NFL Power Rankings Week 6: Ravens Hold Steady, Texans Tumble, Raiders Rise

Adam LazarusSenior Analyst IOctober 12, 2010

NFL Power Rankings Week 6: Ravens Hold Steady, Texans Tumble, Raiders Rise

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    HOUSTON - OCTOBER 10:  Hakeem Nicks #88 of the New York Giants is tackled by Glover Quin #29 of the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Yes, it's a long season. But one Sunday certainly can tell us a lot about any team in the NFL.

    Most of this weekend's games were dogs: but the Vikings and Jets put on a far better show than most of their counterparts did yesterday.

    Without an undefeated team left in the NFL, the talking heads are complaining about a lack of excellence on the field. A few years ago that "parity" was being praised. Snap judgments are what the media is best at.

    So here are a few more.

Numbers 32-21

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    OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers walks off the field after the Chargers fumbled the ball against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on October 10, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    No. 32: Buffalo Bills (0-5): Earning the number one overall draft pick is not going to make this team that much better.

    No. 31: Carolina Panthers (0-5): There are so many holes on this team's roster that it would be injustice to fire John Fox.

    No. 30: San Francisco 49ers (0-5): Give Mike Singletary and Alex Smith credit for fighting all the way to the end; they showed signs of a promising turnaround.

    No. 29: Cleveland Browns (1-4): The Browns have led in the second half of every game they've played: without a quarterback, that streak end next week at Pittsburgh.

    No. 28: Detroit Lions (1-4): This year's first rounder, Ndomekong Suh, looked great in the win over St. Louis; now they need to see more of last year's first round selection, quarterback Matthew Stafford.

    No. 27: Cincinnati Bengals (2-3): Carson Palmer made some awful decisions and worse throws in the stunning home loss to Tampa Bay.

    No. 26: Dallas Cowboys (1-3): The record is a nightmare for the ownership and Wade Phillips but they are still better than they've looked.

    No. 25: San Diego Chargers (2-3): The special teams mistakes ruined another brilliant day by Philip Rivers.

    No. 24: Seattle Seahawks (2-2): Hopefully, that offense will improve when Marshawn Lynch is ready to play.

    No. 23: St. Louis Rams (2-3): Mark Clayton meant a lot to that team and it showed on Sunday.

    No. 22: Oakland Raiders (2-3): Shaking off injuries to Darren McFadden and Bruce Gradkowski, the Raiders performed a small miracle, breaking their 13-game losing streak to San Diego.

    No. 21: Minnesota Vikings (1-3): They'll deserve to be on the fringe of the playoff picture based solely on their great defense and the glimpse of excellence Brett Favre gave in the fourth quarter of the loss to the Jets.

No. 20: Denver Broncos (2-3)

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    BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 10:  Brandon Lloyd #84 of the Denver Broncos scores a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland. Players wore pink in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Rav
    Larry French/Getty Images

    They earned a tough break having to travel to Baltimore this week.

    But they would have put up a better fight against the Ravens if they had some semblance of a ground game.

    Kyle Orton and Brandon Lloyd may earn spots in the Pro Bowl, but at this pace, the Broncos are headed for a sub-.500 season.

    Next Week: Home vs. New York Jets

No. 19: Miami Dolphins (2-2)

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    MIAMI - OCTOBER 4: Brandon Marshall #19 of the Miami Dolphins runs with a catch against the New England Patriots at Sun Life Field on October 4, 2010 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    They needed a bye after the whopping they received courtesy of the Patriots.

    But even without Miami's special teams mistakes, Chad Henne did not look very sharp. And the Wildcat has yet to produce the big plays it once did.

    There is loads of talent in the passing game--Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess, Anthony Fasano--so they can still score points. Henne's growth should be interesting to watch in the next few weeks.

    Next Week: At Green Bay

No. 18: Tampa Bay Buccanneers (3-1)

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 19:  Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throws a pass against the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 19, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    The win at Cincinnati was a big deal but the Bengals gift-wrapped the game for them.

    Raheem Morris has done a great job and Josh Freeman is a quick study but if they really want to convince people they need to beat a quality opponent. They'll get their chance this Sunday.

    Next Week: Vs. New Orleans

No. 17: Kansas City Chiefs (3-1)

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 10: Matt Cassel #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs drops back to pass against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
    Scott Boehm/Getty Images

    On the surface, the nine points scored against Indianapolis in Sunday's loss doesn't constitute a terrible showing.The Colts have been one of the league's premier teams for a decade, they're the defending conference champions, and the game was in Indianapolis.

    But if you watched the game, you'd know that the Colts let the Chiefs back in the game several times.

    Dwayne Bowe's dropped touchdown was bad. Only scoring 9 points when Peyton Manning has one of his worst days in recent memory, that's a real shame.

    Next Week: At Houston

No. 16: Houston Texas (3-2)

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    HOUSTON - OCTOBER 10:  Matt Schaub #8 of the Houston Texans runs with the ball during the game against the New York Giants at Reliant Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  The Giants defeated the Texans 34-10.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Ima
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    How the mighty have fallen!

