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NFL Power Rankings Week 6: Predicting Post-Monday Night Football Standings

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorOctober 9, 2017

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) throws against the Detroit Lions during an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Parity rules in the NFL this year. Only one team remains undefeated (the 5-0 Kansas City Chiefs) and just five of the other 31 NFL squads have one loss.

Barring a tie, that number will drop to four after the 4-1 Carolina Panthers host the 4-1 Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday Night Football.

After a wild NFL week featuring one major upset and a few surprising results, here's a look at some Week 6 power rankings, along with some justification for three teams whose rankings may seem puzzling at first glance.

Note that the power rankings below project that the Minnesota Vikings will defeat the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.

      

Projected Week 6 Power Rankings After Monday Night Football

1. Kansas City Chiefs (5-0)

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2. Green Bay Packers (4-1)

3. Carolina Panthers (4-1)

4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-1)

5. Denver Broncos (3-1)

6. Atlanta Falcons (3-1)

7. Buffalo Bills (3-2)

8. Detroit Lions (3-2)

9. New England Patriots (3-2)

10. Seattle Seahawks (3-2)

11. Los Angeles Rams (3-2)

12. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2)

13. Cincinnati Bengals (2-3)

14. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2)

15. Minnesota Vikings (3-2)

16. Washington Redskins (2-2)

17. Houston Texans (2-3)

18. New Orleans Saints (2-2)

19. Oakland Raiders (2-3)

20. Tennessee Titans (2-3)

21. Dallas Cowboys (2-3)

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2)

23. New York Jets (3-2)

24. Baltimore Ravens (3-2)

25. Miami Dolphins (2-2)

26. Los Angeles Chargers (1-4)

27. Arizona Cardinals (2-3)

28. Indianapolis Colts (2-3)

29. Chicago Bears (1-4)

30. New York Giants (0-5)

31. San Francisco 49ers (0-5)

32. Cleveland Browns (0-5)

     

Carolina Panthers (No. 3)

The Panthers offense looked stuck in neutral after three weeks, but give credit where credit is due: It has been an absolute force to be reckoned with in the last two games.

Quarterback Cam Newton, who looked rusty coming off offseason shoulder surgery through three contests, now looks like his old self. Over his last two weeks, he's thrown for six touchdowns and 671 yards in addition to running for another score.

If the offensive line gives Newton time, he's nearly unstoppable. Newton's rapport and chemistry with the team's tall wideouts (6'5" Kelvin Benjamin and 6'4" Devin Funchess) has also improved dramatically since Week 3.

After missing all of 2015 with a torn ACL and having an average 2016, Benjamin is starting to look like the rookie who had 1,008 receiving yards and nine scores in 2014. Funchess has 14 receptions and three touchdowns in his last two weeks.

Carolina's resume is also noteworthy, as it has now beaten two teams with winning records on the road (the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions) in back-to-back weeks. The team's matchup with the 4-1 Eagles on Thursday will be must-see television.

     

Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 14)

I'll readily admit that I ranked the Steelers second in my power rankings last week. I couldn't have been more wrong. My recency bias about the team, which hasn't had a losing record since 2003, took hold.

This year's Steelers squad is just not clicking whatsoever on offense, and the defense has shown some leaks as well.

In hindsight, Pittsburgh's wins aren't particularly strong. The Steelers barely beat winless Cleveland before facing (and defeating) a Minnesota Vikings team that just lost their starting quarterback to injury.

Last week's 26-9 road win over the Baltimore Ravens seemed impressive, but upon further review (see below), that may not be a solid victory either.

Pittsburgh's schedule is about to get tough quickly, with three road games in its next four, including one against the undefeated Chiefs Sunday.

It will be interesting to see if Pittsburgh can turn its season around, but right now, the Steelers are a middle-of-the-pack team following an ugly 30-9 home loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

     

Baltimore Ravens (No. 24)

It's probably odd to see a team with a winning record sitting 24th out of 32 teams in the power rankings, but the Ravens' resume doesn't stack up.

They beat a Cincinnati Bengals team in Week 1 that struggled on offense (nine points in two games) before a change at offensive coordinator gave them newfound energy.

Ultimately, Baltimore played Cincinnati at the right time, as the Bengals are now 2-1 in their last three. If not for some late heroics from Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Cincinnati would be 3-0. 

The Ravens' other wins were against the winless Cleveland Browns and the 2-3 Oakland Raiders sans starting quarterback Derek Carr.

Their losses are ugly: 44-7 to the Jacksonville Jaguars on a neutral Wembley Stadium field and 26-9 to the Pittsburgh Steelers at home.

The Ravens have some games on the horizon where they should be considered the favorite (home against Miami and Chicago and on the road at Cleveland), but unless the passing attack improves (Baltimore ranks second-to-last in passing yards per attempt in the NFL), the postseason isn't on the horizon.

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