NFL Power Rankings: Chargers oust Bengals from No. 1 spot

NFL Power Rankings: Week 6
Wednesday October 8th, 2014

Thanks to losses by Arizona and Cincinnati, the 2014 NFL regular season is officially a free-for-all. There is not a single undefeated team left and we're barely into October.

• Challenge your friends and win BIG in our weekly fantasy football game

What's it all mean for the latest Power Rankings? Well, for starters, that a new No. 1 is in place ...

• Sour Rankings: The worst of Week 5 | Complete coverage of Week 5

NFL Power Rankings
  • 1
    1San Diego Chargers
    last week: 5
    record: 4-1
    The only hesitation -- and I mean, the only hesitation -- with putting the Chargers at No. 1 is that the injury bug keeps biting.
    Not since those henchmen from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade kept getting their heads cut off trying to get the Holy Grail for the Nazis has an occupation come fraught with as much peril being the Chargers' center. And if Branden Oliver gets hurt, I think Natrone Means may be next up at running back.
    And yet, San Diego keeps winning. Mostly thanks to an MVP-type start from Philip Rivers.

  • 2
    2Seattle Seahawks
    last week: 2
    record: 3-1
    Russell Wilson is making so many plays that it's hard to know which football video game to compare him to right now. Monday night at Washington, he had a couple of those Michael Vick circa Madden 2004 plays where everyone clears out and the quarterback runs wild. And he also completed a late pass to Marshawn Lynch that was straight out of Tecmo Bowl -- just drop back, like, the entire length of the field and then throw it over top.
    (I should make a reference to Sports Illustrated: Championship Football and Baseball here, but I'm not positive anyone else remembers it.)

  • 3
    3Denver Broncos
    last week: 3
    record: 3-1
    For all the Julius Thomas-Calais Cambell drama, it went a bit unnoticed that the Broncos' offense rewrote the franchise record book Sunday, against what had been a top-five defense. Demaryius Thomas' 226 yards set a new team mark for single-game receiving, while the 568 total yards of offense also set a standard in Denver.
    "It was just going to be one of those games where we had to perform well," Broncos coach John Fox said, "and luckily we did."

  • 4
    4Philadelphia Eagles
    last week: 7
    record: 4-1
    Somehow, the Eagles defense is both a potential weakness and a fantasy football gift from the heavens. Philadelphia ranks 25th in points allowed and 28th in yardage ... but its defense and special teams have combined for seven touchdowns. That's as many as the Jaguars have scored this season, period, and one more than Oakland.

  • 5
    5Indianapolis Colts
    last week: 9
    record: 3-2
    The Colts figured out how to win a low-scoring, 20-13 slugfest versus Baltimore on Sunday, which could be bad news for the rest of the league. Last season, the Colts scored 20 points or fewer in four games ... and lost all four.

  • 6
    6Cincinnati Bengals
    last week: 1
    record: 3-1
    Unofficially, the Bengals' two-week run atop Power Rankings ended at the 3:16 mark of the first quarter Sunday night, when Tom Brady hit Tim Wright for a touchdown, giving the Patriots a 14-0 lead. Things didn't get much better from there.

  • 7
    7Dallas Cowboys
    last week: 10
    record: 4-1
    Dan Bailey missed a field goal Sunday -- a 53-yarder for the win at the end of regulation. And that's about all the Cowboys have had to complain about over the past four weeks, a stretch that has produced four wins.
    Oh, and Bailey came back with a overtime make to take down the Texans.

  • 8
    8San Francisco 49ers
    last week: 11
    record: 3-2
    Team CEO Jed York stepped up (multiple times) following the latest Jim Harbaugh-is-a-goner rumor to say that he is fully behind Harbaugh as head coach. Still, there are now enough arrows pointing toward Harbaugh's departure that I'm envisioning him going all Major League on the 49ers' locker room.
    "Well, then I guess there's only one thing left to do."
    "What's that?"
    "Win the whole [bleeping] thing."

  • 9
    9Green Bay Packers
    last week: 13
    record: 3-2
    You know it's a good night when Julius Peppers gets to do the Lambeau Leap, which he did after a 49-yard pick-six of Christian Ponder. Between that, Eddie Lacy trucking Harrison Smith at the goal line, Aaron Rodgers throwing three touchdowns and the defense producing a six-sack/three-turnover gem, the 42-10 rout of Minnesota was darn near perfect.

