The Week 6 NFL Power Rankings are in dangerous territory. The league has moved on from recreating party drugs and gone straight to abusing LSD and quaaludes they somehow found in the basement of great grandma’s house.
It appears that save for a very select few, whatever you think is going to happen won’t. That is, unless the referee has something to say about it.
Week 6 NFL Power Rankings: Tier 6 | Definitely Bad Teams
Even though the NFL season has been as unpredictable as a feral cat, it appears pretty obvious that the teams in Tier 6 don’t currently have playoff hopes through five weeks.
Honestly, 15 points is more than I expected against that 49ers defense. Unfortunately, San Francisco also scored more points than expected against a talented Carolina defense led by Phil Snow.
A year after Matt Rhule benched Sam Darnold during a game in favor of P.J. Walker, he did the same to Baker Mayfield, who once again looked out of place as an NFL starter. It’s worth noting, however, that he was seen in a walking boot after the game.
Mayfield’s resurgence was always a bit farfetched. He was coming off a serious shoulder injury that demolished his already inconsistent mechanics and didn’t have the time to put in the reps to fix those bad habits. Luckily, the Panthers weren’t on the hook for Baker’s entire contract.
The Chicago Bears tried their darndest to mount a comeback against the Minnesota Vikings but came up short in the end. We assumed Chicago would struggle in 2022, but the growth of Justin Fields was paramount no matter the results in the win-loss column.
It was the second-year quarterback’s best game of the season. He even had the Bears driving late in the fourth quarter to tie the game, but a fumble derailed the team’s comeback. The Vikings’ secondary won’t be mistaken for the Legion of Boom, but any improvement is a welcome sign.
The Detroit Lions have done a good job competing over the past two seasons, but they’ve come up short a majority of the time. Every once in a while they’ve been totally dominated in a game during the Dan Campbell era, and the Patriots game in Week 5 was an example of that.
The Patriots were on their third QB, and the Lions have shown the ability to score points in bunches this season. Even though New England was the Vegas favorite, this felt like a game Detroit could win. Unfortunately, the offense didn’t show up and Detroit is still on track to compete for one of the draft’s top QBs.
The Houston Texans are not a very talented roster. But they’ve now played in four one-score games in five weeks. Houston should have won a few of those, but their lack of high-end quarterback play and lackluster offensive personnel have caught up to them late in games.
Jacksonville probably lost this game more than Houston won it, but the Texans took advantage of a few of those mistakes from Jacksonville. The biggest example of that was their final touchdown drive, which was led by one of the truly talented pieces on the roster, rookie RB Dameon Pierce.
It’s early in the front office’s tenure, but it seems the team hit on all of their premium draft picks. That’s a good sign.
That’s about what we could expect from the Steelers starting Kenny Pickett for the first time ever against the Buffalo Bills. The Steelers’ offensive line lacks talent but had played better than expected before facing the Bills. Yet, Buffalo has arguably the best front four in the league, and Pickett was struggling to mind his footing in the pocket.
But a bigger issue is the team’s inability to run the football. And although before the game they’d avoided allowing massive plays through the air, that was not the case against Buffalo.
Fans are probably miserable. It’s a new feeling. It’s what like 30 other franchises’ fans have known their whole lives. You’ll get used to it eventually. Or this will only last one season and the Steelers will get back on track in 2023 like nothing ever happened.
The Carson Wentz experience continues in Washington. He’ll put up big yards and make incredibly impressive throws only to fumble or throw the game away when the offense needs him most. He tried to give Tennessee the ball a few times late in the game. Eventually, the ball said, “I do not tell a lie.”
The Commanders’ defensive front looked dominant against a bad Titans offensive line. The other positive note on the defensive side of the ball is that the linebackers have played much better since Week 1.
Week 6 NFL Power Rankings: Tier 5 | The Probably Bad Teams
We think these are bad football teams, but there have been so many blind squirrels finding nuts thus far in 2022 that we won’t be sure until the second half of the season.
The Falcons squandered their chance at a win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a horrific first half, but they came back and looked to have a chance to potentially win the game on a final offensive drive.
That is, until referee Jerome Boger intervened, deeming a… checks notes… tackle… was unnecessary. Grady Jarrett’s third-down sack to get the ball back turned into a roughing the passer, and the Falcons comeback chances were over.
