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NFL power rankings 2017, Week 7: The Saints might actually have a defense

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If the Saints have a competent defense, they’re in business.

NFL: Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints The Advertiser-USA TODAY Sports

There are still two teams without a win, but there are no teams without a loss after only six weeks. The Kansas City Chiefs were the last to fall and did so with a whimper against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

For more than half of the game, the Chiefs couldn’t even crack 30 yards of total offense before finally finding some success in the fourth quarter. The rushing attack that averaged more than 150 yards per game in the first five games managed just 28 yards against a Pittsburgh defense that gave up 181 to Leonard Fournette a week ago.

Still, the Chiefs are 5-1 and Week 6 was rough on the Broncos and Raiders too. Kansas City has plenty of reasons to feel good about its place in the AFC, but the Chiefs aren’t going to stick in the top spot in the power rankings this time.

Riding high

New Orleans Saints

OK, I know No. 2 is sky high for a team that’s just 3-2, but hear me out.

The Saints are still a juggernaut on offense and average 372 yards per game so far this season. Drew Brees is still Drew Brees, and now the team has Alvin Kamara paired with Mark Ingram in the backfield.

But what has launched the Saints’ hopes through the roof is the play of the defense so far in 2017. It forced five turnovers against the Lions on Sunday, two weeks after shutting out the Dolphins.

Maybe it won’t last for long, but even if it doesn’t, it looks like New Orleans struck gold with rookie Marshon Lattimore, who hasn’t given up a touchdown yet and had a pick-six Sunday.

Philadelphia Eagles

After a loss to the Chiefs, the Eagles rattled off wins over the Giants, Chargers, and Cardinals. But none of those were as impressive as the 28-23 win over the Panthers Thursday.

Carson Wentz has been playing extremely well and Philadelphia is rolling.

With Aaron Rodgers out with a broken collarbone, the Eagles are the unopposed frontrunners for now in the NFC.

Low spirits

Green Bay Packers

Rodgers is the No. 1 reason the Packers are 4-2 and it’s hard to imagine them hanging in the playoff race without him. The team isn’t great in any other aspect and has a banged up secondary.

Maybe Brett Hundley will play well, but he just won’t play like Rodgers — and that means the Packers’ promising season looks like it could be done.

Baltimore Ravens

At what point does the putrid play of Joe Flacco become a problem that the Ravens have to consider moving on from?

That may be premature for now, but his four touchdowns and eight interceptions through six games are ripping apart a Ravens team that isn’t good enough on defense to make up for his mistakes.

The Ravens forced 10 turnovers in the first two weeks to get out to a 2-0 start and shut down the EJ Manuel-led Raiders last week. But the Ravens couldn’t overcome Flacco’s two interceptions against the Bears and allowed Mitchell Trubisky to get his first career win, despite the rookie throwing just 16 passes.

Baltimore is going to have serious trouble continuing to find wins if Flacco’s passer rating doesn’t jump much higher than where it is now: 66.1.

0-6 teams

What’s worse? Getting smashed like the Cleveland Browns, or barely losing in the most painful way possible on a weekly basis like the San Francisco 49ers?

The Browns hung in against the Jets and Colts, but were handled by the Texans in Week 6. The 49ers lost their fifth consecutive game by a margin of three points or fewer. I think I’d take the San Fransisco losses, but sheesh, both are awful. Losing isn’t fun.

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 7

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

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