2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 13

For the first time in what feels like forever, there is a bit of stability at the top of the NFL hierarchy. The top five teams in my power rankings all stay the same. After that, it is the typical chaos we’ve become accustomed to this season. Losses by the Rams and Cowboys shakeup the top 10 while wins by the 49ers, Raiders and Broncos completely change the middle of the pack.

We are now through 12 weeks of action and the playoff picture is starting to crystalize. The push for the playoffs starts now with December football set to begin. Here is how the league stacks up at this point.

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1. Arizona Cardinals: 9-2 (Last Week: 1)
Bye Week
For the first time in a while, there is no change atop the power rankings. Arizona had the week off and used it to get Kyler Murray healthy. The Cardinals QB let everyone know he was ready to return with a quick Marvel-themed tweet on Sunday. There is a lot of speculation as to what the tweet meant given that it was on the heels of his former college coach heading to USC and rumors that his current coach could be his replacement in Norman. Either way, Murray should be back in Week 13 for a matchup with the Bears.

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2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 8-3 (Last Week: 2)
Won 38-31 at Indianapolis
It is tough to know which side of this game to focus on. On one hand, Leonard Fournette offered a preview of Playoff Lenny much earlier than expected with four touchdowns and Rob Gronkowski looked fantastic in his return to the lineup. However, Tampa also gave up 31 points and needed a late drive from the offense to win the game. Even with those defensive struggles, the Buccaneers racked up five takeaways, which was the difference in the game.

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3. Green Bay Packers: 9-3 (Last Week: 3)
Won 36-28 vs. Los Angeles
The Packers continue to impress despite significant injury issues on both sides of the ball. Yosh Nijman took over at left tackle with Elgton Jenkins lost for the season. Rasul Butler continues to make huge plays for a secondary missing Jaire Alexander. It certainly helps to have Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams and A.J. Dillon to power the offense while Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage and Eric Stokes continue to improve on defense. Green Bay is incredibly talented and should only get better as key players get healthy down the stretch.

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4. New England Patriots: 8-4 (Last Week: 4)
Won 36-13 vs. Tennessee
Remember the good old days when the Patriots were 2-4? That feels like a lifetime ago now as New England has ripped off six straight wins since then. Mac Jones is playing very well and the run game is delivering consistently. Tennessee looked lost on offense for the majority of this game, which is a testament to how well the Pats defense has fared during this stretch. Even though the Titans rumbled for 270 yards on 6.9 yards per carry, Bill Belichick’s side forced four turnovers to make the majority of that yardage all for naught. A massive meeting with the Bills on Monday Night Football awaits.

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5. Kansas City Chiefs: 7-4 (Last Week: 5)
Bye Week
It was a good week for the Chiefs. Getting a chance to rest up is always nice. The Chargers losing to the Broncos to ensure KC stays atop the AFC West is a nice bonus. While it certainly feels like this team is back on track, it has been the defense doing most of the heavy lifting. Kansas City has scored more than 20 points just once since Week 6. Patrick Mahomes has settled down a bit, but has yet to reclaim his MVP form. Maybe Clyde Edwards-Helaire will provide a jolt after getting the bye week to fully recover from his injury.

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6. Baltimore Ravens: 8-3 (Last Week: 10)
Won 16-10 vs. Cleveland
It is a miracle Baltimore won this game. Lamar Jackson threw four interceptions and the Ravens managed just 3.1 yards per carry. The offense was clearly not at its best. Thankfully, the Browns offense wasn’t either. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt combined for 36 yards on the ground while Baker Mayfield continued to hobble around the field. Baltimore’s defense made his life miserable all night long, holding Cleveland to just 262 yards of offense. It would be reassuring to see the Ravens find their offensive spark again, but it is important to win even ugly sometimes, too.

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7. Cincinnati Bengals: 7-4 (Last Week: 14)
Won 41-10 vs. Pittsburgh
For the second time this season, Cincinnati dispatched Pittsburgh with relative ease. Joe Mixon quite literally ran all over the Steelers to the tune of 165 yards and a pair of scores. It was a showcase game for Tee Higgins as well. Forcing three Ben Roethlisberger turnovers and holding the team to just 54 yards rushing also helps. The Bengals remain one game back of the Ravens for the top spot in the AFC North.

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8. Dallas Cowboys: 7-4 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 36-33 vs. Las Vegas
Dallas is officially in trouble. Losing three of four is a worrying sign for a team that cannot seem to string together complete performances. It wasn’t the offense that struggled despite missing Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb. Instead, the defense surrendered over 500 yards of offense. Prescott didn’t get a ton of help from the run game either, which averaged 3.2 yards per carry. The Cowboys have gone from thinking about earning a first-round bye to ensuring they can win the NFC East.

9. Los Angeles Rams: 7-4 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 36-28 at Green Bay
Turns out the week off did not accomplish much. Los Angeles still looked disjointed on offense and overwhelmed on defense. Matt Stafford once again looked outmatched against a quality opponent. I’ve been questioning Stafford since 2015. All of the same issues I had with him as a player then continue to show up now. It is starting to become clear that the Rams cannot rely on him to carry them in big moments. Sean McVay is going to need to find a way to take some pressure off his big offseason acquisition.

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10. Indianapolis Colts: 6-6 (Last Week: 9)
Lost 38-31 vs. Tampa Bay
There was a lot to like about how the Colts played against the Buccaneers. The offense moved the ball down the field with ease, both on the ground and through the air. Tom Brady had a fairly quiet day, at least by his standards. The defense even forced two turnovers. Unfortunately, Indianapolis coughed it up five times, gave up four touchdowns to Leonard Fournette and struggled to protect Carson Wentz. This team is closer to truly competing for a title than it has been in a few years, but there are still some major holes left to patch.

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11. Buffalo Bills: 7-4 (Last Week: 12)
Won 31-6 at New Orleans
Buffalo picked up an important win to get things back on track. Granted, it was against a Saints team that is headed in the wrong direction, but you have to win the games on your schedule. Plus, the Bills did it convincingly. Unfortunately, it came at a high cost. Tre’Davious White tore his ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. One of the best cover corners in the league, Buffalo’s defense looks significantly worse heading into Week 13 than it did Week 12.

12. Los Angeles Chargers: 6-5 (Last Week: 11)
Lost 28-13 at Denver
Los Angeles keeps taking one step forward only to take one step back. This team is stuck in neutral following another lackluster showing in a winnable game. Perhaps it is the byproduct of having a young team with a rookie head coach. A big step to getting back on track will be rediscovering the run game. Austin Ekeler only had 31 rushing yards on 12 carries. That is not a recipe for success in the NFL.

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13. Tennessee Titans: 8-4 (Last Week: 8)
Lost 36-13 at New England
The tailspin in Nashville continues. Tennessee is simply too banged up to compete with the league’s elite teams right now. Ryan Tannehill looked pedestrian at best in a rocky performance. That might actually be underselling how bad Tannehill’s numbers were in this one, as he finished with 93 passing yards and 11 of his 21 passes completed. He got a huge boost from the ground game, which racked up 270 yards. Unfortunately, four turnovers and poor tackling on defense made any hopes of halting the Patriots obsolete. A much-need bye week is up next.

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14. San Francisco 49ers: 6-5 (Last Week: 19)
Won 34-26 vs. Minnesota
This was a litmus test for the 49ers. After an impressive upset of the Rams, it was hard to feel like the 49ers did much to prove themselves in a lopsided win over the Jaguars. Handling the Vikings, who were fresh off a win over the Packers, inspires a lot more confidence. With four wins in its past five games led by a resurgent ground attack, San Francisco deserves to be in the playoff conversation.

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15. Las Vegas Raiders: 6-5 (Last Week: 20)
Won 36-33 at Dallas
This changes things considerably. Following an underwhelming loss to the Bengals coming off a bye week, the Raiders seemed poised for another second-half fade. Instead, Las Vegas rebounds in spectacular fashion with a road win in Dallas on Thanksgiving. Derek Carr played very well and Josh Jacobs picked up some important yards, including a touchdown. Suddenly the Raiders are back in the mix for a wildcard spot and the AFC West title.

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16. Minnesota Vikings: 5-6 (Last Week: 13)
Lost 34-26 at San Francisco
Not quite how you want to follow up a statement win. Kirk Cousins did not play well and the running game struggled before Dalvin Cook exited with what seems to be a serious injury. Minnesota’s defense also had no answer for Elijah Mitchell or Deebo Samuel. The Vikings missed a golden opportunity to make up some ground in the wildcard race. Instead, Minnesota now finds itself in a log jam and with one of its best players, Patrick Peterson, on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

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17. Denver Broncos: 6-5 (Last Week: 22)
Won 28-13 vs. Los Angeles
The AFC West just got very interesting. A win by the Broncos creates a three-way tie for second, as the Raiders and Chargers are also one game back of the Chiefs for the division lead. Denver has a two-headed monster in the backfield with Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams combining for 199 yards in this one. Pat Surtain II helped seal things with a pick-six of Justin Herbert. Something to watch though will be the health of Teddy Bridgewater. He battled through a shin injury in Week 12. If he can’t suit up in Week 13, the Broncos could be in a lot of trouble.

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18. Pittsburgh Steelers: 5-5-1 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 41-10 at Cincinnati
For the second straight week, the Steelers allowed 41 points. That is already a problem. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh also scored 27 fewer points in this loss. Ben Roethlisberger was under pressure too often and compounded that issue with three turnovers, including a pick-six. What the Steelers desperately need to do is run the football. Unfortunately, they won’t commit to running the ball consistently, and even when they do, it is not effective. Najee Harris finished with 2.9 yards per carry in Cincinnati. The playoffs are not out of reach, but it is hard to imagine this team making it there without a serious turnaround in play.

