Week 6 NFL Power Rankings: Patriots back with a vengeance
For a couple of weeks there it appeared as if the New England Patriots were going to slide back to the pack in the NFL. But, we've seen this movie before, and just like in the past when the Patriots had shown vulnerability early in the season, they come roaring back once again.
New England got hammered by Jacksonville in Week 2 and then toasted by Detroit in Week 3. Since, the Patriots have defeated Miami, Indianapolis and on Sunday took down previously undefeated Kansas City in a thriller, 43-40.
Just like that the Patriots have returned to being the Super Bowl favorites in AFC.
What's less assured is the mess below them. There are about 12 teams that all could be ranked between five and 17. Parity is truly in full effect in the NFL.
1. Los Angeles Rams (6-0). Last week: 1.
Fentress says: The Rams are showing that they can win in a variety of ways. Denver gave Los Angeles all it could handle on Sunday, but the Rams turned to RB Todd Gurley when the passing game wasn’t quite clicking and he gave them a season-high 208 yards with two touchdowns. WR Cooper Kupp left the game with a knee injury that could be problematic.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (5-1). Last week: 2.
Fentress says: Kansas City remains at No. 2 despite losing at New England on Sunday because the Chiefs’ lone loss is far better than the Patriots’ blowout losses at Jacksonville and Detroit. Still, the loss at New England once again exposed Kansas City’s weak defense, which could ultimately keep the Chiefs out of the Super Bowl.
3. New England Patriots (4-2). Last week: 9.
Fentress says: The Patriots clearly needed some time to clear out the cobwebs in their offense. Getting back WR Julian Edelman and adding WR Josh Gordon certainly has helped. But maybe the most encouraging sign from Sunday’s win over Kansas City was the improvement of the running game. The Patriots racked up 173 yards on the ground with three rushing touchdowns.
4. New Orleans Saints (4-1). Last week: 5.
Fentress says: Off last week. The Saints are off to a good start but have only one defeat over a team with a winning record and that’s Washington. We will find out much more about these Saints when they face a tough upcoming set of games starting with at Baltimore and at Minnesota followed by a home game against the Rams.
5. Los Angeles Chargers (4-2) Last week: 7.
Fentress says: This illustrates how difficult ranking some of these teams has become. There are four teams at 4-2, three at 3-2 and three at 3-2-1. It's a mess. But I’ll go with the Chargers here simply because their only two losses came against Kansas City and the Rams. However, the Chargers’ best win was over Buffalo. Basically, the next few spots are all essentially tied. By the way, RB Melvin Gordon is an early MVP candidate.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2). Last week: 4.
Fentress says: The Bengals just lost a tough game to Pittsburgh but remain the best team in the AFC North. However, they have to do something about linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who once again is being called out for unnecessary roughness in a league desperate to make the game safer for its players. Burfict threw an elbow at the head of Pittsburgh WR Antonio Brown on Sunday.
7. Baltimore Ravens (4-2). Last week: 10.
Fentress says: That loss two weeks ago to Cleveland in overtime looks bad but wins over Pittsburgh and Sunday at Tennessee make up for it. The Ravens sacked Tennessee QB Marcus Mariota 11 times on Sunday during a 21-0 win. The Ravens have the top defense in total yards and scoring defense (12.8 points per game). That defense will be challenged Sunday against Drew Brees and New Orleans.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2-1). Last week: 15.
Fentress says: The Steelers rise slightly above those just below because they have seemingly improved on defense and are coming off of a strong win at Cincinnati. The story of Pittsburgh’s season is running back James Conner, a cancer survivor who has 453 rushing yards and seven touchdowns while playing in place of holdout Le’Veon Bell.
9. Minnesota Vikings (3-2-1). Last week: 11.
Fentress says: The Vikings lost rookie cornerback Mike Hughes for the season. The 2018 first-round pick injured his ACL in Sunday’s win over Arizona. That stings for a defense that had been playing well after a slow start. Defeating the Cardinals, however, does not mean that last year’s top-ranked defense is back to full force. Up next are the Jets in New York.