I’ll spare you the Nathaniel Hackett puns. If the coach can’t figure out how to maneuver on game day and the quarterback can’t figure out how to play better, this team will continue to look offensively inept. And that’s a shame, because the Broncos defense has been really impressive at times early in the season.
Denver needs to be able to run from the gun, limit their mistakes, figure out who they are, and how to score in the red zone.
The Indianapolis Colts offense is a disaster. They were 31st in EPA per play through four weeks and could only muster 12 points on Thursday Night Football. Matt Ryan has a chance at the triple crown (sacks, fumbles, and interceptions), and they don’t have any consistent receiving options outside of Michael Pittman Jr. and rookie Alec Pierce.
MORE: Week 5 NFL Standings
However, their defense has been outstanding in the fourth quarter, not allowing a single point in the fourth quarter so far in 2022. They need to figure something out offensively before it’s too late. Luckily for them, the rest of the AFC South – and most of the NFL – hasn’t woken up yet.
At 2-2-1, they’re still very much in the mix.
The Jaguars’ win against Indianapolis doesn’t look as impressive after seeing the Colts play more football over the last few weeks, and their Chargers win looks more like a fluke than what they might actually be as a team. Losses against the hapless Commanders and Texans isn’t good for the résumé.
Trevor Lawrence has flashed some brilliance so far this season, but he’s a big reason the Jaguars lost this game against the Texans. Lawrence’s interception in the red zone was inexcusable. He could have walked forward for a first down, but instead tried to fit a pass over Derek Stingley Jr.’s head. Except the rookie cornerback turned back towards the QB and stole the ball.
New England Patriots
The Patriots’ offense apparently just needed their top two quarterbacks to go down and to play the Lions to wake up. Bailey Zappe is definitely a gamer, but he will make way for Mac Jones when New England’s franchise QB returns from his ankle injury.
The Patriots’ defense shutting out the Lions was the biggest surprise of the week, considering Detroit had scored the most points in the NFL up to this week and New England’s defense had been underwhelming before Week 5’s matchup.
New Orleans Saints
What are the New Orleans Saints? Their defense hasn’t lived up to their reputation so far in 2022, and the offense was non-existent until they lost starter Jameis Winston, ironically enough. However, they’ve faced two lackluster defenses in a row between the Vikings and Seahawks.
With games against the Bengals, Cardinals, Raiders, and Ravens coming up, they’ll have a chance to prove whether or not they could be a potential Wild Card contender in a wildly contested NFC.
New York Jets
Besides making me look smart with their big completion to Breece Hall while in their pony personnel package, the Jets ended up beating the brakes off a Dolphins team missing their top two quarterbacks.
Sauce Gardner made a few big plays in the game, Garrett Wilson is awesome even if the Jets passing attack isn’t throwing it around the yard, and Hall is already a difference-make. We thought the Jets would be an improved team in 2022, but we couldn’t have dreamed they’d be 3-2 through five games.
However, their schedule isn’t getting any easier.
Week 6 NFL Power Rankings: Tier 4 | Wait and See
There remain quite a few teams that we simply can’t get a read on. The 4-1 Giants are still a mystery despite their quality record.
The Cardinals are 2-3, and we are no closer to understanding this team than we were five weeks ago when we also didn’t have a darned clue. The offense is a wreck, and in the pivotal moments of the game, their Energizer Bunny QB slid to make it 4th-and-1 rather than fight a yard and potentially take a shot at the end zone before kicking the game-tying field goal.
Instead, Kyler Murray slid and Matt Ammendola missed the field goal, allowing the Philadelphia Eagles to remain the league’s only unbeaten team. Arizona’s offense just doesn’t work, and the reason why will have to be flushed out with a deep dive this week.
Let’s figure this out together, Cardinals fans.
There’s a case to be made that the Cleveland Browns should be 4-1 if not for just two red-zone decisions made by backup QB Jacoby Brissett. However, the Browns do have significant issues up the middle of their defense, and their secondary has been inconsistent thus far in 2022.
When Deshaun Watson eventually returns, this will probably be a team that competes in the playoffs. But they need to eek some wins out somewhere between now and then, and that won’t be easy.
The Patriots, Ravens, Bengals, Dolphins, Bills, and Buccaneers are all on the schedule before Watson returns. The NFL has been insane so far so it’s very unlikely they go winless in those games, but they’ll probably only be favored in one of the six.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams have a legitimate problem. They lack depth at receiver, their top-end talent is struggling to produce outside of Cooper Kupp, they can’t run the football, and their offensive line is a mess.
