With just two undefeated teams remaining, we’re getting a clearer idea of all 32 squads this season. 24 teams have at least two wins through five weeks, so the Week 6 NFL power rankings could certainly vary a great deal; but this is where I currently rank each team.
1. New England Patriots (5-0) | Last week: 1
Three of New England’s wins have come against winless teams, but there’s no question the defending champions are legit and should be the clear No. 1 in this week’s power rankings. The running game led by Sony Michel had its best effort of the season in Week 5, as the second-year running back gained 91 yards with a touchdown on 16 attempts—but the most promising part of Michel’s performance might have been his involvement as a receiver. The Georgia product caught a career-high three passes for 32 yards, and he looked comfortable out of the backfield; the Patriots offense will be even scarier if Michel takes on a more versatile role moving forward. The only big lapse on defense for the Patriots against the Redskins was poor tackling on a jet sweep that went for 65 yards, but the unit might not allow a touchdown this Thursday night against the Giants.
2. Seattle Seahawks (4-1) | Last week: 7 (+5)
I’d say any of the next six teams have a case for the No. 2 spot in the Week 6 power rankings, but the Seahawks get the nod. Russell Wilson is playing as well as any player in the league right now, and he has as strong running game led by Chris Carson complementing his ability as a magician-like playmaker and passer. And defensively, Seattle has yet to get going in terms of sacks (just ten this season, 23rd in the league) with what was expected to be one of the better front sevens in football after the addition of Jadeveon Clowney, but they should be close to getting hot and causing more havoc on opposing offenses.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (4-1) | Last week: 2 (-1)
Kansas City’s offense looked almost unstoppable through the first three weeks of the season, but they’ve had a couple of hiccups against solid defenses the last two games. Not having Tyreek Hill since Week 1, then losing Sammy Watkins at the start of last Sunday night’s game because of a hamstring injury, was obviously less than ideal, as the dynamic ability of at least one of those two guys on the field makes things much more difficult on opposing defenses. The status of Watkins is unclear, but Hill looks like he has a decent chance to return in Week 6, and that might help the offense get back on track after their NFL-record of 25 consecutive games with 25+ points was ended. Defensively, the Chiefs are also dealing with a plethora of injuries, including to star defensive lineman Chris Jones, who is week-to-week with a groin injury. This shaky run defense is going to be tested by other teams.
4. Los Angeles Rams (3-2) | Last week: 3 (-1)
The majority of the time, Greg Zuerlein is going to make that kick at the end of last Thursday night’s loss to the Seahawks, and the Rams would be sitting at 4-1 and likely back at No. 2 in the power rankings. Now after two consecutive losses, the Rams need to get things figured out both defensively—where they’ve given up far too many big plays in the secondary—and up front on the offensive line (though they did a nice job in Week 5). The defense will have to get things rolling without Clay Matthews in the lineup, as he’ll miss at least a few weeks with a broken jaw. A couple of major positives offensively: Todd Gurley did not appear to be limited even on a short week, and his knee does not seem to be a concern; and Jared Goff had an excellent game in the close loss.
5. New Orleans Saints (4-1) | Last week: 5
The Saints beat the Seahawks in Seattle, and they’ve gone 3-0 in Teddy Bridgewater’s starts. They could easily be a few spots higher in the power rankings. However, I’m keeping them at No. 5 for now after their home win over the Bucs. Look for New Orleans to try to get the run game going with Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray this week when they play a Jaguars defense that’s struggled to stop the run this season.
6. Buffalo Bills (4-1) | Last week: 8 (+2)
This season, Josh Allen has a 122.9 quarterback rating in the fourth quarter, and he already has three game-winning drives—and six since entering the league last year (tied for second with Russell Wilson behind only Drew Brees). Given the second-year quarterback’s success late in games, it’s fair to wonder where Buffalo would be if Allen did not leave the 16-10 Week 4 loss to the Patriots despite his slow start in that game. The Bills have held opposing quarterbacks to under 250 yards in an NFL-best 13 consecutive games this season, and Sean McDermott’s defense is no joke. This is a deep-playoff contender, and they now have their bye week before a promising six-game stretch on paper.
7. San Francisco 49ers (4-0) | Last week: 11 (+4)
With the way the 49ers are playing up front on both sides of the ball, there would be zero argument with them being right behind the Patriots in the power rankings as the second remaining undefeated team. But I don’t want to move them up too much after they beat the Browns coming off the bye, and San Francisco has not beaten a team with a winning record yet. That said, the offensive line is doing a job, and I like their electric running back duo of Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida as much as anyone. This Sunday against the Rams will be the Niners’ biggest test thus far, and they’ll almost certainly jump into the top five if they move to 5-0.
