The New England Patriots hold onto the top spot in our power rankings this week with an impressive win over the Jets. The Patriots' offense abandoned all hope for an effective run game and just decided to throw the hell out of the ball (to the tune of 54 attempts), but as you'd expect with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, they managed to make it work pretty well against a tough, aggressive New York defense. The Patriots held off a spirited comeback attempt by the Jets, who bungled a potential last-ditch shot at the end zone when Brandon Marshall lined up incorrectly and New England survived what looked to be one of its biggest tests this season.
The rest of the top of our power rankings remained static as well, with three out of five of The Undefeateds on bye weeks. The Panthers also took care of business on Sunday Night Football to remain perfect on the year. Cam Newton threw three picks, but got an inspiring effort from his defense and was helped out on offense with a seemingly rejuvenated Jonathan Stewart. J-Stew ran with fury on his way to 125 yards on 5.2 yards per carry. The Panthers continue to smartly use the read option-based run game to wear opponents down and control the ball, and despite Newton's statistically down day, he threw for a touchdown and added one on the ground.
Moving on up:
Meanwhile, the Falcons got a road victory in Tennessee despite what looked to be a botched review of a Julio Jones touchdown (which was followed up by a Matt Ryan interception) to improve to 6-1. Things haven't necessarily been pretty for Atlanta the last few weeks, but the team is finding ways to win -- a huge improvement over last season. They have now matched their win total from last season (six) through seven weeks. Quinn looks like a great hire so far.
The Vikings continue to rise in these rankings with their second straight win, dispatching a hapless Lions team on the road to improve to 4-2. Adrian Peterson busted out a 75-yard run while Teddy Bridgewater played efficiently, completing 71 percent of his throws for 316 yards and two touchdowns. Stefon Diggs continues to emerge as a top target for Bridgewater and had one of the catches of the year when he dove -- fully outstretched -- and caught a touchdown pass over his shoulder.
The Dolphins look like a new team under interim head coach Dan Campbell and delievered an insane performance in the first half against the Texans. They jumped out to a 41-0 lead in the first 30 minutes before coasting to an easy win at home. They improve to 3-3 and finally look like the team many of us thought they could be this year -- a group that could challenge the Patriots in the AFC East.
SB Nation presents: The Dolphins totally mutilated the Texans early on Sunday
Meanwhile, Todd Gurley looks like a bona-fide superstar in the making and he carried the Rams to a win over the Browns. St. Louis improves to 3-3 and its NFC West rival Seahawks got a convincing win of their own over the 49ers. Seattle looks primed to get its season back on track but has given itself little margin for error going forward.
The Saints continue to hang in there and jumped out to a big lead on the Colts before holding off a comeback attempt. Mark Ingram ran like a man possessed in racking up 143 yards and a touchdown on just 14 attempts, Khiry Robinson added two scores on the ground and New Orleans got a pair of key interceptions from its defense.
The Jaguars took care of business in London -- they're first win across the pond in three tries all time -- and held off a comeback attempt by the Bills after jumping ahead, 27-0. It was also a much-needed victory for Gus Bradley. Jacksonville's core skill players continue to look pretty good -- from T.J. Yeldon to Allen Robinson to Allen Hurns -- and as long as Blake Bortles continues to progress as a passer, Jacksonville will continue to improve. Bortles is actually second in the NFL in touchdown passes right now (15), behind only Tom Brady.
Speaking of young, promising quarterbacks, the Raiders seem to have a good one in Derek Carr. Carr out-dueled Philip Rivers in leading Oakland to a big win on the "road" (even though the crowd in San Diego sounded pretty Raider-heavy). Carr hit on 77 percent of his passes for 289 yards and three touchdowns, and has already developed a really solid rapport with both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. This is a talented team whose arrow for the first time in a long time is pointed in the right direction: Up.
The Chiefs got back into the win column by knocking off the Landry Jones-led Steelers team at home. It's tough to know how much to make of this win, considering it was Jones' first NFL start, but there were certainly some positives to glean for a Kansas City team badly in need of a win.
The Giants recovered from a loss to the Eagles last week to beat fellow division mates in the Cowboys. New York is probably the most surprising division leader through seven weeks, and with the way that team can put points on the board, it has a shot to win every week.
Washington bounced back as well, and the embattled Kirk Cousins put on an inspired performance, passing for 317 yards and three touchdowns while connecting on 33 of 40 attempts. Cousins looked to tight end Jordan Reed a lot -- including on the game-winning score -- and that connection could be a big boon for Washington going forward.
