The Patriots grabbed the top spot in our power rankings after their Week 1 win, and haven't looked back in the five weeks since. They've dispatched the Bills, Jaguars, Cowboys and Colts during that time and while it's still early, they've shown little sign of weakness. New England's offense is a juggernaut that's averaging 36.6 points per game -- just off their season-long pace in their historic 17-1 2007 season (it was 36.8 points per game that year) -- and their 183 points through five games betters their first five in 2007 (182 points that year). While the Pats lost some tools on defense when Darrelle Revis left for New York, they've had others step up on that side of the ball, including the uber-athletic Jamie Collins, a matchup nightmare.
New England will get a nice test by the Jets next week, but for now, the Pats continue to sit atop these rankings.
Moving on up:
If you're still waiting for Andy Dalton to falter, you may be wasting your time. Dalton shows absolutely no sign of slowing down, and the Bengals' dominant 34-21 win over the Bills pushed his season passing line to 130 of 193 (67 percent), 1,761 yards at 9.1 YPA (!) and 14 touchdowns to two picks. That's a season-long pace of 4,696 passing yards, 37 touchdowns and five picks. He has been fantastic this season despite what you may believe he'll do going forward, and his performance has helped Cincinnati shoot out to a 6-0 start. If there's anyone who can challenge the Patriots in the AFC (or for the top spot in these power rankings), it looks like the Bengals.
Meanwhile, the Panthers made a statement of their own in upsetting the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Cam Newton led a severely depleted Carolina offense on four 80-yard touchdown drives in a winning effort in one of the hardest places to win in the NFL over the past three years. It puts to bed, somewhat, the idea that the Panthers are only undefeated because of their easy strength of schedule. Despite the fact that the Seahawks aren't playing up to their normal standard this year, it's a big win for Carolina. The Panthers take sole control of first place in the NFC South.
Interim head coach Dan Campbell has apparently energized the Dolphins' flat-lining team morale. Miami rolled in Tennessee and looked more like the team that many thought it'd be going into this season. There's still plenty of time for the Dolphins to climb back into this thing. In the meantime, the Vikings shrugged off a loss to the Broncos and beat the reeling Chiefs at home. It wasn't pretty, but they got the job done.
The Niners look rejuvenated after beating the Ravens at home, and head into a Thursday Night Football matchup against the hated Seahawks this week with renewed confidence. Colin Kaepernick has passed for 602 yards at 9.7 yards per attempt with four touchdowns and no picks in his last two games. If Kaepernick can continue to thrive, he'll have a chance to send the Seahawks to the NFC West cellar.
SB Nation presents: The NFL still doesn't know what a catch is
Speaking of the Seahawks, they blew yet another fourth-quarter lead, fell on their face when they needed to give their best punch and dropped to 2-4 on the year. They don't look like the Seahawks of the past three years yet and are in real danger of a lost season. There's time to right the ship, but there's an awful lot to address in a short amount of time.
The Cardinals aren't in nearly the same type of dire straights, but did stumble pretty badly against a Steelers team led by Michael Vick before being spelled by third-stringer Landry Jones. Pittsburgh's defense made a statement by holding the high-flying Cardinals to just 13 points and it picked off Carson Palmer twice. Making matters worse, the Cardinals' defense couldn't hold when it needed to and gave up a long 88-yard touchdown play to Martavis Bryant with 2:12 left to seal the loss. Arizona will need to get back on track next week against the Ravens in what looks like a winnable game.
The Falcons lost their first game of the year in a division matchup with the Saints, while the Chiefs and Ravens continued their downward spiral with depressing losses of their own.
Jockeying for that first pick:
The race for the first pick is a ways off, but right now the favorites are looking like the usual suspects ... and the Lions. The Jaguars lost to the Texans at home and the Titans looked pretty inept against the Dolphins. Both could be in line for the inglorious honor of picking first in 2016. If we're talking about teams that might end up in this section as the year goes on, the Ravens have been shockingly bad, the Chiefs don't look like they're going to reverse course and the Buccaneers still have much to prove.
|RK||WEEK 6||SB NATION BLOG|
|1||New England Patriots, 5-0 (Last Week: 1)||Pats Pulpit|
|2||Cincinnati Bengals, 6-0 (Last Week: 3)||Cincy Jungle|
|3||Green Bay Packers, 6-0 (Last Week: 2)||Acme Packing Company|
|4||Carolina Panthers, 5-0 (Last Week: 7)||Cat Scratch Reader|
|5||Denver Broncos, 6-0 (Last Week: 5)||Mile High Report|
|6||Pittsburgh Steelers, 4-2 (Last Week 8)||Behind the Steel Curtain|
|7||New York Jets, 4-1 (Last Week: 9)||Gang Green Nation|
|8||Atlanta Falcons, 5-1 (Last Week: 6)||The Falcoholic|
|9||Arizona Cardinals, 4-2 (Last Week: 4)||Revenge of the Birds|
|10||Minnesota Vikings, 3-2 (Last Week: 13)||Daily Norseman|
|11||Philadelphia Eagles, 3-3 (Last Week: 17)||Bleeding Green Nation|
|12||Buffalo Bills, 3-3 (Last Week: 10)||Buffalo Rumblings|
|13||Indianapolis Colts, 3-3 (Last Week: 12)||Stampede Blue|
|14||New York Giants, 3-2 (Last Week: 11)||Big Blue View|
|15||St. Louis Rams, 2-3 (Last Week: 16)||Turf Show Times|
|16||San Diego Chargers, 2-4 (Last Week: 14)||Bolts from the Blue|
|17||Cleveland Browns, 2-4 (Last Week: 18)||Dawgs by Nature|
|18||Seattle Seahawks, 2-4 (Last Week: 15)||Field Gulls|
|19||New Orleans Saints, 2-4 (Last Week: 25)||Canal Street Chronicles|
|20||San Francisco 49ers, 2-4 (Last Week: 28)||Niners Nation|
|21||Miami Dolphins, 2-3 (Last Week: 27)||The Phinsider|
|22||Oakland Raiders, 2-3 (Last Week: 22)||Silver and Black Pride|
|23||Washington, 2-4 (Last Week: 21)||Hogs Haven|
|24||Dallas Cowboys, 2-3 (Last Week: 23)||Blogging the Boys|
|25||Chicago Bears, 2-4 (Last Week: 19)||Windy City Gridiron|
|26||Kansas City Chiefs, 1-5 (Last Week: 20)||Arrowhead Pride|
|27||Houston Texans, 2-4 (Last Week: 30)||Battle Red Blog|
|28||Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2-3 (Last Week: 26)||Bucs Nation|
|29||Baltimore Ravens, 1-5 (Last Week: 21)||Baltimore Beatdown|
|30||Detroit Lions, 1-5 (Last Week: 32)||Pride of Detroit|
|31||Tennessee Titans, 1-4 (Last Week: 29)||Music City Miracles|
|32||Jacksonville Jaguars, 1-5 (Last Week: 31)||Big Cat Country|