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Shutdown Corner NFL Power Rankings: What the Patriots have done so far is phenomenal

Frank Schwab
Shutdown Corner

I get it, you're sick of hearing about the greatness of the New England Patriots.

That's fine, even understandable. But love them or hate them, what they're doing this season is really impressive.

Take any NFL team. Eliminate a borderline Hall-of-Fame receiver, two of the five most talented tight ends in the NFL, then add in a long-term injury to a key running back, and on-and-off injuries to a starting running back and top remaining receiver. That's what happened to New England with Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, Shane Vereen, Steven Ridley and Danny Amendola. Oh, and defensive MVP Vince Wilfork is out for the rest of the season too. Most teams would experience a drastic drop without all those players.

And here the Patriots are, 5-1 and coming off a home win against the previously undefeated Saints. That's amazing. And yet, through the season's first six weeks, most of the talk surrounding the Patriots has been about how much they've struggled.

Because everyone has Patriots fatigue, we're not celebrating what an incredible story it is. But we will celebrate them here, because they're going to be even tougher to beat once they're healthy. For some reason, the fact that they'll add one of the best players in the NFL (Gronkowski) and a multi-threat running back (Vereen) to the lineup soon has been mostly ignored when analyzing the Patriots. And a defense that has played very well most of this season hasn't gotten much attention either. Bill Belichick is doing some of his best work this season, and that's saying something.

As I keep saying, I know you want the Patriots' dynasty to be over, but that doesn't mean they're going away quite yet.

Here are the post-Week 6 power rankings:

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32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6, last week: 32)
Justin Blackmon might be an All-Pro someday soon, once Teddy Bridgewater is throwing him the ball.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-5, LW: 30)
The Buccaneers-Giants battle for No. 31 is fascinating and depressing. They both really, really seem to want that spot.

30. New York Giants (0-6, LW: 31)
The "Should New York trade Eli Manning?" speculation sounds great in theory, until you realize his salary-cap number is more than $20 million, largest in the NFL.

29. Minnesota Vikings (1-4, LW: 25)
When you look up at your home scoreboard and see that Carolina is winning 35-3 at the two-minute warning, you've hit rock bottom. Just horrible.

28. Washington Redskins (1-4, LW: 26)
The defense played a lot better than anyone expected against Dallas, but still, why won't they give Alfred Morris more than 16 carries? Giving him the ball seemed to work last year.

[Related: Bills sign QB Matt Flynn]

27. Buffalo Bills (2-4, LW: 28)
The record doesn't matter. Bills fans should be very excited what is happening with this team. A foundation is being set. They just need to be patient and let it grow.

[Related: Steelers place Levi Brown on IR before he's played a game for them]

26. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4, LW: 29)
I'm not ready to declare Pittsburgh fixed yet, but it's pretty remarkable what (finally) causing a couple of turnovers can do for a team.

[Related: Terrelle Pryor thinks Raiders will make playoffs after 2-4 start]

25. Oakland Raiders (2-4, LW: 21)
On the last play of a 24-7 loss to the Chiefs, Terrelle Pryor was sacked for the 10th time. Why on earth was he dropping back to throw? Was coach Dennis Allen risking his quarterback to injury because he knew a secret way to get a 17-point touchdown?

[Related: Texans coach Gary Kubiak feeling the heat]

24. Houston Texans (2-4, LW: 18)
There's a lot of talent on that team, so it's hard to see a 4-12 type season. But the way they quit in the loss to St. Louis opens up the possibility that the Texans are ready to go in the tank.

23. Arizona Cardinals (3-3, LW: 23)
I could look for hours at the standings showing this team and St. Louis each at 3-3 and still never quite understand how it happened.

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Rams WR Tavon Austin (USA Today Sports Images)

22. St. Louis Rams (3-3, LW: 27)
What about rookie receiver Tavon Austin playing just four snaps on Sunday? Why draft him that high if you have no idea how to use him?

21. Atlanta Falcons (1-4, LW: 19)
I feel for Steven Jackson. He is a heck of a player destined to play on terrible teams. He must have walked under a lot of ladders as a kid.

