Photo courtesy USA Today
There are few things in life a group of six people can agree on, but the fact that the Carolina Panthers just aren’t good this year is one of them. The biggest movers this week were the Bills and the Jets, who both jumped eight spots. The Bills moved up eight, while the Jets dropped eight from last week. The Bears, 49ers and Browns continue to anchor the bottom of the rankings.
- Minnesota Vikings (5-0) –
This week Minnesota will do their best to derail any Carson Wentz first-ballot Hall of Fame narratives. Looking at the Vikings’ defensive performances this year, it will be a surprise if Wentz gets out of this game without a turnover or two.
- New England Patriots (5-1)—
Tom Brady is back and the Patriots may never lose again. Brady passed for 376 yards and three scores. This week it was Rob Gronkowski doing the most damage. He finished with seven catches for 162 yards and a touchdown over what has been historically a good Cincinnati defense.
- Dallas Cowboys (5-1) +5
The biggest story in Dallas right now is what to do with Tony Romo when his back heals. One thing is certain: The Cowboys would be foolish to pull Dak Prescott if his play continues this way. Ezekiel Elliot continues to impress, hanging 157 yards on the toughest run defense in the league.
- Seattle Seahawks (4-1) +2
Seattle benefited Sunday from an obvious pass interference no-call that would’ve set the Falcons up with an opportunity for a game-winning field goal. Aside from that, the defense held an explosive Atlanta offense to just three points in the first half, very much looking like they hadn’t lost a step before losing a couple key players to injury.
- Atlanta Falcons (4-2) -1
As was just mentioned, the Falcons have a legitimate gripe to how their game in Seattle ended Sunday. However, Julio Jones and Matt Ryan continued to prove they can run with any defense in the league. After struggling in the first half, Jones ended the game with seven catches for 139 yards and a score.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) -3
Ben Roethlisberger has been sidelined with a meniscus injury, so Landry Jones will be starting Week 7 for the Steelers. Pittsburgh has overcome a plethora of injuries and suspensions to this point, there’s no reason to think it can’t overcome Big Ben’s absence now, is there?
- Denver Broncos (4-2) -2
After they started the season 4-0, the Broncos have dropped back-to-back games to the Falcons and Chargers. Can Denver’s defense carry it to another AFC West title? Or will a glaring weakness at quarterback catch up with the Broncos? A matchup with the Texans will be a good litmus test to see where the Broncos really stack up in the AFC.
- Buffalo Bills (4-2) +8
The Bills didn’t look good to start the season with losses to bad Ravens and Jets teams. However, Rex Ryan has since righted the ship and rattled off four wins over the Cardinals, Patriots, Rams and the hapless 49ers. With a road trip to Miami coming up in Week 7, the Bills will likely push the streak to five games.
- Green Bay Packers (3-2) -2
A record of 3-2 through six weeks isn’t too bad, but when you look at the way the Packers have played with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, it’s not great. Combine a middle-of-the-road Green Bay team with the undefeated Vikings and things could get out of control in a hurry in the NFC North.
- Oakland Raiders (4-2) -2
The Raiders are yet to win a game against an upper echelon defense. A 16-point loss to the Chiefs in Week 6 shows the offense still has some kinks to work out before Oakland can compete with the AFC’s elite.
- Kansas City Chiefs (3-2) +4
Fresh off their bye week, Kansas City left Oakland with a crucial division victory. Quarterback Alex Smith threw only three incompletions, while running back Spencer Ware ran for a career-high 131 yards in the win.
- Arizona Cardinals (3-3) –
Running back David Johnson scored three touchdowns in the Cardinals’ blowout victory over the Jets in Week 6. Arizona will once again be in prime time this week at home against first-place Seattle.
- Philadelphia Eagles (3-2) -4
Jumping out to a 3-0 start, the Eagles looked like the team to beat in the NFC. Two weeks later, Philadelphia has lost back-to-back close games. Sunday, they look to hand former Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford and the Vikings their first loss of the season.
- Houston Texans (4-2) –
Houston looked about as bad as anybody in Week 6, then somehow came back to win against Indianapolis. They find themselves playing under the lights yet again this week in Denver.
- Washington Redskins (4-2) +4
Flying under the radar, the Redskins have won four straight games. In Sunday’s victory over Philadelphia, Matt Jones recorded 135 yards on just 16 carries. Washington faces another winnable game this week against Detroit.
- Los Angeles Rams (3-3) -5
After three straight victories, the Rams have dropped the last two games. Case Keenum threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns Sunday against the Lions, but was intercepted on the final drive. This week they travel to London to take on the Giants.
- Cincinnati Bengals (2-4) -4
My oh my. Has anyone been shafted harder than the Bengals these first six weeks? Steelers, Cowboys, Patriots and Broncos, no one has had a rougher start to the season. Losing to the three teams to beat in the AFC doesn’t instill confidence, but their schedule is much easier from now on, and with the Steelers and Ravens injury stricken there’s still hope here.
