Rick Gosselin's Week 6 NFL rankings: the Pack is back (on top)
Editor's note: Rick Gosselin is in his 48th season reporting on the NFL in 2020. He has covered the Lions, Giants, Chiefs and Cowboys in his career plus 38 Super Bowls. He has served on the Hall of Fame selection committee and is a member of both the senior and contributor sub-committees. Gosselin also is one of the 12 voters for the AP 32, the weekly ranking of NFL teams conducted by the Associated Press. Here is his ballot for Week 6:
1. Green Bay Packers. (Previous rank: 2) The Packers are the only team to score at least 30 points every game this season, which helps explain the 4-0 start that puts Green Bay atop these rankings. Aaron Rodgers has completed 70.5 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and no interceptions and the Packers rank second in the NFL in offense.
2. Seattle Seahawks. (3) The Seahawks are one of three teams 3-0 at home this season along with Cleveland and Pittsburgh. But Seattle is the only one of the three still unbeaten on the road at 2-0. The Seahawks have their bye this week but, not that it seems to matter, three of their next four games will be on the road at Arizona, Buffalo and the Rams.
3. Kansas City Chiefs. (1) The Chiefs started the season 4-0 but lost the fifth game last weekend to the Raiders. Kansas City also started 4-0 in 2019 and also lost its fifth game to Indianapolis. The Chiefs then lost the sixth game to Houston. The defending Super Bowl champions visit Buffalo Monday night with hopes of avoiding their first two-game losing streak since the fifth and sixth weekends of last season.
4. Baltimore Ravens. (4) No team has done a better job of drafting at the back end of the first round than the Ravens. Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and Pro Bowlers Ben Grubbs and Todd Heap were all selected in the final nine picks of the first round. Baltimore has hit again with inside linebacker Patrick Queen, whom the Ravens claimed with the 28th pick last April. He ranks eighth in the NFL in tackles (42) after five weeks and has two sacks, forced a fumble and returned another 53 yards for a touchdown last weekend against Cincinnati.
5. Tennessee Titans. (7) Ryan Tannehill has thrown seven touchdown passes in his two home games but only two TD passes in his two road games. The 4-0 Titans are home again Sunday against Houston.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers. (6) Because of a COVID alteration of the schedule, the Steelers will be spending their fifth consecutive week at home. That’s because the game against the Titans in Tennessee Oct. 4 was postponed until Nov. 1 because of a COVID outbreak with the Titans. So the Pittsburgh schedule stacked up with home games against Denver and Houston, then the COVID bye, then home games against Philadelphia and Cleveland. The Steelers will look to go 4-0 at home and 5-0 overall this weekend against the Browns.
7. Buffalo Bills. (5) Stefon Diggs has played three road games this season for the Bills and had 100 yards receiving in all of them. He has 24 catches for 374 yards and a touchdown in those three road games and 12 catches for 135 yards and a TD in his two home games.
8. Los Angeles Rams. (9) The Rams are the only team to rank in the Top 10 in both offense and defense this week. In fact, the Rams rank in the Top 5 of both – fifth in offense and fourth in defense. In addition, with their eight sacks in Washington last weekend, the Rams now share the NFL lead in sacks with Pittsburgh at 20. Rams NT Aaron Donald is the individual leader in sacks with 7 ½.
9. Cleveland Browns. (11) DE Myles Garrett leads the AFC with six sacks and shares the NFL lead in both forced (3) and recovered fumbles (two). The NFL began charting sacks in 1982 but the Browns have never had a player lead either the league or the conference in sacks. The franchise record for sacks in a single season is 14 ½ by Bill Glass in 1964.
10. Chicago Bears. (14) The best offensive weapon on the Bears is WR Allen Robinson. But he struggled along with his QB Mitch Trubisky through the first 2 ½ games, catching only 14 passes for 176 yards and no touchdowns. But QB Nick Foles entered the Atlanta game in the third quarter of the third game and Robinson is returned to his Pro Bowl level. He has caught 21 of Foles’ passes in the last three weeks for 244 yards and both of his touchdowns. He’s had two 100-yard games to spark this 4-1 start by the Bears.
