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Thread: Week Six power rankings

  1. #1

    Week Six power rankings

    Posted by Mike Florio on October 9, 2018, 11:45 AM EDT

    1. Rams (5-0; last week No. 1): They’re starting to look like a Team of Density.

    2. Chiefs (5-0; No. 2): Last year, 5-0 became 6-6.

    3. Saints (4-1; No. 3): With Ravens, Vikings, Rams up next, we’re about to learn a lot about this team.

    4. Patriots (3-2; No. 6): The Patriots are Back is back.

    5. Bengals (4-1; No. 8): If they keep this up, they’ll have a chance to lose another playoff game.

    6. Panthers (3-1; No. 11): This is one of the few teams that could keep the Rams out of the Super Bowl.

    7. Jaguars (3-2; No. 5): Jalen Ramsey does great against receivers, but he struggles against return specialists.

    8. Ravens (3-2; No. 4): The old Browns played like the new Browns at a time when the new Browns are playing like anything but the new Browns.

    9. Chargers (3-2; No. 15): They didn’t start like last year; if they finish like last year, it could be a special season.

    10. Bears (3-1; No. 12): This is one of the few teams that could keep the Rams out of the Super Bowl.

    11. Vikings (2-2-1; No. 17): How far can a team with no running game go?

    12. Eagles (2-3; No. 7): By already matching their loss total from 2017, the Eagles will have to get back to the top of the mountain the hard way.

    13. Packers (2-2-1; No. 9): Aaron Rodgers is a one-man band that is struggling to carry a tune.

    14. Buccaneers (2-2; No. 14): The Bucs need to eat a W or two.

    15. Steelers (2-2-1; No. 19): It’s amazing how much better the defense will perform when the Steelers avoid digging an early hole.

    16. Dolphins (3-2; No. 10): At least last year’s adversity wasn’t self-inflicted.

    17. Titans (3-2; No. 13): Good teams need to win the games they’re supposed to win.

    18. Browns (2-2-1; No. 23): Through five games, the Browns already have played half of a sixth one.

    19. Seahawks (2-3; No. 18): With the NFC West out of reach, the only question is whether they can secure a wild-card berth.

    20. Lions (2-3; No. 24): Beating Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers is good. Not losing to far lesser quarterbacks would be better.

    21. Texans (2-3; No. 26): Why should Deshaun Watson do a better job of protecting himself? Brandon Weeden.

    22. Falcons (1-4; No. 16): And the streak of a team hosting the Super Bowl but not playing in it will continue.

    23. Washington (2-2; No. 20): Somehow, they’re still in first place in the division.

    24. Cowboys (2-3; No. 22): The always-ominous vote of confidence for Jason Garrett is coming.

    25. Bills (2-3; No. 25): Playing poorly and winning is still better than playing poorly and losing.

    26. Jets (2-3; No. 31): It’s nice to see that they remembered Robby Anderson is on the team.

    27. Broncos (2-3; No. 21): Get your arm loose, Chad Kelly. Eventually.

    28. Colts (1-4; No. 28): Better days are coming, Indy. Eventually.

    29. Cardinals (1-4; No. 32): The 2008 Lions and 2017 Browns can pop the cork.

    30. 49ers (1-4; No. 27): The team that’s not ready for prime time will play there three times in five weeks.

    31. Raiders (1-4; No. 29): Chris Simms says Jon Gruden regards his offense as a Ferrari. Derek Carr is kicking on the bumper harder than Cameron Frye.

    32. Giants (1-4; No. 30): Somewhere, Ben McAdoo is slicking back his hair and smiling.

  2. #2


    RAMS (5-0)

    Previous rank: No. 1

    Even the premier teams must survive the occasional dogfight, which is what Sean McVay's outfit found itself in on Sunday. No, these aren't the juggernaut "Legion of Boom" Seahawks from earlier this decade, but they sure as heck battled Sunday, staying with the heavily favored Rams drive for drive. Don't look at this as Los Angeles playing down to lesser competition. We're talking about a divisional rivalry in the loudest stadium in the league. Not to mention, Jared Goff's wideouts were dropping like flies. And yet, the third-year quarterback piloted his offense down the field every time the Rams needed an answer to a Seahawks touchdown. And then he closed out the game by surging forward for a first down when McVay called his number on fourth-and-short from L.A.'s own 42-yard line. Put another way: 5-0 is 5-0. McVay: the anti-Jason Garrett.



    CHIEFS (5-0)

    Previous rank: No. 2

    Now that was what Chiefs fans had been waiting for. Not Patrick Mahomes heaving five touchdown passes, Tyreek Hill going airborne to bake a circus catch from scratch or Travis Kelce owning the middle of the field. No, #ChiefsKingdom desired a defensive performance worth bragging about. While Kansas City gave up a barbecue pit's worth of yards, points are what matter. (Yes, forget about the fact that the most commonly cited defensive ranking is total defense, which measures yards allowed.) Bottom line: Create five takeaways and you're almost certainly going to hit the winner's circle. And remember: These Chiefs came into Week 5 pacing the league in third-down defense. Of course, just when I get all jacked up about the K.C. defense improving, Justin Houston suffers a hamstring injury and could miss multiple games. Crap.



