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2023 B/R NFL Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Stand Entering Week 7?

2023 B/R NFL Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Stand Entering Week 7?

2023 B/R NFL Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Stand Entering Week 7?

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    Bleacher Report

    The only thing certain in the NFL is that nothing is certain.

    Week 6 was living proof of that.

    After six weeks, the 1972 Dolphins can pop open the bubbly again, because the league’s two remaining undefeated teams both fell in stunning fashion. In Cleveland, the San Francisco 49ers were beaten by a Cleveland Browns team starting P.J. Walker at quarterback. In New York, the Zach Wilson-led Jets rode a stellar defensive performance to an upset of the unbeaten Eagles.

    There was nearly a third upset—the one-win New York Giants outplayed the Buffalo Bills for most of Sunday night’s game before falling late.

    It was undoubtedly the wackiest week of the 2023 campaign to date, and as one might expect, it gave the NFL’s pecking order the snow-globe treatment.

    As has been the case every week here at Bleacher Report, NFL Analysts Gary Davenport, Maurice Moton and Brent Sobleski have come together to sift through the madness and slot all 32 teams from worst to first.

    And for the first time in a while, there’s a new No. 1.

32. Carolina Panthers (0-6)

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    Bryce Young

    Bryce YoungMegan Briggs/Getty Images

    Last Week: 32

    Week 6 Result: Lost at Miami 42-21

    When Carolina jumped out to an early 14-0 lead over Miami Dolphins Sunday, it appeared for a moment that the Panthers were set to shake off their 0-5 start in a big way.

    But the Panthers are winless for a reason, and after the Dolphins calmed down, they outscored Carolina 42-7 the rest of the way—and the seven was a pick-six thrown by Dolphins backup quarterback Mike White.

    Rookie quarterback Bryce Young had arguably his best game as a pro—Week 6 was the first time this season he didn’t commit a turnover. But the NFL’s last-ranked quarterback in terms of QBR told reporters after the game that he’s a lot less interested in moral victories than actual ones.

    “It’s good to jump out to an early lead, but we see what the scoreboard finished with, so it’s not a consolation prize,” he said. “We have to be able to sustain it. I think it showed what we’re capable of and there is positive there, and we have to find way to keep building on that and keep improving and then cut out the bad that came.”

    The Panthers will now have the off week to try to figure out how to earn win No. 1.

    But the longer the skid continues, the more fans and pundits will question whether the trade up to acquire Young was worth the picks it cost the franchise.

31. Arizona Cardinals (1-5)

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    Joshua Dobbs

    Joshua DobbsRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    Last Week: 27

    Week 6 Result: Lost at Los Angeles Rams 26-9

    The Arizona Cardinals are unraveling.

    Playing without quarterback Kyler Murray was one thing—to his credit, Joshua Dobbs has had his moments in relief of Murray, whose return timeline from an ACL tear remains murky.

    But when running back James Conner also landed on injured reserve with a knee injury, it was one blow too many for the Redbirds. Arizona tallied 345 yards of offense against the Rams, but the Cardinals managed just nine points. It’s the fifth time this season the Cardinals have failed to top 20 points, and the fourth time they have allowed at least 26 points.

    The Cardinals were 0-of-3 in the red zone Sunday, and head coach Jonathan Gannon said after the game that those failures played a large part in the team’s defeat.

    “Those are four-point plays, you know what I mean?” Gannon told reporters. “The points are at a premium there, and we’ve just got to get back in the lab and make sure we’re putting our guys in positions to make plays.”

    The Cardinals aren’t going anywhere this season. And as the losses pile up, it becomes more and more reasonable to wonder if the smartest move for the Cardinals wouldn’t be the slow and safe route with Murray—even if it means missing the entire 2023 season.

30. New York Giants (1-5)

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    Tyrod Taylor

    Tyrod TaylorBryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

    Last Week: 31

    Week 6 Result: Lost at Buffalo 14-9

    The New York Giants could have won Sunday night.

    For just the second time this season, the Giants offense showed some signs of life with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback and Saquon Barkley back at running back. The Giants actually out-gained the Bills 317-297 and had the ball at the Bills 1-yard line twice, only to come away with zero points on both possessions.

    While talking to reporters postgame, head coach Brian Daboll said the team’s red-zone woes prevented the Giants from potentially stealing a win.

    “It came down to one yard and just missed it,” Daboll said. “We got it down there four times and we didn’t put it in. That’s really the difference in the game, not being able to punch it in the end zone.”

    For Sobleski, however, it was just a bad team doing what bad teams do.

    “One stat is all that’s necessary to understand just how bad the Giants are this season: According to OptaSTATS, the Giants are the first team in the Super Bowl era to lose a game despite more rushing yards, more passing yards, fewer interceptions thrown, fewer fumbles lost and fewer missed FG than their opponent,” he said. “Prior to Sunday’s outcome, teams had been 134-0 when all of those numbers fell in their favor. This year’s Giants epitomize the saying, ‘If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.’ They didn’t do enough to address last year’s problem areas and they’ve only become bigger issues this season.”

29. Chicago Bears (1-5)

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    Justin Fields

    Justin FieldsTodd Rosenberg/Getty Images

    Last Week: 29

    Week 6 Result: Lost vs. Minnesota 19-13

    Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for the Chicago Bears.

    In addition to suffering yet another loss to a division rival in front of increasingly disgruntled fans at Soldier Field Sunday, the Bears also watched quarterback Justin Fields go down with what has been diagnosed as a dislocated thumb in his throwing hand. Fields will miss at least a week, but head coach Matt Eberflus told reporters the young quarterback is in good spirits.

