Chris Simms' NFL Power Rankings Ahead of Week 6

Chris Simms@@CSimmsQBNFL Lead AnalystOctober 10, 2016

Chris Simms' NFL Power Rankings Ahead of Week 6

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    Forget Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees. 

    The scariest character in October plays quarterback for the Patriots. He just made his triumphant return to their starting lineup, and some other teams find that downright terrifying, according to my esteemed colleague Mike Freeman.

    Imagine how they're feeling now. New England has crept back up my Week 6 power rankings, thanks in no small part to Tom Brady's utter dominance. See how far up they climbed for yourself.

    You'll notice a few sharp climbers and steep fallers from last week. That's because these rankings are a meritocracy—only the most deserving teams crack my top 10. I know you'll find me on Twitter (@CSimmsQB) and vent when you find your team is ranked too low.

32. Cleveland Browns

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    Current record: 0-5

    Last week: 32 (same)

    Help wanted: a healthy quarterback to run Hue Jackson's offense.

    Cleveland is running out of options. Cody Kessler left with an injury to his ribs. Charlie Whitehurst was banged up a little too. Terrelle Pryor had to finish this one out.

    It's no surprise the Browns' league-leading rushing attack hit a brick wall. New England went big inside and stuffed Isaiah Crowell because the pass was not a threat.

    I've been a big fan of their fight, but the one that happened Sunday wasn't fair. Cleveland played three quarterbacks. New England used two—Tom Brady and his replacement once the game was out of hand.

    Looking forward: Is Josh McCown ready yet? His veteran presence would be a huge first step in getting this team a road win in Nashville.

31. Miami Dolphins

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Current record: 1-4

    Last week: 31 (same)

    I heard plenty of Dolphins fans booing Ryan Tannehill in the second quarter.

    Those same fans were chanting for Matt Moore, Tannehill's backup, by the fourth. At this point, I'd give them what they want.

    Tannehill directs a textbook boom-or-bust offense. Either he beats the defense with a big play (see: Damien Williams' 58-yard catch or DeVante Parker's 50-yard grab), or nothing happens. The offensive line in front of him can't sustain drives. Or a consistent running game, for that matter.

    Remember cornerback Byron Maxwell? Miami's big trade acquisition? He was out there on the field…on special teams. That's all you need to know about the state of this Dolphins defense.

    Looking ahead: They had their hands full defending Marcus Mariota. Up next: Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh could drop a 50-burger.

30. San Francisco 49ers

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Current record: 1-4

    Last week: 29 (-1)

    Change the jerseys and leave Levi's Stadium. What's left?

    A college football team. The level at which this 49ers squad is performing is on par with a lower-tier Pac-12 club.

    The coach with Pac-12 ties isn't the problem, either.

    It's Blaine Gabbert missing wide-open touchdowns and getting picked off twice. It's Chris Davis fumbling a kickoff to set up the Cardinals for yet another score. It's a running-into-the-kicker penalty that puts a short-handed defense back on the field. It's drop after drop after drop.

    This 49ers team was never going to out-talent opponents. If last Thursday night was any indication, it can't out-execute opponents either.

    Looking ahead: Big changes could be in store for this team before its road trip to Buffalo.

29. San Diego Chargers

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Current record: 1-4

    Last week: 28 (-1)

    San Diego's weekly implosion started a little earlier than usual.

    It happened in the third quarter, not the fourth. Melvin Gordon coughed up the ball with four minutes to go. Six plays later, the Chargers coughed up their lead.

    Mike McCoy's team did move the ball. Top rookie Joey Bosa (two sacks) had an admirable debut. And the Chargers were missing their top cover corner in Jason Verrett. But how many excuses are too many excuses?

    Looking ahead: Better recover from Week 5's letdown. There's a fresh one waiting to happen against the Broncos on Thursday night.

28. Chicago Bears

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    Current record: 1-4

    Last week: 30 (+2)

    I've been tough on Chicago's paper-thin defense since the season started.

    This was by far its best outing. The Bears dragged Andrew Luck down for five sacks and kept Indianapolis' offense in the 20s. Yet, with the game on the line, they couldn't keep Luck and T.Y. Hilton out of the end zone.

