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The fifth week of football is officially in the books, and now the trends that were beginning to develop a week ago have either made us much more confident or second-guess ourselves. Now we move ahead to the Week 6 edition of the XN Sports NFL Power Rankings.
Every week, XN Sports will rank every NFL team. Here is the Week 6 edition based on the Week 5 results and how teams are trending at this juncture of the season.
1. Seattle Seahawks (Last week: 1)
It wasn’t the Seahawks’ most dominating performance of the season, but they traveled to the East Coast and took care of business again in primetime. Russell Wilson is truly developing as an NFL quarterback, and he is now the focal point of this offense.
What to know: Primetime Seahawks? Under coach Pete Carroll, the Seahawks are 11-1 in primetime and own the longest active Monday Night Football streak with nine straight wins, the second-longest mark of all time.
2. Denver Broncos (Last week: 3)
This was exactly the kind of performance we hoped to see the Broncos put forth after their defeat in the Super Bowl rematch and following a bye. Peyton Manning looked sharp, and the offense dominated what was previously a dominating defense.
The Broncos did lose Montee Ball for upwards of three weeks, but it might not matter going against a handful of stout run defenses in the next few weeks. We’re confident Manning can shoulder the offensive workload for a while.
3. San Diego Chargers (Last week: 5)
If Denver is the No. 1 team in the AFC, the Chargers are without question No. 1A. Philip Rivers continues to make his case for MVP, and Branden Oliver — the fourth-string running back — ran all over the vaunted Jets defense. And what about the ageless Antonio Gates — what are they drinking out there in San Diego?
4. Cincinnati Bengals (Last week: 2)
I think the Bengals’ loss to the Patriots said more about New England than it did about Cincy. The Patriots played emotional, and it was too much for the Bengals to compensate for. This is still a stout team in all three phases, and they’ll be fine going forward.
What to know: The Bengals allowed 33 points through their first three games. They allowed 43 to Patriots Sunday night.
5. Arizona Cardinals (Last week: 5)
Well, we were ready to anoint Drew Stanton “the guy” out in the desert, but now we all cannot wait until Carson Palmer is back healthy again. Secondly, yet another injury on defense — this one to Calais Campbell — could be devastating. They’ve already lost Darnell Dockett up front, and it makes you wonder how much more this unit can handle.
What to know: The lopsided loss to Denver marked the first time the Cardinals have allowed 40 points in a game since the 58-0 loss at Seattle in Week 14 of 2012.
6. Philadelphia Eagles (Last week: 6)
The Eagles continue their winning ways, though the defense allowed Austin Davis to put forth a Dan Marino-esque effort against them, which should be a concern for Chip Kelly. In close games, how can you expect this D to make that big stop? Offensively, though, we saw signs of LeSean McCoy turning a corner behind an offensive line getting healthier with each week.
What to know: Philadelphia has now won seven straight home games, the longest streak since 2004.
7. San Francisco 49ers (Last week: 8)
Despite the turmoil by the Bay, the 49ers took care of Alex Smith to move to 3-2 and remain in the thick of the NFC West race. Frank Gore continues to defy age, as the Niners now rank third in rush offense and third in rush defense. That’s a formula for success.
What to know: Frank Gore‘s back-to-back games rushing for at least 100 yards marks the first time since he has done so since 2011 when he reached the five straight 100-yard weeks.
8. Green Bay Packers (Last week: 9)
It seems like a month ago that the Packers wiped the floor clean against the Christian Ponder-led Vikings, and the Packers offense looked like it has finally found its stride. If this is any indication of what’s to come for Green Bay, they ought to be considered the clear favorites in the NFC North — no other team has looked as sharp.
What to know: Aaron Rodgers owns a 119.0 quarterback rating against Minnesota, which is the highest of any quarterback against one team with a minimum of 200 passes, according to NFL research.
9. Detroit Lions: (Last week: 7)
Well, just when we’re ready to believe in the Lions they pull a stinker against the Kyle Orton-led Bills. Sure, the Bills are a quality opponent, but this is the kind of game — at home — when a true contender wins. Fool me once, Detroit, shame on you. Fool me twice …
What to know: The Lions, who went 0-for-3 on field-goal attempts Sunday, have now missed a field goal in every game this season.
10. Indianapolis Colts (Last week: 12)
The Colts’ first two wins came against the likes of the Jags and Titans, but a signature victory over the Ravens indicates this team is as much of a contender as we expected. Andrew Luck didn’t have huge numbers in the win, but he did enough to get the Colts over the top.
11. New England Patriots (Last week: 13)
Just as I predicted, whenever we’re all ready to throw the towel in on New England they come up with a major victory. The Patriots avoid being pronounced dead for another week. Rob Gronkowski‘s snap count was at a season-high, and not surprisingly his presence on the field made an impact on Patriots’ offense, which looked dynamic both through the air and on the ground, especially against a quality Bengals defense.
