2020 NFL Power Rankings: Week 9

Welcome to Election Day 2020. I know this is an NFL Power Rankings article, but that is definitely not the most important thing going on in the U.S. today. And if you are about to spout off about how sports aren’t political, you clearly have not been paying attention.

While much fanfare will be made of who wins the presidential election, I encourage you not to overlook campaign races in the Senate and House of Representatives. These are the people who confirm Supreme Court justice appointments, design stimulus packages and decide where our nation’s money is spent. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that those who serve in the United States Congress hold an enormous amount of power over our lives.

The bottom line is, please vote. I won’t tell you to lean one way or the other. By now, you have likely made your decision. Simply, show up, and make your voice heard. Be part of the process that our country quite literally fought a war to establish and has fought many more since to protect.

Of course, I will also be praying for everyone’s safety on this day. There is the obvious threat in the form of the coronavirus to everyone’s health, but reports of potential riots and retaliations regarding the outcome of the presidential race have circulated in the media. I truly hope that we can all wake up on Wednesday morning unscathed.

Believe it or not, voting and football go hand in hand this year. The NFL has made a huge push to have its players and coaches vote. So with that semi-reasonable transition, let’s get to the football.

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1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 7-0 (Last Week: 1)
Won 28-24 at Baltimore
Are the ’72 Dolphins sweating yet? They really shouldn’t be given how much time is left in the season, but the Steelers passed their biggest test of the year so far on Sunday. It was a gritty AFC North showdown. Pittsburgh’s defense gave up a shocking 265 yards rushing, but came up with a big play when it mattered. Minkah Fitzpatrick broke up Lamar Jackson’s potential game-winning touchdown pass in the end zone to seal the win. Despite its struggles against the run, Pittsburgh still had success on defense, forcing four turnovers, including a pick-six. T.J. Watt and company also racked up four sacks. With a two-game lead in the division, Mike Tomlin has to be loving life right now.

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2. Kansas City Chiefs: 7-1 (Last Week: 3)
Won 35-9 vs. New York
One week after leaning heavily into the running game, Patrick Mahomes balled out against the Jets. The 2018 MVP tossed five touchdown passes and added 416 yards through the air. While shutting down New York’s offense is far from impressive, Kansas City took care of business convincingly, holding the Jets to 221 yards of offense. The defending champs are proving to be versatile and adaptive to whatever it takes to get the job done. That is a scary prospect for the rest of the league.

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3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-2 (Last Week: 2)
Won 25-23 at New York
This was not the blowout many people expected. To say the Buccaneers struggled to get past the Giants would be an understatement. Tampa struggled to establish the run and the defense nearly blew the game, but Daniel Jones’ ineptitude saved them. New York had a surprising amount of success running the ball against this usually stout defense. Part of that might have been by design though as Todd Bowles just blitzed Jones all night. The tactic earned his team two crucial interceptions. Maybe this was just a trap game with the Bucs looking ahead to next week’s showdown with the Saints. Either way, Tampa Bay was lucky to collect a win.

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4. Seattle Seahawks: 6-1 (Last Week: 6)
Won 37-27 vs. San Francisco
Seattle bounced back in a big way, battling through injuries at key positions to take care of the 49ers. This game was even more lopsided than the final scoreline might indicate. The Seahawks led 30-7 in the fourth quarter before Nick Mullens came in to spark a late push. Russell Wilson and DK Metcalf look close to unstoppable at this point, connecting 12 times for 161 yards and two touchdowns. DeeJay Dallas played incredibly well in relief of Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde, scoring a pair of touchdowns. As of now, the road to a Super Bowl runs through Seattle. If the Seahawks can avoid the mistakes they made against the Cardinals, it is likely to stay that way.

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5. Baltimore Ravens: 5-2 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 28-24 vs. Pittsburgh
Baltimore has not looked like the team that dominated the 2019 regular season. While 5-2 is still a fairly impressive start, the losses have come against the top two teams in the conference. On one hand, it shows that the Ravens certainly belong near the top of these power rankings. On the other, it is a bit concerning that they are struggling against the teams they will need to beat to reach the Super Bowl. Lamar Jackson is nowhere his MVP form of a year ago. His four turnovers are the biggest reason why Baltimore lost at home versus Pittsburgh. This team is still incredibly talented, but it seems like something is off right now.

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6. Arizona Cardinals: 5-2 (Last Week: 8)
Bye Week
Arizona benefits from Green Bay and Tennessee losing to a pair of previously one-win teams in Week 8. The Cardinals have flashed incredible potential on offense with the addition of DeAndre Hopkins. They also seem to be hitting their stride. Arizona is on a three-game win streak, dominating the hapless Jets and Cowboys before making a statement against the Seahawks. Sustaining this positive start is the next step. Arizona draws Miami, Buffalo and Seattle again in its next three games. If Kyler Murray and company are 8-2 at that point, then it will be time to start talking about a Super Bowl run.

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7. Green Bay Packers: 5-2 (Last Week: 4)
Lost 28-22 vs. Minnesota
It was not the same issue as the meltdown in Tampa, but this loss actually feels quite a bit more damaging to the Packers’ long-term chances. It became clear last year that Green Bay could not stop the run. Never was it more evident that problem had not been fixed than on Sunday. Dalvin Cook bulldozed his way for 226 total yards and four trips to the end zone. Kirk Cousins attempted only 14 passes the entire game. It was clear Minnesota was intent on just running the ball down Green Bay’s throat, and the Packers could not stop it. With Kwon Alexander and Avery Williamson both moving at the deadline, the front office missed a chance to bolster it’s biggest need. This is not a good sign going forward.

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8. New Orleans Saints: 5-2 (Last Week: 9)
Won 26-23 at Chicago
As the Bears like to say, it’s better to win ugly than to lose pretty. New Orleans beat Chicago at it’s own game, slogging through a multiple-possession overtime game before Wil Lutz finally hit the game-winning field goal. Drew Brees had a solid game despite missing his top two receivers, Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, again. He didn’t actually get much help from his receiving corps, it was just Alvin Kamara putting the offense on his back once again. He didn’t score, but he finished with 67 yards rushing on 12 carries and 96 yards receiving on nine catches. It was a bit concerning to see Chicago rack up 23 points, but the defense did account for five sacks and an interception. Hard to ask for much more than that.

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9. Buffalo Bills: 6-2 (Last Week: 11)
Won 24-21 vs. New England
Are they the new kings of the AFC East? While everyone is taking the Patriots to task for losing a fourth-straight game, it is important to remember this was just a three-point win for the Bills. Josh Allen struggled again, completing just 11-of-18 passes for 154 yards and an interception. If not for that costly fumble by Cam Newton, New England was in position to force overtime or even potentially win the game in regulation. It was nice to see the running game show up, both Zack Moss and Devin Singletary racked up 80-plus yards rushing, but Buffalo is not playing its best football right now.

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10. Tennessee Titans: 5-2 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 31-20 at Cincinnati
Tennessee allowed one loss to turn into two. After dropping its first game of the season while facing the undefeated Steelers, the Titans slept walked through a bad loss to the Bengals. Cincinnati was fielding a completely make-shift offensive line, yet the Titans could not get to Joe Burrow. No sacks and no turnovers is not good enough from Mike Vrabel’s defense. The Titans offense rumbled for 218 yards on the ground, but managed just 20 points. It really felt like these team was just not focused enough coming off a loss. Tennessee needs to regroup quickly with the Bears, Colts and Ravens up next.

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11. Indianapolis Colts: 5-2 (Last Week: 12)
Won 41-21 at Detroit
Lost in the midst of a wild NFL weekend, the Colts quietly dominated the Lions en route to a three-score victory. Philip Rivers put together arguably his best performance of the season to make up for a lackluster running game. Indy as a team averaged just 3.1 yards per carry. Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor was a big part of the team’s struggles, totaling just 22 yards on 11 carries. The secondary continues to look middle of the road, surrendering over 300 yards and three touchdowns to Matthew Stafford, but managing an interception as well. The run defense continues to be one of the best in the league, holding Detroit to just 29 yards on the ground. Suddenly, the Colts are tied atop the AFC South.

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12. Miami Dolphins: 4-3 (Last Week: 15)
Won 28-17 vs. Los Angeles
The Tua Tagovailoa era started with a resounding thud for him personally, but the Dolphins picked up the slack on defense and special teams in a gutsy win. Miami made Jared Goff’s life miserable and were rewarded with four turnovers by the former No. 1 pick. One of those was a fumble returned for a touchdown. Jakeem Grant showed off his speed on a punt return touchdown as well. Tagovailoa will need to step up after failing to reach 100 yards passing in his debut as the starter, but it is clear the Dolphins are capable of finding other ways to win.

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13. Las Vegas Raiders: 4-3 (Last Week: 13)
Won 16-6 at Cleveland
It wasn’t pretty, but Las Vegas got it done in some awful weather on the road. The defense played so well, holding Cleveland under 250 yards of offense. Josh Jacobs played the role of feature back again with 31 carries for 128 yards. This brand of football is sustainable and effective, especially as the weather gets colder across the country. The biggest thing missing from this being a dominant style of play is a pass rush. Only the Jaguars have registered fewer sacks than the Raiders this season.

