The NFL returned for a fifth week of action, but only 28 of the league’s 32 teams played games. London also had a second game on the schedule, meaning there was a light 1 p.m. ET slate of only six games. Which teams rose and fell in the Week 6 NFL Power Rankings?
The Panthers and Giants Tumble to the Bottom of NFL Power Rankings
32) Carolina Panthers (29)
At what point does Frank Reich make the decision to sit Bryce Young and let him wait in the wings of Andy Dalton? At what point do we think maybe immediately playing guys who are so obviously overwhelmed is not the best decision? Because through five games, Young looks completely shell-shocked.
And they had the bad fortune of meeting a Detroit Lions team that is trying to prove to the entire world that they are not your grandfather’s, father’s, or even their own Lions. This version of the team is the one to get over the hump of mediocrity. And they’ll pull out all the stops along the way.
31) New York Giants (28)
The New York Giants are an offensive dumpster fire. Even against a Dolphins defense with a somewhat depleted secondary and no Jaelan Phillips, they could manage almost nothing through the air or on the ground. And they still can’t protect Daniel Jones, who left the game with a neck injury after being sacked for the sixth time.
30) Chicago Bears (32)
Well then … for the first time since Elon Musk spent an extortionate amount of money to destroy a worldwide brand, the Chicago Bears have won a football game.
Justin Fields and the Bears passing attack were outstanding. Although Fields only completed 15 of 29 passes, he averaged nearly 10 yards per attempt, meaning he was slinging it downfield. And he was slinging it to one target specifically.
DJ Moore was a fantastic addition to the Bears offense. They needed a legitimate receiving weapon, and he has offered them that. But until they stack weeks together, it remains impossible to trust this team.
29) New England Patriots (24)
It turns out that having absolutely no juice on the offensive side of the ball is an unsustainable way to try and operate an offense at the NFL level in 2023.
Mac Jones is not a creator, and he has nobody on the outside to consistently create separation, either. Jones would need a nice environment to succeed, and even after hiring a real offensive coordinator, the Patriots still are not a good situation for him.
The defense is talented when healthy, but with most of their cornerbacks unable to play, that’s not exactly how we can categorize this unit at the moment.
28) Washington Commanders (21)
Losing a game to a 0-4 team at home on a short week is sickening enough. Getting thoroughly deconstructed defensively by what had been one of the worst offenses in the NFL over the first four weeks was an absolute embarrassment.
Sam Howell has a steep learning curve remaining. But it is nice to see that his offensive coordinator is letting him sling it. He needs to continue getting live reps in so his process speeds up because if he keeps up the pace, he will break the record for sacks taken in a season.
27) Denver Broncos (31)
There is absolutely no denying that, at this point, Russell Wilson is leaps and bounds better than he was a season ago. But the defense is exponentially worse, and even with improved play, Wilson still hasn’t completely revitalized his career yet.
He faced his first good defense this week after putting up top-10 efficiency numbers playing against the Las Vegas Raiders, Commanders, Dolphins, and Bears. Competition level matters. He’ll face the Kansas City Chiefs (twice) and Buffalo Bills in three of the next four games.
Let’s see what this Broncos offense looks like then.
26) New York Jets (27)
At some point, the New York Jets have to take a good, long look in the mirror. Zach Wilson is always good for a mistake, and far too often, they happen at a critical juncture.
New York throwing the ball in this situation is so incredibly stupid.
— Dalton Miller (@DaltonBMiller) October 8, 2023
Hand the ball off to Breece Hall and kick field goals against an offense that, aside from the previous drive late in the fourth quarter, could not move the ball with any semblance of efficiency.
But in the end, the Broncos made one more mistake than the Jets.
25) Arizona Cardinals (25)
The Cardinals’ defensive flaws have been magnified over the past two weeks. However, things were not nearly as bad as they may seem on the surface. There were a lot of drives in this football game, and the Cincinnati Bengals controlled the ball – and the clock – for most of the game.
Josh Dobbs had his worst game as a Cardinal, but the offense still moved the ball relatively well throughout the contest.
24) Minnesota Vikings (26)
The Minnesota Vikings may have outplayed the Chiefs on Sunday. However, the Chiefs were perfect in the red zone, and they limited their mistakes where the Vikings could not. And in the end, those mistakes cost them the game.
The Vikings don’t necessarily need to make a move for an RB because they’re not contending in 2023. But it’s quite clear that Alexander Mattison and Cam Akers are not a duo capable of carrying the load, even in a league that has almost completely devalued the position.
23) Las Vegas Raiders (30)
As the Raiders entered their fifth week of play, they have struggled to get much going on either side of the ball. They’re 20th in offensive EPA, but they are 12th in success rate. Untimely turnovers have hurt them, but their inability to efficiently run the football has been their bigger offensive issue.
But their defense has been the more significant issue … again. Only the Broncos (duh) and the Bears (checks out) have been worse defensively from an EPA perspective. Aside from Maxx Crosby, there is not much for offensive coordinators to worry about along their defensive depth chart.
