Week 7 NFL Power Rankings

NFL


As we conduct another version of the NFL Power Rankings, we got to thinking — what’s the one thing that could hold each team back?

Some teams have a lot of flaws to choose from (sorry, Dolphins and Redskins fans). Pinpointing a weakness on other teams might seem a bit nitpicky — it’s kind of hard to take Patriots and 49ers complaints seriously at the moment. But every team has that little imperfection that could hold it back, and our NFL Nation reporters highlight them below. Our power panel — a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities — evaluates how teams stack up throughout the season.

Previous rankings: 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | Preseason

Week 6 ranking: 1

Biggest weakness: The running game

Injuries to starting center David Andrews and left tackle Isaiah Wynn have had a trickle-down effect on the consistency with which lanes are open in the running game. With 175 rushes for 609 yards, the Patriots are averaging just 3.48 yards per carry in their 6-0 start, which has put more pressure on QB Tom Brady in the passing game. — Mike Reiss


Week 6 ranking: 2

Biggest weakness: Scoring points

So far, this hasn’t hurt the Saints because their defense is playing so well. They are a remarkable 4-0 since Drew Brees underwent thumb surgery but rank 25th in the NFL over the past five weeks in both yards per game (311.6) and offensive points per game (17.0). And it won’t get any easier this week at Chicago. It’s not as simple as just pointing to the switch at QB, where Teddy Bridgewater has been more efficient than electrifying. The Saints rank 27th in the league in red zone efficiency over that same span — and first in offensive penalties. — Mike Triplett

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Ryan Clark believes the 49ers have proven themselves and have what it takes to be strong contenders in the NFC after a 5-0 start.

Week 6 ranking: 6

Biggest weakness: Red zone efficiency

The 49ers finished last in the NFL a year ago when it came to turning red zone drives into touchdowns. They’ve made some progress this year (they’re up to a 46% touchdown rate from 41% in 2018) but still have plenty of room to improve. Getting their starting offensive tackles and fullback back from injury should help, but if nothing else, they must cut down on turnovers when they get deep in opposing territory. They have three giveaways in the red zone in their first five games, second most in the NFL. — Nick Wagoner


Week 6 ranking: 5

Biggest weakness: The pass rush

The Seahawks have gotten impact plays out of Jadeveon Clowney and Ziggy Ansah, but those two have combined for only two sacks and the Seahawks have just 10 sacks in six games after getting blanked the past two weeks. They’ve pressured opposing quarterbacks on 23.3% of their dropbacks, which ranks 25th in the NFL. It’s a good thing for the Seahawks that Jarran Reed — he of 10.5 sacks last season — is back this week from a six-game suspension. They need him. — Brady Henderson


Week 6 ranking: 4

Biggest weakness: Offensive weapons

Beyond Davante Adams and Aaron Jones, what does Aaron Rodgers really have at his disposal? The tight ends are old and the rest of the receivers are inexperienced and inconsistent. GM Brian Gutekunst rightly put his resources into fixing the defense, and his signings and draft picks have worked. You can’t fix everything in one offseason, so he’ll have to find more options for Rodgers next time around. — Rob Demovsky


Week 6 ranking: 3

Biggest weakness: Run defense

The Chiefs have allowed at least 180 rushing yards for a staggering four straight games. They had 20:12 time of possession on Sunday against the Texans, their lowest total ever for a home game. The Texans had 83 plays compared to 47 for the Chiefs. Kansas City has to be perfect on offense to overcome these numbers and hasn’t been anything close to that the past two weeks. — Adam Teicher

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Dan Orlovsky and Rex Ryan give their take on where Deshaun Watson ranks among this season’s MVP candidates.

Week 6 ranking: 12

Biggest weakness: Extra points

Kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn missed another extra point Sunday, his fourth miss in the past four games. He is now tied with the injured Stephen Gostkowski for the most in the NFL in 2019 after missing only two last season. Fairbairn also missed a 46-yard field goal in the third quarter. “We have to get that area improved,” head coach Bill O’Brien said after the game. “I think we have to go back and look at the technique,” he added. “Everybody is involved in that. It is the whole operation.” — Sarah Barshop


Week 6 ranking: 10

Biggest weakness: Turnovers

It’s a fixable problem, but the Bills’ 11 turnovers are tied for fifth in the NFL — which is an obvious ball and chain for an offense ranked fifth in average time of possession, ninth in first downs per game and 11th in yards per game. If Buffalo takes better care of the ball, it will be a dangerous team given the strength of its defense. — Marcel Louis-Jacques