14. Los Angeles Rams: 5-3 (Last Week: 10)
Lost 28-17 at Miami
Despite the final score, the Rams defense was spectacular again. Unfortunately, the rest of the team forgot to show up. Jared Goff looked awful, committing four turnovers. He does not deserve all the blame though, as his offensive line had it’s worst game of the season. He might have only been sacked twice, but Goff got hit eight times, including on both of his interceptions and the fumble that was returned for a touchdown. These were the same issues that plagued Los Angeles a year ago. Sean McVay needs to find some consistency for this team.

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15. Chicago Bears: 5-3 (Last Week 14)
Lost 26-23 vs. New Orleans
It was a valiant effort from the Bears to force overtime, but once again the lack of offensive fire power showed up when it mattered. Chicago got a chance to win the game in overtime, but Nick Foles was sacked twice and the Bears had to punt it back. The offensive line was an issue all game, allowing five sacks on the afternoon. Chicago played fairly well defensively, but this was a game where it really could have used a turnover to change the momentum and help the offense out. The Bears are still right in the thick of the playoff race following a Packers loss, but this team needs to find something to avoid this losing streak dragging on for too long.

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16. San Francisco 49ers: 4-4 (Last Week: 16)
Lost 37-27 at Seattle
San Francisco simply cannot escape injuries. Kyle Shanahan deserves Coach of the Year consideration for keeping this team competitive with all of the players he has been missing so far. Jimmy Garoppolo is set to miss a few weeks and George Kittle is likely out for the rest of the regular season. Tevin Coleman also exited Sunday’s game. The 49ers made a push in garbage time against the Seahawks to make the score look respectable, but they were thoroughly outplayed. Trading away Kwon Alexander shows signs that this team might be thinking about the long-term and understanding success this season might not be in the cards.

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17. Cleveland Browns: 5-3 (Last Week: 17)
Lost 16-6 vs. Las Vegas
Turns out the Browns offense was not any better without Odell Beckham Jr. Now the weather definitely played a factor, but Cleveland’s offense looked hapless all day. Baker Mayfield didn’t turn the ball over, but he completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes and averaged just 4.9 yards per attempt. The windy conditions might have hampered the Browns passing game, but the team did not have as much success running the ball as it probably should have. This offense disappears far too often for the Browns to be considered real threats right now.

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18. Carolina Panthers: 3-5 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 25-17 vs. Atlanta
If you had told me at the beginning of the year that Carolina would be 3-5 halfway through the year, I would have been surprised. I didn’t think the Panthers would even be that close to .500 given the overall youth of the team, a new quarterback and a new coaching staff. It is important to remember how impressive a start this still is for the new direction of the franchise. Dropping three straight and seeing the offense struggle against a bad Falcons defense is disappointing, but Carolina is already way more competitive than most expected this season.

Denver_Broncos

19. Denver Broncos: 3-4 (Last Week: 25)
Won 31-30 vs. Los Angeles
What a comeback! I was ready to write off the Broncos after they went down 24-3 in the second quarter. ESPN’s win probability gave the Chargers a 98.7 percent chance of winning at that point. Denver finally completed its comeback on the final play of the game. Drew Lock shook off a slow start to throw three touchdown passes. The Broncos also need to give Phillip Lindsay the rock more. He has been really impressive since returning from injury and has been far more effective than Melvin Gordon. His 55-yard touchdown run energized the offense at a time where it desperately needed a jolt.

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20. Atlanta Falcons: 2-6 (Last Week: 24)
Won 25-16 at Carolina
Atlanta likely staved off full-on tank mode for another week. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Takk McKinley are all still on the roster despite trade rumors. I think a loss to the Panthers could have seen at least one of the players on the move. This was the best game the Falcons’ defense has played all year. Atlanta got after Teddy Bridgewater made just enough plays to preserve their second win of the year. It is hard not to dwell on what could have been if the Falcons had held onto some leads this year, but this team is definitely more competitive than its record would indicate.

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21. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-4-1 (Last Week: 22)
Won 23-9 vs. Dallas
I wanted to drop the Eagles a bit despite winning, but it is difficult to justify dropping them below some of these other teams. With New England, Detroit, Los Angeles and Carolina all losing, it mitigated their mistake-filled performance in a victory. Philly is winning games while far from full strength. I still don’t think this team is very good, Carson Wentz did have four turnovers, but it will clearly take advantage of mediocre competition. If it gets Miles Sanders and possibly a few of its offensive linemen healthy, Philly should win the NFC East comfortably.

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22. New England Patriots: 2-5 (Last Week: 19)
Lost 24-21 at Buffalo
Bill Belichick has his work cut out for him. New England actually played pretty well, but the only play anyone will talk about is Cam Newton’s late-game fumble. This team just does not have depth to close out opponents. Newton’s top receivers are Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd. Ja’Wahun Bentley and John Simon have been thrust into big roles on defense with players opting out. Give the Patriots credit for keeping this game close, but that doesn’t really count for much. On the bright side, it looks like they may have something special in Damien Harris.

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23. Detroit Lions: 3-4 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 41-21 vs. Indianapolis
These are the losses that remind everyone why Matt Patricia is on the hot seat. Defensively, the Lions had no answer for Philip Rivers. Matt Stafford tried to drag the offense along without Kenny Golladay. He got no help from his running game though, as Detroit finished with just 29 yards rushing on 2.2 yards per attempt. 10 of those yards came from Stafford himself on one run. With him being asked to do too much, he turned it over twice and could not find a way to pilot a comeback. The Lions are toiling away in mediocrity again.

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24. Minnesota Vikings: 2-5 (Last Week: 26)
Won 28-22 at Green Bay
Divisional games are just weird. On paper, Green Bay should have blown out Minnesota. Instead, Dalvin Cook turned into Superman and carried the Vikings to a much-needed victory. The Packers might have one of the worst run defenses in the league, but this was still just a ridiculously impressive showing. The offensive line was creating lanes all game long and Cook hit them with authority. Keeping the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ hands was vital because the defense struggled to stop him and Davante Adams when he did have it. It wasn’t perfect, but Minnesota has a new outlook on the season.

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25. Cincinnati Bengals: 2-5-1 (Last Week: 27)
Won 31-20 vs. Tennessee
This time, the Bengals held onto their big first-half lead. In Week 6, Cincy built a 24-7 lead against Indianapolis, only to lose 31-27. In Week 8, the secondary made life just difficult enough on Ryan Tannehill to secure the win. That proved to be really important because the defense could not stop the run. Tennessee finished with over 200 yards on the ground. On the other side of the ball, the Bengals patchwork offensive line shocking did not allow a sack and overall played fairly well. Joe Burrow made some big plays and Cincinnati picked up a strangely comfortable victory. Heading into a bye week is much easier following a win.

26. Los Angeles Chargers: 2-5 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 31-30 at Denver
Just when we thought the Falcons had a lock on fumbling away leads late in games better than anyone else, the Chargers collapsed again. For the fourth straight week, Los Angeles blew a double-digit lead, although it did still come back to beat Jacksonville in Week 7. After a hot start, Justin Herbert got a little careless with the football and the defense simply could not hold up. After so many weeks of feeling like the Chargers were a good team that just kept coming off short, I’m starting to think this team is just not prepared to close out games. This was always a rebuilding year, so being competitive is a plus, but these losses are starting to pile up.

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27. Houston Texans: 1-6 (Last Week: 23)
Bye Week
As the dust settles on Week 8, Houston is now one of just three teams with one win this season. Given the direction this team seems to be headed, this would be the time most fan bases start thinking about the upcoming NFL draft. However, the Texans don’t have a pick until the third round as of right now and did not make any moves at the deadline to reclaim some draft capital. This team seems intent on winning this year. That’s a dangerous approach for a 1-6 team with few ways to improve going forward.

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28. Washington: 2-5 (Last Week: 28)
Bye Week
Washington gets a week off to recalibrate after an up-and-down start to the year. The team won it’s season opener in shocking fashion, then went on to bench its former first-round draft pick at quarterback, but somehow sits just 1.5 games out of first place in the division despite having only two wins. It is important to remember that Ron Rivera is committed to rebuilding this team and that was never going to happen in one offseason. Washington certainly has some of the right players in place to be successful one day. Patience is required to see that come to fruition.

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29. New York Giants: 1-7 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 25-23 vs. Tampa Bay
It is time to move on from Daniel Jones. Well, I guess right this second. He should probably start the rest of the season, but barring some kind of incredible turnaround, I am not buying any stock in him as the long-term answer at quarterback for the Giants. Jones makes the same mental errors every week. He flashes plenty of the potential that made him a top-10 selection, but his late-game interception that set up Tampa’s go-ahead touchdown and him being inexplicably late getting the ball out on what should have been the game-tying two-point conversion underline why his time should be up. Dion Lewis was wide open and Jones hesitated for way too long. On the bright side, New York is firmly in the running for Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields and Trey Lance.