    “His demeanor is great,” Eberflus said. “He goes, ‘Coach, we’ll see where it is tomorrow.’ He was positive and he was upbeat.”

    That backup Tyson Bagent fumbled a ball that was returned for a touchdown is a metaphor for what is shaping up to be another terrible season in the Windy City. But Davenport thinks there could be a silver lining among the darkness.

    “I like Justin Fields,” he said. “I think he can be a viable NFL starter. But he’s not the guy in Chicago. Not with this staff and this team. The Bears could wind up with the first and second picks in the 2024 draft. Use the first on a quarterback—whether it’s Caleb Williams of USC or North Carolina’s Drake Maye. Use the second on Ohio State wideout Marvin Harrison Jr., so that you don’t waste years of this quarterback’s career asking him to move the ball with substandard weapons around him. And sack Eberflus in favor of an offensive-minded coach who can get the most out of that young talent. Then trade Fields, who needs a fresh start of his own.

    “The Bears need to be blown up offensively. The more games they lose, the easier that will be to do in 2024.”

28. New England Patriots (1-5)

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    Bill Belichick

    Bill BelichickMatthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

    Last Week: 28

    Week 6 Result: Lost at Las Vegas 21-17

    We’re witnessing history with the New England Patriots. That’s not new under Bill Belichick. But the history we’re witnessing is historic futility—and that most assuredly is.

    Make no mistake. These Patriots are bad. Really bad. Mac Jones may well be the worst starting quarterback in the league. Belichick’s frustration level has reached the “break stuff” phase. As Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson wrote, though, on some level Belichick has no one to blame but himself for this dumpster fire of a team.

    “There’s something about the feeling of permanence in this Patriots futility,” Robinson wrote. “It can’t be fixed in a bye week or explained away as a snapshot in time from one game in the 2023 season. This is turning into a fresco painted into the walls and ceilings of the franchise. This is becoming Bill Belichick’s anti-masterpiece. His canvas. His brush strokes. His chosen palette.”

    Later, he wrote: “Sunday showcased the truth again, just like nearly every other time the Patriots have taken the field. This is a bad team. It has a bad quarterback. It was constructed by a head coach who has been a bad general manager: Bill Belichick, a prisoner of his creation.”

    At this point, more losses may well be the best thing for these anti-Patriots, as it gives them a better shot at an elite quarterback prospect. The question then becomes whether Belichick will be around next year when that quarterback arrives.

    It’s looking more and more like “no” with each ugly loss.

27. Denver Broncos (1-5)

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    Russell Wilson

    Russell WilsonRJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

    Last Week: 30

    Week 6 Result: Lost at Kansas City 19-8

    It wasn’t supposed to be like this in Denver.

    When the Broncos mortgaged the future to acquire quarterback Russell Wilson, the plan was that the player who helped destroy Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII was going to help get the Broncos back to the promised land. After Denver struggled in 2022, the Broncos made another trade—this time for Super Bowl-winning head coach Sean Payton.

    Neither trade has worked even a little. The Broncos sport the worst defense in the NFL. In Thursday’s loss to the rival Kansas City Chiefs, Denver had fewer than 200 yards of offense.

    Make no mistake, the Broncos may well be the worst team in the AFC. But despite their 1-5 record, Payton told reporters that he isn’t about to throw in the towel on this team.

    “I’m disappointed but I’m not discouraged,” Payton said. “Offensively we struggled throwing the ball. Our third-down numbers were poor. The turnovers, against a team like this, it’s going to be tough to win the game, and yet we were still in it going into the fourth quarter. Sometimes you don’t know how a game is going to unfold.”

    At least the Broncos will be able to keep their high draft pick in 2024.

26. Tennessee Titans (2-4)

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    Ryan Tannehill

    Ryan TannehillAlex Pantling/Getty Images

    Last Week: 22

    Week 6 Result: Lost vs. Baltimore 24-16 (London)

    The Tennessee Titans are in trouble.

    It’s not just that the Titans are 2-4 after falling to the Baltimore Ravens in London. Or that Tennessee sports the 27th-ranked offense in the league.

    Now that struggling offense could be without its starting quarterback for the foreseeable future.

    In the loss to Baltimore, Ryan Tannehill suffered an ankle injury that left the veteran signal-caller on crutches after the game—and visibly frustrated while talking to reporters.

    “It freakin’ sucks,” Tannehill said. “It’s part of the game, getting injured. We’ll see what it is going to look like with the MRI moving forward. But it’s frustrating.”

    For Moton, Tannehill’s injury is an opportunity.

    “The Titans may not admit it publicly, but they’re a team that’s fit to embrace the youth on their roster, trade assets before the deadline and prepare for a rebuild,” Moton wrote. “On Sunday, quarterback Ryan Tannehill went down with an ankle injury and left the game on a cart. At 35 years old, with declining passing numbers over the previous few seasons, he’s in the last year of his contract. Regardless of his status going forward, Tennessee should pivot from him.

    “During its Week 7 bye, Tennessee should rip the Band-Aid off at the quarterback position—attempt to trade or bench Tannehill and hand the offense over to Malik Willis or rookie second-rounder Will Levis. For the remainder of the season, the Titans can get their first glimpse of the offense without Tannehill, which will allow them to find out what they have in Willis and Levis so the front office can start planning for a quarterback-rich 2024 draft.”

25. Minnesota Vikings (2-4)

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    Kirk Cousins

    Kirk CousinsTodd Rosenberg/Getty Images

    Last Week: 23

    Week 6 Result: Won at Chicago 19-13

    The Minnesota Vikings came into Week 6 a desperate 1-4 team short their best playmaker clinging like grim death to rapidly fading postseason hopes.