Matthew Stafford is who Matthew Stafford has always been. A good quarterback with elite physical tools and the propensity to make things harder on himself than need be. LA’s defense was missing a ton of key starters in the secondary against Dallas, but the unit overall played well outside of a massive run by Tony Pollard.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders are the only team in the NFL who is staring down the barrel of a 1-4 start that has a chance to stay in the “wait and see” tier. Las Vegas has gone through an absolute gauntlet to start the season and have only lost one-score games.
They should have never lost to Arizona. That was inexcusable. And unfortunately, Las Vegas has one of the most difficult schedules in the NFL. But the Raiders still have talent, and if they can figure out how to survive offensively behind a poor offensive line, they could start winning a few football games.
New York Giants
The New York Giants are an enigma. They’ve posted middling offensive and defensive production, yet have wins against both of the top seeds in last year’s NFL playoffs.
Daniel Jones has been playing his tail off, but aside from Saquon Barkley – who might be the Offensive Player of the Year through five games – Jones hasn’t received much help from his other weapons.
Wink Martindale’s defense has been surprisingly productive. The team’s secondary didn’t seem to mesh with his style on paper, but he’s molded a defense around a unit that doesn’t have the man coverage skills he was used to coaching in Dallas.
The Seattle Seahawks cannot play in a normal football game. Seattle’s defense is pretty bad, but their offense is pretty darned good.
In fact, if Seattle could find a way to find a few more games, Geno Smith might be a legitimate MVP candidate. For the first few weeks, he was playing efficient football, but the downfield element was lacking in the passing game; that’s over with now. Smith is pushing the ball and looking outstanding as a downfield passer.
The Titans haven’t been particularly good so far in 2022, but they still head into Week 6 with a winning record at 3-2. They played in another ugly game against Washington this week, coming out on top, but doing so in an unconvincing manner.
The AFC South is still theirs for the taking, even as they find both their offense and defense failing to land inside the top half of the league in efficiency. Tannehill and the passing attack have been uninspiring, and the Titans’ struggling offensive line hasn’t made things simple for Derek Henry.
NFL Power Rankings Week 6: Tier 3 | The Maybe Good Teams
The teams falling in Tier 3 are probably good football teams, but the insanity of the NFL season has us questioning even one of last season’s Super Bowl participants.
John Harbaugh is not a coward. Well, John Harbaugh is not a coward 99% of the time. Unfortunately for the Baltimore Ravens, their penultimate offensive drive ended in his cowardice. On fourth-and-inches by the opponent’s goal line, he decided to take the points, making a one-score game a one-score game.
Baltimore probably should have won this game walking away, but a few misses downfield from Lamar Jackson kept the game within reach. Fortunately, the human joystick leaned on both his arm and legs to easily get the Ravens into field goal range for the greatest kicker of all time.
Football truly is a game of inches. I muttered to myself, “no good,” when Evan McPherson’s extra point left his foot. Fortunately for Cincinnati, the ball was elevated enough to just clear the goalpost, making the kick good. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough when the clock struck all zeroes.
The Bengals’ offense continues to leave a little to desire. They have arguably the best receiving corps in the NFL with Joe Burrow under center, yet despite that and what is supposed to be an upgraded offensive line, the offense hasn’t ascended into the upper echelon we expected it to.
Lou Anarumo continues to prove himself one of the better defensive architects in the game, but the Bengals’ offense hasn’t been able to say they have the same.
The Cowboys arguably have an argument for the next tier up, but they can’t get there until their quarterback returns from injury and the offense proves it can be anything but mediocre, which is what it has been even in their four-game winning streak.
Dallas’ defense is elite, and if Micah Parsons wasn’t an alien, Dan Quinn should be considered the Cowboys’ MVP. Dallas and San Francisco are the two defenses that are truly versatile. They can rush four or bring six and give opponents different looks on the defensive front and in coverage at a high level. That is why they have won four straight.
And depending where Dak Prescott can take this offense, they could rival their divisional rival Eagles as the most dangerous team in the NFC.
Green Bay Packers
What in the heck happened in London? Did the Packers take in the British delicacy of beans with toast at halftime? That’s the only explanation for their second-half collapse.
