NFL Power Rankings Week 6: Packers hold onto NFC pole position

Green Bay Packers tight end Richard Rodgers (82) and quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrate a touchdown in the final seconds of the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017. (Michael Ainsworth/AP)

The Green Bay Packers spotted the Cowboys a 21–6 first-half lead Sunday in Dallas. No matter. A breakout game for running back Aaron Jones and a vintage Aaron Rodgers performance extended the Packers’ winning streak to three games.

Those two things also helped them put an even tighter grip on No. 2 in our panel’s weekly power rankings.

As always, the panel includes editor Geoff Lowe, and staff writers Donnovan Bennett, Mike Johnston and Emily Sadler.

Rank Team
1

Alex Smith has ice in his veins, launching himself into the MVP conversation and leading the Chiefs to a fifth straight win on Sunday night. Let’s see if he can stay cool under the pressure in Week 6 as the struggling Steelers are coming to town with something to prove. (ES)
2017 record: 5-0

Previous: 1

2

Despite a long list of injuries and a tough schedule the Packers look like the team to beat in the NFC thanks to their QB. Aaron Rodgers has 18 TDs in the fourth quarter since 2016, the most in the NFL. Don’t forget Rodgers in the MVP debate. (DB)
2017 record: 4-1

Previous: 2

3

After a slow start to the season and some off-field controversy due to his choice of words, Cam Newton has looked to be in MVP form the past two weeks and the Panthers are atop the NFC South. (MJ)
2017 record: 4-1

Previous: 11

4

The emergence of near-bust Nelson Agholor has been a revelation for the high-flying Eagles offence, which now boasts four top-notch pass catchers at Carson Wentz’s disposal. (GL)
2017 record: 4-1

Previous: 9

5

If not for the wayward leg of Nick Folk, the Patriots would find themselves with more losses than they had all last season. For the fifth straight week, New England gave up more than 400 yards to the opposing offence. (GL)
2017 record: 3-2

Previous: 7

6

The Broncos’ defence is well rested after the bye and ready for a Sunday night feast. They host a depleted Giants squad at home on the big stage in Week 6. (ES)
2017 record: 3-1

Previous: 5

7

Used a bye week to recharge ahead of a matchup at home against the Dolphins. (MJ)
2017 record: 3-1

Previous: 6

8

The bye week couldn’t come at a better time as Matthew Stafford is hobbled once again, suffering injuries to his quad and ankle. With Stafford playing hurt, their offence went seven straight drives without points versus Carolina. (DB)
2017 record: 3-2

Previous: 3

9

It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but the defence prevailed to defeat the Rams. Question marks remain, but this team is still getting the job done. (ES)
2017 record: 3-2

Previous: 15

10

After a career-worst five-interception performance, Ben Roethlisberger said, “Maybe I don’t have it anymore.” Roethlisberger had previously broached the thought of retirement this off-season, and the way he is playing it seems like he’s halfway there. (DB)
2017 record: 3-2

Previous: 4

11

The Vikings snuck out a close win versus Chicago, although it may have cost them their QB as Sam Bradford re-aggravated his knee injury. Case Keenum played well in relief of Bradford and renewed Vikings’ fans hope. (DB)
2017 record: 3-2

Previous: 20

12

Washington returns from the bye week with a very winnable matchup against the 49ers before a crucial Week 7 showdown with the Eagles. (GL)
2017 record: 2-2

Previous: 13

13

Stopping Aaron Rodgers is a challenge on his worst day, but it seems the Cowboys have a problem on defence. A top-five unit last season, Dallas has surrendered nearly 33 points per game over the last four weeks. (GL)
2017 record: 2-3

Previous: 14

14

Give the Bengals’ defence credit, but Sunday’s loss was one of missed opportunities for the Bills: Buffalo forced three takeaways and the offence was only able to turn those into 10 points, and that falls at the feet of Tyrod Taylor. (GL)
2017 record: 3-2

Previous: 8

15

You’ve got to feel for rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp, whose outstretched arms couldn’t quite wrangle in a game-winning rocket from Jared Goff that would’ve earned them a win against the Seahawks. The Rams’ inexperience showed a bit, but let’s see if they can learn from it when they take on another tough D in Jacksonville this Sunday. (ES)
2017 record: 3-2

