1. Houston Texans (5-0) – One of the most well-rounded teams with a stud at running back in Arian Foster, but in a very easy division and without a signature win, they are first (for now) and are hurting without Brian Cushing.
Remember those cute little puns about the NFC West this past decade or so? The NFC Worst? Not anymore. The NFC West is now the NFC best. Every single team in the NFC West is above .500 in the division. Yes, the St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, and San Francisco 49ers are all above .500, no other division boasts that.
At the top of the division is one of the best teams in the NFL, the 49ers. Against the Buffalo Bills, the 49ers racked up 300+ yards passing AND rushing in a 45-3 shellacking. Read that sentence again. An incredible feat that has never happened, EVER in the NFL. In a league that has already transformed into a spread offense, pass happy league, the 49ers run the ball at an amazing clip of 6.1 yards per carry through five games, even when teams know what is coming they cannot stop it. Since San Francisco lost to the surprising Minnesota Vikings, the 49ers had a wake up call, they have outscored their past two opponents 79-3. And it hasn’t even felt that close. Alex Smith leads the NFL in passer rating, yes, THAT Alex Smith and he had his first ever win throwing for 300+ yards and three touchdown passes.
The rest of the division possesses potential top-10 defenses with a lackluster passing game. The Arizona Cardinals may have the worst offensive line in the NFL, with one of the worst quarterbacks under pressure, Kevin Kolb. Now with the loss of both starting running backs Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells, the run game will be even less effective for the Cardinals. But they exhibit an elite defense at all three levels that will keep them in the game and with Patrick Peterson, the most dynamic return man in the game, returning punts and kicks, the Cardinals will compete for a playoff spot. The Seattle Seahawks also exhibit a great defense that has been lifted to potential greatness with first round pick Bruce Irvin as the bookend pass rusher opposite of Chris Clemons. The difference between them and the Cardinals is they can actually run the ball. Marshawn Lynch is a beast and Robert Turbin has potential to be one of the better back-up running backs in the NFL. The Seahawks weakness is that they lack any kind of passing attack. Russell Wilson has been a nice story, but he’s a rookie and is holding back the Seahawks, we may see Matt Flynn soon. Tied for third place with the Seahawks is the St. Louis Rams. The Rams are building in the right direction, but lack any kind of explosiveness from their skilled positions on offense. The Rams with multiple early round picks in the coming years will be a force to be reckoned with as long as Sam Bradford transforms from injury riddled “Captain Checkdown” to a more explosive passer.
Week 6 NFL Power Rankings:
2. Atlanta Falcons (5-0) – The Falcons pass game has been incredible and the defensive secondary has really improved, but when they need to run it can you really trust Michael “Where’s My Cheeseburger” Turner?
3. San Francisco 49ers (4-1) – The most balanced offense in the NFL. The offense is catching up to its defense, a loss the Vikes might have been a blessing in disguise.
4. Minnesota Vikings (4-1) – The surprise team in the NFL. Christian Ponder has developed into a good quarterback who doesn’t make mistakes, and Percy Harvin is turning into an MVP candidate. My Fantasy team thanks you.