- New York Giants (3-3) +2
After picking a fight with the kicking net in week 3, Odell Beckham Jr. has now proposed to it. While concerns on a kicking net entering a potentially abusive relationship are certainly abuzz, the real story here is how OBJ has been playing lately. After being shut down in Minnesota, OBJ has woken up and a comeback win against the Ravens has to feel nice.
- Detroit Lions (3-3) +3
Without Megatron as a security blanket, Stafford has finally grown up, it’s just too bad his team still isn’t good. A two-game winning streak is a breath of fresh air, after losing three straight. This team has its problems, but there’s no reason to think they can’t win any given week.
- San Diego Chargers (2-4) +3
Hey guys, they did it! They didn’t blow the game in the 4th quarter! The Chargers dominated on Thursday, taking advantage of a Kubiak-less Broncos team. Beating a division rival is sweet, beating the defending world champs is euphoric. The Chargers are the highest scoring team in the AFC, they just need to be more consistent at closing games.
- Baltimore Ravens (3-3) -4
The Ravens need to fire their bug man, because the injury bug is back. Steve Smith Sr., Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley, the list goes on and on. The Bills fired their O.C. and have won four straight. The Ravens fired their O.C. and still looked incompetent on offense. All the while, Joe Flacco hasn’t looked like the 2013 world champion the Ravens paid for.
- Tennessee Titans (3-3) +5
The Titans have already hit the same win total that they had this year. Two more of these wins and they’ll total their wins over the past two seasons. The Titans look like a real solid team, but it’s hard to trust them given their history. With a weak schedule ahead the Titans are definitely in the running for the AFC South.
- Carolina Panthers (1-5) -5
After six weeks of waiting for the Panthers to re-emerge as the dominant force we saw all of last season, maybe it’s time to face the fact that they just aren’t very good. The Carolina defense certainly didn’t get the job done in Week 6 against the Saints, giving 460 passing yards to Drew Brees and the Saints. The Panthers have a Week 7 bye.
- New Orleans Saints (2-3) +4
New Orleans tops the NFL in several offensive categories, but on the other side of the ball they are dead last in points surrendered. The Saints’ defensive inefficiencies were on display in Week 6 as they gave up 21 fourth-quarter points to the Panthers and needed a last-second field goal to escape with the win. Drew Brees and company might have a tougher time finding the end zone in Week 7 against a stingy Kansas City defensive backfield.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3) +1
The Jaguars emerged victorious from their Week 6 pillow fight with the Bears. Jacksonville’s leading rusher in that matchup was Chris Ivory who notched 32 yards on the ground. Quarterback Blake Bortles has just eight touchdown passes on the year to seven interceptions, and the Jaguars offense is simply not very good. Unfortunately, their defense isn’t much better. It may be a long afternoon for Jacksonville this Sunday when they face David Carr and the Raiders.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) -2
With their two best running backs sidelined in their most recent outing, the Buccaneers eked out a win against divisional rival Carolina on Monday night in Week 5. Unfortunately, neither Doug Martin nor Charles Sims seems to have benefited much from the bye week and Tampa Bay will trot out a thin backfield once again when they face their Week 7 foe San Francisco in a battle of lightweights.
- Indianapolis Colts (2-4) -2
Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck is the best player on a below average team. His heroics have kept the Colts in most games this season, but on most occasions their defense has not done enough to gain the victory. Is Luck and his huge contract to blame for the gaping holes elsewhere on the team? Either way, the Colts will likely need a maximal effort from every position if they want to beat an underrated Titans team in Week 7.
- Miami Dolphins (2-4) +1
After beating the odds against the higher caliber Pittsburg Steelers and recording their second win of the season, the Dolphins look to their Sunday matchup against Buffalo to possibly start a win streak.
- New York Jets (1-5) -8
The Jets are in the middle of a streak, and not the good kind. Without a win under their belt since Sept. 15, the Jets look to the Ravens Sunday to try to get one more under the win column. This, however, will be easier said than done. With Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, don’t expect much of a matchup.
- Chicago Bears (1-5) –
With a short week, the Bears head to the frozen tundra Thursday to face a Packer team that wants to prove they are still an elite team. With Jay Cutler still not practicing, this looks to be Brian Hoyer’s team for now, not that it would make much of a difference who is under center.
- San Francisco 49ers (1-5) –
This is undoubtedly the Colin Kaepernick show with the 49ers at ground zero for most of the beginning of the season, but not for the reason one would think. It’s been all about the protest, and many are still talking about this irrelevant team mainly because of the circus that Kaepernick has brought to the Bay. Don’t expect to see anything different from San Fran Sunday when they face a better Buccaneers team.
- Cleveland Browns (0-6) –
LeBron James made it cool to root for a Cleveland team, however, the Browns haven’t been relevant since Jim Brown was having his way with opposing defenses. Without a single winning record under their belt since 2007, don’t expect 2016 to be any different for the pathetic Browns.
Reporting by: Kaleb Searle, Brad Curnow, Adam Cichoski, Mark Wait, Devin Olsen, David Roura
I’m a Pacific Northwest guy who loves his Pacific Northwest sports. An amateur movie buff who prefers the disc to digital. Chasing the sports writing dream while I geek out on Assassin’s Creed.