    They left Chicago with a win, thanks in large part to the team’s best defensive performance of the season. But if Week 6 was any indication, Minnesota’s playoff hopes are just about done.

    Yes, the Vikings got the victory. But without Justin Jefferson, Minnesota had just 220 yards of offense against one of the league’s worst defenses. Even Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins said the team didn’t play well offensively.

    “I felt like we would have a positive play, get to a manageable down and distance, and then we’d have a negative play, whether it was a penalty or go backward a little bit,” Cousins told reporters. “And now, we’ve sort of shot ourselves in the foot in order to be able to extend the drive.”

    Mind you, this is a Vikings team that ranks 21st in the league in scoring defense. A team that ranks 30th in the NFL in rushing after letting Dalvin Cook go in the offseason. Jefferson was far and away the most valuable player on Minnesota’s roster.

    And now that he’s sidelined indefinitely, there’s really nothing left to talk about but Kirk Cousins’ future (or lack thereof) in purple and gold.

24. Indianapolis Colts (3-3)

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    Gardner Minshew

    Gardner MinshewDon Juan Moore/Getty Images

    Last Week: 16

    Week 6 Result: Lost at Jacksonville 37-20

    The Indianapolis Colts have problems.

    After a somewhat promising start to the season, the Colts have dropped two of three, the latest being a 17-point loss where the game really wasn’t that close.

    With quarterback Anthony Richardson on the shelf, Gardner Minshew struggled mightily in his opportunity for revenge on his old team. Minshew threw for 310 yards and a touchdown, but he also turned the ball over four times, tossing three picks and losing a fumble.

    While talking to reporters postgame, Colts head coach Shane Steichen took responsibility for Indy’s ninth straight loss in Jacksonville.

    “We got ourselves in a hole there with the turnovers,” Steichen said. “We got to do better there. It starts with myself, doing a better job there. I’ve got to be better.”

    However, Sobleski thinks the team’s problems go past this one defeat.

    “With news that Anthony Richardson may ultimately choose shoulder surgery and be out for the rest of the season, a re-evaluation of the Colts season and where the team stands is necessary,” he said. “After being throttled by the Jaguars in Jacksonville again, it’s clear that Indianapolis doesn’t have the firepower to compete against the AFC’s best. Gardner Minshew is who he is. Unless the offensive line really digs deep and creates opportunities for running back Jonathan Taylor and Zack Moss, the Colts will struggle to move the ball offensively. Conversely, Indy’s defense is generally sound but unaggressive, which creates opportunities for opponents to regularly move the ball. With the Cleveland Browns’ defense and the veteran Saints upcoming, a solid 3-2 start could quickly devolve into a 3-5 record.”

23. Green Bay Packers (2-3)

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    Jordan Love

    Jordan LoveCooper Neill/Getty Images

    Last Week: 20

    Week 6 Result: Bye Week

    The Green Bay Packers entered the bye week with work to do on offense.

    Last week against a sketchy Raiders defense, the Packers struggled offensively. The team was held to fewer than 300 yards of total offense, and quarterback Jordan Love was atrocious—just 16 completions in 30 attempts for 182 yards and three interceptions.

    That miserable performance has given way to plenty of criticism of both Love and the Green Bay offense as a whole. But while speaking to reporters, head coach Matt Lafleur said the team can’t afford to listen to that outside noise.

    “There’s a lot of good that can come out of adversity if you stay tough-minded and persistent and you don’t let it bring you down,” he said. “And that’s what I told our guys. I was like, nobody’s feeling sorry for us and if we feel sorry for ourselves, we will regress. But as long as we take that approach like, hey, we’re going to roll up our sleeves and get back to work, then you’ve got a chance to show some progress. That’s what I want to see. I want to see that fight from our team, and I believe that we will.”

    There’s time to turn things around—Green Bay’s next two games are against teams with losing records.

    But if the Packers can’t get the offense untracked, that noise is going to be impossible to ignore.

22. Washington Commanders (3-3)

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    Sam Howell

    Sam HowellRich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Last Week: 24

    Week 6 Result: Won at Atlanta 24-16

    After dropping three straight, the Washington Commanders needed a win any way they could get one. They got that badly needed victory Sunday in Atlanta, but it was an ugly win.

    Quarterback Sam Howell threw three touchdown passes without an interception—but he barely cleared 150 passing yards. For the second week in a row, Washington’s ground game was stuck in mud, managing just 72 rushing yards on 22 carries. The Commanders had just 193 yards of offense and were outgained by a margin of well over 2-to-1.

    However, where the Commanders took care of the football, the Falcons turned it over three times—and those turnovers made all the difference.

    While talking to reporters, Howell said he was thankful for the win, even if it was lacking a bit in the style-points department.

    “I think the main thing is we know we have a lot of stuff we can clean up. We know we can play better, and that’s a good football team we just beat,” Howell said. “It’s exciting when you can win and know you didn’t play your best game.”

    Cleaning things up had best happen quickly—three of Washington’s next four games are on the road, and the lone home date is with an Eagles team that just beat the Commanders in Week 4.

21. Las Vegas Raiders (3-3)

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    Maxx Crosby

    Maxx CrosbyMatthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

    Last Week: 26

    Week 6 Result: Won vs. Patriots 21-17

    After a 1-3 start, the Las Vegas Raiders have peeled off consecutive wins to get back to .500 for the season.

    It wasn’t a pretty win, though, and as Bleacher Report’s resident Raiders expert wrote, while the defense held up its end of the deal, the Vegas offense remains a mess.

