It isn’t quite the exact quarter-mark of the season after the Steelers-Titans game was postponed, but we have a pretty good idea of where each team stands after a month of football. The Week 6 NFL power rankings include a new team in the No. 2 spot.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) | Last week: 1
Apparently, some fans thought the first Monday night game was “boring” because Patrick Mahomes wasn’t throwing four touchdowns and a bunch of points weren’t scored, but I liked the defensive battle. It’s a great sign for the Chiefs that the defense took advantage of their opportunities to make game-changing plays to put the Patriots away in the first half. As was the case down the stretch last season, Kansas City is a complete team that’s tough to beat.
2. Buffalo Bills (4-0) | Last week: 3 (+1)
The Bills make the leap from No. 3 to No. 2 in this week’s power rankings. Brian Daboll’s offense spreads the defense out, and it’s almost like Josh Allen and his teammates are just having a lot of fun moving the ball like they’re playing flag football. There’s still a lot of season to go, but I’d say Allen (15 total touchdowns, one interception) has been the best player in the league through four weeks.
3. Seattle Seahawks (4-0) | Last week: 2 (-1)
D.K. Metcalf’s numbers through four games this season have been pretty funny. He has exactly four receptions in each game, with yardage totals of 95, 92, 110, and 106 (along with three touchdowns). The second-year receiver is averaging 25.2 yards per reception, and—while it certainly helps having Russell Wilson throw him the ball—it’ll always remain a mystery as to why Metcalf didn’t go earlier in the draft. Anyway, the Seattle defense stepped up over the weekend with a couple of interceptions off of Ryan Fitzpatrick to secure a 31-23 win and a 4-0 start.
4. Green Bay Packers (4-0) | Last week: 5 (+1)
I was concerned about the Packers because of the Jordan Love selection potentially impacting Aaron Rodgers’ attitude this season, but the future Hall of Fame quarterback appears to be having as much fun as ever this year. Even without Davante Adams (hamstring) and with Allen Lazard (core muscle surgery) now out for several weeks, Rodgers is comfortably distributing the ball around the field in Matt LaFleur’s misdirection offense. And star cornerback Jaire Alexander and the defense basically shut down Atlanta’s high-powered offense in Week 4.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0) | Last week: 4 (-1)
The Steelers had no positive COVID-19 tests last week, so the postponement of their game was completely out of their control, and now they won’t have any more bye weeks after what was essentially half of a bye in Week 4. Mike Tomlin has the perfect attitude when asked about the situation, stating: “We do not care.” Pittsburgh means business this season.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1) | Last week: 6
It’s pretty crazy that people jumped off the Buccaneers bandwagon after one week following a shortened offseason and training camp. Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay offense have been lighting it up. Brady became the oldest player in league history to throw for five touchdowns in a game, and he recorded an NFL record 222nd career regular season win. The defense was burned by some big plays against the Chargers, but that’s the type of aggressive style defensive coordinator Todd Bowles plays—sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the opposing offense.
7. Baltimore Ravens (3-1) | Last week: 7
Lamar Jackson ran for a long touchdown as the Ravens offense got back on track against Washington last Sunday. The connection between Jackson and tight end Mark Andrews also clicked, as the two connected for two touchdowns in the Week 4 victory. Baltimore’s defense will get its first crack at impressive No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow this week.
8. Tennessee Titans (3-0) | Last week: 9 (+1)
It’s unclear how the outbreak started within the organization, but the Titans may be shorthanded this Sunday against the Bills. With Houston reeling, the AFC South looks like it’ll be a two-team race between Tennessee and Indy, and this week’s game versus Buffalo could be an AFC playoff preview.
9. Los Angeles Rams (3-1) | Last week: 11 (+2)
That wasn’t the typical type of game we see from the Rams versus the Giants, but a win is a win, and Sean McVay’s squad is now 3-1 ahead of a promising matchup with Washington. Hopefully the league is just taking its time on investigating the matter, but I believe there has to be discipline for Jalen Ramsey and/or Golden Tate for fighting after the game, so LA could be without its high-paid corner for a stretch. You can’t just have players walking up to each other and coming to blows after an NFL game.
10. New England Patriots (2-2) | Last week: 8 (-2)
Brian Hoyer and then Jarrett Stidham were in a tough spot playing on short notice when Cam Newton got COVID-19 late last week, and it showed in New England’s loss at Arrowhead. The good news is the Patriots defense had a great gameplan to contain the Chiefs, and the game was much closer than the final score indicated. Also, the rushing attack continues to look strong despite swapping out Sony Michel (quad, IR) for Damien Harris, who immediately led the backfield in carries and hit the 100-yard mark as the starter.
