While there are many power rankings out there based as much on hype, expectations, and too often, unrealized and inaccurate projections, at Football Reporters Online, we prefer to rank NFL teams on what’s actually happened, taking into account only how teams have performed on the field and who they’ve played. At F.R.O., you won’t find yet another power ranking that doesn’t tell you much. Instead, here are the F.R.O. NFL Performance Rankings:
#1 NEW ORLEANS 5-0 — Week 6: Beat NY Giants, 48-27
Drew Brees toyed with the Giants’ top-ranked pass defense, looking like he was having a simple game of catch in the backyard with Marques Colston and Lance Moore. With Brees leading the way, the Saints lead the league with a very impressive 38.4 points and 430.0 total yards per game.
#2 INDIANAPOLIS 5-0 +1 Week 6: Bye
The Giants’ loss is the Colts’ gain, as they enjoy their Week 6 bye moving up one, to number 2. The latest of Peyton Manning’s five straight 300-yard games to start the season, has the Colts rolling since a comeback win in Miami. And, the Colts are not just about Manning and the offense. Indianapolis ranks second, allowing just 14.2 points per game.
#3 DENVER 6-0 +1 Week 6: Won at San Diego, 34-23
The Broncos weren’t legit after the fluke win in Cincinnati. They weren’t for real after beating up on Cleveland and Oakland. Well, no one is saying that anymore after home wins over New England and Dallas, and wining in San Diego on Monday Night Football. So far, Josh McDaniels has proved a lot of people wrong doing it his way, with his system, without Jay Cutler, and with Kyle Orton, who is 27-12 as a starter. Denver is allowing a league-low 11.0 points per game.
#4 MINNESOTA 6-0 +1 Week 6: Beat Baltimore, 33-31
Minnesota could easily have two home losses already in their first three home games, but as they did against the 49ers, the Vikings pulled one out late against the Ravens to remain as one of only four unbeatens left. It’s going to be difficult to keep the record unblemished with a pair of tough roads tests coming up in Pittsburgh followed by Brett Favre’s homecoming to Lambeau.
#5 NY GIANTS 5-1 -3 Week 6: Lost at New Orleans, 48-27
New York’s ride against the bottom feeders of the NFL ended with an abrupt wake-up call. The Giants still rank first in overall defense and against the pass, but they looked just the opposite in New Orleans. They still luck out however, maintaining a two-game lead in the NFC East, thanks to the Eagles stubbing their toe in Oakland.
#6 ATLANTA 4-1 +1 Week 6: Beat Chicago, 21-14
The Falcons look nearly unbeatable at home even though the Bears played them tough. So far, only one bad effort, at New England. Otherwise, Atlanta has looked sharp on both sides of the ball with a stout defense, and a nice run/pass balance offensively.
#7 PITTSBURGH 4-2 +3 Week 6: Won at Detroit, 28-20
After letting a couple of games get away late in Chicago and Cincinnati, the defending champs have righted the ship with three solid wins in a row.
#8 NEW ENGLAND 4-2 +4 Week 6: Beat Tennessee, 59-0
59-0?!? 45-0 at halftime?!? A records five TD passes for Brady in the second quarter?!? 619 yards of offense?!? And, all in the snow, no less? It looks like Brady has answered the questions of what might have been wrong with him after losses to the Jets and Broncos. The Titans are awful, but the Pats look like they’re finally playing up to their high pre-season expectations.
#9 CINCINNATI 4-2 -3 Week 6: Lost to Houston, 28-17
After five games going down to the wire including three wins in the final 22 seconds, there was no comeback this time, as Houston’s Matt Schaub lit the Bengals up for 4 TD’s and 392 yards. Not a huge surprise since Houston’s offense is dangerous. The area of concern is that Cincinnati’s offense was supposed to be equally dangerous, but couldn’t keep up. And now, Antwan Odom, with the second most sacks (8) in the league, is out for the year with a hurt Achilles tendon.
#10 ARIZONA 3-2 +5 Week 6: Won at Seattle, 27-3
The Cardinals move up by five spots for the second straight week. After a slow start, Kurt Warner has regained his old form, and no one in the league stops the run better than Arizona’s defense which has surrendered just 59.6 rushing yards per game.