Beating the Packers pushes the Raiders past the Cardinals and Vikings, but they firmly belong behind the Steelers and Titans among teams with two wins.
22) Pittsburgh Steelers (23)
The Pittsburgh Steelers offense remains a trainwreck, but the Ravens offense was even worse on Sunday. The Steelers can hang their hat on one thing in 2023: T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith are dominating offense tackles, keeping the Pittsburgh defense afloat.
Kenny Pickett is struggling, but he was outstanding on the final drive of the game, which culminated in a George Pickens 41-yard touchdown against Marlon Humphrey.
21) Tennessee Titans (20)
The Titans couldn’t get Derrick Henry going at all against the Indianapolis Colts. He gained 43 yards on 13 carries, and his longest run only amounted to eight yards. Aside from DeAndre Hopkins, the offense couldn’t get anything going.
The Titans only really had seven offensive drives, and they scored on four of the seven. However, their red-zone woes were their eventual downfall against their division rivals.
20) Houston Texans (16)
C.J. Stroud did everything but run the clock down enough on the final drive. He led an 11-play, 75-yard drive for a touchdown late in the game to take a one-point lead.
The problem was that they had four consecutive three-and-outs in the second half, and the Texans defense let go in the fourth quarter, allowing a touchdown and two field goals on the Atlanta Falcons’ three drives.
19) Green Bay Packers (15)
The Green Bay Packers have been about what we should have anticipated from them through four weeks. Their young quarterback is flashing in Matt LaFleur’s offense, but the consistency, particularly throwing downfield, is simply not there at the moment.
They’ve remained below average defensively, but that is certainly not Rashan Gary’s fault. The fifth-year pass rusher was coming into his own in 2021 before an injury cut his 2022 season short. Now, he’s on an absolute tear.
The Packers defensive mishaps might be their undoing in 2023. Although Joe Barry gets a ton of flak for his part in the defense’s perceived underwhelming performances in recent years, at some point, the players have to make the plays they’re in position to make. Kenny Clark and Gary are doing their jobs, but the rest of the unit needs to shape up.
18) New Orleans Saints (19)
The Patriots currently play with a very injured defense and an anemic offense, but this version of the New Orleans Saints is the one that we thought we could have in 2023. Alvin Kamara is back, there are more than enough weapons on the outside, and Derek Carr has remembered how to play football again.
His shoulder still doesn’t look 100 percent, but it wasn’t necessary against a depleted Patriots secondary.
17) Los Angeles Chargers (17)
Don’t look now, but the Los Angeles Chargers offense is looking exactly like the intellectuals believed it could. Justin Herbert is playing well, and Kellen Moore has been a considerable upgrade as the team’s offensive architect.
However, the defense remains a letdown, which is unacceptable, considering they hired a defensive head coach that was supposed to be a wiz kid.
16) Cincinnati Bengals (22)
The Ja’Marr Chase breakout game is never too far away. He broke a franchise record with 15 receptions against Arizona, and the elite receiver amassed just shy of 200 yards while adding three touchdowns.
Once they secured the lead, the Bengals’ schematic excellence on defense made things incredibly difficult for Josh Dobbs, and their talented pass rush made their mark as well.
Joe Burrow is still not his normal self. He still can’t move well, but he did find some explosiveness in his arm for the first time in 2023.
15) Atlanta Falcons (18)
The Falcons outlasted the Texans, and it came on a fantastic final drive from their young quarterback. Desmond Ridder has struggled so far in his second NFL season, but he was very good against Houston. He finished 28 of 37 for 329 yards and completed 20+ yard passes to five different receivers.
Atlanta’s passing attack finding some life is a positive sign for a team that was struggling on that side of the ball before Week 5. Their defense continues to be much improved from their performance a season ago.
14) Indianapolis Colts (14)
The Colts won, but there is already a disturbing trend forming in Indianapolis. Anthony Richardson has been electric on the field, but he’s missed time in four of five possible games, and he left the Colts’ game against the Titans in the second quarter.
Having a backup like Gardner Minshew, who has experience with Shane Steichen, is a nice Plan B. However, Minshew limits the explosive potential of the offense, and it is incredibly difficult to sustain drives at the NFL level. Creating explosives makes scoring touchdowns simpler.
13) Los Angeles Rams (10)
The Rams are a solid football team, particularly for how young they are on both sides of the ball. However, the Rams looked flat on the offensive side of the ball in the second half, and they only managed three offensive possessions in the first half.
Cooper Kupp was integrated neatly into the offense early on. The relationship that Matthew Stafford has with Kupp and Nacua will make for fireworks. And if they continue to run the ball well, this offense could be sustainably dangerous, even without a great offensive line.
12) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers likely didn’t want to take a week off. Baker Mayfield has been Thanos with all six Infinity Stones on third and fourth down so far in 2023. He’s second behind Brock Purdy in EPA, and his 20.3 CPOE on money downs is by far the highest in the NFL.
They’re also sixth in defensive EPA overall, and they rank just outside the top 10 in defensive success rate. They have significant talent at all three levels of the defense. We (this analyst included) knew they had the potential to win games because of the roster, but the offensive line and QB play have exceeded expectations.
