There are no NFL unbeaten teams remaining after the 49ers and Eagles were upset by squads featuring backup quarterbacks and great defenses. Meanwhile, the Chiefs, Dolphins and Lions keep winning if not looking dominant. So there’s a shakeup at the top this week, while the steady Lions continue to lurk in the middle. The resurgent Jaguars jump and two new teams enter the rankings.
With Cowboys-Chargers still on the Week 6 docket, here is my NFL top 10.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
Record: 5-1; Last Week: 2
The Chiefs’ workmanlike approach to winning is a drastic departure from their traditional style, but a stingy defense has enabled Andy Reid to win utilizing a ball-control offense. Although Patrick Mahomes & Co. will need to find their stride for the Chiefs to claim a back-to-back title, the team’s ability to win low-scoring affairs playing complementary football makes Kansas City a tough out every week.
2. Miami Dolphins
Record: 5-1; Last Week: 4
Mike McDaniel has the Dolphins offense playing with video game-like efficiency, with Tua Tagovailoa tossing darts to a collection of pass-catchers zipping down the field like Olympic-level track stars. With their speed and explosiveness producing big plays through the air or on the ground, few teams can knock off the Dolphins in high-scoring shootouts.
3. San Francisco 49ers
Record: 5-1; Last Week: 1
Losing Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel to injuries against the Cleveland Browns might have exposed Brock Purdy‘s limitations as a QB1. Though the one-game setback could be dismissed as an off game, the 49ers’ unbeatable aura and “bully” persona took a hit with a road loss to the heavy underdog.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
Record: 5-1; Last Week: 3
Sloppy play and faulty execution finally caught up with the Eagles in New York. The Jalen Hurts turnover-fest led to a loss that could force the team to reset and refocus heading into the season’s midpoint. If the Eagles can rediscover their “A” game, it is hard for opponents to match their speed, talent and physicality.
5. Detroit Lions
Record: 5-1; Last Week: 5
Dan Campbell has whipped the Lions into shape as a dark horse title contender. The scrappy defense has held six straight opponents to under 100 rushing yards while beating opposing quarterbacks into submission with a relentless pass rush. With Jared Goff controlling the game like a maestro, the Lions offense perfectly executes the complementary game plan Campbell prefers for his squad.
6. Dallas Cowboys
Record: 3-2; Last Week: 6
Despite losing their heavyweight status a week ago, the Cowboys have enough talent to vie for a top seed in the postseason tournament. Micah Parsons & Co. must lead the way as a turnover-obsessed unit with a knack for taking the ball away. If Dak Prescott can help the offense find its consistency within the red zone, Dallas can punch above its weight as a middleweight contender.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Record: 4-2; Last Week: 10
It is not always pretty, but they find a way to scratch wins. The defense has catalyzed the team’s success with its takeaway prowess and run-stuffing skills. Although Trevor Lawrence and the offense have not hit their stride, the explosive potential of a unit that features Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, Evan Engram and Travis Etienne makes Jacksonville the top “boom or bust” squad in the league.
8. Buffalo Bills
Record: 4-2; Last Week: 7
The Bills are back on track after a disappointing London showing. The lackluster offense is concerning, but the blue-collar defense keeps the team in games and Josh Allen can make heroic plays to change the momentum. The formula is not ideal, but the Bills’ superior talent has made it work through six games.
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9. Baltimore Ravens
Record: 4-2; Last Week: NR
The Ravens’ new-look offense has not found its rhythm, but Lamar Jackson has found a way to make enough plays to guide the team to four wins. The former MVP remains one of the game’s most dangerous playmakers, giving the Ravens a puncher’s shot against any opponent. If the defense can continue to make a handful of stops and key turnovers, Baltimore will find a way to enter the conversation as one of the best teams in the AFC by season’s end.
10. Cleveland Browns
Record: 3-2; Last Week: NR
The Browns’ upset over San Francisco showcased the defensive monster that Jim Schwartz has built in a short time. The Myles Garrett-led unit has a combination of size, speed, physicality and nastiness that enables Cleveland to bully the bullies at the line of scrimmage. Moreover, the ultra-talented defense can keep the score down until the patchwork offense finds the end zone at the end of games.
Bucky Brooks is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He also breaks down the game for NFL Network and as a cohost of the “Moving the Sticks” podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.
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