NFL Power Rankings 2018: Week 8

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1. Los Angeles Rams: 8-0 (Last Week: 1)
It wasn’t always pretty, but the Rams earned another win. Still the league’s only undefeated team, Los Angeles faced some adversity early on in its contest with Green Bay. Jared Goff looked a bit off in the first half and the ground game was bottled up. The second half fared a lot better for the offense. If not for an untimely fumble by Ty Montgomery, this could be a very different story. LA will need to play better against the Saints.

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2. New England Patriots: 6-2 (Last Week: 2)
The Patriots offense managed just one touchdown up in Buffalo. New England still managed an impressive victory with a bunch of field goals and a pick-six. The Bills have done this a few times this season, so credit to the Pats for escaping with a comfortable win. This team will likely look better once it gets Sony Michel back from injury.

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3. Kansas City Chiefs: 7-1 (Last Week: 3)
The Chiefs were tested again against the Broncos, but the final score is all that matters. Kansas City failed to score in the fourth quarter, which allowed Denver to close the gap slightly. Overall, it was a solid win. The defense came up with five sacks. Biggest issue has to be the lack of a running game, accounting for just 49 yards in the contest. No one has come close to stopping the aerial attack in KC, but the lack of a running game is a rising concern.

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4. New Orleans Saints: 6-1 (Last Week: 4)
Revenge achieved in Minneapolis. That loss to the Buccaneers feels like a decade ago as the Saints cruised to its sixth straight win. It was not the typical game from New Orleans. Drew Brees only threw for 120 yards. In fact, the offense only picked up 260 yards of offense. The defense stepped up with two crucial turnovers, one interception for a touchdown and one fumble recovery to set up a short-field score. This sets up a showdown with the Rams next week in which defense might be at a premium.

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5. Carolina Panthers: 5-2 (Last Week: 9)
In a lot of ways, the Panthers have flown under the radar. None of their games have been in primetime yet, but Carolina is looking good. This team has some great wins over the Bengals, Eagles and now Ravens, but also it lost to the Atlanta and Washington. The offense is weird but the defense is good. Watch out for Carolina in the second half.

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6. Los Angeles Chargers: 5-2 (Last Week: 6)
A week off for the Chargers lets Melvin Gordon get healthy and the offense reset after some rough outings. Los Angeles seems well positioned to take a wild card spot in the AFC and still have a shot at the Chiefs, just one game behind Kansas City. A trip to Seattle awaits, where we will see what the Chargers are made of.

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7. Pittsburgh Steelers: 4-2-1 (Last Week: 8)
It might be the Browns, but given how the last matchup with them went, this was a massive positive for the Steelers. James Connor had another incredible showing with 146 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Pittsburgh’s defense looked solid. Don’t look now, but the Steelers are leading the AFC North and picking up some steam. The Ravens are next on the schedule, so get ready for another edition of the best rivalry this league has to offer.

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8. Minnesota Vikings: 4-3-1 (Last Week 5)
On paper, it seemed like the Vikings should have won this game. Minnesota outgained New Orleans by almost 200 yards and intercepted Drew Brees for the first time all season. Two turnovers cost the Vikings the game. Tough pill to swallow for the Vikings, especially as the Bears win to take control of the NFC North.

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9. Philadelphia Eagles: 4-4 (Last Week: 10)
For most teams, playing in London means a neutral site game, but when playing the Jaguars that is undoubtedly a road game. It didn’t seem to matter as the Eagles handled the crowd, the trip and a resurgent Blake Bortles. The running defense was phenomenal and the passing offense continues to click, which is important considering the number of running back injuries Philly has suffered. The champs are .500 at the halfway mark, but it would be foolish to rule them out quite yet.

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10. Washington: 5-2 (Last Week: 11)
Adrian Peterson turned back the clocks and dominated the Giants defense. The defense held the relatively anemic New York offense in check no problem. However, there is a lot to be desired as Washington only mustered 20 points. The record looks great, but Alex Smith and the passing offense still leaves a lot to be desired.

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11. Chicago Bears: 4-3 (Last Week: 12)
No problems handling the Jets and with losses by the Vikings and Packers, the Bears currently top the NFC North. Matt Nagy is utilizing Tarik Cohen well and the offense will get better when Allen Robinson is back on the field. Turns out the defense is still pretty solid even without Khalil Mack. The tour of the AFC East continues as Chicago travels to Buffalo next.

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12. Houston Texans: 5-3 (Last Week: 18)
Remember when the Texans were 0-3. The New York Giants do, as it was the only win Big Blue picked up this season. Since then, Houston has locked in offensively and found a way to utilize some dynamic offensive targets. Lamar Miller continues to impress after disappearing for a few weeks. Oh and Deshaun Watson seems to be all the way back with five touchdown passes on just 20 attempts. With the rest of the AFC South floundering, Houston looks to be in really good shape.

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13. Baltimore Ravens: 4-4 (Last Week: 7)
This is a bad look for the Ravens. After a hot 3-1 start, Baltimore has dropped three of four to fall to .500. The Steelers are getting back on track and the Bengals continue to win tough games. The season is far from over, but a two-touchdown loss against Carolina raises a lot of doubts about Baltimore’s ability to make the playoffs.

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14. Cincinnati Bengals: 5-3 (Last Week: 15)
Maybe a little closer than Marvin Lewis would have liked, but it was a much-needed win. It is great the Bengals intercepted Jameis Winston four times. It is troubling that ended in just a three-point victory on a game-winning field goal. This defense is a mess across the board right now. It could not get off the field on third down. That is going to be crucial for Cincinnati to solve on its bye week.