11. Indianapolis Colts (3-1) | Last week: 15 (+4)
I wasn’t sure about the Colts defense because their two excellent previous performances came against a Vikings team looking to find its footing and the Jets. But the unit looks for real, which shouldn’t be a surprise after they added DeForest Buckner to a group that includes All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard—and cornerback Xavier Rhodes looks to be closer to his All-Pro form than he was last season. Also, rookie safety Julian Blackmon recorded an interception and has Indy excited with his play early in his NFL career. Offensively, Philip Rivers avoided mistakes and got his team in the right plays against the Bears while also delivering another hilarious mic’d up moment.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) October 4, 2020
12. Las Vegas Raiders (2-2) | Last week: 10 (-2)
The officiating was pretty shaky in Las Vegas’ contest with Buffalo—for both sides; I have no idea how John Brown’s catch at the end zone was not ruled a touchdown—but the Raiders have been unable to finish drives and games in their two losses this season. The frustration quarterback Derek Carr has shown is interesting, as he says he’s tired of losing (as you would expect); but he can obviously play better himself along with his teammates improving. Nelson Agholor has looked like a steal for Vegas in free agency, and they’ll need the weapons—hopefully Henry Ruggs III (hamstring) can return—to step up this Sunday versus the Chiefs.
13. New Orleans Saints (2-2) | Last week: 14 (+1)
I don’t think it had anything to do with the outside talk, but Drew Brees responded to the criticism by throwing the ball down the field a bit more in the Saints’ Week 4 win at Detroit. The passing attack was complemented by a strong run game with Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray, and now the New Orleans offense might get Michael Thomas back from his ankle injury. Expect Brees to remain sharp on Monday night when he faces his former team at home.
14. Chicago Bears (3-1) | Last week: 13 (-1)
As stated above, the Colts have a stingy defense, so it’s not time to panic after one subpar game offensively with Nick Foles under center. One positive is the connection Foles showed with star receiver Allen Robinson (seven receptions, 101 yards, one touchdown), who will get more jump-ball opportunities—which he may be the best in the league at—with Foles at quarterback. Chicago’s defense is at its best when it can front run, so they’ll look to get off to a quick start in all three phases this Thursday night against the Bucs.
15. San Francisco 49ers (2-2) | Last week: 12 (-3)
Nick Mullens had a rough game on Sunday night, but he wasn’t alone—Trent Williams and the offensive line had a surprisingly down outing. I don’t expect we’ll see Williams (maybe the best left tackle in the league) play worse than he did for the rest of the season. C.J. Beathard nearly brought the Niners back versus the Eagles, but Jimmy Garoppolo should return soon, perhaps as early as this Sunday against the Dolphins. As Deebo Samuel works his way back to full strength along with George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, and others, San Francisco at full strength offensively can be dangerous.
16. Cleveland Browns (3-1) | Last week: 18 (+2)
Especially after getting demolished in Week 1, I did not expect to see the Browns in the top half of the power rankings this season. Even with Nick Chubb (MCL, out several weeks) injured early against the Cowboys, Cleveland ran the ball at will—and Odell Beckham Jr. made a few explosive gamebreaking plays. Again, the formula for the Browns is to not put much at all on Baker Mayfield’s shoulders; the former Heisman Trophy winner has under 200 yards in three of the first four games.
17. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2-1) | Last week: 22 (+5)
I think most in and around Philadelphia thought the Eagles would be 0-5-1 in a few weeks, but a resurgent performance by the defense along with a couple of key plays by Carson Wentz helped the team get on the board for their first victory of 2020. With the NFC East simply just looking very bad, the Eagles appear to be in a pretty good spot as things stand—to make the postseason, that is. This Sunday versus a healthier Steelers team coming off a bye will be a tougher test, though.
18. Carolina Panthers (2-2) | Last week: 26 (+8)
It felt like Matt Rhule would get his team—despite Carolina’s blow average roster on paper—to win six or seven games this season amidst low expectations. Even without All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey over the past couple of games, the Panthers are already off to a good start under Rhule, winning their past two games with an efficient offense and a defense that plays hard. Carolina has a realistic shot to improve to 3-2 when they take on an 0-4 Atlanta team this weekend.
19. Arizona Cardinals (2-2) | Last week: 16 (-3)
It’s a long season, and Arizona might contend for a division title, but there might have been a slight overreaction after a 2-0 start with wins over the Niners and Washington. The DeAndre Hopkins situation is interesting to me, as he reportedly hasn’t had the best practice habits throughout his career—and it was curious that he didn’t practice at all last week after he was blamed for an interception in Week 3. Anyway, Hopkins and the Cardinals should get on track against the Jets.
20. Dallas Cowboys (1-3) | Last week: 17 (-3)
Dak Prescott became the first player in NFL history to throw for 450 yards in three consecutive games. It says a lot about Prescott’s ability and the elite weapons he has around him on offense, including impressive rookie receiver CeeDee Lamb—but it might say even more about the state of the Dallas defense through a quarter of the season. The Cowboys could not stop anything the Browns did last week, and the team has given up 38+ points in three consecutive games. The defense must answer the call this Sunday against the division rival Giants.
21. Los Angeles Chargers (1-3) | Last week: 19 (-2)
He’s 0-3 as a starter, but Justin Herbert has been highly impressive to just about everyone early in his career. The Oregon product stood in there while facing a top Buccaneers defense and delivered with accurate throws to all areas of the field. Herbert and the Chargers offense will now have to deal with Austin Ekeler missing time with a serious hamstring injury, but I think rookie Joshua Kelley will play really well if he gets fed the ball moving forward.
