The NFL Panic Meter: How every team feels right now

Clark's doubts about Chiefs come to light in loss (1:58)

Ryan Clark was hesitant to call the Chiefs his Super Bowl favorite heading into the week, and his skepticism of Alex Smith's play rang true in a loss to the Steelers. (1:58)

Aaron Rodgers could be out for the season. The Cowboys could be without Ezekiel Elliott. And the Patriots barely beat the Jets. Is it time to panic?

NFL Nation reporters rated how every team feels on a scale of 1 to 5 -- or in other words, where it falls on the panic meter.

Here's the scale:

5. Outright panic: Where is the hope? (There isn't much)
4. On the brink: A couple more losses and it's time to think about the draft
3. Don't get comfortable: Season could go either way, depending on the next few games
2. Good, but uneasy: Pretty good with a major question
1. Everything is fine: Better than expected so far

Note: The Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans play on Monday Night Football.

Rating 5: Outright panic

Cleveland Browns

The Browns have followed a 1-15 season with an 0-6 start, and have looked more inept this season than they did in 2016. The complicating factor: There is no easy answer to turn this around from the roster as it's built. Instead, the Browns are staring at a winless season. -- Pat McManamon

Green Bay Packers

When you lose arguably the best player in the game to a broken collarbone that could keep him out for the rest of the season, it's full-on freak-out mode -- and rightfully so. Aaron Rodgers was playing some of the best football of his career over the first month of the season and was carrying a team already ravaged by injuries. The Packers might not have enough left to surround backup quarterback Brett Hundley to allow him to be successful. Their streak of consecutive playoff appearances could end at eight. -- Rob Demovsky

New York Giants

The Giants might've won in Denver (surprise!) but they're still 1-5 and devastated by injury. Not having Odell Beckham Jr. is a game-changer. They also have a tough remaining schedule, with only two of their final 10 games against teams currently with a losing record. -- Jordan Raanan

San Francisco 49ers

Except, the Niners really don't seem to be panicking. Are they frustrated by their 0-6 start? No doubt, especially since they've lost five in a row by three points or fewer and are the only team of the Super Bowl era to hold that distinction. But the reality is that the 49ers knew this was going to take time and the fact that they are playing teams close while still not losing ground in next year's draft order isn't the worst thing in the world. Even if they won't admit it publicly. -- Nick Wagoner

Rating 4: On the brink of panic

Chicago Bears

The Bears (2-4) survived Sunday's matchup in Baltimore -- their first road victory since 2015 -- but the overall outlook isn't so rosy. Chicago has lost 27 of 38 games under John Fox, who's likely to remain on the hot seat for the rest of the regular season. On the bright side, Mitchell Trubisky has shown flashes of being the real deal, but the Bears have too many holes on the roster (partly because of injuries) for all their problems to vanish after one win away from home. -- Jeff Dickerson

Oakland Raiders

A couple more losses and it's time to think about the draft. Or, a loss to Kansas City at home on Thursday, and we will update this to OUTRIGHT PANIC! These are strange times for a team that was 2-0 and has now lost four straight for the first time since it dropped 16 in a row over the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Then again, the Raiders ended that streak against the Chiefs. At home. On a Thursday night. In the rain. To quote Kevin Bacon in "Animal House": "All is well, remain calm." Then again ... -- Paul Gutierrez

Rating 3.5: Uneasy, but still not on the edge

Baltimore Ravens

There's reason to panic after Baltimore lost Sunday to the 2-4 Bears, who were coming off a short week and going with a rookie quarterback making his first NFL road start. But, technically, the Ravens trail the Steelers by one game in the AFC North. So, it's difficult to entirely write them off. It's just hard to have confidence in a team whose wins have come against these quarterbacks: Andy Dalton, DeShone Kizer and EJ Manuel. -- Jamison Hensley

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys are definitely at risk of rising to a No. 4 on the panic meter, especially if Ezekiel Elliott's suspension indeed starts immediately. Elliott will need some help from the courts to remain on the field because technically he is suspended through Thanksgiving after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the injunction that kept him on the field. The 2-3 Cowboys face a daunting road without Elliott, but it's not an impossible one. Before the 2016 season started, most people thought their year would be bumpy without Tony Romo, then Dak Prescott excelled. Who will step into the void left by Elliott? Maybe Prescott? The offensive line? Darren McFadden? Alfred Morris? With or without Elliott, the Cowboys are at a crossroads as they come off the bye. -- Todd Archer

