By Conor Perrett
What a strange weekend of football that was. With underdog wins all over the place the NFL right now feels like it’s in a state of mediocrity. The top three teams look like the real deal, but below that we have a deep dark hole for the remaining 29 teams.
Across the league, 10 teams have winning records, 10 are 3-3 and the other 12 are under .500. What that means is plenty of risers and fallers this week, so let’s get straight into the rankings.
- Buffalo Bills (5-1)
Last Week – 1st
In the most anticipated game of the regular season, with their eye firmly on avenging the playoff loss to Kansas City last season, Buffalo proved themselves as the league’s big boss. Thye won thanks to the players they added to get them to this point.
Two-time Super-Bowl Champion Von Miller, solidified his name in Buffalo as he finished with two sacks and four tackles and was instrumental in stopping each of the last three Chiefs drives. He pressured Patrick Mahomes early in the fourth quarter to force a field goal that put Kansas City up 20-17, sacked him to end the next drive and then hurried him before the game-sealing interception by Taron Johnson.
If the Bills dominance does not strike you enough, Football Outsiders who created the highly respected DVOA metric currently have Buffalo first on offence and defence. Yes that’s right, the best offence and defence in the league!
Last time that ever happened was 19 years ago back with Tampa Bay and they went on to win the Lombardi.
Up next: Bye week
- Philadelphia Eagles (6-0)
Last Week – 2nd
The NFC really isn’t cooking right now and it’s already starting to look like a one-horse race for the No. 1 seed, after only a third of the way through the season. Besides the Eagles, there are only three other teams with winning records, and Philadelphia has already beaten two of them (Cowboys and Vikings) quite comfortably and in prime time as well.
With the next three opponents after the bye being Steelers, Texans and Commanders, Philly has a very strong case to start 9-0, while not even breaking that much of a sweat. They’ve looked great on both offence and defence similar to Buffalo, but it does feel that they haven’t reached their top gear yet. In a way that’s exciting as a fan to know there is more to come from your undefeated team.
Up next: Bye week
- Kansas City Chiefs (4-2)
Last Week – 3rd
There is no shame in losing to the Bills but the road ahead for Kansas doesn’t get any easier. With one of the harder schedules remaining and being two games behind the Bills, that No. 1 seed might be slowly getting out of their reach. But being a lower seed isn’t the end of the road. It’s about maintaining consistency and being ready for the play-offs when January rolls around.
On a good note this defence does look better than units in the past. With a lot of turnover in the off-season, it was a bit of a mystery to how that side of the ball would play out. But with a solid defensive line, if they can just keep causing havoc and keeping things close, Mahomes will do the rest for them.
Up next: at San Francisco, 9:25 p.m. BST/GMT
- Cincinnati Bengals (3-3)
Last Week – 8th
For the first time in a while we finally got to see the Joe Burrow – Ja’Marr Chase connection we’ve been missing, and in no better place than where it all started, New Orleans.
The Bengals jump up a nice few spots thanks to their counterparts above them all failing. For the last month now Cincinnati have maintained their steady rise up as they look to regain their form of last year. The defence has been stellar throughout and with the offence slowly getting there, it’s beginning to spice up in the AFC.
Up next: vs. Atlanta, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Baltimore Ravens (3-3)
Last Week – 4th
Baltimore really has the quarterback, weapons and coach to compete with the ‘Big 3’, but their lack of execution in the fourth quarter is killing them. In all three of their losses, they have blown second-half leads of at least 10 points.
During these bottles, they have only trailed for an astounding total of 120 seconds in their three losses. The Ravens still rank No. 3 in overall DVOA, No. 3 in offensive DVOA and No. 15 in defensive DVOA. This rank is a vote of confidence on what Lamar Jackson brings to the table, but also just because there are no other better options.
Up next: vs. Cleveland, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- San Francisco 49ers (3-3)
Last Week – 5th
San Fran has been on the rise the last couple of weeks and with one of the best defences in the league and look to be one of the better competitors in the NFC. But with all the strange upsets over the weekend, the Niners loss to Atlanta was one of the most surprising.
