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The Al Dente Dozen

The fearsome defense of the Minnesota Vikings (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

The fearsome defense of the Minnesota Vikings (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

So this week instead of doing a full 32-team power rankings I decided to change it up a bit and give my 12 best teams in the NFL, or The Al Dente Dozen.

There were some major jumps this week as some teams that I have been discrediting to a degree keep on winning and in good fashion, and some teams that look more like pretenders are falling deeper and deeper into the rankings.

Unfortunately, there were some key injuries this week that did cause for a couple of teams to drop but have the opportunity to show their true identity once their roster is fully intact.

Now without further ado…The Al Dente Dozen, Week 6 Edition.

1. Minnesota Vikings (5-0)

I had the Vikings as the number 1 ranked team after week 5 and they were on a bye this week so they remain in the top spot. Stefon Diggs had an extra week to rest up that bum groin that kept him on the sidelines against the Texans and will hope to return to action this week against a very good Eagles secondary.

2. New England Patriots (5-1)

After a bit of a slow start, the Patriots made the Cincinnati Bengals look like the Cleveland Browns. Gronk finally had a Gronk like-game, taunting included. This team looks to be running on all cylinders at the moment and look to be the top team in the AFC by a large margin.

3. Seattle Seahawks (4-1)

The Seahawks are beginning to look like the Seahawks that we knew they would be. Didn’t quite know what was going on on the sidelines with Richard Sherman throwing a temper tantrum and then the entire defense performing some type of Ra Ra sing and dance, but whatever it was it seemed to work. The defense came up big when it mattered, and Earl Thomas intercepted Matt Ryan to give the offense the opportunity for the game-winning field goal. The top team once again in a very confusing NFC West.

4. Atlanta Falcons (4-2)

Asking the Falcons to travel to Denver and to Seattle in back-to-back weeks was very cruel by the NFL, but Atlanta demonstrated that they are legit, almost stealing a victory at BOTH venues. Julio makes that catch that hit him in the hands late in the 4th quarter and my 3 and 4 would probably be swapped.

5. Dallas Cowboys (5-1)

I have been keeping my distance from the Cowboys bandwagon all season, but their continued great play has forced me to at least admit the legitimacy of the wagon. Give Jerry Jones and his executive staff credit, they listened to what everyone preaches, but for some reason never has the gall to do. You win games up front and the Cowboys have an offensive line that every quarterback and running back in the NFL envy. Couple that with the continued smart play from Dak Prescott and you have a very good tasting formula. This may be Tony’s Team, but it’s going to be a Dak Dynasty moving forward.

6. Denver Broncos (4-2)

Back-to-back very poor outings for a team that looked very good early in the season. In both games, the offense looked stagnant for three-quarters and then came to life in the 4th quarter when it was too little too late. The crazy thing is that they still had a chance to win the game in the waning seconds in San Diego showing the talent on the roster. After playing on Thursday night, they have a lot of time before they host the Texans on Monday. It will be Osweiler’s first game back in the Mile High City after leaving town for more money. We will see if the Broncos bounce back.

7. Kansas City Chiefs (3-2)

The one thing that the Chiefs have lacked this year is consistency. Luckily, something that is constant is Andy Reid’s winning record after a bye week. The Raiders never had a chance. The defense completely suffocated the Oakland offense after the opening drive, and the offense did enough to get a 16-point victory. The rest of the NFL can find solace in the fact that Kansas City does not get another bye week, but this is a very good team and their still playing without Justin Houston.

8. Buffalo Bills (4-2)

Rex Ryan’s hot seat has gone pretty tepid over the past few weeks. After starting off 0-2 the Bills have railed off four very impressive victories straight-up blowing teams out. During this stretch, they have scored 30+ points three times and have not allowed their opponent to score over 19, including a shutout of the Patriots. When you can run the ball and your defense gets turnovers, you are almost guaranteed success.

9. Washinton Redskins (4-2)

Here is another team that I was high on at the beginning of the year (ranked 11th) and then they supported my position by losing their first two games. Well, they rebounded in a big way and have won four straight. The questions swirling about whether or not Cousins should be the starter have subsided, and the running game has begun to look somewhat formidable. All of a sudden the NFC Least is looking very competitive.

10. Oakland Raiders (4-2)

The Raiders did not look good against the Chiefs, but as stated above, they didn’t have a chance facing Andy Reid after a bye. If this team could play every game on the road they could go 16-0 but unfortunately they do have to play eight in Oakland, something that Coach Del Rio will have to address. I need to see some more consistency out of Carr but this is a very talented team that should continue to get better.

11. Philadelphia Eagles (4-2)

The Eagles are reeling a bit after losing two in a row. Carson Wentz came back down to earth but still looks very poised and comfortable in the pocket. I really thought that Ryan Matthews was going to have a very fine year in Doug Pederson’s system, but he really hasn’t been a factor at all. There is still a lot of the season left and if they can get him going the offense will continue to improve.

12. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2)

Another team that struggles with consistency. Getting blown out by the Eagles, and then blowing out the Chiefs and Jets, and then getting beat on all facets against the, ya, you guess it, the Miami Dolphins. I don’t get it. Unfortunately, the Steelers will now be without Big Ben for 4-6 weeks. During Ben’s healing time, Pittsburgh faces New England, Baltimore, and Dallas. The defense better show up and expect a heavy dosage of Le’Veon Bell, permitting he stays healthy.

Ryan Dyrud

Author Ryan Dyrud

Founder and CEO of SportsAlDente.com. Grew up in Denver with a passion for all sports and an emphasis on the NFL. Moved to Los Angeles where I graduated from Long Beach State with a degree in Leisure Services (Yes the Van Wilder degree). My opinions are my own, but they should be yours too.

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Sports Al Dente 2018