NFL

NFL power rankings: 49ers hold off Eagles; Steelers surge into top 10; Cowboys, Patriots drop for Week 6

Week 5 in the NFL was a chance for the top three teams so far in 2023 to flex in prime spots. The 49ers, Eagles and Chiefs, who all were in the conference championship games in 2022, all didn’t disappoint. 

Meanwhile, the Bills, Cowboys and Ravens all got cooled down in a hurry, with the Jaguars and Steelers also showing they can be playoff factors. While the order of the best powerhouses stays somewhat the same, the most recent results led to plenty of shakeup all across the board in the league hierarchy.

Here’s who’s rising and falling in the weekly stock watch for all 32 teams coming out of the Thursday and Sunday action, with one game left on Monday night:

NFL WEEK 6 PICKS: Straight up | Against the spread

NFL power rankings Week 6

1. San Francisco 49ers 5-0 (previous ranking: 1)

Brock Purdy is clicking with all of his receivers, with George Kittle’s turn to explode on the Cowboys on Sunday night. Christian McCaffrey is still doing his thing behind a top offensive line. The defense is loaded on every level. Now the question is how long can they stay undefeated? They just might be perfect going into the epic Dec. 3 matchup with the No. 2 team.

2. Philadelphia Eagles 5-0 (4)

The Eagles are working toward an NFC championship game rematch with no signs of a Super Bowl losers hangover. Jalen Hurts is getting it done again however the offense needs in a particular week. The offensive lines and defensive lines remain nasty. The secondary and coverage is just a little more vulnerable than last season.

3. Kansas City Chiefs 4-1 (3)

Taylor Swift didn’t go the game in Minnesota. Travis Kelce had a scary ankle injury, but he was able to shake it off and blow up the Vikings in crunch time like a lavender haze through purple defenders. Good thing Patrick Mahomes was there to deliver in a tough road spot, because he always belongs with Kelce.

4. Miami Dolphins 4-1 (7)

The Dolphins turned another home game into a track meet even with a slightly off afternoon for Tua Tagovailoa. It’s not fair they can run De’Von Achane up and down the field with Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle and Raheem Mostert now.

5. Detroit Lions 4-1 (6)

The Lions have proved they are for real several times over, starting with their season-opening win at Kansas City. They dominate up front offensively with the running game, for which the Panthers were not a match. Their young defense is making the needed big plays when outcomes are in doubt, tol.

6. Buffalo Bills 3-2 (2)

The Bills, after three romps in America, came down to earth in London. Josh Allen struggled against the other Josh Allen and the Jaguars’ underrated young defense for three quarters. The effects of a sometimes shaky offensive line without the balance of a reliable traditional running game proved costly. A bigger loss came to the defense with running back-stopper Matt Milano going down.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars 3-2 (11)

The Jaguars are hard to stop offensively when everyone is executing on point around Trevor Lawrence. He got into the groove with Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, Travis Etienne Jr. and others for a second straight week in London, but the real spark has been provided by a improving pass defense for a team that already stops the run well.

8. Dallas Cowboys 3-2 (5)

The Cowboys’ compressed offense got to them in San Francisco as, go figure, their only big pass play resulted in their one highlight when the game mattered. They also are too big-play dependent defensively and got destroyed in coverage with the rush contained. They can kill bad teams, but need to prove themselves (again) vs. better ones.

9. Pittsburgh Steelers 3-2 (18)

How about the toughness of Kenny Pickett, mentally and physically? Yes, the offense has been a struggle every week, but he dug deep to make a much-needed winning play. It’s no surprise the Steelers are also leaning on T.J. Watt and their defense when they need it most to battle for the AFC North crown.

10. Baltimore Ravens 3-2 (8)

The Ravens are getting sloppy with Lamar Jackson in the new supposed better passing offense, maybe going out of their element and not playing enough of a complement to the defense. It needs to be fixed, stat.

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-1 (9)

The Buccaneers saw the Saints and Falcons win games behind them, but they still can feel confident as the sneaky new division favorites given Baker Mayfield and the defense are playing better than expected.

12. Seattle Seahawks 3-1 (10)

The Seahawks got an early bye to help Geno Smith stay healthy and have won some games with defense out of the gate, rebounding well from a shocking Week 1 loss to the Rams. The Bengals are a great AFC test in Week 6.

13. Cleveland Browns 2-2 (12)

The Browns are trying to hold steady in the tough AFC North and will hope the injuries to Deshaun Watson and Myles Garrett won’t linger. It was a bad bye given the Steelers and Bengals got off the mat in a big way.

14. Los Angeles Chargers 2-2 (15)

The Chargers need to build on finishing back-to-back games well after the bye. Justin Herbert has MVP potential in the new offense, which should get Austin Ekeler back. Khalil Mack continues to inspire the real Brandon Staley defense can still show up.

