NFL Power Rankings Week 6: Initial Standings Post-Thursday Night Football

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2019

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady warms up before an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Another game, another win for the New England Patriots, who cruised past the New York Giants on Thursday night. This version of the Patriots is different than the New England teams we have seen in recent years, but it still looks championship-caliber.

It's the defense that has been leading the charge in 2019. The Patriots came into Week 6 allowing an average of just 239 yards and 6.8 points per game, both best in the NFL. They allowed seven offensive points Thursday.

There's a lot of season left, and we will have to wait to see whether the adage that defense wins championships holds true for New England this year. Still, the Patriots remain unbeaten and at the top of the power rankings heading into Sunday.

How does the rest of the league stack up? Let's take a look.


Power Rankings Predictions, Post-TNF

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1. New England Patriots

2. San Francisco 49ers

3. Green Bay Packers

4. New Orleans Saints

5. Seattle Seahawks

6. Kansas City Chiefs

7. Buffalo Bills

8. Dallas Cowboys

9. Los Angeles Rams

10. Baltimore Ravens

12. Philadelphia Eagles

13. Detroit Lions

14. Chicago Bears

15. Oakland Raiders

16. Minnesota Vikings

17. Indianapolis Colts

18. Houston Texans

19. Los Angeles Chargers

20. Jacksonville Jaguars

21. Tennessee Titans

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

23. Cleveland Browns

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

25. Denver Broncos

26. Atlanta Falcons

27. New York Giants

28. Arizona Cardinals

29. New York Jets

30. Cincinnati Bengals

31. Washington Redskins

32. Miami Dolphins


2. San Francisco 49ers

Tony Avelar/Associated Press

Is it too early to call the San Francisco 49ers the second-best team in the NFL? Perhaps. The teams they have beaten have a combined record of just 5-15, and you can bet head coach Kyle Shanahan isn't buying into the hype just yet.

"It's still early," Shanahan said, per Michael Davis Smith of ProFootballTalk. "We've played four games, one less than most people."

At the same time, San Francisco is the only other undefeated team in the league, and it's winning games with a formula that will travel well and work all the way through January.

The plan for the 49ers is to dominate in the trenches and to win with defense and the running game. And this isn't your standard pound-the-ball-up-the-middle, run-first offense, either. Shanahan has been dialing up creatively designed runs all season and gashing good defenses in the process.

The Cleveland Browns, for example, have a defensive front consisting of Myles Garrett, Sheldon Richardson, Larry Ogunjobi and Olivier Vernon. San Francisco rushed for 275 yards against Cleveland last Monday night.

The big question mark for San Francisco is quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. He's played well enough in a complementary role—he has seven touchdowns and four interceptions—but at some point, he's going to have to put the 49ers on his shoulders and win a game for them.


3. Green Bay Packers

Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

If you want to make the argument that the 4-1 Green Bay Packers should be ranked ahead of the 4-0 49ers, that's fair. Like the Patriots, they have won largely with a smothering defense—it's allowing just 18.6 points per game—and a pass rush that is tied for ninth in the NFL with 15 sacks.

What potentially makes the Packers a top NFC team is the fact that their offense is starting to find its way under first-year head coach Matt LaFleur.

Green Bay is averaging just 23.8 points per game (13th), but it has produced at least 27 points in each of its past three games. The offense dropped 34 on the Dallas Cowboys in Week 5, thanks in large part to the hard running of Aaron Jones (107 yards, 4 TDs).

While Packers fans have become used to seeing quarterback Aaron Rodgers carry the offense, LaFleur's group appears to be both balanced and physical. The best could be yet to come.

"I like the way we're going and I'm not going to put a time table on when everybody is going to feel totally comfortable," Rodgers told SiriusXM NFL Radio (h/t Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk). "I'm just going to say that I've seen progress since Week 1."

The one question for the Packers is run defense. They got ahead and largely took Ezekiel Elliott out of the game plan against Dallas, but he still averaged 5.2 yards per carry. During the Week 4 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay allowed 176 rushing yards and 5.3 yards per carry.

The Packers will likely be challenged by the run once the weather turns in December.


8. Dallas Cowboys

Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

While we are on the topic of Dallas, we might as well examine one of the most confusing teams of 2019. The Dallas Cowboys appeared to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders over the first three gameweeks of the season—they won by a combined score of 97-44—but they have fallen off over their past two games.

To be fair, Dallas' two losses have come against the Packers and the New Orleans Saints, teams with just two losses between them. However, the way the Cowboys lost those games was concerning.

Against the Saints, Dallas' previously high-flying offense was smothered, kept out of sync and held to just 10 points. Against the Packers, the run defense broke down, allowing 120 yards and 4.1 yards per carry.

Two of Dallas' strengths are supposed to be its offensive firepower and defensive front seven—which features DeMarcus Lawrence, Robert Quinn, Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. The Saints and Packers were able to attack those strengths and win.

Another concern for the Cowboys is the recent play of quarterback Dak Prescott. He's tossed four of his six interceptions over the past two gameweeks, and he struggled to push the ball downfield against New Orleans, averaging just 6.8 yards per attempt.

Even the best quarterbacks can struggle for stretches, so there's no reason to panic with Prescott. However, the Cowboys do need to see more consistent and efficient play out of him if they are going to be considered a top-five team.


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