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NFL Week 6 Power Rankings: NFC East on the Rise

It’s finally time to bounce the Packers from the top 10 and usher the Eagles into the top three. Who else is climbing and who is falling after Week 5’s games?

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The NFC East continues to rise up the ranks after impressive road wins in Week 5 from the Eagles, Cowboys, and Giants. Dallas and New York sit at 4-1, while Philly is undefeated—and all three have steadily climbed in these power rankings. The Cowboys and the Giants were the biggest risers of the week. In less positive news, I can’t in good faith back Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers as a top-10 team any longer after their collapse in London against the Giants. Check out the rest of my power rankings below as we march on to Week 6 of the 2022 NFL season.

The Best of the Best

1. Buffalo Bills (4-1 | last week’s ranking: 1)

Gabe Davis scored a 98-yard touchdown less than a minute into Sunday’s blowout win over the Steelers; it was the longest play of the NFL season, and it just about sums up how good Josh Allen and the Bills have been through five weeks. Allen ranks second in the league in EPA per dropback (0.31), and the team ranks first in point differential (+91). It’s the Bills’ Super Bowl to lose this year until proved otherwise. (And their biggest test yet comes this week at Kansas City.)

2. Kansas City Chiefs (4-1 | last week: 2)

Kansas City took every punch the Raiders could throw at them Monday night, but it just wasn’t enough to bring ’em to the mat. After going down 17-0 early in the second quarter, Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce connected for four touchdowns to erase the deficit and eventually outduel the Raiders in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs enter Week 6 (and their massive matchup with the Bills) with the top-ranked offense in EPA per play (0.20).

3. Philadelphia Eagles (5-0 | last week: 4)

Top six in offensive EPA per drive (0.39) and yards per play allowed on defense (4.7), the Eagles are comfortably the best team in the NFC after five weeks. Even with injuries to cornerback Avonte Maddox, starting left tackle Jordan Mailata, and kicker Jake Elliott, the Eagles pulled off a road win over the Cardinals to remain the NFL’s only undefeated team. Arizona gashed the Eagles for some big plays with tempo and some well-timed Kyler Murray designed runs, but the Eagles proved yet again they can win in multiple ways and continue to show just how much margin for error the team has on both sides of the ball right now.

Deep Postseason Contenders

4. Baltimore Ravens (3-2 | last week: 6)

Lamar Jackson missed a handful of throws against Cincinnati on Sunday Night Football, but he’s still a one-man wrecking crew and one of the few reasons the Ravens have a shot at making a deep postseason run in 2022. The other reasons are star tight end Mark Andrews, who went for 89 yards and a score as the team’s leading receiver in Week 5, and future Hall of Fame kicker Justin Tucker. After going 4-for-4 in field goal attempts in the team’s 19-17 win over the Bengals, Tucker has now made 61 consecutive kicks in the fourth quarter or overtime.

Buccaneers QB Tom Brady
Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2 | last week: 5)

Nothing has looked outright pretty for the Buccaneers this season, but the offense is finally showing signs of life. After finishing 31st in EPA per drive (-0.77) after the first three weeks, Tampa Bay ranked sixth in the same statistic in weeks 4 and 5. Quarterback Tom Brady is still getting the ball out faster than anyone else and completing a high percentage of his passes, but his receiving corps has stepped up after the catch in a big way. Buccaneers pass catchers ranked 22nd in total yards after the catch (292) through the first three games, but no other team has totaled more in weeks 4 and 5 (383). That’s a good sign for impatient fantasy managers who were waiting on breakout games from the Bucs’ stars.

6. Miami Dolphins (3-2 | last week: 7)

By the second offensive snap of Sunday’s game against the Jets, the Dolphins were down to their third-string QB, rookie Skylar Thompson, after Teddy Bridgewater was removed under the NFL’s new concussion protocol. (Starter Tua Tagovailoa remains sidelined because of the concussion he suffered in Week 4.)

Thompson completed 19 of 33 passes for 166 yards and threw an interception in his NFL debut. Running back Raheem Mostert and the Dolphins’ rushing attack helped keep the game close into the fourth quarter, but after Tyreek Hill exited with a foot injury, the offense unsurprisingly ran out of gas in the final 15 minutes of the 40-17 loss.

7. Los Angeles Chargers (3-2 | last week: 9)

The Chargers defense, which ranks 28th in defensive EPA per play through Week 5, is still a massive concern—could playing the woeful Broncos offense on Monday Night Football be a get-right game?—but Justin Herbert and the offense continue to thrive through numerous injuries. Herbert ranks sixth in EPA per dropback, and running back Austin Ekeler has stepped up in a big way, scoring five touchdowns in the past two weeks while ranking second in EPA per rush and yards per carry since Week 4.