    It shouldn't have come down to that. Jordan Howard proved much more than a one-week wonder with another 100-plus yards on the ground. Brian Hoyer dropped nearly 400 yards at Lucas Oil Stadium too.

    But the offense dropped the ball—literally. Receiver Cameron Meredith fumbled away a catch that set Luck up perfectly. That's not how this Bears team can steal a road win.

    Looking ahead: I've seen this Bears offense turn it around statistically. It's time to get in the win column against a bad Jaguars team.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Current record: 1-3

    Last week: 25 (-2)

    Jacksonville received some time off after a much-needed win in London.

    We'll see if the Jaguars can stay on the up-and-up. They're on the road in Week 6 with a chance to re-enter the messy AFC South race.

    Looking ahead: Can quarterback Blake Bortles keep mistakes to a minimum? He should find success against the Bears' pass defense.

26. Tennessee Titans

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Current record: 2-3

    Last week: 27 (+1)

    Mike Mularkey must be a big fan of my stuff here at Bleacher Report.

    I've been calling for a three-headed rushing approach since the start of the season. The Titans finally listened in Week 5, and they ran roughshod over the Dolphins.

    DeMarco Murray (121 rushing yards) was his normal dominant self. But Mularkey sprinkled in Derrick Henry (54 yards on seven carries) and Marcus Mariota scrambles (60 yards on seven carries). Miami couldn't figure it out.

    Listen: Tennessee's defense is underrated. It can beat a bad offensive line and an arrow-down quarterback with the best of 'em. Mularkey's team needs to tighten its special teams (another touchdown?) and run like this in order to re-enter the contender conversation.

    Looking ahead: The Titans offense flexed its muscle in Week 5. Expect it to do the same against a winless Browns team.

25. New Orleans Saints

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    Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    Current record: 1-3

    Last week: 24 (-1)

    A week off might not be enough to fix the Saints' defensive woes.

    It certainly won't hurt, though. New Orleans is banged up plenty on Dennis Allen's side of the ball. Any help would be welcome to get them out of the NFC South's cellar.

    Looking ahead: A battle of last-place NFC South teams. Drew Brees can put Carolina's secondary to the test.

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Current record: 2-3

    Last week: 26 (+2)

    Monday Night Football should have never come down to Roberto Aguayo's right leg.

    It did—and the second-round pick actually delivered. But Tampa Bay had to place its fate in a rookie kicker because its second-year quarterback couldn't get it done.

    Remember: Carolina's secondary surrendered 500 passing yards to Matt Ryan just eight days earlier. Jameis Winston's total: 219 and one measly touchdown. He sailed so many easy throws that head coach Dirk Koetter started running his offense through Jacquizz Rodgers. The Bucs are lucky he was up to the task.

    In fact, they're just plain lucky. Panthers backup Derek Anderson took points off his own board with a few boneheaded errors. Tampa Bay's defense was the definition of fortunate.

    Looking ahead: Can a sloppy win spark some momentum? We'll find out in two weeks because the Bucs are on a bye.

23. New York Jets

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Current record: 1-4

    Last week: 18 (-5)

    Different week, same ol' Jets defense.

    The NFL's most big play-susceptible group was outmatched against Pittsburgh. You saw it from the Jets' third defensive play: Marcus Williams was too slow to trail Sammie Coates, and Calvin Pryor was late in help coverage. It wasn't pretty to watch.

    Neither was Todd Bowles' decision-making. It's the first time the Jets head coach looked outmatched.

    Go ahead and punt on two 4th-and-shorts, Todd. Or call a timeout when the clock is already stopped. That's exactly how you beat a more talented team.

    Looking ahead: We know Arizona will attack the Jets vertically on Monday Night Football. Can they finally plug the defensive leaks?

22. Indianapolis Colts

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Current record: 2-3

    Last week: 23 (+1)

    Head coach Chuck Pagano finally took my advice to heart—kind of.

    His Colts picked up the tempo and leaned on their franchise quarterback in the first half. How did that work out? They took their first halftime lead into the locker room this season.