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30. Dallas Cowboys: 2-6 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 23-9 at Philadelphia
This might be the worst offense in the NFL right now and that is saying something. Mike McCarthy is floundering as the head coach of this team. Sure, he has to contend with some difficult injuries, but he is making terrible in-game decisions and seems to have no idea how to establish any sort of rhythm on offense. Keep in mind that his usually lifeless defense produced four turnovers on Sunday night, which Dallas turned into three field goals. This franchise is at a crossroads right now, and with each depressing loss, the Cowboys move closer to hitting the reset button.

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31. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-6 (Last Week: 31)
Bye Week
It looks like the Minshew Magic show may be getting an early curtain. Gardner Minshew is unlikely to be active in Week 9 against the Texans. Jacksonville will turn to rookie quarterback Jake Luton in his place. Already with one of the least talented rosters in the league, this seems like just another step closer to a new quarterback and a new coaching staff next year. It has been a rough season for Jaguars fans, but it will all be worth it if the Jags land a franchise passer and James Robinson turns out to be the answer at running back.

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32. New York Jets: 0-8 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 35-9 at Kansas City
The hunt for Trevor Lawrence continues. New York watched several one-win teams pick up a second victory of the season, which inches the Jets closer to the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL draft. Before they get there though, Sam Darnold might have grounds to sue the team for reckless endangerment. The third-year quarterback re-aggravated his shoulder injury that kept him out of Weeks 5 and 6. His receiving corps got a slight boost against the Chiefs with Denzel Mims finally making his NFL debut, but he still has one of the worst supporting casts in the league. Not surprisingly, the Jets’ defense made Patrick Mahomes look like … well, Patrick Mahomes I guess. (Not so) fun stat: Mahomes threw for more touchdown passes in this game (five) than the Jets have all season (four). Pretty good sign the team could use a new quarterback and a new coaching staff.

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Fantasy Football 2020 Waiver Wire Pickups: Carlos Hyde and Richard Rodgers take over starting roles

Let’s take a quick look back at how some of the top drafted players have done versus some of the top free agent pick ups this season.

Christian McCaffrey was the consensus first pick. He has not played since Week 2. James Robinson was an early season free agent add who has become a top-10, borderline top-five player at the position.

Lamar Jackson was probably one of the first two quarterbacks drafted and went in the first three rounds of your fantasy draft. He ranks 12th among quarterbacks in points per game. Justin Herbert started the season on the bench, but he took over the starting role in Week 2 and is now fourth in points per game, narrowly edging Patrick Mahomes.

If you drafted Michael Thomas, it was likely in the first round. So far this season, he ranks 160th among wide receivers in PPR scoring. Before the season started, almost no one knew who Travis Fulgam was. Now he is the eighth-best wide reciever in fantasy on a points per game basis.

The point of this is to illustrate the importance of the waiver wire. Obviously, you should not have drafted Justin Herbert over Lamar Jackson, or dropped Christian McCaffrey for James Robinson. The bottom line is just because you drafted well, you are not guaranteed a good season.

By now, we have hit the midway point of pretty much every fantasy league’s regular season. This would be a good time to check if your league has a trade deadline and starting making moves for the playoff push. Even if you think you are going to pull off a great trade, you should check out these players on the waiver wire.

Garoppolo has struggled this season, but Seattle is allowing 7.7 more points per game than the league average to opposing quarterbacks. (Wikimedia Commons)

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, SF
The Jimmy G experience has been a bumpy one so far this season. Two weeks ago, he pulled apart the Rams defense for three touchdowns. This past week, he failed to find the end zone and registered a dud against New England. While he might be hard to trust in the long haul, this is the week to start him. Garoppolo faces a Seahawks defense allowing more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than any other team in the league. Kyler Murray racked up 36 points on Sunday night. Garoppolo likely won’t hit those highs, but you should feel comfortable starting him as a bye-week fill-in.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, CAR
Few quarterbacks have impressed me more than Teddy Bridgewater has this season. He is consistently running for this life, but he is still able to make plays and put up points. He has feasted on weaker defenses this year, putting up at least 19 points in three of his past four games. Atlanta comes to town in Week 8. I view Bridgewater as a low-risk, high-reward option on Thursday, regardless of Christian McCaffrey’s status. He would get a boost though if McCaffrey returns.

Baker Mayfield, QB, CLE
How is the guy that just lost his star receiver on this list? Well, Baker Mayfield has weirdly been better this year when targeting pretty much anyone other than Odell Beckham Jr. He has been far from prolific this season, but Mayfield is coming off a huge 29-point outing and now faces a Raiders secondary that just got carved up by Tom Brady. If you are desperate for quarterback help this week, you could do much worse than Mayfield.

Carlos Hyde, RB, SEA
Under normal circumstances, Hyde would be locked in as a top-20 option at running back with Chris Carson expected to be out. Unfortunately, Hyde faces a stout 49ers defense that is allowing the fewest points to opposing fantasy running backs this season. That doesn’t make him unplayable, but you may want to temper your expectations for this week. Still, Hyde figures to be very valuable for each week that Carson is out. He should he your top running back add this week, unless Chase Edmonds is still available.

Jamycal Hastings, RB, SF
He might be in a timeshare with Jerrick McKinnon, but on a team that runs as much as the 49ers do, Hastings still has a ton of fantasy value. He looked good in mop up duty against the Patriots after Jeff Wilson Jr. got hurt, picking up 57 yards on nine carries. In an expanded role against a middle of the road Seahawks run defense, Hastings should be in starting lineups this week and stay there as long as he and McKinnon are the only two healthy backs.

Damien Harris, RB, NE
Yes, counting on Patriots running backs is risky. I just really like what I have seen from Harris so far. He has averaged better than five yards per carry in two of this three games. Unfortunately, the offense just has not run through him enough with New England getting down early and abandoning the run. I would recommend stashing him on your roster now. Even if you don’t start him this week against the Bills, you will want to in Week 9 when he plays the Jets.

Shepard missed four straight games due to injury before returning in Week 7. (Wikimedia Commons)

Sterling Shepard, WR, NYG
Shepard finally got back on the football field after missing four weeks of action. He looked good in his return, hauling in six catches for 59 yards on eight targets and adding a touchdown. He is a must-have in PPR formats. I don’t know if I would recommend starting him quite yet with a visit trip to Tampa Bay up next, but he carries a lot of fantasy value going forward.

Cole Beasley, WR, BUF
I still don’t understand how, but Cole Beasley is a fantasy relevant wide receiver. He ranks 19th in PPR scoring, just ahead of Robert Woods. He has scored at least nine points in every game this season and just turned in his best performance yet with 22 points against the Jets. He is far from touchdown dependent either, only scoring two this season. If he starts finding the end zone, he could be locked into WR2 territory. He faces New England this week, but then gets Seattle and Arizona after that.

Corey Davis, WR, TEN
I have been touting Corey Davis as a fantasy relevant option all season. If you are in a PPR league, he is worth consideration. He is still struggling to put up a bunch of yards (just 35 against the Steelers), but he had six catches and a touchdown on ten targets. It is clear Ryan Tannehill trust Davis enough to look for him often. If he can start catching a few more balls downfield, he will work his way into starting lineups.

Richard Rodgers, TE, PHI
With Zach Ertz out and Dallas Goedert still on the mend, Richard Rodgers stepped into the starting role with six catches for 85 yards on eight targets. Carson Wentz loves throwing to his tight ends. With Miles Sanders potentially out again and the Eagles still are banged up at wide receiver, Rodgers figures to be involved again in Week 8. With a matchup against a reeling Cowboys team, Rodgers is a fringe starter this week.

Irv Smith Jr., TE, MIN
This is reaching deep into the tight end pool, but I really like Irv Smith Jr. Heading into Minnesota’s bye this past week, he racked up eight catches for 119 yards over his past two games. He seems to be emerging as the top option at the position, finally surpassing Kyle Rudolph. He has a bit of a tough matchup against the Packers in Week 8, so I wouldn’t recommend starting him, but if you are looking for a sleeper tight end or play in deeper fantasy leagues, he should be on your radar.

2020 NFL Power Rankings: Week 8

And then there was one. With the Titans and Seahawks losing in Week 7, the Steelers are now the only team yet to suffer a loss this season. Unsurprisingly, they find themselves at the top of this week’s power rankings.

It was a wild week of action. From late-game heroics by Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Matthew Stafford to back-breaking miscues by Russell Wilson, Stephen Gostowski and the comedy group known as the Atlanta Falcons. Week 7 was definitely not short on entertainment.

The chaos resulted in a massive shake up in these rankings. Teams like the Buccaneers and Cardinals saw big jumps following their impressive victories while teams like the Raiders and Bears dropped significantly after disappointing performances. Here is how everything shakes out heading into the league’s midway point.