    SAINTS (4-1)


    Previous rank: No. 4

    Wonderful night for Drew Brees and the history of pro football on Monday. The 18th-year vet now owns the mark for most passing yards in a career, ahead of the likes of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Brett Favre. Following New Orleans' 43-19 win, "Total Access: Endgame" debated the Saints franchise quarterback's place among the NFL's all-time elite. The knock against Brees is that he has won "only" one Super Bowl, whereas guys like Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning, among others, have earned multiple Lombardi trophies. Well, that's dandy (and overly simplistic), but if you are going to consider a quarterback's ceiling -- i.e., how many championships he's won -- shouldn't you also take into account his floor? When have you ever seen Brees play poorly, or be the reason the Saints lost? Now, have you ever seen Manning or Joe Flacco stink up the joint? That's why I can't stand the wins metric for ranking quarterbacks. If the peanut gallery wants Flacco in its top tier of all time, so be it. Must be nice to walk out on the field and know your defense will hold the opponent under 20 points. How often has Brees' defenses in New Orleans provided that kind of support? Brees > Roethlisberger > Flacco > Manning > Griese > all but a select few passers to ever play the position. Period.



    PATRIOTS (3-2)


    Previous rank: No. 6

    Stuff got a little close for comfort there early in the fourth quarter last Thursday night, eh? The Patriots still carry their fair share of problems on defense, as Andrew Luck and a bunch of receivers who could only start for the Bills began producing in the second half. Then again, New England's defense merely needs to be viable, as the offense, all of a sudden, is virile. Josh Gordon brings an exciting vertical/red-zone element, while Julian Edelman reprises his role as Tom Brady's wubby. Then there's James White, lauded in this space multiple times before, and now finally receiving a bit of national due.



    PANTHERS (3-1)

    Previous rank: No. 5

    Graham Gano should not have to pay for any Michelob Ultras for a while in Charlotte. Lindsey Graham should buy Gano a whiskey or two. (Oh wait, wrong Carolina.) Well, anyway, that was one of the most clutch kicks in NFL history. While not as long as Matt Prater's NFL record 64-yarder ... like former record hold Tom Dempsey's 63-yard launch, this sucker won the football game at the gun. Bailed out the Panthers secondary, which allowed the deep ball to Sterling Shepard that helped the Giants pull ahead in the waning moments. Speaking of, nice to see Eric Reid getting a start back there. He's been a solid safety since coming into the league in 2013. Welcome back.



    JAGUARS (3-2)


    Previous rank: No. 3

    Blake Bortles tossed 430 yards worth of passes Sunday, shades of the Allen Boys days. Shades of classic Bortles, too: The QBs five giveaways were enough to declaw the Jags. Jacksonville's defense knew it would have its hands full all day with the Chiefs' explosive offense. Actually, the unit fared alright, creating turnovers and limiting Patrick Mahomes on third down, while twice being put in bad positions by an offense that couldn't hold onto the ball. The missing element that could assist both the quarterback and Doug Marrone's defensive unit? He's probably in a cold tub at this very moment nursing a bum hamstring.



    BENGALS (4-1)

    Previous rank: No. 7

    So much for Joe Mixon being on a pitch count. Give that guy 25 touches in his first action back from a knee scope. All good, save for the fact that the Bengals' best offense came from a pair of rumblin' defensive linemen. In a game that saw Cincy fall behind 17-0 in front of the home folk, quality play from Andy Dalton (who didn't start so hot) and those big boys on the defensive front saved the day.



    BEARS (3-1)

    Previous rank: No. 8

    It was a week off for the Bears, who, after launching the Bucs into their bye week rudderless and mired in quarterback questions, probably would have preferred to keep playing. The worst time to sit? Right after the team's biggest question mark provides a resounding answer. Rather than riding the wave of Mitch Trubisky's prolific play and a defense that rampaged through September, Chicago got an early week off. Okie dokie. Next up: at Dolphins.



    VIKINGS (2-2-1)


    Previous rank: No. 13

    Kirk Cousins is playing out of his freakin' mind, man. No matter the pressure -- including a whole bunch right in his grill -- Cousins (30 for 37, 301 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT) delivered the ball on time and on point Sunday in Philadelphia. Along with the Vikings' pass rush, he was the difference between Minnesota falling into season-on-the-brink territory and getting right back in the mix at 2-2-1. The Vikes are now a game-and-a-half behind Chicago in the NFC North, with a Cardinals home game followed by a roadie against the Jets. Both winnable games. Then again, so was Buffalo. Too soon?



    CHARGERS (3-2)


    Previous rank: No. 14

    Lost in all of Sunday's action -- from Baker's heroics to Crosby's agony to Nuk's spin cycle -- was the brilliant play of one Philip Rivers. All the veteran quarterback did was complete 22 of his 27 passes for 339 yards and two touchdowns, with zero interceptions. That is Exhibit A of efficient (and doggone effective) quarterbacking. The Chargers averaged 12.4 yards per play on Rivers throws. Not completions -- throws. While his final numbers didn't approach some of the video-game performances we've seen from Patrick Mahomes and even Ryan Fitzpatrick this season, the Chargers didn't require such an effort in a contest they controlled throughout. Also awesome: Melvin Ingram getting a goal-line carry. Not exactly Dontari Poe-ish, but still fun.



    RAVENS (3-2)


    Previous rank: No. 10

    A draining way to lose, that much is certain. The Ravens' defense couldn't have given much more energy to the cause so deep into that football game. While the breakdown on Baker Mayfield's 39-yard completion on third-and-8 crushed the Baltimore faithful, the complete lack of a Ravens passing game was the real culprit. Joe Flacco's offense converted a paltry four of their 16 third-down attempts. And while Flacco ended up with 298 passing yards, it took him 58 dropbacks to get there. That won't win games in Cleveland, or at the University of North Texas. Next up: at the Titans. Not to worry: Their passing game makes Flacco and Co. look like Johnny U, Raymond Berry and the boys.