    Then…old Chuck went back in a shell. The quick and speedy Colts went back to Frank Gore between the tackles. Chicago's defense caught its breath. It finally got to Andrew Luck on a few dropbacks. It was miserable.

    Pagano needs to embrace his team's strengths. Luck carved the Bears up when the leash was off in the first half. He did it again when Indy mounted a six-play drive to regain the lead in the fourth quarter.

    My advice? Go fast, Chuck.

    Looking ahead: Luck needs tempo to get adequate protection. Just something to keep in mind when Jadeveon Clowney comes crashing in.

21. Detroit Lions

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    Current record: 2-3

    Last week: 22 (+1)

    Jim Bob Cooter has my vote for Offensive Coordinator of the Week.

    His game plan for Philadelphia's swarming defense was perfect. Matthew Stafford didn't need to audible to put his guys in the best position possible. They were already there.

    Do-it-all weapon Theo Riddick played a starring role. Cooter sent him to the outskirts of the Eagles defense—away from Fletcher Cox. He called screens and flare patterns to No. 25. When the moment was right, Cooter faked the latter and threw the former. All 11 defenders were off-balance.

    I know Eagles penalties helped Detroit immensely. I know the Lions defense couldn't stop Darren Sproles or Carson Wentz at times. But to win against the hottest NFC team this side of Minnesota is damn impressive. Hats off to Cooter for helping it happen.

    Looking ahead: A winnable home game against Los Angeles is next. If this team can float around .500 without its core defensive players, watch out.

20. Carolina Panthers

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    Current record: 1-4

    Last week: 16 (-4)

    Let us mourn the loss of the Panthers' once-dominant defense.

    It's not the same unit that carried this team to Super Bowl 50 last year. In fact, the Buccaneers bullied Luke Kuechly and a proud defensive front for the better part of the first half. It all went downhill so fast.

    Carolina's offense was even uglier without Cam Newton. Tampa Bay did nothing to frazzle reserve quarterback Derek Anderson. Nothing. But the Buccaneers still took a shutout into the halftime locker room and ended up taking four possessions away from the Panthers.

    The low point: a 1st-and-goal opportunity Anderson threw right into the waiting arms of cornerback Brent Grimes. Pitiful.

    Looking ahead: A Week 6 showdown with the Saints is just what this offense needs.

19. Arizona Cardinals

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    Current record: 2-3

    Last week: 21 (+2)

    Is destroying Blaine Gabbert the new end game for Bruce Arians?

    If so, the Cardinals did a hell of a job on Thursday Night Football. But they're in trouble if their goal is to hoist a Lombardi Trophy.

    To do that, they'll have to limit the number of receivers running wild through the secondary—and the 49ers had plenty. They'll also have to do a little better job at stopping the run than they did against Carlos Hyde. Maybe spread it around to guys not named Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson too.

    Take nothing away from Arians' team. The defense beat up an inferior opponent on a short week with a backup quarterback. But the Cardinals are capable of more.

    Looking ahead: As bad as this Arizona team has been, it has a shot at .500 when it hosts the Jets on Monday Night Football. Who figured?

18. Los Angeles Rams

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    Current record: 3-2

    Last week: 17 (-1)

    Jeff Fisher's team was out-Jeff Fishered in Week 5.

    Think about it: Fisher's defense usually comes up with a game-breaking turnover or touchdown. The Rams also win by making big special teams plays and running the ball. Buffalo had the edge in all three categories.

    It goes to show how non-traditional this L.A. team is. The Rams won three games in a row when the final play was a defensive one. On Sunday, the offense couldn't provide more than a touchdown, let alone its own winning play.

    Looking ahead: Aaron Donald was the only Rams starting D-lineman who suited up in Week 5. That can't happen in Detroit this weekend.

17. New York Giants

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Current record: 2-3

    Last week: 15 (-2)

    Let's play doctor and fix the reeling Giants, losers of three straight games.

    My opinion? It starts with a pass rush. Aaron Rodgers could wave to all the Lambeau faithful and still have plenty of time to throw Sunday night. Where was Jason Pierre-Paul? Where was Olivier Vernon? The Giants threw big money at both this offseason and should expect more return on investment.

