NFL Power Rankings: Parity grows

dan quinn, atlanta falcons
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Under Dan Quinn, the Falcons remain contenders. (Mark Zaleski/AP)
dan quinn, atlanta falcons

Under Dan Quinn, the Falcons remain contenders. (Mark Zaleski/AP)

There are five undefeated teams, one with team with one loss and three with two. The Falcons are not as good as the undefeated teams and maybe not even the Cardinals but even with their obvious weaknesses I think they are equal to or better than the rest. Yay, parity, I guess?

1. Patriots (6-0)
Previous rank: 1. Result: Won 30-23 vs. Jets. Next: Sun. at Raiders.
They overcame three lackluster quarters by scoring two touchdowns in the fourth. In that final period QB Tom Brady was 13 of 16 for 135 yards and two TDs.

2. Bengals (6-0)
Previous rank: 2. Result: Bye. Next: Sun. at Steelers.
That victory over the Bills isn’t looking so impressive after Buffalo lost to the Jags. But there can be no doubt about the Bengals if they beat the Steelers and earn their fourth W in a row.

3. Packers (6-0)
Previous rank: 3. Result: Bye. Next: Sun. at Broncos.
Could Peyton Manning find his groove against this suspect pass D? Philip Rivers went for 503 yards against the Packers in Week 6.

4. Panthers (6-0)
Previous rank: 5. Result: Won 27-16 vs. Eagles. Next: Mon. vs. Colts.
They are clearly the class of the NFC South after dismantling Philly. QB Cam Newton may finally have harnessed his superlative talent to become a consistent play maker.
Panthers are rolling behind Cam Newton.

5. Broncos (6-0)
Previous rank: 4. Result: Bye. Next: Sun. vs. Packers.
The defense has been great. The offense has scored a total of 12 points in the first quarter of games, compared to 66 for the Packers.

6. Falcons (6-1)
Previous rank: 7. Result: Won 10-7 at Titans. Next: Sun. vs. Buccaneers.
Glass half full: They won their third road game in four tries with a gritty mix of defense and Devonta Freeman’s tough running. Glass half empty: Pretty much everything else.

7. Cardinals (5-2)
Previous rank: 11. Result: Won 26-18 vs Ravens. Next: Sun. at Browns.
They nearly gave the game away when the Raves rallied behind a blocked punt. But the offense is a legit force.

8. Vikings (4-2)
Previous rank: 9. Result: Won 28-19 at Lions. Next: Sun. at Bears.
After falling behind 14-3 to the Lions, they dominated. Rookie WR Stefon Diggs has emerged as a big-play threat for QB Teddy Bridgewater.

9. Jets (4-2)
Previous rank: 6. Result: Lost 30-23 at Patriots. Next: Sun. at Raiders.
Glass half full: They gave the Pats all they could handle in Foxboro. Glass half empty: They blew a fourth-quarter lead and are two games back in the AFC East.

10. Giants (4-3)
Previous rank: 14. Result: Won 27-20 vs. Cowboys. Next: Sun. at Saints.
They made it harder than necessary, as usual, but they held off the Cowboys. The Giants are in control of the NFC East.

11. Rams (3-3)
Previous rank: 13. Result: Won 24-6 vs. Browns. Next: Sun. vs. Browns.
They’ve been inconsistent but they still have a chance to win the NFC West if they can find their groove. Rookie RB Todd Gurley sure is helping with that.

todd gurley, st. louis rams

St. Louis Rams rookie running back Todd Gurley has 442 yards and 2 scores so far this season. (Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

12. Washington (3-4)
Previous rank: 13. Result: Won 31-30 vs. Buccaneers. Next: Bye.
Washington was down 24-3 in the second quarter, and then rallied after a fiery halftime speech by coach Jay Gruden. So what was he waiting for?

13. Raiders (3-3)
Previous rank: 17. Result: Won 37-29 at Chargers. Bye. Next: Sun. vs. Jets.
Great game for QB Derek Carr, who tossed three TD passes. Not so great for the defense, which allowed 27 points in the fourth quarter.

14. Saints (3-4)
Previous rank: 21. Result: Won 27-21 at Colts. Next: Sun. vs. Giants.
They’ve won three of four games since the 0-3 start and QB Drew Brees looks sharp. A great QB can make a flawed team competitive.

15. Steelers (4-3)
Previous rank: 8. Result: Lost 23-13 at Chiefs. Next: Sun vs. Bengals.
Considering their many injuries, making it to the showdown against the Bengals with a plus-.500 record is not bad. They expect to get back QB Ben Roethlisberger

16. Eagles (3-4)
Previous rank: 12. Result: Lost 27-16 at Panthers. Next: Bye.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly has been fended off rumors about a return to college for the past couple of weeks. More offensive duds like this and maybe the Eagles will be OK with him leaving.