    “The Raiders have won their last two games in large part because of their defense,” Moton said. “When was the last time anyone in the fanbase could say that? It’s been a long time. In Week 5, cornerback Amik Robertson secured the game-winning interception. On Sunday, edge-rusher Maxx Crosby and defensive tackle Bilal Nichols closed the game with a safety, and the Raiders walked out of Allegiant Stadium with a 21-17 victory over the New England Patriots.

    “The Silver and Black ‘Just Win Baby’ perfume hasn’t quite covered the wretched stench from a putrid offense, though. Against the Patriots, the Raiders went 1-of-6 in their red-zone trips. They have scored just 10 offensive touchdowns in six games. Fortunately, Vegas has played against opponents with average-to-below-average scoring offenses, and the Chicago Bears are next on the schedule with their inconsistent offensive attack. By the way, Bears quarterback Justin Fields left the team’s previous outing with a hand injury. The Raiders should enjoy their wins now, but they must unlock their offense with the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins coming up within the next five games.”

    When the Raiders do take the field again, it may be without Jimmy Garoppolo—the Vegas quarterback was hospitalized briefly after suffering a back injury in last week’s win.

20. Atlanta Falcons (3-3)

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    Desmond Ridder

    Desmond RidderRich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Last Week: 15

    Week 6 Result: Lost vs. Washington 24-16

    Certain truisms in the NFL are as accurate now as they were in 1975. Or 1955.

    And arguably the biggest of them all is this—turnovers are the kiss of death.

    Sunday in Atlanta, the Falcons outplayed the Washington Commanders in just about every way imaginable. The Falcons rolled up over 400 yards of offense and allowed fewer than 200. Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder eclipsed 300 passing yards for the second straight game.

    But Ridder also threw three interceptions, and those turnovers were the difference in the game.

    After the loss, Ridder told reporters that he knows he cost his team in Week 6.

    “Obviously, that’s tough right there to go out there and put up that showing,” Ridder said. “We had plenty of opportunities to go down and put points on the board.”

    “As the Falcons ride the ups and downs with second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder, they will have to deal with mixed results,” Moton said. “In Week 5, Ridder took a step in the right direction. He threw for a season-high 329 yards and a touchdown against the Houston Texans but then followed up with two touchdown passes and three interceptions in a 24-16 loss to the Washington Commanders on Sunday.

    “We should expect erratic swings in Ridder’s performances, though. He’s started in only 10 career games. Though Ridder’s supporters should be encouraged by his back-to-back 300-plus-yard throwing games, he’ll give his critics something to raise their eyebrows about as he goes through the typical growing pains for an inexperienced quarterback. In the meantime, Atlanta will sit on the borderline of the playoff picture as a mediocre squad.”

19. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2)

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    Najee Harris

    Najee HarrisJoe Sargent/Getty Images

    Last Week: 19

    Week 6 Result: Bye Week

    The Pittsburgh Steelers headed into the off week at 3-2 and atop the AFC North. That has to please head coach Mike Tomlin.

    The play of the Steelers offense over the first five games of the season? Not so much.

    The Steelers rank 30th in total offense, averaging just 268.2 yards per game. The run game has also been the third-worst in the league, barely cracking 80 yards per contest.

    Despite the team’s offensive struggles this year, besieged offensive coordinator Matt Canada told reporters that he remains confident the Steelers can turn things around on that side of the ball.

    “We’d like to be better but there’s a lot of football left, and I think there’s a good vibe from the guys about getting to go out and play the rest of the season and certainly do what they expected to do coming into the season,” Canada said. “We’ve got to look at what we’re doing well and what we think we can get better at.”

    Pittsburgh’s defense remains solid. But per Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, going into Week 6 the Steelers led the NFL in three-and-outs, and no team in the league had punted more.

    That is not a recipe for consistent success.

18. New York Jets (3-3)

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    Quinnen Williams

    Quinnen WilliamsKevin Sabitus/Getty Images

    Last Week: 25

    Week 6 Result: Won vs. Philadelphia 20-14

    When the New York Jets lost quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the opening series of the first game of the season, the general belief was that was it—the Jets were toast.

    Apparently, someone forgot to tell the Jets.

    Despite being down both starting cornerbacks, the Jets stunned the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, logging their second victory of the season over a Super Bowl contender. Gang Green remains an inconsistent squad offensively with Zach Wilson under center, but as Moton wrote, the Jets are nowhere near as finished as we thought.

    “The Jets defense looked as good as it did last year without starting cornerbacks Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed in a matchup with the Eagles, who went into Week 6 undefeated,” he said. “Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts took a couple of sacks and threw three interceptions. Say what you want about the Jets, but they haven’t folded in the absence of star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who ruptured his Achilles four plays into the 2023 season.

    “Gang Green has quality wins against the Buffalo Bills and Eagles and nearly pulled off a comeback win in a competitive contest with the Kansas City Chiefs a couple of weeks ago. Obviously, the Jets have limitations with a Zach Wilson-led offense, but their roster can still keep the score close enough for them to pull off wins and upsets.”

    The Jets get a week off before battling the crosstown Giants, and given how the teams are playing, the Jets could easily be somewhere very few expected eight weeks in—above .500.

17. New Orleans Saints (3-3)

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    Derek Carr

    Derek CarrCooper Neill/Getty Images

    Last Week: 13

    Week 6 Result: Lost at Houston 20-13

    On paper, the Saints look like a team that should be able to score points. In running back Alvin Kamara and wide receivers Michael Thomas and Chris Olave, the skill-position talent is there. The offensive line is at least decent. The addition of Derek Carr was supposed to be an upgrade at quarterback.