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15. Seattle Seahawks: 4-3 (Last Week: 17)
This was a quality win for Seattle. Going on the road against a fellow wild card contender and winning is big. Russell Wilson posted a perfect passer rating and the ground game produced 176 yards on a whopping 42 carries. The Seahawks already have three road wins this season. With a home-loaded back half, Russell Wilson and company seem poised to make a legitimate run at the playoffs.

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16. Atlanta Falcons: 3-4 (Last Week: 16)
There is no one in the NFL who needed a week off more than the Falcons. Atlanta has been ravaged by injuries on both sides of the ball. Considering that, 3-4 is not terrible for Dan Quinn’s crew. The offense is heating up and if the defense can get some key contributors back on the field, Atlanta could definitely run the table.

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17. Green Bay Packers: 3-3-1 (Last Week: 14)
It is totally fair to be bitter after watching the Packers spoil a perfect start in LA. It was very reminiscent of Green Bay’s collapse against the Seahawks in the 2015 NFC Championship game. The defense made all the right plays and the offense just couldn’t get into a rhythm and capitalize. A two-point loss to the best team in football is nothing to be ashamed of, but it the Packers still seem a step behind the truly elite teams this season. Next test, a trip to Foxborough.

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18. Detroit Lions: 3-4 (Last Week: 13)
Maybe I was a little premature on the coronation of Kerryon Johnson as the running back of the future for Detroit. The Lions ran the ball for just 34 yards with a 2.6 yards per carry rate. It only took 17 throws from Russell Wilson to put up 28 points on the defense. Three turnovers against the Seahawks is never going to be a recipe for success. Matt Stafford continues to struggle in big games.

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19. Denver Broncos: 3-5 (Last Week: 20)
This is a young Broncos team continuing to grow. The rookie running backs are looking good as a pair. The passing offense is pedestrian though and the defense that crushed the Cardinals found out the Chiefs are just a bit better offensively. Patience is required, and this was a positive showing, but Denver is just not good enough this season to compete against Kansas City and Los Angeles.

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20. Dallas Cowboys: 3-4 (Last Week: 22)
This was the right time for a week off in Dallas. The Cowboys had a chance to integrate Amari Cooper into the offense. It should lead to better results from everyone else on the offense just by virtue of his presence. It is an uphill battle after Washington picked up its fifth win of the season, but the Cowboys feel a lot more prepared for the challenge after the bye.

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21. Miami Dolphins: 4-4 (Last Week: 21)
The cupcake schedule is over for the Dolphins, and it is proving to be a bit too tough so far. Miami’s secondary had some legendary blown coverages lead to touchdowns in Houston. On the bright side, DeVante Parker showed up with a massive six-catch 134-yard performance. A rematch with the Jets offers a chance to get back on track, but the ‘Fins will need a much better showing back home to stay in the postseason hunt.

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22. Jacksonville Jaguars: 3-5 (Last Week: 19)
How is this the same team that beat the Patriots? Jacksonville continues to struggle offensively, putting up just 18 points in London. Perhaps having four players detained in a nightclub incident was a distraction, but the Jaguars look bad. They now sit in the AFC South cellar with a fifth loss in six games. Leonard Fournette cannot return soon enough.

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23. Tennessee Titans: 3-4 (Last Week: 23)
Tennessee was on a bye this week, which hopefully gave the coaching staff time to figure out how to jump start the offense. Marcus Mariota has been mediocre at quarterback. The running game hasn’t been good enough. Ranking 30th in yards and points per game is not going to be good enough to reach the playoffs.

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24. Indianapolis Colts: 3-5 (Last Week: 27)
The Colts head into the bye week with back-to-back wins. While it might have been against two tanking teams, winning those games is still important. Indianapolis is out of the basement in the division and now in the mix. The offense is rolling and Andrew Luck looks in sync. The Colts might have something Marlon Mack as well.

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25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3-4 (Last Week: 24)
FitzMagic is back! Well maybe. Kinda. Jameis Winston imploded to the tune of four interceptions. Ryan Fitzpatrick took his place and tied the game up in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the Buccaneers still have the worst defense in the NFL. Quarterback drama and a terrible defense usually leads to a coaching change.

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26. Cleveland Browns: 2-5-1 (Last Week: 25)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Browns have fired their head coach midway through the season. Hue Jackson failed consistently in Cleveland and after a promising start, this team has fallen off completely in recent weeks. Baker Mayfield seems to be regressing and the run game is disappearing. This was always going to be a long project, but this signals the end of the Browns 2018 campaign.

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27. New York Jets: 3-5 (Last Week: 26)
It was a sloppy loss for the Jets. Tons of penalties and absolutely no running game to speak of. New York averaged 2.4 yards per rush. Sam Darnold had another rough outing, completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes in the process. Todd Bowles is running out of time to fix these underlying mistakes continuing to plague the Jets. Before too long, he could be following suit of Hue Jackson unless the team’s play improves.

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28. New York Giants: 1-7 (Last Week: 28)
I have to think any outside general manager would clean house in New York. Coach, offensive line, quarterback, skill players. The only three offensive players likely to make the cut are Odell Beckham Jr., Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley. The Giants are well on their way to a top-five draft pick. The trade deadline is very soon and there could be a few more players out the door.

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29. Buffalo Bills: 2-6 (Last Week: 29)
The Bills played a great first half on defense and honestly a good second half as well. Turns out that bringing Derek Anderson out of retirement is not the best strategy to win football games, especially against the Patriots. It appears Buffalo is back to being a basement team in the AFC, at least for the near future.

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30. Arizona Cardinals: 2-6 (Last Week: 31)
The Cardinals are capable of grinding out games against other bottom teams. If only Arizona could play San Francisco every week. The Cards are 2-0 against the 49ers and 0-6 against anyone else. It is hard to evaluate this performance, but the offense looked a bit more balanced. The defense harassed C.J. Beathard. There are some good pieces in place, but Arizona needs a lot more to build a team on.