A few key players were missing in Trent Williams and Nick Bosa but injuries happen to every team and it’s hard to use it as an excuse. Though a strange thing the 49ers did this week was stay over in West Virginia. This was their second consecutive game on the East Coast so saving themselves the travel, they stayed over on that side of the country. It was an interesting decision and clearly didn’t play out, so back to California for the game of the week against the Chiefs,
Up next: vs. Kansas City, Sunday 9:25 p.m. BST/GMT
- Dallas Cowboys (4-2)
Last Week – 7th
All signs point to Dak Prescott returning against the Lions on Sunday, and what better way to try out his new thumb than against the worst defence in the league.
The Cooper Rush train had to end at some point and he went out diligently against Philly. But realistically Rush deserves great credit for the hope he restored in this team after how sour things seemed when Dak went down in Week 1. With an explosive push rush now and formidable defence alongside them, things are looking up for them Cowboys.
Up next: vs. Detroit, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Minnesota Vikings (5-1)
Last Week – 10th
Every week this team keeps on winning, yet every week I still remain unimpressed with them. I don’t mean to beat up on teams every week and if there are Vikings fans that read this, I’m not apologising but your record hides up the problems.
Minnesota ranks 17th in overall DVOA, 14th on offence, 21st on defence. Of the five teams they’ve beaten, none have a winning record, and only the Skylar Thompson/Teddy Bridgewater-led Dolphins had one entering their matchup with Minnesota. Now it’s fair that you can only beat what’s in front of you, but this type of play isn’t going to be sustainable when the playoffs come around.
Up next: Bye week
- Los Angeles Chargers (4-2)
Last Week – 9th
It wasn’t the prettiest of wins on Monday night against Denver, but they got there in the end.
I mentioned in a preview to the game, that the Chargers’ performance can depend on how well they run the ball. When it’s going smoothly they are like a well oiled machine that few teams could beat. The problem is how inconsistent they have been in the run game with the injuries to Corey Linsley and Rashawn Slater. The centre and left tackle have not been available as much as LA would have liked and it is holding them back when trying to run the ball down defences throats. Denver’s defence is elite and Monday was a prime example of when their run game gets stopped, problems start to occur for Los Angeles.
- New York Giants (5-1)
Last Week – 11th
At this point, we all have to put our hands up and say fair play to what the Giants are doing. Stopping Lamar Jackson isn’t an easy task, yet week in-week out, New York keeps beating these teams no one gives them a chance against. Going into the year they were primed for a high draft pick and five wins on the season might have been a success. Yet they’ve gone and got five wins across six weeks, and with an easier schedule among the league, what’s stopping them from going to the play-offs?
The main question is how sustainable is this way of winning for New York. Three of their wins have been comebacks of at least 14 points, while they possess a bottom tier quarterback and 30th ranked DVOA defence. Whether they can keep this up we will see, but at the end of the day all that matters is the record tally.
Up next: at Jacksonville, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3)
Last Week – 6th
When Brady made his big U-Turn out of retirement, I’m sure this is what he wasn’t expecting. Right now this Buccaneers side is being carried by a defence while it waits for its offence to pick things up.
To be fair it’s not the worst situation for Brady to be in. This Tampa defence is great and can carry the load, while Brady and his weapons get themselves on the same page. Now whether they can do that will be the question, but knowing Brady it’s normally a safe bet to back him.
Up next: at Carolina, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- New England Patriots (3-3)
Last Week – 18th
I’ve come up with a Hollywood story here, let me set the plotline.
A senior does his duties and breaks the records as he becomes a legend for his respected college. Now our main character here wants to go to the big league, but they don’t care about records and want to know how athletic he is. Our star here isn’t very athletic so he falls all the way down Day 3 of the Draft and an old man that wears a sleeveless hoodie likes what he sees. Nothing is given to him and he must watch from the bench until the star QB gets injured and his name is called upon. From that moment the rest is history and he goes on to win seven Super Bowls.
Sounds familiar right. That’s the career for Bailey Zappe!!!
Up next: vs. Chicago, Tuesday 1:15 a.m. BST/GMT
- Los Angeles Rams (3-3)
Last Week – 13th
The stories that dominated the headlines for the Rams this week was the Cam Akers situation. Akers is physically healthy, but the relationship between him and Sean McVay has been simmering throughout training camp, when Akers missed time with what the team said was a soft tissue injury. Afterwards McVay publicly said he needed more ‘urgency’ from Akers, as a trade now seems near.
The Rams may not have the most dynamic set of weapons like they once had, but it’s hard to believe they won’t be able to improve upon their No. 25 ranking in offensive DVOA after the bye.
