It’s an AFC West world, and we’re just living in it. It wasn’t so long ago that the league’s best was considered maybe the worst division in football. Now, there are just two undefeated teams remaining, and they play for the same division title. How rare is that? It’s only the second time a division has had two 6-0 teams. The first time: 1934.
Those undefeated records are about all that’s the same between the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs. We all know the Broncs get the job done on offense (though they hope the defense tightens up now that Von Miller’s suspension is over). The Chiefs, on the other hand, do their dirty work on D. They lead the league in a number of defensive categories and aren’t slowing down.
If we’re lucky, it’ll be a match up of 9-0’s November 17th. For now, we’ll have to settle for Denver and KC being No. 1 and 2 in the Week Six Power Rankings. Right behind them, the two teams in this week’s game of the week in Foxboro.
Biggest Rise: St. Louis +6
Biggest Fall: Houston -4
1. Denver Broncos (6-0, Last Week: 1): The Stat: 128.8. Peyton Manning’s on pace this year to set all sorts of records, and one of them is the huge 128.8 QB Rating he’s sporting. Aaron Rodgers set the single season record in 2011 at 122.5, but with the way Manning is playing chances are pretty good he’ll be returning that record to himself after Rodgers took it from his 2004 effort.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (6-0, LW: 4): The Stat: 31. The Chiefs have 31 sacks in 6 games, an impressive 5.2 per contest. That’s highlighted by 10 (first time with 10 since 1998) in Week Six against Terrelle Pryor and the Raiders. The more impressive stat, though, is the turnaround on D for Kansas City. The team had 27 sacks all of last season. They’re four beyond that in just six games. No surprise why they’re the first team since 1956 to go 6-0 after having the league’s worst record the year before.
3. New England Patriots (5-1, LW: 6): The Stat: :05. That’s how much time was left on the clock when Tom Brady threw the game winning touchdown pass to Kenbrell Thompkins Sunday in Foxboro. Brady is a future Hall-of-Famer, and he’s engineered 37 game winning drives in his 14 seasons, but he’s never had one with less time on the clock. Despite their flaws, the Patriots are 5-1 and just seem to be getting stronger after a win over maybe the NFC’s best team.
4. New Orleans Saints (5-1, LW: 2): The Stat: 593. Just how good has Jimmy Graham been for New Orleans so far? He leads the NFL with 593 receiving yards even after being shut out by the Patriots Sunday. Graham’s stock went down some after he struggled through injuries in 2012, but his start to 2013 sets him apart as the marquee tight end in the new group of young guys changing that position.
5. Seattle Seahawks (5-1, LW: 3): The Stat: 11-0. Russell Wilson has spent the last year inserting himself into the conversation of the game’s great quarterbacks, and part of that is because he’s never lost on his home field. Wilson is 11-0 at CenturyLink Field (though that’s with an asterisk from the Green Bay game in 2012), adding another win to that Sunday against the Titans. We should get a better idea of how good this team is when they go on the road three of the next four weeks. Wilson is 6-7 away from home so far.
6. San Francisco 49ers (4-2, LW: 7): The Stat: 16. The 49ers got 180 receiving yards from Vernon Davis and 101 rushing yards from Frank Gore Sunday. The last time San Francisco had a 100-yard rusher and receiver was 16 regular season games ago, Week Five of last year against Buffalo. The Niners turned the trick in the Super Bowl as well. Those were the only times they did it in 2012.
7. Indianapolis Colts (4-2, LW: 5): The Stat: 1,001. The Colts came out flat in a loss at San Diego, but Reggie Wayne’s five catches meant history for the longtime Indianapolis receiver. He now has 1,001 catches in his 13 year career, good for 8th on the all-time list. Because he’s spent his entire career in Indianapolis and played a lot of that with Peyton Manning, Wayne will inevitably be linked to another Colts receiving star, Marvin Harrison. Wayne is 101 catches behind Harrison, who played 13 years. Wayne is in his 13th season.
8. Green Bay Packers (3-2, LW: 10): The Stat: 1974. I’m using this stat just to show how misleading stats can be sometimes. Sunday’s 19-17 win at Baltimore was Green Bay’s first there since 1974. Break that down a little bit, though. Baltimore had no team from 1983-1995. In the other 26 years, the two teams met in Baltimore just two times, a tie in 1982 and a Ravens blow out win in 2005. So, cool for Green Bay to finally get a win there after 40 years, but it was a frustrating two game winless streak.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2, LW: 8): The Stat: 22. AJ Green seems well on his way toward scoring the most touchdowns any Bengals player has ever seen in his first three years in the league. With an impressive end zone grab against Buffalo, Green scored his 22nd career touchdown. That’s second on the Bengals list behind only Isaac Curtis, who scored 26 times in his first three seasons.