    Their other line didn't fare much better. Green Bay run-blitzed and stunted its way to Eli Manning all game. Ereck Flowers was not competitive at left tackle either. It might be time to move to the right side, big fella.

    The Giants did get Odell Beckham Jr. the ball in new ways. It just wasn't enough to stop the losing streak.

    Looking ahead: They're back at home for a game against the Ravens. Their offense can get back on track here.

16. Houston Texans

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    Current record: 3-2

    Last week: 10 (-6)

    Houston should have called me up if it wanted to pay a quarterback $72 million to look confused.

    Instead, the Texans paid Brock Osweiler. He has put up a grand total of six points in two games against serious NFL powers. Ask the Vikings defense if he's the Texans' answer.

    Then ask them to rate Osweiler's offensive line, because it's not just on No. 17. Minnesota's front busted through that starting five all game long. The end result? Four sacks and a measly 1-of-13 third-down conversion rate.

    Also, where were DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller? Could head coach Bill O'Brien find no creative ways to get them the football? They didn't get a touch until midway through the third quarter.

    Looking ahead: Sam Bradford exposed their secondary a little. What will Andrew Luck do?

15. Buffalo Bills

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    Current record: 3-2

    Last week: 19 (+4)

    So much for Rex Ryan's red-hot coaching seat.

    His team has rattled off three consecutive wins. The latest: an impressive road win in Los Angeles that saw Ryan's offensive line steamroll the Rams.

    If you didn't believe me when I said LeSean McCoy was back, you better believe me now. The veteran ran through lanes like he was speeding on the 405. He rattled off 150 ground yards on only 18 carries, including a second-quarter scamper that went 53 yards.

    Ryan's defense came up with its own big plays to match. Nickell Robey-Coleman snagged a 41-yard pix-six. Lorenzo Alexander tallied three sacks. Todd Gurley was held under 100 yards yet again.

    Looking ahead: Don't look now, but the Bills have a winning record! And another winnable game against the 49ers at home.

14. Washington Redskins

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    Current record: 3-2

    Last week: 20 (+6)

    Was that the Redskins defense we just saw?

    I'm not totally sure. Because the group that gave up 306 total yards looked nothing like the 29th-ranked defense of Weeks 1-4.

    Think about this: Defensive coordinator Joe Barry's unit allowed an opening touchdown drive…and only three points after that. It didn't allow a 100-yard rusher. At one point, it forced four consecutive three-and-outs.

    Washington probably should have lost this game. But it played the style of defense that helps turn surefire losses into important wins. I wasn't sure this team had it in 'em.

    Looking ahead: In comes Carson Wentz to test this defense deep again. Can Washington stop both the long pass and the run?

13. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Current record: 2-2

    Last week: 13 (same)

    Kansas City is still in relatively good shape coming off the bye.

    The Chiefs offensive line is on the mend. So is Jamaal Charles, who appears set to reclaim his old starting gig. And their defense had time to make the appropriate corrections after Pittsburgh exposed them earlier.

    Looking ahead: Kansas City comes off the bye and right into Oakland. It's probably not the best time to play the white-hot Raiders.

12. Baltimore Ravens

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    Current record: 3-2

    Last week: 12 (same)

    Special teams used to be John Harbaugh's specialty.

    That's no longer the case. Harbaugh's Ravens have now dropped a second consecutive game because of a special teams error.

    This week? Jamison Crowder diced up his team for an 85-yard punt return. Washington's offense had mustered only 33 total yards until that point. It had almost four times that in return yardage after.

    Other frustrating factors: offensive line injuries and offensive coordinator Marc Trestman's inexplicable cold shoulder to the running game. C.J. Mosley's pix-six-turned-fumble was the icing on top of another hair-pulling performance.

    Looking ahead: Baltimore wants to take its offense in a run-first direction. It will need to move Snacks Harrison out of the way first.

11. Cincinnati Bengals

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    Current record: 2-3

    Last week: 7 (-4)

    Coaches leave. Players age. Teams change.

    The Bengals aren't the team they once were—the team that has strung together an impressive playoff appearance streak. The latest outing in Jerry World proves it.