17. Colts (3-4)
Previous rank: 10. Result: Lost 34-27 vs. Patriots. Next: Sun. vs Saints.
They were down 27-0 at home to the Saints before showing any signs of life. The Colts have to hope Andrew Luck’s struggles are temporary.

18. Dolphins (3-3)
Previous rank: 24. Result: Won 44-26 vs. Texans. Next: Thurs. at Patriots.
So apparently they weren’t going all out for ex-coach Joe Philbin. They’ve been lively in two victories with interim coach Dan Campbell.

russell wilson, marshawn lynch, seattle seahawks

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) and running back Marshawn Lynch face Cowboys next. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

19. Seahawks (3-4)
Previous rank: 25. Result: Won 20-3 at 49ers. Next: Sun. at Cowboys.
They still own the 49ers. The winning formula was back: strong defense, tough running by Marshawn Lynch and just enough big throws by QB Russell Wilson.

20. Bills (3-4)
Previous rank: 15. Result: Lost 34-31 vs. Jaguars. Next: Bye.
They gave up 27 points in the second quarter to the Jags, rallied to take the lead, and then lost on Blake Bortles’ TD pass with 2:16 left. They have a lot of injuries but that’s just brutal.

21. Chiefs (2-5)
Previous rank: 24. Result: Won 23-13 vs. Steelers. Next: Sun. vs. Lions.
A new-look line helped the offense look better than it had in a while. That’s not enough t save the season but it’s something.

22. Browns (2-5)
Previous rank: 19. Result: Lost 24-6 at Rams. Next: Sun. vs. Cardinals.
After losing in OT at the Broncos, they lost four fumbles while flopping at the Rams. It’s the same old Browns.

23. Chargers (2-5)
Previous rank: 16. Result: Lost 37-29 vs. Raiders. Next: Sun. at Ravens.
They got the benefit of the doubt after close losses to the Steelers and Packers. They no longer get it after falling behind 30-3 at home to the Raiders.

24. Texans (2-5)
Previous rank: 20. Result: Lost 44-26 at Dolphins. Next: Sun. vs. Titans.
They are simultaneously one of the worst teams in the AFC and just a game behind the Colts in the South. You can be bad and relevant in the NFL

25. Buccaneers (2-4)
Previous rank: 22. Result: Lost 31-30 at Redskins. Next: Sun. at Falcons.
Coach Lovie Smith said this loss left a “deep scar” because the Bucs led by 24 points in the second quarter. At least top pick Jameis Winston is showing promise.

jameis winston, tampa bay buccaneers

Rookie quarterback Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face the Falcons next. (Mark Tenally/AP)

26. Cowboys (2-4)
Previous rank: 23. Result: Lost 27-20 at Giants. Next: Sun. vs. Seahawks.
Matt Cassel took over at QB for Brandon Weeden and didn’t do much better. That’s four losses in a row without injured stars Tony Romo and Dez Bryant.

27. Jaguars (2-5)
Previous rank: 32. Result: Won. 34-31 vs. Bills in London. Next: Bye.
They are intent on making Londoners like them whether they want to or not. Maybe winning this wild game will help.

28. Bears (2-4)
Previous rank: 28. Result: Bye. Next: Sun. vs. Vikings.
After everything that’s gone wrong they can still make a run to the playoffs. The defense can get back on track against the Vikings.

29. 49ers (2-5)
Previous rank: 26. Result: Lost 20-3 vs. Seahawks. Next: Sun. at Rams.
They are finished in the NFC West. The big long-term issue is the continued struggles of QB Colin Kaepernick.

30. Titans (1-5)
Previous rank: 31. Result: Lost 38-10 vs. Dolphins. Next: Sun. vs. Falcons.
This could be just the opponent the Falcons need to rejuvenate their pass rush. The Dolphins sacked Marcus Mariota six times.

31. Lions (1-6)
Previous rank: 27. Result: Lost 28-19 vs. Vikings. Next: Sun. at Chiefs.
QB Matt Stafford started fast but then couldn’t do much behind leaky protection. The Lions responded by firing OC Joe Lombardi and two offensive line coaches.

32. Ravens (1-6)
Previous rank: 30. Result: Lost 26-18 at Cardinals. Next: Sun. vs. Chargers.
The schedule has been unyielding but they are what they are. Now the goal is to win five games and avoid finishing with the worst season in franchise history.


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