10. Detroit Lions (4-2, LW: 11): The Stat: 5-of-7. Joseph Fauria, an undrafted rookie, is turning into the ultimate end zone target for the Lions. In six games, Fauria has caught just seven passes. That’s only 7th best on the team. Five of those seven catches, though, have been touchdowns. That’s 6th best in the NFL. If you’re only going to catch that many balls, I guess Fauria and his ridiculous end zone dances are living the dream.
11. Chicago Bears (4-2, LW: 9): The Stat: 24.2. The Bears are getting a lot of attention for Jay Cutler’s efficient play and the way the offense is excelling under Marc Trestman, but that Chicago defense is still just as fierce as its always been. The Bears are causing a turnover on 24.2% of opponents’ possessions, one out of every four. Not only that, Chicago is converting those turnovers into points. They are 2nd in the NFL, scoring 62 points out takeaways, a single point behind San Francisco. The defense has also scored a league best four touchdowns.
12. Baltimore Ravens (3-3, LW: 12): The Stat: 20.3. The Ravens offense is struggling, and it would be downright awful if it wasn’t for the Joe Flacco to Torrey Smith connection. Smith is averaging a league best 20.3 yards per reception this year, almost two yards more than anyone else. It helps a little bit to offset the surprisingly bad running attack. Baltimore’s run game is averaging just 2.7 yards per carry, 2nd worst overall.
13. Dallas Cowboys (3-3, LW: 16): The Stat: 26.7. A big help for having a successful offense is being able to get the job done on Special Teams. The Cowboys are the best squad in the league at using the return game to set up Tony Romo’s group. Dallas is averaging 26.7 yards per return this year, leading the NFL in both punt return average (20.4 yds) and kick return average (32.4 yds). That was on full display Sunday against Washington when Dwayne Harris had 4 returns for 176 yards (44 yds per return).
14. San Diego Chargers (3-3, LW: 15): The Stat: 2010. The Chargers aren’t usually known so much for their defense. Because of that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s been almost three years since San Diego held a team without a touchdown. That streak came to an end Monday night against the previously high flying Colts.
15. Miami Dolphins (3-2, LW: 13): The Stat: 8. The Dolphins are coming off a Bye, which doesn’t seem good if recent history holds up. Miami has alternated wins and losses out of the Bye week for eight straight years, and last year was a win against the Jets. Even worse news for the Phins. They face Buffalo out of the break. The last three times Miami has played the Bills out of the Bye, it was Buffalo taking home the win.
16. Tennessee Titans (3-3, LW: 14): The Stat: 4. Part of it is playing against Kansas City and Seattle, but there’s a definite difference in results when your starting quarterback goes down. Jake Locker played the season’s first four games without an interception, and Tennessee went 3-1. Since he left with a hip injury, Ryan Fitzpatrick has taken over, throwing four interceptions in back-to-back losses.
17. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3, LW: 19): The Stat: 400. The Eagles have certainly struggled at times in Chip Kelly’s first season in the NFL, but that’s been mostly on a truly bad defense. The offense has been humming right along and they have history to prove it. Philadelphia (and this year’s Broncos) join just the 2007 Patriots and 1983 Chargers as the only teams to ever have 400+ yards of offense in the season’s first six games.
18. Cleveland Browns (3-3, LW: 17): The Stat: 6. You can’t claim the Browns don’t come to play every week. Cleveland has led at halftime of all six games they’ve played this year. The bad part is that, and Browns fans have read this story for years, the team just doesn’t do a great job of closing teams out. Take this week for instance. They led 17-7 at the half and held Reggie Bush to less than 20 total yards. By the time the game ended, it was 31-17 Detroit, and Bush had 135 total yards and a score.
19. Arizona Cardinals (3-3, LW: 20): The Stat: 54. The Cardinals defense is a ball hawking bunch led by the LSU tandem of Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, but it can’t be all about the risk takers. Karlos Dansby is the rock of the unit, leading the NFL with 54 tackles, 11 better than anyone else. Dansby is on pace for 144 tackles, blowing past his career best of 101 takedowns.
20. Oakland Raiders (2-4, LW: 25): The Stat: 6.7. Even with some bad decisions, Terrelle Pryor has been a revelation for the Raiders so far in 2013, and he’s getting the job done through the air and on the ground. Pryor is averaging 6.7 yards per carry, the best number in the NFL. Pryor is giving Oakland about 270 yards per game.