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1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 6-0 (Last Week: 1)
Won 27-24 at Tennessee
Unlike last week, Steelers fans had to sweat this game out. Pittsburgh almost blew a 17-point halftime lead and only won the game in regulation because Stephen Gostkowski missed the potential game-tying field goal. Ben Roethlisberger still could have won the game, but momentum was definitely swinging in Tennessee’s direction at that point. Not to mention, Big Ben threw interceptions in the game. As it stands, the Steelers are now the only perfect team left in the NFL. Pittsburgh has been battled tested up to this point, but it faces its biggest challenge yet with a trip to Baltimore up next.

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2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 5-2 (Last Week: 7)
Won 45-20 at Las Vegas
So, that was not a one-time showing. The Buccaneers blew the doors off the Raiders just one week after demolishing the Packers. There is no question this team is playing the best football of any team in the NFC, if not the whole league. Tom Brady is looking like the Hall of Famer we saw for so many years in New England. Defensively, this team has playmakers at all three levels. Tampa has the stingiest run defense in the league right now, allowing just 66 yards per game. If the Bucs can keep this form up, they are going to be nearly impossible to stop.

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3. Kansas City Chiefs: 6-1 (Last Week: 3)
Won 43-16 at Denver
Patrick Mahomes loves the snow. You would never know it was adverse weather conditions with how well the Chiefs’ offense operated on Sunday. Mahomes looked sharp, even if he didn’t have to do too much. Le’Veon Bell showed some flashes as well in his Kansas City debut. Defensively, this Chiefs’ secondary continues to impress. Daniel Sorensen came up with a pick-six and Tyrann Mathieu also intercepted Drew Lock. KC also forced four fumbles, recovering two of them. There might not be as much chatter about the Chiefs right now because the Steelers are still unbeaten, but make no mistake, this team is playing some great football. Now, Andy Reid’s squad gets a bye week … I mean plays the Jets in Week 8.

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4. Green Bay Packers: 5-1 (Last Week: 4)
Won 35-20 at Houston
Green Bay did not dwell on it’s loss to Tampa Bay, instead taking care of Houston in convincing fashion. Aaron Rodgers was on fire, targeting Davante Adams early and often. Jamal Williams had a strong showing as well in place of the injured Aaron Jones. Defensively, the Packers did the one thing they have struggled to do for the past two years by stopping the Texans’ running game. Houston easily own the worst rushing attack in the league, but even then, Green Bay held it below its season average. With a loss by the Bears, the Packers are back on top in the NFC North. They now face a divisional foe in the Vikings coming off a bye week.

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5. Baltimore Ravens: 5-1 (Last Week: 5)
Bye Week
Baltimore got a well-earned bye week at a great time. No, the Ravens are not currently contending with a number of injuries at key positions, but instead they got a chance to rest up ahead of a showdown with the Steelers. Baltimore has a chance to essentially eliminate Pittsburgh’s undefeated start. A win for the Ravens would vault them atop the AFC North. It should be a great game, as it almost always is between these two teams, and one that carries major playoff implications.

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6. Seattle Seahawks: 5-1 (Last Week: 2)
Lost 37-34 at Arizona
It was an uncharacterisitcally turnover prone night from Russell Wislon. He threw three interceptions, including one that sunk Seattle’s chances in overtime and set up Arizona’s game-winning field goal. The Seahawks were definitely a little shorthanded. Jamal Adams was out and Chris Carson left during the game. Still, Seattle had every chance to close this game out. Arizona scored 10 points in the final 2:28 to force overtime. Wilson had two chances to lead a game-winning drive in overtime, both came up empty. The lack of a pass rush proved to really costly again, as the defense could not bring down Kyler Murray all night. A three-point loss to a division rival is not a major red flag, but this game highlighted Seattle’s biggest Achilles heal.

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7. Tennessee Titans: 5-1 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 27-24 vs. Pittsburgh
Tennessee made a valiant comeback bid, but it proved to be too little, too late. Stephen Gostkowski missed a potential game-tying field goal in the final minute of play that sealed the Titans’ fate. The defense made plays, including three interceptions of Ben Roethlisberger, but could not find a way to get off the field on third down. Mike Vrabel’s team ranks dead last in defensive third-down conversion rate. Pittsburgh dominated time of possession to take a 24-7 lead at halftime. The fact that Tennessee found a way to climb back into this game was impressive. Don’t write the Titans off for losing a close game. This team has shown it can hang with the best of the best.

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8. Arizona Cardinals: 5-2 (Last Week: 13)
Won 37-34 vs. Seattle
Up to this point, it seemed like the Cardinals were mostly feasting on cupcakes or teams struggling with injuries. What Arizona managed to accomplish in the fourth quarter and overtime of this game shows it has the ability to hang with the top dogs as well. Kyler Murray continues to put up video game-like numbers. DeAndre Hopkins looks close to unguardable. The defense … looks very porous. It also made just enough plays to pull out the win. Russell Wilson had three interceptions coming into the game. He threw that many on Sunday night. Arizona is a serious playoff contender this season.

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9. New Orleans Saints: 4-2 (Last Week: 9)
Won 27-24 vs. Carolina
Even without its top two receivers, Drew Brees looked sharp in an important win. Carolina challenged New Orleans’ defense consistently, but the unit did just enough to hold on. With the possibility of getting both Emmanuel Sanders and Michael Thomas back next week, this offense could look even better going forward. Unfortunately, there are no reinforcements coming for a defense that struggled to prevent big plays again. With how good the Buccaneers have looked in recent weeks, the Saints could be in trouble if they don’t step it up.

10. Los Angeles Rams: 5-2 (Last Week: 12)
Won 24-10 vs. Chicago
This defense looked incredible on Monday night. The Rams did not allow an offensive touchdown in a drubbing of the Bears. Los Angeles racked four sacks and two interceptions, proving every Chicago critic right, at least for one week. Jared Goff and the offense did more than enough to get the win, even if it was not a spectacular showing. Outside of a Robert Woods fumble, it took care of the football. It would be nice to see the Rams pick up some bigger plays and just look a bit sharper on offense, but this is a win the organization can be proud of.

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11. Buffalo Bills: 5-2 (Last Week: 11)
Won 18-10 at New York
Boy, was that ugly. Buffalo pulled a Denver, kicking six field goals without scoring a touchdown to beat an AFC East team. While the Bills’ defense looked sharp against a terrible Jets’ offense, the offense was incredibly sloppy. Josh Allen lost a fumble and the team finished 3-for-11 on third-down conversions. Zack Moss did look pretty sharp in his return from injury though, picking up 72 yards on 10 total targets. Buffalo now gets to face a reeling New England squad. A win would truly signify the end of the Patriots’ reign, seeing as the Bills have not beaten the Pats since 2016.

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12. Indianapolis Colts: 4-2 (Last Week: 14)
Bye Week
Indianapolis looked like they might just unraveling following its loss to Cleveland. Cincinnati jumped out to a 21-0 lead. It felt like that was when Philip Rivers and company finally woke up. The Colts were extremely lucky to be facing an inexperienced team like the Bengals. Otherwise, this would have been a blowout. The defense locked down and gave Rivers a chance to lead a comeback. Give him credit for successfully seeing it through, but it is a little concerning that he needed to lead a three-score comeback against a one-win team in the first place.

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13. Las Vegas Raiders: 3-3 (Last Week: 8)
Lost 45-20 vs. Tampa Bay
That win over the Chiefs is starting to look like a fluke. Las Vegas got shelled by Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. He tossed four touchdown passes and racked up 369 yards. The Raiders were powerless to stop him, failing to come up with a turnover or a sack in the contest. For the offense, it was a brutal game for Josh Jacobs. He managed just 17 yards on 10 carries as Tampa shut down the running game. Derek Carr deserves some praise for his performance, but it is hard to feel good about anything that happens in a 25-point loss.

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14. Chicago Bears: 5-2 (Last Week 10)
Lost 24-10 at Los Angeles
Looks like everyone who doubted the Bears as a legitimate contender was right. Chicago’s offense was lifeless on Monday night, posting three points. The Bears’ lone touchdown came on the defensive side, well after the game had been decided. Nick Foles fell apart in the red zone all night, David Montgomery struggled and the offensive line did not do much blocking. Chicago is one of three teams with a winning record, but a negative point differential. This team might need to make some adjustments to personnel or scheme or something, because the Bears currently rank 27th in scoring.

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15. Miami Dolphins: 3-3 (Last Week: 16)
Bye Week
Brian Flores can add first shutout of the 2020 season to his resume. There should probably be an asterisk next to it indicating the shutout came against the Joe Flacco-led Jets’ offense. Myles Gaskin had another solid outing as the lead back, which is a great sign for the offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick was his usual gunslinger self, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. We even got a glimpse at the future! Tua Tagovailoa saw a little bit of mop up duty at the end of the contest. Miami is suddenly one game back in the AFC East. Could this team possibly be making a playoff push a year earlier than most expected?

