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Week 6 NFL Power Rankings: Bills Surge To Top Spot, Cowboys Keep Climbing, And The Giants Might Actually Be For Real

Rob Carr. Getty Images.

We're past the quarter post in the 2022 NFL season, and Tom Brady was right when he recently said there's a lot of bad football going around. Although some will argue parity is in abundance around the league, an equally valid point can be made about the prevalence of mediocrity.

So with that somewhat bleak backdrop in mind, in we dive before Week 6 kicks off. Sorry for those of you who hate descending order. Before we get to the cream of the crop in this currently top-heavy NFL, there's a lot of muck to wade through.

32. Carolina Panthers (Last Week: 31)

Matt Rhule just got fired, and we may soon see a fire sale in Carolina. This Panthers defense is playoff-caliber. Sadly, the offense hasn't given this team a chance and cost Rhule his job. Interim coach Steve Wilks is taking over and well…good luck with PJ Walker running a Ben McAdoo system!

31. Houston Texans (Last Week: 32)

I have a theory. Houston's upset over the Jaguars was due to Jacksonville getting battered the previous week versus Philadelphia and suffering a letdown against an inferior opponent. Hard to give the Texans much credit here. Tailback Dameon Pierce and the rookie class overall have shown promise. I'll wait to bump Houston much further up these rankings until this first win of the season proves to be more than a fluke.

30. Detroit Lions (Last Week: 27)

That atrocious defense allowed the play-caller/QB combo of Matt Patricia and Bailey Zappe to log six scoring drives. Patricia's revenge on Detroit, right!? LOL. We need to see a quick turnaround from the Lions or else Dan Campbell might not earn a third season as head coach.

29. Washington Commanders (Last Week: 29)

Carson Wentz throws an atrocious goal-line interception to cost the Commanders their Week 5 game in Tennessee, loses his fourth consecutive start, and people are lighting up Ron Rivera for saying the quarterback position is a problem? I don't get it. Seems like valid criticism. I guess we know Wentz can't handle constructive feedback, which is why he flamed out in Philly and in Indy after just one year. More dysfunction in D.C., what else is new?

28. Pittsburgh Steelers (Last Week: 26)

Not going to hold that blowout in Buffalo against the Steelers too much. Everyone knew that was a tough spot to put Kenny Pickett in for his first start. Still thought Pittsburgh would at least cover a 14-point spread via the backdoor. NOPE. Not like the schedule gets much easier before the Week 9 bye. If anyone can rally the troops and get the Steelers to defy the odds, though, it's Mike Tomlin.

27. Denver Broncos (Last Week: 22)

I don't think I understood how much I didn't like Russell Wilson as a dude until his performance on the field started regressing. Having covered sports so thoroughly for the past decade, it takes more to get me riled up than it used to. Russ just rubs me the wrong way, man. Don't know how else to say it. Can't imagine his teammates rallying around him or Nathaniel Hackett. If the Broncos don't come out of their mini-bye off that ugly 12-9 Thursday night loss with more urgency, they're in serious trouble the rest of the year.

26. Indianapolis Colts (Last Week: 25)

It pains me that the Colts are 2-2-1, because let's face it, they suck. Matt Ryan has to have the lowest throwing velocity among any starting QB. Nobody wants to see this dumpster fire group of skill guys in the playoffs outside of Indy fans. Make it stop, please. As a football purist, I'm hoping the Colts' defense regresses so they don't keep stealing wins.

25. Seattle Seahawks (Last Week: 21)

Geno Smith update: Leads the NFL in passer rating (113.1) and completion percentage still (75.2%). This man cannot be stopped. Now that Russell Wilson is out of the picture, Seahawks OC Shane Waldron suddenly looks like the next hot commodity to spring from Sean McVay's coaching tree. Seattle simply can't play defense whatsoever. I don't think Geno is going to regress as much as most folks seem to believe. It's a matter of whether Pete Carroll can get his side of the ball right or not.

24. New Orleans Saints (Last Week: 28)

Instead of making Jameis Winston play through multiple back fractures, New Orleans decided to deploy Andy Dalton and this past week, mixed in more of Taysom Hill as a hybrid weapon. Hill scored four TDs. Good adjustment there! Granted, the Saints played that bad Seahawks defense, yet the results were most encouraging. Have my doubts the Saints can even compete with Tampa in the NFC South, however.

23. Chicago Bears (Last Week: 30)

I like what I'm seeing from Justin Fields. Just wish he had a competent wide receiver outside of Darnell Mooney and basic professionalism from his offensive line. The Bears shouldn't move off him in 2023 if he keeps progressing this way. They have no business losing on the road to the Giants or the Vikings by one possession. Accomplishing that in consecutive weeks should almost count as a win considering how outmanned Chicago is talent-wise against most opponents.