    But despite a season-high 353 passing yards from Carr, the Saints managed just 13 points Sunday in Houston. It marked the fifth time in six games that the Saints have scored 20 or fewer points, and New Orleans sits 24th in the league in scoring.

    Carr allowed to reporters after the loss that another down offensive effort left him frustrated.

    “Very disappointed. I was livid coming off the field. I was angry coming off the field. I had to calm down a little bit,” Carr said. “We as an offense had too many details … you know I’m not going to tell you what happened. Yes, we know. Yes, we know what it was and all those things. I won’t say it. Those little details, that if we do those things right, you’re looking like…oh my gosh…we would have 28 points. I just want to win, man. The yards are awesome, great, thanks. I couldn’t care less. I just want to win.”

    The thing is, it’s not like this was the first time this has happened. Or the second. After a 2-0 start, the Saints have dropped three of four.

    And if New Orleans doesn’t start converting more drives into points soon, the losses are going to keep piling up.

16. Houston Texans (3-3)

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    C.J. Stroud

    C.J. StroudLeslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Last Week: 21

    Week 6 Result: Won vs. New Orleans 20-13

    It’s all over for Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud.

    After an NFL-record 191 pass attempts to open his career without an interception, Stroud was finally picked off. And frankly, Stroud had one of his poorer games—with young wideout Tank Dell sidelined, Stroud completed less than half his passes and failed to hit 200 passing yards. But the former Ohio State star threw two touchdown passes, the Houston defense picked him up when needed, and a Houston team very few expected much from in 2023 is .500 through Stroud’s first six career starts.

    After hanging on to beat New Orleans on Sunday, head coach DeMeco Ryans lauded his team for rallying and making plays when needed.

    “When the game was on the line and we needed it most, guys stepped up,” Ryans told reporters. “It’s tough to win in this league, but it was awesome to see the way our guys grinded it out and the way they stepped up right there in the end.”

    At least one of our analysts is impressed.

    “Six weeks into the regular season and the Texans appear to have hit home runs with all of their major decisions this past offseason,” Sobleski said. “At three wins, the team already matched its win total from last season. Head coach DeMeco Ryans has instilled a different type of energy throughout the entire organization. This year’s second overall draft pick, quarterback C.J. Stroud, is on track to become the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. And this year’s third overall selection, defensive end Will Anderson Jr., is the league’s most disruptive first-year defender.

    “More importantly, Houston remains in the AFC South hunt since it sits one game behind the Jacksonville Jaguars, with a victory against the rival earlier this season. This isn’t a franchise worried about next year anymore. The Texans can compete with anyone now.”

15. Los Angeles Chargers (2-3)

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    Justin Herbert

    Justin HerbertRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    Last Week: 14

    Week 6 Result: Lost vs. Dallas 20-17

    Monday’s matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Chargers was an opportunity for the Chargers to answer some questions coming out of the bye—to put the team’s 0-2 start squarely in the rearview mirror with a win over a quality opponent.

    The team went into the game riding a two-game winning streak
    and looking for some payback for ex-Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore,
    who holds the same position now in Los Angeles.

    “Kellen wants to put up 100 points if he can,” said receiver Simi Fehoko, via Daniel Popper of the Athletic. “And he’s going to keep scoring if he can.”

    Yeah—that didn’t happen.

    The Bolts were stymied offensively much of the night,
    gaining just 272 yards of total offense. The team converted just five of 14
    third down attempts and were just 2-for-4 in the red zone.

    Throw in one ill-advised interception by quarterback Justin Herbert, and suddenly the Chargers find themselves looking up at the Las Vegas Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Chargers’ next matchup is a trip to Arrowhead.

    That game now has considerable stakes—because the Bolts can’t afford to drop to 2-4.

14. Los Angeles Rams (3-3)

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    Kyren Williams

    Kyren WilliamsHarry How/Getty Images

    Last Week: 18

    Week 6 Result: Won vs. Arizona 26-9

    When the Los Angeles Rams won the Super Bowl a couple of years ago, they did it with a high-flying aerial attack. But Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, the Rams went old-school.

    Sure, wide receiver Cooper Kupp had a big game, catching seven passes for 148 yards and a score. But the real star of the game was running back Kyren Williams, who gashed the Cardinals for a career-high 158 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

    Williams told reporters that he’s been working toward a game like this from the moment he entered the NFL.

    “That’s something I’ve always wanted,” Williams said. “I never had to adjust to it, because I was always working toward it. I always knew I had it in me, so now it’s just displaying the work that I put in before.”

    Williams has piled up 58 carries over the past three weeks, with the Rams winning two of them. And at 3-3, the Rams have inserted themselves into the wild-card conversation in the NFC.

    “The Rams’ three losses were to the Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers—teams who all made it as far as the conference championship games last season,” Davenport said. “The Rams lost those games by a combined 19 points. These Rams have their flaws, but they are a better team than most expected—and one opponents would be well-advised to take seriously.”

    Unfortunately, the Rams will be without Williams this week against the Steelers–an MRI on Monday revealed that Williams sprained his ankle against the Cardinals.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2)

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    Baker Mayfield

    Baker MayfieldKevin Sabitus/Getty Images

    Last Week: 10

    Week 6 Result: Lost vs. Detroit 20-6

    For most of the 2023 season, Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield has played some of the best football of his career.

    But Sunday against the Detroit Lions, bad Baker made his first appearance.

    In fairness, it wasn’t all Mayfield’s fault that the Buccaneers were thumped by the Lions—Tampa gained fewer than 50 yards on the ground and averaged less than three yards per carry, and the Bucs defense couldn’t get the Lions off the field, allowing nine third-down conversions in 16 tries.