    STEELERS (2-2-1)


    Previous rank: No. 16

    An answer. That's what you tag the Steeler's 41-17 showing in front of the faithful at Heinz Field. The passing game was productive, if not prolific. The WR1, the guy who feels he should be the WR1, played like it: Antonio Brown posted 101 yards and two touchdowns. James Conner offered up a fine Le'Veon Bell impression, churning out 185 total yards and two scores. Ahh, but what about that much-maligned defense? Not maligned on Sunday! Keith Butler's group fought all game, stonewalling the Falcons' running backs while slowing down a red-hot Matt Ryan in bend-don't-break fashion. With this Pittsburgh scoring machine, the defense need not be a top unit, like in the halcyon days of Dick LeBeau. Yielding 17 points will allow this team to win almost every time out.



    PACKERS (2-2-1)


    Previous rank: No. 9

    Suffice to say, 2-2-1 is not where the Pack expected to be. Unfortunately, the wide receivers are all dinged. And when the replacements can't get a morsel of separation, Aaron Rodgers drops two balls on the carpet and the kicker can't hit the broadside of a 10-ton cheese block, Green Bay's gonna have problems. Mason Crosby, the franchise's all-time leading scorer, missed five kicks, resembling Greg Norman down the stretch in the 1996 Masters. It was that bad: slice, hook, shank. Yeesh.

    Side note: My favorite image of Week 5 was Rodgers walking over to a visibly dejected Crosby and putting his arm around him. Wonder if Odell Beckham Jr. saw that video.



    TITANS (3-2)


    Previous rank: No. 11

    Hordes of Titans fans hammered your friendly writer on THE TWITTER last week for not having their team in the top five. Well, OK. Look, back-to-back wins over the Jags and Eagles is nice. But A) the Titans swept Jacksonville just last season, so let's not pretend the Week 3 victory was some kind of unprecedented achievement; and B) Philly doesn't exactly look like a world-beating defending champion in the early goings of this season. Assessing Tennessee, well, one game aside, this team has a passing-game problem. Put in the lexicon of other NFL pundits: a quarterback problem. The tally on Sunday came in at 14-of-26 for 129 yards, with zero touchdowns and a pick. Hey, dem's some spectacular numbers. For 1934. Next up: vs. the Ravens.



    EAGLES (2-3)


    Previous rank: No. 12

    Sure, maybe Alshon Jeffery could've held onto that Carson Wentz ball to convert third-and-20. But that, at least to this spectator, was not the key moment of the game. (Not to mention: Jeffery was decidedly walloped on the play.) No, the crucial play was the third-and-1 that Minnesota converted from their own 44 with around five minutes remaining. The Eagles had pulled to with six at 20-14, and a stop there would've given them the ball back with plenty of time to use the entirety of their playbook. Instead, no one picked up Kyle Rudolph on a delayed, shallow drag across the formation, nor made the tackle on the lumbering tight end until he had picked up 17 yards and set the Vikings up in field goal range (which Dan Bailey eventually paid off with a 52-yarder). Now, I'm not Philadelphia's defensive coordinator, but I'm pretty confident LB Kamu Grugier-Hill fell asleep at the wheel, watching Rudolph stride right in front of him and directly in the path of Kirk Cousins' loving eyes. Ballgame.

    Side note: The Jay Ajayi-to-IR news came out of nowhere, which might be where the defending champs are headed come January if they don't turn it around fast.



    BROWNS (2-2-1)


    Previous rank: No. 23

    Said before in this space that, turnovers be damned, Baker Mayfield makes the Browns exciting to watch. Witness the key down in overtime: On third-and-long, the kid phenom evades the Ravens rush, steps back from a collapsing pocket a la Drew Brees and calmly hits Derrick Willies (who?) over the middle for a 39-yard gain. Willies, an undrafted free agent, made the first three catches of his pro career Sunday, with none larger than his catch-and-run in the extra period to set up the game-winning kick. He made the club playing special teams (for the first time). Amazing what opportunities a trade can open up -- and not just for the Patriots.



    LIONS (2-3)


    Previous rank: No. 24

    Important win for the Lions, who are trying to get back in the mix after mailing in the first seven quarters of the season to start 0-2. With the Lions on a bye week now, Matt Patricia has his first opportunity as a head coach to take a deep breath and figure out what went right, what went south and what needs to change. (How about involving Kerryon Johnson more?) So, how far is Detroit from being a realistic playoff contender? Well, the Lions head to Miami in Week 7, then return home to host Seattle. Two winnable games. Take 'em both, and the Lions are 4-3 with their season staring them in the face over the next five contests: at Vikings, at Bears, vs. Panthers, vs. Bears, vs. Rams.



    REDSKINS (2-2)


    Previous rank: No. 15

    That deal got away quick Monday night, ay? The Redskins' defense, which entered Week 5 ranked third in both passing defense and total D, couldn't cover Michael Thomas, Tre'Quan Smith or maybe even Joe Horn. Dudes were running wiiiiiiide open. Any window the Redskins had to crawl back into the game closed quickly when Alex Smith was picked in the third quarter. Trailing 33-13, Smith badly underthrew an open Josh Doctson, with the errant throw wobbling into the waiting arms of Justin Hardee, who returned the ball 77 yards to the end zone's doorstep. Turned out to be a 14-point swing. With an accurate throw, Doctson could've walked into the end zone. The Saints walked over the Redskins instead.



