Oct 8, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) gestures against the Washington Redskins in the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints won 43-19.

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Seth Dunlap's NFL Power 12 rankings - Week 6

Brees sets record, Saints look like a contender

Seth Dunlap
October 09, 2018 - 7:24 pm
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If this season is proving anything, it's that nobody can figure out who is good besides the top four teams on our rankings.  The Rams, Saints, Chiefs, and Patriots all have looked like conference contenders since before the season started.  Yes, even yours truly had the Chiefs as a Mahomes-led dark horse in the AFC.

Behind those four, things get a lot less clear.  Defending champion Philadelphia looks like a complete mess right now, with back to back losses sending leaving them with a losing record, and outisde of the playoff picture entering Week 6.   The Jaguars have proved they're capable of beating anybody (see their beatdown of New England) but are incredibly inconsistent with Blake Bortles at quarterback.  The AFC North remains unsettled, and ridiculously fun. 

Oh, then there's the Packers, Seahawks and Giants.  These three franchises have ruled the NFC over the past 13 seasons, with seven conference championships and four Super Bowl titles between them.  They all may finish out of the playoffs for the second consecutive year.  A changing of the guard, indeed.

Let’s get to the rankings for Week 6

 

NFL Power 12 - Week 6

1.  Los Angeles Rams (5-0) LW-#1:  This year’s Way Too Popular Super Bowl Favorite may have escaped the league’s toughest place to play with a win, but left with their two top receivers recovering from concussions.  Their first five opponents have a combined 9-15-1 record, and while Denver is never an easy place to win, they are heavy favorites this week against the 2-3 Broncos. Last week: W 33-31 @ SEA, This week: @ DEN

2.  New Orleans Saints (4-1) LW-#3:  A nifty four game win streak for the Who Dats have the Saints nipping at the Rams heels in the NFC.  Drew Brees is now the NFL’s passing yardage king, and the defense has held their last two opponents to under 20 points.  Not an ideal time to get the bye.  Last week:  W 43-19 vs. WAS, This week: BYE

3.  Kansas City Chiefs (5-0) LW-#2:  The football world continues to expect a reversion to expectations for the Chiefs, which is understandable considering they keep getting massively outgained by their opponents. Patrick Mahomes looked like a mere mortal against an elite defense (0 TD, 2 INT), and the Jags racked up 502 yards on the Chiefs defense, but it didn’t matter.  Last week:  W 30-14 vs. JAX, This week: @ NE (SNF)

4.  New England Patriots (3-2) LW-#5:  It’s officially time to blast out all of those freezing-cold take screen caps you saved from people who thought the Patriots were actually, really this time, imploding after a 1-2 start.  Last week: W 38-24 vs. IND, This week: vs. KC (SNF)

5.  Cincinnati Bengals (4-1) LW-11:  Andy Dalton is still turning the ball over too much (7 INT on the season) but this team is proving to be the deepest, most balanced team in the AFC North.  They’ve separated themselves from the Ravens with a head-to-head win and a one game lead in the division, and now they have a chance to bury the Steelers.  Last week:  W 27-17 vs. MIA, This week: vs. PIT

6.  Carolina Panthers (3-1) LW-#12: Think an NFL season can’t be re-defined on one play?  Think again.  Panthers’ placekicker Graham Gano booted an incredible, and record-tying, 63 yard game winning field goal to keep the Panthers in striking distance of the Saints and first place in the NFC South.  That kick could easily decide something critical at season’s end, whether it’s a playoff spot or seeding to the post-season. Last week:  W vs. Giants 33-31, This week: @ WAS

7.  Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2) LW-#4:  I’ve been one of the few people saying this team can win a Super Bowl with a game-managing Blake Bortles.  They could, but Bortles’ four interception debacle was the antithesis of “game managing”.   That can’t happen again if this team expects to contend in the AFC.  Last week:  L 30-14 @ KC, This week: @ DAL

8. Minnesota Vikings (2-2-1) LW-#UR:  The term “season-saving win” gets thrown around way too often in the modern era of oversaturated, cliché’ driven, sports media.  However, describing the Vikings’ road win against the defending champs as such is pretty apropos.  A 1-3-1 start might have doomed last year’s NFC runner-ups.  Now, they’re back in the thick of the NFC North division battle. Last week:  W 23-21 @ PHI, This week: vs. ARI

9.  Chicago Bears (3-1) LW-10:  A great bye week for the Bears as they watched Green Bay lose in Detroit, making their still-uneasy division title path just a bit more clear.  A good measuring-stick type game this week on the road in Miami. Last week: BYE This week: @ Miami

10.  Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) LW-#7:  Last week I wrote that the Eagles were on Yellow Alert.  They’re now on Red Alert.  The Eagles make this list by necessity as a team from the NFC East will make the playoffs.  I mean, that's the system and all. Plus, The Champs eventually have to get it figured out, right?    Last week:  L 23-21 vs. MIN, This week: @ NYG (TNF)

11.  Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2-1) LW-UR: The Steelers trounced Atlanta in what likely was an elimination game between two pre-season Super Bowl favorites.  The Steelers’ playoff hopes are still alive and well.  They’ll need a win on the road against the Bengals this week to keep chase in the division. Last Week: W 41-17 vs. ATL, This week: @ CIN

12.  Los Angeles Chargers (3-2) LW-UR:  The Chargers cling to the final AFC playoff spot in my projections, and the final spot on my list.  They edge out Baltimore based on a bit of a softer remaining schedule, including two remaining games against the Broncos and one against the Raiders inside of their division.  Those three contests are likely easier wins than anything inside the AFC North for Baltimore. However, the Chargers can’t afford any slip ups, which includes this week in Cleveland. Last week:  W 26-10 vs. OAK, This week: @ CLE

 

Dropping out: 

  • Green Bay Packers – LW #6
  • Baltimore Ravens – LW #8
  • Tennessee Titans – LW #9

Previous Week's Rankings

 

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