22. Arizona Cardinals (Last Week: 24)

Being tied with the Colts for the league low in first-half points (5.2 per game) is an indictment on coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray. They faced the top opening-half scoring team in Week 5 (the Eagles, 21.2 ppg). No surprise, Arizona fell into a 14-0 hole and lost 20-17. I believe the Cardinals were the more desperate team at home and caught Philly napping for much of the second half. A field general getting paid the big bucks that Kyler is should've found a way to pull that one out. Alas, we wait to see whether this kid is a full-fledged punk or if he can balance video games with winning football well enough to be the face of the franchise.

21. Cleveland Browns (Last Week: 19) 

Jacoby Brissett's descent continued in a 30-28 loss to the Chargers when he threw one of the worst red-zone INTs you'll ever see. This is more of what I expected to see from him and the Browns' offense. Being supported by Nick Chubb and the NFL's top rushing attack and still only managing a 5-3 TD-INT ratio and an 85.4 passer rating is ROUGH stuff. Cleveland is hoping to hang on until You Know Who arrives to replace Brissett.

20. New York Jets (Last Week: 23)

NY/NJ football is alive and well apparently! Zach Wilson is 2-0 as a starter. The Jets seem to be buying into Robert Saleh's defense and are tied for fifth with nine takeaways. I hesitate to put Gang Green much higher than this right now. Let's see what happens when Wilson goes toe-to-toe with Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field this weekend.

19. Atlanta Falcons (Last Week: 18)

Gosh, is Marcus Mariota not a pretty thrower of the football. That's a big reason why Atlanta fell down 21-0 in Tampa last Sunday. For whatever reason, the Falcons find a way to claw their way back, and were an awful roughing the passer penalty away from getting Mariota one more crack at a stunning comeback. Despite the 2-3 record, Atlanta has had a shot to win every single matchup so far, hence its 5-0 ATS mark.

18. Los Angeles Rams (Last Week: 15)

That o-line is beat up. It's getting Matthew Stafford beat up. Allen Robinson is still nowhere to be found in the offense. Other than the explosive 75-yard catch-and-run by Cooper Kupp, the Rams did jack shit in their loss to Dallas. Playing the Panthers at home in Week 6 should help LA climb back to .500, if only due to Carolina's offensive ineptitude.

17. New England Patriots (Last Week: 20)

Bill Belichick makes it notoriously difficult to discern just who the hell is responsible for the Patriots fielding a competent offense despite having third-string rookie Bailey Zappe under center. Whoever it is — you can't convince me it's all Matt Patricia — New England and its fans have to be over the moon about being 2-3 to this point. The Pats have a gettable five-game stretch coming up, and should get Mac Jones back very soon. Things are looking up in Foxborough.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last Week: 8)

I dinged the Jags quite a bit for losing to Houston, because the Texans are just a flat-out bad team. Trevor Lawrence's recent turnover issues are a red flag. You gotta realize, it's almost like he's still a rookie given the debacle he dealt with in 2021. Doug Pederson will have him back on track in short order. Lawrence faces the Colts in Week 6, with a great chance to sweep that AFC South rival.

15. Las Vegas Raiders (Last Week: 16)

OK…hear me out. I know the Raiders are 1-4. They blew massive road leads to the Cardinals and Chiefs, the latter of which is nothing to be ashamed of. Josh McDaniels is rightfully getting questioned. Here's the thing: Las Vegas could very well win its next six games. I swear. Home for the Texans, at New Orleans and Jacksonville, back in Vegas for the Colts and back on the road for Denver and Seattle. With how bad the Broncos have been and how dubious the Chargers are on game management, there's still an improbable-but-possible path for the Raiders to finish second in the AFC West.

14. Miami Dolphins (Last Week: 7)

Seems like Skylar Thompson will make his first NFL start this Sunday. Sucks to have a third-string, rookie, seventh-round signal-caller playing your most important position. Mike McDaniel is just the guy to make something like that work. I'm sure many folks will be fading Miami this week against the Vikings. Be careful. Minnesota isn't far ahead of the Fins in these rankings for a reason.

13. Green Bay Packers (Last Week: 12) 

I don't know what happens to Aaron Rodgers sometimes. It feels like he mentally checks out more often than a back-to-back league MVP should. The Packers were rolling, up 17-3 on the Giants in London. Then…just lost. Hard to understand. Rodgers has little patience for the green pass-catchers who flank him. Might want to work on that in order to retain that NFC North throne.

12. Tennessee Titans (Last Week: 13)

Derrick Henry is just going to get run into the ground and the Titans are at peace with that. Hey, it's led to three straight one-possession wins, so if it ain't broke, right? Despite suboptimal pass protection, very little receiver help and poor second-half offensive production, Ryan Tannehill has played clean football during Tennessee's streak of three wins. Commendable given the egg he laid in that 41-7 blowout in Buffalo from Week 2. Hell of a bounce-back effort. Oh, and the Titans are No. 1 in third down conversion defense (27.1%).