Previous: 10

16

Jacksonville is the healthiest team in the AFC South, which is completely up for grabs at this point. This defence can (and will continue to) win them games singlehandedly. Doubt that? Consider this: Two of the team’s three wins have occurred when Blake Bortles threw for 125 yards or less. (MJ)
2017 record: 3-2

Previous: 24

17

Just when you thought everything was trending in the right direction for the Texans, they lose both J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus for the remainder of the season. That will be tough to overcome. (MJ)
2017 record: 2-3

Previous: 16

18

Managed to keep pace with the Pats, but poor kicking could end up costing the Bucs a playoff spot. Nick Folk was 0-3 this past Thursday and just 6-11 on the season, which leaves the team searching for a new solution. (MJ)
2017 record: 2-2

Previous: 17

19

Something I never thought I’d write this season: The Jets now find themselves in the midst of a three-game winning streak and ahead the Patriots in the AFC East standings for the second consecutive week. (GL)
2017 record: 3-2

Previous: 22

20

After two disparaging losses the Ravens bounced back with a big win. However, the struggles of Joe Flacco and their lack of a commitment to the run have still been troubling trends. (DB)
2017 record: 3-2

Previous: 23

21

It’s been a tough few weeks for Raiders fans — they’ve lost three straight games and their starting quarterback. The team has a lot of ground to make up if they want to stay afloat in the talented AFC West, but this Sunday against the Chargers should be a good start with Carr expected to return. (ES)
2017 record: 2-3

Previous: 12

22

New Orleans hosts Detroit following a Week 5 bye. The Saints haven’t beaten the Lions since 2012. (MJ)
2017 record: 2-2

Previous: 19

23

Their offence looks improved under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. That said, they still have work to do as they’ve given up 14 sacks in four games. (DB)
2017 record: 2-3

Previous: 26

24

It wasn’t pretty, but the Dolphins are back in the win column after a pair of ugly losses. Miami’s offence, though, still has major issues: They’re averaging just 10 points per game so far this season, dead last. (GL)
2017 record: 1-2

Previous: 25

25

Two embarrassing losses in a row to the Texans and Dolphins have Titans fans questioning what this team is made of. The defence held up its end in Miami, but the Matt Cassel-led offence looked anemic and the run game was a non-factor, which is not usually the Titans brand of football. (MJ)
2017 record: 2-3

Previous: 18

26

Record-wise, the Cardinals are still in the NFC West race, but their poor showing against a strong Eagles squad in Week 5 certainly didn’t stir up much confidence. Trading for Adrian Peterson fills the void in the backfield left by David Johnson, but can he help turn things around? (ES)
2017 record: 2-3

Previous: 21

27

The Chargers got their first win on Sunday in a messy victory (if you can really call it that) over the depleted Giants. Safe to say they’re just fighting for pride — and a few more fans — at this point. (ES)
2017 record: 1-4

Previous: 29

28

Marlon Mack is a bigger threat than Frank Gore in the backfield. They’d be wise to use him more frequently with back-to-back division games against the Titans and Jags upcoming. (MJ)
2017 record: 2-3

Previous: 30

29

The Bears commit too many penalties to be able to win with a rookie QB. Also, not helping Mitch Trubisky is the fact that he’s throwing to the league’s worst receiving corps. (DB)
2017 record: 1-4

Previous: 27

30

How do the Giants recover from the loss of their top four receivers? With almost no ground game and a suspect offensive line, 2017 may turn out to be Eli Manning’s toughest. (GL)
2017 record: 0-5

Previous: 28

31

Yeah, the 49ers are still without a win, but they aren’t going down without a fight. They’ve lost by just three points in each of the past four weeks, including back-to-back overtime losses in Weeks 4 and 5. There’s hope — just not for this season. (ES)
2017 record: 0-5

Previous: 31

32

A QB battle between DeShone Kizer and Kevin Hogan means you don’t have a QB. The Browns will be looking for a pivot in the draft once again. (DB)
2017 record: 0-5

Previous: 32