Week 6 ranking: 11

Biggest weakness: Pass rush

The Ravens have 11 sacks through six games and are on pace for their second-lowest sack total over the past two decades. Only Matthew Judon (four sacks) is getting consistent pressure. To make matters worse, two of Baltimore’s biggest free-agent departures — Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith — have nearly matched Baltimore’s sack total, combining for nine. The lack of sacks is a big reason for Baltimore’s No. 25 ranking in pass defense. The Ravens’ next four games include matchups with Russell Wilson, Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson, and Baltimore has to put pressure on them if it expects to win. — Jamison Hensley


Week 6 ranking: 14

Biggest weakness: Tight end play

Many expected a tight end to assume the role of WR3 in the Vikings’ offense given Gary Kubiak’s history with the position. However, in Minnesota’s first six games, Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr. have a combined 16 catches for 165 yards and no touchdowns while Tyler Conklin has yet to be targeted. The Vikings rank 27th in receiving yards, 26th in receptions and are one of three teams without a receiving TD by a tight end. The Vikings paid a pretty penny to bring back Rudolph this offseason and used a high draft pick on Smith but haven’t utilized this position group all that much beyond run blocking. — Courtney Cronin


Week 6 ranking: 7

Biggest weakness: Consistency on offense

Too much passing? Too much running? Not enough of anything? Six games in, and through a 3-3 start, the Rams’ offense is still in search of an identity, which is shocking given how efficient the unit has been since Sean McVay took over as coach in 2017. “We look like a good offense, sometimes, look like a bad offense,” receiver Robert Woods said. “Just not being consistent.” The Rams have been unable to find consistency in their running game and rank 21st in the league, averaging 98 yards per game. They’ve relied heavily on their passing attack, which ranks sixth in averaging 272 yards per game, though even that floundered against the 49ers. — Lindsey Thiry

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Dan Orlovsky doesn’t see head coach Jason Garrett as the answer to fixing the Cowboys after their Week 6 loss to the Jets.

Week 6 ranking: 8

Biggest weakness: Lack of takeaways

The Cowboys have five takeaways on the season (two interceptions, three fumbles). Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard have typically had defenses that can take the ball away, but this group just simply hasn’t done it enough. The Cowboys are not pressuring the quarterback to create hurried throws. They don’t poke the ball away. The last time a Cowboys defensive back had more than four interceptions was in 2010. As a result, the offense does not have many opportunities to work with a short field. Nothing is coming easy for this team at the moment. — Todd Archer


Week 6 ranking: 17

Biggest weakness: Pass defense

This might sound crazy for a team that had five interceptions Sunday against Tampa Bay, but the Panthers have been vulnerable, particularly in the middle of the field. They have been sending extra pressure up front for a league-best 27 sacks, which means less help on the back end, so this might be nitpicking. But they have allowed seven touchdown passes. Again, nitpicking for a team that has won four straight. — David Newton

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Chris Mortensen questions whether Ron Rivera is committed to starting Cam Newton once he is able to return from his foot injury.

Week 6 ranking: 9

Biggest weakness: Pass defense

The Eagles are tied with the Giants for most pass plays of 40-plus yards allowed (seven). Six receivers have had 100-plus-yard performances against them. Their injury-depleted cornerback group could get Jalen Mills (foot) and Ronald Darby (hamstring) back this week. Whether the duo’s return makes an appreciable difference is unknown. — Tim McManus


Week 6 ranking: 15

Biggest weakness: Lack of takeaways

The Colts are 27th in the NFL in takeaways with just five. That’s a significant drop-off from last season, when their 26 takeaways were good enough for 10th in the league. The returns of linebacker Darius Leonard and safety Malik Hooker, the team’s two best defensive playmakers, should help in that area. Leonard, who forced four fumbles in 2018, was cleared to return after missing the previous three games with a concussion. Hooker, who has an interception this season, could return as early as this week after missing the past two games with a knee injury. — Mike Wells


Week 6 ranking: 13

Biggest weakness: Explosive plays on offense

The Bears don’t have enough of them. Their vertical passing attack is limited with Mitchell Trubisky or Chase Daniel at quarterback. The offense has been equally ineffective on the ground. Chicago has gained eight or more rushing yards on just 10 running plays through five games. Head coach Matt Nagy cited the club’s lack of explosive plays as the No. 1 offensive issue that needs to be corrected after the bye. — Jeff Dickerson


Week 6 ranking: 16

Biggest weakness: Run defense

The Lions have showed improvement in almost every area compared with a season ago, but they’ve struggled against the run. They are allowing 4.84 yards per carry (26th in the league) along with 124.8 yards per game. They allowed over 100 yards rushing in every game the first month of the season and had given up five rushing scores entering Monday night against Green Bay. — Michael Rothstein


Week 6 ranking: 21

Biggest weakness: Lack of receiver depth



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