Peter Hailey

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2017 NFL Power Rankings: Both conferences are wide open through six weeks


2017 NFL Power Rankings: Both conferences are wide open through six weeks

Through six weeks of the NFL season, it's clear who the Super Bowl favorites are.

In the AFC, it's, um, well, OK, let's do the NFC first. In the NFC, you have to watch out for — actually, nevermind, this isn't that easy.


The Chiefs and Eagles are the only two teams standing at 5-1, but there are quite a few 4-2 squads right behind them, as well as talented 3-win teams who can take any opponent down if they bring their best stuff. That means that as the halfway point approaches, both conferences are still open races.

And those races got a lot more interesting after a fun Week 6. The power rankings look a lot different than they did before the weekend because of Week 6's results, too.

So, click the link above or below to see who's moving up and who's sliding back. Or, in the case of the Browns, who's sliding but staying in the same spot simply because they can't be dropped any further.


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Five things that aren't being talked about enough from the Redskins-49ers game

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Five things that aren't being talked about enough from the Redskins-49ers game

Did you guys know C.J. Beathard is related to former Redskins general manager Bobby Beathard?

Of course you do, because that storyline, as well as others like the Vernon Davis fumble(?) and Pierre Garçon penalty have been talked about plenty following the Redskins' 26-24 W over the 49ers on Sunday.

But there are other angles that have been under analyzed from the Week 6 matchup. So as fun as it is to celebrate Chris Thompson's brilliance, put that on hold for a minute and think about these five discussion points.

1) A big recovery by a big man 

One of the most underappreciated plays in football is a fumble recovery by an offensive player. Most of the time, players and fans are just mad that the offense fumbled and ignore the fact that the outcome could've been a whole lot worse.

Do you remember Trent Williams falling on a Chris Thompson fumble early on the Redskins' first drive? Maybe some of you do, but plenty of others probably don't. But because Williams was aware and smothered the ball before a Niner defender could, the Redskins were able to continue their possession and eventually finish it with a touchdown.


2) Kirk's questionable decision

Kirk Cousins provided what proved to be the game's deciding points with his fourth quarter read option touchdown. But it was an earlier run that could've been much more important, and not for the right reason.

On Washington's previous possession — which concluded with a 21-yard field goal — Cousins scrambled for an 18-yard gain, but instead of sliding at the end, he decided to take on San Fran safety Jimmie Ward. The two collided and thumped each other pretty hard, and while the QB may have earned some respect, he also said postgame that Williams immediately reminded him that he should've slid instead.

Was it entertaining to watch a signal caller try and run over a safety? Sure. But was it smart? Not at all. The Packers saw their star quarterback come out on the wrong end of a punishing hit Sunday, and the Redskins just as easily could be feeling their pain.

3) Samaje's second effort

Samaje Perine has a long way to go before he becomes the player many hoped he'd be when the Redskins snagged him in April's draft. But it was him traveling a short distance in the fourth quarter against the 49ers that was a crucial yet overlooked play.

Six snaps before Cousins' rushing TD, the rookie barely converted on a third-and-2 by pushing the pile and refusing to be brought down short of the sticks. Again, his first year as a pro hasn't been excellent, but that was one he deserves credit for.

4) A way too powerful punt

The Redskins' execution after recovering that late onsides kick wasn't just bad on offense. Tress Way's touchback was unsightly, too.

Even after Washington took a delay of game penatly to give their punter more room, Way booted his kick well into the end zone instead of forcing the Niners' returner to fair catch or giving his gunners a chance to down it. Next time, Way needs to use a little less club and force the opposing offense to start farther back than their own 20.


5) Dunbar delivers

Perhaps because of all the injuries in the secondary, as well as an abundance of other things to chat about, a really strong performance from Quinton Dunbar isn't getting the necessary recognition. 

The visitors threw at Josh Norman's replacement often — 14 instances, to be specific — but he more than held his own, ending the contest as PFF's highest-graded 'Skin. Jay Gruden said earlier in the week Dunbar thinks he can cover "anybody, anywhere, anytime," and for the most part on Sunday, No. 47 did just that.

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It may not be a perfect match, but Kirk Cousins and the read option do look good together

It may not be a perfect match, but Kirk Cousins and the read option do look good together

The Redskins called a read option on Sunday for a quarterback that they drafted in 2012, and the play worked perfectly. 

The catch? It was Kirk Cousins running it, not Robert Griffin III.

With less than four minutes remaining and the Redskins clinging to a three-point lead vs. the 49ers, Jay Gruden chose to go with the unconventional run on San Francisco’s 7-yard line. It unfolded flawlessly, as No. 8 was able to scamper into the end zone untouched.

RELATED: If Redskins want to be great, they shouldn't be satisfied with barely beating 49ers

After Washington's 26-24 victory, Cousins mentioned how Griffin, as well as Niners coach Kyle Shanahan, were key in teaching him about the useful play back when all three were in D.C. together in 2012 and 2013. 

“I would credit going back to my rookie year with Robert here, we did it a lot,” Cousins said in his press conference. “Kyle told me when he left, he said, ‘I’ve learned after working with Robert that this is a really valuable play no matter who the quarterback is and I’ll always carry it with me.’ So, when Jay arrived we kept it and valued it.”

Gruden may not value it as much as his beloved fade, but he and his signal caller are clearly very comfortable with it. They’ve tried it multiple times from inside the 10 this year, and will also sprinkle it in when they need to convert a third down in the middle of the field, like they did in Week 4 in Kansas City.

The head coach likes how the read option gives the offense an advantage over the defense. He also likes Cousins’ ability to execute it.

“[It] allows you to block one less guy,” he said. “You read him. Obviously Kirk is not exactly the read option quarterback that you would be looking for if you were looking for a read option quarterback, but he’s very effective at it.”

Cousins isn’t going to win many footraces and when the defense doesn’t bite on the fake, he has major trouble making defenders miss. Therefore, the Redskins have to carefully pick their spots with the read option, which is something Cousins said himself.

But Sunday was just the latest example of how well it can go when it’s used in the right situation. While the read option with Cousins may not be the most beautiful read option, often times time for the Redskins, the results are. 

MORE: Must See Photos: NFL Week 6, Redskins 26 San Francisco 24