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16. San Francisco 49ers: 4-3 (Last Week: 17)
Won 33-6 at New England
San Francisco has firmly put that blowout loss to Miami in its rearview mirror. Back-to-back impressive wins over the Rams and Patriots got this team back on track. Kyle Shannahan’s offense ran all over the Pats’ defense, nearly finishing with 200 yards. Unfortunately, Jeff Wilson, who accounted for 112 rushing yards and three touchdowns, exited with injury and will be out for a few weeks. Defensively, this team looked like it rediscovered its 2019 form with four interceptions. New England barely managed 250 yards of offense and failed to find the end zone. There are still some red flags despite the lopsided scoreline. Jimmy Garoppolo only threw five incompletions on Sunday, but two of them were interceptions. He must take care of the football in the second half of the season.

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17. Cleveland Browns: 5-2 (Last Week: 18)
Won 37-34 at Cincinnati
This was a costly loss for the Browns. Odell Beckham Jr. tore his ACL and will miss the rest of the season. It marred what was an impressive bounce back performance from Baker Mayfield. He almost carried over the same issues that plagued him in Pittsburgh when his first pass went to the wrong team. Instead, he settled down and threw for five touchdowns, including the game-winning score with 11 seconds remaining. Cleveland’s defense had mixed results. It forced two turnovers and picked up four sacks, but surrendered over 400 yards to Joe Burrow. With five wins, the Browns can certainly think about the postseason, but they still have a lot to work on.

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18. Carolina Panthers: 3-4 (Last Week: 19)
Lost 27-24 at New Orleans
Teddy Bridgewater played way better, but it was still another loss for Carolina. The ground game disappeared as the Panthers finished with just 37 yards rushing. At 2.6 yards per carry, this was a rough outing for the offense. DJ Moore did stretch the field for a 74-yard score though to make the numbers look a bit more respectable. The defense did not fare much better, allowing Drew Brees to have a great game. This team is incredibly young, so you expect growing pains. Carolina is close, it just isn’t playing complete games right now.

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19. New England Patriots: 2-4 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 33-6 vs. San Francisco
Ouch. The Patriots got punched in the mouth on Sunday and had absolutely no response. Cam Newton tossed three interceptions. Jarrett Stidham threw another one in relief. San Francisco also ran over the defense, racking up 197 yards and averaging 5.3 yards per carry. The team that looked like it was ready to compete for another AFC East title over the first few weeks of the season is nowhere to be found right now. A crucial matchup with Bills is up next. This team genuinely might just like the talent to compete right now.

20. Los Angeles Chargers: 2-4 (Last Week: 20)
Won 39-29 vs. Jacksonville
Justin Herbert is a beast! Ok, maybe the Jaguars defense makes every opposing quarterback look incredible, but this was a great showing from the Chargers’ rookie. He aired it out for 347 yards, led the team in rushing with 66 yards and scored four total touchdowns. His connection with Keenan Allen was on full display as well. This team is not ready to contend for the division title yet, but it certainly feels like Los Angeles is headed in the right direction.

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21. Detroit Lions: 3-3 (Last Week: 24)
Won 23-22 at Atlanta
Detroit has quietly gotten back to .500 with back-to-back wins over reeling teams. However, that win over Arizona is looking better and better. Matthew Stafford came up clutch with a game-winning touchdown pass on the final play of the contest. He got some help from poor clock management on the side of the Falcons, but it was still an impressive drive. The Lions get a chance to prove themselves in Week 8 against the Colts.

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22. Philadelphia Eagles: 2-4-1 (Last Week: 23)
Won 22-21 vs. New York
Welcome back atop the NFC East! Philadelphia picked up a scrappy win over New York on Thursday Night Football. Let’s be honest, this team is not very good right now. The Eagles are struggling to win games against the worst teams in the league. However, these wins are important right now given all the injuries. If Philly can get a couple more starters back along the offensive line, this team might be close to the middle of the pack than it has show in recent weeks.

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23. Houston Texans: 1-6 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 35-20 vs. Green Bay
Get Deshaun Watson some help! He posted a dominant 93.2 QBR and his team lost in overtime without getting the ball. If that’s not a compelling reason to revisit NFL overtime rules, I don’t know what is. Back to Watson. He played a much smarter game, avoiding the risks he took the week before, but still could not overcome the Texans’ defensive deficiencies. After watching David Johnson run the ball 19 times for just 57 yards, Houston fans probably want to fire Bill O’Brien again. It is going to be a long few seasons while the Texans work to turn the team around.

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24. Atlanta Falcons: 1-6 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 23-22 vs. Detroit
How do the Falcons keep doing this? Atlanta found yet another way to blow another game, but they deserve style points for this one. Todd Gurley attempted to keep himself out of the end zone in order to let the Falcons run the clock more, but could not stop himself from scoring. As a result, Detroit drove the length of the field and scored on the final play to stun Atlanta yet again. This team could very easily be 4-3 with some better clock management and knowing how to recover onsides kicks. The talent is there, at least on offense. This team is heading for a very interesting offseason.

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25. Denver Broncos: 2-4 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 43-16 vs. Kansas City
Denver didn’t really need a ton of offense to take down New England. Beating the defending champs requires a lot more offense. Drew Lock struggled again, tossing a pick-six. He got plenty of help from the running game with 177 yards on the ground, but Melvin Gordon coughed it up twice. Overall, this was a clear reminder that the Broncos are still building up this young core. Competing with the Chiefs just is not possible for this group right now.

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26. Minnesota Vikings: 1-5 (Last Week: 26)
Bye Week
Minnesota got a much-needed week off to refocus and hopefully fix some of the many problems it has had this year. Kirk Cousins has been a turnover machine through his first six games. The secondary is also one of the worst in the league due to injuries and inexperience. Thankfully, Dalvin Cook should be back after sitting out Week 6’s contest. The playoffs feel very far away for the Vikings, who are already cutting ties with veterans like Yannick Ngakoue, who they traded for in September.

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27. Cincinnati Bengals: 1-5-1 (Last Week: 28)
Lost 37-34 vs. Cleveland
Cincinnai opened the game defensively with an interception of Baker Mayfield. Someone clearly forgot to inform them that the game would keep going. Mayfield torched the secondary for five touchdowns, all of them coming after Odell Beckham Jr. had left with an injury. On the offensive side, Joe Burrow continued to do his best Superman impression despite his pathetic offensive line and lackluster running game. Joe Mixon’s absence was apparent as the Bengals never really got into a rhythm running the ball. With one win in seven games, the outcomes don’t really matter from here on out. Cincinnati just needs to determine who is worth keeping around Joe Burrow and if Zac Taylor really is the best person to coach him.

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28. Washington: 2-5 (Last Week: 30)
Won 25-3 vs. Dallas
Don’t look now, but Washington is a half-game back of the division lead and a playoff spot. Given that the team has played three quarterbacks so far this season and allowed the third most sacks in the league, that is truly remarkable. It helps to play in the NFC East, especially against a Cowboys team playing Ben DiNucci after Jon Bostic made a blatantly illegal hit to knock Andy Dalton out of the game. Antonio Gibson had a nice day while Kyle Allen continues to settle into the starting quarterback role. Ron Rivera is definitely reshaping this organization and has so far lead a talent-deprived roster to two divisional wins.

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29. Dallas Cowboys: 2-5 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 25-3 at Washington
Losing Andy Dalton to a horrific hit definitely shifts the blame somewhat for the three points managed in this game, but Dallas still disappointed even with Dalton on the field. The former Bengals quarterback averaged 3.9 yards per attempt and completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes before he left. The banged up offensive line continues to be an issue as well. Ezekiel Elliott did not have much running room and Cowboys quarterbacks were sacked six times. Dallas is entering fire sale mode now, despite the fact it is only a half-game back of the division lead. Planning for the future is definitely the move for this franchise given where it stands right now.

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30. New York Giants: 1-6 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 22-21 at Philadelphia
This game pretty much summed up the Giants entire season up to this point. The team lost its starting running back due to injury, the offense slept walked through most of the game and the defense played better than expected to keep things competitive. To top it all off, Daniel Jones became a GIF when he tripped over absolutely nothing to rob himself of a nearly 90-yard touchdown run. Giants fans can take solace in knowing their team was close to pulling off a win that would have moved them atop the NFC East, but instead, they can keep looking at mock drafts.

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31. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-6 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 39-29 at Los Angeles
Once again, Jacksonville’s defense made the opposing quarterback look like the league MVP. The Jaguars defense is allowing the third most yards and fifth most points per game in the league. The poor defensive performance wiped out a sensational effort from James Robinson, who accounted for 137 total yards and two touchdowns. The offensive line failed to protect Gardner Minshew once again as this team continues to get dominated in the trenches. Doug Marrone and his coaching staff are definitely on thin ice.

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32. New York Jets: 0-7 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 18-10 vs. Buffalo
Even when the Jets do things well, they still mess it up. New York held Buffalo without a touchdown but still managed to lose by eight thanks to a pitiful offensive performance. Sam Darnold struggled in his return from injury, throwing for a meager 120 yards and tossing a pair of interceptions. Adam Gase even passed off the play-calling duties, which clearly had almost no effect on the offense. There is some silver lining here. For the second straight week, the defense stepped up well on third down. The Bills and Dolphins combined to go 4-for-22 on third down over the past two weeks. This team is still headed for Trevor Lawrence, but it is nice to find a positive for how it is playing right now.

