NFL Power Rankings Week 7

Just like anyone else, the NFL Power Rankings enjoy a good meme. So, in trying to devise a way to sum up the first trimester of the NFL season (thanks, new schedule), we decided to do our variation of the “How it started vs. How it’s going” meme using the confidence ratings of our NFL Nation writers.

In our weekly takeaways, we have our writers give the confidence ratings of the teams they cover on their own personal 1-10 scale based on how they feel about their team moving forward at that time. We decided to compare their ratings from Week 1 (when everyone is fresh and the possibilities are endless) to how they feel after seeing six weeks of action (five weeks for teams that have had their bye) while detailing the process that caused the confidence evolution. Some are happy evolutions (how about those Arizona Cardinals?), some have skewed toward heavy disappointment (not looking great on South Beach right now), while others have a bit of a steadier track. Either way, it serves as a good trimester progress report.

How we rank our Power Rankings: Our power panel — a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities — evaluates how teams stack up throughout the season.

Previous rankings: 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | Preseason

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NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF

Previous ranking: 2

Week 1 confidence rating: 9.0
How it’s going now: 9.4

The Cardinals just keep winning and, in the process, they keep getting better and better. First, it was stopping Titans running back Derrick Henry in Week 1. Then it was dismantling the Rams in Week 4. And on Sunday, it was beating up on the Browns without coach Kliff Kingsbury. To win games like they do, and to do it on the road, is a sign that this team’s success is here to stay. If the Cardinals can continue with their current average of 32.3 points per game, there will be very little that other teams can do to stop Arizona this season. — Josh Weinfuss

Previous ranking: 1

Week 1 confidence rating: 6.3
How it’s going now: 7.8

With the way the Bills played against the Steelers to start the season, the initial rating seemed spot-on. Since then, Buffalo has played like one of the best teams in the NFL, winning every game outside of Monday night’s loss to the Titans. Honestly, Buffalo’s rating could be higher, especially after the way the win in Kansas City went. This team has an incredibly high ceiling, and the confidence will only increase as it fixes the issues that were on display in Tennessee. The Bills still have the potential to be the best team in the AFC, if not the league. — Alaina Getzenberg

Previous ranking: 3

Week 1 confidence rating: 8.0
How it’s going now: 8.4

The 5-1 Rams won in convincing fashion over the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers. They won “ugly,” as some players described it, against the Colts and Seahawks. And they flat out failed to show up in an embarrassing loss to the undefeated Cardinals — a team the Rams had previously defeated in eight consecutive meetings. So, while the Rams’ record is among the best in the NFL, it’s far too early to crown them Super Bowl champions, which is reflected in a modest climb from 8 to 8.4 through six games. The key to a bigger jump in confidence? Consistency in all three phases, regardless of opponent. — Lindsey Thiry

Previous ranking: 4

Week 1 confidence rating: 7.0
How it’s going now: 8.0

After coming out of training camp about as healthy as can be, the Buccaneers have dealt with a rash of injuries. Nine starters have missed a combined 22 games, plus Antonio Brown missed one start due to COVID-19 protocols. They’ve managed to survive this to stand at 5-1 — which is no small feat — and that’s largely due to the success of their offense and pass rush. But it gets interesting with two top-10 defenses up next: the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints. How much will the Bucs be able to lean on their offensive firepower then? — Jenna Laine

Previous ranking: 6

Week 1 confidence rating: 7.5
How it’s going now: 9.1

Maybe the confidence rating should have been higher coming off the closer-than-expected loss to Tampa Bay in the opener. The Cowboys have not lost since and have a three-game lead in the NFC East. Dak Prescott‘s health comes into question with a calf strain. But if he is healthy, who wouldn’t the Cowboys be favored to beat in their final 11 games? Maybe at Kansas City? Arizona? This team can put itself in a favorable playoff position and run away with the division. — Todd Archer



Pablo Torre and Domonique Foxworth react to the Ravens’ 34-6 win over the Chargers.