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19. Cleveland Browns 6-6 (Last Week: 16)
Lost 16-10 at Baltimore
Some serious questions need to be asked of Kevin Stefanski. The Browns forced four turnovers, yet failed to generate basically anything positive on offense and lost the time of possession battle by a wide margin. That is almost an unfathomable combination. Stefanski abandoned the run game too soon, as Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt combined for just 15 carries. The fact that Cleveland could not find a way to win this game despite such a strong defensive performance is a huge indictment of this offense.

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20. Miami Dolphins: 5-7 (Last Week: 23)
Won 33-10 vs. Carolina
Miami has quietly won four straight and Tua Tagovailoa seems to be rounding into form. He was outrageously efficient against the Panthers, completing 27-of-31 passes 236 yards and a touchdown. Phillip Lindsay also provided an instant boost to the ground game in tandem with Myles Gaskin. Following a seven-game losing streak, the Dolphins are squarely back in the wildcard conversation. Their next four games are against the Giants, Jets, Saints and Titans. Miami’s hot streak may yet continue.

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21. Philadelphia Eagles: 5-7 (Last Week: 17)
Lost 13-7 at New York
This was a game the Eagles really needed to win. A win would get them back to .500 and would have put them into the final wildcard spot at the moment given the other results of Week 12. Instead, Jalen Hurts threw the game away, literally. Three interceptions and a completion percentage south of 50 is tough to overcome, even when you run for over 200 yards as a team. Also, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 1,000 times: the Eagles should have drafted Justin Jefferson over Jalen Reagor.

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22. New Orleans Saints: 5-6 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 31-6 vs. Buffalo
The Saints offense has ground to a halt. No Michael Thomas. No Alvin Kamara. No Jameis Winston. This unit is about as underwhelming as could be at this point. Taysom Hill is apparently still not healthy enough to play quarterback despite being on the active roster for the past few games. Sean Payton has been able to make it work over the previous two seasons when Drew Brees went down for stretches. He is going to need to conjure some magic down the stretch to get the Saints into the postseason.

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23. Washington: 5-6 (Last Week: 24)
Won 17-15 vs. Seattle
The list of teams heating up after a poor start is beginning to grow. Washington has now won three in a row. This was far from the most convincing victory of all time, but Taylor Heinicke and company toughed it out in a gritty performance. A heavy dose of the run game while shutting down Seattle’s offense for the majority of the game is a repeatable formula with the talent Ron Rivera’s side has. Things will get very interesting with five of their final six games coming against NFC East opponents.

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24. New York Giants: 4-7 (Last Week: 25)
Won 13-7 vs. Philadelphia
Firing Jason Garrett led to a win, although there was not much of an improvement on the offensive side of the ball. New York stumbled for a paltry 2.6 yards per carry while Daniel Jones barely eclipsed. However, the Giants did hang onto the ball while Jalen Hurts imploded with three interceptions. It would have been good to see Jones and company put the game away instead of relying on a Jalen Reagor drop. The red-hot Dolphins are next.

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25. Atlanta Falcons: 5-6 (Last Week: 26)
Won 21-14 at Jacksonville
How on Earth do the Falcons have five wins? Atlanta has a point differential of -103. Only the Jets, Texans and Jaguars are worse. Yet, the Falcons sit tied with Washington for the final wildcard spot in the NFC. That is simply ridiculous. Cordarelle Patterson put the team on his back to hold off Jacksonville and the defense played well enough against one of the worst offenses in the league. Things will get significantly tougher with a visit from the Buccaneers up next.

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26. Carolina Panthers: 5-7 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 33-10 at Miami
So, the Panthers offense has collapsed. Cam Newton played one of the worst games by a quarterback in NFL history while Carolina lost Christian McCaffrey for the season once again. Newton completed five of his 21 passes and posted a passer rating of 5.8. He was benched for P.J. Walker. On the flip side, Tua Tagovailoa picked apart the Panthers defense and this game was never even close. Things need to turn around quickly to save playoff hopes for the season.

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27. Chicago Bears: 4-7 (Last Week: 28)
Won 16-14 at Detroit
It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was really ugly most of the way. Andy Dalton was average at best. The run game managed a paltry 2.3 yards per carry. The under hit comfortably. In short, it was an early afternoon snooze fest. It would have been much better if this had been the second game so everyone could have gone into their food comas during this game instead. Still, it was a win, which likely saved Matt Nagy’s job for at least another week.

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28. Seattle Seahawks: 3-8 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 17-15 at Washington
It might be time to blow up this Seahawks team. It is hard to believe Seattle was in the postseason a year ago, winning 12 games and the NFC West. Right now, this team is getting dragged by some of the league’s basement dwellers. Russell Wilson looks nothing like the perennial Pro Bowler we are accustomed to watching. The Seahawks cannot run the ball either. Pete Carroll’s seat has to be getting very warm.

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29. New York Jets: 3-8 (Last Week: 31)
Won 21-14 at Houston
Picking up a road win is nice, but as a Jets fan, I would rather see this team lose while Zach Wilson impresses. New York’s rookie quarterback has been nothing short of horrible this season. Sure, his protection has not been great and his weapons are average at best, but his numbers are concerning. He is worst in the league in EPA per play, completion percentage over expected and success rate, which measure what percentage of plays finish with an EPA above zero. Results do not matter at this point for New York. Getting Wilson up to speed in the NFL and helping him grow over these final six games is what this year is all about.

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30. Houston Texans: 2-9 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 21-14 vs. New York
I cannot believe I’m about to write this, but I think the Texans defense played well enough to win this game. They sacked Zach Wilson four times and forced an interception. On the flip side though, Houston barely eclipsed 200 yards of offense, allowing five sacks of their own. It was an ugly game and one that the Texans likely could have won. Let’s be honest though. You didn’t miss anything. This game was terrible.

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31. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-9 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 21-14 vs. Atlanta
Jacksonville’s defense seems to be steadily improving. The Jags made Matt Ryan look subpar. Then again, he does that all on his own pretty frequently these days. However, the offense continues to be underwhelming at best. Trevor Lawrence is struggling week in and week out. The Jaguars have also yet to score more than 23 points this season. Urban Meyer might need to consider some offensive staffing changes if he wants to get the best out of his young quarterback.

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32. Detroit Lions: 0-10-1 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 16-14 vs. Chicago
Kayvon Thibodeaux is going to look great in a Lions jersey. Detroit moves one step closer to securing his services with another heartbreaking loss. This team is not good, but there is no way that the Lions deserve to be 0-10-1. They could easily be 3-7-1 with a couple of breaks in their favor.

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2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 12

Another week, another massive shake up. As is the norm in 2021, the top three teams in my power rankings from a week ago all lost. Colt McCoy outplayed Russell Wilson, the Chiefs defense dominated the Cowboys and the Texans upset the Titans. All in a week’s work for the NFL these days.

Once again, the top of these rankings, and the middle of these rankings for that matter, are murky at best. There are 19 teams with three to five losses on the season. That is ridiculous. Parity rules at this point and no one seems poised to dominate.

That being said, we are seeing a few teams heat up again as they prepare for the stretch run. The outlook for the Patriots, Chiefs and Colts feels very different than it did a few weeks ago. Same can be said for the Browns, Raiders and Bills. All in all, the NFL is a mess. Here is my best attempt at sorting it all out.

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1. Arizona Cardinals: 9-2 (Last Week: 4)
Won 23-13 at Seattle
Arizona is 9-2, 6-0 on the road and 4-0 in the NFC West. Considering that we spent the entire offseason talking about how it would be the best division in football. Most importantly, they have won two of three games without Kyler Murray. Colt McCoy put on a show while the Cardinals defense shut down Russell Wilson. I’ve also guaranteed my No. 1 team cannot lose next week because Arizona is on a bye.

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2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 7-3 (Last Week: 5)
Won 30-10 vs. New York
Tampa Bay bounced back after back-to-back losses heading into their bye week. Tom Brady looked sharp, spreading the ball around to a nearly full complement of receivers. On the defensive side, the front seven bothered Daniel Jones all night long, recording a pair of interceptions in a dominant showing. This is the version of the Buccaneers we need to see going forward. They cannot afford too many more slip ups given how tight things are atop the NFC.

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3. Green Bay Packers: 8-3 (Last Week: 1)
Lost 34-31 at Minnesota
Excuses are much harder to come by this time around. Losing to the Chiefs on the road without Aaron Rodgers could be explained away. And while Rodgers is dealing with a toe injury, he still accounted for 385 yards and four touchdowns through the air. It was Green Bay’s defense that cost them as the secondary could not contain Justin Jefferson. With injuries continuing to pile up for the Packers, it is fair to be a bit worried about how much longer this team can stay in true title contention.

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4. New England Patriots: 7-4 (Last Week: 6)
Won 25-0 at Atlanta
The rest of the NFL should be at least a little bit scared given the recent run of results New England has cobbled together. Bill Belichick and company are winners are five straight and seem to be getting stronger, particularly defensively. It was the Patriots third straight game allowing seven points or fewer. They blanked the Falcons on Thursday night, racking up four sacks and four interceptions while only allowing 2.5 yards per carry. No one wants to face this team right now.

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5. Kansas City Chiefs: 7-4 (Last Week: 9)
Won 19-9 vs. Dallas
Are the Chiefs back to their old ways? It is hard to say. Honestly, this doesn’t feel like the 2020 Chiefs at all. They looked much better. While Patrick Mahomes is not quite back to MVP form, he is now taking care of the football. More importantly, the defense has done a complete 180 from its early-season performances. Chris Jones played a major role on Sunday with 3.5 sacks. Kansas City is unquestionably heating up though and should be a factor in the chase for the AFC’s top spot come playoff time.