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Fantasy Football 2020 Waiver Wire Pickups: Teddy Bridgewater, Boston Scott highlight Week 7 additions

Week 6 was a really weird one for fantasy football. Three of the top five fantasy quarterbacks were Matt Ryan, Ryan Tannehill and Carson Wentz. Philip Rivers, Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo all finished in the top 10 in scoring as well after posting duds in Week 5.

Kenyan Drake, D’Andre Swift, Ronald Jones II and Miles Gaskin were among the top-seven scoring running backs. Those seven backs were also the only ones to finish with more than 15 fantasy points in PPR scoring.

For wide receivers, Justin Jefferson lead all scorers, Julio Jones scored two touchdowns after failing to find the end zone up to that point and Christian Kirk was the fourth-best scorer with just two catches.

If that wasn’t weird enough, three of the top five tight ends for the week were on fewer than 10 percent of ESPN rosters.

Bottom line: the NFL is difficult to predict and working the waiver wire is important in fantasy football. Let’s get to my favorite players to target this week.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, CAR
Somehow, Bridgewater has entered into QB1 consideration. He struggled against a top-tier Bears defense, but before that, he turned in two 20-plus point outings. For the third time this season, he also rushed for more than 25 yards. Now, he gets to face a Saints defense allowing the 3rd-most points to opposing quarterbacks. If you are looking for a bye-week fill-in, Bridgewater is one of the best options available.

Kyle Allen, QB, WAS
Allen still feels like a placeholder in Washington. As long as he is the starter though, he has some fantasy value. Especially going up against a Cowboys defense that cannot seem to stop a nosebleed, much less the opposing quarterback. I wouldn’t consider him a top-tier option, but given what Kyler Murray just did to this defense, I think Allen could be a fill-in for a bye week.

Carson Wentz might be second in the NFL in interceptions, but he is also seventh in fantasy points over the past four games. (Wikimedia Commons)

Carson Wentz, QB, PHI
He might be facing a tough matchup with a steadily improving Giants’ defense, but Wentz had an even worse matchup against the Ravens. He has worked magic over the past four weeks with essentially no supporting cast. It is hard to know when that magic might run out. Zach Ertz and Miles Sanders will both be out for a bit. On a short week, it might be really tough for Wentz to get this offense up to speed. If Lane Johnson returns, that should help get things back on track. Wentz is still a fringe starting option in fantasy.

Boston Scott, RB, PHI
With the aforementioned injury to Miles Sanders, Boston Scott suddenly is in line for a huge uptick in usage. He faces a Giants’ defense that has struggled to stop the run so far, ranking 22nd in fantasy point allowed to opposing running backs. Scott has not produced much, but he could be considered as a flex option.

J.D. McKissic, RB, WAS
Washington has struggled to run the ball this year, but McKissic is carving out a role as a receiver in this offense. He has registered at least six receptions in his past three games. Facing a Dallas defense that has struggled to contain opposing running backs. He also earned eight carries in Week 6. 14 total touches is more than a good enough reason to add him to your roster, even if it is just as depth at the position.

Lamical Perine, RB, NYJ
With Le’Veon Bell now in Kansas City, I expect Perine to continue to carve out a larger role in this Jets’ offense. It is not a unit I would recommend investing in heavily, but if you are in need of some running back depth with potential upside, Perine is a decent option. He faces a decent Bills defense in Week 7, but he has the potential to take over the starting job from Frank Gore as the season wears on.

Brian Hill, RB, ATL
Perhaps it was a product of having a huge lead against the Vikings, but the Falcons relied on Brian Hill a lot more in the win. He finished with 10 carries and caught a pair of passes out of the backfield. A fumble marred his day and he was not overly effective running the ball, but the usage is encouraging. I wouldn’t place a high priority on him, but with a shakeup to the coaching staff, Hill could continue to see touches if Gurley continues to be ineffective.

Keelan Cole Sr., WR, JAX
Cole benefits from being part of an offense that has to throw the ball a lot because Jacksonville is almost always trailing. Garbage-time fantasy points still count just the same. He had a huge Week 6 against Detroit, and while it is unlikely you can count on him to replicate that, Gardner Minshew is looking his way enough for Cole to stay fantasy relevant. He has earned at least five targets in every game this season, including a season-high of nine on Sunday. If you are looking for some wide receiver depth, Cole is a worthwhile option.

Demarcus Robinson finished second only to Travis Kelce for targets on the Chiefs in Week 6.

Demarcus Robinson, WR, KC
With Sammy Watkins out against his former team, Robinson stepped up to fill the void. He hauled in five catches for 69 yards facing a solid Bills defense. Robinson goes up against a Broncos defense that struggled to contain opposing receivers prior to their Week 5 bye. With Watkins likely out again in Week 7 and the Jets on the horizon for Week 8, Robinson could be a flex option for the next couple of weeks if you are hurting at receiver.

Christian Kirk, WR, ARI
I don’t usually put players who hauled in just two catches on this list. However, one of Kirk’s catches went for 80 yards and both resulted in touchdowns. I’m also not buying that Kyler Murray is going to finish too many games this season with nine completed passes. If you are looking for a boom-or-bust flex option this week, look no further than Kirk. He faces the best fantasy matchup he could in a Seahawks defense giving up 23.2 more points to opposing receivers than the league average.

Mike Williams, WR, LAC
Keenan Allen is questionable heading into Week 7’s meeting with the Jaguars. Even if Allen does suit up, I would be interested in grabbing Williams. After Allen exited against the Saints, Williams posted monster numbers. Now he gets a Jaguars secondary that has given up a ton of points to opposing receivers in recent weeks. If Allen starts, consider Williams a flex play. If Allen sits, bump Williams into the WR2.

Dalton Schultz, TE, DAL
Finding fantasy tight ends is really difficult right now. While Schultz is far from a fantasy star, he is a serviceable option for managers in need of a bye-week fill-in. Outside of a Week 5 dud vs. the Giants, he has caught at least four passes in each game since he took over as the starter. Even with the change at quarterback, it is clear Andy Dalton trust him enough to look his direction. Facing a Washington defense that has surrendered the fifth-most points to opposing tight ends, I would feel comfortable starting Schultz this week.

Anthony Firkser, TE, TEN
Frisker’s value is totally contingent on the health of Jonnu Smith. Before Week 6, the 25-year-old had accounted for just six points in PPR scoring. When Smith went down against Houston, Firkser racked up 25 fantasy points. Ryan Tannehill loves throwing to his tight ends. He might not have a great matchup against a talented Steelers defense, but if Firkser is starting, he has plenty of fantasy value to include him in your lineup.

Anthony Firkser racked up eight catches on nine targets for 113 yards and a touchdown in relief of Jonnu Smith. (Wikimedia Commons)

Trey Burton, TE, IND
Since returning from IR in Week 4, Burton has seen at least five targets in each of the Colts’ past three games. He took it to another level in Week 6 with two touchdowns. He is not going to challenge the George Kittles or Travis Kelces of the world, but Burton is some really smart depth to add at the position with the potential to be a starter down the line. He is on a bye in Week 7, but that shouldn’t stop you from stashing him on your bench.

Dallas Goedert, TE, PHI
Here is another tight end where you might want to get ahead of the curve. Goedert has yet to be activated from the IR, but he eligible to be starting this week. With Zach Ertz out for three-to-four weeks, Goedert could be a premier starting option as soon as this week, if not, in Week 8 against the Cowboys. If you are willing to gamble on his upside, Goedert is worth stashing on your bench or possibly in an IR spot on your roster if you league has any.

2020 NFL Power Rankings: Week 7

What a week! From start to finish, it was a wild slate of football games. There were some shocking results. Denver shutdown New England for a surprising victory and Tampa Bay blew the doors off Green Bay. There were some thrilling finishes as well. Tennessee needed overtime to hold off Houston. Washington and Philadelphia came up short after failing to convert two-point attempts. We also finally got some Tua Time!

The Fins shutout the Jets to continue New York’s embarrassing season. Tua Tagovailoa saw his first NFL action late in the game and had a truly wholesome moment after playing football for the first time since he suffered his devastating injury in 2019. Following the win, Tua walked back onto the field, he sat down on the 15-yard line and he FaceTimed his parents. They could not be there to watch him play because of the pandemic. It felt like a really relatable moment for all of us still struggling with the impact of COVID-19.

For the third straight week, the team that I moved atop the rankings lost and opened the door for a new team at No. 1. This week offered a massive shakeup the pecking order. Pittsburgh tries its hand at the top. I have a feeling this type of chaos will not stop any time soon.

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1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 5-0 (Last Week: 5)
Won 38-7 vs. Cleveland
Beating the Browns, doesn’t get you to be No. 1. Winning by 31 to stay among the NFL’s final three unbeaten teams does. It is hard to find a clear weakness for this team. They are deep at the skill positions, block well and spread the ball around on offense. Defensively, this might be the best unit in the NFL. Only the Ravens are allowing fewer points per game at this point, but the Steelers are allowing way fewer yards per game and forcing more turnovers per game. Pittsburgh now has a huge showdown between undefeated teams with the rescheduled Tennessee game up next. Baltimore is after that.