21. St. Louis Rams (3-3, LW: 27): The Stat: :06. When the Rams scored two touchdowns in a span of six seconds in Houston, it was the quickest a team put up two scores since the Panthers did it against Arizona in five seconds in 2009. St. Louis got a Sam Bradford touchdown pass immediately followed by a fumble return when the Texans’ Keshawn Martin fumbled the kickoff return.
22. Houston Texans (2-4, LW: 18): The Stat: 198. It’s too easy at this point to talk about pick six’s against these guys, though they do have the NFL record now with five straight games throwing one. Arian Foster is the real victim here. The marquee running back had 198 yards from scrimmage Sunday, yet his team lost by 25. That’s the second highest total in league history for a team losing by 25 or more. The number is almost beyond comprehension, especially considering Houston managed just 13 points.
23. New York Jets (3-3, LW: 22): The Stat: 12. The Jets offense can’t be confused for some kind of juggernaut, but Geno Smith’s group is getting the job done in the red zone this year. New York converted its first 12 red zone trips into points before Smith threw an interception Sunday from the Pittsburgh 12-yard line with 3:08 remaining. That’s a span of 356:52 before Rex Ryan’s team failed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.
24. Atlanta Falcons (1-4, LW: 21): The Stat: 41. Just how much is it going to hurt the Falcons to lose Julio Jones from the receiving corps? Even after the Atlanta Bye week, Jones is still 2nd in the league with 41 receptions. Needless to say, the rest of the team needs to step up. I bet no one would guess that Atlanta’s 3rd and 4th leading receivers (behind Tony Gonzalez) are Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling with 17 and 16.
25. Carolina Panthers (2-3, LW: 28): The Stat: 3. No matter what problems he’s had with consistency and winning, Cam Newton is a special quarterback, and he showed it Sunday at Minnesota. With three touchdown passes and one rushing touchdown, that gives Newton three such games in his 2+ year career. No other player has done that since the start of 2011.
26. Buffalo Bills (2-4, LW: 23): The Stat: 10. The Bills added one more interception to their growing total Sunday, keeping them first in the league in that category. The problem is, Buffalo isn’t turning all these turnovers into wins. They’ve scored 33 points off turnovers this year, 15th best overall. If the offense can make that number go up, the Bills will win.
27. Washington Redskins (1-4, LW: 26): The Stat: 49.1. The Redskins didn’t leave Dallas with a second straight win Sunday, but it seems the offense is finally getting back where it needs to be. The Redskins can do great things when they commit to a balanced offense. Early in the season, they didn’t have that. You can say it was because they were getting out, but the stats don’t even support that. In situations where they trailed by no more than 14 points, they still passed 69.4% of the time. The last two games, though, the run-pass differential is 31-31 vs. Oakland and 28-30 vs. Dallas, meaning they’re running on 49.1% of their plays. If the Skins keep that up, the wins will come.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4, LW: 29): The Stat: 230:19. The Steelers took their first lead of the season just three seconds in when Tennessee gave up a safety on the opening kick off. They held that lead for the next 29:13 until the Titans scored a touchdown to take the advantage. The Steelers would lead again for another 230 minutes and 19 seconds. Mercifully, that run ended with a Pittsburgh field goal with 5:25 left in Sunday’s 1st half.
29. Minnesota Vikings (1-4, LW: 24): The Stat: 63. It seems impossible that Adrian Peterson can finish 2013 with as impressive of a statistical season that he did in 2012 when he rushed for 2,097, but it’s entirely in play. Peterson is actually 63 yards AHEAD of where he was through five games a year ago. He’s run for 483 yards, compared to 420 last season.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-5, LW: 30): The Stat: 23.2. Doug Martin is already considered one of the most durable running backs in the league, and his team treats him that way. The problem is that the results aren’t there. Martin leads the NFL with 23.2 rushing attempts per game, nearly three more than anyone else. He’s only 27th in the league, though, with 3.5 yards per carry, and he’s scored just a single touchdown.
31. New York Giants (0-6, LW: 31): The Stat: 33.6. Yet another downfall of having the most turnovers in the league is giving your opponents a short field to work with. The Giants are worst in the league, allowing opposing teams to start drives at their own 33.6 yard line. When you only have to go 67 yards for a touchdown or roughly 40 yards to hit a field goal, you’re not exactly making it tough on the other team.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6, LW: 32): The Stat: 152.8. The Jaguars caused three turnovers against the mighty Broncos Sunday and covered the 28-point spread, but that doesn’t change the fact that the defense is putrid. The Jags give up an NFL worst 152.8 rushing yards per game, 20 yards worse than the next team on the list. The pass defense isn’t so bad. It’s 15th in the league, giving up 231.8 ypg, though they have allowed a league worst 14 touchdown passes. There’s just no winning here.