#11 CHICAGO 3-2 -2 Week 6: Lost at Atlanta, 21-14
The Bears have played pretty well overall, sandwiching their three wins in between a couple of tough losses on Sunday Night Football in Green Bay and Atlanta.
#12 SAN FRANCISCO 3-2 -5 Week 6: Bye
The Niners started strong, very nearly going 4-0 while barely losing in Minnesota. However, the 35-point home loss to the Falcons was a big red flag. We’ll find out soon if the bye week helps San Francisco regroup, as they resume with a couple of tough ones on the road, at Houston and at Indianapolis.
#13 PHILADELPHIA 3-2 -5 Week 6: Lost at Oakland, 13-9
Despite their winning record, the Eagles have a lot yet to prove, having beaten up badly on some of the league’s weaker teams (Carolina, Kansas City, and Tampa Bay), while losing to another one of those teams (Oakland) and getting crushed by the one good team they’ve played (New Orleans).
MIRED IN MEDIOCRITY:
#14 BALTIMORE 3-3 -1 Week 6: Lost at Minnesota, 33-31
It’s been a strange season thus far for the Ravens. Usually known for their defense, they allowed a lot of yardage early on, starting undefeated by scoring over 30 points in each of their first three games. Since then, they’ve lost three games by a total of only 11 points, including the last two in the final couple of minutes by a combined five points.
#15 GREEN BAY 3-2 +3 Week 6: Beat Detroit, 26-0
The Packers can be good if they can keep Aaron Rodgers upright. Thus far, they’ve allowed a league-high 25 sacks, many of which were a huge factor in their only two losses this season (to Cincinnati and at Minnesota).
#16 DALLAS 3-2 — Week 6: Bye
Despite three wins, the Cowboys actually looked their best in a loss to the Giants. Romo has been struggling with T.O. gone, and all three wins are against weak competition (Tampa Bay, Carolina, and Kansas City –- who Dallas needed, not T.O. but OT, to beat).
#17 NY JETS 3-3 -6 Week 6: Lost to Buffalo, 16-13 (OT)
The early season bloom has come off the rose for both Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan, who have recently looked like the rookies they are. The Jets’ results mirror the Ravens, only a little worse. After three impressive wins to start the season, everything has turned around with three straight losses, and two of those were against losing teams (Miami and Buffalo) within the division.
#18 HOUSTON 3-3 +3 Week 6: Won at Cincinnati, 28-17
Inconsistency, thy name is the Houston Texans. So far this year: Loss, Win, Loss, Win, Loss, Win. After a slow start, Matt Schaub and the Houston offense have found their rhythm. If the defense can now join them on a more regular basis, the Texans might get out of their pattern and actually string two or three wins together.
#19 JACKSONVILLE 3-3 +3 Week 6: Beat St. Louis, 23-20 (OT)
The Jags have been tough to figure out. They play the Colts tough on the road, then lay an egg at home against Arizona. They get a huge win in Houston and take care of the hapless Titans easily, but they get then get blown away in Seattle and need OT to beat the lowly Rams. So, far it’s all added up to .500, which is better than many preseason expectations.
#20 SAN DIEGO 2-3 -3 Week 6: Lost to Denver, 34-23
The Chargers defense and special teams have let them down. An average of 17.5 points per game allowed in their two wins, but 31, 38, and 34 points, for an average of 34.3 points allowed per game in three losses.
#21 MIAMI 2-3 -2 Week 6: Bye
Lose one Chad and start 0-3? No problem. Try another Chad, unleash the wildcat, win 2 straight, save the season, head into the bye week, and all’s fine again. Not so fast. Look who’s coming to town next: New Orleans. Expect a heavy dose of the wildcat aimed at keeping Brees off the field.
LOOKING TOWARD THE 2010 DRAFT:
#22 SEATTLE 2-4 -2 Week 6: Lost to Arizona, 27-3
There’s no truth to the rumor of the Seahawks petitioning the league to play St. Louis and Jacksonville only. Seattle beat those two by a combined 69-0. Against others, they’ve been outscored 109-49.