What to know: Tom Brady matched his season high of seven completions traveling more than 10 yards downfield, including his first touchdown of the year on such throws. Coming into the game, Brady was averaging 6.4 yards per attempt on deep passes, the lowest among qualified quarterbacks.
12. Baltimore Ravens (Last week: 11)
The Ravens were rolling before hitting the wall that was Indianapolis, but I wouldn’t make much of the loss. The Ravens have been up and down, depending on their opponents, and I have the utmost confidence they’re going to continue to compete in their division.
What to know: A feat for the big man — Haloti Ngata recorded his fifth career interception against the Colts. That pick, his second of the season, helped him become the third player who weighs 300 pounds or more to record five interceptions, along with Dan Wilkinson and Kevin Williams.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (Last week: 14)
Did anybody expect such a low-scoring, close contest in the first half? There are definitely causes for concern with the Steelers, who seemingly can play up or down to their opponents. There’s so much talent on the offensive side of the ball, they should have ravished the Jags.
What to know: After the Steelers defeated Blake Bortles and Jacksonville, rookie quarterbacks are now 2-17 (in the regular season) against the Steelers since Dick LeBeau took over as Pittsburgh’s defensive coordinator in 2004.
14. Carolina Panthers (Last week: 17)
I’m not sure whether the Panthers’ win was more about Carolina or the Bears, but a win is a win, and the Panthers remain very much in the mix in the very mediocre and unimpressive NFC South. Carolina is banged up and plagued by suspensions, but still they’re going to have a shot to take this division crown.
What to know: This is the fourth time in five games that the Panthers have allowed multiple passing touchdowns. In 2013, it only happened in two games against Carolina.
15. Dallas Cowboys (Last week: 18)
Dallas continues its winning ways, this time with an overtime triumph over its in-state rival. DeMarco Murray continues his magical 2014 season, overcoming his fumbles with five straight 100-yard efforts. I’m very intrigued by their Week 6 matchup with Seattle.
What to know: Dallas is now 4-1, and teams with that mark through five games have made the postseason 77 percent of the time since 1990.
16. Chicago Bears (Last week: 10)
The Bears’ second-half collapses each of the past two weeks proves that an opportunistic defense can either make or break you. These past two weeks, it’s broken the Bears, while their offense has stalled in second halves. Jay Cutler needs a healthy Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall in order for this team to make any sort of run.
What to know: The Bears coughed up a 14-point lead Sunday against Carolina. One reason: they became the second team this season to have three fourth-quarter interceptions. The Giants did it against Arizona Week 2.
17. New York Giants (Last week: 20)
The G-Men are back in contention after reeling off three wins a row, this last one against a very talented Atlanta team. This week’s matchup with the Philadelphia gives the team a chance to start grabbing national attention, as I believe they match up real well with the defending NFC East champions.
What to know: Odell Beckham Jr. became the first Giants player with a touchdown catch in his debut since Marcellus Rivers did so in 2001 and first Giants player with a touchdown in his debut since Brandon Jacobs in 2005.
18. Atlanta Falcons (Last week: 15)
The Falcons offense is as good as their defense is horrific, and that’s not a formula for success in the NFL. The Falcons are generating no pass rush and are allowing opposing offenses to have their way with them. Atlanta’s key to success is to simply win shootouts, and that rarely leads to playoff wins.
What to know: Matt Ryan was 2-of-8 for 44 yards and an interception on throws at least 15 yards downfield. Ryan has thrown at least one interception in all three road games, not surprisingly coinciding with an 0-3 record.
19. Houston Texans (Last week: 16)
Arian Foster was back to pace the Texans, but Ryan Fitzpatrick was unable to find a rhythm against the Cowboys. This team has some quality pieces and the right idea of how to win games, but the execution is not always there.
What to know: Among his 157 yards rushing, Arian Foster managed 81 yards after contact and forced three missed tackles. He’s the difference-maker on this Texans offense.
20. New Orleans Saints (Last week: 21)
I’m left unimpressed after the Saints’ overtime win over the Buccaneers in the Superdome. New Orleans was on the brink of falling to 1-4 as the Buccaneers rolled into the Superdome and scored 24 unanswered to take a 24-13 lead in the third quarter, but thanks to some late heroics and a strong ability to rebound, a late Khiry Robinson run kept the Saints’ postseason hopes alive. The Saints have their work cut out for them during the bye week.
What to know: Drew Brees was 3-of-10 for 13 yards under pressure Sunday, including a pair of interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. Brees only had eight interceptions under pressure over his previous 36 games entering Sunday.
21. Miami Dolphins (Last week: 19)
What to know: The Dolphins have a perfect 5-0 record coming off the bye when they have gone into their break with a .500 record.