    BUCCANEERS (2-2)

    Previous rank: No. 19

    Feeling like the Bucs' season could sink real fast? Yep, I'm with ya. Tampa provided its worst performance in a long time (and that is saying something) in Week 4, then headed into the bye week with Jameis Winston the quarterback by default. "QBD" is never a good thing to be. All the good feelings circling the great pirate ship back when Ryan Fitzpatrick was dressing like porn star must've turned into dread of the "here we go again" variety after that 48-10 shellacking in Chicago. Next up: at Atlanta, where Tampa has played tough the last few years. Maybe this group will spin this decline on its axis.

    Side note: listening to the Men at Work's "Business as Usual" album, which came out in late 1981. The Bucs made the playoffs that year. The band got huge in 1983. Tampa Bay went 2-14 that year. Read into that what you will.

  3. #3


    DOLPHINS (3-2)


    Previous rank: No. 17

    After jumping out to a 17-0 lead in Cincinnati, the Dolphins picked up where they left off in Foxborough: getting blown off the field. The drive chart for the final quarter-and-a-half isn't pretty: punt, pick-six, punt, fumble-six, interception, end of game. This against a Cincy defense that allowed the Falcons and Panthers to rack up 67 points and 872 yards over the previous two weeks. To give you an idea of the stilted offense in Miami: The Dolphins have reached the 400-yard mark exactly once in the last 23 games.



    SEAHAWKS (2-3)

    Previous rank: No. 21

    If there are no moral victories in the NFL, can we give the Seahawks an "E" for effort, a participation trophy (I know people who hate those) or something for that endeavor Sunday versus the Rams? Seattle has been in every game it's played this season. Yes, despite all the negativity, the 'Hawks are 2-3 with three one-score losses, two of them to division leaders. Seattle has also scored more points than they've allowed. Simply put: Pete Carroll's retooled crew has fared better than the peanut gallery expected.



    TEXANS (2-3)


    Previous rank: No. 26

    For the second straight week, the Texans survived, playing to the brink of body-crippling exhaustion. Well worth it, though, considering Houston has fought back from a cruddy 0-3 start to re-enter the AFC South race at 2-3. Strange as it might seem, with the Jaguars falling in Kansas City, the Texans are now only a game back in the division. Guess where they play in two weeks: Yep, in Jacksonville. In the interim, Houston hosts Buffalo. The Bills just took down Tennessee, and they play a physical brand of football fueled by an all-hustle front seven and and a ground game that features a power back in Chris Ivory and a Cam-sized QB. The issue for the Texans will be whether they have anything left in the tank after back-to-back marathons.



    COWBOYS (2-3)


    Previous rank: No. 22

    Jason Garrett has to go for it on that fourth down in OT. Not second-guessing here: I thought it was an odd choice before the Texans happily took the ball and promptly won the game. Show the defense that you trust them, even if you don't make it. After all, the Cowboys were at the Texans' 42-yard-line. So even with a turnover on downs, the D is still in position to hang tough and keep points off the board. If we keep hearing how Dak Prescott is so "big and athletic" (a sentiment I am so tired of that it makes me want to throw my Chad Hutchinson-led Cowboys VHS tapes at a Gary Hogeboom poster), then why not SNEAK him for a YARD?! Or how about rolling him out on a run/pass option? Isn't he BIG and ATHLETIC? And while we're on the soothing subject of Cowboys' decision making ... Sure am glad Dallas didn't bring back Dez Bryant. I don't know if you saw all those explosive plays Dallas wideouts were creating Sunday night ... Actually, maybe it's better that Bryant doesn't rejoin the team, or else Prescott will invariably throw him a highball late and over the middle while Dez is at a sprint, forcing the wideout to reach back at full tilt, only to have the ball ricochet off his outstretched fingertips, causing everyone to blame him for "dropping" the ball. Yeah, stay home, Dez. Watch "Hope Floats," or anything with a happier ending than punting the ball away when a mere yard (hey, it was a lonnng yard!) gets you a new set of downs in field-goal range. OK, I'm done.

    Side note: Did you hear Dak Prescott is big and athletic?



    FALCONS (1-4)


    Previous rank: No. 18

    It's going to be long season in Hotlanta. In the wake of a vicious attack by the injury bug, Dan Quinn simply doesn't have the horses on the defensive side of the ball. Look at this from a baseball standpoint. If you don't have a shortstop, center fielder or left fielder -- and two of them are All-Stars -- it's going to be awfully tough to win ballgames. Unless the pitching is spectacular. Matt Ryan was just that against the Saints in Week 3 and the Bengals in Week 4, when he piled up nearly 800 yards passing, eight touchdowns and no picks. You can't expect a guy to play like 2007 Tom Brady every single week, with the pressure of knowing he must score 35 points to have a chance. Heck, even that isn't enough points against any of Atlanta's last three opponents.



    JETS (2-3)


    Previous rank: No. 30

    Five hundy? Seriously, the Jets' offense? No way. Not unless Joe Namath's at quarterback, with Freeman McNeil in the backfield, Wesley Walker and Al Toon outside, and Wayne Chrebet in the slot. For real, though: Gang Green's 512 total yards on Sunday represented the franchise's most productive outing since 2013, and nearly tripled what they netted last week in Jacksonville (178). Wow. And to think: 512 wasn't even the Jets' most impressive number on Sunday. No, the 323-spot they put on the board in the rushing department must've raised even Curtis Martin and Richie Anderson's eyebrows. Good grief, that is a ton of yards from a ground game. Isaiah Crowell rampaged through the Broncos' front seven and secondary, piling up 219 yards on a measly 15 carries. It's so exciting the Jets figured out how to move the ball, I don't know how to end this blurb. Isaiah Crowell, the new Earl Campbell? Maybe I am getting a bit carried away.



