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NFL 2018 SQ NFL Power Rankings: Week 6

Fox

How far will the Saints soar on the back of Drew Brees?

It’s only fitting that we start off this week by talking about Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. And while his record-breaking career covered the news stream this week, what has been lost in the shuffle is that a Saints team that got dusted Week 1 by Ryan Fitzpatrick has seemingly stitched the pieces back together and find themselves at 4-1. Let’s not forget that they were a Stefon Diggs miracle away from playing Nick Foles in the NFC Championship game last year. The Saints are for real; the only question is how high our writers think they belong. For their ranking and more, check out the list below.

   Ranking (Change)

1 (-)

Los Angeles Rams (5-0)

Los Angeles Rams (5-0)

Just when you thought the Rams were going to suffer their first loss of the season, Todd Gurley and the electric Rams’ offense storms back and secures the win on a Jared Goff fourth-down sneak. This is the first game this season where the Rams were really tested, and it’ll be interesting to see how they respond going forward. But for now, no one is playing at the level that these Rams are, solidifying them atop these rankings once again. (Matt Fowler)

2 (-)

Kansas City Chiefs (5-0)

Kansas City Chiefs (5-0)

The Chiefs continued their early season success against the Jaguars. Although Patrick Mahomes did throw two interceptions, it’s tough to leave that game without feeling like the Chiefs have a legit chance to make a Super Bowl run, especially if the defense continues to play like they did last week. Their next two weeks will feature Sunday night games in New England and then at home against the Bengals, so we are going to learn a lot about what this team is capable of. (Max Vukelich)

3 (+1)

New Orleans Saints (4-1)

New Orleans Saints (4-1)

Drew Brees put on a show on Monday night, lighting up Washington for 363 yards and three touchdowns on his way to becoming the NFL’s all-time leading passer. Mark Ingram‘s return went about as well as it could have, and the defense made Alex Smith look silly all night. Through five weeks, the Saints have clearly been the NFC’s second-best team, which is no easy thing to do. (Nick Cardozo)

4 (+1)

New England Patriots (3-2)

New England Patriots (3-2)

Despite two interceptions off of deflections, Tom Brady looked terrific in Week 5 and should calm any panic about the state of the Patriots’ offense. Sony Michel had an impressive performance and may be the workhorse back the Pats have lacked for some time. Up next are Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs in what should be a shootout for the ages. Even if New England falls to 3-3, there won’t be much concern considering the rest of the AFC East. (Nick Cardozo)

5 (+3)

Cincinnati Bengals (4-1)

Cincinnati Bengals (4-1)

After a slow start against Miami, the Bengals proved to the league they can win in multiple ways. When the offense wasn’t performing, the defense was able to step up and score two touchdowns en route to 27 unanswered points. The Bengals look like the real deal and will get the chance to prove that once again against an improving Pittsburgh team that looks to have things back under control. This game could put Cincinnati in the driver’s seat in the AFC North. (Matt Fowler)

6 (+5)

Minnesota Vikings (2-2-1)

Minnesota Vikings (2-2-1)

The Vikings put together a nice bounce-back effort on the road in Philly, controlling most of the game before allowing a late comeback. Ultimately, they took care of business with an efficient performance from Kirk Cousins. 2-2-1 is not where the Vikings envisioned themselves at this point, but upcoming dates with the Cardinals and Jets should help the team right the ship for now. (Nick Cardozo)

7 (-4)

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2)

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2)

Coming off one his better performances of the season against the Jets, the Jaguars Week 5 matchup in Kansas City saw the return of “Bad Blake Bortles“. Over 400 passing yards and two total touchdowns looks like a solid stat line, but that’s before you factor in five turnovers against a less-than-inspiring Chiefs’ defense. As good as this team is on the other side of the ball, Jacksonville will only go as far as Bortles takes them. Sunday’s game didn’t inspire too much confidence in their ability to beat good teams. (Kyle Trapp)

8 (+1)

Carolina Panthers (3-1)

Carolina Panthers (3-1)

It took a miraculous 63-yard field, but the Carolina Panthers are off to a blazing hot 3-1 start. A big reason for the Panthers success has been the run game. They rank first in the NFL at 154 rushing yards per game, led by Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton. As has been the case for the Panthers, they are lacking in the passing game and have a solid defense. This formula will likely lead to another playoff berth for the Panthers but could stop them from achieving their ultimate goal of winning a Championship if their run game craps out at the wrong time. (Adrian Nelson)