8. Green Bay Packers (4-1) | Last week: 9 (+1)
I was not sure how Aaron Rodgers and new head coach Matt LaFleur would mesh this season and beyond, but things cannot be going much better to start this year. Rodgers does not seem to have any issue with the offense being more run-based than it has been with him in the past (thus leading to worse statistics for him personally), which is obviously a good sign for the team. Aaron Jones had four touchdowns in Green Bay’s convincing win at Dallas, and that was without the offense having star wide receiver Davante Adams (turf toe) in the lineup. Rising second-year cornerback Jaire Alexander probably had the worst game of his career trying to contain Amari Cooper, and the defense gave up some chunk plays; but they were able to force turnovers and get pressure on Dak Prescott throughout the game.
9. Indianapolis Colts (3-2) | Last week: 12 (+3)
According to the know-it-alls on Twitter, you can’t win games by pounding the rock and playing great defense anymore. The Colts didn’t get the memo, as they rode their rushing attack led by Marlon Mack and did the best job any defense has done against Patrick Mahomes in the last year-plus in their 19-13 win at Arrowhead. It was just one game, but if Indy was able to make Kansas City’s offense look like that, they can compete against any team in the league. It’s awesome to see Frank Reich do such a fantastic job after basically getting the job as an afterthought a couple of offseasons ago.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (3-2) | Last week: 10
The Eagles are another team that’s having a lot of success running the ball, as their offensive line has been dominant this season opening huge holes for Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders. Committing to Howard has proven to be successful, with defenses getting worn down while the passing game takes more of a backseat. The Jets are playing poorly right now, but the Eagles were finally able to get pressure on the quarterback, recording ten sacks against the Jets after entering Week 5 with just three sacks in the first four games. Philadelphia’s upcoming schedule is interesting, as they have three straight road games (@ MIN, @ DAL, @ BUF) before playing three straight home games (vs. CHI, vs. NE, vs. SEA).
11. Oakland Raiders (3-2) | Last week: 17 (+6)
That had to feel good for Jon Gruden to get a win over the Bears after all the misguided talk about the Raiders head coach being an idiot for trading Khalil Mack (despite Mack never showing up to meet his new coach); and aside from a recovered fumble that fortunately bounced his way, Mack wasn’t very noticeable for Chicago, as Oakland took him out of the game. In middle of a nearly unfair road trip that included a trip to London, the Raiders were able to get back-to-back wins and they look like a legit playoff contender. I thought it might take another year, especially after the Antonio Brown circus, but Gruden has helped this team turn it around in just one season. The defense has been playing pretty well all season—including in three of the four quarters against the Chiefs when they allowed zero points aside from the 28-point second quarter.
12. Chicago Bears (3-2) | Last week: 4 (-8)
London games are similar to Thursday games in that weird things happen, but that Bears defense did not look the same against a Raiders team that was without its No. 1 wide receiver. One game after shutting down Minnesota’s rushing attack, Josh Jacobs ran for 123 yards and a couple of touchdowns on Chicago’s defense, and they’ll now have the bye week to get things figured out as they look to avoid allowing a game like that again. It’s still early, but right now, the Bears have one of the toughest schedules on paper throughout the rest of the season.
13. Dallas Cowboys (3-2) | Last week: 6 (-7)
After how phenomenal the pass offense of the Cowboys looked through the first three games of the season, I admittedly probably overestimated them based on the competition they faced—but, while they drop seven spots in this week’s power rankings, there shouldn’t be much panic after two games. Dak Prescott and company did show signs in their comeback attempt versus the Packers that this can be a very dynamic offense with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup on the outside, and the biggest concern for Dallas is their defense being unable to stop Green Bay from running the ball at will. That was also an issue toward the end of last season when the Cowboys were challenged on the ground, and Kris Richard, Rod Marinelli, and the coaching staff will need to get it sorted out.
14. Detroit Lions (2-1-1) | Last week: 13 (-1)
The Lions simply drop a spot while on their bye week because the Raiders were ranked below them last week and had to rise back up the power rankings. But Detroit has a great opportunity this Monday night when they go to Lambeau Field. If Matt Patricia’s defense can contain a Packers offense that’s put up point totals of 27, 27, and 34 in their last three games, it’ll be a major positive following the bye.
