NFL Top 10 (Thru Week 6)

by Wayne Root

1. BUFFALO BILLS

The highest of expectations were set for the Buffalo Bills, and they have shown why many thought this team could be the best in the league. While Josh Allen was doing his MVP act on one side of the ball, Von Miller was again making Buffalo's brass look like a genius collective by delivering a two-sack day and the QB pressure against Kansas City. With the win, the Bills gain a tiebreaker advantage that could have major ramifications come January. The team is getting healthier, but backups have largely been up to the task, showing just how well-rounded of a roster GM Brandon Beane has built.

2. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
 
This will give those halftime pep talks a new meaning for opposing teams. The Eagles have scored 112 second-quarter points in 2022, the most points in any quarter in NFL history through a team's first six games. Many thought quarterback Jalen Hurts would improve in his second full season as the starter, but I weren’t expecting him to be in the early MVP conversation. Hurts is a primary reason the Eagles are undefeated. As football's lone undefeated team, Philly will come out of its Week 7 bye facing a favorable schedule, with three straight games against teams owning two or fewer wins through Week 6. 

3. MINNESOTA VIKINGS
 
 With the Packers out of their way for now, the pressure has lessened for a short few weeks moment. Minnesota isn't anybody's idea of a juggernaut, but five wins in six games -- picked off only by the undefeated Eagles -- tells the story of a team that knows how to close. . "It's very much the inverse of 2021," said Kirk Cousins as he’s finally not the inverse hot topic on Sunday night TV crushing his confidence. The Vikings lack of injuries is incredible thru six weeks of banging. Not only were the Vikings ready to open 5-1, but 21 of their 22 starters have made every start that led to this turnaround.
 
4. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

The Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes play as they just can’t wait to get the regular season over and get to the playoffs. They need to figure out Von Miller by January if they’re going after another piece of the Lombardi hardware. Their only improvement needed is the need to improve their pass rush with their front four other than Chris Jones when they don't blitz. The Chiefs have eight sacks with their down linemen, including three from Jones. They need more quarterback sacks. They were 29th last year and barely show an improvement this season.

5. DALLAS COWBOYS

“I’m back” said Dak. It's time for Dak Prescott to rejoin the gang. Cooper Rush's run as an undefeated starting QB came to an unceremonious end on Sunday Night Football, as the Eagles picked off the Dallas passer three times in a 26-17 loss at the Linc. Early reports point to a Prescott return this Sunday against the Lions. If the Cowboys get as jacked on their high horse as their fans, we can see the Cowboys extend their Wild Card run or if real lucky, overtaking the Eagles in the NFC East. Here’s some good news for Jerry’s radio show. The Cowboys play Detroit and Chicago before heading into the bye week. If Prescott plays as expected, the Cowboys will be in the thick of the playoff chase.

6. CINCINNATI BENGALS

The big question here they’re asking are the Bengals waiting for someone or something to get them looking like the runner up of last years Super Bowl. His play was definitely inspired by where he was playing last Sunday. The third-year quarterback tallied 300 yards through the air and improvised brilliantly on the scramble in a successful Superdome homecoming for the LSU legend. Tigers teammate Ja'Marr Chase (7/132/2), put the Bengals ahead for good via a 60-yard catch-and-run score with two minutes to play. Chase had been bottled up for much of the season until the second half on Sunday. Burrow and Chase are fixin' to go on a rampage. Cincinnati is still in the middle of the pack in expected yards per play, and a 30-26 win over the New Orleans Saints hinted that the unit could be trending upward.

7. NY GIANTS

It’s been quite some time since I last had the Giants rated with a single digit. They hadn't topped six wins in any of the previous five seasons. They’ve certainly had their share of luck and big blue come backs. Much credit is in order for Don "Wink" Martindale, who cooked up another fine defensive game plan that neutralized Baltimore’s QB Jackson and allowed the offense to wipe away a 10-point deficit in the second half. This is old hat by now: The Giants are 3-1 in games in which they trailed by double digits. Buyer Beware: If you let the Giants hang around in a game, there's a good chance they'll find a way to beat you.
It doesn't matter that the Giants are 23rd in total offense and 15th in defense. Coach Brian Daboll has this team believing and finishing. They've outscored opponents 87-49 in the second half of games.

8. BALTIMORE RAVENS

 Try explaining this every Monday at the water-cooler. The Ravens are up to three losses in which they led by at least 10 points in a game -- matching a team record for most such losses in a season. Coming in, it was thought that the Ravens would have the NFL's best secondary. But Baltimore ranks 28th against the pass, giving up an average of 267.7 yards through the air. Through Week 6! Lamar Jackson is a former MVP who has had stretches this season when he’s looked better than ever. But the quarterback also bears his share of the responsibility for three confounding late-game meltdowns that have defined a .500 start. It’s unknown which way the Ravens are headed.
 
9. SAN FRANCISCO
 
 The 49ers should begin their climb to the upper tier of the NFC West as they get half their team off the injured list. The 49ers are watching another season get turned upside down by injuries. At 3-3 and tied with the Seahawks and Rams, it should be like shooting fish in a barrel for them to win their division when players return. Their defense was the limping wounded. By the end of Sunday’s 28-14 loss to the Falcons, the Niners were down to four of 11 projected starters on their defense. San Francisco still struggles on kickoff returns, has given up 23.2 yards per kick return (ninth worst in the NFL) and had two field goals blocked. The result is a unit with an expected points added of minus-3.5, which is 21st in the NFL.
 
10. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
 
What the heck has happened to the L.A. offense? Justin Herbert looked positively pedestrian, averaging 4.2 yards per attempt while leading Los Angeles on a single touchdown drive. At his best, Herbert attacks defenses downfield like no other quarterback, but a prime-time showcase put the gunslinger in constant checkdown mode to Austin Ekeler (10 catches on 16 targets) against a Broncos defense. And after ranking among the worst units in the NFL (No. 29 overall) allowing an average of 27 points per game in 2021, it was widely thought that the Bolts defense would catapult up the rankings after significant offseason upgrades in personnel. However, despite the additions of All Pro edge rusher Khalil Mack, Pro Bowl cornerback J.C. Jackson and defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day, the Chargers remain ranked among the league's worst defenses (No. 26 overall), allowing an average of 25.3 points per game. Joey Boza can’t return fast enough. The Bolts can be better. They had so much potential to start the season. There’s two questions: Where did it go and can they find it?  

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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