Justin Herbert

15. Indianapolis Colts 3-2 (17)

The Colts lost Anthony Richardson again and slowly worked in Jonathan Taylor, but their running game still rolled with Zack Moss and the defense delivered. Gardner Minshew gives them a chance as one of the league’s better backup QBs. They are already the second-best team in the AFC South after Jacksonville with early coach of the year candidate Shane Steichen.

16. Cincinnati Bengals 2-3 (24)

The Bengals saw the real mostly healthy Joe Burrow in Arizona and made a world of defense for their pass-heavy offense. Their defense also rose to the occasion with big plays. Those are the Bengals we know, and they are right back in the thick of a tight AFC North race.

17. New Orleans Saints 3-2 (19)

The Saints marched into New England and pitched a shutout, showing Dennis Allen’s team strength is still defense. Derek Carr didn’t need to do much and could be hidden, which won’t be the case in most weeks.

18. Los Angeles Rams 2-3 (14)

The Rams got a reality check for their defense against the versatile, explosive and balanced Eagles. They still looked good with their passing game with Cooper Kupp joining Matthew Stafford, Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell, but they are still probably looking at a just above .500 ceiling.

Puka Nacua, Cooper Kupp, Tutu Atwell

19. Green Bay Packers 2-3 (13)

The Packers lost sloppily at Las Vegas to end Week 5. They need a little sharper play from Jordan Love and more impactful play by the defense all-around.

20. New York Jets 2-3 (21)

The Jets saw Zach Wilson make a tough mistake late, but otherwise he facilitated the offense and executed well when needed in a comfortable matchup in Denver. There might be a glimmer of hope for a wild-card playoff run.

21. Atlanta Falcons 3-2 (20)

The Falcons got the resilient play from Desmond Ridder they needed to trust more in their QB on a day when their traditional running game wasn’t automatic. The defense is a work in progress that still needs a lot of jelling.

22. Houston Texans 2-3 (16)

The Texans saw C.J. Stroud fall a little back to earth in Atlanta, although he did deliver late to put his team in position to win. But their running game and defense will keep holding them back from sneaky contention.

23. Las Vegas Raiders 2-3 (27)

The Raiders gave Josh McDaniels a reprieve with just enough from Jimmy Garoppolo and Maxx Crosby on Monday night. Next is the latest revenge game against the reeling Patriots.

24. Washington Commanders 2-3 (22)

Sam Howell is definitely a gamer with his arm and legs, but the offense remains inconsistent with usage of everyone. The defense can be good when impassioned, which wasn’t the case against the Bears.

DeAndre Hopkins

25. Tennessee Titans 2-3 (23)

The Titans are trying to duct tape themselves into competitiveness and it was positive that DeAndre Hopkins finally looked like himself. But the concern is Derrick Henry and the running game sputtering and the stout un defense suddenly wilting.

26. Minnesota Vikings 1-4 (29)

The Vikings’ magical late-game mojo is gone, replaced with critical costly mistakes and falling just short of finishing. Now Justin Jefferson needs to fight through a hamstring injury to keep things from unraveling further.

27. Arizona Cardinals 1-4 (28)

The offense is competitive with Josh Dobbs throwing a lot to Marquise Brown and Zach Ertz. But the defense is showing its obvious holes. There’s no tanking in the desert, but there’s a hard winning talent cap for Jonathan Gannon.

Marquise Brown

28. New York Giants 1-4 (25)

The offensive line has broken down with injuries. Saquon Barkley remains on the shelf with a bad ankle. Now Daniel Jones has a neck injury and Wan’Dale Robinson suffered a concussion in Miami. The defense also stinks. And the Bills are next.

29. New England Patriots 1-4 (26)

Mac Jones is bad. The offensive line and running game don’t exist. The defense is falling apart with injuries and not enough active bodies to execute in Bill Belichick’s scheme. Big changes might need to come soon.

30. Denver Broncos 1-4 (30)

Sean Payton tried to create a more functional offense with Russell Wilson and it’s worked only to some degree. There’s a lot of pressure on it to produce with the defense falling apart and giving up big plays everywhere.

31. Chicago Bears 1-4 (32)

Justin Fields put the Bears on the board with a second straight spectacular passing performance, thanks to that trade with the Panthers to get him D.J. Moore. Now he needs to keep building on it with an easy defensive schedule ahead.

32. Carolina Panthers 0-5 (31)

The Panthers are showing more offensive life and fight with Bryce Young, but the offensive and defensive line woes keep causing major problems. They’re headed toward getting their new No. 1 wideout in the form of Marvin Harrison Jr.

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