11. Minnesota Vikings (Last Week: 14) 

I had the Vikings as a playoff team before the season. Nevertheless, Minnesota's 4-1 record seems a little deceiving. Kirk Cousins is playing worse football than I anticipated. He's on pace for easily the worst passer rating of his full-time starting career. Captain Kirk should improve as he gets more accustomed to Kevin O'Connell's system, or so I'd be inclined to think. Like I said at the top, lots of mediocrity in the NFL…and the Vikings feel like the best mediocre team, for lack of better words.

10. New York Giants (Last Week: 17)

The other top candidate for "best mediocre team" might be the G-Men. OR…they might be for real. They rank second in rushing thanks to a healthy Saquon Barkley and better blocking up front. Most importantly, Daniel Jones is actually in a non-Stone Age offense and is being positioned for success like he never has before in the pros. Were the season to end today, Brian Daboll feels like a Coach of the Year lock. Can he keep it up? We'll learn more when New York hosts the Ravens this Sunday.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (Last Week: 6)

Been a tough year for my Bengals. Three losses in the first five games — all on the final play. First team in NFL history that's happened to. WTF. It's almost comical at this point. I feel like the play-calling can only improve, and once Tee Higgins is healthy again, Cincinnati should be firing on all cylinders. There's no question this defense is good enough to keep the Bengals competitive, even without such a vital piece as defensive tackle D.J. Reader. Lotta game left for Cincy, and the rushing attack finally got going in the otherwise devastating loss to Baltimore.

8. Los Angeles Chargers (Last Week: 11)

Good lord, Brandon Staley. You sir, are an idiot when it comes to in-the-moment head coaching strategy. It's to the point where your WR1 Keenan Allen is calling out your in-game decisions on Twitter in real time! Imagine staking your hard-earned dollars on Staley in the playoffs. NO THANK YOU. This Bolts defense is in pretty rough shape given the infusion of talent from last year. Justin Herbert still gives me confidence the Chargers are a top-10 team.

7. Baltimore Ravens (Last Week: 10)

Those who still contend that Lamar Jackson isn't a good passer, I ask: Who the fuck is he throwing to outside of Mark Andrews right now? With Rashod Bateman hurt, Devin Duvernay is basically his best second option. And Greg Roman has never really drawn up many easy throws to boost Jackson's numbers. He averaged 9.6 air yards per attempt in 2021 (second-highest) and is at 9.5 this year. Baltimore could easily be 5-0 were it not for some late-game coverage lapses versus quality opponents.

6. Dallas Cowboys (Last Week: 9)

What a defense. Holy shit. These Cowboys are for real. I credit Dan Quinn more than Mike McCarthy. Props to OC Kellen Moore as well, not making Cooper Rush play outside of himself and relying on that Dallas D to carry the team. Rush seems like he'll get the nod to start again against the Eagles on Sunday night. Should he somehow pull off an upset in Philadelphia, the Cowboys might want to ride him till he loses instead of pivoting back to Dak Prescott at the first opportunity.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last Week: 5)

The Bucs took their foot off the gas and almost blew that Falcons game but oh well. They're still the clear team to beat in the NFC South. Their defense shut Atlanta out for three quarters. Tom Brady is rounding into midseason form. As Tampa's receivers get healthier, their passing attack will only keep progressing. Little reason not to bank on the Bucs as a Super Bowl contender.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (Last Week: 1) 

I'd like to see the Eagles be more of an attacking team once they get out to an early lead. They seem to start fast and then just sit on the ball, leaning on their defense to hold up. Hey, you can't argue with the results when you're 5-0. Is that a sustainable strategy for 17 games plus the postseason? Maybe not. Given how much pounding Jalen Hurts takes as a ball-carrier and the sluggishness with which Philly plays after halftime, I'm starting to wane a little on the Iggles.

3. San Francisco 49ers (Last Week: 4)

All Jimmy Garoppolo needs to do is protect the football and not do stupid things. The 49ers have the NFL's best overall defensive unit, a genius play-caller/coach in Kyle Shanahan and tons of weaponry to prop up Jimmy G. It'd be an all-time clinic in quarterback incompetence in the event Garoppolo fails to guide this Niners group to at least the NFC Divisional Round.

2. Kansas City Chiefs (Last Week: 2)

You can never count the Chiefs out no matter how down they are. Patrick Mahomes seems to kick into an extra gear when he's trailing. The continuity on KC's offensive coaching staff and Mahomes' star power guarantees this team has an annual chance at the Lombardi Trophy. I won't be surprised when I have to move the Chiefs to No. 1 in Week 7 once they use their status as a home underdog as fuel against this week's top-ranked team…

1. Buffalo Bills (Last Week: 3)

Sometimes trendy, seemingly obvious, perceptibly ascending and rather unproven preseason Super Bowl picks can fool everyone. So many were circling the wagons and gassing up the Bills as a legit championship team prior to the 2022 campaign. They have more than delivered on the hype so far. Josh Allen is the clear MVP favorite. Buffalo is second in total defense and tied with San Francisco for fewest points allowed. I have no further questions.

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