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NFL power rankings 2016, Week 6: Vikings take over the top spot

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The Vikings may not have received the Tom Brady boost that the Patriots did, but Minnesota just keeps making quarterbacks look awful.

Houston Texans v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

After five weeks only one team has a zero in the loss column and the Minnesota Vikings haven’t given a single reason for anyone to believe they aren’t the best team in the NFL.

There’s no Teddy Bridgewater and there’s no Adrian Peterson, but the Vikings don’t really need an offense that lights up the scoreboard the way the Atlanta Falcons have. With such a dominant defense, the offense can really cruise to victory by avoiding mistakes.

Through five games, Sam Bradford and the Vikings offense have zero turnover. The only turnover on the year was a fumble by safety Andrew Sendejo after a fumble recovery of his own. The team’s struggles to run the football could end up creating an issue at some point, but it’s hard to imagine Minnesota going on a slide at any point in the year with a defense that’s been so good.

The return of Tom Brady gives the New England Patriots a strong case as the No. 1 team in the league, but a destruction of the Cleveland Browns isn’t quite as impressive as a destruction of the Houston Texans — a flawed team, but not the NFL’s worst.

Out of the top spot are the Denver Broncos after picking up their first loss of the year. Losing to a good team like the Falcons with a backup, rookie quarterback isn’t cause for a huge tumble, but Atlanta did expose some flaws that will be under the microscope for a while.

One was Denver’s struggle to keep Paxton Lynch upright. The anemic Falcons pass rush entered Sunday with four sacks in four games, but had the franchise’s first six-sack game in over a decade. Right tackle Ty Sambrailo was benched and it’s an issue without a clear solution for now.

Deep falls

Even with the problems that the Broncos showed, the team is still going to be a tall order for any opponent to take down. It doesn’t appear that the other Super Bowl team from a year ago can say the same.

Yes, the Carolina Panthers were missing Cam Newton, but the team is clearly a much lesser version than the one that went 15-1 a year ago. The Monday Night Football loss dropped the Panthers to 1-4 and the cellar of the NFC South.

A fall from five to 10 isn’t a deep fall so to speak, but the Philadelphia Eagles looked very mortal on Sunday against the Detroit Lions — a team that looked like one the league’s worst in the first four weeks.

The Eagles defense shredded everyone in the first four weeks and actually did a good job slowing down the Lions offense after spotting them an early lead, but a controversial fumble and a rare rookie mistake by Carson Wentz opened the door for the Lions to steal the win back.

It shouldn’t be a huge concern for the Eagles, but the team doesn’t look like it’ll breeze through competition the way it did the Pittsburgh Steelers two weeks ago.

Big jumps

The Falcons are for real.

Yes, the team was 5-0 last year before self-destructing, but things are different this time around. That 5-0 team edged bad teams and didn’t have any performances as impressive as the Falcons’ win over the Broncos.

It remains to be seen if the pass rush that showed up in Denver was a mirage or if it’ll be a factor for the Falcons all season. If it is, Atlanta’s a team that’s going to be really tough to beat because the offense is capable of absolutely tearing apart anybody.

A road trip against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 6 is another huge test, but the Falcons have looked ready for it and have an easier schedule down the stretch.

The Dallas Cowboys also look like a team capable of playing with anybody after dominating the Cincinnati Bengals in every aspect. With Dak Prescott avoiding mistakes, the Cowboys have been able to get back to their identity: A team of bullies.

Ezekiel Elliott is running downhill behind a strong offensive line and opposing defenses just can’t get off the field against Dallas.

Bottom of the trash heap

The poor Cleveland Browns were already No. 32 and had to face the unfortunate wrath of Brady’s return from suspension. But for as unlucky as the Browns have been, the San Diego Chargers may be even less fortunate.

After four weeks of leads at the two-minute warning, self-destruction for the Chargers this week was a fumbled snap on a potentially game-tying field goal that may have only been set up because officials appeared to give San Diego a bad spot.

The Miami Dolphins also seem to be cursed by the football gods. Offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil slipped in the Hard Rock Stadium showers just hours before their game against the Tennessee Titans.

The slip injured his ankle and Ryan Tannehill was subsequently abused by a Titans pass rush that ate Tunsil’s replacement, Billy Turner, alive.

Poor Browns. Poor Chargers. Poor Dolphins.

Week 6 Team Last week
1 Minnesota Vikings 2
2 New England Patriots 3
3 Atlanta Falcons 8
4 Denver Broncos 1
5 Seattle Seahawks 4
6 Pittsburgh Steelers 7
7 Dallas Cowboys 12
8 Green Bay Packers 9
9 Oakland Raiders 10
10 Philadelphia Eagles 5
11 Cincinnati Bengals 6
12 Washington 16
13 Kansas City Chiefs 13
14 Baltimore Ravens 11
15 Buffalo Bills 19
16 Arizona Cardinals 20
17 Houston Texans 14
18 New York Giants 18
19 Los Angeles Rams 17
20 Tennessee Titans 25
21 Carolina Panthers 15
22 Detroit Lions 29
23 New Orleans Saints 23
24 New York Jets 21
25 San Diego Chargers 22
26 Jacksonville Jaguars 26
27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27
28 Indianapolis Colts 30
29 Miami Dolphins 24
30 Chicago Bears 28
31 San Francisco 49ers 31
32 Cleveland Browns 32

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