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31. Oakland Raiders: 1-6 (Last Week: 30)
Even without Amari Cooper the Raiders offense had no problem scoring points. The defense was totally MIA though, allowing 200 yards rushing, three passing touchdowns and failing to register a sack. Oakland is certainly rebuilding and has the draft capital to do so, but it is going to take patience that fans may not have.

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32. San Francisco 49ers: 1-7 (Last Week: 32)
Losing Jimmy Garoppolo and Jerrick McKinnon to season-ending injuries might just be a blessing in disguise for the 49ers long term. San Francisco seems destined for a top pick and will be able to add some quality players to a solid returning core. If the 2018 season has shown anything, there a lot of holes left to fill on this team.

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NFL Power Rankings 2018: Week 7

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1. Los Angeles Rams: 7-0 (Last Week: 1)
It seems like the Rams are just picking up steam. Los Angeles blew out the 49ers on the road to make the division essentially out of reach. Sean McVay’s team faces a much tougher test with Green Bay paying a visit coming off a bye before LA heads to New Orleans. If the Rams survive that, we can start talking about a perfect season.

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2. New England Patriots: 5-2 (Last Week: 2)
This game almost went to overtime, but New England’s defense did just enough to prevent Kevin White from tying the game up on a Hail Mary. The good news: the Patriots are well in control of the AFC East now after Miami lost to Detroit. The bad news: Sony Michel is likely going to miss some time with an injury he suffered on Sunday. He was really starting to emerge as an every down back for New England.

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3. Kansas City Chiefs: 6-1 (Last Week: 3)
Kansas City remains the king of the AFC, at least in the standings, after demolishing Cincinnati on Sunday night. Patrick Mahomes tossed for 358 yards and four touchdowns. The defense also showed up for the first time all season, holding the Bengals to just 252 yards of total offense. If the Chiefs’ defense can come anywhere close to the level it played this weekend, this team is going to make a deep playoff run.

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4. New Orleans Saints: 5-1 (Last Week: 4)
Was it a little lucky to avoid overtime? Probably, but New Orleans managed 17 fourth quarter points against the best scoring defense in the league. Drew Brees and this offense is still humming along. The addition of Eli Apple from the Giants should also help this secondary down the stretch. New Orleans is in a tough division, but clearly looks the best of the bunch.

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5. Minnesota Vikings: 4-2-1 (Last Week 5)
Another week and another stellar performance from Adam Thielen. Kirk Cousins and company rolled over the team he spurned in free agency. Beating the Jets does not mark a marquee win for the Vikings, but a solid one on the road. Minnesota now gets a visit from New Orleans in a rematch of the Minneapolis Miracle. The Vikings should also get a boost in the form of Everson Griffin returning this week.

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6. Los Angeles Chargers: 5-2 (Last Week: 9)
It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was rather ugly, but it was a win nonetheless. The Chargers managed just enough offense without Mevlin Gordon. The trip to London is tough for a West Coast team. Los Angeles now gets a week off and has to feel good being just one game back of the Chiefs.

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7. Baltimore Ravens: 4-3 (Last Week: 6)
It was a really poor time for Justin Tucker to miss his first ever extra point attempt as it cost Baltimore the game. However, more of the blame has to sit with the defense that blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead. The Saints have a great offense, but that kind of collapse is unacceptable for the Ravens. Lucky for them, the Bengals looked awful against the Chiefs.

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8. Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-2-1 (Last Week: 8)
So Le’Veon Bell still isn’t back, but the Steelers will be happy that every other team in their division lost during their bye week. With Cleveland set to visit this week, Pittsburgh has a big opportunity to pick up a division win and assert itself in the AFC playoff race. Leaning on James Connor seems like the way to go.

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9. Carolina Panthers: 4-2 (Last Week: 11)
Don’t call it a comeback! Well, that’s actually exactly what it was. Carolina looked sluggish to start, but turned it around with 21 points in the fourth quarter to pull off a massive victory. The win keeps the Panthers just a game behind the Saints in the NFC South. If Carolina can beat Baltimore when it comes to town this week, it will inspire a lot of confidence in this Panthers team.

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10. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-4 (Last Week: 7)
It is time to start worrying about the Eagles. The reigning champs find themselves below .500 with a flailing offense. Philly allowed 21 unanswered points to end the game after starting up 17-0. The lack of a running game is a big issue as the Eagles mustered just 58 yards on the ground at 2.4 yards per carry average. With the trade deadline coming up, maybe it is time for Philadelphia to think about adding a running back.

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11. Washington: 4-2 (Last Week: 15)
Washington bottled up Ezekiel Elliott and contained Dak Prescott just enough to earn a win. Alex Smith is still struggling a bit in the passing game with just 178 yards through the air. He played turnover free though and the defense came up with two fumble recoveries. That is a recipe for success, but it would nice to see the offense produce a bit more.

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12. Chicago Bears: 3-3 (Last Week: 10)
An easy start to the season gave false hope to many of the Bears’ potential for this year. Back-to-back losses where the defense allowed a ton of points brought Chicago back down to Earth. Had Kevin White made it into the end zone, we might not be talking about a loss. Don’t be fooled by the rushing numbers either. Tarik Cohen and Jordan combined for a woeful 53 yards on 18 carries. Matt Nagy has to find a way to jump start the ground attack. Also, that defense needs to get back to its early season form.

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13. Detroit Lions: 3-3 (Last Week: 18)
Finally! The Lions have found their running back of the future, or so it seems with the continued emergence of Kerryon Johnson. The rookie from Auburn picked up 158 yards rushing on just 19 carries against the Dolphins. Matt Stafford completed 82 percent of his passes as well. Detroit is right in the mix for a wild card spot heading into the second half of the season. Newly added Damon Harrison will help the cause as well.

