NFL Power Rankings Week 6: What each team should be thankful for


San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

No, NFL teams don’t take much notice of Canadian Thanksgiving. The big Thanksgiving on their calendars is still seven weeks away.

But no matter. With the Northern edition of Turkey Day coming up on Monday, our expert NFL power rankings panel took time to reflect and figure out thing of the league’s 32 teams should be thankful for.

This week, the panel includes editors Geoff Lowe and Craig Battle, as well as staff writers Donnovan Bennett, Mike Johnston and Emily Sadler.

1. New England Patriots

2019 record: 5-0
Last week: 1
Reason to be thankful: Ponce de Leon

Turns out de Leon did find the fountain of youth—he just squirrelled it away and made sure it eventually made its way into the hands of Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. In Sunday’s win, Brady became the third player to notch 90 300-yard passing games and also jumped into third on the all-time passing-yardage chart. He needs all of 18 yards to jump into second. (CB)

2. New Orleans Saints

2019 record: 4-1
Last week: 3
Reason to be thankful: Teddy Bridgewater chose New Orleans over Miami

Drew Brees injuring his throwing hand in Week 2 is exactly why the Saints were smart to offer backup QB Bridgewater a substantial one-year offer to stay with the team in the off-season. Bridgewater decided it was a better opportunity for him to be the No. 2 in New Orleans than compete to be the Dolphins’ starter, and both he and the Saints are benefitting from that choice. He improved to 3-0 as a starter this year thanks to an impressive four-touchdown performance against the Bucs. (MJ)

3. Green Bay Packers

2019 record: 4-1
Last week: 6
Reason to be thankful: Aaron Rodgers finally has an elite defence

Thanks to new coordinator Mike Pettine, the Packers have 11 takeaways — third most in the league — and are eighth in scoring defence. The last time their defence was ranked that high they went to the Super Bowl. (DB)

4. Kansas City Chiefs

2019 record: 4-1
Last week: 2
Reason to be thankful: Modern medicine

The Chiefs went into Sunday night’s game against the Colts an undefeated club and limped out with a loss, losing several players to injury in the process. The most worrisome case is Patrick Mahomes, who took a beating behind an ailing offensive line and finished the game with his ankle taped up. (ES)

5. Seattle Seahawks

2019 record: 4-1
Last week: 7
Reason to be thankful: Russell Wilson

You won’t hear his name this week without “MVP” attached to it, and rightly so. The NFL’s leader in touchdown passes (12) has been at his best all season, but shone extra bright against the Rams in prime time as he completed 17 of 23 passes for 268 yards and a whopping four touchdowns — including an insane touchdown toss to receiver Tyler Lockett. (ES)

6. San Francisco 49ers

2019 record: 4-0
Last week: 9
Reason to be thankful: Nick Bosa

Bosa’s stats didn’t exactly match his impact over the first three weeks, but his presence was certainly felt Monday night — just ask Baker Mayfield. The rookie recorded four tackles, a pair of sacks and one statement-making, flag-planting celebration that had 49ers fans in a frenzy. (ES)

7. Buffalo Bills

2019 record: 4-1
Last week: 10
Reason to be thankful: Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier

The Bills offence under Josh Allen is a work in progress, but that defence is championship calibre and will keep Buffalo in most games this season. Under the tutelage of their head coach and defensive coordinator, the Bills are looking like a team that can ride their defence to the playoffs. (GL)

8. Dallas Cowboys

2019 record: 3-2
Last week: 4
Reason to be thankful: The schedule makers

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys, but Dallas gets some relief this week against the winless Jets. It’ll be welcome after falling to a pair of NFC contenders in the Saints and Packers before what will be a crucial Week 7 Sunday night clash against the Eagles. (GL)

9. Los Angeles Rams

2019 record: 3-2
Last week: 5
Reason to be thankful: Cooper Kupp

Not only is Kupp the Rams’ top offensive weapon, he’s also one of the best comeback stories of the season after suffering a torn ACL last November. Kupp, who has tallied 100-plus receiving yards in four straight games, currently ranks second league-wide in receptions (41), fourth in yards (505), fifth in yards per game (101) and is tied at fourth in touchdowns (4). (ES)