The Texans struggles continue and while you have to admire the fact they didn't quit after falling behind, 41-0, there are obvious problems with the offense, and more surprisingly, their defense. Brian Hoyer didn't do a whole lot but his only competition at the moment, Ryan Mallett, missed the team's flight to Miami and has since been jettisoned by Coach Bill O'Brien.
Meanwhile, a case of the dropsies doomed the Eagles against the Panthers this week, but even without those, the Sam Bradford trade is looking less and less impressive. Bradford hit on just 56 percent of his passes and threw a pick (which was really Jordan Matthews' fault) against Carolina. He has now thrown 10 picks to nine touchdowns this season. The good news for Philly is that the other NFC East teams can't get out of their own way and the division is still anyone's for the taking.
Meanwhile, the Chargers just can't seem to get a win. They've lost three in a row now and are struggling, at times, across the board.
Jockeying for that first pick:
The Bucs somehow allowed Washington to come back and win in Tampa Bay even after jumping out to a 24-point lead. I ... uh, don't have anything else to add to that. The Titans are still not good and Marcus Mariota missed this last week with a knee injury.
The Ravens are tied with the Lions as the most surprisingly awful teams of the season.
Right now it's looking like those might be the main contenders for the first overall pick next year.
|RK||WEEK 6||SB NATION BLOG|
|1||New England Patriots, 6-0 (Last Week: 1)||Pats Pulpit|
|2||Cincinnati Bengals, 6-0 (Last Week: 2)||Cincy Jungle|
|3||Green Bay Packers, 6-0 (Last Week: 3)||Acme Packing Company|
|4||Carolina Panthers, 6-0 (Last Week: 4)||Cat Scratch Reader|
|5||Denver Broncos, 6-0 (Last Week: 5)||Mile High Report|
|6||Atlanta Falcons, 6-1 (Last Week: 8)||The Falcoholic|
|7||Arizona Cardinals, 5-2 (Last Week: 9)||Revenge of the Birds|
|8||Minnesota Vikings, 4-2 (Last Week: 10)||Daily Norseman|
|9||New York Jets, 4-2 (Last Week: 7)||Gang Green Nation|
|10||Pittsburgh Steelers, 4-3 (Last Week: 6)||Behind the Steel Curtain|
|11||New York Giants, 4-3 (Last Week: 14)||Big Blue View|
|12||St. Louis Rams, 3-3 (Last Week: 15)||Turf Show Times|
|13||Seattle Seahawks, 3-4 (Last Week: 18)||Field Gulls|
|14||Philadelphia Eagles, 3-4 (Last Week: 11)||Bleeding Green Nation|
|15||Buffalo Bills, 3-4 (Last Week: 12)||Buffalo Rumblings|
|16||Miami Dolphins, 3-3 (Last Week: 21)||The Phinsider|
|17||New Orleans Saints, 3-4 (Last Week: 19)||Canal Street Chronicles|
|18||Oakland Raiders, 3-3 (Last Week: 22)||Silver and Black Pride|
|19||Indianapolis Colts, 3-4 (Last Week: 13)||Stampede Blue|
|20||San Diego Chargers, 2-5 (Last Week: 16)||Bolts from the Blue|
|21||Washington, 3-4 (Last Week: 23)||Hogs Haven|
|22||Cleveland Browns, 2-5 (Last Week: 17)||Dawgs by Nature|
|23||Kansas City Chiefs, 2-5 (Last Week: 26)||Arrowhead Pride|
|24||Dallas Cowboys, 2-4 (Last Week: 24)||Blogging the Boys|
|25||Chicago Bears, 2-4 (Last Week: 25)||Windy City Gridiron|
|26||San Francisco 49ers, 2-5 (Last Week: 20)||Niners Nation|
|27||Jacksonville Jaguars, 2-5 (Last Week: 32)||Big Cat Country|
|28||Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2-4 (Last Week: 28)||Bucs Nation|
|29||Houston Texans, 2-5 (Last Week: 27)||Battle Red Blog|
|30||Baltimore Ravens, 1-6 (Last Week: 29)||Baltimore Beatdown|
|31||Tennessee Titans, 1-5 (Last Week: 31)||Music City Miracles|
|32||Detroit Lions, 1-6 (Last Week: 30)||Pride of Detroit|