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14. Green Bay Packers: 3-2-1 (Last Week: 14)
The Packers got a much-needed week off and the assumption has to be that Aaron Rodgers is much closer to be healthy now. That is a scary thing for the rest of the league. Green Bay is going to need him to be with a trip to Los Angeles coming up.

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15. Cincinnati Bengals: 4-3 (Last Week: 12)
They are who we thought they were! No seriously, after starting the season 4-1, the Bengals have dropped two straight in disappointing fashion. This defense has a long way to go still and Andy Dalton is still too inconsistent to consider this team a real contender. Cincy has a visit from the high-flying Buccaneers offense coming up as well and desperately needs to play better.

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16. Atlanta Falcons: 3-4 (Last Week: 16)
The Falcons are a bit lucky it was the Giants they played on Monday night after struggling to get the ball into the end zone for much of the game. Matt Ryan is putting up MVP-like number though, which is good enough to win games for this team. With rumors that Patrick Peterson wants out in Arizona, it might be time for Atlanta to fill a hole in its defense and set itself up for a playoff run.

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17. Seattle Seahawks: 3-3 (Last Week: 17)
The Seahawks enjoyed a bye week, but several other wild card contenders picked up wins. It is not going to be an easy road for Seattle to make the playoffs with Los Angeles already at 7-0. A trip to Detroit is going to be vital in deciding the NFC wild card picture.

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18. Houston Texans: 4-3 (Last Week: 22)
Make it four straight! The Texans are on fire after picking up another divisional win and now control the AFC South. Houston’s defense came up with big turnovers and chased Blake Bortles from the game. Lamar Miller came up with 100 yards on the ground as well. Deshaun Watson had a forgettable performance though, completing just 50 percent of his passes for 139 yards and one touchdown. The Jaguars defense is good, but Cody Kessler threw for more yards in the second half alone than Watson did the whole game.

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19. Jacksonville Jaguars: 3-4 (Last Week: 13)
The Jaguars are officially spiraling. I hate to blame everything on Blake Bortles, because the running game hasn’t been good either, but after fumbling twice and being replaced by Cody Kessler, it’s not a good look. The Jaguars offense managed fewer than 10 points for the third time this season. It is clear what the issue is for this team. The addition of Carlos Hyde should help some, but Jacksonville needs to find a passing game.

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20. Denver Broncos: 3-4 (Last Week: 23)
Denver flat out demolished Arizona and took advantage of a rookie quarterback with two pick-sixes. In total, the defense came up with five turnovers and six sacks. The offense cashed in on short field opportunities. Case Keenum was efficient and the running game was effective. This is a formula the Broncos can rely on to win games, just maybe not in quite as devastating fashion every week. We’ve seen what this team can do with an average quarterback and elite defense before.

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21. Miami Dolphins: 4-3 (Last Week: 19)
Miami managed to avoid blowing a fourth quarter lead this week, mostly because it never had one. Brock Osweiler played fairly well though. The run game was solid. The offense was not really the issue. Sure 21 points is not usually enough to win, but allowing 32 points and 450 yards of offense is almost always going to result in a loss. It will need to move on quickly playing Thursday against Houston.

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22. Dallas Cowboys: 3-4 (Last Week: 20)
The high the Cowboys were feeling following a massive win over the Jaguars faded quickly. Dallas looked hopeless offensively once again against Washington. However, the big news is Jerry Jones landed his new number one receiver. The Cowboys sent a first round pick to Oakland in exchange for Amari Cooper. His presence should open up more running lanes for Ezekiel Elliott and take some pressure off Dak Prescott. It is an uphill climb, but Dallas seems better prepared for it now.

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23. Tennessee Titans: 3-4 (Last Week: 21)
The Titans defense turned in another stellar performance, this time over in England. It wasn’t quite enough to produce a win. Tennessee has a championship caliber defense. The offense is nowhere close to good enough right now. Marcus Mariota and the offense have scored more than 20 points just once this season. The fact Tennessee is 3-4 and not 1-6 is a testament to how good the defense is.

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24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3-3 (Last Week: 26)
Tampa almost blew it against the Browns, but held on for the win in overtime. This offense can pick up tons of yards, but turnovers are killing the Buccaneers. With 15 already this season, the Bucs need to do whatever they can to hide the weaknesses on defense. Giving the other team extra possessions is not the way to do it.

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25. Cleveland Browns: 2-4-1 (Last Week: 24)
Oh Cleveland. The Browns have now gone to overtime in four of their seven games. If nothing else, Baker Mayfield and friends are making it entertaining to watch the Browns lose this year. This team is still clearly a few years away, but the experience it is getting in these tight games is invaluable. Cleveland scored 14 fourth quarter points to tie the game and force overtime in the first place. Hue Jackson has this team on the brink of truly breaking through.

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26. New York Jets: 3-4 (Last Week: 25)
These are the lumps you take when you have a rookie quarterback. Sam Darnold competed just 17 of his 42 throws and tossed three interceptions. He isn’t the only one to blame though. The running game disappeared. Bilal Powell hits IR with a neck injury. Isaiah Crowell has struggled to be a consistent threat. It is best the Jets just move on after a truly ugly performance.

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27. Indianapolis Colts: 2-5 (Last Week: 28)
Marlon Mack went off and the Colts crushed the Bills. For most 2-5 teams, winning against other bottom feeders just hurts draft position. For Indy, this division is not totally out of reach with the Texans only at 4-3. I don’t expect the Colts to really close that gap, but this was a dominant performance against a Bills team that was shutting down opposing offenses. It could be the spark Indianapolis needs to get back in the divisional race.

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28. New York Giants: 1-6 (Last Week: 27)
The fire sale is officially on in New York. Eli Apple and Damon Harrison have already been shipped out. At 1-6, the Giants are certainly thinking about next season. Stockpiling draft picks is great, but the concern seems to be that this year’s draft class is fairly week past the top 15. Every class produces a few diamonds in the rough, but it might be a tough climb back for the Giants.