10. Philadelphia Eagles

2019 record: 3-2
Last week: 12
Reason to be thankful: A pick-me-up from the Jets

The first month of the season wasn’t kind to the Eagles defence, which had lost a handful of cornerbacks and defensive linemen to injury and were bleeding passing yards coming into Sunday’s home game against the winless Jets. Philadelphia took advantage of the Luke Falk-led offence to the tune of 10 sacks, two defensive touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. The perfect pick-me-up ahead of what could be a season-defining three-game roadie for the Eagles. (GL)

11. Detroit Lions

2019 record: 2-1-1
Last week: 11
Reason to be thankful: Matt Patricia

Four games into his second season as Lions head coach, Patricia seems to have broken the cycle of Bill Belichick disciples acting like him in order to replicate his success, but failing miserably. (DB)

12. Minnesota Vikings

2019 record:
Last week:
Reason to be thankful: Kirk Cousins can take criticism

Instead of sulking after Adam Thielen called out the Vikings passing game, Cousins apologized to Thielen on a podcast and then got him the ball to the tune of 130 yards and two TDs in a win. (DB)

13. Baltimore Ravens

2019 record:
Last week:
Reason to be thankful: The AFC North

The Ravens should be thankful they play in such a bad division. Baltimore is now in sole possession of first as nobody else in the AFC North is above .500 after five weeks. (DB)

14. Chicago Bears

2019 record: 3-2
Last week: 8
Reason to be thankful: Khalil Mack

They may have lost to the Raiders, but the Bears still have Mack on their side. Since the trade that brought him from Oakland, Mack has 10 forced fumbles and the team has amassed a 15-5 record. (DB)

15. Carolina Panthers

2019 record: 3-2
Last week: 16
Reason to be thankful: Christian McCaffrey’s legs haven’t fallen off yet

Run-C.M.C. churned out 237 yards and three highlight-reel touchdowns on 25 touches all while carrying the Panthers offence on his back. No wonder he began cramping up late in the game and was forced to park it on the bench. (MJ)

16. Houston Texans

2019 record: 3-2
Last week: 19
Reason to be thankful: They’ve got TWO gamebreakers at wideout

DeAndre Hopkins is an elite talent. He doesn’t have to do everything on his own, though. When he’s being contained or having a rare off day, the Texans can roll out Will Fuller, who has as much big-play potential as basically any receiver in the league. His 217 yards and three TDs on 14 catches on Sunday is proof of that. (MJ)

17. Indianapolis Colts

2019 record: 3-2
Last week: 20
Reason to be thankful: Old-school, grind-it-out football still works

The Colts were primed to get pummelled by the high-flying Chiefs, yet Quenton Nelson, Anthony Castonzo and Co. had different plans. The O-line bullied its way to 180 team rushing yards and more importantly 37:15 of possession compared to Kansas City’s 22:45 en route to handing Mr. Mahomes his first loss of the season. (MJ)

18. Oakland Raiders

2019 record: 3-2
Last week: 23
Reason to be thankful: Josh Jacobs

In the rookie running back, the Raiders have had a bonafide RB1 from the start. With an inconsistent receiving corps, Jacobs is Oakland’s offence, and had his best game in Sunday’s victory over the Bears across the pond with career-highs in carries (26), yards (123), receptions (3) and touchdowns (2). (ES)

19. Cleveland Browns

2019 record: 2-3
Last week: 15
Reason to be thankful: Their next game is at home

After Monday’s demoralizing loss to the 49ers in San Francisco, Cleveland is now 2-23 on the road over the last three seasons. (DB)

20. Los Angeles Chargers

2019 record: 2-3
Last week: 17
Reason to be thankful: Desmond King

King was one of very few bright spots in a loss to the Broncos that prompted Anthony Lynn to actually apologize for the Chargers’ output. His 68-yard punt return for a touchdown late in the third quarter got the Chargers on the board and gave L.A. a little hope — even if just for a moment. (ES)

21. Tennessee Titans

2019 record: 2-3
Last week: 18
Reason to be thankful: The defence doesn’t give up much

The Titans rank fifth in the NFL so far this year allowing only 15.2 points against per game. That affords them a reasonable chance to win each week, however Mike Vrabel’s group is only scoring an average of 19.6 points per game…keeping in mind they put up 43 points (including a pick-six and safety from the D) in a Week 1 blowout win. Having your kicker miss four FGs in a single game like we saw on Sunday doesn’t help either. (MJ)

