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The power rankings look very different this week thanks to some teams stepping up after slow starts and others getting exposed after great beginnings.
"The NFL is a week-to-week league."
Even the most casual of football fans have undoubtedly heard the phrase hundreds of times. It's a cliché to be sure, but the Week 6 slate of NFL games showed just how true it can be.
There's a new team at the top thanks to Houston getting embarrassed at home on Sunday night. There's a new team at the bottom thanks to Cleveland getting their first victory of the year. There's a whole lot of change in between thanks to slow starters looking like world beaters and other teams looking like early season mirages. Each team is listed with their current record followed by how their ranking changed from last week.
- Falcons (6-0, +1): They played like crap and still found a way to win. That's a sign of a good team.
- Giants (4-2, +5): The G-Men put on an absolute clinic in San Francisco. When their front four is getting to the quarterback without any help from blitzes, they're nearly unstoppable.
- Ravens (5-1, +1): Baltimore always likes to make it interesting, don't they? It might be pretty tough for them to stick around at the top after the devastating injuries to Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb.
- Texans (5-1, -3): After getting their pants pulled down at home in front of a national audience, Houston will have to answer a lot of "who have they beaten?" questions. They can silence the critics with a win over Baltimore.
- Bears (4-1, +1): Firing on all cylinders before their bye last week, especially on defense. They'll give Detroit all they can handle this week.
- 49ers (4-2, -3): Let's face it: San Fran needs to play their way in order for their offense to be effective. In other words, "ahead early".
- Packers (3-3, +6): They're baaaaaack. Green Bay still has questions on defense, but they uncorked a vintage bottle of 2011 Offense Sauvignon Blanc in Houston.
- Patriots (3-3, -3): Still one of the most talented teams in the league, but where's the Brady/Belichick killer instinct of old?
- Seahawks (4-2, +8): Seattle has one of the most tangible intangibles in all of football with their home field advantage. If Russell Wilson can consistently make throws like he did late in the New England game, that defense will make them a force.
- Vikings (4-2, -2): Was Minnesota exposed as overrated or simply a victim of RGIII's greatness? Probably some of both. We'll know how much of each after their upcoming home game against Arizona.
- Broncos (3-3, +3): After Denver's amazing second half comeback Monday night , I tweeted that I think Peyton Manning should lobby scorekeepers to spot future Broncos opponents 20 points so Denver can finally play a full 60 minutes of football.
- Cardinals (4-2, -3): Kevin Kolb is out with a bad case of offensive-line-is-awful-itis. Their defense still hasn't allowed over 20 points this season, but how will their banged-up offense score points behind that line?
- Redskins (3-3, +6): Robert Griffin III. Yeah, he's good. That is all.
- Eagles (3-3, -3): You simply cannot win consistently in the NFL if you turn the ball over as much as Philly does. Unless they fix it, they aren't going anywhere. But Andy Reid and Michael Vick might be leaving.
- Chargers (3-3, -3): It's hard to piss down your legs like San Diego did on Monday night. But sadly, Philip Rivers and Norv Turner tend to make it look pretty easy.
- Steelers (2-3, -6): It can be tough to go on the road on a short week with a beat up team. But that's still no excuse for losing to Tennessee.
- Dolphins (3-3, +3): Miami definitely isn't the most talented team in the league, but they're good at playing to their strengths. It's pretty simple how they're winning: Ryan Tannehill has zero interceptions in their three wins and six in their three losses.
- Rams (3-3, -2): They outgained Miami by over 270 yards and still lost. They need to find the end zone or their record is going to look all too familiar soon.
- Lions (2-3, +3): Impressive comeback on the road, but they need to be much more consistent throughout. You usually don't escape with 16 penalties.
- Jets (3-3, +3): New York finally got back to their roots and won. Pounding it on the ground and opportunistic defense is what this team should be all about--not gimmicks and trick plays.
- Bengals (3-3, -6): Two bad losses in a row. Andy Dalton needs to quit throwing touchdown passes to the other team.
- Cowboys (2-3, -4): Dallas could have easily won after a valiant effort against Baltimore. The clock management and silly mistakes at the end were a microcosm of how this team constantly finds a way to shoot themselves in the foot.
- Buccaneers (2-3, +1): They looked good on Sunday. But Kansas City would probably make most SEC teams look good at this point.
- Bills (3-3, +2): How in the world is this team at .500? They can look like the worst team in the league at times, yet they're sticking around in the standings.
- Saints (1-4, NC): Sunday will be their last game without Joe Vitt. Hopefully he spent his six week suspension figuring out how to make his porous defense less terrible.
- Colts (2-3, -5): I suppose the letdown game was inevitable after being so fired up to beat Green Bay the week before. Let's see if this team can be more even keeled before moving them up near the top 20 again.
- Titans (2-4, +3): Perhaps Matthew Hasselbeck isn't completely washed up after all! There's still lots to fix on this team, especially their 32nd-ranked rushing attack.
- Raiders (1-4, NC): Remember when I said that Atlanta's win despite struggling was a sign of a good team? Conversely, a team that can't put away a struggling opponent is a sign of a bad team.
- Panthers (1-4, -2): They host Dallas this week. The loser of that game might be fighting a losing battle for the remainder of 2012.
- Browns (1-5, +2): Hey look, a win, something Cleveland hadn't done in their last 11 tries! Over a divisional opponent, something Cleveland hadn't done since 2010! And new ownership coming! But yeah, the Browns are still pretty bad.
- Jaguars (1-4, NC): Hopefully they spent their bye week figuring out how to pass for more than 142.8 yards per game.
- Chiefs (1-5, -3): Their only trip to the end zone in the past two games was due to an errant throw by Tampa's punter. KC is an absolute dumpster fire right now.