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29. Buffalo Bills: 2-5 (Last Week: 29)
The Bills might genuinely need to think about holding an open tryout for fans to play quarterback, Invincible style. Buffalo is last in passing yards, passing touchdowns and completion percentage, each by a pretty sizable margin. Bills quarterbacks have combined to throw three touchdowns and 12 interceptions in seven games. As much as they hated him, Bills fans desperately miss Tyrod Taylor right now.

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30. Oakland Raiders: 1-5 (Last Week: 30)
The Raiders didn’t lose this week! Well they were on bye, but you can count front office moves as a win. Oakland shipped Amari Cooper to Dallas in return for a first round pick. That kind of return for a player who has struggled with drops in his career is fairly impressive. Suddenly, the Raiders may find themselves with three picks in the top 20 selections come the 2019 draft.

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31. Arizona Cardinals: 1-6 (Last Week: 31)
Well that was awful. Josh Rosen had a game he would like to forget and the Cardinals found themselves down 35-3 at halftime. It is no secret this is not a team destined for the playoffs, but that was pathetic. Patrick Peterson has demanded a trade and it seems like Steve Wilks has no clue what he is doing as the head coach of the team.

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32. San Francisco 49ers: 1-6 (Last Week: 32)
San Francisco went from almost competitive to almost unwatchable in just one week. Sure it was against the best team in the league, but the 49ers are far and away the worst team in the NFL. Kyle Shanahan’s team has a turnover ratio of -18, which is bottom of the pile. This team has struggled with injuries, but even without them, it looks like San Francisco is a while away from truly competing.

The NBA Season is Not Worth Watching

With the NBA season just getting underway, it seemed like a good time to address the major issue developing for basketball’s professional league. Over the past several years, there has been a growing sentiment regarding the NBA regular season. In truth, it has barely mattered. At the end of the year, it always ends up being the same few teams vying for a title and it is predictable.

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LeBron James’ streak of eight straight finals appearances will come to an end in 2019. (Wikimedia Commons)

Take last year for example. The Cavaliers struggled to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference after a rough regular season. Sure, Cleveland was challenged throughout the playoffs, but LeBron James led the Cavs to another finals appearance, the eighth straight year his team has represented the East in the NBA Finals.

On the other hand, the Warriors finally appeared to have a true equal in the West with Houston stocking up on star players. The Rockets had the best regular season record, but Golden State advanced to the finals for the fourth straight season. The route to get there was a bit interesting, but the result was as expected.

I understand in many ways the process makes the result worthwhile, but knowing the ending cheapens the journey.

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The four-time All-Star took a reduced contract to join the Warriors during the offseason. (Wikimedia Commons)

Let’s be honest, the Golden State Warriors are winning another NBA Championship this year. We don’t need to kid ourselves into thinking this is up for debate. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Dramond Green will be joined by DeMarcus Cousins when he returns from injury. All five of those players are in the top five at their position, with Curry and Durant arguably being the best at theirs.

You cannot convince me the Rockets adding Carmelo Anthony will give them the edge. If anything, it probably hurts Houston defensively more than it helps offensively. The Lakers aren’t challenging this year, even if they added LeBron. With his sidekicks of Rajon Rondo, Lonzo Ball and Lance Stephenson, this team will be lucky to be a top-four seed in the West.

In the East, there might be some minor intrigue in which up-and-coming team is going to win the conference. Boston finally gets its stars back and retained all of its key free agents. Philadelphia brought in a few more young draft picks to a team with a bunch of rising stars. Neither of these teams added a major asset in the offseason. However, The Celtics almost swept the 76ers without Gordon Hayward last year. For as much as people want to bill this as an exciting matchup, this almost feels predictable as well. Don’t bother try to sell me on whatever it is the Raptors are doing either.

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Gordon Hayward’s return from injury makes the Celtics the front-runner to win the Eastern Conference. (Wikimedia Commons)

No one is going to admit to it, but the best method for just about every NBA team right now is to wait out the Warriors. No one can even come close to matching all of the talent it has no accumulated on the roster. I mentioned the stating lineup before and didn’t even get to the bench that contains veterans Andre Iguodala and Sean Livingston, plus prospects like Quinn Cook and Jordan Bell.

Now the current core the Warriors have could only take until next year to break up as Cousins signed just a one-year deal with the team. Thompson’s contract expires after this year as well. The exceptions to this wait-it-out approach could come in Boston and Philly, who might want to get their young players experience playing in the NBA Finals before taking a real shot at it when the Golden State dynasty comes to an end.

The NBA has been built around this idea players will continue to jump at the money, but we are seeing that is no longer the case. Players eager to win rings, play with friends or simply stay with a team are undermining the market. It has led to a massive consolidation of talent. It makes the final two rounds of the Western Conference playoffs fairly entertaining, but renders the Eastern Conference version to a formality of who will lose in the finals.

I’m bored of watching super teams. The league has become far too predictable. There are teams you know will be bad every year, like the Magic, Knicks, Nets, Suns and Kings. A few in the middle might surprise, but only enough so to be a flash in the pan. The entertainment value of the NBA season has completely been lost.

This probably isn’t a popular opinion, but it is one that could spell trouble for the NBA. The NFL regular season has never been at a more unpredictable point. The MLB is producing drama throughout the regular season, well into the postseason. College basketball might have just had its craziest edition of March Madness in five years, with another great season in store. Even the English Premier League is shaping up to have one of the better title races it has had in recent years.

Maybe I will end up watching the Western Conference finals, but that will be about it. Anything before that and after that seems like foregone conclusion.