11) Cleveland Browns (11)
The Browns may have wanted this off week to get their quarterback’s shoulder back to health, but they did not want to have to pull their defense off the field. They are the top unit in defensive EPA and success rate.
The secondary is playing at an incredibly high level, and Jim Schwartz has been in his bag so far calling the defense.
10) Jacksonville Jaguars (13)
The Jaguars offense is still both one of the best in the NFL and one of the worst all wrapped up into one. They’re bad in the red zone, and they consistently make boneheaded mistakes in big situations. Their quarterback teeters between elite play and boneheaded ball security.
But the Jacksonville defense is getting to the quarterback at a higher rate than in the past, and their defensive backfield is playing much better than one would assume, given their on-paper potential.
9) Baltimore Ravens (7)
Divisional games in the AFC North are always a bit funky. Talent and records don’t seem to matter when hate fills the heart. And the AFC North takes us back to the days when rivalries were real.
The Ravens simply didn’t show up offensively. Wide receivers decided they’d rather not catch the football on this day. An ill-advised Lamar Jackson red-zone fade to Odell Beckham Jr. resulted in a late interception, and Alex Highsmith sealed the game with a strip sack on the next drive.
8) Seattle Seahawks (8)
The Seahawks run defense has been strong this season. Although they’ve dealt with injuries in the defensive backfield and a bit of lackluster performance from Julian Love, Devon Witherspoon has played as advertised as the primary slot defender.
On the other side of the ball, Geno Smith and the passing attack have picked up where they left off a season ago. Although they’re struggling a bit to find explosiveness, they have been the fourth-most successful passing attack in the league.
7) Dallas Cowboys (5)
The matchup between the Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers is bad blood. The 49ers are the best team in the NFL through four weeks of play, and they have been the Cowboys’ personal boogeyman over the past two seasons.
Maybe they went into the game too amped up. Or maybe the San Francisco 49ers are simply that much better than everyone else at the moment. They don’t seem to have any particular weaknesses, which cannot be said about the Cowboys.
The loss of Trevon Diggs has been more significant than originally anticipated. And losing DaRon Bland could be the nail in the Cowboys’ defensive coffin.
6) Detroit Lions (9)
Aidan Hutchinson always should have been the top pick in his draft class, and he’s proving it more and more as each week flies by. His interception of Bryce Young was magnificent, and he’s been one of the league’s best pass rushers so far in 2023.
The Lions defense appears to have turned the corner from last season, and while the offense hasn’t been quite as impressive as last year, it is still one of the most efficient units in the NFL.
5) Miami Dolphins (6)
De’Von Achane is averaging over 10 yards per run … for the season. The Dolphins are unfairly fast. They own a majority of the fastest ball-carrier speeds within the top 10 this season, and the speed never ends.
Even on a day where Tua Tagovailoa threw two interceptions, the offense averaged over 10 yards per play with about nine minutes remaining in the game. The offense is unfair. They just need their defense to show up against quality offensive opponents.
4) Buffalo Bills (3)
The Bills had an incredibly tough day in London. They lost multiple key defenders throughout, and the offense appeared anemic for most of the contest.
Flying across the Atlantic Ocean and playing on a five-hour time difference is difficult. Playing against a team that’s been there for over a week and has acclimated themselves to the time difference makes things even tougher.
Only giving two days between flying over and playing is far less than ideal, coming from someone who has taken similar flights multiple times over the past few years. It’s not a simple transition.
3) Philadelphia Eagles (4)
The Eagles are a tough team to beat. Even though they have legitimate worries over the middle of their defense at safety and linebacker, they do so many things at an elite level that they’re able to overcome poor performances from different units.
The Eagles offense dominated the day. Up to their final touchdown drive to make the game 23-14, they converted on 12 of 16 third downs. They held the ball for 36 minutes compared to the Rams 21, effectively keeping the ball away from Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Puka Nacua.
2) Kansas City Chiefs (2)
Patrick Mahomes is clearly not 100 percent, and Travis Kelce will be feeling his ankle for a while after injuring it during the game against the Vikings. But this defense can still turn it up to 100 percent when it matters most, and we’ve seen enough from Mahomes to know he’s the best QB in the NFL, and on one leg, he’s still the second-best.
1) San Francisco 49ers (1)
The 49ers look exactly like the 49ers have looked over the past few seasons now, except with what feels like continuity at quarterback for the first time. Additionally, Christian McCaffrey might be the one running back in the NFL that unequivocally matters.
Some question whether Brock Purdy is talented enough to win a Super Bowl. But this team was a play away a few years ago. Purdy very clearly adds a level of explosiveness that Jimmy Garoppolo could not, and the efficiency remains sky-high.
The 49ers took what looked to be a strong Cowboys team and thoroughly disemboweled them on national television on Sunday Night Football. Purdy was unbothered by the Cowboys’ pass rush, and the Cowboys’ secondary didn’t have the talent to stick with the 49ers’ weapons.
San Francisco is on a different tier than anyone else at the moment.