Column

NFL Power Rankings Week 6: Cardinals still on top

Baltimore moves up, and Kansas City continues to slide.

A photo of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Welcome to Week 6′s NFL Power Rankings. After Monday night’s game each week, I’ll be evaluating the week’s games and ranking the top 10 teams in the NFL.

Before we begin, here are a few things to keep in mind that I take into consideration when making my choices:


1. I do take a team’s record into account; the games have to matter to some degree. However, a team with a good record will not always land in my top 10, and vice versa. Remember, these are power rankings.

2. One team beating another team does not automatically mean they are the better team in my eyes. For example, Pittsburgh beat Buffalo in Week 1, but I don’t believe for a second that they’re the better team right now.

3. The direction that teams are trending is a factor. A team that started slow but has been hot for the last couple of weeks will be evaluated more favorably than one that won their first few games and has cooled off since.


So, let’s begin!


1. Arizona Cardinals(⇔), 6-0, W 37-14 @ Cleveland Browns in Week 6

Through six games, the Cardinals remain atop the power rankings, outscoring opponents by a full two touchdowns per game behind their high-powered offense. Even against a strong Cleveland defense this week, which ranks second in the NFL in total yards allowed per game, Arizona put up 37 points and amassed over 350 yards of offense without the help of head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who was forced to watch the game from home after testing positive for COVID-19 this week. Kyler Murray again looked spectacular, connecting for four more passing touchdowns to three different targets.

This team has yet to show any meaningful weaknesses and has entered ‘win now’ mode, trading for Eagles tight end Zach Ertz last week to add yet another weapon to this explosive offense. With the exception of Week 5′s matchup against San Francisco, the Cardinals have scored over 30 points in all of their games, with the offense leading them to the only undefeated record in the NFL.


2. Baltimore Ravens (↑7), 5-1, W 34-6 vs. Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6

The Ravens have come a long way in my eyes since the last edition of these power rankings in Week 4. Their rushing attack somehow still ranks fourth in the NFL despite the season-ending injuries to J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, and Lamar Jackson has shown significant improvement throwing the football from last season and even from the beginning of this one, removing some of my doubts about him. In their 19-point comeback against the Colts in Week 5, the league’s most dynamic playmaker threw for 442 yards and four touchdowns, completing an impressive 37 of his 43 pass attempts. Sunday’s blowout of the Chargers also made the former MVP the winningest quarterback under age 25 in NFL history. To top it off, the Ravens do have an impressive win against the Chiefs, and their only loss was in overtime on the road in Las Vegas in Week 1. The defense has been rock solid, they continue to improve each week and they are among my AFC favorites after Week 6.


3. Los Angeles Rams (↓1), 5-1, W 38-11 @ New York Giants in Week 6

Los Angeles has had a quiet couple of weeks, as the Rams’ past two convincing wins have come against subpar competition. The Seahawks’ defense is still terrible, and Russell Wilson’s injury was the nail in the coffin for Week 5′s NFC West matchup. This week, LA completely outclassed the Giants — one of the worst teams in the league. Still, there were positive takeaways for a team that did what it was supposed to do. The Rams’ defense looked strong in New York, forcing four turnovers and surrendering just 60 rushing yards. There’s not much to say about this team right now; both the offense and defense are running smoothly, and I have no reason to drop them further in the rankings.


4. Buffalo Bills (↓1), 4-2, L 34-31 @ Tennessee Titans in Week 6

The Bills likely would have made the top spot in these rankings had they won their Week 6 matchup, based on their dominant play in the last few weeks, including a blowout of the Chiefs in Kansas City. However, they dropped a close game to the Titans to drop to 4-2 Monday night, though it could easily have gone the other way. Buffalo elected to go for it on fourth-and-1 at the 3-yard line rather than kick a field goal to send the game to overtime, and Josh Allen was stopped short on the QB sneak. The Bills had no answer for Derrick Henry, who gained 143 yards on the ground and showed again why he’s the best running back in the league.

Other than that however, the Bills still appear to be one of the most complete teams in the league. They have the second highest-scoring offense in the league and the best defense in terms of passing yards, total yards and points allowed. Buffalo is certainly still a Super Bowl contender, even with two losses to teams worse than them.


5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (↓1), 5-1, W 28-22 @ Philadelphia Eagles in Week 6

Tom Brady’s Bucs continue to roll with another win, this time against Philadelphia. Coming off a thrashing of the Dolphins in Week 5, Tampa Bay might have looked less dominant on Thursday Night Football, but this was still a game they won easily, despite the scoreboard making it seem closer than it really was. Something to keep an eye on going forward is the continued decimation of the defending champs’ secondary. Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman was signed to address that weakness, and he too suffered an injury that will sideline him for several weeks. Still, the Bucs continue to overpower opponents with one of the most talented rosters in the league. With all of their offensive weapons, the game just comes too easy to Brady, and the defense has held opponents to under 19 points per game over the last three weeks.