15. Houston Texans (3-2) | Last week: 19 (+4)
The Texans basically scored at will in the second half against the Falcons, putting up 37 points in the final 30 minutes of a 53-32 victory. Deshaun Watson (426 yards and five touchdowns in the Week 5 win) can be streaky at times, but he’s shown the ability to carry an offense when he’s on—and, like all quarterbacks, it helps when he gets time in the pocket and is not under constant pressure. Watson’s performance made him the first player in league history to have 400+ pass yards, five passing touchdowns, and five or fewer incompletions in a game. Will Fuller had been quiet to start this season, but he more than doubled his season total entering Week 5 with 217 yards and three touchdowns in Houston’s win. Defensively, J.J. Watt has four sacks in the last three games.
16. Baltimore Ravens (3-2) | Last week: 21 (+5)
It’s concerning that Lamar Jackson threw three interceptions in their win over the Steelers, but one of the interceptions should have been overturned after the ball clearly hit the ground yet was not overturned, and another was arguably defensive pass interference. Still, this Ravens offense has not been revolutionary as was expected entering the season, and Jackson certainly isn’t lighting it up like he did against subpar defenses to open the year. Overall, Baltimore is in a good spot after the win at Heinz Field and Cleveland’s Monday night loss.
17. Minnesota Vikings (3-2) | Last week: 22 (+5)
The Stefon Diggs situation might have calmed down after Minnesota was able to put up 28 points in their Week 5 win against the Giants, and Adam Thielen benefited more statistically (130 yards and two touchdowns) after also publicly voicing frustration. The Vikings have been inconsistent offensively, performing well at home and struggling on the road until last week; but a home game against a subpar Eagles cornerback group could help them get rolling. However, it won’t be surprising if the Vikings are just alternating good outings and bad outings on offense, either. Minnesota is allowing just 14.6 points per game this season (fifth-best in the NFL).
18. Tennesee Titans (2-3) | Last week: 14 (-4)
The Titans are right behind the Vikings in points allowed, giving up 15.2 per game. But they need to execute on special teams, and four missed/blocked field goals obviously makes it very tough for the Titans to win the type of games they want to play. It’s nice to see kicker Cody Parkey get another shot in the league after he’s been wrongfully criticized and made a joke of (mostly by people that probably need a target to make themselves feel better about themselves) after a field goal that was blocked in Chicago’s playoff loss to the Eagles last season. This week should be another close contest at Denver, so Parkey could be an immediate factor in the game for a team that wants to run the ball with Derrick Henry and play strong defense.
19. Carolina Panthers (3-2) | Last week: 26 (+7)
After their third consecutive victory, the Panthers make the biggest jump in this week’s power rankings. The play of the defense is a bit of a concern, though they did make a stop at the end of their win over the Jaguars and also returned a sack-fumble for a touchdown. We’ll see how they fare against Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers this weekend in London after the two teams already played earlier this season. Offensively, Christian McCaffrey is basically just putting up the same video-game-like numbers he did at Stanford, and he’s arguably the MVP favorite at this point (granted, with a long way to go in the season).
20. Los Angeles Chargers (2-3) | Last week: 15 (-5)
Historically for whatever reason, the Chargers often seem to play down to their competition, and they did it again in their Week 5 loss to the then-0-4 Broncos at home. While the score was 20-13, the game never really felt in question for Denver, and it was just one of those games for the Chargers. Melvin Gordon couldn’t get much going in his first game action of the season, while Keenan Allen was held to just 18 yards in the loss. One bright spot moving forward offensively is that Mike Williams looked healthy in his return after missing a game with back spasms. Potentially facing a third string quarterback this Sunday night, the Chargers must take advantage.
21. Atlanta Falcons (1-4) | Last week: 16 (-5)
Injuries have no doubt been an issue again this season, but the hope entering the year with Dan Quinn calling the plays on defense was that the Falcons would be much better on that side of the ball. There have been flashes of strong defensive play, but they’ve arguably gotten worse to the point where it doesn’t matter how well the offense plays. I still think Atlanta has the talent to make a run, but they cannot fall to 1-5 with a trip to Arizona this weekend before facing the Rams, Seahawks, and Saints the next three games.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4) | Last week: 18 (-4)
A win over the Ravens would have been huge for the Steelers, but the team still handled adversity well—thankfully Mason Rudolph is OK after the scary situation in which he was knocked out from a helmet-to-helmet hit by Earl Thomas—and had a promising effort in the overtime loss. The talented Pittsburgh defense looks like one of the better units in the league, which should help keep them in games (three of their four losses have been by a combined nine points). If Rudolph isn’t cleared by Sunday, it’ll be interesting to see how undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges performs at quarterback.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) | Last week: 24 (+1)
The run defense of the Buccaneers remains stout, but the secondary has had some major issues these last three weeks, and the defense has given up point totals of 32, 40, and 31. This secondary has been an issue for quite some time, but it’s probably just a matter of when defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will get the cornerbacks to play more consistently—it’s a young group he’s working with. On offense, wide receiver Chris Godwin has emerged as a star, and the Penn State product is third in the NFL with 511 receiving yards.