22. Atlanta Falcons (0-4) | Last week: 20 (-2)
Julio Jones had to leave early because of his hamstring issue, and Calvin Ridley couldn’t get much going against Jaire Alexander and the Packers defense, but the performance of Atlanta’s offense was disappointing on Monday night. They didn’t play poorly offensively, but things just felt off for the passing attack—though Todd Gurley again showed he knows how to finish drives and get the ball into the end zone. The Falcons continue to show fight, but they just need to play better, especially on the backend of the defense. It’s a one-game-at-a-time approach in the NFL, but the upcoming schedule makes a five-game winning streak look possible.
23. Minnesota Vikings (1-3) | Last week: 24 (+1)
Mike Zimmer and the Vikings know that feeding Dalvin Cook the ball is going to make good things happen for the team. Cook has had carry totals of 22 and 27 in each of the past two games—a close loss to the Titans and a win over the Texans. Cook has six rushing touchdowns through Week 4, and he’s the engine for the entire ballclub as they look to control possession and the clock to make things easier on a relatively inexperienced defense.
24. Houston Texans (0-4) | Last week: 21 (-3)
Bill O’Brien was given control perhaps matched by only Bill Belichick around the NFL, so it was pretty stunning that he was fired a couple of nights ago after just four games. O’Brien led Houston to a division title in four of the past five seasons—not an easy business. We’ll see if longtime NFL coach Romeo Crennel can get a spark out of the squad as an interim head coach, but the Texans now have a lot of work to do long-term after parting ways with the guy that constructed this current roster.
25. Detroit Lions (1-3) | Last week: 23 (-2)
I understand Matt Patricia’s sentiment after last week’s loss to the Saints about how there was a lot of work to do when he arrived in Detroit (he likely meant to build it into a Super Bowl contender, not a team that can squeak into the postseason—though I certainly don’t think Jim Caldwell should have been fired with the job he did with the Lions). Regardless, Patricia has been given an ultimatum to make the postseason this year, or else; so Detroit must take advantage of a road matchup with Jacksonville after their bye.
26. Miami Dolphins (1-3) | Last week: 25 (-1)
There’s now some notable clamoring for third overall pick Tua Tagovailoa to start at quarterback for the Dolphins, but Brian Flores will go with the veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick when they face the defending NFC champion 49ers this Sunday afternoon. Miami has been in games, but they need to find a way to get over the hump and get more consistent leads to allow the defense to play from ahead.
27. Washington Football Team (1-3) | Last week: 27
Washington also has a potential quarterback controversy, but Dwayne Haskins responded and played pretty well all things considered against the Ravens. However, it’s a weird look for an agent to respond to reports about his player’s job; Ron Rivera is going to make the decisions he feels are best for the football team—just my thought on the situation. As a positive, second-year receiver Terry McLaurin is off to a fantastic start this season, and Hall of Fame receiver James Lofton even compared McLaurin’s footwork to the great Jerry Rice.
28. Denver Broncos (1-3) | Last week: 28
The turnovers weren’t ideal, but Brett Rypien was pretty impressive in his first NFL start on a short week—the Broncos appear to have a very good long-term backup at the least in Rypien, who threw accurate passes and appeared to make the right decisions with the ball for the most part. The mini bye for Denver came at an ideal time, as they now face a Patriots team looking to avoid dropping below .500.
29. Cincinnati Bengals (1-2-1) | Last week: 30 (+1)
Joe Burrow notched the first victory of his NFL career, and in the process he became the first rookie quarterback in league history to throw for 300 yards in three consecutive games. It’s a passing league, so records like this seem to go down more often; but Burrow has still been doing a nice job early in his career. Joe Mixon starred in the Week 4 win over the Jags, with 31 touches and three touchdowns; he’ll need to keep it up as Cincinnati heads to Baltimore this Sunday.
30. New York Giants (0-4) | Last week: 31 (+1)
While it was perhaps a bit bland, the Giants’ offensive gameplan of attacking with quick crossing routes helped keep them in the game with the defense having a solid performance versus the Rams. The Giants are just 1.5 games out of first place in the NFC East, and they could be squarely in the mix if the team continues to respond and improve under first-year head coach Joe Judge.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) | Last week: 29 (-2)
The impact of D.J. Chark’s absence was mentioned in last week’s power rankings, and the receiver returned to make a difference with two touchdowns in Week 4—but the Jaguars could not stop Joe Mixon and company in the loss. Again, it’s still early, but Jacksonville is looking like they might be more like the team most expected coming into the season.
32. New York Jets (0-4) | Last week: 32
If there was a game for the Jets to win, last Thursday night was it while at home on a short week playing a backup quarterback making his first career start. Gregg Williams’ defense was very aggressive—as expected—but the team committed too many penalties and arguably went over the line as they tried to win a ballgame. Hopefully Sam Darnold’s shoulder issue doesn’t keep him out, as he’s in a critical year with the Jets potentially in position to draft a quarterback in 2021.