Here is our Football Relativity comparison after Week Six. We’ve noted where we’ve moved teams up a level or down a level from the Week Five comparison.
10 – New Orleans Saints (UP A LEVEL) – The Saints blew out the Giants at home in a battle of previously unbeaten teams, and after that convincing win we have no choice but to put them at the top of the relativity comparison. I’m still not completely sold on the defense, but it has played well enough so far. And the Saints’ offense is as potent as any this decade in the NFL. Drew Brees has a bevy of targets, and New Orleans also has three running backs who can get the job done. I still smell a stumble coming – perhaps even at Miami this week – but performance pays off for the Saints.
9 – Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New York Giants (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Colts were on bye, but they don’t have to worry about losing momentum since they play the Rams this week. The Vikings eked out a win over the Ravens, but their flaws defensively (especially in the fourth quarter) were worrisome. It’ll be interesting to see if they can keep it going at Pittsburgh this week. New England exploded for a 59-0 victory over Tennessee, and the way the offense looked was refreshing. Don’t sleep on what still might end up being the best team in the AFC. We moved the Giants down a level after their blowout loss to the Saints just because the Saints proved superiority at this point. Perhaps the Giants’ defensive injuries played a role, or maybe the Saints are that good. We’ll see as we move forward.
8 – Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos (UP A LEVEL), Pittsburgh Steelers – The Falcons won a tough game at home against the Bears, showing that they are a quality team. They’re not as dominant as their division rivals the Saints, but they’re a solid group. The two Saints/Falcons games should be fun to watch. Baltimore’s defense is below its usual standard, but the offense is good, and the rally that put the Ravens in position to win this week was a good sign even though it led to their third straight loss. The Ravens need a win after their bye this week, and a home game against the Broncos doesn’t look easy, but this team is still dangerous. The Steelers beat the Browns as they always do, and with Cincy and Baltimore losing they moved up in their division. Pittsburgh is a solid team. The Broncos continued to prove their legitimacy by traveling to San Diego and getting a solid win. The defense continued to step up, allowing just 16 points (the other 7 came on a return). Denver’s for real, folks, and I’m as surprised as anyone.
7 – Chicago Bears, New York Jets (DOWN A LEVEL), Philadelphia Eagles (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Jets and Eagles both suffered catastrophic losses – the Eagles at Oakland and the Jets at home to the Bills. Both teams still look like playoff teams when you look at the whole season, but they must show they can bounce back ASAP. There are major issues with both teams. The Eagles are playing without Shawn Andrews and now have their other tackle, Jason Peters, hurt. The Jets need rookie QB Mark Sanchez to rebound from an abysmal five-interception performance. The Bears lost at Atlanta but showed competitiveness. There’s no shame in losing to a good team on the road, but the Bears must clean up their efforts in the red zone if they want to be legitimately good.
6 – Arizona Cardinals (UP A LEVEL), Cincinnati Bengals (DOWN A LEVEL), Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers (DOWN A LEVEL), San Francisco 49ers – The Cardinals whipped Seattle on the road, which was a good sign. Next week’s game at the Giants looks imposing, but the Cards look like they’ll fight it out with the 49ers (who were on bye) for the NFC West. The Bengals suffered a discouraging loss at home against Houston, and now they will face the Bears at home. They need a win in that Cedric Benson revenge game to maintain their positive momentum. The Cowboys and Dolphins were on bye, and the Packers might as well have been as they walked over the Lions in a shutout. The Chargers lost a home game to the Broncos, which puts them in a big hole in their division. The Chargers still have talent, but the defense isn’t delivering right now, and that makes them just a fringe contender instead of a real threat.
5 – Houston Texans – The Texans won in Cincinnati to move to 3-3. They’re a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde team, but they’re talented offensively, and that makes them dangerous. They look like an 8-8 team, but there’s still potential for more in Houston.
4 – Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks – The Panthers won their second in a row, but both wins have been against terrible teams. They get another shot against Buffalo at home next week, and that would get them back to 3-3 and get them back in the conversation. The Jaguars won their third game but did so in the most unconvincing fashion. Still, they’re 3-3 headed into their bye, and they’re not completely out of the playoff hunt if they can get rolling. My preseason predictions would appreciate such a run. The Seahawks lost a home game to Arizona and seem to have too many injuries to make an NFC West run this year. There’s talent there, but the offensive line in particular has been so decimated that they just have no chance.
3 – Buffalo Bills – The Bills got a win at the Jets, which is a plus, but it’s still hard to see them finishing with more than 6 wins. Dick Jauron has always kept this team playing hard, but there’s not enough talent to contend with the other teams in the division on a regular basis.
2 – Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders (UP A LEVEL), Tennessee Titans (DOWN A LEVEL), Washington Redskins (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Browns lost in Pittsburgh again. That’s not a surprise. The Lions, playing without Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, got blanked in Green Bay, but they’ve played better with those guys. We’ll chalk that awful performance as injury-related. The Chiefs beat the Redskins, which shows that the Chiefs are competing and that the Redskins are among the worst teams in the league despite having two wins. The Raiders jumped up and beat the Eagles in a shocker, but we’ll have to see if that was an isolated effort or the sign of an uptick. The Titans got drummed in the snow and ice of New England. At this point, there aren’t many signs of life in Tennessee, but they still have enough talent to stay out of the bottom level of this comparison.
1 – St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Buccaneers and Rams were at least competitive this week, both losing one-score games. But neither team shows much reasons for hope in the short or the long term. Tampa Bay lost at home to the Panthers, which was one of the targets for a win given Carolina’s troubles early in the season. The Rams played into overtime against the Jaguars but couldn’t close the deal. Rookie head coaches Raheem Morris and Steve Spagnuolo still have their teams playing hard, which is a plus, but they need to get some results in the near future to keep players optimistic.