9 (-3)

Philadelphia Eagles (2-3)

Philadelphia Eagles (2-3)

In the latest installment of “The Super Bowl Championship Hangover,” the Eagles fell to the Vikings at home 23-21 thanks to costly turnovers and decision-making. Doug Pederson coached arguably his worst game in his career and the offensive line continues to struggle to keep Wentz on his feet. Luckily for Philly, the NFC East is looking like the worst division in the league, keeping them a half game back of first at 2-3. (Matt Fowler)

10 (-3)

Baltimore Ravens (3-2)

Baltimore Ravens (3-2)

Baltimore seems difficult to place because they have been all over the place. The offense has put up 47, 23, 27, 26, and 9 points this season. Looking at this trend, we can assume that the Ravens have put up their best and worst performances of the season. At 3-2 in a murky division, the Ravens’ season can head sharply in either direction, but I believe it will stay pretty flat. (Hunter Bonge)

11 (+1)

Chicago Bears (3-1)

Chicago Bears (3-1)

The Bears had some well-earned rest in Week 5 after obliterating the Buccaneers a couple Sundays ago. The defense has garnered most of the headlines thus far, but if Mitchell Trubisky can build upon his breakout performance against Tampa Bay (407 total yards and six touchdowns), then Chicago has a legitimate claim as the favorite in a crowded NFC North. (Kyle Trapp)

12 (+3)

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2-1)

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2-1)

Pittsburgh saved their season with a big win at home against a good offense. While it may seem a bit exaggerated to say a team saved their season this early, falling to 1-3-1 in a division where everyone else is at least .500 would be a tough hole to climb out of. The AFC North is full of tough competitors this season. The Steelers seem to have the offense figured out with or without Bell, but the real key will be whether or not the defense can maintain a solid level of play. (Adrian Nelson)

13 (-3)

Green Bay Packers (2-2-1)

Green Bay Packers (2-2-1)

Man, that was tough to watch. As Aaron Rodgers continued to lead an injury-depleted offense down the field, Mason Crosby continued to miss field goal after field goal, and even an extra point following one of the Packers’ scores. It was arguably Crosby’s worst game as a professional, as the twelfth-year man is widely-known for being one of the more consistent options at the position, having made 79.8% of his field goals over his lustrous career. On the bright side, Rodgers — still nursing a sprained knee — was dominant, completing 32-of-52 passes for 442 yards and three touchdowns. Astonishing, considering two of his top three receivers in Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison were out with injuries. Assuming Crosby’s kicking woes are a thing of the past, the Packers will attempt to get the ball rolling again when they take on the 49ers on Monday night. (Ryan Grube)

14 (+2)

Los Angeles Chargers (3-2)

Los Angeles Chargers (3-2)

The Chargers are the eighth best offensive teams in terms of points per game and the 12th worst defensively. In other words, they are a little better than they are bad, but far away from great. Phillip Rivers and Melvin Gordon will keep the Bolts scoring points all year, but I defy you to name a single person on their defense that has never had an imaginary girlfriend. In a league where you need to be able to stop the pass to win, Los Angeles just doesn’t have the juice to be a serious contender this year. (Adrian Nelson)

15 (-2)

Tennessee Titans (3-2)

Tennessee Titans (3-2)

The 3-2 Titans could easily be 5-0 or 0-5. Each of their games has been decided by a touchdown or less. Their last four games have been decided by a field goal or less. Mike Vrabel‘s defense can keep Tennessee in a game with any opponent, but Marcus Mariota and the offense need to establish themselves if the team hopes to make it back to the playoffs. (Hunter Bonge)

16 (-2)

Atlanta Falcons (1-4)

Atlanta Falcons (1-4)

Atlanta has had the worst injury luck in the NFL up to this point. With multiple starters out on defense, this could be a lost year for the Falcons. They have already dug themselves a huge hole with the 1-4 start, which is going to be a tall task to climb out of. Their next two games are at home against the Buccaneers and Giants, so if they are going to make a run, the time to right the ship is now. (Max Vukelich)

17 (-)

Miami Dolphins (3-2)

Miami Dolphins (3-2)