10. Miami Dolphins (4-2). Last week: 13.
Fentress says: Miami sat QB Ryan Tannehill against the Bears because of a shoulder injury then surprisingly received a great performance from Brock Osweiler in the 31-28, overtime win. Osweiler passed for 380 yards against what was one of the top defenses in the NFL. Miami hosts Detroit on Sunday. No. 10 might seem high for Miami but the Dolphin’s only two losses are to Cincinnati and New England.
11. Green Bay Packers (3-2-1), Last week: 14.
Fentress says: This is a very soft No. 11 team. Green Bay has wins over San Francisco and Buffalo, and a somewhat strong win over Chicago. Bad losses at Washington and Detroit stand out. Still, if not for a horrible roughing the passer call against Minnesota, the Packers would be 4-2. The truth about this team will be revealed the next two weeks in games at the Rams and at the Patriots.
12. Carolina Panthers (3-2). Last week: 3.
Fentress says: This is a far drop for the Panthers but Sunday’s 23-17 loss at Washington was very disappointing. The Panthers are one of the most perplexing teams in the NFL. But maybe it’s time to call them what they are – mediocre. Still, they remain a threat when they are not hurting themselves. Next up are games at Philadelphia then home against the Ravens.
13. Chicago Bears (3-2). Last week: 6.
Fentress says: The Bears blew a winnable game at Miami and now face the possibility of returning to .500 with New England coming to town on Sunday.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3). Last week: 16.
Fentress says: The Eagles lack one win against a team .500 or better.
15. Seattle Seahawks (3-3). Last week: 19.
Fentress says: Seattle enters the off week having won three out of its last four games.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3). Last week: 8.
Fentress says: The Jaguars have lost three of four since defeating New England.
17. Washington (3-2). Last week: 22.
Fentress says: Showdown with Dallas this Sunday.
18. Tennessee Titans (3-3). Last week: 12.
Fentress says: So far, coaching staff No. 3 is not exactly working out for QB Marcus Mariota.
19. Houston Texans (3-3). Last week: 21.
Fentress says: Houston rides a three-game winning streak into Jacksonville.
20. Dallas Cowboys (3-3). Last week: 25.
Fentress says: RB Ezekiel Elliott is second in the NFL in rushing with 586 yards.
21. Atlanta Falcons (2-4). Last week: 27.
Fentress says: Don’t give up on Atlanta just yet. The Falcons have played one of the toughest schedules to date.
22. Detroit Lions (2-3). Last week: 20.
Fentress says: The Lions are sneaky good but must prove that in Miami or risk falling two games below .500.
23. New York Jets (3-3). Last week: 26.
Fentress says: The Jets' offense has put up 76 points in two weeks with a rookie quarterback.
24. Cleveland Browns (2-3-1). Last week: 17.
Fentress says: The Chargers brought the Browns back down to earth, 38-14. Still, Cleveland's improvement is evident.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3). Last week: 23.
Fentress says: QB Jameis Winston looked strong in his first outing but he won’t be enough to overcome that pitiful defense.
26. Denver Broncos (2-4). Last week: 18.
Fentress says: Denver, losers of four straight, should get back on track at Arizona.
27. Buffalo Bills (2-4). Last week: 24.
Fentress says: The Bills will be without rookie QB Josh Allen (elbow) at the Colts.
28. New York Giants (1-5). Last week: 30.
Fentress says: Owner John Mara wants WR Odell Beckham to make plays, not headlines.
29. Indianapolis Colts (1-5). Last week: 29.
Fentress says: The Colts could right the ship, somewhat, against Buffalo and at Oakland.
30. San Francisco 49ers (1-5). Last week: 32.
Fentress says: QB C.J. Beathard isn’t half bad, but the 49ers are toast.
31. Arizona Cardinals (1-5). Last week: 31.
Fentress says: Still waiting for QB Josh Rosen to make those that past on him in the NFL Draft regret their decision.
32. Oakland Raiders (1-5). Last week: 30.
Fentress says: The Raiders might need a couple of years to fix this roster.