20. New York Jets (3-3, LW: 17)
Heading into this week's game against New England, Rex Ryan mentioned a 2009 home game against the Patriots and said, "If you make it like that, we're gonna beat this team." Probably not, but thank goodness swag-tacular Rex is back.

19. Carolina Panthers (2-3, LW: 24)
Next three games: St. Louis at home, at Tampa Bay, Atlanta at home. So 5-3 is possible, which will make the inevitable 3-5 maddening.

18. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3, LW: 20)
I don't see any good reason for Chip Kelly to turn back to Michael Vick at quarterback. Nick Foles is better for the future, and probably better now too.

17. Tennessee Titans (3-3, LW: 16)
Chris Johnson's yards per carry his last three games: 1.4, 1.7, 2.8. He has rallied after bad starts before, but at some point he's just going to remain in a slump and never get out.

16. Cleveland Browns (3-3, LW: 15)
I never, ever, ever thought a month ago that I'd be writing this: The Brian Hoyer injury was a killer for the Browns' playoff hopes. The Brandon Weeden pick was a bad one by a front office desperately looking to hang onto their jobs another year or two.

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Ravens coach John Harbaugh (USA Today Sports Images)

15. Baltimore Ravens (3-3, LW: 13)
Why was Baltimore dropping back to pass with 12 seconds left in the first half at their own 34? The turnover and gift field goal to Green Bay was big in a two-point loss. A really bad decision by John Harbaugh, who is a good coach.

14. San Diego Chargers (3-3, LW: 22)
Nice of the Chargers defense to get the memo that the 2013 season has started. Looked great against the Colts.

13. Miami Dolphins (3-2, LW: 14)
There are only 12 teams in the NFL with a winning percentage of more than .500. I'm not in love with the Dolphins, but you run out of good teams fast when you do these rankings.

12. Dallas Cowboys (3-3, LW: 12)
Injuries to DeMarcus Ware and DeMarco Murray are a bit concerning, but come on ... write them in with a pen as NFC East champs and the No. 4 seed in the playoffs.

11. Chicago Bears (4-2, LW: 10)
I hadn't dinged them too much for some unimpressive wins. But they looked bad slopping around with the miserable Giants at home last week.

10. Detroit Lions (4-2, LW: 11)
Broncos-Colts is Week 7's game of the week. Bengals-Lions isn't far behind. I think the Lions are good, but we're six weeks in and I'm still not sure. We'll probably know more after Sunday.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2, LW: 9)
If Andy Dalton plays like he did Sunday (26-of-40, 337 yards, three touchdowns), the Bengals are going to get on a roll.

[Related: Peyton Manning urged Jim Irsay to draft Andrew Luck]

8. Indianapolis Colts (4-2, LW: 8)
Last week, I told irate Colts fans that it's smart to not overreact to a game or two or give in to recency bias. And you're in luck Indy, because I'm not going to overreact to that stinker at San Diego.

7. San Francisco 49ers (4-2, LW: 4)
They were on the ropes a bit at home against a mediocre Cardinals team until finally pulling away in the fourth quarter. It was a win, but meh.

6. Green Bay Packers (3-2, LW: 6)
The Randall Cobb injury comes right when the schedule eases up a bit. They should get him back just in time to finish the season strong.

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Chiefs S Eric Berry (USA Today Sports Images)

5. Kansas City Chiefs (6-0, LW: 7)
He won't win the award because he doesn't put up eye-catching numbers, but safety Eric Berry might be the most valuable defensive player in the league.

4. New Orleans Saints (5-1, LW: 3)
It was a little surprising to see their offense slowed down, but there's still no shame in that loss. They lost on a great drive by a very good team with just a few seconds to go.

[Related: Patriots fans who lost faith missed what makes Tom Brady so great]

3. New England Patriots (5-1, LW: 5)
They're going to get only better once Gronkowski's parents let him play.

2. Seattle Seahawks (5-1, LW: 2)
The defense gave up 223 yards and 13 first downs against Tennessee. And the offense is in the NFL's top 10 in yards per game and points per game. They're closer to No. 1 than No. 3.

1. Denver Broncos (6-0, LW: 1)
Von Miller is back this week. Now we need to see the defensive improvement that should come along with his return.

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter.

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