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2. Seattle Seahawks: 5-0 (Last Week: 2)
Bye Week
Without playing Seattle cemented its spot atop the NFC. Green Bay suffered its first loss of the year. Los Angeles falling to San Francisco extends Seattle’s lead atop the NFC West as well. Few teams are playing as well as the Seahawks have so far this season. If the defense can get things together on the bye and even improve to the league average, Seattle will be a Super Bowl contender. That defense is still concerning though. It ranks 32nd in yards allowed per game and 18th in points allowed per game.

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3. Kansas City Chiefs: 5-1 (Last Week: 3)
Won 26-17 at Buffalo
Kansas City put its first loss in 11 months behind it with a convincing victory. It wasn’t a dazzling victory, but the Chiefs controlled the clock with a devastating ground game. Clyde Edwards-Helaire had a big night, finishing with 161 rushing yards. As a team, KC finished with 245 yards running the ball, which was more yards than it did passing. Patrick Mahomes was still his same, lethal self, taking care of the football and tossing a pair of touchdown passes. We will see this team playing late into January at least, barring a slew of injuries.

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4. Green Bay Packers: 4-1 (Last Week: 1)
Lost 38-10 at Tampa Bay
Well that was incredibly short lived. The Packers only get one week atop the power rankings before they crash back down. Aaron Rodgers struggled, the running game was abandoned and the defense collapsed. It was honestly just a worst-case scenario on both sides of the ball for Green Bay. This was shades of San Francisco last season. The Packers simply cannot find a way to contend with the league’s elite defenses.

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5. Baltimore Ravens: 5-1 (Last Week: 4)
Won 30-28 at Philadelphia
Baltimore looked to have this game all wrapped up. Leading 24-6 on the road, the Ravens took their foot off the gas a bit too soon. The Eagles managed 22 points in the fourth quarter and were a botched two-point conversion away from tying the ball game. In addition to the defense’s inability to really close things out against the most injured offense in the NFL, Lamar Jackson needs some help. He went MVP mode with 108 yards rushing on just nine carries, but Ravens’ running backs managed just 2.7 yards per rush on their 28 attempts. The passing game was also inconsistent. This team needs a go-to playmaker outside of Jackson. So far, no one has stepped up to fill that role.

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6. Tennessee Titans: 5-0 (Last Week: 7)
Won 42-36 vs. Houston
Divisional games are always tricky. Tennessee learned that, but just managed to hang on against Houston. Derrick Henry turned in one of the best performances of any running back in the past decade. 264 total yards and two touchdowns is incredibly impressive. Ryan Tannehill balled out as well with four touchdown passes. The Titans can score. It is up to the defense start making some stops. Deshaun Watson carved up the secondary even though the Texans cannot run the ball. Houston also went three for three on fourth down and Tennessee didn’t force a turnover. This was an important win, but there is a lot Mike Vrabel’s squad still needs to focus on.

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7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 4-2 (Last Week: 16)
Won 38-10 vs. Green Bay
After an ugly loss on a Thursday night, Tampa Bay finally looked the part of the Super Bowl contender many expected at the beginning of the season. This defense might just be the best in the NFL, allowing the fewest yards per game through six weeks. Ranking them ahead of the Bears is more about what the Buccaneers look like at full strength. Getting Chris Godwin back helped the offense for sure. Mike Evans also looked a bit healthier. Smacking the previously undefeated Packers by 28 is a huge step in the right direction for Bruce Arians. A really interesting matchup with the Raiders is up next.

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8. Las Vegas Raiders: 3-2 (Last Week: 10)
Bye Week
This feels like where there is a clear drop off from the NFL’s elite to whatever you want to label the next tier. That’s not to say the Raiders are locked into this spot. Las Vegas is the only team to beat Kansas City since this past November. That’s a pretty big notch in their belt. However, losses to the Patriots and Bills show there is work to do. The defense still has a long way to go. It ranks 26th in yards per pass and 25th in yards per run allowed. Most teams know they can at least shutdown one facet of the opposing offense. So far, the Raiders have not shown the ability to slow down either. That is going to hold Las Vegas back as the season wears on.

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9. New Orleans Saints: 3-2 (Last Week: 11)
Bye Week
New Orleans gets a much needed week off with a chance to get healthy at a few key positions. Michael Thomas should finally return. Deonte Harris should be back returning punts as well and Janoris Jenkins will bolster the secondary. In addition to getting healthy, Sean Payton needs to refocus the team as a whole. The Saints have not felt like a Super Bowl contender up to this point. Even in their wins, New Orleans has not looked convincing. On one hand, being 3-2 without playing their best football is somewhat reassuring, assuming they can flip the switch and start playing much better.

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10. Chicago Bears: 5-1 (Last Week 15)
Won 23-16 at Carolina
Give this defense credit. Khalil Mack and company got after Teddy Bridgewater all afternoon. Chicago racked up four sacks and had him scrambling quite a bit. The defense also held Mike Davis, who had been playing really well in Christian McCaffrey’s absence, to just 2.9 yards per carry. This truly feels like a championship caliber defense. Unfortunately, the offense is still suspect. Nick Foles has looked nothing shy of terrible so far. He has one reliable receiver in Allen Robinson. The running game is basically non-existent. The Bears managed 63 yards and 2.5 yards per carry against a defense that was giving up 133 yards per game entering the contest. As Foles said, winning ugly is better than losing pretty, but at some point, it would be nice to see the offense put things together.

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11. Buffalo Bills: 4-2 (Last Week: 8)
Lost 26-17 vs. Kansas City
I know I asked it before, but I will ask it again: What happened to the Buffalo defense of 2019? The Bills allowed 103 yards per game last season, good for 9th in the league. Clyde Edwards-Helaire and company ran all over the defense on Monday to the tune of 245 yards. Patrick Mahomes wasn’t quiet either, going 21-for-26 passing with 225 yards and two touchdowns. Buffalo only managed to sack him once. Offensively, it was definitely a lackluster showing. Josh Allen only competed 14 passes and once again the running backs failed to produce much. After a great start, it is important for the Bills to bounce back now and not let this streak get much longer.

12. Los Angeles Rams: 4-2 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 24-16 vs. San Francisco
Will the real Rams offense please stand up? Week 4 saw this team finish with just 17 points. A week ago, L.A. dropped 30 on Washington. Back home against a reeling San Francisco defense, Sean McVay’s group was held to just 16 points. At 4-2, there is no reason to panic, but it would be nice for Jared Goff to stabilize the offense. That 2018 season is starting to feel like a really long time ago.

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13. Arizona Cardinals: 4-2 (Last Week: 13)
Won 38-10 at Dallas
Arizona took care of business on Monday Night Football with a convincing performance. Yes, it came against a terrible Cowboys team, but the Cardinals dominated. Kyler Murray struggled a lot throwing the football against possibly the worst secondary in the NFL. He completed just nine passes in the contest despite throwing it 24 times. Murray did make plenty of plays with his legs though and the defense made sure he didn’t need to be perfect. The Cards defense force three turnovers and finished with sacks, even without Chandler Jones. Kliff Kingsbury’s crew is gaining momentum.

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14. Indianapolis Colts: 4-2 (Last Week: 14)
Won 31-27 vs. Cincinnati
Indianapolis looked like they might just unraveling following its loss to Cleveland. Cincinnati jumped out to a 21-0 lead. It felt like that was when Philip Rivers and company finally woke up. The Colts were extremely lucky to be facing an inexperienced team like the Bengals. Otherwise, this would have been a blowout. The defense locked down and gave Rivers a chance to lead a comeback. Give him credit for successfully seeing it through, but it is a little concerning that he needed to lead a three-score comeback against a one-win team in the first place.

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15. New England Patriots: 2-3 (Last Week: 9)
Lost 18-12 vs. Denver
What in the world was that? If you knew the Patriots kept the Broncos out of the end zone, you would have assumed New England won comfortably. Bill Belichick is the king of bye weeks after all and the team had an extra week to prep. Yet, Cam Newton returned and somehow the offense looked much worse than it did even before the bye week. Newton was successful with his legs, but two interceptions and four sacks taken tanked the passing game. The defense did it’s job, forcing two interceptions and holding Denver to six field goals. Make no mistake, this is a setback for the Patriots. I think they will turn it around, but this was a concerning loss.

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16. Miami Dolphins: 3-3 (Last Week: 17)
Won 24-0 vs. New York
Brian Flores can add first shutout of the 2020 season to his resume. There should probably be an asterisk next to it indicating the shutout came against the Joe Flacco-led Jets’ offense. Myles Gaskin had another solid outing as the lead back, which is a great sign for the offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick was his usual gunslinger self, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. We even got a glimpse at the future! Tua Tagovailoa saw a little bit of mop up duty at the end of the contest. Miami is suddenly one game back in the AFC East. Could this team possibly be making a playoff push a year earlier than most expected?

