Football is weird, and humans are unreliable. That’s what we learned this week and what is reflected in our Week 6 NFL Power Rankings. Kickers decided not to show up this week. Teams that should have walked away with victories instead had to sprint to the finish line with their slight advantage left intact. How did your favorite team fare this week?
NFL Power Rankings Week 6 | Tier 5: It’s already draft season
These teams find their season already over. Not all is lost in terms of team or culture building, but there is no hope for playoff contention in 2021.
32) Jacksonville Jaguars
I know that just over a quarter of the way through an NFL season is unbelievably early to call for the firing of a first-year head coach, but come on! This Jaguars team isn’t even competitive, and your coach is just coming off a controversy this past week.
Trevor Lawrence appears improved after struggling early, which might be the only saving grace for Urban Meyer. This has been an abject disaster so far through five weeks. If they can’t threaten the Miami Dolphins next week, it might be time to relieve Meyer of his duties and try to regroup during the bye week.
31) Detroit Lions
I love this Lions football team. Don’t get me wrong, they’re bad. But this is the second time they’ve been heartbroken at the end of a football game. Talent-wise, this roster shouldn’t compete with most NFL teams, but they are with a few.
Their coach’s kneecap-biting rhetoric seems to be sticking because this team is scratching and clawing through games. But Jared Goff is bad, and they need receiver help like a dog needs water after a long walk in the Texas summer.
Detroit fans should be proud of how this team is playing because their games really shouldn’t be this close.
30) New York Jets
The great Dennis Green once said, “They are who we thought they were.” I’d say that applies here. Zach Wilson hopped back on the struggle bus in Week 5, missing or attempting to miss most throws. His ball placement was truly petrifying in almost every way imaginable.
I thought Wilson was the rawest of the QB prospects as an on-schedule passer, and that has shown through his first five games. The sack he took with 21 seconds left encapsulates his rookie season thus far. He makes the first man miss and then tries doing too much, leading to a horrible mistake.
Patience and progress are the keys going forward. This was always going to be a big jump for Wilson, and losing Mekhi Becton certainly hasn’t helped him.
29) Houston Texans
Much like the Detroit Lions, I really respect this football team. The Texans are completely outgunned every time they step on the field, yet they’ve stayed in every non-Buffalo Bills game they’ve played in.
They’ll have an opportunity to do the same thing against a struggling Indianapolis Colts team before going through the gauntlet of the Cardinals and Rams in the following weeks. For the second time in three weeks, Davis Mills has outperformed expectations.
Maybe that Buffalo defense really is that good?
28) Miami Dolphins
Miami was simply outclassed by Tampa Bay. We should have all expected that going in. The Bucs were coming off an ugly win against New England last week and a loss against the Rams the week prior.
The Dolphins’ offense is a struggle, and that’s not going to change when Tua Tagovailoa returns from injury. It’s all bad, and Brian Flores has to answer for that. The co-offensive coordinator experiment is not working.
The Dolphins need a schematic adjustment, and they need Will Fuller to return to action and produce.
27) Atlanta Falcons
I’m convinced that at this point, the Atlanta Falcons are out here trying to lose in new, wacky ways each week. I do not understand how they’ve continued this trend that dates back to their Super Bowl collapse. Losing a game they dominated for three-plus quarters once again is beyond frustrating — it’s mind-numbing.
Luckily, the offense finally figured out the 6’6″ guy that has one of the longest wingspans in the history of the TE position and runs a 4.44 at 245 pounds is probably kind of hard to cover. Luckily, Matt Ryan came up big against the Jets on his final offensive drive that put the Falcons up by 10 points.
Congratulations to Ryan are in order — he became the second-fastest QB to reach 5,000 completions and passed Eli Manning in career passing yards.
NFL Power Rankings Week 6 | Tier 4: Bad football teams
It would take a lot for any of these teams to compete for a playoff spot.
26) Indianapolis Colts
Chris Ballard has received a ton of love since he took over for Ryan Grigson. It’s been warranted to this point, but the honeymoon phase has ended. Somebody has to answer for the lack of continuity at quarterback. It’s a tough life going year to year at the position, and it’s finally biting the Colts.
Injuries to Braden Smith and Quenton Nelson won’t help Carson Wentz progress past the bottom-five QB he was in 2020. If it wasn’t for Ben Roethlisberger, Jacoby Brissett, and the rookie class performing poorly, he’d still be in that bottom tier.
However, the Titans are free-falling from the sky after losing to the hapless Jets last week. As a result, the Colts are still somehow very much in the AFC South race. It helps that the Jaguars and Texans are both unserious franchises at the moment.
The Colts played a strong game against the Baltimore Ravens, but it wasn’t enough in the end. A blocked and then missed field goal at the end of the game proved to be too much to overcome for Indianapolis, who, at 1-4, are still in the running for the division.
25) Seattle Seahawks
It may finally be the end of an era in Seattle. After 10 seasons as the quarterback in Seattle, Russell Wilson is set to miss his first-ever start after suffering a finger injury on a throw on Thursday Night Football. Offseason questions about his future with the Seahawks will only amplify moving forward. With the 2022 NFL Draft class looking questionable at quarterback, multiple teams could be interested in Seattle’s QB.