Miami held a 17-point lead midway through the third quarter but had a full-on implosion from that point forward, allowing 27 points in an embarrassing loss. The offense struggled all afternoon and allowed two defensive touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Adam Gase needs to quickly figure out how to get his offense going, which should probably start by giving Frank Gore less work. Miami’s 3-0 start has already proven to be a mirage like everyone thought. (Nick Cardozo)

18 (-)

Washington Redskins (2-2)

Washington Redskins (2-2)

Washington got embarrassed on Monday night in New Orleans. It looked like just a case of wrong place, wrong time because their defense had actually been really good to open the year. This week they return home against a far less prolific offense in Carolina, so expect a bounce-back performance for this defense. The NFC East is wide open up to this point in the year, which gives the Redskins as good a chance as anyone to claim the division crown. (Max Vukelich)

19 (-)

Denver Broncos (2-3)

Denver Broncos (2-3)

Much like Tampa Bay, Denver started off hot but has since cooled down. At 2-3 in a division dominated by Kansas City, the Broncos have a lot of work to do to get into the playoff picture down the stretch. The offense has yet to put up more than 27 points in a game, and its defense led by the two-headed monster of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb has not performed up to expectations. (Hunter Bonge)

20 (+3)

Cleveland Browns (2-2-1)

Cleveland Browns (2-2-1)

In Baker Mayfield’s first home start, the rookie phenom delivered an impressive overtime win over a tough Ravens team, and all signs seem to indicate a hopeful future in Cleveland. Mayfield completed 25-of-43 passes for 342 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. Although he made mistakes (as all rookies do) — including a first-quarter interception on a forced pass under duress — Mayfield didn’t allow them to sway his confidence. As a pure gunslinger, Mayfield is fun to watch, and he’s drawing the attention of NFL fans worldwide. If he can maintain his level of play and control of this offense, the Browns could be a sneaky Wild Card team come playoff time in a weaker-than-usual AFC. (Ryan Grube)

21 (-)

Seattle Seahawks (2-3)

Seattle Seahawks (2-3)

Despite one of Russell Wilson‘s best performances of the season and 190 yards on the ground, the Seahawks weren’t able to complete an upset over the Rams, falling 33-31. Looking at the glass half-full, the fact they lost to the best team in the NFL by a mere two points is an encouraging sign, as is the continued production from Seattle running backs. Looking at it half-empty, they were unable to hold on to a fourth-quarter lead, and their defense was shredded for 468 total yards. (Kyle Trapp)

22 (+4)

Houston Texans (2-3)

Houston Texans (2-3)

The Texans squeaked by the Cowboys on Sunday night to win 19-16 in overtime. Deshaun Watson looked good, but the offensive line can’t keep him on his feet. Luckily, the team hosts Buffalo this week, giving them a chance to work out the issues against a below average team. The Texans should win easily and continue rising in these rankings. (Matt Fowler)

23 (-3)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2)

With the “Fitzmagic” phenomenon having drawn to a close, the 2-2 Bucs have fallen back to earth. The road ahead will be tough, as the team might be playing in the toughest division in the NFL. Tampa Bay has yet to identify a starting running back, and its defense has been smoked throughout the first quarter of the season, averaging 35 points allowed per game. That’s ridiculous. (Hunter Bonge)

24 (+1)

Detroit Lions (2-3)

Detroit Lions (2-3)

With a pair of wins over perennial Super Bowl contenders, the Lions are starting to prove they can’t be ignored in the NFC North conversation. Sure, they were helped by four (!) missed field goals by Mason Crosby, but it’s tough to deny that the offense is finding its groove. They kicked off their 31-23 victory over the Packers with 24 unanswered points, and over their last four matchups, they’re averaging 27 points per game. The defense was supposed to improve under Matt Patricia and thus far it has not, but don’t count Detroit out. (Kyle Trapp)

25 (-3)

Dallas Cowboys (2-3)

Dallas Cowboys (2-3)

The “fire Jason Garrett” tweets and chants are growing larger and louder, as the Cowboys fell in overtime 19-16 on Sunday. Their loss was ultimately a result of a questionable decision by Garrett to punt on a fourth and a “long one yard,” from Houston’s 42-yard line. Dallas has now begun the season on an alternating loss-win pattern and appears to be back to their 8-8 ways from 2011-13. On the bright side, Ezekiel Elliott has looked sharp, having rushed for 480 yards and two touchdowns on 93 carries through the team’s first five games. With Dak Prescott continuing to struggle and no legitimate threat on the outside, the Cowboys seem content on leaning on their bell-cow back for success. The question is: how far can ‘Zeke carry them? (Ryan Grube)

