In doing this weekly exercise of assessing each NFL club’s ranking, what has become apparent is the great divide between the league’s elite and the rest of the population. Only a handful of teams reside on the top floor (Eagles, Bills and Chiefs) with a handful of hopefuls (Vikings, 49ers, Buccaneers, Cowboys, Ravens) lurking but still having quite a ways to join them.
Defenses were ahead of offenses at the start of the season due to the copycat trend of resting starters during the preseason. It made for some mediocre football, with some especially hideous Thursday night affairs (which we all still watched). But this Sunday, our patience will be rewarded. For the first time this season, we will be treated to a bona fide monumental matchup between two true heavyweights — teams that have proven they belong on the first tier and not just teams resting on last season’s laurels (yes, we’re talking about you , Rams).
The Bills will return to Kansas City to meet the Chiefs in a showdown worthy of “Game of the Year” hype. The last time the Super Bowl contenders met, postseason tiebreaker rules drew the ire of football fans — and not just the table-breaking diehards in Buffalo — after Kansas City won the overtime coin toss, elected to receive and then marched 75 yards in eight plays to score the game-winning TD without Josh Allen getting to offer a rebuttal.
Half of that epic divisional playoff game’s drama would be welcome in Sunday’s Week 6 reunion. There’s no payback to be won by Buffalo — remember: regular-season outcomes don’t equal/erase playoff results — but what Sean McDermott’s Bills crew can achieve is planting its flag as the top team in the AFC. A victory would give Buffalo the tiebreaker for the conference’s No. 1 seed in the event that both finish first with the same record.
Buffalo jumped over KC in this week’s rankings due to an awe-inspiring 38-3 beatdown of the Steelers. Statistically, the Bills (4-1) have the more balanced squad than the Chiefs (4-1), with the league’s No. 1 offense and No. 2 defense. So, according to the latest Bally Sports NFL Power Rankings, it’ll be the No. 2 Bills against the No. 3 Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Also listed on the weekend marquee: No. 7 Cowboys vs. No. 1 Eagles in Philadelphia. Can’t wait.
Let’s take a closer look at this week’s rankings.
1. Philadelphia Eagles (5-0, Last week: 1): The league’s most complete team faces its toughest test of the season on Sunday night against the equally surprising 4-1 Cowboys.
2. Buffalo Bills (4-1, LW: 4): They annihilated a one-win Steelers team by five touchdowns at home.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (4-1, LW: 2): They beat a one-win Raiders team by one point at home after falling behind 17-0.
4. Minnesota Vikings (4-1, LW: 5): Kevin O’Connell has the receiving triple crown bid back on track for Justin Jefferson, who leads the league in receiving yards (547) and ranks second in receptions (40) but has some catching up to do in TD catches (2).
5. San Francisco 49ers (3-2, LW: 7): They’ve been impressive in their victories (especially their top-ranked defense), the latest win being a ruthless road dominance that ended the Matt Rhule era in Carolina.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2, LW: 9): They can’t run the ball (66.0 yards per game, 31st in the NFL), so they’ve let their legendary 45-year-old QB attempt 52 passes in consecutive weeks. Hmmm.
7. Dallas Cowboys (4-1, LW: 10): Jerry Jones provides answers each week about Dak Prescott’s return from a broken thumb, but another major question must be answered in the near future: When will Tony Pollard (5.6 yards per carry) replace Zeke Elliott (3.8 YPC) as Cowboys RB1?
8. Baltimore Ravens (3-2, LW: 11): John Harbaugh remembered that sometimes the smart call is to rely on your all-time great kicker.
9. New York Giants (4-1, LW: 13): Daniel Jones, bloodied but resilient in the Giants’ 27-22 win over Green Bay in London, is developing into a team leader right before our eyes.
10. Green Bay Packers (3-2, LW: 6): Yes, a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. would be a boost to a green receiving corps, but the free-agent wideout reportedly will not join good friend Aaron Rodgers to I remain in Hollywood.
11. Miami Dolphins (3-2, LW: 3): When you go from Tua Tagovailoa to Teddy Bridgewater to Skylar Thompson, the free fall will be drastic like their sudden slide out of the top 10.
12. Los Angeles Rams (2-3, LW: 8): An ailing offensive line that’s sorely lacking depth has given their critics new fuel to mock the front office’s brazen dismissal of building through the draft.
13. Cincinnati Bengals (2-3, LW: 12): Their offense should be scoring more points, whether Ja’Marr Chase is getting double-teamed or not. There’s simply too much talent to be averaging 21.6 points a game, almost a touchdown less than last season.
14. Los Angeles Chargers (3-2, LW: 17): Brandon Staley pointed to his staff’s trust in the “process” of bucking convention and making analytics-driven decisions, but that doesn’t make his fourth-down dice rolls any less harrowing or suspect.
15. New York Jets (3-2, LW: 23): And just like that, they arguably have the most exciting young offensive core in the league with Zach Wilson, Breece Hall and Garrett Wilson.
16. Tennessee Titans (3-2, LW: 19): Look who’s won three in a row and is back on top of the AFC South.
17. Indianapolis Colts (2-2-1, LW: 20): Gus Bradley’s eighth-ranked defense is bailing out Frank Reich’s 24th-ranked offense.
18. Arizona Cardinals (2-3, LW: 15): The most succinct snapshot of Arizona’s confusing season so far: Kyler Murray engineering a late drive but then sliding short of the first-down marker and mistakenly spiking the ball on third-and-1 to set up a longer field-goal attempt that was missed .
20. Chicago Bears (2-3, LW: 18): Brace yourself for Carson Wentz vs. Justin Fields on Thursday Night Football.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3, LW: 16): Doug Pederson said he’s not concerned about Trevor Lawrence, who committed seven turnovers during the Jags’ two-game losing streak.
22. Las Vegas Raiders (1-4, LW: 21): With all of their one-possession defeats, they are literally coming up with new ways to lose.
23. Atlanta Falcons (2-3, LW: 22): Grady Jarrett is spot-on about the underlying impact of officials going overboard with roughing-the-passer penalties: “If it’s costing people games, it’s going to cost people’s livelihoods, it’s costing people opportunity.”
24. Cleveland Browns (2-3, LW: 24): To help fix a defense that ranks 28th against the run, the Browns acquired former Pro Bowl linebacker Deion Jones from Atlanta this week.
25. New England Patriots (2-3, LW: 27): They should wear those sweet “Pat Patriot” throwback uniforms every game.
26. New Orleans Saints (2-3, LW: 31): Taysom Hill has NOT accounted for every Saints touchdown since Drew Brees retired. It just seems like it.
27. Seattle Seahawks (2-3, LW: 25): Your weekly Geno Smith completion percentage update — 75.2%, tops in the NFL.
28. Houston Texans (1-3-1, LW: 32): They have remarkable balance — 29th on offense, 29th on defense.
29. Detroit Lions (1-4, LW: 26): Their defense can’t stop anyone. Now their offense, which was first in the NFL in scoring, can’t score after getting shut out by New England.
30. Washington Commanders (1-4, LW: 28): Ron Rivera admitted he had a “mea culpa moment” over his veiled criticism of Carson Wentz, but there’s no denying that the Commanders offense is points-challenged (18.0 per game, 26th in the NFL) and turnover-prone (minus-7 differential, 31st in the NFL) due to Wentz’s six interceptions (third-most in the NFL).
31. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4, LW: 29): Their 35-point defeat in Buffalo was the biggest loss with Mike Tomlin as head coach.
32. Carolina Panthers (1-4, LW: 30): Tank for Wembanyama.