NFL Power Rankings 2018: Week 6

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1. Los Angeles Rams: 6-0 (Last Week: 1)
And then there was one. Just the Rams remain in the undefeated circle after the Chiefs fell on Sunday night. Los Angeles escaped Denver with a win, thanks in large part to MVP-candidate Todd Gurley. Los Angeles’ offense is explosive across the board, but the former Georgia running back leads the league in yards from scrimmage and touchdowns. Even with Jared Goff struggling, Sean McVay knows he can rely on Gurley.

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2. New England Patriots: 4-2 (Last Week: 3)
It was a sight all opposing coaches hate to see. Tom Brady got the ball back with three minutes remaining in a tie ball game. Brady naturally torched the Chiefs defense to set up a chip shot for Stephen Gostkowski. Turns out Sony Michel is no joke as well. The defense failed to slow down Kansas City in the second half, but held Patrick Mahomes and company to just nine first half points. Not to mention, the Patriots came up with two interceptions. This team is well-solidified among the league’s elites once again with this victory.

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3. Kansas City Chiefs: 5-1 (Last Week: 2)
The Chiefs came so close to over coming a slow start and pulling off a stunning comeback. Tyreek Hill is still out running Patriot defenders. The issue continues to be the defense, which struggled all night long to deal with New England’s balanced attack. Kansas City still leads the AFC, but faces another tough test as the Bengals come to town.

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4. New Orleans Saints: 4-1 (Last Week: 4)
Odd stat of the day: the Saints lead the league in fewest rushing yards allowed per game. That is offset by allowing the third most passing yards per game and potentially a product of the offense’s ability to score. Still New Orleans has shown flashes of defensive talent. If it can find that consistently, this team will be extremely scary.

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5. Minnesota Vikings: 3-2-1 (Last Week 6)
It is time to start recognizing Adam Theilen as a great receiver. The Vikings wideout hauled in 11 balls for 123 yards and a touchdown. He and Stefon Diggs create one of the best receiving duos in the league. Minnesota finally got its pedestrian ground game going as well, which is more impressive because Dalvin Cook is still out with an injury. Mike Zimmer is finding ways to win despite missing both a starting safety, defensive end, left tackle and running back. Unfortunately, rookie stand out Mike Hughes is also done for the year with a torn ACL.

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6. Baltimore Ravens: 4-2 (Last Week: 10)
Talk about dominant defensive play. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and whoever else you want to throw in from the legendary Ravens’ defenses of the early 2000s would be proud of the effort Baltimore displayed in Tennessee. The defense allowed just 106 yards of offense and shutout the Titans. The offense was solid, if unspectacular. That is all it will need to be with the league’s top scoring defense running the show.

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7. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-3 (Last Week: 11)
Turns out the cure for a Super Bowl hangover is the play the Giants. Philadelphia demolished its long time rival to pick up the road win. It doesn’t completely alleviate the concerns surrounding the team, but Carson Wentz looked phenomenal in the victory. The Eagles had no answer for Saquon Barkley though. Not many teams have to this point, but he accounted for 229 yards of offense, which is never a good thing for the opposing team.

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8. Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-2-1 (Last Week: 12)
It proved to be a rather dramatic finish in Cincinnati, but the Steelers picked up a divisional road win. James Connor starred again and Ben Roethlisberger continues to have a career year. The unfortunate news is Le’Veon Bell seems to be continuing his hold out, despite previous reports he would return the team’s upcoming bye.

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9. Los Angeles Chargers: 4-2 (Last Week: 13)
While many thought the Chargers would struggle heading east for a matchup with the Browns, Los Angeles took care of business. The defense battered Baker Mayfield to the tune of five sacks. Melvin Gordon and Tyrell Williams had a field day against the Browns defense. Don’t look now, but the Chargers are just a game back of the Chiefs.

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10. Chicago Bears: 3-2 (Last Week: 5)
What happened to the Bears defense that dominated the rest of the NFL for the first four weeks of the season? Granted the game went into overtime, but Chicago surrendered 541 yards of offense and did not sack Brock Osweiler once. Mitch Trubisky threw a costly interception in the end zone to deprive the Bears of points. This is still a young team with a lot to prove.

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11. Carolina Panthers: 3-2 (Last Week: 8)
One of the easiest signs of the Panthers struggling is when Christian McCaffrey picks up only 20 yards on 8 attempts. Carolina’s lack of a run game hurt them in D.C. Cam Newton used his legs well, but this team works best when it is picking up tons of yards on the ground. The defense only allowed two touchdowns in the game. The Panthers offense has to do more to get the win.

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12. Cincinnati Bengals: 4-2 (Last Week: 9)
The team that seemed to always find a way to win in the fourth quarter suffered its first late-game let down of the season. Cincy out played Pittsburgh for much of the contest, but the Steelers high-powered offense proved to be too much. The fact is, the Bengals failed to lean on the running game when it should have, as Joe Mixon only had 11 carries. That number needs to be higher going forward.

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13. Jacksonville Jaguars: 3-3 (Last Week: 7)
When you get blown out 40-7 against a team who had previously been averaging under 17 points per game on offense, you drop six spots in the rankings. Jacksonville looked outmatched in every aspect of the game. Blake Bortles is looking more and more like the quarterback all his critics made him out to be. Luckily for the Jaguars, they still hold a share of the division lead. This upcoming matchup with the Texans is crucial.

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14. Green Bay Packers: 3-2-1 (Last Week: 14)
Well that was exciting. Aaron Rodgers went into All-Madden mode in the fourth quarter to lead a furious comeback against San Francisco. Green Bay should never have been in that spot in the first place. The defense has a ton to work on after allowing C.J. Beathard to torch them. The Packers have a sorely needed bye to get healthy before facing a gauntlet. The Rams and the Patriots await following the week off.