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6. Dallas Cowboys: 7-3 (Last Week: 3)
Lost 19-9 at Kansas City
Which Cowboys offense is going to show up on Thanksgiving? Dallas’ offensive production has taken wild swings in recent weeks since Dak Prescott’s return to the starting lineup. The Cowboys laid an egg against the Broncos in Week 9, before shelling the Falcons in Week 10. That pendulum swung all the way back in Week 11 with an underwhelming outing in Kansas City. Held without a touchdown, Dallas could not protect Prescott or run the ball consistently. The Cowboys definitely have some questions to answer on offense.

7. Los Angeles Rams: 7-3 (Last Week: 7)
Bye Week
This bye week finally gives the Rams a chance to process adding Odell Beckham Jr. and losing Robert Woods. They had to rush OBJ’s preparations for their Monday Night Football matchup with the 49ers. A full week off should see this offense look a bit sharper. They will need to be. Los Angeles heads to Green Bay for a clash of top NFC teams. The Packers are coming off a loss and will be looking to rebound. A third straight loss for the Rams, even against a good team, is going to turn up the heat on Sean McVay and Matt Stafford.

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8. Tennessee Titans: 8-3 (Last Week: 2)
Lost 22-13 vs. Houston
Is Tennessee really the second-best team in the league? I asked this question last week and I got a resounding answer in Week 11. The Titans are clearly not the No. 2 team in the league. With A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, Ryan Tannehill imploded. The former Texas A&M quarterback threw four interceptions in an ugly game. Tennessee is still trying to find its identity without Derrick Henry and things will get better with Brown and Jones back on the field. Until then, the Titans need to run the ball more. There is no reason Tannehill should be throwing it 52 times in a game.

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9. Indianapolis Colts: 6-5 (Last Week: 14)
Won 41-15 at Buffalo
Wow. The Colts picking up a road win against a talented Bills team felt unlikely heading into the weekend. Far from impossible, but certainly not expected, evidenced by the Bills being seven-point favorites. I’m sure some felt good about Indy’s chances of scoring the upset, but I don’t think anyone anticipated it going like this. Jonathan Taylor ripped off five touchdowns in an otherworldly performance. That will certainly grab headlines, and rightfully so, but the defense deserves some praise. They forced four turnovers, setting up the offense with a short field on several occasions. A huge showdown with the Buccaneers awaits.

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10. Baltimore Ravens: 7-3 (Last Week: 10)
Won 16-13 at Chicago
Another ugly game for the Ravens, but this one went in their favor. With no Lamar Jackson, who missed out due to illness, Tyler Huntley made his first career start. He played like you would expect, holding the ball too long and trying to make a lot of plays with his legs. Thankfully, the defense stepped up, knocking Justin Fields out of the game and doing just enough to slow down Andy Dalton. This is obviously not how John Harbaugh will want to play consistently, but winning without your starting quarterback is always an accomplishment.

11. Los Angeles Chargers: 6-4 (Last Week: 11)
Won 41-37 vs. Pittsburgh
I wasn’t expecting a shootout, but that’s what we got on Sunday night. Los Angeles’ defense played one of its worst games of the season, blowing a 17-point second-half lead, actually allowing Pittsburgh to take a late lead. Thankfully, Justin Herbert was up to the challenge, amassing 382 yards passing and three touchdowns through the air while picking up another 90 yards rushing. Austin Ekeler did his part too with four scores and 115 yards from scrimmage. The Chargers will be happy to pick up the win and see their offense in top form, but it would be nice to see the defense handle a very one-dimensional offense better.

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12. Buffalo Bills: 6-4 (Last Week: 8)
Lost 41-15 vs. Indianapolis
It might be time to panic in Buffalo. The Bills have now lost two of their past three. That’s not usually a huge concern, but when they come against the Jaguars and by 26 at home to the Colts, that’s a different story. So far this season, Buffalo has only beaten one team with a winning record. A lack of a consistent run game is hurting the offense while the defense this week simply had no answer for Jonathan Taylor. There isn’t much time to figure things out as the Bills face the Saints on Thanksgiving night.

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13. Minnesota Vikings: 5-5 (Last Week: 15)
Won 34-31 vs. Green Bay
The outlook for the Vikings is very different now than it was two weeks ago. Minnesota took down Green Bay behind a big day from Justin Jefferson and Kirk Cousins. It was a game where the Vikings simply needed to keep scoring as the Packers offense showed no signs of slowing down. Minnesota won because it had the ball last, but after being on the wrong side of so many of these results, it was due for a bit of good luck.

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14. Cincinnati Bengals: 6-4 (Last Week: 17)
Won 32-13 at Las Vegas
Coming off a bye and heading on the road, Cincinnati took care of business. Given the high score, you might think Joe Burrow went off, but it was the ground game that really shined. Joe Mixon had his most rushing yards since Week 1 as the Bengals dominated the time of possession. It also helped that the defense came up with a pair of turnovers. A rematch with the Steelers is next.

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15. Pittsburgh Steelers: 5-4-1 (Last Week: 13)
Lost 41-37 at Los Angeles
Ben Roethlisberger turned back the clocks and put together a vintage performance. 273 passing yards and three touchdowns to go with no turnovers kept the Steelers in the game despite an uncharacteristically poor night from their defense. For as good as Roethlisberger played, Justin Herbert was even better. He had 472 yards of offense and three touchdowns. Austin Ekeler accounted for four scores as well. All is not lost for Pittsburgh, but the defense will need to play a lot better against the Bengals.

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16. Cleveland Browns 6-5 (Last Week: 16)
Won 13-7 vs. Detroit
Cleveland looks broken. Baker Mayfield is struggling to play through a litany of injuries and looked awful against the Lions. Unfortunately, the injuries keep building for the Browns, as Jarvis Landry joins the walking wounded. Thankfully, the hapless Lions, led by Tim Boyle with Jared Goff out, did not offer much of a challenge. Other than a 57-yard scamper from D’Andre Swift, Cleveland’s defense played extremely well. There is a chance the Browns can keep winning on the back of Nick Chubb, especially with Kareem Hunt set to play in Week 12, but this team desperately needs a week off. That won’t come until after a meeting with the Ravens.

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17. Philadelphia Eagles: 5-6 (Last Week: 19)
Won 40-29 vs. New Orleans
Quietly, the Eagles are in the mix for a wildcard spot in the NFC. Jalen Hurts is impressing as a run-first quarterback and the defense continues to come up with big plays. Darius Slay celebrated another touchdown, which was a huge momentum shift heading into halftime. Controlling the clock and limiting big plays on defense is a winning formula. An important divisional game against the Giants is on the docket.

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18. New Orleans Saints: 5-5 (Last Week: 12)
Lost 40-29 at Philadelphia
Once again, why is Trevor Siemian starting over Taysom Hill? Hill just signed a big contract extension and Siemian is not playing very well, yet Hill continues to ride the bench. It is truly a baffling situation considering that Hill has spent his whole career in New Orleans while Siemian spent the 2020 season on the Titans practice squad. Two more interceptions from Siemian and another disappointing performance from the Saints defense led to a third straight loss. These are missed opportunities in winnable games for New Orleans.

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19. San Francisco 49ers: 5-5 (Last Week: 20)
Won 30-10 at Jacksonville
This is a very important win for the 49ers. San Francisco was widely expected to win, but just ask Buffalo what happens when you roll into Jacksonville unprepared. Coming off a big win on Monday Night Football against a division rival, this game had the potential for an emotional let down. Instead, Jimmy Garoppolo played efficiently, taking care of the football, while Deebo Samuel starred as a runner. He accounted for 79 of the 49ers’ 171 yards on the ground. They face a red-hot Vikings team in Week 12.

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20. Las Vegas Raiders: 5-5 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 32-13 vs. Cincinnati
Talk about a gut punch. Las Vegas came out flat and never got a chance to get going offensively. The defense could not get off the field either as Cincinnati ran the ball early and often. The 47 plays the Raiders ran offensively were a season-low. Penalties and turnovers were the final nail in Vegas’ coffin. Three straight losses for the Raiders changes the outlook as the focus shifts from winning the AFC West to just trying to stay in the playoff race.

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21. Carolina Panthers: 5-6 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 27-21 vs. Washington
Not quite the homecoming he had hoped for. Ron Rivera and Taylor Heinicke spoiled Cam Newton’s return to Carolina. Newton played well with three total touchdowns, but could not lead a game-winning drive with his team trailing by six. It is the defense that really deserves the scrutiny, surrendering 190 yards on the ground and failing to rattle Heinicke. For a unit that made a big deal out of being the No. 2 defense in the league, this was a disappointing showing. This is a setback, but Carolina will get a chance to bounce back in Miami.

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22. Denver Broncos: 5-5 (Last Week: 22)
Bye Week
Denver had a very busy bye week, signing Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick to contract extensions. It was a wise move by the team as both players have had solid seasons despite inconsistent quarterback play. While that helps them in the long term, the Broncos need a boost in the short term. Their upcoming schedule includes matchups with the Chargers and Chiefs. That could very well decide their season. Being 7-5 and 2-1 in the division is very different from being 5-7 with no divisional wins.

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23. Miami Dolphins: 4-7 (Last Week: 26)
Won 24-17 at New York
Certainly not as impressive a performance as shutting down Lamar Jackson, this was an important win for the Dolphins as they look to continue their mid-season turnaround. Tua Tagovailoa put together a strong stat line, with 277 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It might have been against the worst pass defense in the league, but it gives the ‘Fins young quarterback a platform to build on. Three straight wins are great, but Miami has a much tougher test against Carolina coming up.

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24. Washington: 4-6 (Last Week: 27)
Won 27-21 at Carolina
Is Washington gearing up to run the table? It seems unlikely, but so did beating the Buccaneers and Panthers in back-to-back weeks. Reinforcements should be on the way too with Logan Thomas in line to return in Week 12. Taylor Heinicke played some of his best football of the season while he got a huge boost from his run game. Washington ran it a whopping 40 times for 190 yards. Given how the Seahawks have been playing of late, a third-straight win feels within reach.