22. Cleveland Browns (Last week: 25)
All of that hype surrounding Brian Hoyer during their bye week came to fruition in the Browns’ 25-point comeback win against the Titans Sunday. The Browns are not a team we’re accustomed to believing in, but they’re giving us a reason to this year.
What to know: The Browns overcame a 28-3 deficit in a 29-28 win at Tennessee, which is the largest comeback victory by a road team in NFL history, and the third-largest comeback in league history (25 points).
23. Kansas City Chiefs (Last week: 22)
Alex Smith came up with a dud against his former team, and the Kansas City team that spanked the Patriots on Monday night a week ago did not show up in this one. The Chiefs are a good team, nothing more, nothing less.
What to know: Against his former club, Alex Smith was unable to get anything going in the passing game. Three of his 17 completions went beyond 10 yards, and his two touchdowns were more about scheme — as Travis Kelce took a wide receiver screen to pay dirt, and De’Anthony Thomas broke a handful of tackles on his score.
24. Buffalo Bills (Last week: 26)
Kyle Orton is 1-0 as the starter in Buffalo, and after throwing an early pick-six he rebounded to perform very well against the talented Lions, which is exactly what Doug Marrone had hoped for when he made the switch at quarterback. Orton has proved to be more than just serviceable, as he made enough plays to get Buffalo over the hump. I’m intrigued.
25. Minnesota Vikings (Last week: 23)
The Vikings were shellacked and their third-string quarterback Christian Ponder cemented his status as an NFL bust against a superior Packers team. The Vikings don’t need to press the panic button, this year is all about the development of Teddy Bridgewater.
What to know: The Vikings miss Teddy Bridgewater, badly. Christian Ponder was 11-of-23 with two interceptions on throws that traveled more than five yards down the field. Last week against the Falcons, Bridgewater was 9-of-14 for 176 yards and no interceptions on such throws.
26. Washington (Last week: 27)
I was left impressed with Washington’s effort against the best team in the NFL, but after a horrid outing against the Seahawks Week 5, I’m again back on the Kirk Cousins train. He gives Washington the best chance to win, at least in the Jay Gruden offense. This is going to be a soap opera over the next few months.
What to know: DeSean Jackson‘s 60-yard receiving touchdown in the second quarter was his 14th receiving touchdown of 50 yards or more since 2008, breaking a tie with Calvin Johnson for most in the NFL over that span.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last week: 28)
The Bucs nearly upset the Saints in New Orleans and put themselves right in the mix in the lowly NFC South. At 1-4, though, they’re probably not a realistic playoff team but a team that must be considered tough throughout the season.
What to know: Gerald McCoy has totaled a +16.9 pass rushing grade this season, according to Pro Football Focus, which is more than twice as high as the second-best grade for a defensive tackle.
28. St. Louis Rams (Last week: 29)
What to know: Austin Davis was 29-of-49 for 375 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions, becoming the third quarterback this season to reach those benchmarks in a game (Philip Rivers Week 4 vs Jaguars and Matt Ryan Week 1 vs Saints), and the first to do it on the road.
29. New York Jets (Last week: 24)
No team is in more shambles than the Jets, who have a quarterback conundrum for a third time in the Rex Ryan era, a coach on the hot seat who will likely get fired by season’s end, and perhaps a general manager who will join him on the open market. The Jets were believed to perhaps have a shot of being a playoff team this year, but instead they’ll be looking toward a total overhaul of the front office and roster.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last week: 30)
The Jaguars kept close with the Steelers for most of Sunday’s contest, but finally Blake Bortles caved against the Dick LeBeau defense. He made a handful of rookie mistakes, and that’s expected of him, but there’s still some confidence that the Jaguars have something in the works.
What to know: The Jaguars lost running backs Toby Gerhart, Storm Johnson and Jordan Todman to ankle injuries at different points in the game. Former University of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson could be the team’s starter Week 6 by default.
31. Tennessee Titans (Last week: 31)
Jake Locker was hurt, again. This is like deja vu all over again. There are whispers that Zach Mettenberger could begin to get time under center as the coaching staff tries to figure out what the future of this organization holds.
What to know: Despite carrying an 18-point lead into halftime, the Titans actually dropped back to pass more often in the second half than the first. The Titans ran 11 times by design in the second half Sunday, averaging 2.6 yards per rush.
32. Oakland Raiders (Last week: 32)
Game 1 of the Tony Sparano era in the Black Hole is set to begin next week. Sparano had mild success when he first took over the Dolphins, largely due to the presence of Bill Parcells and the onset of the Wildcat offense. He has some talent with the Raiders, but I can’t imagine success is on the horizon anytime soon.
What to know: The Raiders addressed their wide receiving corps during their bye. The team signed former Patriots receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, who last year became the first undrafted rookie since 2010 to post two touchdown receptions in the same game.
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