NFL Power Rankings Week 6: Brees, Saints reach new heights

In terms of historical significance, the biggest takeaway from the Saints’ Monday nighter was the fact Drew Brees surpassed Peyton Manning on the all-time passing yards leaderboard.
But in terms of the here and now, the Saints absolutely demolished a previously 2-1 Washington team to extend their winning streak to four games. That’s third longest in the NFL — after the undefeated Rams and Chiefs — and good enough for our panel to raise them to third in the latest NFL power rankings.
This week, the panel includes editor Geoff Lowe, as well as staff writers Donnovan Bennett and Emily Sadler.
1. Los Angeles Rams
2018 record: 5-0
Last week: 1
Jared Goff & Co. are still undefeated after edging the Seahawks thanks to another big game from Todd Gurley, but the club’s dynamic offence might be without a couple of its most dependable weapons in Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp, both of whom suffered concussions on Sunday. (ES)
2. Kansas City Chiefs
2018 record: 5-0
Last week: 2
It’s been all offence in Kansas City and the defence finally decided to join the party Sunday against the Jaguars, limiting Jacksonville to 14 points while coming up big in key fourth down situations and picking off Blake Bortles four times. A message to the rest of the league: Take note. (ES)

Thursday January 01, 1970

Chiefs Defense…
— Kyle Brandt (@KyleBrandt) October 7, 2018

Thursday January 01, 1970

3. New Orleans Saints
2018 record: 4-1
Last week: 4
The ageless Drew Brees is leading the NFL in passer rating, and has the Saints offence humming — they rank second in terms of yards of total offence and the team as a whole is leading the league at 36 points per game. Even better? Their defence has begun tightening things up as well, giving up 37 points the last two weeks. (CB)
4. New England Patriots
2018 record: 3-2
Last week: 6
What a difference a couple of weeks make. Just 14 days ago we were reflecting on an awful loss in Detroit, now it looks like the Patriots we know and love (to hate?) are back for good. Sunday night’s clash against the Chiefs is a crucial measuring stick for this team. (GL)
5. Jacksonville Jaguars
2018 record: 3-2
Last week: 3
The Chiefs finally got their defence going, and the Jaguars were their first victim. Injuries are also starting to hit hard, with offensive centrepiece Leonard Fournette out another week. They’re still kings of the division, though, and look poised to stay awhile. (ES)

No doom and gloom in Jaguars’ locker room — and a sense they’re playing for bigger things. Calais Campbell says he does not doubt this championship-caliber potential. And naturally, Jalen makes clear he is still the best CB in NFL. Confidence not shattered here. The vibe: Onward.
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) October 7, 2018

The #Jaguars are bringing in running backs given their slew of injuries and source said veteran RB Jamaal Charles is one of them. He’s working out. He averaged 4.3 yards per rush last year in Denver.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 9, 2018

