NFL

NFL Power Rankings Week 6

I talked about the Niners a few weeks ago, and I think it’s time to say that they are a real threat to make noise in the playoffs. This team has played a reasonably tough schedule, and has now won three quality road games. Sure, Alex Smith doesn’t inspire confidence based on his past, but he’s still just 27 and has played well because the 49ers don’t put it all on him. He didn’t play very well on Sunday but they won because the lines dominated. They run the ball well, they stop the run, and the defense is near the top in most categories. If they continue to improve as they have over the last month, we can stop talking about the #4 seed.

The Harbaughs are on top of the football coaching world right now, as brother John has his team more quietly playing some of the best ball in the league.

THE SUPER BOWL FAVORITES TIER

Green Bay Packers (6-0): I’ll have more on Green Bay coming up. They are very good, but the hype train and undefeated talk is about to jump the rails. (at Minnesota)

Baltimore Ravens (4-1): Another impressive performance against the Texans, but both Steelers and Bengals only 0.5 game back. (at Jacksonville)

New England Patriots (5-1): Defense played better in last two games after rough start. Offense overcame turnovers. As long as they don’t play Rob Ryan, they’ll be fine. (bye week)

THE SUPER BOWL CONTENDERS TIER (NO ONE ELSE WANTS TO SHAKE HARBAUGH’S HAND)

San Francisco 49ers (5-1): As if it wasn’t time already, it’s time to start taking this team very seriously. Only loss in overtime. Big wins at Detroit, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and blowout of Tampa Bay. Could realistically lock up the division before Thanksgiving. (bye week)

THE PLAYOFF CONTENDERS TIER

New Orleans Saints (4-2): Sean Payton’s injuries overshadowed the game, but the defense couldn’t get off the field late, and the offense came up short near the goal line. (vs. Indianapolis)

Detroit Lions (5-1): They got beat up a little against the 49ers, and the rush defense is a concern. (vs. Atlanta)

Buffalo Bills (4-2): Can’t ding them too much for a close loss at the Giants. Fred Jackson has been amazing so far, and the team is going to utilize C.J. Spiller as a receiver in the short term with Donald Jones out, and he looked good in that role. (Miami and Reggie Bush, take notes). (bye week)

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2): Pittsburgh let Jacksonville hang around, but at least it was a win. It was such an impressive win that I initially forgot the Steelers existed. (at Arizona)

Houston Texans (3-3): It’s gone south pretty quickly in Houston (again), and injuries are hurting them in the short term. I can’t lower a team for losing on the road at Baltimore, though. Big game this week. (at Tennessee)

Dallas Cowboys (2-3): Opponents to date: 21-8 combined record. Future Opponents: 26-35 combined record. (vs. St. Louis)

San Diego Chargers (4-1): The Chargers need Gates to return. The Campbell injury has them as the favorites in the West again, but they must play better coming out of the bye week. (at NY Jets)

New York Giants (4-2): Ahmad Bradshaw was your fantasy star this week with 3 touchdowns, thanks to the work of Eli and the passing game. (bye week)

THE DISGRUNTLED MIDDLE CLASS TIER

New York Jets (3-3): Dr. Jekyll thinks this team fluctuates wildly between decent and horrific on offense. (vs. Chargers)

Philadelphia Eagles (2-4): The defense played better. However, a 7-point win in a game with four interceptions isn’t cause for thinking everything’s perfect. (bye week)

Tennessee Titans (3-2): Officially, head coach Mike Munchak played his entire career with this Titans organization. He also played his entire career in Houston. Titans get a big edge with a win this week. (vs. Houston)

Oakland Raiders (4-2). I would have probably bumped the Raiders up without the Campbell injury. Hue Jackson must believe he can get the 25-27 year old Palmer back. We’ll see. (vs. Kansas City)

Cincinnati Bengals (4-2): The Bengals defense is 2nd in first downs allowed, 5th in net yards per pass allowed, and 2nd in rushing yards per attempt. (bye week)

Washington Redskins (3-2): Injuries to the offensive line and the predictable bad game from Rex Grossman have this team’s fortunes looking worse. The defense still played pretty well for most of the game. 20 points allowed is pretty good against that offense given the situations they were put in. (at Carolina)

Chicago Bears (3-3). Much better game out of Chicago, and if the offense can protect Cutler, this team can get back to the playoffs. (vs. Tampa Bay in London)

Atlanta Falcons (3-3). Through three quarters the Panthers were hanging with them, but Atlanta came up with the key turnovers late. The chance to get back in to the playoff race is this week, in another dome. (at Detroit).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2): They just got their best win of the year, coming off several lackluster performances and the disaster in San Fran. Beat the Bears in London, and I’ll believe that the 49ers blowout was more of a fluke and this team is on the rise again. (vs. Chicago in Lond0n)

THE FLORIDA QUARTERBACKS TIER

Carolina Panthers (1-5). Cam Newton makes some truly incredible plays, turning losses into big gains. He also has made crucial errors in close games, and this team has lost a bunch of competitive contests. The defense is a problem, and if Newton had, say the Bengals defense this year, “he” would be doing a lot better. (vs. Washington)

Minnesota Vikings (1-5): While McNabb wasn’t as good as his numbers on Sunday night, I don’t think he was the biggest problem. This offense just isn’t going to be very good, and the Arizona game was a mirage. Christian Ponder, have fun this week. (vs. Green Bay)

Denver Broncos (1-4): Tim Tebow couldn’t draw a better first start for this season (at Miami).

THE QUARTERBACKS WHO SOUND LIKE THEY COULD BE IN A BRAT PACK MOVIE TIER

Arizona Cardinals (1-4): Three years removed and a world away from the Super Bowl rematch. (vs. Pittsburgh)

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5): Congratulations, Blaine Gabbert. You get to go from playing the Steelers to playing the Ravens. (vs. Baltimore).

Cleveland Browns (2-3): I am baffled by this Peyton Hillis situation. First, he’s benched, but then it was because of an injury, and then he goes back into the game briefly. Something’s rotten on the Cuyahoga. (vs. Seattle)

Seattle Seahawks (2-3): Pete Carroll and Jim Schwartz are best buds now. (at Cleveland)

THE LOSE MORE THAN A FEW FOR ANDREW TIER:

Kansas City Chiefs (2-3): Raider week will be especially fun this week with all the Carson Palmer talk. (at Oakland)

Miami Dolphins (0-5): When Brandon Marshall said he was going to get kicked out, he really meant he would kick step his way out of bounds before the second quarter. You heard Brandon, but you really weren’t listening. (vs. Denver)

Indianapolis Colts (0-6): Two years removed and multiple worlds away from the Super Bowl rematch. (at New Orleans)

St. Louis Rams (0-5): Brandon Lloyd somehow managed to get traded to a worse team. How badly did Denver want to get rid of him? You would have to think he would have garnered a supplemental pick not much different than what Denver got. (at Dallas)

[photo via Getty]

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