    Dallas reversed the winning formula Cincinnati has used over the years. This time, the Bengals defensive line was manhandled. And this time, Andy Dalton was the quarterback rattled under pressure.

    I've been Cincinnati's staunchest defender through it all. The Bengals are still talented, but maybe the team we all knew no longer exists.

    Looking ahead: I'm not sure they can beat Tom Brady and the Patriots. I just want to see them compete.

10. Oakland Raiders

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    Current record: 4-1

    Last week: 11 (+1)

    Here's how the Raiders know their starting quarterback is a baller.

    It was 4th-and-3. Head coach Jack Del Rio kept his offense out on the field...and Derek Carr threw another out-of-this-world fade route to Michael Crabtree. Touchdown.

    Carr continues to make three or four jaw-dropping throws like that every week. Crabtree ends up on the receiving end of his fair share of them. So does Amari Cooper, who caught six balls for 138 yards with a touchdown and a two-point conversion.

    Meanwhile, the defense continues to make enough plays—such as the fumble that rookie Karl Joseph recovered from Melvin Gordon to set up that fade pass. That's all the Raiders need if Carr and Co. are going to play like this.

    Looking ahead: The last Raiders team to start 4-1? The 2002 Super Bowl one. They'll see how they stack up against Kansas City before making hotel reservations, though.

9. Dallas Cowboys

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    Current record: 4-1

    Last week: 14 (+5)

    I never specified what kind of test the Bengals' defensive front would pose for the Cowboys line.

    It was more like an open-book quiz. Because the Great Wall of Dallas had all the answers it needed on hand to completely bully its opponent.

    Want proof? Look at the Cowboys' rushing statistics. Ezekiel Elliott went for 134 yards on just 15 carries. Alfred Morris took six totes for 33 yards. Add it all together and you get a team average of 6.2 yards per pop.

    The Cowboys defense deserves recognition too. The coverage has improved each week. The front generated four sacks and regular push. It was an all-around solid effort by a group on the rise.

    Looking ahead: Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott can play keep-away offense against Aaron Rodgers. Can the defense hold up again?

8. Seattle Seahawks

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    Current record: 3-1

    Last week: 8 (same)

    I can't knock the Seahawks on a week off. They were on a bye in Week 5.

    As a result, the Seahawks won't drop in my rankings. I've been impressed at how their offense has evolved since Week 1, incorporating Jimmy Graham and molding around Russell Wilson.

    Looking ahead: Fresh off a bye, they'll play a measuring-stick game against the Falcons. Expect some shake-up in this region for the victor and loser.

7. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Current record: 3-1

    Last week: 5 (-2)

    Philadelphia's biggest opponent wasn't wearing Honolulu Blue on Sunday.

    It was wearing black and white stripes. Philadelphia couldn't get out of its own way in a game it probably should have won in Detroit.

    The flags kept on flying. Coordinator Jim Schwartz's defense was too aggressive when it hit a sliding Matthew Stafford and took his helmet off on separate plays. Both 15-yard flags kept Lions drives going.

    Penalties erased big offensive plays too. Example: Ryan Mathews busted a huge run with eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter that was instantly brought back on a holding call. It's clear this team was rusty coming out of its early bye week.

    Carson Wentz was still impressive, but even he couldn't get his team out of its perpetual 1st-and-20 hole in Week 5.

    Looking ahead: Darren Sproles has had a Darren Sproles-y year. He'll continue that against a Redskins defense that's allergic to tackling.

6. Atlanta Falcons

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    Current record: 4-1

    Last week: 9 (+3)

    We now live in a world where the Broncos defense can be out-game-planned.

    It's one of the more surprising developments of Week 5—until you consider the guy behind the scheme has been doing this all season long. I can't praise offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan enough.

    Everything out of Matt Ryan's hands was quick and calculated. His throws were fast enough to counter Von Miller and Shane Ray's rush. Ryan's play-action fakes held linebackers for a split second longer than it took Tevin Coleman to creep behind them. Even the handoffs to Coleman and Devonta Freeman were mostly north-south.

