The top and the bottom of the Week 6 NFL power rankings remain the same, but there’s plenty of shuffling around in the middle. Follow, like, and subscribe to The Wolf Sports Show (Apple, Spotify) for more coverage on every team.
1. Buffalo Bills (4-1) | Last week: 1
The Bills lead the NFL in points per game (34.4), points allowed per game (12.8), takeaways (15), and turnover margin (+11). Again, the G.O.A.T. Tom Brady aside, Josh Allen has played better than anyone since the start of last season in my opinion. The Bills looked like the vastly superior team to the Chiefs on Sunday night, and they are the team to beat in the AFC.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-1) | Last week: 2
Antonio Brown looks as fast as ever and had another throwback type of performance against the Dolphins, while Tom Brady threw for 400 yards with five touchdowns for the first time in his career—which is shocking, as you’d think he already did that on multiple occasions. The defense tightened up some in Week 6, and they will look to limit the Eagles tomorrow night.
3. Arizona Cardinals (5-0) | Last week: 3
It’s a great sign for the Cardinals that they are winning games in a variety of ways. A victory in a defensive battle with the Niners got them to 5-0, and the Kyler Murray-DeAndre Hopkins connection got going—without the ball being forced to Hopkins—after a relatively quiet start to the season. The Arizona defense did a great job on Derrick Henry in Week 1, and we’ll see if they can contain the Browns rushing attack on Sunday.
4. Los Angeles Chargers (4-1) | Last week: 4
Brandon Staley probably didn’t have much fun watching the tape of his defense giving up 42 points last week, but Justin Herbert—with dynamic running back Austin Ekeler and top-tier wideout Mike Williams featured—led the offense to 47 points against the Browns. The Chargers are now winning games they would have lost in past years, and Herbert’s clutch factor has a lot to do with that.
5. Los Angeles Rams (4-1) | Last week: 5
People apparently just look at the numbers and don’t actually watch, because the talk is that Matthew Stafford is playing as well as anyone at quarterback this season. That simply is not true. Stafford has missed a bunch of throws in the past two weeks in particular. He’s always been a streaky guy, but at least the Rams defense stepped up last Thursday night in the win at Seattle.
6. Green Bay Packers (4-1) | Last week: 6
Mason Crosby went through a game like last week before, and the important thing is that his confidence did not waver, and he eventually came through with a game-winner. Davante Adams went over 200 yards in the win and is almost unstoppable as it gets in the league. Now, the Packers will look to handle rookie Justin Fields and the Bears to go two games up in the division.
7. Dallas Cowboys (4-1) | Last week: 10 (+3)
Another week, another Trevon Diggs interception. With the Cowboys defense playing much better this season and getting the ball back to the offense, Dallas—as they showed in the season opener—can play with anyone. And they can blow inferior teams out when they are clicking.
8. Baltimore Ravens (4-1) | Last week: 11 (+3)
The Colts were banged up in the secondary, but give Lamar Jackson a ton of credit for the way he threw the ball in the thrilling Monday night comeback. Jackson is the first quarterback in NFL history to complete 85% of his passes while throwing for 400+ yards, and he’s now showing he can win from the pocket when teams know the Ravens are going to throw. The comeback wins against the Chiefs and Colts this season should help with the confidence of Jackson and Baltimore even if they are down big in games—confidence they probably haven’t had in the past few years, especially in the playoffs.
9. Cleveland Browns (3-2) | Last week: 9
The Browns have had opportunities on a couple of potential game-winning drives in their two losses this season, but Baker Mayfield and the offense have been unable to come through. However, you couldn’t have asked much more from the offense versus the Chargers. Mayfield threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns while Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt dominated on the ground. The defense obviously must get back on track after giving up 47 points, and this week versus the Cardinals should be a challenge.
10. Kansas City Chiefs (2-3) | Last week: 7 (-3)
Is the magic in Kansas City gone? Probably not entirely, and they should figure things out and be contenders both this year and into the future. But I’m not sure this is a Patriots situation during the Tom Brady era (when they’ve been counted out seemingly every other year before going on to win more championships). Things can change, but the Chiefs look clearly behind Buffalo—and potentially more teams—in the conference.