6. Cincinnati Bengals
2018 record: 4-1
Last week: 8
The Bengals scored 27 unanswered to come back and beat Miami and now they look for real — so much so that their Oct. 21 game against the Chiefs has been flexed to a Sunday night prime-time affair. (DB)
7. Chicago Bears
2018 record: 3-1
Last week: 7
Coming out of the bye week, the streaking Bears get a date with the Dolphins, who are fresh off a demoralizing defeat at the hands of the Bengals. (CB)
8. Minnesota Vikings
2018 record: 2-2-1
Last week: 12
Minnesota’s three-year, $84-million investment in Kirk Cousins looked risky. But they are getting an early return on investment as another 30-completion effort in a win made Cousins the first quarterback in league history to complete at least 30 passes in four straight games. (DB)
9. Philadelphia Eagles
2018 record: 2-3
Last week: 5
Quickly emerging as a big problem for the Eagles is the offensive line’s inability to protect Carson Wentz, who’s been hit 26 times in three games since coming back from injury. The good news for Philly is all of their NFC East rivals also lost this week, and the division remains within grasp. (GL)
10. Pittsburgh Steelers
2018 record: 2-2-1
Last week: 16
The latest Le’Veon Bell news is that he’s going to report in Week 7 and that he is no longer on the trade block. In his absence, James Conner finished with 185 total yards and two touchdowns in a blowout win over Atlanta. Conner has to continue to do a Bell impersonation or else the Steelers might be out of the AFC North race by the time Bell suits up. (DB)
11. Carolina Panthers
2018 record: 3-1
Last week: 13
It took a last-second, 63-yard field goal, but the Panthers edged the Giants to go two games above .500 in the early goings. That said, the team’s only road game so far is also its only loss, and they now get Washington and Philadelphia in their buildings the next two weeks. (CB)
12. Los Angeles Chargers
2018 record: 3-2
Last week: 15
Philip Rivers was just about perfect in Sunday’s win over the Raiders, completing 22 of 27 passes for 339 yards and two touchdowns as L.A. looked much more like the team many picked to go far this season. (ES)
13. Baltimore Ravens
2018 record: 3-2
Last week: 9
The Ravens’ defensive rankings through five games: fifth in rushing, fourth in passing, and first in yards per play, third-down defence and scoring defence. The last time they had a defence this good they won the Super Bowl. (DB)
14. Tennessee Titans
2018 record: 3-2
Last week: 10
The Jaguars’ loss to the Chiefs opened the door for the Titans to take the division lead coming off two impressive wins, but too many turnovers in Buffalo held them back from winning a game they should’ve had. (ES)
15. Green Bay Packers
2018 record: 2-2-1
Last week: 11
After five games, the Packers have the third-most penalties (43) and second-most penalty yards (413) in the NFL. Mike McCarthy’s team also has eight turnovers, including six lost fumbles. Some are calling for Mason Crosby’s job because of the missed kicks, but McCarthy could be the first NFL coach fired if the lack of discipline and second-guessing from Aaron Rodgers continues. (DB)
16. Miami Dolphins
2018 record: 3-2
Last week: 14
A week after being blown out in New England, the Dolphins let a 17-3 fourth-quarter lead slip through their fins. Miami returns home for a game against the NFC North-leading Bears in desperate need of a good result. (GL)
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2018 record: 2-2
Last week: 19
Feels like a long time ago that the Bucs were a surprise 2-0 team with wins over the Saints and Eagles. They had a bye in Week 5, and will get a golden opportunity to right the ship against a floundering Falcons team this Sunday. (CB)
18. Seattle Seahawks
2018 record: 2-3
Last week: 21
We saw some vintage Russell Wilson Sunday against the Rams, and while the Seahawks couldn’t top their division rival, their performance should leave fans feeling a little more positive about the state of the offence. (ES)
19. Cleveland Browns
2018 record: 2-2-1
Last week: 22
Picking Denzel Ward and Baker Mayfield has probably given the Browns the best 2018 draft class in the NFL. Their talent allowed Cleveland to squeak out a win against the Ravens and make up for the fact Hue Jackson didn’t know the overtime rules and Jarvis Landry didn’t know he had to get out of bounds to stop the clock at the end of regulation. (DB)
20. Denver Broncos
2018 record: 2-3
Last week: 17
We’re just five weeks in, but frustrations appear to be boiling over as the Broncos dip into an all-too-familiar losing streak. Head coach Vance Joseph says change is coming, but he’d better hurry because the Rams are coming to town. (ES)

One more Broncos note: Team has done great job managing expectations in recent weeks. Broncos only favored to win 2 of final 11 games (CLE, HOU). #9sports
— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) October 9, 2018