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25. New York Giants: 3-7 (Last Week: 23)
Lost 30-10 at Tampa Bay
There was a brief moment where the Giants seemed like they were going to hang tough with the Buccaneers. Adoree’ Jackson’s interception set New York up inside the 10-yard line. Daniel Jones flipped a pass to Andrew Thomas of all the possible receivers he could have hit. Things went way downhill from there. Despite Jones getting hammered for most of the night, Tampa hit him nine times, Jason Garrett did not run the ball much. 13 rushes as a team is not good enough, especially with the Bucs teeing off in the pass rush. There are a lot of jobs on the line down the stretch in New York.

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26. Atlanta Falcons: 4-6 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 25-0 at New England
Welcome to rock bottom. It is a wonder the Falcons have four wins this season with how inconsistent this offense has been this year. Atlanta has lost three of four, lowlighted by back-to-back losses where it managed three points combined. In truth, pretty much this entire offense is not performing well. Matt Ryan has struggled, but his protection is poor and the surrounding skill position players are underwhelming. New England limited Kyle Pitts and Ryan really had nowhere else to go with the ball. Considering he was playing with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley this time last year, it is easy to point to where things went wrong.

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27. Seattle Seahawks: 3-7 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 23-13 vs. Arizona
We are hurtling toward a massive shake up in Seattle this offseason. Pete Carroll seems to be losing his touch, Russell Wilson is almost definitely going to want out and the defense is simply not championship caliber. Wilson’s return has done next to nothing to move the needle on offense. He is likely not at 100% with his finger, but getting outplayed by Colt McCoy is embarrassing. Keep in mind, this game was in Seattle. The Seahawks’ playoff hopes are on life support. Monday Night Football in Washington feels like a must-win.

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28. Chicago Bears: 3-7 (Last Week: 28)
Lost 16-13 vs. Baltimore
It is easy to point to losing Justin Fields as the reason the Bears lost, but in truth, the offense fared better with Andy Dalton under center. There were no excuses either with Baltimore in a similar boat as Tyler Huntley made his first career start. In the end, Chicago’s anemic offense is to blame. Matt Nagy’s job security has to be at an all-time low.

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29. Houston Texans: 2-7 (Last Week: 31)
Won 22-13 at Tennessee
Tyrod Taylor does it again! The Texans quarterback looked much better in his second week back from injury. Two rushing touchdowns led the way for the offense that did not really produce much else. Thankfully, they didn’t need to. Houston’s defense was on another level, picking off Ryan Tannehill four times and adding a fumble for five forced turnovers on the afternoon. Obviously, that is an unsustainable rate, but ball security and opportunistic defense is always a recipe for success.

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30. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-8 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 30-10 vs. San Francisco
Losing this year is not really a concern for the Jaguars. They are supposed to be bad with a rookie quarterback and a first-time NFL head coach. However, there are a few red flags. This was Trevor Lawrence’s third game in a row without a touchdown. His development is the only benchmark for success that this season should be measured by. He hasn’t had much help either with a defense lacking playmakers outside of Josh Allen and a run game that sputtered to 54 yards on the ground. Every team has growing pains, but it would be nice to see growth instead of just pain.

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31. New York Jets: 2-8 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 24-17 vs. Miami
I guess this was an improved performance. The defense is still not playing well, but 24 points is the fewest New York has allowed since Week 1. There are a few reasons for optimism though. Elijah Moore continues to ball out, totaling 156 yards of offense and a long touchdown to get the Jets back into the game. Despite the injury, Michael Carter also seems like a dynamic dual threat back. New York should get Mekhi Becton and Zach Wilson back soon as well. It will be interesting to see if the young talent on this offense can grow together over the final seven games.

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32. Detroit Lions: 0-9-1 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 13-7 at Cleveland
Good news. Jared Goff is not as bad as you thought! Tim Boyle is significantly worse. Without D’Andre Swift, this would’ve been one of the worst offensive performances in recent memory. On the bright side, the defense played fairly well, limiting the Browns to just two scoring drives. Just keep scouting the top players in the 2022 draft and have fun rooting for the Rams to fail so you get a better draft pick.

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NFL Midseason All-Rookie Team: Mac Jones, Creed Humphrey, Micah Parsons and Nate Hobbs lead first-year standouts

So often, we spent an entire year, if not multiple years, scouting players as they prepare to enter the NFL. Then, we seem to lose track of them unless they are quarterbacks or top-tier performers. I know I am very guilty of this.

This year, I wanted to take a little extra time to appreciate the rookies who have performed well out of the gate. I know we are a bit past the midseason point, but there is still a lot of football left to be played, so this team is bound to look very different by the time we reach early January.

Here is my all-rookie team through 10 weeks of NFL action.

QB – Mac Jones, Patriots
This is a no-brainer. Jones has unquestionably been the best rookie quarterback of the bunch so far. Through 10 games, he has over 2,300 yards and 13 touchdowns. Trevor Lawrence has the second-most touchdown passes with eight. Jones’ completion percentage is significantly higher than all other rookie passers as well. He is in the running for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

RB – Elijah Mitchell, 49ers
While Najee Harris has the gaudy usage numbers, Elijah Mitchell has been much more efficient this year. Perhaps that is because he has a much better line, but Mitchell has been one of the fun surprises from this draft class. He is averaging 90 yards from scrimmage per game on a healthy 4.7 yards per carry. Mitchell is in line for a solid second half.

RB – Najee Harris, Steelers
While Harris has had some ugly games this year, evidenced by his 3.7 yards per carry on the season, he is a workhorse for the Steelers. He leads all rookies in rushing yards and actually ranks second in receptions, trailing only Jaylen Waddle. It would be nice to see him be a bit more efficient as a runner, but much of that comes to running behind a poor offensive line.

WR – Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals
Chase has lit up the NFL so far. He ranks fourth in receiving yards per game and tied fifth for touchdown receptions this season among all receivers. He also has 229 more yards than the next rookie in this class. His big-play ability is unrivaled so far and he has to be the front runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

WR – Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins
While he has not been the deep threat that Chase has proven to be so far, Waddle is the main fixture in Miami’s offense. He has 60 receptions this season, by far the most of any rookie and sixth-most for any player in the league this year. If the Dolphins have some more consistent quarterback play in the second half, Waddle should see some of those yardage totals increase.

TE – Kyle Pitts, Falcons
While the scoring plays have not been there, Pitts is still making a large impact. He trails only Ja’Marr Chase for the most receiving yards among rookies. He has unquestionably benefited from increased volume with Calvin Ridley out for the Falcons. It is only a matter of time before Pitts starts to figure things out in the red zone and adds to his one touchdown on the season.

OT – Rashawn Slater, Chargers
Physically dominant barely begins to describe Slater this season. He is the third-highest rated rookie by PFF, posting a dominant 82.2 grade. He has only allowed two sacks this season and continues to shine as a run blocker. He honestly deserves some rookie of the year consideration.

G – Alijah Vera-Tucker, Jets
In the midst of a rough season for the Jets, Vera-Tucker has been a bright light. He has only allowed one sack in 617 snaps this season. He is a bit uneven as a run blocker, but has shown flashes of truly dominant play. The upside he has displayed with his movement skills and instincts is impressive.

C – Creed Humphrey, Chiefs
One of my favorite offensive linemen in this past draft, Humphrey has slotted in nicely as a Day 1 starter for the Chiefs. He honestly deserves some consideration for Offensive Rookie of the Year. He is PFF’s top-ranked center through 10 weeks of play. That’s every center in the NFL, not just rookies. Bradley Bozeman is the only center in the league with a higher pass-block win rate at this point. It is obviously early, but it looks like Kansas City landed a steal. 

G – Trey Smith, Chiefs
If Creed Humphrey was a home run, I don’t even know what that makes Smith. A fifth-round pick out of Tennessee, he has taken the league by storm. Ranking sixth in both pass-block and run-block win rate, Smith is proving that he has what it takes to compete in the NFL at a high level. PFF credits him with four sacks allowed, so there is clearly still room for improvement, but he is off to a hot start.

OT – Penei Sewell, Lions
Finding another tackle across from Slater proved to actually be difficult. Had Samuel Cosmi stayed healthy, this likely would have been his spot. Instead, I will go with Sewell. He has been fine so far, definitely a bit uneven in his play, but that should be expected from one of the youngest prospects in the draft. He has now started on both sides of the line with Taylor Decker returning to action, dominating in his first start at right tackle. Sewell is showing the versatility needed to thrive in the NFL.

DL – Osa Odighizuwa, Cowboys
While Micah Parsons has, deservedly, gotten most of the press clippings this year, Odigizuwa has had a solid start to his NFL career. He is providing some interior pass rushing for the Cowboys on a defense that desperately lacked it. With nine QB hits and a pair of sacks so far this season, he is making his presence known. However, he definitely still has room for improvement as a tackler.

DL – Christian Barmore, Patriots
While it is clear Barmore is still finding his footing, there is no question he has been one of the most impactful interior rookie linemen so far this year. He is tough to move and shows the occasional flash of pass rushing prowess. Putting it all together on a more consistent basis is key, but Barmore seems to be getting better as the year rolls on.

DL – Kwity Paye, Colts
If you haven’t watched Paye play much this year and just look at the one sack he has recorded, you might question his inclusion. But if you have watched his explosive play off the edge, particularly in recent weeks, it is clear to see he is going to be a problem in the league. He is clearly still trying to figure out how to excel as a pass rusher at this level, but his physical tools have been on full display and he should continue to be disruptive.

