NFL: Week 6 Power Rankings: Atlanta Falcons Remain Only Unbeaten

If there is one definitive thing we can take from Week 6, it’s that only one team remains a threat to the ’72 Dolphins.

Yes, every year, the members of the flawless 1972 Miami Dolphins dust off their polyester blazers, put a bunch of champagne on ice and countdown the days until the last unbeaten team records their first loss.

The elder ‘Fins take great pride in their four decade-long stranglehold on perfection and Mercury Morris reminds anybody who will listen that they are the only residents of Perfectville.

Hey fellas, nobody cares about your 17-0 record anymore.  The Patriots went 18-0, your record has gone the way of eight-track players, valued by few.

So turn up the hearing aids, crank up the Hi-Fi and spin Bruce Springsteen’s hit Glory Days while you watch Jamie Lee Curtis in Perfect on your projector screens.

Sidenote - Does anybody else out there besides me find irony in Curtis being classified as “perfect?”  Guess we’re all just one additional set of genitalia away from perfection as well.

Hats off to Steakhouse Shula and his decaying dolphins, now only the Falcons stand in the way of their annual waste of bubbly.

Here are this week’s Top 10…

Just Missed:  Washington Redskins (3-3)

Robert Griffin III has revitalized the Washington Redskins and he is doing things never seen in the NFL.

He’s the first player in NFL history to throw a touchdown and rush for a touchdown in excess of 75 yards in the same season.  Additionally, he and Mike Vick are the only two quarterbacks to rush for 130 yards and two scores in a game since the league merger in 1970.  Did I mention he’s a rookie?

Many questioned Daniel Snyder’s blockbuster trade to get the Heisman Trophy winner, but only weeks into his career, the owner known for bad signings finally looks crazy like a fox.

10.  Denver Broncos (3-3)

The Denver Broncos appear to be getting better by the week and they are now tied atop the AFC West.

With 35 unanswered points in the second half, the Broncos joined the Detroit Lions as the only teams to come back from a 24-point deficit at halftime to win since 1993.

Peyton Manning continues to return to form and his career-threatening neck injury is becoming a distant memory.  In his last four starts, Manning has thrown 11 touchdowns and one interception while averaging nearly 330 yards passing. 

John Elway is showing the league that former players can effectively move into the front office, as long as their name is not Millen. (Previous: Unranked)

9.  New England Patriots (3-3)

Tom Brady took his first trip to Seattle this week and found out firsthand that Qwest Field is probably the biggest home field advantage in the league. The number one offense in the league could not withstand the fourth quarter comeback by the Seabags and the 12th man was sent home happy.

The AFC East appears to be a coin flip, with all three teams batting .500, but the eye-test will tell you the Minutemen are the class of their division.  The three losses suffered by the Patriots were by a total of four points   (Previous: 6)

8.  Seattle Seahawks (4-2)

Russell Wilson is this year’s version of The Little Engine That Could.  The 5-11 rookie QB won again this week and this time he outdueled surefire Hall-of-Famer Tom Brady.  Beyond this week’s upset; Wilson’s other three victories this year have come against Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton.  Not a bad resume builder.

But let’s not fit Rusty for a Canton Blazer quite yet, the rookie is getting plenty of help from the seventh-ranked rushing attack and the second-ranked defense in football, allowing less than 16 points/game.    (Previous: Unranked)

7.  Green Bay Packers (3-3)

After having a game stolen from them in Seattle and then playing the role of antagonist in the Disney-like CHUCKSTRONG storyline, beating the undefeated Texans must have felt like child’s play.

Aaron Rodgers tossed a Lone Star six-pack of touchdowns in Houston and appears to be getting back to his 2011 MVP form, even with the loss of starting RB Cedric Benson.  But Green Bay is also quietly leading the league in sacks (21). 

Scoring through the air and sacking the QB is the perfect recipe to fondue the opposition in today’s NFL – leave it to the Cheeseheads to figure it out. (Previous: Unranked)

6.  San Francisco 49ers (4-2)

If Candlestick Park was a WWF ring, the NY Giants played the role of The Iron Sheik and humbled the Niners at home.  After jumping out to a 3-0 lead, the Gold Miners gave up 26 points unanswered and received the camel clutch from the reigning Super Bowl Champs.

Alex Smith, last week’s highest-rated QB, came back to earth with a 200 yard, three interception performance and the stingy 49er defense gave up over 150 yards on the ground to Giants running backs. The Giants have just given the league a blueprint for how to beat San Francisco. (Previous: 3)

5.  Baltimore Ravens (5-1)

The good news is the Ravens won again and have run their home winning streak record to an NFL best 14 games.  Jacoby Jones tied an NFL record with a 108 kickoff return TD and Baltimore put the ball in the endzone 3 more times on offense after being held without a touchdown last week.

The bad news?  Injuries crushed the celebration in the Purple Birds locker-room on Sunday with Lardarius Webb and Ray Lewis suffering season ending injuries.  The losses of a starting CB and the emotional leader of the Ravens are immeasurable.  (Previous: 4)

4.  Chicago Bears (4-1)

The Bears sat on the sidelines this week and still moved up the rankings.  The bottom half of the NFC North both won and got themselves back in the race, while division co-leader Minnesota lost on the road.

The Bears host the Detroit Lions on MNF next week and if last year’s 37-13 drubbing of the Motor City Kitties happens again, the Bears could claw further up the list. (Previous: 5)

3.  New York Giants (4-2)

The Champs wore the crown proudly this week by traveling cross-country and punching the bully square in the nose. With six sacks, the Giants defense set-up shop in the 49er backfield and shutout Jim Harbaugh’s squad for 47 minutes.

The NFC East once again appears to be one of the better divisions in football and although the Giants look good, they are 0-2 in the division.  Let’s see if they can get their first divisional win next week when the host the Redskins. (Previous: 7)

2.  Houston Texans (5-1)

After nearly losing last week in New York, the Texans came home and got schooled by the Packers. The season-ending loss of Brian Cushing was evident as Wade Phillips’ defense gave up over 400 yards and a season-high 42 points on National TV.

Houston has always been the hunter, not the hunted.  It will be interesting to see how this team bounces back when they host Baltimore next week. (Previous: 1)

1.  Atlanta Falcons (6-0)

The Falcons slid into the top spot in a fashion similar to Maverick & Goose in Top Gun, a slip-up by the best team.

The Falcons have been playing with fire the past couple weeks with fourth quarter comebacks against the Redskins and Raiders, but like Al Davis reminded everybody – Just Win Baby.

The difference this year for Atlanta is the defense, but even they can’t stop Matt Ryan from giving up the rock.  Ryan has tossed three interceptions in consecutive weeks and at some point that will catch-up with them, Week 6 just wasn’t it. (Previous: 2)

Disagree with the list?  Let me know.

James Van Etten is a syndicated sports columnist previously featured or linked on forbes.com, mlive.com, usatoday.com & yahoo.com

Follow him on Twitter @jbvanetten

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