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17. San Francisco 49ers: 3-3 (Last Week: 23)
Won 24-16 at Los Angeles
Talk about quieting the doubters. San Francisco bounced back big time with a vital win to staying in the playoff race. The defense made an about face, holding Los Angeles to 16 points. Jimmy Garoppolo reasserted himself as the clear leader of the offense with three touchdowns in the first half and an overall impressive performance. The offensive line deserves recognition as well, not allowing a single sack against a talented front seven. Unfortunately, the injuries keep piling up, as Raheem Mostert heads back to the IR. The 49ers face a motivated Patriots team in Week 7.

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18. Cleveland Browns: 4-2 (Last Week: 12)
Lost 38-7 at Pittsburgh
I would not want to be Baker Mayfield right now. He had a terrible performance against Pittsburgh and got hit, a lot. The Steelers tallied eight quarterback hits in the game. The former No. 1 pick also threw two interceptions, including a horrible pick-six. He didn’t get a tremendous amount of help from his running game, but Cleveland essentially had to abandon it after trailing 24-7 at halftime. For the second time, the Browns have come up against the elite teams in the AFC North and have walked away thoroughly embarrassed. This team has a lot of growth to do.

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19. Carolina Panthers: 3-3 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 23-16 vs. Chicago
Injuries finally caught up with Carolina. Obviously, Christian McCaffrey is still out. Eli Apple and Curtis Samuel joined him on the sideline. Teddy Bridgewater’s supporting cast totally failed him as a result. He was sacked four times and Mike Davis got stonewalled repeatedly. Bridgewater deserves some criticism as well, tossing two interceptions. Defensively, the Panthers actually took some big steps forward. Holding David Montgomery to just 2.5 yards per carry is not overly impressive, but it was a good sign of growth for a very young unit.

20. Los Angeles Chargers: 1-4 (Last Week: 20)
Bye Week
Los Angeles has quickly become one of the most entertaining rebuilding teams to watch. Justin Herbert has had his fair share of growing pains, but has handling the starting role well. Especially when you consider that he has missed Austin Ekeler and, at times, Keenan Allen, Herbert has been better than advertised. Defensively, the Chargers are close, but not quite there yet. They have some talented edge rushers, but that has not translated to defensive success. However, L.A. gets a very favorable matchup against the Jaguars next.

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21. Atlanta Falcons: 1-5 (Last Week: 25)
Won 40-16 at Minnesota
Maybe the Falcons should have cleaned house sooner if this was the response they were going to get. It helped to play a young Vikings defense, but putting up 40 is a great sign for the rest of the season. It might be a bit too late for Atlanta to really make a postseason push, but this team looked a lot more competitive in all three phases. It’s great to see Matt Ryan and Julio Jones go off, but the defense is the real key here. It got key stops on fourth down, picked off Kirk Cousins three times and held Minnesota to just 32 rushing yards. The Falcons have been incapable of stopping any up to this point, so this is a good sign. Now interim coach Raheem Morris needs to find a way to build on it.

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22. Houston Texans: 1-5 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 42-36 at Tennessee
Get Deshaun Watson some help! He posted a dominant 93.2 QBR and his team lost in overtime without getting the ball. If that’s not a compelling reason to revisit NFL overtime rules, I don’t know what is. Back to Watson. He played a much smarter game, avoiding the risks he took the week before, but still could not overcome the Texans’ defensive deficiencies. After watching David Johnson run the ball 19 times for just 57 yards, Houston fans probably want to fire Bill O’Brien again. It is going to be a long few seasons while the Texans work to turn the team around.

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23. Philadelphia Eagles: 1-4-1 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 30-28 vs. Baltimore
Honestly, you could take most of what I just wrote about Deshaun Watson and apply it to Carson Wentz. No, Wentz is not as good as Watson, but if I am going to criticize Watson’s supporting cast, I need to rip Wentz’s apart. Wentz was sacked six times. His starting wide receivers are Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward and John Hightower. His starting running back became Boston Scott after Miles Sanders exited with an injury. Zach Ertz is out for three-to-four weeks as well. Four of his original five starting offensive lineman were also hurt. Somehow, Wentz staged a massive comeback bid, coming up just a two-point conversion short of forcing overtime. I know every team is battling injuries this season, but it seems like the Eagles are dealing with more than any other team. After several seasons of injuries at key positions, it might be time for the organization to look into why it keeps happening.

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24. Detroit Lions: 2-3 (Last Week: 26)
Won 34-16 at Jacksonville
The Lions built an early lead and held onto it! This is some of the best defense Detroit has played all season. It started with shutting down the run game, holding Jacksonville to just 44 yards on the ground. Matt Patricia’s team also came up with two turnovers as well. Even if this is the type of performance we would expect from the Lions facing one of the worst offenses in the league, it is important that they met expectations. That is something they have struggled to do quite a bit this season.

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25. Denver Broncos: 2-3 (Last Week: 28)
Won 18-12 at New England
Drew Lock was back in action, but honestly that didn’t really seem to matter. Denver failed to score a touchdown and Lock looked awful. He completed under 50 percent of his passes and threw two frustrating interceptions. He kept offering the Patriots a way back into the game. Thankfully, the defense played lights out. Between the four sacks, three forced turnovers and five tackles for loss, it was one of the best showings we have seen from the Broncos in years. Imagine how good this team could be if the offense got on track.

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26. Minnesota Vikings: 1-5 (Last Week: 19)
Lost 40-16 vs. Atlanta
Any optimism I had about this team after a great showing despite the final result against Seattle evaporated on Sunday. Kirk Cousins had a nightmare performance and the ground game shockingly disappeared. Between Cousins’ three interceptions and the Vikings averaging just 2.5 yards per carry, it was rough afternoon. The secondary looked lost as well. Matt Ryan played well, but his receivers were also routinely wide open. On the bright side, Minnesota succeeded in stopping the run. That is little consolation when the scoreline is this lopsided.

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27. Dallas Cowboys: 2-4 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 38-10 vs. Arizona
Jerry Jones better open up his checkbook and pay Dak Prescott whatever the hell he wants. Ezekiel Elliott looks rattled, Andy Dalton looks overmatched and the offensive line looks like a revolving door. On the other side of the ball, the Jets might even be able to score 20 points against the Cowboys defense. Somehow, Dallas still holds a playoff spot right now by virtue of leading the NFC East. There is still time for Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore to bring Andy Dalton up to speed. However, the defense needs a jolt. It might be early, but Mike Nolan’s job should be under scrutiny. There is no reason this unit should be as bad as it has been through six games.

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28. Cincinnati Bengals: 1-4-1 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 31-27 at Indianapolis
For about 25 minutes, it looked like the Bengals were en route to a big win over a solid AFC opponent. Instead, Cincy blew a 21-0 lead, almost before reaching halftime. Joe Burrow and the offense managed just a field goal in the final 38 minutes of the game. The inability to run the football made it very difficult to protect the lead. 2020 was supposed to be a rebuilding season for the Bengals, but that does not mean that blowing massive leads does not sting.

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29. New York Giants: 1-5 (Last Week: 31)
Won 20-19 vs. Washington
It almost pains me to move the Giants up after winning. Daniel Jones managed 112 yards passing, but did show out as a running, leading the team with 74 yards. The rest of the offense did not really do much. Devonta Freeman managed three yards per carry. Kaden Smith led the team in catches with just three receptions. Darius Slayton led the team in receiving yards despite leaving in the first half with an injury. Thankfully, this continually improving Giants defense made just enough plays to drag the offense to victory.

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30. Washington: 1-5 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 20-19 at New York
No matter how you spin this, Washington looked terrible on Sunday. Kyle Allen played decently well, but still committed two turnovers. The running game was passable. Still, they somehow only managed 19 points and needed a game-winning drive to even have a chance. Defensively, Washington looked good, but that honestly might have been more about how bad New York was playing than how well Ron Rivera’s club was executing. This just has the feel of a lost season for this franchise.

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31. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-5 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 34-16 vs. Detroit
After thinking Gardner Minshew may be the answer at quarterback early in the season, I am becoming more convinced Jacksonville just needs to hit the reset button on the franchise. Just clear everyone out. Dave Caldwell should be gone. Doug Marrone and the whole coaching staff needs to go. Maybe Jay Gruden can stay. Overall, this is just a team lacking talent, and it is showing. It makes that Week 1 win over the Colts even more difficult to understand.

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32. New York Jets: 0-6 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 24-0 at Miami
The Jets really rank 33rd in overall football power rankings at this point. I am pretty sure Clemson would be able to beat them at this point. New York would have the advantage at a few spots, but most of this Clemson roster is eventually headed to the NFL. There is no question Dabo Swinney is a better coach than Adam Gase. I honestly don’t even need to talk about how the Jets played on Sunday. Look at the scoreline, that should tell you everything you need to know. On the flip side, Clemson just hung 73 on Georgia Tech. There is a real chance the Tigers could beat the Jets if they faced off at a neutral site. I’m just hoping the Clemson-New York connection continues when the Jets use the first overall pick to take Trevor Lawrence. Knowing this franchise, they will find a way to mess it up somehow.

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