LB – Azeez Ojulari, Giants
In what proved to be a very weak class for edge rushers, it is hard to find too many players that have stood out. While it has been a little bit of feast or famine for Ojulari, he is second in the draft class with 5.5 sacks so far this season. What’s more is he is getting on the field, a lot. He has played at least 50 percent of New York’s defensive snaps in every game this season.

LB – Micah Parsons, Cowboys
The top dog in the race to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, Parsons has done a little bit of everything this year. He has earned the most plaudits for his scary ability as a pass rusher. He leads all rookies with six sacks on the season. What makes Parsons a lock for this list though is his versatility. He can play on the edge with his hand in the dirt, or he can drop back and play as an off-ball linebacker. That makes it really difficult to account for his whereabouts on a play-to-play basis.

LB – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Browns
A surprising slide on draft day saw Owusu-Koramoah slip into the second round. The Browns have greatly benefited from his fall. JOK was ramping up into a large role within Cleveland’s defense before missing a pair of games. Now, it seems the coaching staff wants to work him back in slowly, make no mistake though, when he is on the field, he is a difference maker. 

LB – Odafe Oweh, Ravens
You knew this was going to happen. The supremely athletic edge rusher that everyone knocked for his lack of college production has flourished with the Ravens. He has four sacks already in his rookie season, trailing only Parsons and Ojulari among first-year players. Add in 11 quarterback hits and a steady presence on the field, and you have one of the top rookies in the league.

CB – Nate Hobbs, Raiders
Most of the players on this list are first- or second-round picks that I was very familiar with by draft day. Even Trey Smith and Elijah Mitchell were more widely known because of their participation in the Senior Bowl. Hobbs was notably left off the Senior Bowl roster, and yet has been one of the top cover corners in the league this season. He came back down to Earth a bit when Patrick Mahomes picked on him in Week 10, but has been one of the league’s stingiest corners on a yards allowed per completion basis.

S – Jevon Holland, Dolphins
I remember a time where Jevon Holland was regarded as a lock to be a first-round pick. It is looking more and more like that should have been the case. I know, I know, it is way too early to make those conclusions, but Holland has been one of the most dynamic rookies on the defensive side of the ball this year. He is excellent as a pass rusher and has no problem laying the wood. There is unquestionably room for improvement in coverage, but he is best used down in the box, wreaking havoc on opposing offenses. 

S – Trevon Moehrig, Raiders
Man, the Raiders really hit it out of the park with defensive backs in 2021. Early returns from Moehrig might not be quite on the same level as Hobbs, but he has been a valuable member of Las Vegas’ defensive backfield. He is the opposite of Holland, excelling in coverage, especially as a deep centerfielder. He has only missed a few snaps this whole season and even has an interception to his name.

CB – Patrick Surtain II, Broncos
While he hasn’t quite reached lockdown corner status yet, Surtain is off to a strong start to his career. Opposing teams have gone after him a few times, but Surtain has largely held his own. The three touchdowns given up aren’t great, but he is one of just seven starting corners to allow fewer than 50 percent of passes thrown his way to be completed. What’s more is he has seen the eighth-most targets of any defensive player this year. He is under fire a lot, but he has won more than he has lost this season.

2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 11

Welcome to the NFL’s new normal. Top teams are upset on a weekly basis, Hall of Fame quarterbacks crumble against mediocre defenses, and no one has any idea who is good and who is bad. In a word, the NFL has achieved parity. Every week, chaos is bound to wash over the NFL, sending a shockwave through these power rankings.

Just a quick recap, the Eagles coasted past the Broncos, who beat the Cowboys last week. Meanwhile, the Cowboys shelled the Falcons, who topped the Saints a week ago. Two weeks ago, the Saints beat the Buccaneers, who have now lost two straight after a truly stunning defeat in D.C. Add in the new-look Rams falling flat against the previously downtrodden 49ers and you have a pretty clear picture of the mess that is the NFL right now. Even the teams that are 8-2 have some pretty clear question marks.

With all of that in mind, here is my best attempt at ranking the league’s teams.

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1. Green Bay Packers: 8-2 (Last Week: 1)
Won 17-0 vs. Seattle
Defense wins championships and it seems like the Packers defense is rounding into form. Russell Wilson was clearly shaking off some rust, but he had never been shutout before Sunday. Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers made his return to the field and didn’t look great. He had no touchdowns and an interceptions. A.J. Dillon plunged in for a pair of short-yardage touchdown runs to seal an important victory. Even with Aaron Jones set to miss a week or two, the Packers should be in good shape to keep winning with a strong defense and reliable run game.

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2. Tennessee Titans: 8-2 (Last Week: 4)
Won 23-21 vs. New Orleans
Is Tennessee really the second-best team in the league? Honestly, I don’t know. They sit at 8-2, but these two wins without Derrick Henry have been anything but convincing. The Titans got a bit of help from the refs with a questionable roughing the passer call and the Saints nearly tied the game in the closing minutes. In the end, the defense made a few big plays when the game was on the line. Mike Vrabel has built a gritty team. It doesn’t have to be pretty if they just keep winning.

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3. Dallas Cowboys: 7-2 (Last Week: 6)
Won 43-3 vs. Atlanta
Talk about bouncing back. Dallas put a horrendous offensive performance in its rearview mirror with a thrashing of Atlanta. The Cowboys led 7-3 at the end of the first quarter, then outscored the Falcons 29-0 in the second quarter to put the game to bed. Dak Prescott played efficiently and the defense played lights out, holding Atlanta to just 214 yards of offense and forcing three turnovers. As of right now, the loss against Denver looks like an anomaly, but they can’t afford too many more duds like that.

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4. Arizona Cardinals: 8-2 (Last Week: 2)
Lost 34-10 vs. Carolina
There is only so much magic the Cardinals can work with a depleted offense. The combination of Colt McCoy and Chris Streveler totaled 143 passing yards to go with an interception and four sacks. Defensively, the Cardinals had no answer for Christian McCaffrey, who finished with 161 yards of offense. This is one that you can probably just throw out when evaluating Arizona, but the offensive line still struggled against an elite defense. That is a red flag.

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5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-3 (Last Week: 3)
Lost 29-19 at Washington
Tampa Bay fell flat once again, this time coming off their bye week. Tom Brady played his worst game of the season and the Buccaneers defense got pushed around all afternoon. While Brady’s two first-quarter interceptions made life difficult, the bigger issue was definitely the defense’s inability to get off the field. Washington held the ball for 39 minutes of game play, leaving the Bucs with very little opportunity to get into a rhythm. Tampa’s 47 plays were easily the fewest they have run all season. Bruce Arians has some serious work to do in order get this club back on track.

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6. New England Patriots: 6-4 (Last Week: 8)
Won 45-7 vs. Cleveland
Oh no. The Patriots are back. Maybe not to the high-flying days of Tom Brady leading the league’s No. 1 offense, but this New England side is starting to resemble those early 2000s teams that won three Super Bowls in a four-year span. I’m not saying the Pats are going to win a title this year, but smashing the Browns definitely underlines this team’s potential. I know they have lost four games this season, but three of those four came by six points or fewer. With four straight wins, Bill Belichick has this team trending in the right direction.

7. Los Angeles Rams: 7-3 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 31-10 at San Francisco
You can take the quarterback out of Detroit, but you can’t take the Detroit out of the quarterback. Matt Stafford continues to come up well short in big moments for the Rams. For the second straight week, Los Angeles got whipped in primetime as their big offseason acquisition floundered. This week though, he might have an excuse. His receivers could not catch anything on Monday night. Stafford’s second interception went right through the hands of Tyler Higbee. Without any semblance of a running game and a defense that could not stop a nosebleed, much less Elijah Mitchell, L.A. looked completely overmatched. Sean McVay has a lot of questions to answer on the other side of their bye week.

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8. Buffalo Bills: 6-3 (Last Week: 9)
Won 45-17 at New York
Buffalo clearly did not dwell on its stunning Week 9 loss to the Jaguars. The Bills jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. They led 38-3 heading into the fourth quarter. Josh Allen played well and got plenty of help from the ground game. Four different players recorded a rushing touchdown in this one. Similarly, four different defensive players intercepted Mike White in a dominant performance. Buffalo clearly showed that its floor is very low, but this was a good reminder that they also have a very high ceiling.

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9. Kansas City Chiefs: 6-4 (Last Week: 14)
Won 41-14 at Las Vegas
It is important not to overreact after just one game on the heels of about a month of lackluster play, but we saw the Patrick Mahomes of old on Sunday night. He shredded the Raiders secondary for 406 yards and five touchdowns in a resurgent performance. What’s more, Kansas City ran the ball enough to keep Las Vegas honest. The Chiefs averaged just 3.8 yards per carry, so there is room for improvement, but this was a good sign of things to come. Kansas City cannot afford a let down though with Dallas up next.

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10. Baltimore Ravens: 6-3 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 22-10 at Miami
Goodness this was ugly. Miami bottled up Lamar Jackson as the offense spun its wheels all night long. The Ravens could not adjust to the consistent pressure Brian Flores sent throughout the game. Defensively, Baltimore held Jacoby Brissett in check, but gave up way too many big plays in big moments. With the Browns losing and the Steelers tying this week, this would have been a huge opportunity for the Ravens to build some separation in the division. Instead, Baltimore must rethink its offensive approach against blitz-heavy defenses.

11. Los Angeles Chargers: 5-4 (Last Week: 10)
Lost 27-20 vs. Minnesota
Reminder: the Chargers are a young team and there are going to be some growing pains. Justin Herbert turned in an uneven performance, with a touchdown, an interception and just 195 yards passing. Defensively, Kirk Cousins generally had his way with the secondary and Minnesota chewed up clock on the ground. This loss does not undo wins over the Chiefs or Browns, but Los Angeles is clearly not a true Super Bowl contender yet.