11. Las Vegas Raiders. (17) There were six wide receivers selected in the first round of the 2020 draft and Henry Ruggs became the third to have a 100-yard game last Sunday in Kansas City. He was the highest drafted at 12th overall. Fellow first-rounders CeeDee Lamb (17th overall, Dallas) and Justin Jefferson (22nd, Minnesota) already have two 100-yard games apiece. Still without a 100-yard game are Jerry Jeudy (15th, Broncos), Jalen Reagor (21st, Eagles) and Brandon Aiyuk (25th, 49ers). Jeudy is the only one of those three with a touchdown.
12. New Orleans Saints. (13) Taysom Hill, Sean Payton’s favorite offensive toy, has touched the ball 18 times on runs, receptions and passes for the 3-2 Saints, producing 107 yards and a touchdown. That TD came on his 18th touch Monday night, a nine-yarder against the Chargers in the final minute of regulation that forced an overtime in a game New Orleans eventually won.
13. New England Patriots. (12) The Patriots have one of only two NFL defenses that has not allowed a 100-yard receiver yet. The other is the Bengals. New England is also one of only eight NFL defenses that has not allowed a 300-yard passer yet.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (8) The Bucs visit Green Bay Sunday for the-Super-Bowl-we-never-saw between the two pre-eminent quarterbacks of the era, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. Brady played his eight Super Bowls against the Giants (twice), Rams (twice), Eagles, Panthers, Seahawks and Falcons and Rodgers his one Super Bowl against the Steelers. We thought we’d see this Super Bowl matchup in 2011 when the Packers and Patriots were the two top seeds. The Packers were a league-best 15-1 but lost in the NFC semis to the Giants.
15. Carolina Panthers. (15) The unsung hero in Carolina’s three-game winning streak – make that “heroes” – is the Panthers offensive line. Carolina has not allowed a sack in the last two weeks and QB Teddy Bridgewater has rewarded his offensive mates with four touchdown passes and another on the ground. Two of the victories have come on the road on two different coasts, Los Angeles (Chargers) and Atlanta.
16. Arizona Cardinals. (16) Kyler Murray and the Cardinals visit AT&T Stadium this weekend to play the Cowboys. But Murray is certainly no “visitor” to this building. He won three state championships for Allen High School plus a Big 12 championship for Oklahoma at AT&T Stadium.
17. Indianapolis Colts. (10) The Colts lead the NFL in defense again this week and also stand alone as ballhawks. Indianapolis has intercepted a league-best nine passes, including two apiece by starting cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and T.J. Carrie. The Colts have the only NFL defense with more interceptions than touchdown passes allowed this season.
18. Dallas Cowboys. (22) With Dak Prescott now on the shelf for the rest of the season with a dislocated ankle, the Cowboys place their playoff and Super Bowl hopes in the hands of Andy Dalton. He spent nine seasons as the starting quarterback of the Bengals, posting a 70-61-2 record and delivering Cincinnati two division titles.
19. Philadelphia Eagles. (18) The two best teams in the NFC East are the Cowboys and the Eagles with a combined 3-6-1 record. There’s a reason those two teams are struggling – they share last place in the NFL in offensive giveaways with 11 apiece. That’s 22 turnovers in 10 games. The entire NFC North has 18 giveaways. The entire NFC South has 19. Throw in Washington and the New York Giants and the NFC East has a combined 39 offensive giveaways. When the turnovers stop, the winning starts.
20. Miami Dolphins. (27) The Dolphins showed their faith in CB Xavien Howard in 2019 by giving him a five-year, $76.5 million contract. He intercepted only one pass in 2019 but has rebounded nicely in 2020 with three interceptions in his first five games. He has picked off a pass each of the last three games against Jacksonville (Gardner Minshew), Seattle (Russell Wilson) and San Francisco (Jimmy Garoppolo).