  • 10
    10Arizona Cardinals
    last week: 4
    record: 3-1
    The general draft consensus was that if any coach could develop raw QB Logan Thomas' skillset over time, Bruce Arians was the guy. Although, everyone expected Arians to have more of a window to work with than between Week 5 and Week 6 of the 2014 season. Thomas may be pressed into starting duty this Sunday if Carson Palmer isn't ready to return from a shoulder injury.

  • 11
    11Baltimore Ravens
    last week: 6
    record: 3-2
    Scene: John Harbaugh and Gary Kubiak are sitting on the team plane, discussing the Ravens' game in Indianapolis.
    John: "I think we have a real good shot at this one." 
    Gary: "Me, too. We're ready."
    John: "Oh, hey, Gary ... did you remember to pack the run game?"
    Gary: "Awww nuts."

  • 12
    12New England Patriots
    last week: 15
    record: 3-2
    Yes, yes, Tom Brady still has something left and all. But the real excitement for New England out of Week 5 should come from seeing Rob Gronkowski lookin' all Gronky with a 100-yard game and from shut-down cornerback Darrelle Revis corralling A.J. Green.

  • 13
    13Carolina Panthers
    last week: 23
    record: 3-2
    A round of applause for Greg Olsen, please. Somehow, he consistently gets skipped over during discussions of the league's best tight ends -- flashier options like Jimmy Graham, Vernon Davis and now Julius Thomas all coming to mind first. Olsen also has never been to a Pro Bowl nor received an All-Pro nod since entering the league in 2007.
    The Panthers -- particularly Cam Newton -- would be lost without him. He has 100-plus targets each of the past two seasons and found the end zone twice in Sunday's win.

  • 14
    14New York Giants
    last week: 18
    record: 3-2
    No pressure, but the Giants' 2014 fate probably will be more or less decided between now and Thanksgiving. They have six games in that stretch, starting Sunday with a trip to Philadelphia and followed next week by a visit to Dallas.
    After a Week 8 bye, it's then Indianapolis, at Seattle, San Francisco and a Dallas rematch waiting. Bare minimum, New York probably needs to finish at least 2-4 during this coming run.

  • 15
    15Buffalo Bills
    last week: 25
    record: 3-2
    The Bills defense might be legit. Their defensive line definitely is. Running at less than full strength Sunday (Kyle Williams was out), the Bills still kicked the bejesus out of Detroit's front. Marcell Dareus is just 2.5 sacks off his career-high with 11 games left.

  • 16
    16Detroit Lions
    last week: 8
    record: 3-2
    Overall, Detroit probably is still at least a top-12 team right now, though Calvin Johnson's lingering ankle issue will be worrisome for an offense that has bombed without him in the past. The Lions' kickers, however, rank about No. 33, behind every other team plus anyone who's ever made a field goal during one of those Dr. Pepper halftime promotions.
    Matt Prater will help. He couldn't possibly be any worse than Alex Henery was on Sunday.

  • 17
    17Kansas City Chiefs
    last week: 12
    record: 2-3
    The most obvious issue for the Chiefs right now? They might already be out of the division race with three losses. That's all Denver had last season in taking the AFC West. The last four weeks have shown Kansas City to be a pretty good team, but is the hill too steep?

  • 18
    18Houston Texans
    last week: 14
    record: 3-2
    Watching Arian Foster delivers a similar experience to accidentally knocking a glass off a table. "Did it break?!"
    The Texans are going out of their way to keep Foster healthy this season, and you can see why -- he's still among the best backs in the league. Will he be close to 100 percent for many of Houston's remaining 11 games?

  • 19
    19Cleveland Browns
    last week: 20
    record: 2-2
    The Browns finally committed their first turnover of 2014 on Sunday when Brian Hoyer was picked off by Michael Griffin. Still, that's a pretty incredible pace; last season, Cleveland coughed it up 29 times -- three times or more in five different games.

  • 20
    20New Orleans Saints
    last week: 21
    record: 2-3
    Oh, good, we get to have the "Is Drew Brees over the hill?" discussion. Good thing, because Brady played well and both Mannings are rolling, so someone has to carry that torch for the 33-and-up crowd at quarterback.