Previous ranking: 8

Week 1 confidence rating: 6.5
How it’s going now: 9.0

This has been a masterful coaching job by John Harbaugh, who has guided Baltimore to a 5-1 start despite 16 players on injured reserve. The Ravens looked like they were a team in trouble with a season-opening loss in Las Vegas, where they allowed big plays on defense and couldn’t protect Lamar Jackson. But Baltimore quickly turned it around in dramatic fashion with fourth-quarter comebacks — against the Chiefs and Colts — and Justin Tucker‘s winning 66-yard field goal in Detroit. Then on Sunday, the Ravens looked like the team to beat in the AFC with a 28-point rout of the Chargers. — Jamison Hensley

Previous ranking: 5

Week 1 confidence rating: 6.5
How it’s going now: 7.5

The 38-3 season-opening loss to the Saints felt like a season ago. The Packers have won five straight since and still haven’t quite figured out their new defense yet. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams have continued what is perhaps the best connection in the league, while Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon have been the perfect counter when teams focus coverage on Adams. The only thing that could seemingly derail them is if they can’t get their injury situation under control. After living a charmed existence in that regard during their past two seasons (both 13-3), the injuries are piling up. — Rob Demovsky

Previous ranking: 7

Week 1 confidence rating: 5.4
How it’s going now: 5.7

We didn’t know what to expect from the Chargers, and it’s safe to say they’ve overachieved at 4-2, with signature wins over the Chiefs, Raiders and the Browns. But overachieving breeds more expectations, as does having a budding star quarterback in Justin Herbert. Can they hang on to first place in the AFC West and finish it out? That might depend on whether they can improve their run defense, which is currently last in the NFL and could hurt them down the road. — Shelley Smith



Stephen A. Smith says Patrick Mahomes is being forced to play hero ball because the Chiefs’ defense stinks.

Previous ranking: 10

Week 1 confidence rating: 7.5
How it’s going now: 6.0

If the Chiefs can play defense like they did in Sunday’s win over Washington instead of how they did in the first five games, the AFC West title is within reach. If they can do that and limit turnovers — they have a league-high 14 giveaways — then they will win it. But those are two big ifs. The problem with the Chiefs is not their 3-3 record but the way they’ve played for much of the first six weeks. — Adam Teicher

Previous ranking: 11

Week 1 confidence rating: 4.5
How it’s going now: 7.5

The Titans started the season by getting punched in the face by the Cardinals. Derrick Henry finished with 58 yards on 17 carries in a 38-13 loss. Fast-forward to Week 6 and Henry has reeled off five consecutive games with 100 or more rushing yards. Henry has put the Titans on his back and carried them to a 4-2 record, including a 143-yard performance — highlighted by three touchdowns — against the Bills, who were allowing 75 rushing yards per game (third in NFL) entering Week 6. The Titans are now 6-0 in his career when Henry scores three or more touchdowns. Henry’s 10 TDs ties him with LaDainian Tomlinson (2005) and Priest Holmes (2004) for the second most over the first six games of a season. — Turron Davenport

Previous ranking: 14

Week 1 confidence rating: 7.0
How it’s going now: 7.0

Each time Cincinnati’s confidence rating has dropped a little, the Bengals have responded well. The Week 6 win over the Lions was another example of that. Normally, a team with a 4-2 record might actually be a little higher. But the offense is still struggling from early inconsistency. The Bengals had a rough stretch of three straight three-and-outs against the winless Lions and didn’t get the offense corrected until a fourth-and-1 in the third quarter. Until those woes get sorted out, the Bengals are best viewed with cautious optimism. — Ben Baby

Previous ranking: 9

Week 1 confidence rating: 8.0
How it’s going now: 6.0

Injuries are piling up offensively, and the defense is rapidly going in the wrong direction. Quarterback Baker Mayfield looks like he’ll be dealing with the injury to his left, non-throwing shoulder all year. Both running backs, Nick Chubb (knee) and Kareem Hunt (calf), are injured. Both offensive tackles, Jedrick Wills Jr. (ankle) and Jack Conklin (knee), are injured. The defense has surrendered 84 points over the past two tilts and now ranks 24th in efficiency. The Browns still have time to regroup. But this is not where they wanted to be six weeks into the season. — Jake Trotter



Dan Orlovsky sounds off on the Browns after their loss to the Cardinals.