    BRONCOS (2-3)


    Previous rank: No. 20

    Tell the Broncos it's within the rules to tackle the running back before he has gained 10 yards. When you think of this defense, and a few of the star players on it, how does it allow an offense like the Jets' young unit to eclipse 500 yards of production? How about those 323 that came on the ground, the most rushing yards allowed by Denver since Run DMC and the Raiders ran wild in the mountain air back in 2010? Would this be an appropriate time to remind readers that Vance Joseph's discipline is the defensive side of the ball? K, maybe not. Case Keenum didn't come out of the gate fast, but did chuck it for 377 in the loss. Keenum is not the problem, at least not solely. The inability to be competitive outside of the Mile High grounds is. Denver has now lost 11 of 12 away from home. Read that line again.



    GIANTS (1-4)


    Previous rank: No. 25

    Odell Beckham Jr. held his end of the bargain. Yet, for every 10 one-handed grabs he performs in pregame warmups, maybe he could take one leadership course. The oft-incredible, oft-distracting wide receiver made himself the story this week by publicly airing out his quarterback and head coach. Agree with Tony Dungy, who suggested Beckham could also mention what he could do better to help his football team. To be fair, doesn't necessarily mean Beckham was wrong, either. Beneath all the noise, and handwringing, is a talented-enough nucleus to make the postseason -- even challenge for the NFC East title. Look around the division: The defending champs can't cover anybody; the Redskins were throttled Monday night; and the Cowboys can't complete a standard 10-yard slant. Big Blue lost to a playoff-caliber opponent, on the road, on a friggin' 63-yard field goal. It ain't time for locker-room implosions.



    BILLS (2-3)


    Previous rank: No. 32

    Huge win for the Bills, who once again rode an opportunistic defense and another sweet Josh Allen scamper to victory. Once again, Allen couldn't throw a lick (82 yards ... total), but benefitted from field position and tough yards from his RBs to set up "Hausch Money" for the game winner. Nobody wanted a piece of Chris Ivory on that final drive. Actually, though, the real stars of this AFC upset resided in Sean McDermott's defense, which allowed a scant 221 total yards while forcing turnovers and suffocating a Tennessee attack that made hay against the Eagles two Sundays ago. Not this past Sunday.



    COLTS (1-4)


    Previous rank: No. 27

    Swathed in the rush of the enemy, Capt. Andrew Luck repeatedly called upon his sidearm, unloading into the Patriots' lines, steady and true. Melancholy befell him, as his brethren floundered to furnish reinforcements nigh the engagement's creep. The good captain ne'er withdrew, surging forward with platoon long after the engagement had been ordained. Valor aplomb. It is said the captain of the opposition's field units was of an age to be out farming, perhaps tending his flock. Not on Thursday's eve. Alas, Capt. Luck was bested. (Sorry, I often get inspired by preferred Twitter accounts.)



    CARDINALS (1-4)


    Previous rank: No. 31

    The last of the winless rectified the root of their problem this past Sunday, closing out the contest in the deciding minutes. The Cards had failed to do so against the Bears in Week 3, making a late switch at quarterback, then providing the sub no help on the game's final stanza. In Week 4, Arizona couldn't halt the Seahawks' running game late, narrowly falling in Josh Rosen's first start. But Sunday was different, with Chandler Jones putting his big paw up to thwart the 49ers' two-point attempt that would have tied the game at 14 apiece in the fourth quarter. On the next Niners drive, Arizona linebacker Josh Byrnes picked up C.J. Beathard's fumble (stripped on a safety blitz) and took it to the house to essentially seal the deal. Well done.



    RAIDERS (1-4)


    Previous rank: No. 28

    Talk about laying a silver-and-black egg. Ugh. In what turned out to be a Raiders home game at StubHub (in theory, the Chargers' "home" stadium), Oakland disappointed attendees with turnovers, penalties and really unsmart decisions. (SEE: Eschewing Marshawn Lynch from the 1-yard line/ Derek Carr's interception in the Bolts' end zone. Gnarly.) A paltry total of 41 rushing yards made Oakland's offense one-dimensional, enough to allow the Chargers to play numbers on the back end, get pressure and halt drives. Jon Gruden looks less like a murderous-rampage Chucky and more like a tired Cabbage Patch Kid spearheading a 1-4 football team.



    49ERS (1-4)


    Previous rank: No. 29

    Spent much of Sunday afternoon watching C.J. Beathard, who is not nearly as bad as people have made him out to be. Unfortunately, his inaccuracy and miscommunication with receivers late buried any opportunity for the 49ers to speed to their second win. As the game progressed, Kyle Shanahan stayed conservative, sticking with the run and short passing game while Beathard took few chances down the field. Made sense when the defense was keeping the Josh Rosen-led offense stuck in neutral -- outside of the deep ball to Christian Kirk early -- but it makes you wonder if Shanahan is utilizing the full breadth of the playbook sans Jimmy Garoppolo. If not, then he was calling the same plays over and over. San Francisco ran an astonishing 92 plays from scrimmage.

