Week 6 NFL Power Rankings - Risers and Fallers (10/10/17)
Through five weeks, only two teams are averaging more than 400 yards of offense per game: Chiefs and Patriots. And we all know what happened in Week 1. Kansas City's points per game average ballooned to a league-leading 32.8 after their 42-34 thrashing of the Texans where a few Deshaun Watson garbage time touchdowns erased a good chunk of the Texans deficit. The Chiefs also lead the league in yards per attempt at 6.6. For context, the top offense of a year ago, Atlanta, averaged 6.7 YPA. Kansas City dethroned the Steelers for the top spot in our Week 6 Power Rankings.
However, be sure to keep tabs on a few potential issues in the coming weeks. First, despite the elite offense, the Chiefs defense has allowed 5.8 YPA, which ranks 27th in the league. The team lost wide receiver Chris Conley (Achilles) – 12.5% of Alex Smith's passing yards - for the season and Travis Kelce is in concussion protocol and questionable for Week 6. These liabilities could lead to the rest of our top five – Steelers, Falcons, Broncos or Patriots – snatching the top spot for themselves.
The Rams turned the ball over five times in Week 5 and only lost to the Seahawks, 16-10. It helps that Los Angeles picked off Russell Wilson twice and held Seattle to 3.7 YPA; well below their 5.2 season average.
The Rams offense is second in points per game (30.4), average 6.1 YPA (4th), convert 47% of their third downs (4th) and the defense is fifth in takeaways (9). Despite the improvements, the Seahawks broke serve and the Rams will now likely need a road win at Seattle on December 17 to have a shot at the NFC West title.
Up Next: AT Jaguars, Cardinals & AT Giants
If somebody came up to you and asked “what do you think of the Broncos defense?” Most responses would be some form of “elite,” right? If you posed the same question about the Bengals D, a common retort would be some variation of “they're OK” or “above average”. When in fact, the Bengals defense has allowed just 4.2 yards per play. Denver has allowed 4.4. When you adjust for strength of schedule, Cincinnati's YPA dips to 3.6. Now, that's elite.
Love him or hate him, Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict made his presence known against the Bills. He recorded 13 tackles, 10 solo, three for loss with a sack.
Their offensive YPA is up to 5.6 since Bill Lazor took over as offensive coordinator compared to 5.1 on the season. At Lazor's average, the Bengals rank inside the top 12.
Up Next: AT Steelers, Colts & AT Jaguars
Against the AFC North, the Jaguars are 2-0 and have outscored the Ravens and Steelers 74-16. Whereas Blake Bortles and Marcedes Lewis are to thank for the Ravens shellacking in London, the defense – like it did in Week 1 – forced turnovers that led to 28 points for the Jaguars in Week 5.
Jacksonville's 4.9 yards allowed per play ranks 5th in the NFL, while their 15 takeaways, +10 turnover margin, 20 sacks and 56.9 opposing QB rating all rank first.
With a concerted effort to run the football, chew up clock, let Leonard Fournette lead the offense and remove Bortles' errors from the equation, the Jags may have a recipe for continued success.
Up Next: Rams, AT Colts & Bengals
If not for Russell Wilson, this offense may be the worst in all of football. How do Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy both average less than 3.0 YPR against a Rams rush defense that has allowed 133.6 RYPG and 4.5 YPR? That's right, the offensive line is among the worst in the NFL. Wilson is mobile and has still been sacked 13 times this season.
It's also a tale of two halves as the Seahawks continue to come out sluggish on offense. Through five games, they've scored just two first-half touchdowns, compared to six in the second half. Wilson's QB rating soars from 73.2 to 102.9 between the first-and-second halves.
The “Legion of Boom” may not be what they once were, but are holding opposing quarterbacks to a 57% completion percentage, 70.8 QB rating and 203 pass yards per game – all of which rank inside the top 10.
Up Next: AT Giants, Texans & Redskins
For years, we watched Matthew Stafford stuff the stat sheet. Even last season, his first without Calvin Johnson, the Lions franchise quarterback averaged 270 passing yards per game and 7.3 YPA. Through five games this season, that has dipped to 223 yards (20th) and 6.5 YPA (26th) among quarterbacks. Although he's shown glimpses of breaking out, Ameer Abdullah's 3.8 YPR isn't going to cut it. As a whole, the Lions' 4.6 yards per play on offense ranks 29th behind the Browns, Colts and Ravens.
Up Next: AT Saints, Steelers & AT Packers (ouch!)
Brian Cushing: serving 10-game suspension.
Kevin Johnson: out indefinitely: sprained MCL
Whitney Mercilus: torn pectoral; out for season.
J.J. Watt: fractured leg; out for season.
No matter how great Deshaun Watson has looked and even if Lamar Miller magically morphs into the 2015 version of himself, losing/missing that much talent on the defensive side of the football and relying on Jadeveon Clowney to carry the load is too much to overcome. After all, even before Watt and Mercilus' Week 5 injuries, the Texans were allowing 5.5 YPA on defense – 25th in the NFL.
Up Next: Browns, AT Seahawks & Colts