    But Mayfield didn’t help the cause, completing just 19 of 37 pass attempts for 206 yards and an interception. His passer rating for the game was 56.8—far and away his lowest of the season.

    Mayfield wasn’t bashful about how he and the Buccaneers played in Week 6.

    “It was awful,” Mayfield told reporters. “We didn’t start fast, we didn’t pick it up in the middle and we didn’t close strong. The Lions are a good ballclub, but if we play like that we’ll lose every time.”

    The problem is that this marks the second time this season that the Buccaneers have had an opportunity to make a statement against one of the NFC’s best teams—and they scored 17 points in the two games combined.

12. Cleveland Browns (3-2)

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    Myles Garrett

    Myles GarrettFrank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Last Week: 12

    Week 6 Result: Won vs. San Francisco 19-17

    Yes, you read that right. The Cleveland Browns, led by a quarterback who wasn’t even on the team just a few months ago, beat a San Francisco 49ers team that has been atop these power rankings most of the season Sunday.

    It was that kind of week.

    The hero of Sunday’s upset was undoubtedly the Cleveland defense. Facing a 49ers team that had just shredded the Dallas Cowboys, the Browns allowed just 215 yards of offense, handing 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy the first regular-season loss of his career.

    After the game, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski was understandably proud of his team while addressing the media.

    ‘”The truth is, we’re a good football team,” Stefanski said. “We’re not perfect. We know that. But we fought like crazy, and I’m just proud of so many guys.”

    What this means much big picture remains to be seen. Running back Nick Chubb is still lost for the season with a knee injury. There’s no definitive timetable for quarterback Deshaun Watson’s return from a bruised shoulder.

    But the Browns were able to rush for 160 yards and 4.7 yards per carry against the Niners, and Cleveland’s defense tends to keep the team in games.

    At the very least, the Browns are a tough out. And in an AFC North where no one is pulling away, they remain quite relevant in the division race.

    “To the surprise of nearly everyone outside of the Cleveland locker room, the Browns dethroned the previously undefeated 49ers and claimed a victory Sunday despite not having Watson or All-Pro guard Joel Bitonio in the lineup,” Sobleski said. “How did they do so? The league’s top-ranked defense. The Browns really hadn’t played a top-notch offense this season, and their meeting with San Francisco proved to be their first real test. Myles Garrett and Co. weren’t fazed. The group shuttered Kyle Shanahan’s vaunted scheme for most of the contest. They played with energy, flew to the football and made an elite offense look marginal. As the Orange and Brown Report’s Cody Suek noted, the Browns allowing a 31.2 success rate is the lowest of any defense through the first six weeks since at least the 2012 season. Now, the unit just needs a little help from the offense.”

11. Seattle Seahawks (3-2)

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    Geno Smith

    Geno SmithDylan Buell/Getty Images

    Last Week: 6

    Week 6 Result: Lost at Cincinnati 17-13

    The Seattle Seahawks entered Week 6 as a team riding a three-game winning streak and sitting in the top 10 in our Power Rankings.

    They left it a team with more than a few questions.

    One is quarterback Geno Smith, who hasn’t played at the same level of his Comeback Player of the Year season in 2022. Smith threw a pair of costly interceptions against the Bengals, and while addressing the media after the game, Smith took the blame for this week’s defeat.

    “I felt like the guys deserved to win today,” Smith said. “Obviously, I didn’t do my best job today to get that done. So those are things that I put on myself. I lay it right at my feet, right on my shoulders, and I look forward to the next opportunity. I just need to be better. Can’t do that, especially in the red zone. Can’t put the ball in harm’s way.”

    However, Smith didn’t get any help from his offensive line—he was sacked four times and spent much of game under duress.

    Now, the Seahawks get to spend most of the next month at home—three of their next four games are at Lumen Field, including a winnable Week 7 tilt with the Arizona Cardinals. But after the Redbirds comes three matchups with teams that are .500 or better, and both matchups with the NFC West-leading 49ers still loom later in the season.

10. Cincinnati Bengals (3-3)

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    Joe Burrow

    Joe BurrowDylan Buell/Getty Images

    Last Week: 17

    Week 6 Result: Won vs. Seattle 17-13

    There’s good news and bad news for the Cincinnati Bengals.

    The good news is that after starting the season 0-2, the Bengals have peeled off three wins in four games to get back to .500 and get back in the AFC North race. The Cincinnati pass rush continues to play well, dropping Seattle quarterback Geno Smith four times.

    The bad news is that Cincinnati’s offense continues to struggle. The Bengals amassed just 214 yards of offense against the Seahawks, and no team in the AFC has averaged fewer yards per game six weeks into the season.

    However, quarterback Joe Burrow appears to be getting healthy, and the better Burrow’s calf feels, the more dangerous that Moton thinks this Cincinnati team will become.

    “Burrow looks healthy, which means the Bengals are back in the postseason picture as a perennial playoff contender,” he said. “Burrow only threw for 185 yards, two touchdowns and an interception against the Seattle Seahawks, but he moved fluidly in and out of the pocket on a particular play that let you know he’s regained his mobility after reaggravating an offseason calf injury about a month ago. Now, Burrow will have time to rest on a bye week before a big-time road matchup with the San Francisco 49ers. Assuming he continues to look like his normal self, Cincinnati is primed to go on a midseason run despite a tough stretch after the week off.”

9. Dallas Cowboys (4-2)

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 10: A generic view of a Dallas Cowboys helmet against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on September 10, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    Last Week: 11

    Week 6 Result: Won at Los Angeles Chargers 20-17

    There wasn’t a team in the NFL that needed some Listerine in Week 6 more than the Dallas Cowboys. The team had to find a way to rinse out the taste of the 42-10 pounding they absorbed at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers in Week 5.