    Atlanta might not be more talented than Denver, but its defense took advantage of a rookie quarterback and sealed a big road victory.

    Looking ahead: Vic Beasley timed his breakout game perfectly. Atlanta needs him to make Russell Wilson sweat in the pocket.

5. Green Bay Packers

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    Current record: 3-1

    Last week: 4 (-1)

    Sure, Minnesota's group is doing historic things, but don't sleep on the Packers and what they're doing to devastate opponents against the run.

    We saw a prime example of that on Sunday Night Football. Inside linebackers Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez boosted Green Bay's league-leading run defense. Outside 'backers Nick Perry and Clay Matthews hunted ball-carriers down from the backside too.

    Then, like the Vikings, the Packers turned their attention to Eli Manning. There's more than one stellar defense in the NFC North now.

    Looking ahead: This running defense versus Dallas' running game? Sign me up.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Current record: 4-1

    Last week: 6 (+2)

    Remember what happened to this team in Philadelphia?

    It sure seems like it was only a blip on the radar. In just two weeks, the Steelers have reclaimed every ounce of momentum lost in that 34-3 setback. In fact, losing might have been the best thing for Mike Tomlin's team.

    The Steelers came out on the other end as a more complete football team. Their offensive line patched its cracks. Their secondary is improving every week. And ask the Jets how different Pittsburgh looks with Le'Veon Bell in the backfield.

    Their offensive game plan against Gang Green was simple: throw it to Sammie Coates deep or throw underneath. In that simplicity, though, a talented team such as Pittsburgh shined. The AFC is on notice again.

    Looking ahead: Pick your poison, Dolphins. If you play Coates and the long ball, Bell can grind underneath.

3. Denver Broncos

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    Current record: 4-1

    Last week: 1 (-2)

    Denver's defense is mortal after all.

    The Broncos' tough, physical brand of play was thrown right back at them with I-formation. Atlanta beat them with an offensive playbook from the '90s and exposed all kinds of questions as a result.

    Chief among them: What happens when Denver's defense can't control a game? We haven't had to ask that question much during the Broncos' reign atop the AFC. But their offense couldn't pick up the slack when their defense fell in an early hole.

    Denver is talented enough not to face that question often. The offense still needs to be ready just in case, and Paxton Lynch and his side of the ball were not.

    Looking ahead: Can Trevor Siemian suit up Thursday night? If not, the Chargers have a chance to disrupt a roller-coaster passing attack. 

2. Minnesota Vikings

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    Current record: 5-0

    Last week: 2 (same)

    Name one NFC team that's been more impressive through five weeks.

    You can't. Mike Zimmer's club just shut down another "contender" with tough defense and big chunk plays on offense and special teams. The Vikings are the new Carolina Panthers or Seattle Seahawks.

    Keep in mind: These Vikings were down a starting quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater), running back (Adrian Peterson) and receiver (Stefon Diggs). Their offensive play didn't drop off one bit. Sam Bradford is running this offense with such efficiency that the parts around him might not matter.

    Meanwhile…that defense. Four sacks. Four tackles for loss. Thirteen quarterback hits. DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller were non-factors. Just an outstanding effort.

    Looking ahead: Sam Bradford has a week to finally absorb some of this playbook. Imagine what this offense could look like after.

1. New England Patriots

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    Current record: 4-1

    Last week: 3 (+2)

    All is right with the Patriots offense.

    Rob Gronkowski regained his strength. Martellus Bennett went off. Their group of slot receivers caused havoc over the middle. Am I forgetting anyone else?

    We can't talk about New England's return to normalcy without discussing Tom Brady. He wasn't perfect—like on an overthrown touchdown to Julian Edelman in the second half—but he was close.

    With No. 12 back, we're finally seeing the rewards of their two-tight end sets. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels lined Gronk next to Bennett on more than a few snaps. Brady just distributed the ball between the two.

    Then he executed another staple of the Patriots offense—the early exit. This Patriots offense was good for four games. It's back to being the very best now.

    Looking ahead: Who's angrier, Tom Brady or the 11 guys on this Bengals defense combined? No. 12 is taking no prisoners.