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15. Washington: 3-2 (Last Week: 16)
Washington bounced back well after a lackluster performance in New Orleans. Returning home helped. So did actually playing defense. Jay Gruden’s team still leads the NFC East, but with both the Cowboys and Eagles picking up big wins in week 6, Washington still has a lot of work to do. The division is wide open and stifling run defense like we saw this weekend could be key to winning it.

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16. Atlanta Falcons: 2-4 (Last Week: 15)
It was almost a catastrophic collapse, but Atlanta hung on for the win. The offense looks prolific. The defense looks prolifically bad. The Falcons rank 30th and 31st in total defense and scoring defense respectively. Luckily for them, the only team worse in both those categories is Tampa.

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17. Seattle Seahawks: 3-3 (Last Week: 21)
Oakland might be terrible, but Seattle did exactly what you are supposed to do to terrible teams. Russell Wilson was efficient. The defense played at an extremely high level. Knocking Amari Cooper out of the game certainly made stopping the Raiders offense easier, but Derek Carr had one of the worst games of his career. The Seahawks need to win these kind of games to have a shot at the wild card.

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18. Detroit Lions: 2-3 (Last Week: 18)
A week off for Detroit came at the right time. The Lions have played a number of close games in recent weeks, but have no consistently shown up on offense. This also gives Golden Tate a chance to get healthy. With the Bears losing, the Lions are now only one win behind everyone in the NFC North. Detroit has a date with Miami, who just knocked off Chicago.
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19. Miami Dolphins: 4-2 (Last Week: 24)
Turns out the solution to the Miami Dolphins late-game issues was Brock Osweiler. That was never a sentence I thought I would type. The former Broncos quarterback played well for his old offensive coordinator, tossing three touchdowns and 380 yards. The Dolphins are right back in the wild card hunt with a solid win over a great Bears defense.

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20. Dallas Cowboys: 3-3 (Last Week: 25)
Bring Connor McGregor to every Cowboys game going forward. Dallas found its swagger and blasted the Jaguars at home. Cole Beasley finally showed up. Dak Prescott looked comfortable shredding what was supposed to be one of the league’s top defenses. If the Cowboys can play anywhere close to this well on offense the rest of the year, Dallas has a real chance at winning the division.

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21. Tennessee Titans: 3-3 (Last Week: 17)
While defense can win championships, offense is a nice thing to have too. The Titans were embarrassed all over the field. For what is usually one of the better offensive lines in the league, Tennessee surrendered 11, the second most allowed in league history. Marcus Mariota is probably still in the ice bath.

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22. Houston Texans: 3-3 (Last Week: 23)
Remember when everyone was wondering where the supposedly vaunted Texans defense had disappeared to? Houston is looking like it has an elite defense once again. While Buffalo has a great defense of its own, Deshaun Watson has been way too turnover prone in recent weeks for the Texans to keep overcoming his errors. Watson needs to take care of the football and take the pressure off this defense.

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23. Denver Broncos: 2-4 (Last Week: 20)
This is the NFL. Moral victories don’t exist, but Vance Joseph has to feel a lot better about his team’s defense effort this week. Yes, the Broncos still allowed Todd Gurley to rumble for over 200 yards and two scores, but it also stifled the best passing offense in the league. Denver also mounted a fourth quarter comeback attempt. Joseph has his work cut out for him, but his team was much improved this week.

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24. Cleveland Browns: 2-3-1 (Last Week: 19)
Just when it seemed like it was finally time for the Browns to turn it around, Cleveland laid an egg against Los Angeles. For the first time this season, it is probably important to remember this is the youngest roster in the NFL. The Browns are in the middle of a massive rebuild, well another one at least. The result isn’t good, but when you have a rookie quarterback playing through a knee injury against a red hot team, sometimes this happens.

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25. New York Jets: 3-3 (Last Week: 26)
Turned out to be a great week to have Jason Myers as your fantasy kicker. He set a franchise record with seven made field goals. New York has a lot to be happy with as Sam Darnold played his best game so far in his rookie season. It will face a much stiffer challenge as Minnesota comes to town. How the Jets fare against the Vikings will let us know how close this team is to breaking into legitimate playoff contention.

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26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2-3 (Last Week: 22)
Another week, another brutal loss for Tampa, and it cost defensive coordinator Mike Smith his job. This one was brutal in a different sense then the previous blowout to Chicago. The Buccaneers had a legitimate chance to win the game and came up about seven yards short of a winning touchdown as time expired. Jameis Winston played a lot like Ryan Fitzpatrick actually. He threw for 395 yards and four touchdowns, but tossed two early interceptions and fumbled twice. For the first time all season, Tampa showed signs of a running game, averaging 6.2 yards per carry.

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27. New York Giants: 1-5 (Last Week: 27)
Don’t look now, but the Giants are turning themselves into one of the worst run franchises in football. This is a team dominating the back pages with all of the drama unfolding. Pat Schumur has no idea what to do. Eli Manning is being put in an impossible situation as an aging quarterback with an awful line. On the bright side, Saquon Barkley is running away with the rookie of the year award.

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28. Indianapolis Colts: 1-5 (Last Week: 28)
It was a wild game in New York, but the Colts made way to many mistakes to win. Andrew Luck toss three picks, although the first one was not his fault. Robert Turbin also lost a fumble. Indianapolis’ defense gave up a ton of points to a rookie quarterback as well. The positive spin is despite consistently having good starting field position, Indy forced the Jets to attempt seven field goals in the game.

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29. Buffalo Bills: 2-4 (Last Week: 29)
For the second straight week, the defense almost found a way to win it for Buffalo. Unfortunately, who else but Nathan Peterman got in the way, throwing two back-breaking interceptions in the final two minutes. Allen left with an injury midway through the game. Peterman is making a case to be one of the worst quarterbacks in NFL history. He has thrown an interception on 11.4 percent of his passes in his career and a completion percentage of 44.3. For reference, JaMarcus Russell completed 52.1 percent of his passes and only threw an interception on 3.4 percent of his passes. The Bills need a new backup quarterback.