Previous ranking: 17

Week 1 confidence rating: 8.1
How it’s going now: 7.5

Considering all the Raiders have gone through in the past week, it’s amazing the confidence rating hasn’t completely bottomed out. But that’s what a confidence-building win at Denver will do for a team. It was truly the Raiders’ most complete game of the season — and when they needed it most. The question, then, is: Can Las Vegas, which is still trying to wrap its mind around Jon Gruden’s email controversy and subsequent resignation, maintain a balance when it comes to emotions going forward? “We’ll see,” interim coach Rich Bisaccia said. — Paul Gutierrez

Previous ranking: 13

Week 1 confidence rating: 8.1
How it’s going now: 7.0

The Saints might have had the most radical up-and-down swings in the entire league over the first four weeks: dominant win over Green Bay, blowout loss at Carolina, convincing victory at New England, epic fourth-quarter collapse against the Giants. But I have them right back at the exact same confidence number I would’ve chosen before Week 1. They have some flaws, most notably a lack of proven pass-catchers. But I still think this is a playoff-caliber team that will only get better as Jameis Winston keeps getting more comfortable in the offense and they get eight starters back from injuries (including WR Michael Thomas) and suspension. — Mike Triplett

Previous ranking: 21

Week 1 confidence rating: 6.8
How it’s going now: 5.0

The Steelers started out sky-high with a win against the Bills — arguably the NFL’s best team after six weeks. But instead of that triumph setting a tone for the season, it appeared to be an aberration when the Steelers followed it up with three consecutive losses. Led by an inconsistent Ben Roethlisberger, the offense lacked rhythm. And the defense couldn’t overcome injuries to make up for the offensive shortcomings. But after back-to-back wins entering the bye, the Steelers are showing life. If the defense can look more like the one in the fourth quarter and overtime on Sunday night, the Steelers’ confidence rating will rise. Anything short of that, it’ll dip right back down. — Brooke Pryor

Previous ranking: 23

Week 1 confidence rating: 5.0
How it’s going now: 4.5

It’s difficult to figure out what this Vikings team is. In Week 2, they took Arizona, the league’s only remaining undefeated team, to the wire in a 34-33 loss. It was the only game in which Kyler Murray has thrown two interceptions. Weeks later, they played down and allowed a winless Detroit to hang around until the final moment, and then they did the same with Carolina in Week 6. The Vikings have done good things with terrific quarterback play from Kirk Cousins, but until they prove themselves in the five-game stretch they have coming out of the bye, it’s difficult to consider them a sure thing. — Courtney Cronin



Stephania Bell examines the timeline of Christian McCaffrey’s hamstring injury and when he’ll be eligible to return.

Previous ranking: 12

Week 1 confidence rating: 5.1
How it’s going now: 5.0

Injuries are an easy excuse for when things go bad, but they really are a factor in Carolina going from 3-0 to 3-3. Statistics show how drastically the loss of running back Christian McCaffrey has impacted quarterback Sam Darnold and the offense. But equally as big to the defense was losing cornerback Jaycee Horn and linebacker Shaq Thompson. They are two first-round picks who play a big role and aren’t easily replaceable. The sack and pressure numbers have suffered greatly without them. Without the three players mentioned here, the confidence rating should be lower than I have it. — David Newton

Previous ranking: 18

Week 1 confidence rating: 6.5
How it’s going now: 5.8

The 49ers have been in every game they’ve played and could be 5-0, just as they could be 0-5. But they’re 2-3 and riding a three-game losing streak, all against teams considered preseason playoff contenders. The hardest part about trusting the Niners right now is they don’t yet seem to have forged an identity that inspires much confidence. There are reasons for hope, but there are even more questions that need answers to come back in the affirmative for this season to get back on track. — Nick Wagoner

