1. Los Angeles Rams: 7-0 (Last Week: 1)
It seems like the Rams are just picking up steam. Los Angeles blew out the 49ers on the road to make the division essentially out of reach. Sean McVay’s team faces a much tougher test with Green Bay paying a visit coming off a bye before LA heads to New Orleans. If the Rams survive that, we can start talking about a perfect season.
2. New England Patriots: 5-2 (Last Week: 2)
This game almost went to overtime, but New England’s defense did just enough to prevent Kevin White from tying the game up on a Hail Mary. The good news: the Patriots are well in control of the AFC East now after Miami lost to Detroit. The bad news: Sony Michel is likely going to miss some time with an injury he suffered on Sunday. He was really starting to emerge as an every down back for New England.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: 6-1 (Last Week: 3)
Kansas City remains the king of the AFC, at least in the standings, after demolishing Cincinnati on Sunday night. Patrick Mahomes tossed for 358 yards and four touchdowns. The defense also showed up for the first time all season, holding the Bengals to just 252 yards of total offense. If the Chiefs’ defense can come anywhere close to the level it played this weekend, this team is going to make a deep playoff run.
4. New Orleans Saints: 5-1 (Last Week: 4)
Was it a little lucky to avoid overtime? Probably, but New Orleans managed 17 fourth quarter points against the best scoring defense in the league. Drew Brees and this offense is still humming along. The addition of Eli Apple from the Giants should also help this secondary down the stretch. New Orleans is in a tough division, but clearly looks the best of the bunch.
5. Minnesota Vikings: 4-2-1 (Last Week 5)
Another week and another stellar performance from Adam Thielen. Kirk Cousins and company rolled over the team he spurned in free agency. Beating the Jets does not mark a marquee win for the Vikings, but a solid one on the road. Minnesota now gets a visit from New Orleans in a rematch of the Minneapolis Miracle. The Vikings should also get a boost in the form of Everson Griffin returning this week.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: 5-2 (Last Week: 9)
It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was rather ugly, but it was a win nonetheless. The Chargers managed just enough offense without Mevlin Gordon. The trip to London is tough for a West Coast team. Los Angeles now gets a week off and has to feel good being just one game back of the Chiefs.
7. Baltimore Ravens: 4-3 (Last Week: 6)
It was a really poor time for Justin Tucker to miss his first ever extra point attempt as it cost Baltimore the game. However, more of the blame has to sit with the defense that blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead. The Saints have a great offense, but that kind of collapse is unacceptable for the Ravens. Lucky for them, the Bengals looked awful against the Chiefs.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-2-1 (Last Week: 8)
So Le’Veon Bell still isn’t back, but the Steelers will be happy that every other team in their division lost during their bye week. With Cleveland set to visit this week, Pittsburgh has a big opportunity to pick up a division win and assert itself in the AFC playoff race. Leaning on James Connor seems like the way to go.
9. Carolina Panthers: 4-2 (Last Week: 11)
Don’t call it a comeback! Well, that’s actually exactly what it was. Carolina looked sluggish to start, but turned it around with 21 points in the fourth quarter to pull off a massive victory. The win keeps the Panthers just a game behind the Saints in the NFC South. If Carolina can beat Baltimore when it comes to town this week, it will inspire a lot of confidence in this Panthers team.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-4 (Last Week: 7)
It is time to start worrying about the Eagles. The reigning champs find themselves below .500 with a flailing offense. Philly allowed 21 unanswered points to end the game after starting up 17-0. The lack of a running game is a big issue as the Eagles mustered just 58 yards on the ground at 2.4 yards per carry average. With the trade deadline coming up, maybe it is time for Philadelphia to think about adding a running back.
11. Washington: 4-2 (Last Week: 15)
Washington bottled up Ezekiel Elliott and contained Dak Prescott just enough to earn a win. Alex Smith is still struggling a bit in the passing game with just 178 yards through the air. He played turnover free though and the defense came up with two fumble recoveries. That is a recipe for success, but it would nice to see the offense produce a bit more.