  4. #4
    1. Los Angeles Rams

    Record: 5-0
    Week 5 ranking: 1

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 16th. The Rams' toughest remaining game is Week 9 at the Saints, where they have a 57 percent chance to win, according to FPI. The Rams are the only team in the NFL favored to win all of their remaining games. -- Doug Clawson
    2. Kansas City Chiefs

    Record: 5-0
    Week 5 ranking: 2

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 23rd. The Chiefs' toughest game of the season, according to FPI, will be Sunday night at the Patriots, where they have a 33 percent chance to win. The Chiefs are the fifth team to enter a road game at the Patriots with a record of 5-0 or better since Bill Belichick became head coach in 2000. Two of the previous four such teams lost. -- Joey Koontz
    3. New England Patriots

    Record: 3-2
    Week 5 ranking: 5

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 29th. The Patriots' toughest remaining game will be in Week 15 in Pittsburgh, where FPI gives them a 45 percent chance to beat the Steelers. Tom Brady is 11-2 in his career against the Steelers, including the playoffs. That is the best record by a starting quarterback against the Steelers in the Super Bowl era (minimum 10 starts). -- Matt Williams

    4. New Orleans Saints

    Record: 4-1
    Week 5 ranking: 4

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 1st. The Saints' most difficult remaining game comes in Week 7, when they travel to Baltimore. FPI gives New Orleans a 38 percent chance of winning. -- ESPN
    5. Jacksonville Jaguars

    Record: 3-2
    Week 5 ranking: 3

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 17th. The Jaguars' toughest game left on the schedule is actually this Sunday when they travel to face the Cowboys, where FPI gives Jacksonville a 44 percent chance to win. The Jaguars are 5-2 since the start of last season, including the playoffs, in games as the FPI underdog. -- Koontz
    6. Cincinnati Bengals

    Record: 4-1
    Week 5 ranking: 8

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 13th. The Bengals' toughest remaining game is Week 11 at the Ravens, where they have a 28 percent chance to win, according to FPI. The Bengals eliminated the Ravens from playoff contention in Week 17 last season with a 31-27 win in Baltimore. -- Clawson
    7. Chicago Bears

    Record: 3-1
    Week 5 ranking: 10

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 22nd. The Bears' toughest remaining game is a Week 17 road game against the Vikings, where they have a 40 percent chance to win, according to FPI. This is actually just one of the Bears' two remaining games in which they are not projected to win. The other is Week 14 against the Rams, where Chicago has a 41 percent chance to win. -- Williams
    8. Carolina Panthers

    Record: 3-1
    Week 5 ranking: 11

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 3rd. The Panthers' toughest remaining game, according to FPI, is a Week 10 matchup in Pittsburgh against the Steelers. FPI gives Carolina a 30 percent chance to win, and has been on point for the Panthers as it has correctly predicted their past 13 games. -- Sopan Shah

    9. Philadelphia Eagles

    Record: 2-3
    Week 5 ranking: 6

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 6th. The Eagles' toughest remaining game, according to FPI, comes in Week 15 when they travel to Los Angeles to play the Rams. FPI gives the Eagles a 20 percent chance to win, and it is part of a stretch in which the Eagles are not favored to win three of four games. -- Shah
    10. Baltimore Ravens

    Record: 3-2
    Week 5 ranking: 7

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 10th. The Ravens' toughest remaining game is Week 16 at the Chargers, where they have a 39 percent chance to win, according to FPI. The most recent time these teams played at the Chargers, Joe Flacco famously converted on a fourth-and-29 to Ray Rice, in the Ravens' eventual OT win. -- Clawson
    11. Minnesota Vikings

    Record: 2-2-1
    Week 5 ranking: 13

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 26th. The Vikings will travel to New England in Week 13 for their toughest remaining game, in which they have a 30 percent chance to win, according to FPI. This is part of a four-game stretch in which the Vikings face their toughest tests of the season. Minnesota has a 45 percent chance to beat Chicago in Week 11, a 57 percent chance to win against Green Bay in Week 12 and a 41 percent chance to beat Seattle in Week 14. -- Williams
    12. Pittsburgh Steelers

    Record: 2-2-1
    Week 5 ranking: 15

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 4th. The Steelers' toughest remaining game is Week 9 at the Ravens, where they have a 38 percent chance to win, according to FPI. The Steelers lost by 12 points to the Ravens in Week 4 this season, and have been swept in the season series three times by Baltimore, most recently in 2015. -- Clawson
    13. Green Bay Packers

    Record: 2-2-1
    Week 5 ranking: 9

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 19th. The Packers' toughest remaining game is Week 8 at the Rams, where they have a 24 percent chance to win, according to FPI. Their next toughest game happens to be the following week, when they play on the road at the Patriots, with a 32 percent chance to win. -- ESPN
    14. Los Angeles Chargers

    Record: 3-2
    Week 5 ranking: 16

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 20th. The Chargers' toughest remaining game will be in Week 13 at the Steelers, where FPI gives Los Angeles a 35 percent chance to win. Last time these teams met in Pittsburgh was in 2012 when the Chargers led by as many as 24 points in their 34-24 win. That remains the Steelers' largest deficit at any point in a home game in the past 10 seasons. -- Koontz
    Best of NFL Nation

    Record: 3-2
    Week 5 ranking: 12

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 18th. The Titans' toughest remaining game, according to FPI, will be in Week 12 at the Texans, where Tennessee has a 34 percent chance to win. That makes sense, given the Titans have lost their past six road games at the Texans by an average of 19.7 PPG, including a 57-14 blowout last season. -- Koontz
    16. Miami Dolphins

    Record: 3-2
    Week 5 ranking: 14

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 27th. The Dolphins' toughest game of the season comes in Week 10 in Green Bay, where they have a 20 percent chance to win, according to FPI. The Dolphins earned an OT victory in their most recent trip to Green Bay, in 2010, improving to 4-2 all time at Lambeau Field. Only the Redskins (3-1-1) have a better all-time road record against the Packers. -- Koontz
    17. Washington Redskins