24. New York Giants (2-3) | Last week: 23 (-1)
The Giants couldn’t keep their winning streak going, as Daniel Jones and the offense had trouble with Mike Zimmer’s defense for their first loss with the rookie franchise quarterback under center. Things will get about as tough as possible for Week 6, as the Giants have to go to Foxboro on a short week, likely without Saquon Barkley (ankle), Sterling Shepard, (concussion), Wayne Gallman (concussion), and potentially without Evan Engram (knee).
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3) | Last week: 25
Gardner Minshew played well again, with 374 passing yards and two passing touchdowns along with another 42 yards rushing in a loss that came down to a Hail Mary attempt at the end of the game at Carolina. Leonard Fournette continues to run the ball well, and second-year receiver D.J. Chark is one of the league’s top emerging players after a career-high 164 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday’s loss. If the Jags can win this week against the Saints, they’ll be at .500 ahead of matchups with the Bengals and Jets.
26. Denver Broncos (1-4) | Last week: 27 (+1)
It was a matter of time before the Broncos got on the board with a victory, the first of Vic Fangio’s career as a head coach. Again, Denver has not been playing poorly this season, and a few things just didn’t go their way in the first quarter of the year. After getting gashed by Leonard Fournette in Week 4, the Broncos defense stepped up and shut down the rushing attack of the Chargers. A potent defense paired with a plus running game led by Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman and play-action passes from Joe Flacco to Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders make the Broncos a team to keep an eye on.
27. Cleveland Browns (2-3) | Last week: 20 (-7)
Baker Mayfield can certainly rub people the wrong way, but the handshake controversy looks like it was made up by 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman. Regardless, Mayfield’s attitude makes him an easy target for teams going against him—this isn’t Oklahoma where that talk could be backed up nearly every single week without much issue. This was undoubtedly the most volatile team in the league entering the season, and they’ve looked like that through five weeks.
28. Arizona Cardinals (1-3-1) | Last week: 28
Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury were able to get their first win together on a last-second field goal by Zane Gonzalez against the Bengals, and the franchise is hoping it’s the first of many wins for the duo. Murray has been using his legs to do more damage as a runner the last couple of weeks, including a key touchdown where the former Heisman winner evaded two defenders by the goal line. Now the Cardinals will look to get their first home win of the season, and they should have a decent chance in a potential shootout with the Falcons.
29. New York Jets (0-4) | Last week: 29
It’s been difficult to judge the Jets without franchise quarterback Sam Darnold in the lineup, especially last week when they prepared all week like Darnold was going to play, only to have Luke Falk thrown into a very tough situation with limited practice reps during the week. Not only is Darnold back in the lineup for New York, but starting tight end Chris Herndon—who showed major flashes down the stretch in 2018—returns after a four-game suspension. [UPDATE: Herndon suffered a hamstring injury while working out on his own and is now week-to-week.] But these next two games versus the Cowboys and Patriots have the Jets staring at a potential 0-6 start.
30. Cincinnati Bengals (0-5) | Last week: 30
In a league that’s now becoming more like the NBA where players want “power” to play where they want to play and don’t mind giving up on their current teams to do so, it’s refreshing to hear that wide receiver A.J. Green wants to do things like Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona and play for one team his entire career. The 0-5 Bengals could certainly use Green on the field as he recovers from his ankle injury, but they’ll look to get on the board with a win at Baltimore this Sunday after their narrow loss to the Cardinals last week.
31. Washington Redskins (0-5) | Last week: 31
Jay Gruden basically had no chance to win in Washington this season, and the top of the organization probably needs to look in the mirror after numerous losing seasons over the years. A head coaching change can sometimes spark things, but it’s difficult to see the Redskins being much better without Gruden, especially with the way some of the players have defended their former coach before and after his firing.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-4) | Last week: 32
I think the Redskins will end up winning some games this season, but this is probably Miami’s best shot at a win (facing the Redskins) coming off their bye week. It’d be a good sign if head coach Brian Flores can get his undermanned team to have their best effort of the season this Sunday.