11. New Orleans Saints (3-2) | Last week: 15 (+4)
The rankings from the No. 11 to No. 20 range were the toughest to stack up, but I’ll boost the Saints up to this spot as they head into the bye week at 3-2. Jameis Winston threw four touchdowns in the Week 5 win over Washington, and the team will use the bye to get healthier. Rookie cornerback Paulson Adebo is someone I want to recognize for playing well early this season and bouncing back from a rough outing a couple of weeks ago.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) | Last week: 16 (+4)
It ended in an overtime loss, but the Bengals showed they can go toe-to-toe with a team like the Packers, so they move up in the power rankings. Ja’Marr Chase continues to light it up in his rookie season, already playing like one of the game’s top weapons while reigniting his connection with Joe Burrow. I agree with what Aaron Rodgers said on Pat McAfee’s show that he told Burrow after the game: slide a little more. You have to admire Burrow’s willingness to put his body on the line, but I’d say there’s a time and a place for a quarterback to do that—and Burrow might do it a little too often.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3) | Last week: 20 (+7)
Losing JuJu Smith-Schuster to a shoulder injury is unfortunate (look for James Washington to step up with JuJu out), but that was more like it for the Steelers, who jumped to a lead against the Broncos and held on to get back on track. Najee Harris looked sensational in the victory, running for 122 yards and a touchdown on 23 attempts. Ben Roethlisberger did not look “done” against a strong Denver defense, and he said the offensive line was challenged during the week of practice—they all came through for Pittsburgh. Don’t count out Mike Tomlin’s squad.
14. Tennessee Titans (3-2) | Last week: 19 (+5)
Derrick Henry cannot be stopped. As stated before, he looks to already be in his late-season form, which is a scary sight for defenses every single week. A.J. Brown was on a pitch count while returning from a hamstring injury, and Julio Jones was out again, so we really haven’t even really seen Tennessee at full-go offensively yet considering they were working on the fly out in the first two weeks. Both sides of the ball will obviously be challenged this week against the Bills.
15. Carolina Panthers (3-2) | Last week: 14 (-1)
It felt like the Panthers were in total control against the Eagles for the entire game, then suddenly they stall offensively and give up 15 second-half points in a close defeat. Sam Darnold tossed three interceptions in the loss, and I just wasn’t confident the Carolina offense would be able to come back when they fell behind. Remember, though, Darnold is on a new team and in a new offense, so hopefully these are just growing pains. The good news for the Panthers is that Haason Reddick (I still don’t know how teams didn’t offer him huge money in free agency) recorded two more sacks, bringing his total to 6.5 on the campaign.
16. San Francisco 49ers (2-3) | Last week: 13 (-3)
Trey Lance didn’t play poorly, but you could see what Kyle Shanahan means when he says the rookie isn’t ready and that Jimmy Garoppolo is the team’s starter. In somewhat of a strange game, the San Francisco defense kept them in it, doing a nice job of limiting Arizona’s high-powered attack. Lance sprained his knee in his first career start, so we’ll see if Jimmy G (calf) is ready to return following the team’s Week 6 bye.
17. New England Patriots (2-3) | Last week: 18 (+1)
The game was closer than I thought it would be and it took a comeback effort from Mac Jones and company versus the Texans, but it was critical to improve to 2-3 before a matchup with the Cowboys. Jamie Collins already made an impact for the New England defense in his first game since his return to the franchise, and keep an eye on him potentially being a major difference-maker throughout the year.
18. Minnesota Vikings (2-3) | Last week: 21 (+3)
While it is early, things might have gotten ugly in Minnesota if they lost to Detroit. But Kirk Cousins and the offense came through at the right time by getting into position for a game-winning field goal—and kicker Greg Joseph nailed four kicks in the game. The upcoming schedule appears very tough for Minnesota, so they needed a win, and it might be a turning point type of game for them.
19. Denver Broncos (3-2) | Last week: 17 (-2)
The 3-0 start for the Broncos is looking like it might have been the case of playing three subpar teams, but they are still just a game behind the Chargers and remain ahead of the Chiefs in the early AFC West standings. Vic Fangio’s squad has a Thursday night game against the Browns coming up in Week 7, so getting to 4-2 with a win over the Raiders would be big.
20. Seattle Seahawks (2-3) | Last week: 12 (-8)
Russell Wilson will unfortunately miss his first career game(s) because of a freak finger injury, and losing a player of his caliber obviously isn’t good. That said, Geno Smith looked excellent when thrust into action last week while facing the Rams defense. Smith arguably never had a fair chance in New York, but he’s played well when he’s been on the field throughout his career, and he looked very comfortable operating the Seattle offense. I think the offense should be fine; the pass defense for the Seahawks is clearly the concern to me.
21. Chicago Bears (3-2) | Last week: 24 (+3)
Somewhat quietly, the Bears are 3-2 with two consecutive victories, and they’re 3-1 in their past four games, with the defense giving up 16.5 points per game in that four-game span. Justin Fields hasn’t had to do too much in the past two contests, as Chicago is running the ball well even with David Montgomery (knee) out of the lineup. This Sunday versus the Packers should be a bigger test than the Lions and Raiders were.