Up next: Bye week
- New York Jets (4-2)
Last Week – 22nd
With Sauce Gardner, Breece Hall, Garrett Wilson and Max Mitchell, the Jets are one of only two teams in the league, with four rookies who have each played 200 snaps on offence or defence. The excitement about the resurgent Jets is not just because they’re playing well, but because they look like they have a young core that they can develop into building blocks for this team.
Not too many people can ever say they have the bookies favourite for Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Up next: at Denver, Sunday 9:05 p.m. BST/GMT
- Tennessee Titans (3-2)
Last Week – 15th
No Titans football last Sunday, but if you didn’t hear Tennessee beat Alabama. If you’re from the area and happen to see a goal post laying about let the university know, they’re missing one.
Up next: vs. Indianapolis, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Las Vegas Raiders (1-4)
Last Week – 17th
Up one spot and they probably spent all weekend in the casino. Nice work Vegas. If you just keep taking a bye week every week, you’ll probably be in the top-10 sooner rather than later.
Up next: vs. Houston, Sunday 9:05 p.m. BST/GMT
- Atlanta Falcons
Last Week – 21st
Arthur Smith has really brought that Tennessee run game with him, and seemingly done it without Derrick Henry. Atlanta ranks No. 1 in rushing DVOA and third in rushing yards per game, with three 50-yard runs in Sunday’s win over the Niners. The big question now is whether he can start getting their unicorn Kyle Pitts more involved. Getting his first TD of the season last Sunday was a good start.
Up next: at Cincinnati, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Seattle Seahawks
Last Week – 24th
After the offence carried the Seahawks defence through the first five games of the season. Seattle shut down Kyler Murray to nine points thanks to a surprise performance from a run defence that had been exposed through the start of the season.
All while the offence remains consistently good, with rookie Kenneth Walker shooting onto the scene this week winning Smashmouthing Football’s ‘Rookie of the Week.’
Up next: at Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday 9:25 p.m. BST/GMT
- Green Bay Packers
Last Week – 12th
As sluggish as the Packers’s offence has been, the defence is arguably now their biggest disappointment, ranking 24th in DVOA and 32nd against the run. It sounds strange but as a Lions fan I was over the moon when Rodgers extended his stay in Green Bay for this very reason. As much as people think the salary cap is a myth, it’s not and the Packers had to let go of some good players to keep them under it. A guy like Za’Darius Smith would come very handy for this defence now but instead they have to keep an ageing quarterback who will be gone in two years.
Up next: at Washington, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Miami Dolphins
Last Week – 14th
It’s never easy winning in this league when your starting quarterback goes down and it’s even tougher when the backup quarterback also follows suit. With the carousel of quarterback-backs coming through in Miami, you’d think it would make life easier when throwing to Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.
Well that’s partly true as they rank first in EPA per play against man coverage. The problem that comes with that is opposing defences have started to steadily decline in man coverage plays, with Minnesota this Sunday only running this scheme 6.8% of the time.
Up next: vs. Pittsburgh, Monday 1:20 a.m. BST/GMT
- Indianapolis Colts
Last Week – 25th
Indy’s offence has been nothing short of abysmal this season, ranking dead last in the majority of statistics, but Sunday’s performance was the turnaround fans have been waiting for. Part of the reason for that was the emergence of rookie Alec Pierce who went on to catch the winning touchdown in their come from behind win. Credit to Matt Ryan as well, who got the passing game going by completing a staggering 42 passes for 389 yards and three touchdowns.
Up next: at Tennessee, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week – 16th
The Jaguars rank last in the league in Football Outsider’s variance, meaning they have been the least consistent team in the league on a week-to-week basis. That’s what happens I guess when you go from beating the Chargers by 28 points to losing at home to the Texans. Don’t be surprised when they beat the 5-1 Giants at home this week then.
Up next: vs. New York Giants, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Cleveland Browns
Last Week – 20th
Despite the losing record Cleveland was keeping games close before this weekend against the Patriots, with their first three losses all being one score games. That changed when the Patriots beat them badly in their own backyard, as the Browns now run the risk of being out of the playoff race before Deshaun Watson even gets under centre. Their next two games are back-to-back AFC North affairs against the Ravens and Bengals, in what will be crucial games for the future of their season.
