Oct 24, 2021; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) reacts after running for a first down in the first quarter against the Washington Football Team during their football game Sunday, October 24, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Mandatory Credit: Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports

The balance of power in the NFL firmly lies in the NFC.

For the first time this season, NFC teams occupy the top half of our top 10. The shocking plummet of the Chiefs, the oddsmakers’ preseason favorite to win the AFC, has left the conference without a true kingpin. The Bills tied for No. 1 with the Cardinals after Week 5 but have since dropped to seventh, and the Ravens fell from the No. 5 spot this week after getting blown out at home by the surprising Bengals.

That has left our NFL Power Rankings panel no choice but to acknowledge that the NFC’s elite is indeed the NFL’s elite.

Joining the Cardinals, Buccaneers, Rams and Cowboys in the top five are the Packers, who have rebounded from their head-scratching season opener against the Saints with six straight victories. A seventh win in a row would be the most impressive, as Green Bay faces its biggest test yet Thursday against top-ranked Arizona in the desert.

Aaron Rodgers has thrown for 15 touchdowns, five fewer TDs at this point of his 2020 MVP season, on a Packers offense that’s slipped from fifth last year to 23rd in total yards. But Green Bay has maintained its status as a top-10 defense, ranking sixth against the pass (210.6 yards allowed per game) and producing the seventh-most takeaways (11).

The reigning MVP (Rodgers) and this year’s MVP front-runner (Kyler Murray) dueling in prime time should be entertaining. Can't wait.

On to the rankings …

The Top 10

1. Arizona Cardinals (7-0, Last week: 1): Kliff Kingsbury’s offense gets all the attention, but Vance Joseph’s fourth-ranked defense deserves some recognition, too.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-1, Last week: 3): Tom Brady actually hasn’t thrown for four touchdowns every week this season. It just seems like he has.

3. Los Angeles Rams (6-1, Last week: 2): The Matthew Stafford Effect — Cooper Kupp leads the league in receiving yards (809), TD catches (nine), 20-plus-yard receptions (14), first-down grabs (37) and, of course, targets (81).

4. Green Bay Packers (6-1, Last week: 6): It's a shame that they could be without four All-Pro players for Thursday’s showdown against Arizona, including wide receiver Davante Adams.

5. Dallas Cowboys (5-1, Last week 4): They have the NFL’s No. 1 offense (460.8 yards per game) and, not surprisingly, are the league’s highest-scoring team (34.2 points per game).

6. Cincinnati Bengals (5-2, Last week: 8t): The defense has allowed only one 100-yard rusher — Aaron Jones, who ran for 103 in Green Bay’s OT win in Week 5.

7. Buffalo Bills (4-2, Last week: 7): They return from the bye to begin a very favorable stretch against teams currently with one win (vs. Dolphins, at Jaguars, at Jets).

8t. Baltimore Ravens (5-2, Last week: 5): Who are the real Ravens — the confident contender that beat Chargers by 28 or the helpless squad that lost by 24 to the Bengals?

8t. Tennessee Titans (5-2, Last week: 10): They’re riding the sturdy shoulders of Derrick Henry, but don’t overlook the defense’s emergence sparked by a late-game stop against Buffalo.

10. Los Angeles Chargers (4-2, Last week: 8t): Note to the Bolts’ struggling defense, which faces New England on Sunday — watch out for the Patriots double pass!


The Bottom Five

Atlanta’s ascension left our panel of voters with a core group of six bottom feeders to choose as the league’s worst team. This week, it’s the Texans’ turn at No. 32 after a second straight TD-less performance behind rookie QB Davis Mills.

32. Houston Texans (1-6, Last week: 31): They have the NFL's worst point differential (minus-106), and now the Rams are coming to town.

31. New York Jets (1-5, Last week: Not ranked): They traded for Joe Flacco. That’s all you need to know.

30. Detroit Lions (0-7, Last week: 32): The gritty but mistake-prone Lions aren’t the worst 0-7 team ever, and our voters kindly acknowledge that (this week anyway).

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5, Last week: 29): Urban Meyer's bye-week lesson: You can’t lose in the NFL if you don’t play!

28. Miami Dolphins (1-6, Last week: 30): Tua Tagovailoa played well in a 30-28 loss to Atlanta despite Deshaun Watson trade rumors.

MOVING UP: New York Giants (2-5, Last week: 28).

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