    Record: 2-2
    Week 5 ranking: 19

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 8th. The Redskins' toughest game this season is at Jacksonville in Week 15, where they have a 35.5 percent chance of winning, according to FPI. -- ESPN
    18. Cleveland Browns

    Record: 2-2-1
    Week 5 ranking: 23

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 2nd. The Browns' toughest remaining game is Week 8 at the Steelers, where they have a 16 percent chance to win, according to FPI. Cleveland already has tied the Steelers this season, and they are the only team in NFL history to be tied at some point in the fourth quarter of each of their first five games in a season. -- Clawson
    19. Atlanta Falcons

    Record: 1-4
    Week 5 ranking: 17

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 21st. According to FPI, the Falcons' toughest remaining game is a Week 12 Thanksgiving night matchup against the Saints, where they have a 35 percent chance to win. That will begin a stretch of six games to end the season for Atlanta where they are favored to win just two of those matchups. -- Shah

    20. Seattle Seahawks

    Record: 2-3
    Week 5 ranking: 22

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 28th. The Seahawks' toughest remaining game is also at the Rams, in Week 10, where they have a 19 percent chance to win, according to FPI. Following that game Seattle finishes with five of its final seven games at home. Russell Wilson is 6-7 in his career against the Rams, his most losses against any team. -- Clawson
    21. Denver Broncos

    Record: 2-3
    Week 5 ranking: 18

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 7th. The Broncos' toughest remaining game comes in Week 8 at the Chiefs. They currently have just a 20 percent chance to win that game, according to FPI, which is their lowest percentage since the 2011 divisional round against the Patriots. Denver had just a 6 percent chance to win that game and lost 45-10. -- Koontz
    22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Record: 2-2
    Week 5 ranking: 20

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 15th. The Buccaneers' toughest remaining game falls in Week 15 at Baltimore, a matchup that Tampa Bay has a 20 percent chance of winning, according to FPI. That game is third in a stretch of six to end the season in which Tampa Bay is not favored to win. -- Shah
    23. Detroit Lions

    Record: 2-3
    Week 5 ranking: 25

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 9th. The Lions' toughest remaining game is a Week 13 home game versus the Rams, where they have a 26.5 percent chance to win, according to FPI. Detroit already has won two home games this season in which they were not favored -- Week 3 versus the Patriots and Week 5 versus the Packers. -- ESPN
    24. Houston Texans

    Record: 2-3
    Week 5 ranking: 26

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 32nd. The Texans' toughest remaining game comes in Week 16 at the Eagles, where FPI gives Houston a 34 percent chance to win. Last time they faced a defending Super Bowl champion was just last year in Week 3, when they hung tough with the Patriots but ultimately lost 36-33 thanks to a Tom Brady touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks with 23 seconds remaining. -- Koontz

    25. Dallas Cowboys

    Record: 2-3
    Week 5 ranking: 21

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 14th. The Cowboys will travel to Philadelphia in Week 10 for their toughest game of the season, followed by a trip to Atlanta for their second-toughest game of the season, according to FPI. The Cowboys have a 28 percent chance to beat the Eagles, and a 34 percent chance to beat the Falcons the week after. -- Shah
    26. Indianapolis Colts

    Record: 1-4
    Week 5 ranking: 24

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 31st. The Colts' toughest remaining game will be in Week 13 at the Jaguars, where FPI gives Indianapolis a 32 percent chance to win. The Colts have already won a game this season in which they had worse odds to win: In Week 2, FPI gave them a 30 percent chance to beat the Redskins on the road, but they won 21-9. -- Koontz
    27. New York Jets

    Record: 2-3
    Week 5 ranking: 29

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 24th.The Jets' toughest remaining game will be in Week 17 in New England, where they have a 17 percent chance to beat the Patriots, according to FPI. The Jets have lost nine straight regular-season meetings at New England, their longest road losing streak against a single opponent in the Super Bowl era. -- Williams
    28. New York Giants

    Record: 1-4
    Week 5 ranking: 28

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 25th. According to FPI, the Giants' toughest game left on their schedule falls in Week 12 in a matchup against the Eagles in Philadelphia. FPI gives the Giants a 28 percent chance to beat the Eagles, something they've done only once in their past eight tries. -- Shah
    29. Buffalo Bills

    Record: 2-3
    Week 5 ranking: 31

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 30th. The Bills' toughest remaining game will be in Week 16 in New England, where FPI gives them a 13 percent chance to beat the Patriots. However, the Bills upset the Vikings in Week 3 despite having just a 9 percent chance to win, the biggest NFL upset since 2009, according to FPI. -- Koontz
    30. San Francisco 49ers

    Record: 1-4
    Week 5 ranking: 27

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 12th. The 49ers' toughest remaining game is a Week 17 matchup at the Rams, where they have a 11 percent chance to win, according to FPI. The last time these two teams met without Jimmy Garoppolo playing was Week 3 last season, when the Rams won 41-39. -- Clawson
    31. Oakland Raiders

    Record: 1-4
    Week 5 ranking: 30

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 11th. The Raiders' toughest game of the season, according to FPI, will be in Week 12 at the Ravens, where they have a 17 percent chance to win. The Raiders are 1-5 all time in Baltimore, but won the last meeting in 2016 behind Derek Carr's four touchdown passes. -- Koontz
    32. Arizona Cardinals

    Record: 1-4
    Week 5 ranking: 32

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 5th. The Cardinals' toughest remaining game is Week 12 at the Chargers, where they have a 14 percent to win, according to FPI. That begins a six-game stretch for Arizona to end the season where they are the underdog in each game. -- Clawson

  5. #5
    1. Rams (1): Their next three opponents have combined for five wins, so Greatest Show On Surf poised to ride this undefeated start for quite some time.