6. Dallas Cowboys (↑2), 5-1, W 35-29 @ New England in Week 6

Dallas picks up another win, extending its streak to five after narrowly losing the season opener to Tampa Bay. My main takeaway from Sunday’s overtime win against New England is that Mike McCarthy is the Cowboys’ biggest limiting factor, although we already knew this. The offense is elite, standing atop the league in yards and points per game. The quarterback is right, the weapons are too much for opposing defenses and they can wear you down with the run game. The defense is good enough, and that’s all it needs to be. With such a productive offense, an average defense will be sufficient for this team to go toe-to-toe with anyone.

However, when you look at the massive talent imbalance between the Patriots and the Cowboys, you might ask why it took the Cowboys an extra period of play to beat a now 2-4 rebuilding roster. The answer is that Bill Belichick is miles ahead of McCarthy as a head coach. Now, not every coach is Belichick, arguably the greatest football coach ever, but there are many in the NFL better than McCarthy. Against great teams, the Cowboys will lean heavily on sheer talent to take them over the top, which usually isn’t a recipe for success in the NFL. Still, this is one of the only teams that has done everything well up to this point, and Dallas has continued to improve every week. They appear to be legitimate contenders so far.


7. Green Bay Packers (↑1), 5-1, W 24-14 @ Chicago Bears in Week 6

I’m putting the Packers here because I don’t know what else to do with them. They haven’t done anything to fall in the rankings, but there isn’t much to commend them for until they actually get tested on the field. Green Bay simply hasn’t played competitive teams so far. The 49ers are the toughest team they’ve played on paper, but they are now 2-3. The Bengals are 4-2, but I need to see more from them as well before I call them a good team, given their previous few seasons. They also had two opportunities to beat Green Bay with a field goal and missed both of them. Good teams do what they have to do, and the Packers have beaten the teams on their schedule, so I can’t really complain about them. The last 5-1 team gets the No. 7 spot in the rankings.


8. Tennessee Titans (unranked), 4-2, W 34-31 vs. Buffalo Bills in Week 6

After a rocky start, the Titans have climbed back into the playoff picture with a win against the Bills Monday night. I expected the Titans to be very good, or at the very least win the AFC South, maybe the weakest division in football. Tennessee did lose to the Jets, which is inexcusable, but its only other loss is to the still-undefeated Cardinals.

The story with this team is quite simply just Derrick Henry, who, for the third consecutive season, is absolutely unstoppable. The sixth-year running back is averaging over 130 rushing yards per game and is on pace for back-to-back 2000-yard seasons, an unprecedented feat. He also has 260 more rushing yards than the next leading back and double the amount of rushing touchdowns. Two years ago, Henry carried this team to the AFC Championship Game; I’m not saying that’s going to happen again, but the Titans are back in the mix.


9. Los Angeles Chargers (unranked), 4-2, L 34-6 @ Baltimore Ravens in Week 6

The Chargers were on their way to a higher ranking on this list after beating the Chiefs, Raiders and Browns in consecutive weeks until they got smoked by the Ravens on Sunday. I believe this is a playoff team, and I don’t think we’ve seen the best of this group yet. Justin Herbert had the best season by a rookie quarterback in NFL history last year, and this year, he has emerged as a star and arguably a top-five quarterback. There are a few questions defensively, and the offensive line still isn’t impressive, but receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams complement the Chargers’ young quarterback very well, and Austin Ekeler is one of those backs that just makes things happen when it really matters, despite being stifled by Baltimore’s stingy run defense. It will be interesting to see if the Chargers continue to shine or if they fall off in their tough division as the season progresses, but as of now, they are a top ten team.


10. Kansas City Chiefs (↓5), 3-3, W 31-13 @ Washington Football Team in Week 6

It was starting to look like teams had cracked the code on the Chiefs; however, they had a bounce-back win against Washington in which Patrick Mahomes threw for 397 yards. This is another team I expect to claw its way back to the top, even after an uncharacteristically shaky start to the season. Defensively, Kansas City is, well, still pretty terrible, and they haven’t been able to run the ball particularly well either, which Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s injury doesn’t help with. Still, opposing teams can’t afford to take the Chiefs lightly. I have no doubt Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes will continue to invent new ways to win games. They take a hit in this week’s rankings because their game plan seems like a lot of smoke and mirrors and not enough execution of the basics so far.

Dropped from rankings: Cleveland Browns (6), Seattle Seahawks (10)