Geno Smith battled on Thursday. He came in with guns blazing and gave the Seahawks a chance to win after all hope seemed lost. But it’s unlikely he’ll have enough firepower to propel this team to compete in the ridiculously talented NFC West.
24) Washington Football Team
This team might be broken. Washington’s secondary can’t get on the right page, and it’s cost them greatly. Why only WFT defender lifted his feet more than three inches off the ground on the Saints’ second-quarter Hail Mary, we may never know. What we do know is this defensive line can get pressure, and the secondary is struggling to cover … anybody.
Offensively, Taylor Heinicke is a great story, but he’s not a good quarterback. He’s physically limited as a passer, but his mind sees windows and angles that don’t exist in reality. Unless Washington can find an answer at QB, they won’t win very many games, even if their defense turns things around.
23) New England Patriots
The Patriots looked bad today, but they fought their way back and beat a team that they should defeat on most Sundays. The offense did a good job moving the chains on third down, but they struggled in the red zone and in goal-to-go situations.
New England feels painfully average. Their defense ranks just outside the top 10 in efficiency, but their offense is still a massive struggle. With most of the Patriots’ offensive line injured and a lack of offensive weapons, things aren’t easy for rookie Mac Jones, who is already limited as an athlete.
22) Philadelphia Eagles
It was ugly for most of this game. The Eagles’ passing attack lacks versatility, and Jalen Hurts was not sharp yet again. However, the defense was able to make up for the offense’s shortcomings, forcing 3 turnovers and allowing just 3.8 net yards per play.
Aside from the Falcons game in Week 1, Philadelphia has looked pretty poor overall. Yet, the defense is good enough to keep them in most games. If Nick Sirianni and Co. can get this offense moving a little, this team could start to steal a couple of games as the season progresses.
They almost beat the Buccaneers, but it felt like they were never in it. Tampa Bay seemed to sleepwalk through the entire game. Despite the 28-22 final score, the game never felt close. Hurts struggled as a passer against a Buccaneers secondary that’s completely injury-riddled.
21) New York Giants
The Giants might be better than the 21st spot in the NFL Power Rankings for Week 6, but they lost a ton of pieces on offense, including their quarterback, running back, and highly-paid wide receiver.
With the Rams, Chiefs, and Raiders all upcoming on the schedule before their Week 10 bye, things could get ugly for New York, especially if Daniel Jones misses any time.
In both positive and negative news, Kadarius Toney appears to be an absolute monster and the Giants’ WR1 of the present and future. However, he also threw a punch at Damonte Kazee and was ejected in the fourth quarter.
20) Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers have struggled on both sides of the ball in 2021. Ben Roethlisberger looks cooked. Their offensive line is young and has been underwhelming. The only thing going well for Pittsburgh is their run defense.
Yet, here they are sitting at 2-3, and they’ve beaten the Buffalo Bills and now the Denver Broncos. Next week, they face the Russell Wilson-less Seahawks, meaning the Steelers could be 3-3 going into their bye.
I still don’t expect much from Pittsburgh going forward, but if they can run the ball like they did against Denver, they can move the chains with a limited Big Ben.
NFL Power Rankings Week 6 | Tier 3: Decent but flawed teams
Each team here features at least one exciting aspect, but coaching and/or quarterback play are detriments for each club.
19) Chicago Bears
This offense is still a massive struggle. Matt Nagy has to figure out how to help out Justin Fields the best he can while he still has his job. Chicago’s defense hovered around the NFL’s top 10 prior to this game, and it will certainly climb after dominating the Las Vegas Raiders’ offense.
Getting Fields more involved in the run game is something I talked about earlier this year, and I still want more from Fields on the ground than 3 carries. He’s an electric athlete — design runs to get him in space.
18) Carolina Panthers
When the Panthers were 3-0, I wrote that they were a paper tiger. Well, their collapse against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 5 should be all we need to understand now.
Their offensive line is a problem, and Sam Darnold is looking like the same player he was in New York — even with Joe Brady doing good work as OC. Now, with injuries to key defensive backs Jaycee Horn, Juston Burris, and Troy Pride (each of whom is on IR), it doesn’t appear Carolina’s defense can continuously get stops when needed.
17) Minnesota Vikings
This is another team that doesn’t seem real. The Vikings kept every game close except for their 13-point win against the Seattle Seahawks. They deserved to lose against Detroit, but a game-winning drive by Kirk Cousins was enough to get them into field goal range to win the game.
Don’t get me wrong — it was easy to see the Vikings were the better team. But the way things unfolded on Sunday, it seemed like their disappointing effort might result in a loss. In a game they absolutely needed to keep their playoff hopes alive, Minnesota laid an egg almost large enough to crack their season.
Instead, they’re 2-3 and will next face a Carolina team floundering on offense without Christian McCaffrey.
16) Denver Broncos
I knew the Broncos’ hot start was partly a product of their schedule, but I did not expect them to fold like a lawn chair two weeks in a row. The Ravens are a good football team, so that’s understandable. However, the Steelers are not, and Denver made them look like a playoff team on Sunday.
The quarterback play fell off a cliff, and the defense can only do so much when the offense can’t sustain drives. The worst part about the situation is having two quarterbacks — which means you actually have no quarterback. It’s why Cam Newton was cut in New England. It is a distraction, whether it should be or not.
With Las Vegas and Cleveland up next, there’s a chance the Broncos lose four in a row before meeting Washington on Halloween.