Previous ranking: 16

Week 1 confidence rating: 2.0
How it’s going now: 4.8

The Bears are a better team than they showed in Week 1 versus the Rams, but this past Sunday’s loss to the visiting Packers reinforced the fact that Chicago struggles to beat quality opponents. My 4.8 rating might seem a tad harsh, but the Bears (3-3) are at Tampa Bay (5-1) next week. Matt Nagy’s team could be back to below .500 in the blink of an eye. The rating accurately reflects that. — Jeff Dickerson

Previous ranking: 15

Week 1 confidence rating: 7.8
How it’s going now: 5.5

During the season’s first three games, the Broncos’ offense looked like it knew what it wanted to be: more inclined to go big on personnel with a quality mix of physical play and a downfield passing game. Over the past three games? Not so much. The turnovers are up, and the results are down. And defensively, a team that has immense cover-rush potential hasn’t shown it often enough in a three-game losing streak, especially against a Raiders offense that came into Sunday’s contest having seen its head coach and playcaller resign just days earlier. — Jeff Legwold

Previous ranking: 19

Week 1 confidence rating: 6.5
How it’s going now: 5.0

Mac Jones‘ strong start had things looking up even in a season-opening loss. And then the up-and-down play from defense and special teams — along with the offensive line and several skill-position players — led to things plummeting, as the Patriots have been learning how not to beat themselves with mistakes. Such volatility also has been reflected on the sideline with some debatable coaching decisions. — Mike Reiss

Previous ranking: 25

Week 1 confidence rating: 5.8
How it’s going now: 4.8

The uncertainty surrounding the health of key players such as Carson Wentz, T.Y. Hilton, Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith combined with not having a substantial victory over a playoff-caliber team — Miami and Houston are a combined 2-10 this season — caused the rating to drop. But Indianapolis is starting to get healthy, and it’ll have an opportunity to rack up significant victories in the next two games against San Francisco and Tennessee. — Mike Wells

Previous ranking: 20

Week 1 confidence rating: 8.7
How it’s going now: 5.0

That huge confidence swing is the kind of thing that happens when a team drops four of five games and loses its starting quarterback to an injury. The way the Seahawks played Sunday in rallying from a 14-0 deficit to take the Steelers to overtime shows they can at least be competitive while Geno Smith starts for Russell Wilson. But they’re hanging by a thread at 2-4, which puts them four games back in the tough NFC West. They need Wilson to come back as soon as he is eligible, in Week 10, and they need to win the next two games — both at home — to have any chance at climbing out of this hole. — Brady Henderson



Louis Riddick details what needs to happen for Jalen Hurts to be the long-term answer as the Eagles’ quarterback.

Previous ranking: 24

Week 1 confidence rating: 6.3
How it’s going now: 3.9

A 32-6 thrashing of the Falcons in the opener shot the confidence meter to places unexpected, but the Eagles have since crashed back to reality. Shaky playcalling, injuries along the offensive front and inconsistent play from quarterback Jalen Hurts have limited the offense, while the defense has had wild fluctuations in its performance. The good news for Philadelphia is that it is past the most difficult part of its schedule. There are wins to be had against the likes of the Giants, Jets, Lions and Washington. The confidence meter should tick up, even if it never reaches its Week 1 post again. — Tim McManus

Previous ranking: 22

Week 1 confidence rating: 5.0
How it’s going now: 3.7

Something was off about the defense in the opener that led to a lower-than-expected confidence rating — plus quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick got hurt. It hasn’t improved, as the defense ranks last in points allowed and 31st in yards — a far cry from fourth in points and second in yards in 2020. Some of it is about the schedule, but certainly not all. And while Taylor Heinicke is a nice story, Washington needs more firepower, and Heinicke is always in a position where he must carry the day, which leads to turnovers and mistakes. — John Keim