12. Chicago Bears: 3-3 (Last Week: 10)
An easy start to the season gave false hope to many of the Bears’ potential for this year. Back-to-back losses where the defense allowed a ton of points brought Chicago back down to Earth. Had Kevin White made it into the end zone, we might not be talking about a loss. Don’t be fooled by the rushing numbers either. Tarik Cohen and Jordan combined for a woeful 53 yards on 18 carries. Matt Nagy has to find a way to jump start the ground attack. Also, that defense needs to get back to its early season form.
13. Detroit Lions: 3-3 (Last Week: 18)
Finally! The Lions have found their running back of the future, or so it seems with the continued emergence of Kerryon Johnson. The rookie from Auburn picked up 158 yards rushing on just 19 carries against the Dolphins. Matt Stafford completed 82 percent of his passes as well. Detroit is right in the mix for a wild card spot heading into the second half of the season. Newly added Damon Harrison will help the cause as well.
14. Green Bay Packers: 3-2-1 (Last Week: 14)
The Packers got a much-needed week off and the assumption has to be that Aaron Rodgers is much closer to be healthy now. That is a scary thing for the rest of the league. Green Bay is going to need him to be with a trip to Los Angeles coming up.
15. Cincinnati Bengals: 4-3 (Last Week: 12)
They are who we thought they were! No seriously, after starting the season 4-1, the Bengals have dropped two straight in disappointing fashion. This defense has a long way to go still and Andy Dalton is still too inconsistent to consider this team a real contender. Cincy has a visit from the high-flying Buccaneers offense coming up as well and desperately needs to play better.
16. Atlanta Falcons: 3-4 (Last Week: 16)
The Falcons are a bit lucky it was the Giants they played on Monday night after struggling to get the ball into the end zone for much of the game. Matt Ryan is putting up MVP-like number though, which is good enough to win games for this team. With rumors that Patrick Peterson wants out in Arizona, it might be time for Atlanta to fill a hole in its defense and set itself up for a playoff run.
17. Seattle Seahawks: 3-3 (Last Week: 17)
The Seahawks enjoyed a bye week, but several other wild card contenders picked up wins. It is not going to be an easy road for Seattle to make the playoffs with Los Angeles already at 7-0. A trip to Detroit is going to be vital in deciding the NFC wild card picture.
18. Houston Texans: 4-3 (Last Week: 22)
Make it four straight! The Texans are on fire after picking up another divisional win and now control the AFC South. Houston’s defense came up with big turnovers and chased Blake Bortles from the game. Lamar Miller came up with 100 yards on the ground as well. Deshaun Watson had a forgettable performance though, completing just 50 percent of his passes for 139 yards and one touchdown. The Jaguars defense is good, but Cody Kessler threw for more yards in the second half alone than Watson did the whole game.
19. Jacksonville Jaguars: 3-4 (Last Week: 13)
The Jaguars are officially spiraling. I hate to blame everything on Blake Bortles, because the running game hasn’t been good either, but after fumbling twice and being replaced by Cody Kessler, it’s not a good look. The Jaguars offense managed fewer than 10 points for the third time this season. It is clear what the issue is for this team. The addition of Carlos Hyde should help some, but Jacksonville needs to find a passing game.
20. Denver Broncos: 3-4 (Last Week: 23)
Denver flat out demolished Arizona and took advantage of a rookie quarterback with two pick-sixes. In total, the defense came up with five turnovers and six sacks. The offense cashed in on short field opportunities. Case Keenum was efficient and the running game was effective. This is a formula the Broncos can rely on to win games, just maybe not in quite as devastating fashion every week. We’ve seen what this team can do with an average quarterback and elite defense before.
21. Miami Dolphins: 4-3 (Last Week: 19)
Miami managed to avoid blowing a fourth quarter lead this week, mostly because it never had one. Brock Osweiler played fairly well though. The run game was solid. The offense was not really the issue. Sure 21 points is not usually enough to win, but allowing 32 points and 450 yards of offense is almost always going to result in a loss. It will need to move on quickly playing Thursday against Houston.
22. Dallas Cowboys: 3-4 (Last Week: 20)
The high the Cowboys were feeling following a massive win over the Jaguars faded quickly. Dallas looked hopeless offensively once again against Washington. However, the big news is Jerry Jones landed his new number one receiver. The Cowboys sent a first round pick to Oakland in exchange for Amari Cooper. His presence should open up more running lanes for Ezekiel Elliott and take some pressure off Dak Prescott. It is an uphill climb, but Dallas seems better prepared for it now.