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12. New Orleans Saints: 5-4 (Last Week: 11)
Lost 23-21 at Tennessee
Question time. Why is Trevor Siemian starting for the Saints? Taysom Hill went 3-1 as a spot starter for New Orleans when Drew Brees got hurt, in ahead of Jameis Winston. Now, Hill is back to his gadget player role, despite receiving a monster extension this offseason. I understand it was primarily for salary cap purposes, but it still makes me wonder what has changed since last year. Considering this loss came by two points on the road against a good team while the Saints were missing their best player, the sky is not falling. However, after two straight losses, it is fair to wonder if a change at quarterback is necessary.

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13. Pittsburgh Steelers: 5-3-1 (Last Week: 12)
Tied 16-16 vs. Detroit
If nothing else, we learned that Mason Rudolph is not the Steelers quarterback of the future. He managed a meager 4.8 yards per attempt and finished with a QBR of 36.7. There is plenty of blame to go around though, as Pittsburgh coughed up two fumbles in overtime to halt two potential game-winning drives. Meanwhile, the defense gave up 229 yards rushing. All the way around, it is a wonder the Steelers did not lose this game. They desperately need Ben Roethlisberger back in Week 11.

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14. Indianapolis Colts: 5-5 (Last Week: 17)
Won 23-17 vs. Jacksonville
Perhaps we should just chalk this up to divisional games being difficult. However, the Colts did not play well and let the Jaguars hang around way too long in this one. Carson Wentz was pedestrian at best and no one other than Jonathan Taylor really produced much. If not for a special teams touchdown early in this game on a blocked punt, there is a good chance Indianapolis loses this game. Like I said, divisional games are wonky and often lead to unexpected results. Hopefully, the Colts can raise their play because a visit to Buffalo is up next.

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15. Minnesota Vikings: 4-5 (Last Week: 19)
Won 27-20 at Los Angeles
At long last, Minnesota built a late lead and hung onto it. Kirk Cousins aired it out and Dalvin Cook put in a ton of work. The defense deserves a ton of credit for making life difficult on Justin Herbert, sacking him twice and intercepting him. Controlling the clock on offense and limiting big plays on defense is a winning formula for this side.

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16. Cleveland Browns 5-5 (Last Week: 13)
Lost 45-7 at New England
What to make of the Browns? On the heels of a blowout win against Cincinnati, Cleveland drove right down the field for an opening-drive touchdown. Then, the Browns surrendered 45 unanswered points as Baker Mayfield struggled mightily before exiting with a knee injury. D’Ernest Johnson did his best to carry the load, racking up 157 yards of offense, but Cleveland looked lifeless on both sides of the ball. The sign of a great team is consistency, which goes a long way towards explaining the Browns’ 5-5 record. This team cannot string together performances right now.

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17. Cincinnati Bengals: 5-4 (Last Week: 16)
Bye Week
It was a good week for the Bengals. The Ravens, Browns and Steelers all did not win. Now Cincinnati needs to take advantage. Joe Burrow and company have flashed the potential to be one of the best teams in the AFC, but are coming off back-to-back losses to the Jets and Browns. With a bye week to regroup, the Bengals now have a chance to prove they are a legitimate playoff team and not just another middle-of-the-road side.

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18. Las Vegas Raiders: 5-4 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 41-14 vs. Kansas City
It seems like the on-going circus around the Raiders has finally caught up with them on the field. First, Jon Gruden was fired (technically, he resigned, but let’s read between the lines) for some horrible emails containing racist, homophobic and misogynistic language. Then, Henry Ruggs was arrested after killing someone while driving drunk, going 156 miles per hour with a loaded gun in the car. Most recently, Damon Arnette was released following a series of social media posts containing death threats while he brandished firearms. And that was all before they went into a rivalry game with the Chiefs. Needless to say, Las Vegas fell flat. Patrick Mahomes pulled apart the Raiders secondary and the offense did not score after halftime. Rich Bisaccia has a tough task ahead of him.

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19. Philadelphia Eagles: 4-6 (Last Week: 22)
Won 30-13 at Denver
Philadelphia put together a complete game as it ran all over Denver’s defense. The Eagles racked up 214 yards on 40 carries and got stronger as the game went on. With the game tied at 10 midway through the second quarter, Philly outscored Denver 20-3 the rest of the way. Given how much chaos has occurred in the NFL this season, the Eagles are just one game back of a playoff spot. They will face another wildcard contender in Week 11 as the Saints come to town.

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20. San Francisco 49ers: 4-5 (Last Week: 25)
Won 31-10 vs. Los Angeles
Kyle Shanahan clearly has Sean McVay’s number. San Francisco has notched five straight wins over Los Angeles, with Monday’s being the most impressive, and perhaps important, yet. The 49ers ran the ball 44 times to amass a time of possession of over 39 minutes. Meanwhile, Matthew Stafford never looked comfortable and the Rams could not hold onto the ball. Two early interceptions, including a pick-six, coupled with an 11-minute scoring drive set the tone for the game. L.A. never recovered. San Francisco will have a chance to build on this win in Jacksonville.

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21. Carolina Panthers: 5-5 (Last Week: 24)
Won 34-10 at Arizona
Even though he did not start, there is no doubt Cam Newton provided a huge emotional boost for the Panthers. Super Cam scored on his first two offensive snaps in his return to Carolina. The defense certainly benefited from facing Colt McCoy instead of Kyler Murray, but still impressed nonetheless. The Panthers tallied four total sacks and only allowed 169 yards of offense. It was the type of stifling performance that makes you think that Carolina could be a real problem down the stretch if Newton can get into form and provide some kind of stability on offense.

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22. Denver Broncos: 5-5 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 30-13 vs. Philadelphia
Denver followed up an impressive road win over the Cowboys with a lopsided home loss to the Eagles. Make it make sense. The biggest difference was the run game. After allowing just 78 yards to Dallas, Philadelphia rumbled for 214 yards on the ground. After falling behind, the Broncos could not continue to run consistently, which is where they found a decent amount of success earlier in the game. Still at .500 and only a game back in the AFC West, Denver is in the mix, but results like this make it hard to believe in the long-term potential.

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23. New York Giants: 3-6 (Last Week: 21)
Bye Week
This was a tough week for the Giants. Not because of anything they did. Hopefully, they finally got healthy. Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Kenny Golladay and more have missed enough time already. No, unfortunately, every other team in the NFC East won, which pushes New York back into the divisional basement. Joe Judge and Daniel Jones have a lot to prove in the second half of the season.

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24. Atlanta Falcons: 4-5 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 43-3 at Dallas
Last week, I said that Matt Ryan was putting together a Jekyll and Hyde type season. He turned it up a notch in Week 10. After an impressive win over the Saints in which he had 343 yards and a pair of touchdowns, Ryan went 9-for-21 passing for 121 yards and two interceptions. He was pulled late in the third quarter with the team trailing by 40. Atlanta is still just a half game back of the Panthers for the NFC’s final wildcard spot at the moment, but it is hard to think of this group as a playoff team.

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25. Seattle Seahawks: 3-6 (Last Week: 23)
Lost 17-0 at Green Bay
So, Russell Wilson didn’t exactly fix the offense. The veteran quarterback struggled mightily, finishing 20-of-40 throwing for 161 yards and two interceptions. He simply did not look sharp, nor did he have much time to throw. Green Bay hit him five times, including three sacks. On the bright side, the defense limited Aaron Rodgers and kept Seattle in the game until late on. Unfortunately, things will not get much easier with the Cardinals up next.

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26. Miami Dolphins: 3-7 (Last Week: 28)
Won 22-10 vs. Baltimore
Don’t look now, but the Dolphins are on a win streak. Brian Flores blitzed the hell out of Lamar Jackson, mostly from his secondary, holding the former MVP in check. In fact, this has to go down as one of the most impressive defensive performances of his tenure. However, questions must be asked of Flores’ handling of his quarterbacks. Tua Tagovailoa was deemed injured and unable to start the game. Yet, he was active as a backup. Jacoby Brissett exited with an injury, thrusting Tagovailoa into the game. Brissett never returned despite being cleared to play. So if Tagovailoa was too hurt to start, why was he left in when Brissett was able to come back? Miami’s quarterback situation continues to be an enigma.

Washington made up logo

27. Washington: 3-6 (Last Week: 29)
Won 29-19 vs. Tampa Bay
Add the Washington Football Team to the list of teams that act as kryptonite to Tom Brady. Washington intercepted the future Hall of Famer twice in the first quarter to build an early lead. However, the real key was a 10-plus minute touchdown drive in the fourth quarter to put the game away. Washington remained committed to the run despite only managing 2.8 yards per carry. Now, Ron Rivera must prepare for an emotional reunion with his former team in Cam Newton’s first home game since returning to the Panthers.

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28. Chicago Bears: 3-6 (Last Week: 26)
Bye Week
Maybe a week off will allow Matt Nagy and Bill Lazor to finally build an offense that suits Justin Fields’ skill set. The rookie quarterback has had the typical ups and downs that come with the transition to the NFL. However, the Bears have been unable to unlock their best offensive player in Allen Robinson and often leave Fields in tough situations. Chicago’s defense is usually good enough to win games. If the offense can find a bit more consistency, the Bears could be a factor down the stretch.

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29. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-7 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 23-17 vs. Indianapolis
Jacksonville nearly followed up one upset with another. Trevor Lawrence was strip-sacked after making it into Colts territory on the team’s final drive, ending hopes of another massive win, but there are some positives to take away. The defense seems to have taken a much-needed step forward. Carson Wentz did not find much success through the air, but ultimately, the Jaguars could not slow down Jonathan Taylor. Now, if Urban Meyer could find a way to help Lawrence develop, Jacksonville would be in a good place.

