Several teams will hit the midpoint of the season this week, and we are starting to see many of them establishing themselves as legitimate playoff contenders.
The Patriots have shown no signs of relinquishing the top spot in The Post’s weekly NFL Power Rankings, but the 49ers lead a group of four NFC teams jockeying for position right behind them.
The surging Vikings jump up three spots this week to No. 5, with the Cowboys and Rams starting their climbs back towards the Top 10 after both halted three-game losing streaks.
1. New England Patriots, 7-0 (Last week: 1): The Belichicks have outscored opponents 70-7 in the first quarter this season and 223-48 overall after Monday’s latest pasting of the Jets. Tom Brady improved to 29-7 against Gang Green in his career, which begs the “Bull Durham” reference, how did they ever win seven? The Pats can get to the midpoint a perfect 8-0 with another win Sunday against the Cleveland Browns in Foxboro.
2. San Francisco 49ers, 6-0 (2): No. 2-overall draft pick Nick Bosa is making an immediate impact with four sacks in his first six NFL games for a defense that posted its first shutout Sunday since 2016. Only the Pats have allowed fewer points per game this season than the Niners, who are unbeaten through six games for the first time since 1990.
3. New Orleans Saints, 6-1 (3): Drew Brees (thumb) is hoping to return this Sunday against the rising Arizona Cardinals after Teddy Bridgewater and the Saints won all five games without him. New Orleans has run the ball effectively, even without Alvin Kamara on Sunday against Chicago, and Bridgewater has taken care of the ball with only two interceptions through six games.
4. Green Bay Packers, 6-1 (4): So much for the Pack’s transformation to a running team because Rodgers supposedly was losing a few ticks off his fastball. Five touchdowns through the air and one on the ground against Oakland definitely prove otherwise. It’s just too bad that we won’t get to see the anticipated heavyweight matchup against Patrick Mahomes on Sunday night against Kansas City.
5. Minnesota Vikings, 5-2 (8): There haven’t been nearly as many complaints about Kirk Cousins’ $84 million contract after two straight weeks with four touchdown passes ahead of Thursday’s game against his former team, 1-6 Washington. The Vikings might be the most balanced offensive unit in the league right now, also boasting NFL rushing leader Dalvin Cook (725 yards).
6. Buffalo Bills, 5-1 (6): The Bills had their hands full with the winless Dolphins at home, sealing the game on an onside kick returned for a touchdown. They still have the third-ranked defensive unit in the league in both yards and points allowed per game entering Sunday’s game against the Eagles in Orchard Park.
7. Seattle Seahawks, 5-2 (5): Russell Wilson had been nearly perfect through six games, but the MVP candidate completed less than half of his pass attempts (20-for-41) and threw his first interception of the season in Sunday’s loss to the Ravens. He figures to get back on track this week against the 1-6 Falcons, who are expected to be without Matt Ryan (sprained ankle).
8. Kansas City Chiefs, 5-2 (7): The Chiefs face tough games the next two weeks without Mahomes (dislocated kneecap) against teams above them in The Post’s rankings, Green Bay and Minnesota. The reigning league MVP’s injury isn’t considered season-ending, but can Matt Moore win enough games to keep the Chiefs atop the AFC West race until Mahomes returns?
9. Baltimore Ravens, 5-2 (10): Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney called Lamar Jackson the “new era” version of Michael Vick after the multi-threat quarterback became the first player in NFL history to post more than 100 passing yards, 100 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in consecutive games. Jackson also sports a strong 94.1 passer rating entering this week’s bye, but his 576 rushing yards are sixth-most in the league this season.
10. Carolina Panthers, 4-2 (11): The Panthers move into the Top 10 without playing over the weekend, with Kyle Allen looking to improve to 5-0 as the starting quarterback in place of Cam Newton this week against unbeaten San Francisco. Don’t sleep on Christian McCaffrey as a darkhorse MVP candidate, he has 923 yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns through six games.
11. Houston Texans, 4-3 (9)
12. Dallas Cowboys, 4-3 (14)
13. Los Angeles Rams, 4-3 (15)
14. Indianapolis Colts, 4-2 (17)
15. Chicago Bears, 3-3 (12)
16. Detroit Lions, 2-3-1 (13)
17. Philadelphia Eagles, 3-4 (16)
18. Arizona Cardinals, 3-3-1 (19)
19. Oakland Raiders, 3-3 (18)
20. Tennessee Titans, 3-4 (22)
21. Jacksonville Jaguars, 3-4 (24)
22. Cleveland Browns, 2-4 (20)
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2-4 (23)
24. Los Angeles Chargers, 2-5 (21)
25. Pittsburgh Steelers, 2-4 (27)
26. Giants, 2-5 (25): Daniel Jones certainly has looked like a rookie quarterback in the Giants’ past two games, with four interceptions and three fumbles in losses to New England and Arizona. He could use a big game from Saquon Barkley and some help from a Big Blue defense that has been burned for 26.7 points per game this week in Detroit.
27. Denver Broncos, 2-5 (26)
28. Jets, 1-5 (28): Sam Darnold said last week that he believed the Jets’ offense could be unstoppable once fully healthy. Consider this a full stop. Darnold put up a mono-digital passer rating of 3.6 Monday night, completing just 11-of-32 passes for 86 yards with four interceptions in getting spanked and blanked, 33-0, by the Patriots. At least none of their next seven opponents currently have a record above .500, beginning this week against Jacksonville.
29. Washington Redskins, 1-6 (30)
30. Atlanta Falcons, 1-6 (29)
31. Cincinnati Bengals, 0-7 (31)
32. Miami Dolphins, 0-6 (32)