1. New England Patriots (Last week: 1)
New England took advantage of the Steelers missing Ben Roethlisberger. LeVeon Bell was contained. As was Antonio Brown. Tom Brady continues to look sharp. This division looks like it still belongs to the Patriots.
2. Dallas Cowboys (Last week: 4)
Dallas moves up due to the ineptitude of the Seahawks and Vikings, even though they were on a bye. The Cowboys return to action Sunday night against Philly for a chance to control the NFC East.
3. Seattle Seahawks (Last week: 3)
It is hard to find too many positives from a 6-6 tie. At the same time, Seattle’s defense looked outstanding throughout the entire game. Limiting David Johnson’s big plays and making Larry Fitzgerald a non-factor. That defense will get tested again this week with a trip to the Super Dome to play the Saints.
4. Minnesota Vikings (Last week: 2)
The last of them falls. Minnesota is no longer undefeated and Sam Bradford looked mediocre this weekend. That does not wipe out what he has done to this point, but reminds us all that he is prone to this type of outing from time to time.
5. Green Bay Packers (Last week: 6)
He didn’t need to say it this time around, but the Packers relaxed and turned in a phenomenal second half to soundly beat the Bears. Green Bay hasn’t solved everything, but they are suddenly just a game out of the NFC North lead though and look like they are heading in the right direction.
6. Denver Broncos (Last week: 8)
Denver got back on track Monday night with a quality win over Houston. The defense did not allow a touchdown. C.J. Anderson ran well and Trevor Siemian did just enough to propel the Broncos to a win. The AFC West looks deadly right now.
7. Kansas City Chiefs (Last week: 10)
Kansas City hung on for a solid home win over New Orleans on Sunday. Between Spenser Ware, Jamaal Charles and Charcandrick West, the Chiefs have an embarrassment of riches. Alex Smith is still driving this bus and its working for Andy Reid’s team.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (Last week: 11)
Speaking of Andy Reid, his former offensive coordinator Doug Peterson just knocked off the last undefeated team in the league. It wasn’t exactly pretty, but that Eagles defense is looking better every week.
9. Oakland Raiders (Last week: 12)
It’s hard to place Oakland. They have a mediocre point differential, but lead the AFC West with five wins. If the season ended today, they would have a bye to the divisional round of the playoffs. With four divisional games left this year, the West if far from won.
10. Atlanta Falcons (Last week: 5)
I gave Atlanta something of a pass last week following a two-point loss. This week’s loss was only three points, but it was at home having been outscored 16-3 in the second half and overtime. The Falcons aren’t in free fall, but they need to start closing out games.
11. Arizona Cardinals (Last week: 13)
Well not losing is better than losing. But winning is better than not winning. Arizona had a number of chances to win at home against Seattle. That would’ve been a huge win for divisional purposes. Instead, Arizona is .500 through seven weeks.
12. Detroit Lions (Last week: 18)
That’s three straight for the Lions, who suddenly have a winning record. A trip to see a struggling Houston outfit gives Detroit a chance to stretch this win streak to four. Running back is still a revolving door, but the Lions have a shot right now.
13. Washington (Last week: 7)
Like I said, Washington probably isn’t the number seven team in the league. They proved that this week with a fourth quarter collapse against Detroit. Matt Jones continues to be streaky and that Jordan Reed injury needs definitely limits this offense’s potential to be successful.
14. New York Giants (Last week: 14)
Now above .500, the Giants are still in the basement of the NFC East. Coming back from London with a gritty win is huge, especially heading into a bye. If anyone needs to get healthy it’s New York.
15. San Diego Chargers (Last week: 20)
Another week, another sign that the beginning of this season was just a fluke. Even without Danny Woodhead and Keenan Allen, San Diego is finding ways to win. This is easily the best team under .500 in the league right now.