21. Los Angeles Chargers. (26) Rookie Justin Hebert is developing quickly into a big-play quarterback for the 2-3 Chargers. In the last two weeks he has thrown touchdown passes of 72, 64 and 53 yards and has other non-touchdown completions of 49 and 35 yards in his four starts this season.
22. Cincinnati Bengals. (19) Joe Burrow never had a day like this at LSU. He completed only 17 of 30 passes for 183 yards against the Baltimore Ravens last week. He failed to throw a TD pass, was sacked seven times and turned over the ball twice on an interception and a fumble in a 27-3 blowout loss. Baton Rouge is now just a memory.
23. Minnesota Vikings. (21) Dalvin Cook is the only back in the NFL who has rushed for a touchdown in each of his first five games. He has scored seven touchdowns total, all on the ground.
24. San Francisco 49ers. (20) The 49ers won eight of their 10 games at home last season on the way to and NFC championship and Super Bowl. But what a difference a year makes. San Francisco has lost all three of its home games thus far and now has a steep climb to catch the 5-0 Seahawks in the NFC West.
25. Houston Texans. (30) The Texans have allowed a league-high three individual 100-yard rushers this season. That’s more 100-yard rushers than five NFL divisions __ the NFC East (one), NFC South (two), NFC Wert (1), AFC East (2) and AFC South (1).
26. Denver Broncos. (24) Where’s John Elway when you really need him? The Broncos rank 29th in offense and 27th in passing as they scuffle along at 1-3. Denver’s game last weekend at New England was postponed because of a COVID outbreak at the Patriots and will be played this weekend.
27. Detroit Lions. (25) General manager Bob Quinn and coach Matt Patricia survived Detroit’s bye week without getting fired. The Lions are a disappointing 1-3 and have blown double-digit leads in six consecutive games, an NFL record. Detroit is 19-32 in Quinn’s four-year tenure and 10-25-1 in Patricia’s three seasons on the job. Quinn fired a coach coming off a 9-7 season (Jim Caldwell) to hire Patricia. Three of Detroit’s next three games are on the road – at Jacksonville, Atlanta and Minnesota.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars. (28) The Jaguars are struggling at 1-4 but don’t blame QB Gardner Minshew, who has passed for 300-plus yards in three of the five games. He threw three touchdown passes in two of the games and two-TDs in two others. He also has thrown one interception or fewer in four of his five starts. But the Jaguars have allowed 38 more points than Minshew’s offense has scored this season.
29. New York Giants. (31) QB Daniel Jones has not thrown a touchdown pass since the fourth quarter of the season opener. That’s a drought of 16 quarters covering 141 passes. He has thrown three interceptions and lost three fumbles during that stretch.
30. Washington. (29) Washington got its first look at Alex Smith in 23 months when he entered last week’s game against the Rams in relief of an injured Kyle Allen. Smith required 17 surgeries from a leg injury suffered against Houston in a November 2018 game. Smith completed 9-of-17 passes for 37 yards with no touchdowns and no turnovers in the loss to the Rams. But Coach Ron Rivera said Allen will be back in the lineup this weekend against the Giants.
31. Atlanta Falcons. (23) Since 1960, there have been 93 interim coaches in the NFL. Only 31 of them managed to win their debut games, including Romeo Crennel last week with the Houston Texans. Raheem Morris will attempt to become the 32nd to win his debut for Atlanta Sunday when the Falcons visit the Minnesota Vikings. Morris replaces Dan Quinn, who along with GM Thomas Dimitroff were fired this week after an 0-5 start.
32. New York Jets. (32) The Jets have tried two quarterbacks now but their passing game remains worst in the league. New York has passed for fewer than 200 yards in three games in this 0-5 start and fewer than 240 yards in the other two games. The Jets are completing a league-worst 59 percent of their pass with four touchdowns and four interceptions. The NFL has become a passing league but the Jets are failing.