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs surrendered 38 points to the Cardinals, are now 2-3 and sit in fourth place in the NFC South. Even worse? Quarterback Jameis Winston now has a shoulder injury and the first-place Panthers come to town in two weeks. They can't count on having the same five-game win streak they had at the end of last season either -- not when four out of their final six games are against divisional opponents. -- Jenna Laine

Rating 3: Don't get comfortable

Arizona Cardinals

This was a 4 before Sunday's game, but then Adrian Peterson ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns, and the Cardinals' offense was revitalized. However, as good as Arizona's offense -- and defense, for that matter -- looked in the first half, they both looked as bad in the second half, getting outscored 33-7 in the final 27:06. If the Cardinals can fix their issues that allowed Tampa Bay to get back in a game it had no business making close, then there won't be a reason to panic. But if the Cardinals struggle through their next three games, all division matchups, then the panic meter could top out. -- Josh Weinfuss

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons (3-2) have lost two in a row -- both at home -- and have a Super Bowl rematch on the road against the Patriots next week. After that, it's Jets and Panthers on the road, and the Falcons are not playing their best ball in any phase of the game. Coach Dan Quinn always talks about resetting. You figured the Week 5 bye would give the Falcons a chance to regroup, but they're still having issues and need to win two of the next three to re-establish some sort of momentum in the NFC playoff race, though there's still a ways to go. -- Vaughn McClure

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have started to turn things around after an 0-2 start, and they're not far out of contention in the AFC North. But next week's game at Pittsburgh is a must-win situation if they want to keep their pace in the division. The latter half of the schedule looks fairly challenging, so the Bengals must get back to .500 to be in comfortable standing. -- Katherine Terrell

Denver Broncos

The Broncos have struggled in the red zone on offense all season. Quarterback Trevor Siemian threw his fifth and sixth interceptions of 2017 in Sunday night's ugly 23-10 loss to the Giants, and the Giants proved it's possible to run the ball on the Denver defense if you're willing to go with heavy formations to test the perimeter. Now the Broncos will play seven of their next 10 games on the road, including the next three with trips to Los Angeles to play the Chargers, Kansas City and Philadelphia. -- Jeff Legwold

Detroit Lions

Detroit's bye is coming at the right time with injuries to Golden Tate and Glover Quin on Sunday. But of bigger concern: The Lions have lost two straight games in somewhat convincing fashion, dropping them to 3-3. They don't hold tiebreakers against Atlanta, Carolina or New Orleans so a wild-card berth could be tricky. With games against Pittsburgh and Green Bay following the bye, the Lions could be in a tough spot by the time mid-November comes around. -- Michael Rothstein

Houston Texans

The Texans are trending upward thanks to the play of Deshaun Watson, but heading into the bye, Houston is still just 3-3. The Texans are still definitely contenders in the AFC South, but a lot will hinge on how the defense can play without J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. They'll have to do that on the road in Seattle when they return from their Week 7 bye, after just playing three straight at home. -- Sarah Barshop

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars are 3-3 and have alternated wins and losses, but they're still tied for first place in the AFC South. That's why there should be no panic. Every team in the division is flawed and it's not unreasonable to think that a .500 record could win it. The Jaguars have the easiest remaining schedule, so if they can find a way to string a couple of victories together they can make a bit of a run. But the offense has to start making some plays in the pass game for that to happen, because the defense has carried the team thus far. -- Mike DiRocco

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers are riding a two-game winning streak for the first time in a year and, at 2-4, aren't looking forward to next year's draft just yet. The next two weeks are critical for the Bolts if they want to remain in the playoff hunt, with a "home" game against the Broncos at the StubHub Center and a road contest the following week against the Patriots before heading into the Week 9 bye. Winning both would be preferable, but getting one out of two keeps the Chargers' faint postseason hopes alive. -- Eric D. Williams

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins picked up an important, come-from-behind win over the Falcons on Sunday to improve to 3-2. But none of that will mean much if Miami gets swept next week by the Jets. The Dolphins have been up and down all year and could use a hot streak to separate themselves from the pack. Two of their next three games are at home. -- James Walker

New England Patriots

Some might say it's a harsh rating for a 4-2 team in first place in the AFC East, but the Patriots are showing troubling signs -- e.g. giving up too many big plays on defense -- yet also admirable characteristics to overcome adversity that is often self-inflicted. In five of their six games, the outcome could've gone either way depending on a play or two. -- Mike Reiss

New Orleans Saints

Obviously a team that started 0-2 by allowing more than 1,000 yards in two double-digit losses can't ever afford to get comfortable. But the Saints (3-2) have to feel great about the resilience they've shown since then. Their improving young defense was the difference in a 52-38 roller-coaster win over Detroit on Sunday thanks to a franchise-record three defensive touchdowns. A playoff run is now very realistic, especially if they can go into Green Bay next week and beat a Packers team without Aaron Rodgers. -- Mike Triplett