There weren’t a ton of possessions in this game, and it was truly a tale of two halves. Aaron Rodgers was 18 of 24 in the first half for 147 yards and two touchdowns. However, he could only complete 7 of 15 attempts in the second half for 75 yards.
Meanwhile, the Packers’ defense allowed points on each of the Giants’ final five drives, including three of 11 plays or more, keeping Green Bay’s offense off the field.
But even before this week, Green Bay has struggled to put points on the board. That must change if they want to get back into Tier 2.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are probably a pretty good team with an elite QB, but their offense makes me want to punt random objects laying around the house straight out of my sliding doors and into the street.
The team’s lack of speed might be part of the reason Joe Lombardi feels the need to run such an offense, but he’s effectively taken a Ferrari LaFerrari and thrown a B-series Honda engine in it. You can mod them and make them powerful if you build and tune things perfectly, but it could also blow up in your face.
The Dolphins are undoubtedly a talented football team with a great offense when Tua Tagovailoa is healthy. Unfortunately, he’s not currently on the field for them, and Miami’s defense has struggled to start 2022.
Losing to the Jets probably feels a bit embarrassing, especially giving up 40 points along the way. But having Skylar Thompson dropping back to pass and not having Xavien Howard or Byron Jones in the defensive backfield was probably always going to make for a long day at the office.
The Vikings are 4-1, with their only loss being against the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles, and for some reason, they still haven’t convinced me they’re a good team yet. They feel unserious. They needed a comeback against Detroit, went blow for blow against the Saints, and then almost gave away a win against Chicago this week.
When Minnesota’s offense is flowing through Justin Jefferson it feels unstoppable, the way it largely was in the first half against Chicago. But the second half was a different story. Additionally, their secondary is underwhelming, so that’ll be something to keep an eye on.
Still, there is no shame in being 4-1.
Week 6 NFL Power Rankings: Tier 2 | Almost Surely Good Teams
I changed up the tier name this week and made it a bit more exclusive. There are plenty of teams that might be good, but there are very few who have consistently put together good performances week in and week out.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are the only team in the league where the burden of proof falls on the detractors. After four straight AFC Championship games, they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt, even with an ugly loss to the Colts.
Kansas City is currently first in offensive EPA and rank in the top 15 in defensive EPA, which is their sweet spot. The Raiders will be a nice test, because aside from Chris Jones, the Chiefs don’t have much proven in their pass rush, and the Raiders’ OL is their biggest weakness.
San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers are a darned good football team. They have ample weaponry to work with on the offensive side of the ball, paired with arguably the best play-caller in the NFL. And that’s just their offense.
Defensively, DeMeco Ryans may be the best defensive coordinator in the NFL, the 49ers have an elite front seven, and a defensive backfield that plays more assignment sound than the University of San Francisco’s valedictorian.
The only thing keeping them from elite status is Jimmy Garoppolo.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If the Tampa Bay offense could’ve kept their foot down on the accelerator against Atlanta, they might have had an argument at the elite tier. However, their second-half struggles keep them away, and their inability to consistently move the ball outside of the Kansas City game is becoming concerning. Still, their defense is talented at all three levels.
The middle left of the offensive line is a struggle, and the team went three-and-out on three consecutive possessions in the second half. Until the offense finds a way to be consistently strong, it won’t matter how well Tampa’s defense performs.
NFL Power Rankings Week 6: Tier 1 | The Elite Teams
Only two teams grace the elite tier, but that could change if the Chiefs handle their business against the Raiders on Monday Night Football.
When the Buffalo Bills are switched on, they are about as dominant a football team as there is. They’ve done this for two seasons now, but they haven’t been able to consistently put these performances together because their team is still comprised of human beings.
Well, almost entirely, at least. Josh Allen is special. He’s not even at his peak as a passer mentally. But he’s so unfair physically as a passer and a runner that Allen still produces at an elite level. With talent on both sides of the ball for Buffalo, they’re rightly one of the betting favorites in Vegas to win it all.
Another week, another win for the only undefeated team in the NFL. It certainly wasn’t pretty against Arizona, but Philadelphia once again showed resistance in the face of adversity. They also lucked out a bit with the Cardinals’ last-drive offensive miscues.
It wasn’t a possession-heavy game, with both teams occasionally going on long-winded offensive drives. However, the Eagles’ offense fell stagnant for a time in the second and third quarter, which is a bit surprising against an underwhelming Arizona defensive unit.