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NFL power rankings 2017, Week 6: Alex Smith has the Chiefs rolling

Alex Smith has realistic MVP hopes, and the Chiefs are dominating right now.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The nature of the NFL makes me want to believe that the downfall of the Kansas City Chiefs is coming. The defense isn’t that good, and Alex Smith is eventually going to turn back into a game-managing pumpkin at some point, right?

With three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 46-34 win over the Texans, Smith became only the fifth quarterback to start the first five games of an NFL season and have a passer rating over 125.

Three of the other four to accomplish the feat — Peyton Manning in 2013, Tom Brady in 2007, Daunte Culpepper in 2004 and Kurt Warner in 1999 — finished as the NFL MVP. Only Culpepper didn’t, although he definitely had an argument with 39 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and an NFL-best 4,717 yards.

Smith has never eclipsed 4,000 passing yards and his best ever touchdown total is just 23, but he’s the early favorite to be the league MVP.

Riding high

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars are alternating between impressive wins and awful losses, so maybe it’ll be another story again after the team hosts the Rams in Week 6. But up and down is a welcomed change from the barren wasteland that was six consecutive seasons with at least 11 losses.

For the first time since 2010, the Jaguars lead the division after September. Leonard Fournette is a battering ram, and opposing teams would be better off spiking the football than trying to pass on Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Literally.

Blake Bortles is still Blake Bortles, but the Jaguars look ready to finally win more than five games in spite of him.

New York Jets

The Jets aren’t tanking; they’re winning. Sure, it was just the Browns and it wasn’t the cleanest win ever, but it brought the Jets to 3-2.

Maybe they’re not set up to sustain success when teams tougher than the Browns come up, but the Jets have a winning record and a three-game winning streak, and they should enjoy the heck out of it.

In Week 6, the Jets host the Patriots, so the good times may come to an end soon. But this season was supposed to be much less fun. Live it up, New York.

New England Patriots

I hope you’re having fun, Jets. But the Patriots are tied for the AFC East lead again thanks to a Bills loss, and New England just has to beat the Jets for the 11th time in the last 13 meetings to stay on track for another division title.

Low spirits

Houston Texans

A loss to the Kansas City Chiefs isn’t a death sentence. Deshaun Watson threw five touchdowns, and the AFC South remains winnable. But man, Sunday night was rough.

The strong defensive front of the Texans will have to finish the season without Whitney Mercilus and J.J. Watt — a pair of pieces that just won’t be replaced.

It’s not time to give up on Houston — not with the dynamic Watson at quarterback — but it’s understandable if Texans fans are down in the dumps this week.

Pittsburgh Steelers

It’s hard to decide which was the worst part of the team’s blowout loss to the Jaguars.

Ben Roethlisberger’s career-high five interceptions were pretty awful. Inexplicably abandoning the running game with Le’Veon Bell and struggling to stop Leonard Fournette were also bad.

Maybe the worst were Roethlisberger’s postgame hints at retirement being on the horizon while the team is in the middle of the AFC North race. Get your head in the game, Ben.

New York Giants

The Giants were already 0-4, but somehow things got way worse Sunday. Wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris all suffered season-ending injuries against the Chargers, and Sterling Shepard is day-to-day with an ankle injury.

New York already had a ton of reasons to give up hope on 2017, but the world’s worst wide receiver luck could negatively impact the franchise beyond this year too. Who would’ve thought it would be way easier to be a Jets fan in New York this year?

Full hope rankings

Weekly disclaimer: These aren’t your average power rankings and are instead an attempt to measure the current state of mind — or “hope” — for each team and fan base.

The NFL can be an emotional roller coaster, and one big week can shoot a team’s spirits through the roof and tank another’s hopes of finishing with the Lombardi Trophy in February or beyond. Teams near the top are feeling great after Sunday, while those at the bottom aren’t feeling too optimistic.

If you’re looking for a ranking of who would beat who, this isn’t always going to be the best gauge:

Hope rankings, Week 6

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

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