#23 CAROLINA 2-3 — Week 6: Won at Tampa Bay, 28-21
Competition makes all the difference in the NFL. Start 0-3 playing Philadelphia and traveling to Atlanta and Dallas? No problem, play Washington and Tampa Bay. They may not play like NFL-caliber teams, but the NFL still counts them as NFL wins.
#24 BUFFALO 2-4 +4 Week 6: Won at NY Jets, 16-13 (OT)
The Bills exposed Mark Sanchez, picking him five times. As bas as Buffalo has been at times (see the brutal Cleveland loss), they’re probably one late fumble in New England away from being 3-3 and 2-1 in the AFC East. T.O. has yet to be the factor the Bills hoped he would become for them.
#25 WASHINGTON 2-4 -1 Week 6: Lost to Kansas City, 14-6
How bad is the Redskins’ offense? Well, they became the first team to play six consecutive winless teams, and they are still only 2-4, with only a 2-point win over the Rams and a 3-point win over the Bucs. You must find a way to score points in the NFL, and as well Jim Zorn did that in the other Washington (as a quarterback in Seattle), he hasn’t figured out a way to get the Washington in D.C. to even come close to accomplishing the same yet.
#26 KANSAS CITY 1-5 +4 Week 6: Won at Washington, 14-6
The Chiefs finally got a win over… who else? The aforementioned Redskins. Although they’re one game worse than Oakland and lost to the Raiders at home, they get rated a notch higher since they have played better than Oakland overall during the first six weeks, and should have beat the Raiders after statistically dominating them.
#27 OAKLAND 2-4 +2 Week 6: Beat Philadelphia, 13-9
The Raiders can be respectable. They played San Diego tough, and should have beaten them. Although the Chiefs badly outplayed them, they somehow found a way to win. And, they shocked the Eagles at home, although the offense struggled again. But, when the Raiders are bad, they’re horrible. Prior to the win over Philly, they lost three straight games by 20, 26, and 37.
#28 CLEVELAND 1-5 -3 Week 6: Lost at Pittsburgh, 27-14
The Browns won by default in a 6-3 game in Buffalo in which their punter was the game’s MVP. Other than that, they’ve been pretty bad all around, although they’ve generally hung in most losses a little better than the next four teams…
#29 DETROIT 1-5 -3 Week 6: Lost at Green Bay, 26-0
The Lions have allowed a league-high 188 points while beating only the Redskins (which says more about the state of pro football in D.C. that it does about Detroit turning things around any time soon). The ineptitude in the Motor City has now reached 20 losses in 21 games, but hey, at least they can’t go 0-16 again, like last year.
#30 TENNESSEE 0-6 -3 Week 6: Lost at New England, 59-0
How can a team fall so far, so fast? From an NFL-best 13-3 last season to winless and a 59-0 utter embarrassment in the snow up in Foxborough. The Titans are now allowing league-highs 33 points and 405.7 yards per game and seem to have simply quit on head coach Jeff Fisher, who seems to have lost it, donning a Peyton Manning jersey for a charity fundraiser, saying he “just wanted to feel like to be a winner.” At this rate, he may not get the chance, as that stunt has backfired with Titans fans (even though they’re overreacting), and he could be let go before Tennessee can muster their first win. The only reason the Titans are not last (and they may yet end up there very soon), is that they were very competitive while losing three tough games to start the season, before the three horrific efforts that followed.
#31 ST.LOUS RAMS 0-6 +1 Week 6: Lost at Jacksonville, 23-20 (OT)
For the longest period this season, the Rams have been the NFL’s worst team overall, and easily the league’s most offensively challenged team, scoring just 54 points this year. But, they move out of the cellar this week for at least giving Jacksonville an overtime scare on Sunday, while Tampa Bay…
#32 TAMPA BAY 0-6 -1 Week 6: Lost to Carolina, 28-21
Can’t get out of its own way. The Bucs were more competitive against Carolina but they haven’t been in all of their other games aside from a close loss in Washington. Losing their past 10 games dating back to last season, the bumbling Bucs are in the midst of their longest losing streak since 1977, when they were in the middle of their NFL-record 26-game losing streak. Let’s hope Tampa at least gets a win or two before the current streak repeats itself like that.