26 (-2)

Indianapolis Colts (1-4)

Indianapolis Colts (1-4)

Although he’s back healthy and looks good — all things considered with his shoulder injury — it appears as though Andrew Luck can’t physically carry this team to a playoff berth. Luck has completed a career-high 66.5% of his passes for 1,491 yards and five touchdowns through five games; however, he’s done so averaging 49 pass attempts per game. Now, Luck is a great quarterback, but nearly 50 pass attempts per game is an indication of significant time playing from behind and is not a recipe for success. The Colts desperately need their 28th-ranked passing defense (282.6 passing yards allowed per game) and their 29th-ranked rushing attack (74.4 yards per game) to step up if they have any hopes of salvaging their dwindling playoff chances this season. (Ryan Grube)

27 (+2)

New York Jets (2-3)

New York Jets (2-3)

Although they were favored going into the game, the Jets surprised many people in their win over a tough Broncos team that only narrowly lost to the Chiefs the week prior. Isaiah Crowell rushed for over 200 in what was a performance he’ll never forget. In their two wins this season it hasn’t come down to Darnold, it’s come down to the Jets defense and whether they can run the ball. This will be the formula the Jets will need to perfect if they want a chance to sneak into the Wild Card round. (Adrian Nelson)

28 (-1)

New York Giants (1-4)

New York Giants (1-4)

“Gano lo gano!” That was the call that resulted from Graham Gano snatching away a win from the New York Giants who surpassed 30 points scored for the first time since 2016. New York now finds themselves at 1-4 on the season and despite the playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, they have not been consistent enough this year. The only good news is that the NFC East leader is 2-2 and the Giants haven’t played many divisional games. Safe to say though, they likely won’t be a factor down the stretch. (Adrian Nelson)

29 (-1)

San Francisco 49ers (1-4)

San Francisco 49ers (1-4)

Despite doubling the Cardinals in total yardage and tripling their first down totals, the 49ers couldn’t overcome a five-turnover performance to get their second victory of the season. We already knew the season was likely lost when Jimmy G tore his ACL, but with games in Green Bay and against the Rams the next two weeks, the 49ers could end up being the front-runners for the first overall selection in next year’s draft. (Max Vukelich)

30 (+1)

Buffalo Bills (2-3)

Buffalo Bills (2-3)

Buffalo’s second victory of the season was markedly different from their first, but if they’re destined for any more wins this year, they’ll more than likely resemble this one. A Stephen Hauschka field goal as time expired gave the Bills a 13-12 victory over the Titans in a game that was ugly in every sense of the word, as the two teams combined for less than 500 yards. Josh Allen scored the only touchdown of the game on the ground, but he was abysmal throwing the ball, completing 10-of-19 passes for just 82 yards and a pick. Expect further growing pains from him moving forward, and expect other teams to capitalize on them. (Kyle Trapp)

31 (-1)

Oakland Raiders (1-4)

Oakland Raiders (1-4)

Coming off a high, outlasting the Browns in overtime, the Raiders put up a dud against the Chargers. At this point in the season, it’s safe to say that the Raiders are really bad. Derek Carr has not been able to live up to the dollars the team has invested in him, Jon Gruden seems to be a few decades behind in the scheme department, and the defense has a Khalil Mack sized hole in their pass rush. The Raiders are on the decline and seemingly have no plan to right the ship. (Adrian Nelson)

32 (-)

Arizona Cardinals (1-4)

Arizona Cardinals (1-4)

NFL fans hoping for another 0-16 team in 2018 will have to wait another year, as the Cardinals put those thoughts to sleep with their 28-18 victory over the injury-depleted 49ers. The win also marked rookie Josh Rosen’s first as an NFL quarterback. He wasn’t entirely dominant, nor was he particularly efficient, but Rosen was effective when it mattered, as the first-year man out of UCLA completed 10-of-25 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown. His lone touchdown — a 75-yard strike to fellow rookie Christian Kirk on Arizona’s first play from scrimmage — could foreshadow a strong connection for years to come. With the 35-year-old Larry Fitzgerald slowly fading out of the offensive scheme, Rosen will surely need a go-to target to lean on, and Kirk looks like an early candidate. (Ryan Grube)

Edited by Jeremy Losak.

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