    In the leadup to Monday night’s game, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott told reporters the team had to get that game out of their minds and focus on getting right against the Chargers.

    “The last thing we can [afford to] do is let that linger into the week, especially with the extra day to put it behind us,” said Prescott. “We watched the film and closed the book, and moved on to the Chargers, which is a really good team. You don’t have time in this league to have a hangover — even after a game like that, that’s disappointing as it is.

    It wasn’t a flawless effort—the Cowboys couldn’t get the ground game going. But, thanks to arguably Prescott’s best game of the season and a couple timely defensive plays late, Dallas snuck past Los Angeles to move to 4-2 and keep the pressure on the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East.

    Now Dallas gets a week off followed by a home date with the Rams and then the second big test of the campaign—a trip to Philly in Week 9 to face the Eagles.

8. Baltimore Ravens (4-2)

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    Justin Tucker

    Justin TuckerAlex Pantling/Getty Images

    Last Week: 9

    Week 6 Result: Won vs. Tennessee 24-16 (London)

    Football fans in London no doubt arrived at Sunday’s matchup between the Ravens and Titans hoping to watch one of the league’s most dynamic players do his thing.

    Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson did enough for the Ravens to get a win to move to 4-2 on the season. But fans were actually treated to a whole lot of Justin Tucker.

    Tucker kicked a whopping six field goals in the win, and while head coach John Harbaugh told reporters he was grateful once again to have the best kicker in the NFL on his side, he also acknowledged that the Ravens need to a better job of finishing drives.

    “I’m really thankful for Justin. He made all those kicks,” Harbaugh said. “It’s probably fun for the crowd here to see, but we need to score points. That could have been a much more comfortable game for us.”

    It’s something of a theme for the Ravens this year—and one that Davenport believes could be a problem.

    “The Ravens are winning,” he said, “but the offense has been alarmingly hit or miss. Odell Beckham Jr. is making $15 million in guarantees to catch two passes a game. Rashod Bateman is equally invisible. In short, the new-look Baltimore offense looks an awful lot like the old one—run the ball and throw it to tight end Mark Andrews. That might be good enough to beat mediocre teams like the Titans. But it doesn’t scream ‘elite contender.'”

7. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-2)

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    Trevor Lawrence

    Trevor LawrenceSam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Last Week: 8

    Week 6 Result: Won vs. Indianapolis 37-20

    It all appears to be coming together for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    After a 1-2 start, the Jaguars have peeled off three wins in a row—the latest being an emphatic victory over the Indianapolis Colts that gives Jacksonville sole possession of first place in the AFC South.

    While addressing the media after the game, head coach Doug Pederson said the victory shows what kind of team the Jags are capable of being.

    “I think it’s a glimpse of what we can be,” Pederson said. “There are still some areas that we have to clean up, obviously. The team really in these last three weeks kind of figured some things out, figured out who we are as a football team. That’s exciting to see. They really embraced that.”

    However, the victory was dampened a bit when quarterback Trevor Lawrence went down in the fourth quarter with a knee injury, although the young signal-caller said he should be OK.

    With the Jaguars playing on Thursday night, Lawrence’s availability and the decision to run the quarterback with the game in hand will be hot topics this week.

    But right now, the Jags appear to clearly be the class of their division.

6. Buffalo Bills (4-2)

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    ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 15: Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills throws a pass during the game against the New York Giants at Highmark Stadium on October 15, 2023 in Orchard Park, New York. The Bills beat the Giants 14-9. (Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images)

    Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images

    Last Week: 7

    Week 6 Result: Won vs. New York Giants 14-9

    For the Buffalo Bills, Sunday night’s tilt with the New York Giants was the definition of gutting out a win.

    For the first time since 2019, the Bills didn’t score a point in the first half. Bills quarterback Josh Allen threw for just 169 yards, and Buffalo managed just 297 yards of offense against one of the worst defenses in the league. But thanks to a pair of late touchdown drives, the Bills eked out a win to stay a game back of the Dolphins in the AFC East.

    After the game, Allen told reporters that the Bills need to figure out why they are starting games so slowly.

    “We’re a much better team than we showed tonight, and showed last week,” Allen said. “We got to figure out why that is and how to get ourselves out of a funk early on.”

    The Bills had better get that funkitis figured out fairly quickly—though next week’s trip to New England shouldn’t be too big a challenge. But road trips to Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Kansas City and Miami all loom large on the schedule—and earning home-field advantage and making those teams travel to Buffalo in the postseason could be a big deal.

5. Detroit Lions (5-1)

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    Jahmyr Gibbs

    Jahmyr GibbsGregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Last Week: 5

    Week 6 Result: Won at Tampa Bay 20-6

    With every passing week, it becomes more clear that the Detroit Lions are a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

    That’s right—Super Bowl contender. The Lions are playing as well as any team in the NFC after dispatching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 6.

    Offensively, the Lions rolled up 380 yards of offense despite losing top running back David Montgomery to a rib injury. Defensively, Detroit held the Buccaneers to just 251 yards and kept the Bucs out of the end zone.

    Sobleski doesn’t expect Montgomery’s absence to slow Detroit’s roll even a little.

    “The Lions are for real and expect them to get even more dangerous in the coming weeks,” he wrote. “On the surface, an injury to Montgomery isn’t a positive. While he’s expected to miss a few weeks, his absence will create an opportunity for first-round rookie Jahmyr Gibbs, who should be back in the lineup soon. Full implementation of the dynamic playmaker creates different looks for the Lions, while Montgomery will eventually return to serve as the unit’s hammer. Furthermore, wide receiver Jameson Williams nabbed a 45-yard touchdown grab in his second appearance this season. He can take the top off a defense at a moment’s notice. Gibbs and Williams provide unique skill sets to make an already good squad even better.”