New York Jets

At 3-3, the Jets have overachieved, raising expectations slightly. They're still not a playoff contender, but they're also not the pushover that so many expected them to be. They can hang around for a few more weeks, but they need more out of the offense. The Jets have yet to score more than 23 points in a game, hardly a winning recipe in today's NFL. -- Rich Cimini

Washington Redskins

The Redskins (3-2) have played well at times, but they're entering a stretch in which they play at Philadelphia, versus Dallas, at Seattle, versus Minnesota and at New Orleans. It'll be their toughest stretch of the season in part because they're also playing at difficult places. If they can emerge with two or three wins, they'll get in good shape down the stretch. But their run game has been inconsistent and they're dealing with some injury issues on defense (most notably to corner Josh Norman). In Washington, no one can ever rest easy. -- John Keim

Rating 2: Good, but uneasy

Buffalo Bills

The Bills are either here or under No. 1, depending on the perspective. In terms of the big picture for first-year coach Sean McDermott, his team is exceeding its preseason expectation of six wins. McDermott's rebuild seems ahead of schedule, especially on defense. The Bills are 3-2 but have major question marks on offense as they return from their bye week. Their offense ranks 31st in yards per game and might get worse with Charles Clay (torn meniscus) out of the lineup for the next several weeks. -- Mike Rodak

Carolina Panthers

Good because at 4-2, the Panthers are atop the NFC South and 3-0 on the road. Uneasy because they're 0-1 in the conference, 2-2 in the NFC and 1-2 at home, where you have to win in this league. Also uneasy because the running game is struggling outside of quarterback Cam Newton. -- David Newton

Kansas City Chiefs

Despite losing to the Steelers on Sunday, the Chiefs are still 5-1, which is still the best record in the AFC and tied for the best record in the NFL with a team they have beaten this season: the Eagles. Still, the manner in which the Steelers handled the Chiefs raises some issues: Will future opponents capably eliminate Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill as impact players as the Steelers did? And why haven't the Chiefs developed a dependable defensive identity almost halfway through the season? -- Adam Teicher

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams won their fourth game of the season in Jacksonville, already matching last year's total through the first six weeks. Their offense has proved to be significantly improved under coach Sean McVay, and their defense -- led by legendary defensive coordinator Wade Phillips -- has seemingly rounded into form over these past three weeks. But the Rams know they still have some cleaning up to do on that side of the ball. And they still have some maturing to do on offense, especially with regard to quarterback Jared Goff, who's playing a lot better but is still developing. -- Alden Gonzalez

Minnesota Vikings

With Aaron Rodgers out for the foreseeable future, the Vikings are in a favorable position to capture the NFC North. The division looks pretty dicey after Week 6 with the Lions allowing 52 points on Sunday, the Bears putting their faith in a rookie quarterback and the Packers having to navigate through this crisis caused by Rodgers' absence. The division is wide open for the taking and could be Minnesota's if it doesn't derail its chances by complicating things when Teddy Bridgewater returns to practice. If he's able to play this season, the Vikings will need to deem whether it's the right choice to ride Case Keenum's success or allow Bridgewater to have his job back. -- Courtney Cronin

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers shouldn't be too comfortable, but the uneasiness subsided a bit after a gritty 19-13 win in Kansas City that re-emphasized their pound-the-run identity on offense. The good and bad news is the Steelers haven't played convincing football for much of the year yet sit at 4-2. Fulfilling their potential could vault them into playoff contention, but if this is who they are, the occasional lapses will get the best of them. -- Jeremy Fowler

Seattle Seahawks

The good part of this equation is that the Seahawks went into their bye at 3-2 after a big road win over the Rams last week, their first since 2013, and they're entering a favorable stretch of their schedule with the Giants (away) and Texans (home) up next. But injuries up front on both sides of the ball are cause for some concern. Seattle is banged up at defensive end, with Cliff Avril out indefinitely and Michael Bennett's status for this week uncertain. And the likely absence of left guard Luke Joeckel for at least one game (and maybe longer) will make life harder on what's already a challenged offensive line. -- Brady Henderson

Rating 1: Everything is fine

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles kicked back and relaxed as most of the league toiled over the weekend. A Thursday night win at Carolina has them sitting pretty at 5-1. They're exceeding expectations and having fun doing it. With three straight home games prior to their bye week, the Eagles are feeling very good about their lot in life at the moment. -- Tim McManus