By Aaron Jackson
We’re now through 6 weeks of the NFL season, and it seems like the only thing that has been determined is that no teams are great, and perhaps only two teams are awful (I’m looking at you Cleveland and San Francisco). Every week, games you think will be lopsided are close, and teams you think will be dominant are not. That said, let’s try and put some perspective on what we’ve seen so far in the Jackson 5 NFL power rankings.
- Kansas City Chiefs: We learned yesterday that this offense has flaws, but isn’t that something we knew already? The fact remains that very few teams have defenses capable of exploiting those flaws for extended periods of time. A loss to a Pittsburgh Steelers team that we all know is better than they’ve shown, isn’t devastating, and probably takes some pressure off when it comes to “going undefeated”. Alex Smith is still Alex Smith, and probably won’t win you a game single handedly, but he doesn’t need to with explosive pieces littered all over the offense. And the defense is in the top 10 in the league. It seems like KC is the least likely to fall apart as the season goes on.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Philly’s one loss being to the aforementioned Chiefs, it seems fitting to put Philly here. But I’ll do so with a caveat: Carson Wentz needs to learn when to not take a hit. The franchise QB has shown how good he can be, and he’s taken a big leap forward this year, but he takes hits that are completely unnecessary. Defensively they’re middle of the pack, but Zach Ertz at tight end is showing why he’s got a legitimate claim to the title of top tight end in the league, they’ve got a battering ram in LeGarrette Blount, and Nelson Agholor has found his true identity as a slot receiver. There’s still a question of sustainability here, but you can’t deny that so far this team looks like the real deal.
- Carolina Panthers: This is where things get interesting, as you can make a case for a number of teams in these next 3 spots. For now I’ll give it to Carolina, a team that has looked like a reincarnation of their NFC Championship winning squad from two years ago. Their receivers are suspect at best, and no Greg Olsen really hurts, but Cam Newton is a dual threat he practically is an offense himself. Julius Peppers somehow still has it at 37, and across the board their defense is solid. They’ll go as Newton goes, but right now, that’s a good thing.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: One win can change a lot of things in a league that seems to have no clear cut favorite. It seems pretty clear to me that this is a team that has the talent to get up for and win the big games, but struggles to turn it on when they face a “lesser opponent”. Those are the types of teams that can be dangerous in the playoffs. The loss to the Bears is inexcusable, and the loss to the Jaguars is befuddling, but they also have wins over 3 possible playoff teams in Baltimore, Minnesota and Kansas City. This is also a team that has the talent to win despite a quarterback that has seen better days. I’m not sold on them here, but for now it seems like the right spot.
- New England Patriots: Let me be clear here. There’s one reason I have New England on this list at all. Mark Paulette can tell you a thing or two about the guy I’m talking about. If not for Tom Brady the Patriots would, in my mind, likely be 0-6. AT BEST 2-4. This defense is like Swiss cheese, and the offense at times looks like the island of misfit toys. This team is built for a vertical passing game, but lacks the offensive line to actually give Brady the time to pull it off. I’m giving Belichick and Brady the benefit of the doubt here, but part of me thinks they’re much closer to 10 on this list than they would be number 1.
Aaron Jackson (@AaronRJackson on Twitter) is a co-host of The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.