23. Tennessee Titans: 3-4 (Last Week: 21)
The Titans defense turned in another stellar performance, this time over in England. It wasn’t quite enough to produce a win. Tennessee has a championship caliber defense. The offense is nowhere close to good enough right now. Marcus Mariota and the offense have scored more than 20 points just once this season. The fact Tennessee is 3-4 and not 1-6 is a testament to how good the defense is.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3-3 (Last Week: 26)
Tampa almost blew it against the Browns, but held on for the win in overtime. This offense can pick up tons of yards, but turnovers are killing the Buccaneers. With 15 already this season, the Bucs need to do whatever they can to hide the weaknesses on defense. Giving the other team extra possessions is not the way to do it.
25. Cleveland Browns: 2-4-1 (Last Week: 24)
Oh Cleveland. The Browns have now gone to overtime in four of their seven games. If nothing else, Baker Mayfield and friends are making it entertaining to watch the Browns lose this year. This team is still clearly a few years away, but the experience it is getting in these tight games is invaluable. Cleveland scored 14 fourth quarter points to tie the game and force overtime in the first place. Hue Jackson has this team on the brink of truly breaking through.
26. New York Jets: 3-4 (Last Week: 25)
These are the lumps you take when you have a rookie quarterback. Sam Darnold competed just 17 of his 42 throws and tossed three interceptions. He isn’t the only one to blame though. The running game disappeared. Bilal Powell hits IR with a neck injury. Isaiah Crowell has struggled to be a consistent threat. It is best the Jets just move on after a truly ugly performance.
27. Indianapolis Colts: 2-5 (Last Week: 28)
Marlon Mack went off and the Colts crushed the Bills. For most 2-5 teams, winning against other bottom feeders just hurts draft position. For Indy, this division is not totally out of reach with the Texans only at 4-3. I don’t expect the Colts to really close that gap, but this was a dominant performance against a Bills team that was shutting down opposing offenses. It could be the spark Indianapolis needs to get back in the divisional race.
28. New York Giants: 1-6 (Last Week: 27)
The fire sale is officially on in New York. Eli Apple and Damon Harrison have already been shipped out. At 1-6, the Giants are certainly thinking about next season. Stockpiling draft picks is great, but the concern seems to be that this year’s draft class is fairly week past the top 15. Every class produces a few diamonds in the rough, but it might be a tough climb back for the Giants.
29. Buffalo Bills: 2-5 (Last Week: 29)
The Bills might genuinely need to think about holding an open tryout for fans to play quarterback, Invincible style. Buffalo is last in passing yards, passing touchdowns and completion percentage, each by a pretty sizable margin. Bills quarterbacks have combined to throw three touchdowns and 12 interceptions in seven games. As much as they hated him, Bills fans desperately miss Tyrod Taylor right now.
30. Oakland Raiders: 1-5 (Last Week: 30)
The Raiders didn’t lose this week! Well they were on bye, but you can count front office moves as a win. Oakland shipped Amari Cooper to Dallas in return for a first round pick. That kind of return for a player who has struggled with drops in his career is fairly impressive. Suddenly, the Raiders may find themselves with three picks in the top 20 selections come the 2019 draft.
31. Arizona Cardinals: 1-6 (Last Week: 31)
Well that was awful. Josh Rosen had a game he would like to forget and the Cardinals found themselves down 35-3 at halftime. It is no secret this is not a team destined for the playoffs, but that was pathetic. Patrick Peterson has demanded a trade and it seems like Steve Wilks has no clue what he is doing as the head coach of the team.
32. San Francisco 49ers: 1-6 (Last Week: 32)
San Francisco went from almost competitive to almost unwatchable in just one week. Sure it was against the best team in the league, but the 49ers are far and away the worst team in the NFL. Kyle Shanahan’s team has a turnover ratio of -18, which is bottom of the pile. This team has struggled with injuries, but even without them, it looks like San Francisco is a while away from truly competing.