Previous ranking: 26

Week 1 confidence rating: 4.2
How it’s going now: 5.0

There’s a little more confidence now than in Week 1, because there were so many unknowns heading into the season — and then there was the meltdown that was Week 1. But the Falcons have shown signs of improvement and correcting mistakes from one week to the next. And this season, as much as it might be dictated by wins and losses, is about building and growth for setting up long-term, sustained success. That seems like it’s starting to happen. — Michael Rothstein

Previous ranking: 27

Week 1 confidence rating: 6.5
How it’s going now: 2.0

After winning 10 games in 2020, it felt like the Dolphins were ready to take that next step under coach Brian Flores in 2021. So far, that has not been the case. Miami ranks near the bottom of the league in scoring offense (29th) and scoring defense (29th), it’s dead last in third-down defense and it just fell to the Jaguars to cap off a five-game losing streak. Six games into the season, there’s little about the Dolphins’ play that inspires confidence, and without their first-round pick in 2022, there isn’t even a silver lining to losing games. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Previous ranking: 29

Week 1 confidence rating: 3.5
How it’s going now: 3.0

The Jets are the youngest team in the league, and they’re playing like it, especially on offense. The defense is overachieving, thanks to an underrated front four, but that is offset by an offense that can’t get out of its own way. You knew the offense would have growing pains, especially with a rookie quarterback (Zach Wilson), but to have no points in the first quarter of games? Even the biggest pessimists couldn’t have imagined that. Essentially, the Jets are playing from behind every week, putting a tremendous strain on Wilson. They have to change the formula or else they’re looking at 3-14 or 4-13. — Rich Cimini

Previous ranking: 32

Week 1 confidence rating: 2.5
How it’s going now: 3.0

Trevor Lawrence‘s marked improvement over the course of the first six weeks has the Jaguars’ arrow pointing slightly up. Lawrence’s Total QBR and completion rate jumped significantly from Weeks 1 to 3 (22.4, 54.2%) to Weeks 4 to 6 (56.4, 66.3%), and his turnovers dropped from nine to two. The Jaguars had a chance to beat Cincinnati on the road too. There are still big issues on defense, but Lawrence’s progress and the increased use of running back James Robinson create some optimism. — Mike DiRocco

Previous ranking: 28

Week 1 confidence rating: 3.5
How it’s going now: 1.0

After a season-opening victory over the Jaguars, the confidence rating started relatively OK as compared to what was expected. Since then, the Texans have lost five straight games — and only two were even close. They have not won on the road, and they dropped the past two away games by a combined score of 71-3. Houston lost quarterback Tyrod Taylor to a left hamstring injury in Week 2, and his replacement — 2021 third-round pick Davis Mills — has struggled in his place. David Culley said the Texans are taking it week to week with Taylor, but the coach isn’t sure when the veteran will return. Until that happens, it’s hard to see the Texans improving on offense. — Sarah Barshop

Previous ranking: 30

Week 1 confidence rating: 4.2
How it’s going now: 1.8

The Giants weren’t great at the start, and it’s even worse now. That’s what happens when you drop five of six games, you have one of the league’s worst defenses (ranked 27th) and your offense is devastated by injuries. Seriously, just about the only positive to take from the early part of the season is the play of Daniel Jones — welp, until Sunday against the Rams, against whom he had four turnovers in a 38-11 loss. — Jordan Raanan

Previous ranking: 31

Week 1 confidence rating: 4.5
How it’s going now: 2.5

I hate to be a prisoner of the moment, but the latest game against the Cincinnati Bengals was the Lions’ worst performance of the season. My confidence has drastically decreased in this team throughout these six weeks, but a rash of injuries also is hurting this bunch. You can’t help but think of Detroit’s last 0-6 start — during the notorious 2008 season when the team finished 0-16 — and wonder when will this team get a victory. I love the passion displayed by Lions coach Dan Campbell, but the players have to match that energy on the field. — Eric Woodyard

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