21. Atlanta Falcons
2018 record: 1-4
Last week: 18
Glass-half-full view for the Falcons so far: their four losses have come against three 2017 playoff teams and a surprisingly stout Bengals squad. The glass-half-empty: Pittsburgh had not looked great before hanging a 41–17 beatdown on Atlanta on Sunday. (CB)
22. Washington
2018 record: 2-2
Last week: 20
It’s been hard to nail this team down through four games, but one thing is for sure: Washington won’t win games without finding success on the ground. Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson combined for just 12 rushes on Monday. That won’t fly. (GL)
23. New York Jets
2018 record: 2-3
Last week: 24
The Jets will need the type of running output they had Sunday (OK, maybe not 323 yards every game) to take some of the pressure off Sam Darnold. If New York can do more of that, this team could rack up some wins. (GL)
24. Detroit Lions
2018 record: 2-3
Last week: 26
The bye week comes at a good time for the up-and-down Lions. T.J. Lang (concussion), Ziggy Ansah (shoulder) and Kerryon Johnson (ankle) are just a few of the many Detroit starters who are banged up. (DB)
25. Houston Texans
2018 record: 2-3
Last week: 27
Sunday’s battle against the Cowboys showed what a healthy Texans defence is capable of. Deshaun Watson was dynamic on the field but the club needs to find a way to keep him from taking so many hits, or risk another stint on the sideline. (ES)
26. Buffalo Bills
2018 record: 2-3
Last week: 31
It wasn’t pretty against the Titans, but there were some things to like from Sunday’s win. The defence played well and the running game showed improvement — especially from LeSean McCoy. (GL)

The #Eagles have reached out to the #Bills about a possible trade for LeSean McCoy, per source. Philly just lost RB Jay Ajayi for the season due to a torn ACL. McCoy spent the first 6 seasons of his career with the Eagles and is the franchise all-time leading rusher.
— Josh Reed (@4JoshReed) October 9, 2018

27. Dallas Cowboys
2018 record: 2-3
Last week: 23
It was more of the same familiar offensive struggles for the Cowboys that did them in Sunday night against Houston, and Dallas has now put up less than 300 yards in three of their five games. (GL)

Jerry Jones on @1053thefan said the Dallas Cowboys have not had a “true No. 1” wide receiver for “several years.”
Asked about Dez Bryant, Jones specifically mentioned DeAndre Hopkins and Julio Jones. “Those are the guys. There are not but about a handful of those in the NFL.”
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 9, 2018

28. New York Giants
2018 record: 1-4
Last week: 25
Sunday’s will be a particularly tough loss for Big Blue after storming back in the second half, only to lose on a 63-yard Panthers field goal in a game marred by questionable calls. (GL)
29. Indianapolis Colts
2018 record: 1-4
Last week: 28
The season is already lost, but Andrew Luck is officially back. Now, he just needs some weapons to throw to. (ES)

Andrew Luck’s 245 pass attempts (49.0 per game) are the most all-time through a team’s first five games of a season. His 121 attempts over the last two weeks are the second most ever in a two-game span (Philip Rivers, 123 in 2015).
— Paul Pabst (@PaulPabst) October 5, 2018

30. Oakland Raiders
2018 record: 1-4
Last week: 30
Derek Carr’s rough season continued against the Chargers, getting sacked three times for the third straight game and throwing a goal-line interception that likely brought some unpleasant memories for Marshawn Lynch. (ES)
31. Arizona Cardinals
2018 record: 1-4
Last week: 32
The Cardinals opened the game with a statement play from a couple of rookies, as quarterback Josh Rosen connected with Christian Kirk on a 75-yard touchdown pass. It ended with the club’s first win of the season, and a little glimpse of what’s to come. (ES)
32. San Francisco 49ers
2018 record: 1-4
Last week: 29
The unluckiest team in the league suffered another loss on Sunday, with running back Matt Breida’s name added to the long list of injuries. Five turnovers against the Cardinals made this matchup extra painful for San Francisco faithful. (ES)

The #49ers offense is now currently without:
Jimmy GaroppoloJerick McKinnonMatt BreidaMarquise GoodwinPierre Garçon
— Joe Fann (@Joe_Fann) October 7, 2018

The only thing getting me through this season of 49ers football is the idea of landing Nick Bosa in the draft.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) October 7, 2018

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