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30. Oakland Raiders: 1-5 (Last Week: 30)
The Raiders are officially in free fall. Oakland got rocked across the pond by Seattle in a 27-3 drubbing. Reportedly, the Raiders are also shopping their top wide receiver Amari Cooper and 2016 first round pick Karl Joseph. The fire sale is on in Oakland. Apparently Jon Gruden does not want any good players on the roster by the time the team moves to Las Vegas.

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31. Arizona Cardinals: 1-5 (Last Week: 31)
Unfortunately for Arizona, the rebuild is going to take some time. There were some positives from this game, like producing two turnovers, including a fumble returned for a touchdown. The downside is the Cardinals allowed one of the worst running teams in the league to pick up 195 yards on the ground. Josh Rosen looked rather average, but not outmatched against a good Vikings defense. Steve Wilks needs to find a way to get David Johnson going.

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32. San Francisco 49ers: 1-5 (Last Week: 32)
Few expected it, but San Francisco put on an offensive show in Green Bay on Monday Night Football. C.J. Beathard was nothing short of masterful and the running game accounted for 174 yards. However, the 49ers still came up short as Beathard threw a late-game interception to set up the Packers’ winning drive. Kyle Shannahan is clearly not interested in tanking the rest of the way.

The Yankees Should Have Kept Girardi

Aaron Bleeping Boone. The Red Sox dubbed him that after his game 7 walkoff in the ’03 ALCS. 15 years later, Boone is largely responsible for Boston moving onto the ALCS.

The former infielder was wildly successful during his rookie campaign as the Yankee manager. New York won 100 games in the regular season and won the AL Wildcard game to set up the ALDS matchup with the Red Sox.

However, if this series showed anything, it’s that Boone is not experienced enough to make the necessary moves to win in the postseason yet. His mishandling of the starting pitching, questionable insertion of relief pitchers and overall unwillingness to trust his instincts indicate Boone has a lot to learn before he is going to be the manager to take this team to a World Series.

This is not say the players do not deserve some blame. Luis Severino and C.C. Sabathia lacked control in their game 3 and game 4 starts. Lance Lynn struggled to find a rhythm coming on in relief for Severino in game 3. Andrew McCutcheon and Giancarlo Stanton might have well as been spectators for how infrequently they managed get on base.

Joe Girardi
Girardi was 938-734 in his time with Yankees, including the postseason. (Wikimedia Commons)

The issue I have with Boone in all of this was he should never have been in charge this season. The Yankees should never have let Joe Girardi leave given the roster they had heading into the 2018 season. New York did not have Stanton on the roster when they hired Boone to be the manager, as the former NL MVP joined the team via trade a week later. Still, the mentality building a team to win this season. For me, that has to include the manager.

I know things were rocky between the front office and Girardi by the end of last season. However, Girardi was a proven winner. He had gotten the Yanks to the postseason two of the previous three years with admittedly much less talented teams than what New York put together this season. He wasn’t perfect, seeing as the Yankees went five years without winning playoff game before last year. However, he won a World Series in 2009 and had plenty of postseason experience. Girardi has the 13th most wins by a manager in postseason history. He is now interviewing to be the next Texas Rangers manager.

Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge was one of the only Yankees to show up consistently in the postseason, batting .421 with three homeruns in five games. (Wikimedia Commons)

Down the line, Boone would have been a great fit for the Yankees. He is a former Yankee himself who understands the winning culture necessary to be great in the major leagues. He had no experience though whatsoever as a manager or even a coach in baseball.

That was on full display as he left Severino in during game 3 and elected to replace him with Lynn of all the options he had in his bullpen. He waited too long to turn to his bullpen in game 4 as well. The media has been feasting on this idea of Boone relying too heavily on analytics. What else did you want him to rely on? Prior experience? He didn’t have any of that. Based on how close games 1 and 4 were for the Yankees, I truly believe that Joe Girardi would have found a way to win this series for New York. There is also no chance the Yanks lose 16-1 at Yankee Stadium is it was Girardi sitting on the bench.

Clearly, the relationship between Girardi and the Yankee front office didn’t like each other. The thing is, you don’t have to like each other to win. The New England Patriots continue to prove that year in and year out. It was a massive failure by the Yankee front office to not bring Joe Girardi back to New York. The Yankees went all in on their roster but failed to go all in on their manager.

It is hard to tell if the Yankees will be this talented again next year as well. Brett Gardner (team option), C.C. Sabathia, Andrew McCutcheon, Neil Walker, Adeiny Hechavarria, J.A. Happ, David Robertson, Zach Britton and Lynn are all free agents now. Sonny Gray, Dellin Betances, Didi Gregorius and Aaron Hicks are all entering their final year of arbitration as well. Not to mention, Jacoby Ellsbury is still making $21 million a year through 2020. It is unlikely New York brings back all of that same talent for next season. This is not the same Yankee team anymore who just tries to throw money at its problems in hopes they solve them. New York has a lot of tough decisions to make regarding key players this offseason.

Obviously, it is a lot easier for me to sit here after the fact and rip the Yankees for hiring Boone. I realized early on in the season that his lack of experience was going to be an issue for the Yankees and with a true championship contender, hiring a rookie manager seemed like an astronomically high risk.

A lot of credit has to go to the Red Sox, who are easily one of the best teams in the history of the sport. However, the blame has to rest with Boone. He was not prepared to manage at that kind of level and clearly had no idea how to manage in the postseason. The truth is, he likely won’t make those mistakes again. He will be a better manager in the future and has shown a lot of potential. The bottom line is that he was not the right fit for the Yankees this season.