8. Minnesota Vikings (4-1 | last week: 12)

The new favorite on FanDuel to win the NFC North (-130), Minnesota is thriving on offense under first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell. The Vikings lead the league in first-down conversion percentage on first down at 29 percent, and the offense is 10th in EPA per drive (0.25). Avoiding third downs is critical to the Vikings’ offensive success, as it keeps quarterback Kirk Cousins out of obvious passing situations where defenses often eat him alive. Cousins ranks 24th in EPA per dropback on third downs (-0.24) through Week 5.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (2-3 | last week: 8)

Cincinnati’s offensive line is under fire seemingly every week, but it’s time to point the finger at Joe Burrow and the offensive play-calling. Burrow has been under pressure on just 29 percent of his dropbacks this season, the ninth-lowest rate among starting quarterbacks. When kept clean, Burrow is tied for 16th in EPA per dropback (0.20) and 24th in yards per attempt (7.0). The Bengals, who have called the ninth-most runs of any team on first and second down, also rank 31st in EPA per play (-0.15) and 32nd in explosive play rate (7 percent) on early downs.

10. San Francisco 49ers (3-2 | last week: 10)

The 49ers lead the league in defensive EPA per play (0.18) and yards per play allowed (4.01), but it’s the Jimmy Garoppolo–led offense that deserves praise following Week 5. In a beatdown of the lifeless Panthers, San Francisco averaged the third-highest EPA per play (0.23) of any team this week. Garoppolo also ranked fourth in EPA per dropback (0.33) among all QBs with 20-plus dropbacks in Week 5. Efficient game management from Garoppolo and standout defense is exactly the formula San Francisco needs to make another deep postseason run.

Playoff Competitive

11. Green Bay Packers (3-2 | last week: 3)

What happened to the Packers’ explosive plays? Aaron Rodgers’s average time to throw (2.44 seconds) is the fourth-fastest in the NFL, and an NFL-high 62 percent of his passing yards have come after the catch. He also ranks fifth in percentage of passing yards coming on throws made within 2.5 seconds of the snap (58 percent). All of this means the Packers are too reliant on quick, shallow concepts. That’s not going to get it done, even with a Hall of Fame talent at quarterback.

12. Dallas Cowboys (4-1 | last week: 16)

Quarterback Cooper Rush completed only 10 passes and the offense scored just one touchdown, but their stifling defense was all the Cowboys needed to beat the defending Super Bowl champion Rams on Sunday. Pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence returned a fumble for a score in the opening two minutes of the game, and Los Angeles mustered only 10 points for the entire game. But this type of dominant defensive performance is now a trend for Dallas: Entering Week 6, the Cowboys rank third in defensive EPA per play (0.09) and second in opponent’s third-down conversion percentage (34 percent).

13. Los Angeles Rams (2-3 | last week: 11)

Matthew Stafford was under constant pressure and rarely had any success downfield in the Rams’ 22-10 loss against Dallas. It has been the story of the Rams’ season so far: Stafford has faced pressure at the seventh-highest rate in the NFL (35 percent), and he has just 16 completions on passes thrown more than 10 yards downfield, which is tied with Daniel Jones for 29th in the league. The offensive line, receiving corps, and Stafford himself have all seemingly taken a massive step backward from their Super Bowl run a year ago, and even with the league’s most aggressive front office, none of these problems are getting fixed overnight.

14. Denver Broncos (2-3 | last week: 14)

Russell Wilson and Nathaniel Hackett are going through a very public and comical hell right now, and there’s no reason to believe they’re getting out after last week’s ugly 12-9 loss to the Colts on Thursday Night Football. Hackett is fumbling late-game situations weekly, and on Thursday night seemed to throw his $245 million quarterback under the bus in his postgame press conference. Wilson ranks 23rd in EPA per dropback entering Week 6 and has NFL Media’s Kyle Brandt saying on Good Morning Football that Wilson is “one of the least authentic personalities in this league” and a “poser.” Just a brutal look for the QB—and he’ll be back in prime time again in Week 6.

15. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3 | last week: 13)

It was bad when Trevor Lawrence lost four fumbles and threw a pick in his team’s Week 4 loss to the Eagles, but you could sort of rationalize those mistakes because of the rain in Philadelphia. There are no excuses for his struggles against the Texans on Sunday, however. At home in 77-degree weather with clear skies, Lawrence threw two interceptions, including a ghastly one in the red zone, and led a Jaguars offense that finished Week 5 just 25th in EPA per drive. He ranks 27th in EPA per dropback over the past two weeks and is now drawing Gardner Minshew comparisons by the fantasy football community—and not in a cool Minshew Mania kind of way. The straits are dire.