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30. New York Jets: 2-7 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 45-17 vs. Buffalo
It is ridiculous to think about, but how warm is Robert Saleh’s seat getting right now? New York’s defense has been almost unprecedentedly bad, allowing 417 yards per game and just shy of 33 points per game, both the worst marks in the league. Saleh was formerly the defensive coordinator for the 49ers, so this was supposed to be his forte. I don’t expect the Jets to fire him after just one season, but it would be good for the unit to show progress in the second half of the year.

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31. Houston Texans: 1-7 (Last Week: 31)
Bye Week
Houston largely sat out the trade deadline and now sits at 1-7. An extra week to get Tyrod Taylor back to full health likely bodes well for the offense. With very little expectation and already having won a game to avoid the dreaded winless season, there really does not seem to be much to play for in Houston.

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32. Detroit Lions: 0-8-1 (Last Week: 32)
Tied 16-16 at Pittsburgh
This might be the most Lions way to break a 12-game losing streak: an ugly tie in a game where Detroit probably should have won, but couldn’t quite get over the hump. Jared Goff is clearly not the quarterback of the future, but with a mediocre quarterback class coming up, how the Lions address the position will be interesting. Dan Campbell has this team competing hard, but at some point, that is not going to be enough any more.

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2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 10

I give up. I have no idea what to do with these rankings. Week 9 turned the NFL’s hierarchy on its head with a slew of upsets. Many of the things we thought we could count on fell apart. Matt Stafford reverted to Detroit form against a Derek Henry-less Tennessee squad. Meanwhile, Dak Prescott returned only for Dallas’ offense to bottom out against a Denver side that just traded away Von Miller. To top it all off, it turns out Jacksonville had the better Josh Allen on Sunday as they shocked Buffalo.

Which team is the best in the NFL right now? I don’t know if there is a clear cut answer to that question. Green Bay lost without Aaron Rodgers, but it also beat previously undefeated Arizona the week before. Speaking of the Cardinals, they cruised by the 49ers without Kyler Murry or DeAndre Hopkins. Perhaps you could say the Buccaneers, but they just lost to a team led by Trevor Seimian in Week 8. Those Saints turned around and lost at home to the Falcons this week. Maybe it is the Titans, fresh off a win over the Rams. However, they could not really move the ball much, finishing with 194 yards of offense. Most of their scoring was led by the defense, which does not feel sustainable.

All of this is to say, I don’t know right now. I cannot remember a time where the league has felt so wide open. There are no elite teams in the NFL and the list of true contenders feels both very long and very short at the same time. Anyway, here is my best guess at how everyone stacks.

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1. Green Bay Packers: 7-2 (Last Week: 3)
Lost 13-7 at Kansas City
Let’s start with something potentially controversial. I’m actually not talking about Aaron Rodgers here. That shouldn’t be controversial. He lied. Plain and simple. He also should be adhering to league protocols. No, the controversy is about moving a Packers team coming off a loss to No. 1 in the rankings. I look at it this way. Green Bay lost by six points in a game where Mason Crosby missed a field goal and another blocked. Jordan Love also made his first career start and looked nothing short of terrible. If the Packers defense can play at that level and get Rodgers back under center, this team is going to be just fine and looks to be the best in the league.

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2. Arizona Cardinals: 8-1 (Last Week: 4)
Won 31-17 at San Francisco
Kliff Kingsbury deserves credit here. Without Kyler Murray or DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals went on the road for a divisional game and won comfortably. Colt McCoy played great while the ground game picked up 163 yards. Defensively, Arizona limited San Francisco to just 39 yards rushing and forced three turnovers. This team is deeper than I think people realize and definitely deserve contender status. There is a reason the Cardinals are the only one-loss team in the league.

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3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-2 (Last Week: 5)
Bye Week
I toyed with moving the Buccaneers down. Their two losses this season came against the Rams and Saints, who flopped as home favorites in Week 8. New Orleans simply seems to have this team’s number. I don’t think anyone should be too worried about this team’s long term outlook. The amount of talent they have on both sides of the ball is close to unrivaled. A week off should give Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown a chance to get healthy, which will only make this offense more potent down the stretch.

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4. Tennessee Titans: 7-2 (Last Week: 8)
Won 28-16 at Los Angeles
Who could’ve seen this coming? I certainly did not. With Derrick Henry out, it was the defense who stepped up, intercepting Matt Stafford twice, including a pick-six from Kevin Byard. The other interception gave Ryan Tannehill the ball inside the five yard line. Perhaps even more significant, the five sacks the Titans racked up set a new season high. If the Titans can consistently generate a consistent pass rush, it will take a lot of pressure off the offense. Life without Henry was a bit rough running the ball, as Tennessee averaged 2.7 yards per carry. It will take some time for them to adjust.

5. Los Angeles Rams: 7-2 (Last Week: 1)
Lost 28-16 vs. Tennessee
Goodness, that was ugly. Apparently, taking Matthew Stafford out of the Motor City did not eliminate those horrific outings from his repertoire. Stafford posted a 17.6 Total QBR complete with a pair of interceptions and five sacks. Los Angeles did not find the end zone until the game was well out of reach in the fourth quarter. Given how well the Rams have played up to this point this year, I don’t think this is anything to panic about, but a good reminder that Stafford is capable of tanking the team’s game plan when he is out of sync.

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6. Dallas Cowboys: 6-2 (Last Week: 2)
Lost 30-16 vs. Denver
Do we start the quarterback controversy conversation in Dallas? I’m joking obviously, but Dak Prescott did have an abysmal day against the Broncos. He didn’t get much help from his receivers, with drops from just about everyone on the field. However, it was clear Prescott was having an off day. The defense was not at its best either, giving up a host of big plays to Teddy Bridgewater in the passing game. Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon also combined for 191 yards on the ground. This is one where it might be best to just burn the film and move on.

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7. Baltimore Ravens: 6-2 (Last Week: 11)
Won 34-31 vs. Minnesota
Where in the world would the Ravens be without Justin Tucker and Lamar Jackson? Jackson didn’t have his best game as a passer with two interceptions, but his three passing touchdowns and 120 yards rushing should more than make up for that. Meanwhile, Tucker made his second game-winning kick of the season, this time in overtime. It is really hard to understand how Baltimore did not run away with this, out gaining Minnesota 500 to 318 on offense. Some of that can be accounted for with the Vikings’ 98-yard kick return touchdown, but still, the Ravens had 23 more first downs! A win is most important, but maybe the defense needs to step up a bit.

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8. New England Patriots: 5-4 (Last Week: 12)
Won 24-6 at Carolina
Don’t look now, but the Patriots have won three straight and have early 2000s Patriots vibes. This team has a strong running game and a talented defense leading the way. Mac Jones threw the ball just 18 times, but he really did not need to do much with his defense holding the Panthers to just six points. It would be good to see him take better care of the football following an interception and a lost fumble in this one, but he unquestionably outplayed Sam Darnold. Not hard to do, but still important. New England faces another big matchup with Cleveland up next.

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9. Buffalo Bills: 5-3 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 9-6 at Jacksonville
Clearly, the Manning Cast curse is alive and well. A week after making an appearance on Peyton and Eli’s Monday Night Football watch party, he had one of the worst games of his career in a loss to the hapless Jaguars. It is clear Allen needs some help from his run game. He managed 50 yards with his legs, but the combination of Zack Moss and Devin Singletary accounted for just 22 yards on the ground. This game was all kinds of ugly, but this is not the first time we’ve seen the Bills offense sputter. It is something Sean McDermott and Brian Daboll need to resolve as the year rolls on.

10. Los Angeles Chargers: 5-3 (Last Week: 13)
Won 27-24 at Philadelphia
It one was too close for comfort. As we’ve seen though, making the East Coast road trip is not easy. Just ask the Raiders. Coming out with a win in the most important thing, but it was also really good to see Justin Herbert get back on track. He completed 32-of-38 passes for 356 yards and three total touchdowns. It would be nice to see the defense play a bit better, particularly against the run. That could be the Chargers’ Achilles heel the rest of the way.

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11. New Orleans Saints: 5-3 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 27-25 vs. Atlanta
Will the real New Orleans Saints please stand up? I feel like this is not even the first time I’ve called for this in 2021. New Orleans’ maddening inconsistency struck again on Sunday. One week after frustrating Tom Brady with two late-game interceptions, the Saints surrendered 343 yards and two touchdowns to Matt Ryan. What’s more, the Falcons could not run the ball, so there was no reason not to play the pass. It didn’t matter though as Ryan simply carved up the secondary. Trevor Seimian played fine, but it is fair to wonder if Taysom Hill will take over soon.

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12. Pittsburgh Steelers: 5-3 (Last Week: 17)
Won 29-27 vs. Chicago
Well, it wasn’t without drama, but the Steelers picked up another crucial win in exciting fashion. Chicago’s 65-yard field goal as time expired fell well short, which pushed Pittsburgh back into the AFC North race. Ben Roethlisberger played well and led the game-winning drive when it mattered. There is certainly room for improvement as Najee Harris finished with 2.8 yards per carry and Ray-Ray McCloud fumble on a punt return was returned for a touchdown to shift momentum big time. The Steelers seem to be like cockroaches. You just can’t kill them.

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13. Cleveland Browns 5-4 (Last Week: 15)
Won 41-14 at Cincinnati
Talk about a bounce back. After a string of lackluster offensive performances with Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in and out of the lineup, the Browns exploded for 41 points with help from all three phases of the game. Cleveland turned to the big play with a 70-yard touchdown run, a 60-yard touchdown pass and a 99-yard interception return in the same game. The sustainability of that success will be tested against the Patriots in Week 10, but the Browns’ outlook is much brighter than it was a week ago. Clearly, Odell Beckham Jr.’s services were not missed.