22. Jacksonville Jaguars

2019 record: 2-3
Last week: 22
Reason to be thankful: Minshew Magic

Gardner Minshew is becoming the Chuck Norris of the NFL. He’s a meme machine but by no means is he the brunt of the joke. This guy can drop dimes and he’s keeping the Jags competitive despite all the Jalen Ramsey drama/distraction. (MJ)

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2019 record: 2-3
Last week: 21
Reason to be thankful: They can score with the best of them

The Bucs are reliably inconsistent, which actually makes them a fun team to watch. You never really know what you’re going to get. Chris Godwin’s emergence has given Jameis Winston another toy to play with (much to the chagrin of anyone with Mike Evans on their fantasy team) but Winston is still prone to make mind-boggling mental errors every so often. Win or lose, when the Bucs take the field it’s probably going to be a shootout. They average 29.4 points per game and allow 29.6 points against. (MJ)

24. New York Giants

2019 record: 2-3
Last week: 29
Reason to be thankful: The hope brought by a young first-round QB

Imagine if Eli Manning had been at the helm for Sunday’s home loss to the Vikings? We wouldn’t hear the end of it until kickoff on Thursday night. But thanks to the hope Daniel Jones has injected into the franchise, uninspiring beatdowns at MetLife Stadium are much easier to digest … for now. (GL)

25. Pittsburgh Steelers

2019 record: 1-4
Last week: 26
Reason to be thankful: Mason Rudolph is doing okay

Rudolph suffered a concussion on a vicious hit from Earl Thomas and then had to be manually removed from the field when the cart stopped working before being taken to hospital. Rudolph blacked out from the hit but recovered well enough to be released from hospital and join the Steelers at their facility Monday. Thankfully the Steelers kept a bunch of QBs around after Ben Roethlisberger’s season ending injury, and now undrafted camp arm Devlin Hodges becomes the starter and Paxton Lynch will be promoted from the practice squad. (DB)

26. Denver Broncos

2019 record: 1-4
Last week: 27
Reason to be thankful: Phillip Lindsay

The Broncos defence broke its usual habit of frittering away leads Sunday against the Chargers enroute to Denver’s first victory under Vic Fangio, but it was Lindsay who was the difference-maker on the scoreboard. Last year’s unexpected breakout star put up his best numbers of 2019: 15 carries, 114 yards and a touchdown. (ES)

27. Atlanta Falcons

2019 record: 1-4
Last week: 25
Reason to be thankful: The rest of the season will be a breeze

The Falcons can just chill. They’re done. The season is over. There’s no need to stress about the playoff race any longer. They can’t fool anyone any more. They have an MVP-winning QB and perhaps the best wide receiver in football among other Pro Bowl-calibre talent littered throughout the lineup … and yet they absolutely stink. The defence that just gave up 53 points to the Texans has lost its way and the offensive play-calling (specifically predictable, ill-timed, poorly-executed run plays) is mostly atrocious. It’s odd seeing this Falcons team down here near the basement but it’s exactly where they belong. (MJ)

28. Arizona Cardinals

2019 record: 1-3-1
Last week: 30
Reason to be thankful: Zane Gonzalez

When two winless teams go head-to-head, someone’s gotta win… right? The Cardinals have struggled on both sides of the ball but are officially in the win column, thanks to a game-ending field goal by Zane Gonzalez that saved us all from overtime. (ES)

29. Cincinnati Bengals

2019 record: 0-4
Last week: 28
Reason to be thankful: Their pass rush

Cincinnati has been able to get pressure on the QB 28.7 per cent of the time when they don’t blitz, good enough for fourth best in the NFL. (DB)

30. Washington Redskins

2019 record: 0-4
Last week: 30
Reason to be thankful: The Dolphins, Jets and Bengals

Another embarrassing loss led to the firing of head coach Jay Gruden this week, meaning the mess in Washington has only gotten messier over the last 48 hours. But thankfully for the Redskins, the Dolphins, Jets and Bengals are also real bad, taking a bit of the spotlight off the walls crumbling around this team. (GL)

31. New York Jets

2019 record: 0-4
Last week: 31
Reason to be thankful: The return of Sam Darnold

To say things have gone badly for the Jets offence since Darnold was diagnosed with mono would be a gross understatement – New York has thrown for fewer than 70 yards in the last two games. (GL)

32. Miami Dolphins

2019 record: 0-4
Last week: 32
Reason to be thankful: They didn’t lose last week

The Dolphins were on a bye, sure, but let’s not get bogged down in specifics. (CB)

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