On the Bubble

16. New York Giants (4-1 | last week: 22)

No quarterback has been pressured on a higher percentage of his dropbacks than Daniel Jones (48 percent), and even when the Giants keep the pocket clean, Jones ranks just 17th in EPA per dropback among starters. Jones is also throwing to one of the most injury-plagued and disappointing receiving corps in the NFL that most recently featured Richie James, Darius Slayton, and David Sills V in Week 5. And the defense ranks outside the top half of the league in yards allowed per play (5.40). But—somehow—the 4-1 Giants are still winning games. It’s a credit to running back Saquon Barkley, who is now FanDuel’s favorite to win Comeback Player of the Year (-200), and first-year head coach Brian Daboll and his staff that truly deserve the lion’s share of the praise in East Rutherford. The Giants’ culture change is clear—as are Daboll’s coaching credentials, especially his ability to adjust in-game. After shutting out Rodgers and the Packers in the second half in Week 5, the Giants are tied for third in the NFL in point differential in the second half of games this season. Jump on the Daboll bandwagon while you still can.

17. Arizona Cardinals (2-3 | last week: 15)

Even though the Cardinals had a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter against the Eagles, the team is still going through the same struggles week in and week out. Offensively, Kyler Murray and Co. can’t create any explosive plays or move the ball efficiently on early downs. Arizona ranks last in explosive play rate (8 percent) and 26th in yards per play on early downs (5.1).

18. Indianapolis Colts (2-2-1 | last week: 18)

If you thought the Colts’ Week 5 win over the struggling Broncos was ugly, imagine how much worse it would have been if the offense hadn’t recovered all four of its fumbles in that game. Indianapolis currently ranks 32nd in EPA per drive and total points scored—yes, that’s lower than a Carolina Panthers team that just fired its head coach. Matt Ryan’s ball security is a serious problem—he’s now fumbled 11 times (though the Colts have recovered all but three of them) and has thrown seven interceptions.

19. Tennessee Titans (3-2 | last week: 17)

Injuries to rookie receiver Treylon Burks and offensive tackle Taylor Lewan have turned the situation from bad to worse for QB Ryan Tannehill, but Derrick Henry is stepping up to keep the Titans’ offense alive. Henry has 10 more carries than any other player in the league over the past three weeks, and he ranks fourth in total rushing yards (301) over that span. Coincidentally, in the same three-week stretch, Tannehill ranks fourth in EPA per dropback (0.41) when running play-action and just 18th in the same stat on standard dropbacks (-0.06). It’s just another reminder that Henry remains the Titans’ most important offensive player, he’ll have to remain so as the offense can’t have success in the standard dropback passing game.

Saints RB Alvin Kamara
Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

20. New Orleans Saints (2-3 | last week: 19)

The Saints are very lucky the Seahawks defense is one of the worst in the NFL. Geno Smith outplayed Saints QB Andy Dalton at every level, but the Seattle defense made Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill look like real-life superheroes. Kamara totaled 194 yards on 29 touches, including a 10-yard rush to ice the game with less than two minutes to play. And Hill averaged 12.4 yards per carry (!!) on nine rushes and threw a 22-yard touchdown to tight end Adam Trautman on his only pass attempt. Even when a healthy Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas return to the lineup, no defense left on the Saints’ schedule is going to let that happen.

21. Cleveland Browns (2-3 | last week: 20)

The Browns are averaging an NFL-high 0.17 EPA per rush through five weeks. Running back Nick Chubb is playing like a man possessed, leading the league in PFF rushing grade (90.7), forced missed tackles (42), total yards after contact (415), and total runs of 10-plus yards (20). Chubb’s efforts combined with middle-of-the-road quarterbacking from Jacoby Brissett have Cleveland’s offense surprisingly sixth in EPA per drive (0.64) entering a Week 6 matchup against the Patriots.

Long-Shot Playoff Hopefuls

22. Las Vegas Raiders (1-4 | last week: 21)

The flashes of excellence from Derek Carr and Davante Adams are jaw-dropping, as is nearly every snap from star pass rusher Maxx Crosby. Hell, Josh Jacobs even leads the league in rushing yards (298) over the past two weeks after a career day against Kansas City on Monday Night Football. But the Raiders still just can’t put together complete games, and falling this far behind the division this early almost certainly dooms the Raiders’ playoff hopes.

23. Seattle Seahawks (2-3 | last week: 24)

Seattle’s defense owes Geno Smith an apology. The Seahawks rank 31st in total points allowed (154) and 32nd in yards per play allowed (6.55) through five weeks, while their quarterback is absolutely dealing. Smith is far exceeding any game-manager label, especially after connecting on multiple downfield throws against the Saints on Sunday. He currently ranks third among starters in EPA per dropback (0.19) and first in PFF grade (90.2). The defense is going to keep the Seahawks near the bottom of the league, but Smith is doing everything he can and then some to keep the team in games every week.