    With a trip to Baltimore up next, the Lions have a chance to do what would have been unthinkable not that long ago.

    Stake a legitimate claim to the title of the NFC’s best team.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (5-1)

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    Patrick Mahomes

    Patrick MahomesCooper Neill/Getty Images

    Last Week: 3

    Week 6 Result: Won vs. Denver 19-8

    The good news for the Kansas City Chiefs is that the team keeps winning—Kansas City took care of the Denver Broncos on Thursday to move to 5-1 and maintain its perch atop the AFC West.

    The bad news is that the Chiefs scored fewer than 20 points against a Denver defense that has been abysmal this season.

    However, Kansas City’s defense shined against the Broncos, allowing fewer than 200 yards of total offense. While addressing the media after the game, quarterback Patrick Mahomes was quick to credit that defense for carrying the day.

    “We have guys that are starters on other teams that are trying to find a way on the football field, and when they get on the field, they’re making plays,” Mahomes said. “And they’re playing with confidence.”

    “It’s hard to worry too much about the Chiefs,” Davenport said. “After all, they have hosted the last five AFC Championship Games, played in three of the past four Super Bowls and won two championships. Plus, there’s the whole Patrick Mahomes thing. But Kansas City’s passing game hasn’t been as lethally efficient as in years past, and the team’s wide receivers have been disappointing. Against the bumbling Broncos, that didn’t matter. But against teams like the Buffalo Bills, it most assuredly could.”

3. Philadelphia Eagles (5-1)

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    Jalen Hurts

    Jalen HurtsDustin Satloff/Getty Images

    Last Week: 2

    Week 6 Result: Lost at New York Jets 20-14

    The Philadelphia Eagles had yet to put together a complete effort this season, but prior to Week 6 the occasional miscue and inconsistent play hadn’t prevented the team from winning.

    Sunday in New York, it finally came back to bite them.

    The Eagles outgained the Jets by over 100 yards in the game, but the turning point was turnovers—Jalen Hurts threw three costly interceptions against the Jets, and the team lost a fumble.

    While speaking to the media after the game, Hurts channeled his inner Captain Obvious.

    “You turn the ball over four times you shouldn’t expect to win,” Hurts said. “It’s an opportunity to look ourselves in the mirror and respond, and I have confidence that this team will do so.”

    For his part, Davenport isn’t too concerned.

    “On some level, losing to the Jets may have been something of a blessing in disguise—a wake-up call for a team that hadn’t played to its potential five weeks into the season,” he said. “It won’t take long to see how the Eagles respond to being punched in the mouth for the first time—next week the Eagles host Tua Tagovailoa and the high-flying Dolphins, and two weeks after that Dak Prescott and the Cowboys come to town.”

2. San Francisco 49ers (5-1)

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    Brock Purdy

    Brock PurdyGregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Last Week: 1

    Week 6 Result: Lost at Cleveland 19-17

    Heading into Sunday’s matchup with a woefully short-handed Cleveland Browns team starting P.J. Walker at quarterback, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy had yet to lose a regular-season start.

    That streak is over—in part because for one game at least, Purdy looked like a seventh-round pick.

    Facing constant pressure from the Browns pass rush, Purdy had far and away his worst game as a professional—just 12 completions in 27 attempts for 125 yards with a touchdown and an interception. After the game, Purdy freely admitted to reporters that he didn’t play well enough to win.

    “I didn’t play at the standard that I needed to,” Purdy said. “We feel like we failed our own expectations. I just have to be better and make the throws. Man, it’s the NFL. When you get opportunities, you’ve got to take care of them. There are plays that we didn’t make.”

    Edge-rusher Nick Bosa echoed those frustrations.

    “I don’t think we deserved to win,” Bosa said. “We didn’t underestimate them, but they did play better than us. We haven’t lost in a long time in the regular season, so it hurts a lot more.”

    It could be much worse than just a single loss for the 49ers, too. Running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver Deebo Samuel left the game with injuries and did not return.

    Either missing significant time would be a major blow.

1. Miami Dolphins (5-1)

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    Tyreek Hill

    Tyreek HillRich Storry/Getty Images

    Last Week: 4

    Week 6 Result: Won vs. Carolina 42-21

    When the Miami Dolphins fell into an early 14-point hole against the winless Panthers on Sunday, it appeared we might be in for one of the upsets that became the theme of Week 6.

    As it turns out, the Dolphins were just showing the Panthers a little light before they slammed the door.

    The Dolphins score the next 35 points. Miami’s high-octane offense got rolling, with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa throwing three touchdown passes, wide receiver Tyreek Hill having another big game and running back Raheem Mostert topping 130 scrimmage yards with three touchdowns. Miami piled up 424 yards of offense, and combined with the other events in a wild Week 6, another offensive explosion was enough to earn Miami the No. 1 spot in these rankings on Davenport’s board.

    “Everyone knows all about Miami’s offense, which is piling up yardage and scoring points at a historic pace,” he said. “There’s good reason for that—Miami’s team speed is unparalleled in the NFL, and there isn’t a team in the league capable of scoring points in the blink of an eye better than Miami. But the Dolphins defense held the Panthers under 300 yards Sunday and sacked Bryce Young four times. Yes, the Dolphins were blown out by Buffalo. But no team in the NFL is playing better right now—so the ‘Fins have my vote at No. 1.”

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