    Technically, the Texans are in first place in the AFC South because of their win over Indianapolis and because they're conference record is better than Jacksonville's. But of all the teams in the division they are playing the worst football right now. 

    Forget the offensive woes against the Giants. The defense let them down this week. Eli Manning had all day to throw and wasn't sacked once. Maybe Brian Cushing's return caused a few growing pains.

    Next Week: Vs. Kansas City

No. 15: New Orleans Saints (3-2)

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    GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 10:  Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints warms up before the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Saints 30-
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Losers of two of their last three, the World Champions problems have finally caught up with them.

    Drew Brees is a great passer with more receiving options than anyone else in the league. But you still have to run the ball some to win in the NFL. Their 75.6 yards per game is second worst in the NFL.

    The defense has done a pretty good job in the last few weeks but they won't face rookie quarterbacks like Jimmy Clausen and Max Hall every week of the season.

    Next Week: At Tampa Bay

No. 14: Indianapolis Colts (3-2)

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 10: Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts drops back to pass against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts defeated the Chiefs 19-9. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Gett
    Scott Boehm/Getty Images

    Just like their Super Bowl XLIV opponents the Colts are taking on water. And just like the Saints, no running game is the main reason why, at least on offense.

    Peyton Manning looked very frustrated on Sunday against Kansas City; playing without his two top running backs, Joseph Addai and Donald Brown will do that.

    The Colts defense bailed them out in the second half, allowing field goal attempts instead of touchdowns, but the Chiefs routinely shot themselves in the foot. And their 29th ranked run defense will pose a major problem with Chris Johnson, Arian Foster and Maurice Jones-Drew still on the schedule.

    Next Week: At Washington

No. 13: Green Bay Packers (3-2)

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    LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 10:  Defensive back Charles Woodson #21 of the Green Bay Packers is restrained by teammates Nick Collins #36 and Josh Bell #26 while arguing an official's call in the fourth quarter against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on O
    Win McNamee/Getty Images

    In terms of their performance thus far, the Packers deserve to be higher than 13.

    But because of the major question marks surrounding Aaron Rodgers, Jermichael Finely, Donald Lee, Nick Barnett and Clay Matthews, the future is very dicey.

    Matthews had been giving the Packers a pass-rushing threat unlike any they've had in years. If he were to miss games because of his hamstring injury, that would make it much harder for Charles Woodson to create turnovers and defensive touchdowns: Matthews pressure forces bad decisions.

    As soon as their injured starters heel up, the Pack is once again a threat to win the NFC North. Until then, their is too much uncertainty to declare them the favorite.

    Next Game: Vs. Miami

No. 12: Arizona Cardinals (3-2)

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    GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 10:  Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals attempts to catch a pass under pressure from Malcolm Jenkins #27 of the New Orleans Saints during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 10, 2010
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Cardinals pulled off the biggest shocker of Week Five.

    With a rookie quarterback who failed to produce a rushing or passing touchdown, the Cardinals defense would have to play exceptional to upset the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.

    And they did. Forget the fact that they allowed 358 yards: they produced four turnovers and limited the Saints great offense to just a single score in the second half.

    Ken Wisenhunt has done a great job this season and that was proven on Sunday.

No 11: Philadelphia Eagles (3-2)

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 10:  Kevin Kolb #4 of the Philadelphia Eagles runs against the San Francisco 49ers during an NFL game at Candlestick Park on October 10, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Kevin Kolb played very well in his second go-round as the Eagles starter and the offense made plenty of plays, enough to win the game.

    But the Eagles failed to shut the door on San Francisco last night. They completely outplayed them yet the game came down to the final seconds.

    Against an embattled Head Coach and a quarterback who is being booed so loud he can barely hear the radio receiver in his helmet, the Eagles defense fell apart in the last few minutes. They didn't put any pressure on Alex Smith and they didn't protect the middle of the field.

    Next Week: Vs. Atlanta

No. 10: Washington Redskins (3-2)

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    LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 10:  Donovan McNabb #5 of the Washington Redskins scrambles in the pocket against the Green Bay Packers at FedExField on October 10, 2010 in Landover, Maryland. The Redskins won the game in overtime 16-13.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Get
    Win McNamee/Getty Images

    The scrappy Redskins surprising 3-2 start has to make Mike Shanahan the front runner for Coach of the Year honors.

    He's found new players that fit in quickly (Ryan Torain and Anthony Armstrong) to go with old hats like Donovan McNabb and Santana Moss.

    And although the defense has been fortunate to play teams that endured key injuries (the Eagles, the Packers) Washington has been clutch in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. 

    Next Week: Vs. Indianapolis

No. 9: Chicago Bears (4-1)

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 10: Running back Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears runs with the ball against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    They got back on track by crushing the undermanned Carolina Panthers.

    The offensive line and Matt Forte really stepped up huge while Jay Cutler was sidelined because of his concussion.