24. Atlanta Falcons (2-3 | last week: 23)

Without Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Pitts, Atlanta didn’t score a point until the start of the fourth quarter against Tampa Bay on Sunday. Marcus Mariota was under pressure on more than 40 percent of his dropbacks, and the offense really couldn’t get anything going until the Bucs started playing a bit more conservatively up 21-0 late in the game. The controversial roughing the passer call on Grady Jarrett’s third-down would-be sack of Tom Brady was a backbreaker for Atlanta’s comeback attempt, but the better team on both sides of the ball ultimately won the game. And expect much of the same as the Falcons host the top-ranked 49ers defense as 5.5-point dogs at home in Week 6.

25. New England Patriots (2-3 | last week: 26)

Matt Patricia was in desperate need of a get-right game with his offense struggling through the first four weeks. On Sunday he got exactly that against his former team, even while down to his third-string quarterback. For the first time this season, New England finished the week top-12 in offensive EPA per drive while going against the hapless Lions defense. There’s still little reason to buy into the Patricia-led offense long term, even when starting QB Mac Jones returns, given the lack of success the team has had against the better defenses they’ve faced, but a 29-0 win is a nice way to break out of an offensive slump.

Jets QB Zach Wilson
Getty Images

26. New York Jets (3-2 | last week: 28)

Zach Wilson has played well since making his season debut in Week 4, but the spotlight belongs on the Jets’ two stars from their 2022 rookie class: running back Breece Hall and cornerback Sauce Gardner. Hall totaled 197 yards and a touchdown on 20 touches as the focal point of the team’s offense. He is now tied with Texans running back Dameon Pierce for best odds to win Offensive Rookie of the Year (+500). And Gardner, who ranks second in odds for DROY behind Jacksonville linebacker Devin Lloyd at +600, logged his first career interception against the Dolphins on Sunday. According to PFF, Gardner has allowed just 127 total yards and one touchdown on 24 targets through five games.

27. Detroit Lions (1-4 | last week: 25)

After entering the week with an NFL-high 140 points scored, the Lions were shut out against the Patriots. Quarterback Jared Goff played his worst game of the season, and the offense as a whole simply couldn’t move the chains on money downs. Detroit converted on just 33 percent of third downs (4-of-12) and none of its six fourth-down attempts against New England. This was a reality check moment for any Lions’ faithful starting to back Goff as the quarterback of the future.

Bottom of the Barrel

28. Washington Commanders (1-4 | last week: 27)

Two impressive deep touchdowns to Dyami Brown in Week 5 don’t mask the down-to-down inconsistency from Carson Wentz that’s ultimately costing the Commanders every week. He ranks 25th in EPA per dropback (-0.08) and yards per attempt (6.6). The offensive line isn’t doing him any favors, but Wentz is struggling to capitalize on his unpressured dropbacks. He and Matthew Stafford are tied for the league lead in interceptions thrown on clean dropbacks with five, and his EPA per dropback average when kept clean (0.12) ranks 23rd.

29. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4 | last week: 29)

The Steelers were 14-point underdogs on the road against the Bills for good reason. Buffalo is the best team in the NFL right now, and rookie QB Kenny Pickett was making his first career start for Pittsburgh. The game went as expected.

Pickett wasn’t nearly as awful as Mitchell Trubisky had been through the first four weeks of the season, but he’s still going to have growing pains, like his interception to Bills rookie Kaiir Elam showed. Still, he finished the week top five in total passing yards, he completed 65 percent of his throws against a tough pass defense, and showed impressive overall pocket presence in his first full game.

30. Chicago Bears (2-3 | last week: 31)

Justin Fields has looked like a competent starter over the past two games. In weeks 1-3, Fields ranked 29th in EPA per dropback when kept clean (-0.06). Since then, he ranks second behind Patrick Mahomes in the same statistic (0.57). The offensive line is still a mess, as is his receiving corps, but Fields looks more comfortable in the offense of late, and that is a massively positive sign for his future.

31. Houston Texans (1-3-1 | last week: 32)

Rookie running back Dameon Pierce is balling out for an otherwise bad Texans team. Pierce broke the record for forced missed tackles in a game, per PFF’s tracking (17), and rushed for 99 yards and a score in the Texans’ 13-6 road win over the Jaguars. He now ranks fifth in the NFL in total rushing yards (412) and yards after contact per attempt (4.17).

32. Carolina Panthers (1-4 | last week: 30)

Carolina finally put an end to the failed Matt Rhule experiment after an 11-27 record in a little over two seasons. The Panthers fired defensive coordinator Phil Snow and special teams assistant Ed Foley along with Rhule on Monday morning, less than a day after the Panthers’ 37-15 loss to the 49ers at home. And with Baker Mayfield, who ranks 31st in EPA per dropback (-0.23) following Week 5, likely out with a sprained ankle, the entire team will be going through a reset heading into Week 6.

An earlier version of this piece incorrectly stated the Eagles’ record; they are 5-0, not 4-1.