Up next: at Baltimore, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- New Orleans Saints
Last Week – 23rd
Ja’Marr Chase’s 60-yard touchdown catch Sunday was the longest winning touchdown scored with less than two minutes in a game since the Dolphins famous lateral touchdown on the final play of their 2018 win against the Patriots. As well as the Saints played, it felt like a fairy story waiting to come true for Chase and Burrow in Louisiana and it did.
Up next: at Arizona, Friday 1:15 a.m. BST/GMT
- Arizona Cardinals
Last Week – 19th
Things keep going downhill for the Cardinals after a nine-point performance and an injury to Marquise Brown, who potentially could be for the year. The one last hope for them is the return of DeAndre Hopkins this week. The Cardinals are 16-10 with him and 5-8 without him. With this last throw at the dart board, if it seemingly fails, it might be time for a coaching and general manager change in Arizona.
Up next: VS. New Orleans, Friday 1:15 a.m. BST/GMT
- Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week – 29th
In a tale of events that no one saw coming, Kenny Pickett went down with a concussion during Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay, and Mitch Trubisky came in and saved the day. Now Trubisky put on a good performance but you would hope Pittsburgh aren’t too hasty and bench the young guy before things really even got started. That said, with a matchup against Miami this week, we would rather not have controversy of two recently concussed players going head-to-head.
Up next: at Miami, Monday 1:20 a.m. BST/GMT
- Denver Broncos
Last Week – 26th
Denver entered Monday night ranked second in defensive DVOA and played to that level, getting after Herbert throughout. The defence looks well-coached and strong, which sadly still can’t be said for the offence. I feel like a broken record banging on about it every week, but you can tell some of the starting players in that offence are not happy. With a trade deadline looming, moves may or may not be made but something needs to change in personnel for sure.
Up next: vs. New York Jets, Sunday 9:05 p.m. BST/GMT
- Detroit Lions
Last Week – 28th
Off a bye week, it felt like the perfect time for this team to huddle up, hash things out and get healthy. However, only negative news continued to come out of Detroit. Last year’s second round pick Levi Onwuzurike had potential career ending back surgery, 13 players are still on the injury reports and Dan Campbell announced the owner is frustrated with how things have developed. It’s really going to be a tough few months unless they turn it around and fast.
Up next: at Dallas, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Washington Commanders
Last Week – 31st
Thursdays Night Football seems to be an offensive curse, but the Commanders escaped Chicago with a win. It just so happens Carson Wentz escaped with a fractured finger that’s going to require surgery, keeping him out for four to six weeks. Ron Rivera gets his wish of a new quarterback and will have to choose between backup Taylor Heinicke, or let the young gun rookie Sam Howell have a crack. This Sunday, Heinicke gets the nod.
Up next: vs. Green Bay, Sunday 6 p.m. BST/GMT
- Chicago Bears
Last Week – 27th
The running debate in Chicago seems to be what’s the bigger issue on offence, and which person is going to lose their job because of it come the end of the season. On one hand you have Justin Fields, who can make the case for the lack of talent around him, though his reaction after his helmet interception doesn’t do himself any favours.
Fields is 23rd of 33 quarterbacks in EPA per dropback, while the offence is 30th in DVOA. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy has somehow structured an offensive system that is entirely uninterested in working around Fields’ pros and cons, which is rarely a good idea. There’s plenty of weeks remaining so we’ll see how this debate plays out.
Up next: at New England, Tuesday 1:15 a.m. BST/GMT
- Houston Texans
Last Week – 31st
Davis Mills and the offence are playing their way to a new quarterback next offseason, which is exactly what the doctor ordered for the rebuilding Texans. Houston ranks 27th in offensive EPA per drive and Mills is at the centre to all the inefficiency. Only Baker Mayfield has a lower EPA per dropback average through Week 6 than Mills, and his coach just got fired.
Up next: at Las Vegas, Sunday 4:05 p.m. BST/GMT
- Carolina Panthers
Last Week – 32nd
Steve Wilks was given the interim job after Matt Rhule’s firing last week and he had a fun science experiment in his first game in charge.
The Panthers attempted 21 passes on the weekend with the travel average of such passes being 0.9 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Yep on average they throw the ball less than 1 yard every time. I’m as mind-boggled as you are reading that stat. How does that even happen?
Unsurprising in TruMedia’s database, that is the lowest average depth of target they have ever recorded in their eight years of existence.
Up next: vs. Tampa Bay, Sunday 1 p.m. BST/GMT