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NFL Power Rankings, Week 6

I suppose we should feel lucky about this NFL season, given that we still have five undefeated teams entering Week 6, which is the most in the league's 90-year history. But the league in 2009 has a rich-man, poor-man feel to it as well, with four winless teams and five more stragglers with just one victory. Parity, my butt.

The Giants-Saints showdown in the Superdome on Sunday should define the top of the NFC's food chain for the time being, and it's likely the last matchup of unbeatens we'll be treated to this season. The undefeated Broncos and Colts don't play until Week 14 in Indy, and even more implausibly, the Giants and Vikings would have to maintain their unblemished records until they collide in Week 17 at the Metrodome.

Mid-October is about when things start to get really interesting in the NFL, but clarity is often a casualty. While perfection is always the goal, it's rarely the prize. And now the envelope, please... (Send comments to siwriters@simail.com)

NFL Power Rankings
1New Orleans Saints
Last Week: 1
The Saints on their bye weekend got to sit and watch as their next four opponents -- the Giants, Dolphins, Falcons and Panthers -- all won in fairly impressive fashion in Week 5. Facing a second undefeated New York team in the Superdome in three weeks makes for a another measuring-stick game for Sean Payton's club, and I'm eager to see if the vastly improved Saints defense can hold its own against a Giants offense that beat the Raiders senseless last week.
 
2New York Giants
Last Week: 2
You could easily make a case for the machine-like Giants to be No. 1 and the Saints No. 2, but either way we'll know the true pecking order by early Sunday evening. New York won't be able to get away with half a game from Eli Manning this week, but you have to figure No. 10 will do whatever it takes to stay out there all day in this one, because the winner could eventually hold the key tiebreaker edge in the race for NFC homefield advantage in the playoffs.
 
3Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: 3
The Colts are a relentless team that knows how to step on the neck of a struggling team, and snuff out all hope, as they proved against desperate Tennessee last week. Two more weeks and we've arrived at the anniversary of the Colts' most recent regular-season loss: A 31-21 Week 8 defeat at Tennessee last year. Indy is 14-0 since then and needs wins at St. Louis and home against San Francisco to complete its "perfect" season.
 
4Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 6
Speaking of anniversaries, Monday marked 20 years since the Vikings sold their birthright to Dallas in the Herschel Walker deal that spawned a Cowboys dynasty in the first half of the '90s. Can you imagine if a blockbuster deal like that (it eventually involved 18 players and draft picks) got pulled off before next Tuesday's NFL trading deadline? We'd all be drowning in a sea of 24/7 analysis and reaction from the TV networks, and the internet would probably crash and take the afternoon off.
 
5Denver Broncos
Last Week: 5
Think one play can't change an entire season? What happens if the Broncos lose 7-6 at Cincinnati in Week 1, and that deflected pass to Brandon Stokley falls incomplete rather than results in an 87-yard game-winning last-second touchdown? What follows in the wake of that disappointing first loss in Denver? Does doubt start to set in? Do the Broncos still rip off wins the next four weeks and become one of the surprise stories of the young season? There are no answers here. Only intriguing questions.
 
6Atlanta Falcons
Last Week: 9
The Falcons this season are much more on offense than a stout running game and an opportunistic passing attack. They're explosive, as that 45-point outburst against a sound San Francisco defense highlighted. Atlanta is averaging 106.2 yards on the ground (15th overall) and 240.2 through the air (14th). But when it comes to scoring, Atlanta is a top 10 team, hanging up 25.5 points per game (9th). But here come three more defenses that are playing pretty good ball: Chicago, Dallas and New Orleans.
 
7Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 11
With their next two games at Oakland and at Washington, look for the Eagles to keep right on rolling and maybe do their part to get the Raiders' Tom Cable and the Redskins' Jim Zorn canned by midseason. Other than in the second half of a home loss to the Saints in Week 2, no one has remotely stopped Philadelphia's offense yet.
 
8Cincinnati Bengals
Last Week: 14
The Bengals look like this year's razor's edge team, winning four games by a combined 16 points, with every one of their games remaining undecided into the final minute. It makes for a memorable but nerve-wracking season. Nobody climbed more than the six slots Cincinnati jumped in this week's rankings, but with three home games and a bye coming up, now is the time for the Bengals to put their heads down and build on that early first-place showing.
 
9Chicago Bears
Last Week: 12
I'm going to see the Bears at Falcons Sunday night in Atlanta and I'm expecting a far different Jay Culter than the one I watched throw four interceptions at Green Bay in the Week 1 Sunday nigther. Cutler has thrown only one interception in the three games since the loss to the Packers, and if he wants to keep up with the Kyle Ortons of the world, he'll keep right on protecting the ol' pumpkin this month.
 
10New England Patriots
Last Week: 7
Though they've become somewhat ordinary on the road this season in starting 0-2, the Patriots are 3-0 at home and nobody's running away with anything in the AFC East. After a rough four-week stretch against some tough defenses (Jets, Falcons, Ravens and Broncos), New England should fatten up a bit against a demoralized Titans defense that has slumped to 29th in points (27.8) and 23rd in yards (363.0).
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