22. Las Vegas Raiders (3-2) | Last week: 8 (-14)
It remains to be seen if the Raiders will emerge stronger or fold. Anyone that knows me knows that I don’t even curse. There are no skeletons in my closet. So I feel somewhat comfortable talking about this Jon Gruden situation. The emails were undoubtedly a bad look, but there are many people in glass houses throwing stones, and it does not seem fair that someone’s life is basically ruined because private emails were leaked—I think it’s obvious by whom—to bring him down. I’d imagine many people would be fired if the criteria was searching through private emails/discussions. Just look at what the people doing the Super Bowl halftime show have said publicly on songs throughout their careers, and at some of the actions by players in the league, before coming down hard on Gruden. It’s scary that there is little room for redemption today; just instant cancellation and erasing of people like it’s 1984. Also, it seems that Gruden was a sacrificial lamb of sorts, as only his emails—among 650,000—were released to the press.
23. Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) | Last week: 26 (+3)
Jalen Hurts’ dual threat ability can help him find a way to win games for his team when they’re close, and the Philadelphia defense stepped up against the pass—led by Darius Slay’s two interceptions in arguably his best game as an Eagle—in the Week 5 victory. The run defense remains a concern, but every area of the unit will be tested when Philly takes on Tampa Bay.
24. Indianapolis Colts (1-4) | Last week: 23 (-1)
Perhaps lost in the Lamar Jackson performance is how good Carson Wentz played at quarterback for the Colts on Monday night. He missed some throws high, but overall he was sharp and efficient against a stingy defense. The Colts still need to feature Jonathan Taylor, who showed what he can do with the ball in his hands by starting the game with a 76-yard score on a screen pass, to be at their best.
25. Washington Football Team (2-3) | Last week: 22 (-3)
Chase Young was finally able to get on the board with his first sack of the season last week, but it was another disappointing outing for the Washington defense—which gave up a Hail Mary at the end of the half—in the loss to the Saints. Offensively, Taylor Heinicke had some trouble facing New Orleans’ defense. In Week 6, the Football Team defense must generate pressure on Patrick Mahomes; meanwhile, the offense is in a spot to do some damage.
26. Atlanta Falcons (2-3) | Last week: 27 (+1)
Calvin Ridley was unable to make the London trip due to personal reasons, but Matt Ryan played an outstanding game in the win over the Jets. Ryan was on the money with in-breaking routes all day, and first-round rookie tight end Kyle Pitts showed why the Falcons took him so high in the draft. I’m anxious to see Atlanta’s offense when Ridley gets back in the mix following the bye.
27. Miami Dolphins (1-4) | Last week: 25 (-2)
The Dolphins head to London this week, and Tua Tagovailoa has a shot to return from his rib injury in time for the matchup with the Jaguars. Miami didn’t have much of a chance versus Tampa, but Xavien Howard and Byron Jones didn’t have strong afternoons. It’s imperative they play like shutdown corners to the defense back to its 2020 form.
28. New York Giants (1-4) | Last week: 28
The Giants are getting destroyed by injuries this season, with the big three of Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, and Kenny Golladay all leaving Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys. Hopefully Jones can get cleared and not miss more time, but Barkley and Golladay are week-to-week. First-round rookie Kadarius Toney went off for ten receptions for 189 yards in Week 5 in an extremely promising breakout game (the punch thrown at the end aside). Toney looks like a video-game player with the ball in his hands and on his routes, and he can even throw the ball at a high level. He’ll be an exciting and productive player if the Giants utilize him.
29. New York Jets (1-4) | Last week: 29
You never want to make a long trip and then have to go home with a loss, but at least the Jets showed fight when they were down against the Falcons. I think it’s obvious that New York must get Denzel Mims and Tevin Coleman (and arguably rookie Elijah Moore, too) more involved on offense to help unlock Zach Wilson in Year 1.
30.Detroit Lions (0-5) | Last week: 30
The Lions have shown about as much fight as anyone this season under Dan Campbell, even if the 0-5 mark does not reflect that. Jared Goff and the offense came up clutch with a late touchdown and go-ahead two-point conversion versus the Vikings. It’s pretty surprising to see an NFL head coach cry after a loss, but I think his players will continue buying in and playing hard for a coach that obviously cares about his guys.
— FOX 2 Sports (@FOX2Sports) October 10, 2021
31. Houston Texans (1-4) | Last week: 31
Davis Mills might have had the most surprising performance of Week 5, hitting Bill Belichick’s defense for 312 yards and three touchdowns. Very promising for Mills and Houston moving forward. Unfortunately, left tackle Laremy Tunsil will now miss time—hopefully just a month—after thumb surgery.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5) | Last week: 32
Whereas Dan Campbell seems to feel bad for his players and the process not yet leading to wins, Urban Meyer appears to live and die with every single play—which probably isn’t great for a challenge like the NFL. But Meyer is benefitting from the Raiders situation, as his transgressions are now in a past news cycle. The Jags go to London looking for a win on Sunday.