16. Buffalo Bills (Last week: 9)
Nothing like a road loss to a division rival to bring you crashing down to Earth. Buffalo has solid wins over New England and Arizona, but losses to the Jets and Dolphins now. The other two wins came against the 49ers and Rams. Not a great resume for the Bills.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (Last week: 21)
It was Cleveland, but a win nonetheless. Cincy finally bounced back and got a big win. The Bengals are now just a game back of the AFC North lead with the Ravens reeling and the Steelers missing their quarterback. Cincy ranks fifth in total yards per game, but 23rd in points per game. The offense needs to start converting.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers (Last week: 16)
Landry Jones played about as well as Pittsburgh fans could have hoped once he settled down after his first quarter interception. The Steelers looked competitive for most of the game with a very good opponent. They still lead this division, but they are going to need to win some games before Big Ben returns.
19. Baltimore Ravens (Last week: 17)
Six yards. That’s how many rushing yards the Ravens could muster this week in New York. Joe Flacco also tossed two picks against a weak Jets secondary. Baltimore has lost four in a row and has a lot of questions to answer going forward.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last week: 22)
Tampa Bay overcame a slow start to blowout San Francisco. The running game continues to thrive no matter who is taking the handoffs. The Bucs are just a half game back of the Falcons for the lead in the NFC South. Let that sink in.
21. New Orleans Saints (Last week: 19)
The Saints are third in the league in scoring offense, and last in scoring defense. New Orleans has been trying for years to fix this defensive unit. They are wasting away the last years of Drew Brees’ career as they continue to lose in shootouts.
22. Miami Dolphins (Last week: 25)
Jay Ajayi is still running now as you read this. In the last two weeks, Ajayi has ripped off 414 yards and three touchdowns. Miami heads into a bye week only a game under .500 and with their backfield likely figured out.
23. Houston Texans (Last week: 15)
That comeback win against Indy feels like a long time ago for Brock Osweiler. He has completed just 58 percent of his passes and owns a yards per attempt average of 5.7. Osweiler has also committed 13 turnovers in seven games. Houston, we definitely have a problem.
24. Indianapolis Colts (Last week: 24)
Indy has been far from perfect this year. They’ve frequently been far from good for that matter, but the Colts are just a game out of first place. If Chuck Pagano’s group makes the playoffs, it will be because they won the very weak AFC South. And based on how the offensive line and defense are playing, they won’t get very far.
25. Los Angeles Rams (Last week: 23)
It was a promising start in the new city. Now suddenly the Rams are back below .500. A week off after an unsuccessful trip to London gives Los Angeles time to recover, but it does not solve their quarterback issues. Case Keenum had four interceptions Sunday, including a pick six.
26. Carolina Panthers (Last week: 26)
This is the best one-win team in football. It’s true because it means that Carolina is better than Chicago. Jonathan Stewart will be back but the real problems are on the defense. The Panthers are 26th in passing defense and 29th in scoring defense.
27. Tennessee Titans (Last week: 27)
Well being .500 was fun while it lasted. Tennessee continues to struggle to take that next step. This is a very young team with a lot of building pieces. DeMarco Murray gives this chance to control games, but when you lose the turnover battle as the Titans have, it is really tough to win.
28. New York Jets (Last week: 29)
It was a bounce back game of sorts for the Jets. The defense came up with some big takeaways and Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith played mistake-free football. Fitz seemed pissed about being benched. That kind of fire could be good for New York going forward.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last week: 28)
Will Blake Bortles of 2015 please show up? Through the first six games he has played, Bortles has nine touchdowns and interceptions. Through his first six games last year, Bortles had thrown 13 touchdowns to only seven picks. Jacksonville sinks and swims with their third year passer.
30. San Francisco 49ers (Last week: 30)
A good start marred by a pathetic collapse. San Francisco has a lot of problems on defense. They are third to last in yards allowed and second to last in points allowed. The most staggering stat though might be that the 49ers are allowing 185 yards rushing per game. That is 45 more yards per game than Cleveland, who has the second worst mark. If Chip Kelly wants to find a place to improve, that would be a good one to start.
31. Chicago Bears (Last week: 31)
The Bears were competitive in the first half with Green Bay, until Aaron Rodgers regained his form and tore the defense apart. Everyone knew that it was going to take a little time for John Fox to turn this team around, but there haven’t been many bright spots to point to a promising future.
32. Cleveland Browns (Last week: 32)
If you are still reading this, all you need to know is that the Browns lost again and that because the Cavaliers are back that Cleveland fans have stopped caring about football.