  • 21
    21Pittsburgh Steelers
    last week: 17
    record: 3-2
    This has to be the most confusing 3-2 team out there. Clobbered by Baltimore, blowout win at Carolina, home loss to Tampa Bay ... and then Sunday's sleepwalk against Jacksonville. The Steelers might screw around and finish 9-7 without anyone being able to explain how they got there.

  • 22
    22Chicago Bears
    last week: 16
    record: 2-3
    And this is probably the most confusing 2-3 team in the NFL right now. It's too bad Pittsburgh and Chicago do not play in the regular season. Given those teams' ups and downs, I'm fairly certain the game would end in overtime on something like a fake punt or Jay Cutler accidentally throwing a lateral for a safety.

  • 23
    23Miami Dolphins
    last week: 22
    record: 2-2
    Amid all the drama following the Dolphins' 1-2 start, they essentially took the same tact as a fugitive on the run: leaving the country, then lying low for a week.
    Now off their bye week, we get to find out if the Dolphins really have pulled it together or if their romp in London was merely a Raiders-aided mirage.

  • 24
    24Atlanta Falcons
    last week: 19
    record: 2-3
    Atlanta is now 1-10 in its last 11 road games dating back to last season. This year, the offense is scoring 23 more points at home (42.5) than away (19.3). So it's not a great season for the Falcons to have had had one of their upcoming "home" games shifted to London: Week 8 vs. Detroit. After Sunday's game against the Bears, the Falcons will play four straight outside Atlanta.

  • 25
    25Minnesota Vikings
    last week: 24
    record: 2-3
    Safe to say that when Mike Zimmer took the Vikings job, he did not envision having Christian Ponder at quarterback, Matt Asiata as his leading running back and Adam Thielen his leading receiver at any point. That's where the Vikings were at in Week 5.

  • 26
    26Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    last week: 27
    record: 1-4
    If we ignore the score of that Tampa Bay-Atlanta game, the Buccaneers actually did not fare too poorly on their recent three-game road trip: 1-2 with a win in Pittsburgh and an overtime heartbreaker in New Orleans. Granted, that's like asking to ignore that your take-out order had a giant hair in it, but still ...

  • 27
    27Washington Redskins
    last week: 29
    record: 1-4
    The Associated Press described the Redskins' locker room post-Monday night loss to Seattle as having a "surprisingly light atmosphere" -- players "laughing and joking" despite falling to 1-4.
    Laughing and joking? Well, lock 'em up and throw away the key.
    The more troubling reaction to the result came from head coach Jay Gruden who said, "We wanted to come out and really go toe-to-toe and play our butts off. I think we did that." Moral victories are worthless.

  • 28
    28St. Louis Rams
    last week: 28
    record: 1-3
    The NFL schedule is mostly predetermined based on inter-divisional crossovers and where teams finish in the previous season's standings. St. Louis probably feels a little screwed over nonetheless. Sunday's loss to Philadelphia was the first of eight straight games (!) against 2013 playoff teams. This could get real ugly, real fast.

  • 29
    29Tennessee Titans
    last week: 30
    record: 1-4
    The Titans reportedly are leaning toward starting Zach Mettenberger this week, with Jake Locker hurt again. Good.
    A sixth-round pick back in May, Mettenberger may not be the long-term answer -- or have the obvious upside of a Blake Bortles or Teddy Bridgewater -- but the ship on Locker as the guy here has sailed, returned to port and sailed again.

  • 30
    30New York Jets
    last week: 26
    record: 1-4
    New York's colossal struggles on offense Sunday straddled the line between fascinating and depressing. And then Michael Vick came in, tipping the scales heavily toward the latter with a miserable performance that included him still throwing passes in the closing seconds, trying to avoid a shutout.

  • 31
    31Oakland Raiders
    last week: 31
    record: 0-4
    Interim coach Tony Sparano inherits an 0-4 team that will be an underdog in each of his 12 contests from here on out. It might be too early to wonder if 0-16 is in the cards, but the schedule sure brings up the possibility.

  • 32
    32Jacksonville Jaguars
    last week: 32
    record: 0-5
    The Jaguars trailed by one in the fourth quarter Sunday before Blake Bortles locked on to a target and fired a pick-six. Frustrating, sure. Also, exactly why you get your young quarterback in the lineup now. Better to have him make (and learn from) a mistake like that now than later, when this team is better prepared to compete.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.