes.
Plus, the defense is as dominant as ever even without James Harrison for a few weeks.
The Steelers do have a major weakness, though: turnovers. Two more this week gives them a league-worst ratio of -10. Ick.
11) New York Giants (3-2)
What makes football so great is also what torments the Giants: anything can happen on any play, for either team. Both of the Giants’ losses this season involved random tipped passes returned for touchdowns at pivotal second-half moments.
This week’s episode involved what should have been a short pass to the five-yard line on a potential game-winning drive with under two minutes to go.
Instead, Victor Cruz slipped on his route, tipped the ball into the air, and boom. Interception, touchdown, game over.
Take that away, and Eli Manning becomes the hero. For Giants fans, it’s “if only” once again.
10) San Diego Chargers (4-1)
The Chargers have enjoyed beating up on the Little Sisters of the Poor this season.
San Diego is 4-1 thanks to an early season schedule of Minnesota, Kansas City, Miami, and Denver, and three of those games were decided by one score.
On the other hand, their one loss is to the high-flying Patriots.
I’ll withhold major judgment on Philip Rivers and gang until they play a middle-of-the-pack team after next week’s bye.
In the meantime, Ryan Mathews rushed for a career-best 125 yards on 24 carries and showed he can carry the big load. There’s lots to like about this Chargers team, and they won’t have to recover from a bad early start this year. For that alone, opponents should worry.
9) Houston Texans (3-2)
Houston is simultaneously a fantasy fan’s favorite team and a Houston fan’s worst nightmare. If games were decided by yards and completions, the Texans would no doubt be near the top. They’re not.
Until Houston finds that killer instinct, that extra push, that je ne sais quoi, they will continue to be an almost-there team. Matt Schaub’s interception at the five-yard line as time expired highlights that issue.
8) San Francisco 49ers (4-1)
Alex Smith notched a 100+ passer rating in consecutive weeks for the first time in his career. That stat is crazy—both for what it says about Smith’s career and what it shows about the job coach Jim Harbaugh has done this season.
Harbaugh focuses on a strong defense, limiting offensive mistakes and a downhill running game. Well, five games in, all of that has come to fruition.
Smith has just one interception, the offensive line is paving holes for Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, and Patrick Willis and the defense have a +10 turnover ratio. Those all look good to me.
7) Oakland Raiders (3-2)
It’s not quite “Win one for the Gipper,” but Oakland’s gritty win in the wake of Al Davis’ death portends good things for the Silver and Black.
The importance of the game was especially evident in Darrius Heyward-Bey, who had his second big day in as many games.
Maybe Old Man Al really knew what he was doing, favoring Heyward-Bey’s raw speed over others’ college production (that’s you, Michael Crabtree). Here’s hoping Davis gets the last laugh.
6) Buffalo Bills (4-1)
The balls just keep bouncing in favor of the Bills. Sunday marked the third straight week Buffalo returned a pick for a touchdown, and—just like in the win over the Patriots—the Bills intercepted four passes, including one on a tipped pass. Add it all up, and that’s 12 interceptions to just five thrown, and an NFL-best +11 turnover ratio.
That extra bit of luck probably won’t last the entire season, and those tipped passes might start falling innocently to the ground. But with all Buffalo has been through in the last decade, let’s let them enjoy their division lead in peace.
5) Baltimore Ravens (3-1)
Could this Ravens’ defense be one of their best? I’m not prepared to compare them to the 2000 Super Bowl champions, but they do allow just 14 points a game, best in the NFL.
And mostly thanks to Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets, the Ravens defense has scored as many touchdowns as opposing offenses (4).
Sure, their offense could be more consistent, and maybe speedy WR Torrey Smith adds to that. But with that defense, the Ravens look like a force to be dealt with in the AFC.
4) Detroit Lions (4-0)
No team in the NFL right now is more physically intimidating than the Detroit Lions.
Imagine being an offensive lineman and having to face Ndamukong Suh every play. Or how about being a linebacker and having to cover 6’5 tight end Brandon Pettigrew. Maybe you’d rather face the height, hands and hops of Calvin "Megatron" Johnson? I’m scared just thinking about it.
With the beating opponents take on every play, it’s no wonder their opponents keep wearing down in the second half.
3) New Orleans Saints (4-1)
The Saints escaped Charlotte with a win, as Drew Brees tossed the game-winning touchdown with 50 seconds left.
Brees’ presence alone makes the Saints playoff contenders, but tight end Jimmy Graham has really pushed the offense over the edge. In just his second season, Graham has three straight 100-yard receiving games and dominated the overmatched Panthers defense.
Remember back to that first game of the year, Saints-Packers? Five bucks says that was a preview of the NFC title game. And if it is anything like that opening game, America and I will be quite happy.
2) New England Patriots (4-1)
We knew Tom Brady was the best quarterback in the league. We knew wily Wes Welker could take over a game. And we knew the Patriots defense stunk. However, it’s what we didn’t know that should really scare future opponents.
With 7:14 left in the Pats-Jets game, New England took possession at their own 22 yard line up by six points, needing to milk the clock. Ten runs, 59 rushing yards, and six minutes later, the Patriots proved they can run as well as they can pass.
Dear NFL: how would you prefer to lose? BenJarvus Green-Ellis or Tom Brady-Wes Welker?
1) Green Bay Packers (5-0)
Aaron Rodgers is the only quarterback who can throw for 396 yards and two TDs and not make me blink twice.
Everything this team does feels so par for the course. The Packers did face the first adversity of the season in injuries to their top two offensive tackles. Consequently, on Sunday night, the running game suffered, and Rodgers took a beating.
Green Bay’s defense picked up the slack, though, shutting down the Falcons after allowing two early touchdowns. Between Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams, the Packers secondary should recover from some sloppy early season play.
Even after all that, the Packers ended the game where they have been all season—on top. And there they will stay.