    2. Chiefs (2): Their next three opponents have combined for nine wins, so this KC Masterpiece will be challenged to ride this undefeated wave much longer.

    3. Saints (3): Drew Brees' record night overshadowed the return of Mark Ingram, who was clearly ready to reclaim his spot in the highly productive "Two Dat" backfield.

    4. Patriots (5): Last time they hosted K.C., New England's banner-raising '17 opener, they were upset by Alex Smith and Co. What does Mahomes have in store?

    5. Chargers (6): Puzzling. Their losses are to perfect Rams and Chiefs. Yet three wins over teams with 4-11 aggregate ledger have hardly been impressive.

    6. Panthers (7): Good news? Julius Peppers six sacks from passing Kevin Greene for third place on all-time list. Bad news? That sentence nearly 10 months old.

    7. Bengals (8): May have been better for Vontaze Burfict to be suspended six games given Cincinnati has lost five in a row to Pittsburgh with LB in lineup.

    8. Jaguars (4): Dr. Blake has an impressive 818 passing yards over the past two games, though Mr. Bortles' six turnovers more than offset his better half.

    9. Bears (14): In weird scheduling quirk, they'll play next four games against AFC East. Feels like first-place Chicago should go 3-1 during this stretch.

    10. Ravens (9): Just us, or are these Lamar Jackson packages little more than a nuisance to Joe Flacco and unnecessary risk to future of the franchise?

    11. Steelers (16): Through five games last season, Le'Veon Bell had 515 yards from scrimmage. Through five games this year, James Conner has 581.

    12. Vikings (17): Clear solution to trigger league's second-worst run game is giving 329-pound Linval Joseph, who averages 64 yards per "carry," some work.

    13. Browns (24): Finally, a "streak" they don't want to break. Cleveland could extend run of consecutive wins at home over Chargers to three this Sunday.

    14. Redskins (10): They hadn't played in 15 days, and it showed Monday in New Orleans, where they got embarrassed. Still, 2-2 good enough for first place in NFC East.

    15. Packers (11): Aaron Rodgers lone player with longer active tenure in Green Bay than Mason Crosby. Talk of cutting kicker after a bad day pretty silly.

    16. Dolphins (18): How much is offense struggling? Miami has more TDs on kick returns (both by Jakeem Grant) than on ground (one by Kenyan Drake in Week 2).

    17. Titans (12): Together, Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis are managing just 3.3 yards per carry. Maybe this offense's real issues aren't actually at receiver, folks.

    18. Buccaneers (19): Jameis Winston will be back in saddle, taking NFL's top passing offense to Atlanta. Note: Winston has lost nine of 10 while in saddle.

    19. Eagles (13): Team suffering from Super Bowl hangover and in dire straits at RB is also type that might wager Le'Veon Bell rental would provide spark.

    20. Texans (26): A team seemingly on its deathbed just two weeks ago is suddenly a game out of first in what appears to be an eminently winnable division.

    21. Falcons (15): They don't have to travel until November, so if they're going to make season-salvaging run, it's time to take care of business at home.

    22. Jets (29): They churned out remarkable 323 rushing yards Sunday. Over first four weeks? They had just 352 yards – total – from the ground troops.

    23. Lions (23): Prior to the Crosby fiasco in Sunday's win, Detroit hadn't been beneficiary of an opponent's missed kick in any of its other four games.

    24. Broncos (20): Case Keenum's interception total while playing for Minnesota – 7. Case Keenum's interception total while playing for Denver – 7.

    25. Seahawks (21): WR David Moore hails from East Central and now makes plays in Pacific Northwest. You guessed it ... excellent change-of-direction skills.

    26. Cowboys (22): Imagine the handwringing had Jason Garrett gone for it fourth-and-1, and his terrible offense let him down. Same difference? Oh, right.

    27. Colts (28): Andrew Luck and his rebuilt sidearm have 18 more pass attempts than any other QB this year. But his 6.1 yards per throw rank 32nd in league.

    28. Bills (31): How has Josh Allen led Buffalo to two wins? No quarterback has been sacked more (19), and none has a worse passer rating (60.4).

    29. Giants (25): Wherever did an impressionable young player like Sterling Shepard get the idea that such boorish sideline antics were acceptable? Oh, right.

    30. Raiders (27): We'd like to see Marshawn Lynch dress up as member of The Queen's Guard and maybe raid a pub for some fish and chips this week.

    31. Cardinals (32): Still hard to believe a team with David Johnson would rank last in total yards and rushing yards per game at this stage.

    32. 49ers (30): Bravo to the NFL for implementing a scheduling provision that allows it to flex games earlier in the schedule ... otherwise you would've seen Niners in prime time four of next five weeks. [Note: A previous version of this capsule did not reflect the league's new scheduling policy. USA TODAY regrets the error.]

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Record: 4-1
    Week 5 ranking: 8

    Rest-of-season SOS ranking: 13th. The Bengals' toughest remaining game is Week 11 at the Ravens, where they have a 28 percent chance to win, according to FPI. The Bengals eliminated the Ravens from playoff contention in Week 17 last season with a 31-27 win in Baltimore. -- Clawson
    Tougher than the Chiefs or Saints?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by mongo View Post
    Tougher than the Chiefs or Saints?
    That list of toughest games was bull****, in my view. Steelers on road? Chiefs on road? Both of those harder than Ravens on road, at least, given the Bengals' history.


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