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14. Kansas City Chiefs: 5-4 (Last Week: 16)
Won 13-7 vs. Green Bay
It is hard to believe this is still the same Chiefs offense that averaged nearly 31 points per game over the first six games of the season. In their past three, they have averaged 12. Patrick Mahomes looks a bit lost right now, with no signs of getting back to his previous MVP form. Credit to Steve Spagnoulo for blitzing the hell out of Jordan Love in his first career start, but Kansas City will need more from Mahomes and company on offense in order to make a real playoff run. A pivotal Sunday night matchup with the Raiders is up next.

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15. Las Vegas Raiders: 5-3 (Last Week: 10)
Lost 23-16 at New York
There are too many distractions in Las Vegas. No, not the casino and nightlife kind. The Raiders said goodbye to their second former first-round draft pick in as many weeks as they released Damon Arnette on Monday. When you consider that Mike Mayock has spent his first round picks on Clelin Ferrell, Jonathan Abram, Josh Jacobs, Damon Arnette and Alex Leatherwood, it is a wonder this team has a winning record. Hopefully, this was just a blip as the team continues to navigate a tumultuous season, but things won’t get any easier with the Chiefs visiting in Week 10.

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16. Cincinnati Bengals: 5-4 (Last Week: 9)
Lost 41-16 vs. Cleveland
The NFL is a what have you done for me lately league. While the Bengals win over the Ravens is still impressive, following it up with a blown lead against the Jets and a blowout against the Browns really puts a damper on things. Joe Burrow seems to be pressing and the offensive line is clearly not a strength for this team. On the other side of the ball, Cincinnati gave up way too many big games to be successful. All is not lost, but a reality check after a hot start now has the Bengals needing to respond. This feels like a very good time for a bye week.

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17. Indianapolis Colts: 4-5 (Last Week: 17)
Won 45-30 vs. New York
Don’t let the final scoreline fool you, this one was never in doubt. Indianapolis ran all over the Jets to the tune of 260 yards and three touchdowns. Carson Wentz played great as well. The Colts feel like a solidly middle of the road team. They beat the teams they are supposed to, but lose to the teams they are supposed to as well. We will see if Frank Reich can change the narrative in the second half of the year. Jacksonville is up next coming off a very surprising upset.

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18. Denver Broncos: 5-4 (Last Week: 23)
Won 30-16 at Dallas
This would have gone down as the most improbable result of the weekend if not for the stunner the Jaguars pulled off. The Broncos seemed down and out following a string of offensive struggles and trading away one of the franchises’ most iconic defensive players. Instead, they beat the brakes off the Cowboys for three and a half quarters before finally taking their foot off the gas. Teddy Bridgewater had one of the best performances of his career, airing the ball out nicely and taking care of the football. That Broncos backfield is starting to look like a two-headed monster as well. This definitely changes the team’s outlook moving forward.

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19. Minnesota Vikings: 3-5 (Last Week: 19)
Lost 34-31 at Baltimore
What to make of the Minnesota Vikings. On one hand, this was their fifth loss by seven points or fewer on the season. Those losses are against the Bengals, Cardinals, Browns, Cowboys and Ravens, all of whom have winning records. However, the Vikings also lost to Cooper Rush last week and blew a 14-point lead this time around. Pressure is mounting for Mike Zimmer to get this defense trending in the right direction. It wouldn’t hurt for Kirk Cousins to do a bit more as well.

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20. Atlanta Falcons: 4-4 (Last Week: 25)
Won 27-25 at New Orleans
Matt Ryan continued his Jekyll and Hyde season with a masterclass on Sunday. He has had some rough games, but he is quietly putting together a solid season. What’s more impressive is who his supporting cast is. Atlanta’s starting running back is a gadget player and its receiving corps is full of unproven youngsters and role players. The offensive line is far from a strength either. This win keeps the Falcons in the wild card conversation in the NFC, but the schedule is definitely not the easiest the rest of the way.

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21. New York Giants: 3-6 (Last Week: 26)
Won 23-16 vs. Las Vegas
New York’s defense played well enough to win once again, but this time the offense actually did enough to allow it to happen. The Giants forced three turnovers, including a pick-six and held the Raiders to just one touchdown. Despite the win, the Giants offense still looks like a major work in progress. Daniel Jones passed for just 110 yards and lost a fumble. Thankfully, Devontae Booker carried the load with 21 carries for 99 yards. New York has a week off before a showdown with the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football.

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22. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-6 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 27-24 vs. Los Angeles
Though it was a loss, I think the Eagles offense showed signs of progress against the Chargers. Jalen Hurts was very efficient passing, even if he only did it 17 times. Jordan Howard continued his career renaissance as well with 71 yards and a score. It is far from perfect, but Nick Sirianni is clearly experimenting with what works best for Hurts’ skillset. Unfortunately, the defense still has a long way to go. Justin Herbert picked apart the secondary for 356 yards and two touchdowns. There is a reason most mock drafts have Philadelphia selecting defensive backs.

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23. Seattle Seahawks: 3-5 (Last Week: 24)
Bye Week
He’s back! Russell Wilson has been cleared to return for Week 10’s showdown with the Packers. It remains to be seen if his opposing counterpart will be Aaron Rodgers or Jordan Love. Either way, the Seahawks should be a much more competitive team with Wilson back in the fold, particularly given that the defense stepped up in his absence. It might have been against the Jaguars, Saints and Steelers, but they stepped up nonetheless. There is basically no margin for error left for Seattle though, especially given how well the Rams and Cardinals are playing. The Seahawks still have a lot of work to do to reach the postseason.

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24. Carolina Panthers: 4-5 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 24-6 vs. New England
Another team struggling through mediocrity, Carolina turned in an absolute dud. The offense in particular continues to struggle. Sam Darnold had another horrid week when facing Bill Belichick, throwing three interceptions, completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes and posting a woeful Total QBR of 3.0. Whether in the draft or free agency, it seems more than likely the Panthers will be looking for another quarterback to compete with Darnold for the starting job next season.

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25. San Francisco 49ers: 3-5 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 31-17 vs. Arizona
Kyle Shanahan is officially on the hot seat. Facing a team missing its starting quarterback and No. 1 receiver, the 49ers gave up 31 points and did not mount much of a challenge. Often championed for his ability to use running backs interchangeably, Shanahan’s offense suddenly cannot run the ball effectively. As a team, San Francisco managed just 39 yards rushing. Given all the defensive talent, there is definitely cause for concern. The 49ers need to turn things around quickly to save their season.

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26. Chicago Bears: 3-6 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 29-27 at Pittsburgh
Dropping the Bears five spots feels harsh given that it was a close loss, but when the Broncos, Falcons and Giants all win, it is hard not to move them down. Justin Fields continues to show signs of improving and the running game once again showed up strong. Unfortunately, it was the defense that could not find a way to slow down Ben Roethlisberger and company. Particularly on the Steelers’ go-ahead drive, the Bears defense looked disjointed and unprepared for a two-minute drill. With hopes of a playoff berth rapidly dwindling, Chicago will no doubt begin to search for a new coach to develop Fields.

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27. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-6 (Last Week: 29)
Won 9-6 vs. Buffalo
At long last, fans in Jacksonville finally got to witness a win. The Jaguars only other win this season came in London. It wasn’t pretty, but the defense turned back the clocks to 2017 with a stellar showing. Josh Allen made Josh Allen’s life a living nightmare. While the defense was dominant, the offense left a lot to be desired. Trevor Lawrence averaged just 4.5 yards per attempt and Jacksonville couldn’t even crack 80 yards rushing. While a win is great, there are still quite a few issues to iron out for this team.

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28. Miami Dolphins: 2-7 (Last Week: 30)
Won 17-9 vs. Houston
Miami spoiled Tyrod Taylor’s return with a strong defensive performance, complete with three interceptions and five sacks. The Dolphins needed the defense to play at that level too, because the offense was struggling. Jacoby Brissett threw two picks in relief of an injured Tua Tagovailoa while the running game mustered a paltry 1.9 yards per carry. It takes a little bit of the pressure off for now, but Miami still has a lot to prove this year.

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29. Washington: 2-6 (Last Week: 27)
Bye Week
Washington feels like a team on the brink. It could either try to rally coming off a bye week to salvage the season and maybe get back into the playoff race or tank the rest of the way with hopes of securing a high draft pick to find a new quarterback. This team has taken a major step backwards in several other areas as well, namely the run game and pass rush. Antonio Gibson is clearly in the midst of a sophomore slump while Chase Young and company have not been able to replicate their heroics from 2020. Those two things do not bode well for an offense already starting a backup quarterback and lacking proven playmakers outside of Terry McLaurin. At least Logan Thomas should be close to returning from injury in Week 10.

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30. New York Jets: 2-6 (Last Week: 28)
Lost 45-30 at Indianapolis
The whole Mike White thing was fun while it lasted. The Western Kentucky product exited with a forearm injury early against the Colts and that seemed to end any chances of the Jets keeping up. The Colts gashed Gang Green’s defense for 260 yards and three scores while Carson Wentz pulled apart the secondary like cotton candy. For a defensive mastermind, Robert Saleh has some questions to answer about how overmatched his defense has been this season. New York is dead last in points allowed per game.

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31. Houston Texans: 1-7 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 17-9 at Miami
The list of one-win teams has been whittled down to just one. Houston lost its seventh straight uninspiring fashion. Tyrod Taylor struggled mightily in his first game since Week 2. The offensive line continues to be a problem as well. This is what was expected of the Texans this year though. It doesn’t make it any easier to watch.

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32. Detroit Lions: 0-8 (Last Week: 32)
Bye Week
Well at least the Lions didn’t lose this week. Their chances of getting a top-two pick also skyrocketed this week with wins by the Jaguars and Dolphins. I would expect an ugly game against the Steelers in Week 10.

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