    So pencil the Bears in as having the inside track on the NFC North race. But weren't we praising the Bears offense a month ago for their great play only to see them play horrendous against the Giants?

    Next Week: Vs. Seattle

No. 8: Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2)

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    ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 10: Maurice Jones-Drew #32  of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates what he thinks is a touchdown that was called back for a penalty in the third quarter against the Buffalo Bills   at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 10, 2010 in
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Only a slow start and a meaningless late touchdown prevented the Jaguars from posting a really impressive final score in their win over Buffalo.

    The Jaguars defense was very pretty solid against the Bills, and David Garrard continues to amaze with his accuracy.

    With Garrard's mobility, Maurice Jones-Drew and Marcades Lewis emerging as a good pass catcher, Jacksonville might have the best red-zone and goal line offense in the NFL. That is a powerful tool.

    Next Week: Vs. Tennessee

No. 7: Tennessee Titans (3-2)

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 10:  Running back Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans carries the ball against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.   The Titans won 34-27.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Despite allowing 27 points to the Cowboys and letting Tony Romo top the 400-yard mark, the Titans defense was excellent on Sunday.

    When they needed to stop Dallas they did.

    And if Vince Young can throw the ball with the accuracy he showed last week, than Chris Johnson will be even more effective and the Titans can contend for the AFC South.

    Next Week: At Jacksonville

No. 6: New York Giants (3-2)

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    HOUSTON - OCTOBER 10:  Justin Tuck #91 of the New York Giants celebrates after recovering a fumble during the game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  The Giants defeated the Texans 34-10.  (Photo by Chris
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Don't sleep on the Giants.

    After a woeful stretch early in the season, they have recovered.By traveling to Houston and dominating the supposedly potent Texan offense they atoned for poor efforts against Indianapolis and Tennessee.

    And with Eli Manning building a great chemistry with Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith, the Giants passing offense is becoming more and more reliable.

    And since they still have all six of their games with the NFC East, they can still run away with this division.

    Next Week: Vs. Detroit

No. 5: Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1)

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    PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 02: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers drops back to pass against the Carolina Panthers during the preseason game on September 2, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Getting Ben Roethlisberger back is obviously a game-changer for the Steelers.

    But it's unlikely that he'll seamlessly move into Week Six and cure all of the passing game's woes. His timing--especially on the deep pass to Mike Wallace--might suffer early on. If that is the case, Rashard Mendenhall is going to have to continue to be a Pro Bowl-type back.

    Apart from a few breakdowns in the secondary at the end of the loss to Baltimore, the defense has been near-flawless this season. If they stay healthy, they can expect a home playoff game.

    Next Week: Vs. Cleveland

No. 4: New England Patriots (3-1)

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    MIAMI - OCTOBER 04:  Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots with Reciever Wes Welker #83 during warm ups against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on October 4, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Trading Randy Moss away would seem to be a significant loss for the Patriots. But Moss had not produced very much this season (he only had 9 catches).

    Wes Welker will pick up the slack, and Brandon Tate is big enough to fill the spot vacated by Moss. And since Tom Brady won three Super Bowls without Moss--or any star receiver--the Pats offense shouldn't miss a beat.

    The Patriots defense has shown a few weakness this season so that is the only thing that could keep them from winning the AFC East.....that and the Jets.

    Next Week: Vs. Baltimore

No. 3: Atlanta Falcons (4-1)

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    CLEVELAND - OCTOBER 10:  Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons throws to tight end Tony Gonzalez #88 against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    The mark of a good team is being able to play poorly and still win.The Falcons did as much in their 20-10 victory over the Browns.

    Cleveland is a much better team than their record indicates and playing in front of the Dawg Pound isn't easy.

    The Browns took an early third quarter lead and looked to be in control of the game. When it came down to crunch time, however, the Falcons delivered.

    Matt Ryan made a great throw to Roddy White for the go-ahead touchdown and Kroy Biermann's tremendously athletic interception/touchdown sealed it. That type of clutch play making is what earns teams division titles.

    Next Week: At Philadelphia

No. 2: New York Jets (4-1)

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    ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 03:  Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets stands on the sidelines  against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 3, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York. The Jets won 38-14.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Monday night's win against Minnesota was a great measuring stick for the Jets.

    The offense played very well only to struggle in and around the red zone. They really mismanaged the clock at the end of the game. And they let Vikings receivers slip through coverage a few times in key moments.

    But with their backs against the wall, they put mounds of pressure on Brett Favre at the end of the game and were able to force the critical turnover.

    Next Week: At Denver

No. 1: Baltimore Ravens (4-1)

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    BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 10:  Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates his second touchdown against the Denver Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland. Players wore pink in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
    Larry French/Getty Images

    In the past two weeks Joe Flacco and Ray Rice have looked like All Pros.

    With that defense the Ravens look unstoppable at this point.

    But it's still early and their schedule is as difficult as any in the conference.

    Don't punch their ticket to Dallas for Super Bowl XLV anytime soon.

    Next Week: At New England