2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 14

Let’s take a look at the longest win streaks in the NFL right now. The Patriots (guess they are officially back) have won seven straight. The Chiefs (turns out they aren’t out of title contention yet) are winners of five in a row. As are the Dolphins (wait, is that right?) Washington (is this a typo) has won *checks notes* four straight games.

As the old saying goes, it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish. Surely, all of those teams would have preferred stronger starts to the year, but New England is now the top seed in the AFC while Kansas City leads the AFC West. Washington is currently in a wildcard spot and Miami is 1.5 games back of one. Just a reminder it is important not to overreact to September football. This is setting up a very interesting final few weeks of the NFL season.

Elsewhere, we had the Lions finally winning a game and the return of Minshew Mania! Here is how all 32 teams stack up through 13 weeks.

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1. Arizona Cardinals: 10-2 (Last Week: 1)
Won 33-22 at Chicago
One of the quietest 10-win teams in recent memory. Arizona welcomed Kyler Murray back to the starting lineup. He marked the occasion with four touchdowns in a comfortable win for the Cardinals. Not to be outdone, the defense came up with four interceptions of Andy Dalton to set the offense up for success. This team still has to prove itself in the postseason, but it is very possible the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC could run through the desert.

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2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 9-3 (Last Week: 2)
Won 30-17 at Atlanta
Tom Brady stays undefeated against the Falcons in his career. The Patriots did not play them very often, but that is still wildly impressive. Brady put up some huge numbers, marred only by a pick-six that kept the Falcons in the game just before halftime. Thankfully, the defense stepped up in the second half and shut out Atlanta over the final 30 minutes of action. Tampa still feels like it is ironing out some kinks. It is certainly scary to think they could get even better, but maybe a little worrying that we still see some uneven play in December.

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3. Green Bay Packers: 9-3 (Last Week: 3)
Bye Week
Few teams needed a bye week as badly as the Packers did. David Bahktiari, Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith are in line to practice this week. Those are the three high-impact players that will only raise the ceiling for a Green Bay team that is 9-2 with Aaron Rodgers in the starting lineup. Speaking of Rodgers, a week off likely gave him some time to rest his fractured toe. Same goes for Aaron Jones, who played in limited action against the Rams in Week 12. If this team can get healthy, look out.

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4. New England Patriots: 9-4 (Last Week: 4)
Won 14-10 at Buffalo
That was about as ugly as it gets, but the Patriots put on a masterclass in 1940s football. Mac Jones attempted just three passes in a slugfest that featured a lot of bend, don’t break defensive possessions. With gusting winds that made kicking and throwing very difficult, Bill Belichick leaned into his run game. The plan very nearly fell apart, but great red zone defense and a missed field goal in the fourth quarter saw New England keep its top seed in the AFC.

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5. Kansas City Chiefs: 8-4 (Last Week: 5)
Won 22-9 vs. Denver
Defense wins championships and it really looks like the Chiefs have a great defense right now. Kansas City held Denver out of the end zone for the first 55 minutes of action. Daniel Sorenson even got on the board with a defensive touchdown. Patrick Mahomes is still struggling to get on track, managing just 184 passing yards, no touchdown passes and an interception. He did punch in a rushing touchdown, but these are not the performances we have become accustomed to seeing from Mahomes.

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6. Dallas Cowboys: 8-4 (Last Week: 8)
Won 27-17 at New Orleans
Dallas picked up an important win to maintain a two-game lead in the NFC East. Following three losses in a four-game stretch, this felt like a must-win for the Cowboys. It certainly wasn’t the cleanest game we’ve ever seen from the offense. Dak Prescott threw a costly pick and the team went 2-for-13 on third down conversion opportunities. The defense covered up any issues though with four interceptions. Dan Quinn is running away with the Assistant Coach of the Year award given the turnaround for Dallas’ defense this season.

7. Los Angeles Rams: 8-4 (Last Week: 9)
Won 37-7 vs. Jacksonville
Nothing like a get-right game against the Jaguars to help ease the pain. Los Angeles dominated Jacksonville in all three phases. Odell Beckham Jr. looked much more comfortable in the offense and got in the end zone again. The only concern was a brutal hit Matt Stafford took that briefly knocked him out the game. Rumors have persisted that Stafford has not been healthy for weeks. Seeing him take shots like the one Roy Robertson-Harris laid on him is worrying. If Stafford goes down, this team can kiss its already questionable championship hopes goodbye.

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8. Indianapolis Colts: 7-6 (Last Week: 10)
Won 31-0 at Houston
For the second straight week, the Colts scored 31 points. However, this time around, they didn’t give up any points. Beating the Texans is far from something to highlight on your resume, unless you are the Jets. Credit Indianapolis for not playing down to the competition. While winning games is the most important thing, it would be good to see Frank Reich conserve Jonathan Taylor a bit more, especially in blowouts. He had 32 carries, playing well into the fourth quarter despite a three-score lead. Deon Jackson and Nyheim Hines eventually took over in the backfield, but keeping Taylor fresh for the stretch run would be a very wise move.

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9. Baltimore Ravens: 8-4 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 20-19 at Pittsburgh
If that ball was six inches closer to Mark Andrews, we would be talking about what a great decision this was from John Harbaugh to go for the win rather than play for overtime. I think it was the right move. Heading to overtime is literally a coin flip. It was a tough break. However, there are still some red flags. Pittsburgh sacked Lamar Jackson seven times. Comparatively, the Ravens managed just one sack of their own. This offense has a lot that needs resolving.

10. Los Angeles Chargers: 7-5 (Last Week: 12)
Won 41-22 at Cincinnati
Los Angeles put the struggles from Week 12 behind them with a big bounce-back win over the Bengals. Justin Herbert looked sharp with over 300 passing yards and three passing touchdowns. Meanwhile, the defense was very opportunistic, forcing four turnovers, including a scoop and score from Tevaughn Campbell. Ball security was an issue for the Chargers as well though. Herbert threw an interception while Austin Ekeler coughed it up twice. Still, this was an important win to keep pace in the AFC West and the playoff race.

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11. Cincinnati Bengals: 7-5 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 41-22 vs. Los Angeles
Will they or won’t they? Cincinnati continues to struggle with consistency. The Bengals have yet to win more than two games in a row. Every time it feels like they are beginning to build momentum, a somewhat surprising result brings them back down to Earth. Turnovers were a major issue as was pass protection. Joe Burrow was sacked six times and was clearly pressing throughout the game. All in all, it was not a good enough performance from the Bengals, who missed out on a chance to go atop the AFC North.

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12. Buffalo Bills: 7-5 (Last Week: 11)
Lost 14-10 vs. New England
New England ran it down Buffalo’s throat and the Bills could not reciprocate. Josh Allen was the team’s leading rusher with 39 of the team’s 99 yards. Meanwhile, the Patriots racked up 222 yards on the ground. While that is far from ideal, the more concerning aspect was the offense’s inability to convert in the red zone. A missed field goal and a failed fourth-down play limited Buffalo to just three points on three trips inside the 20 in the second half. A daunting trip to Tampa Bay is up next.

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13. Tennessee Titans: 8-4 (Last Week: 13)
Bye Week
Did the Titans find a way to reinvent themselves during their bye week? Without Derrick Henry and a pair of banged up star receivers, Tennessee struggled mightily heading into its week off. Julio Jones could be back, but Ryan Tannehill cannot carry this team. His four-interception performance against the Texans proved that. All that said, Tennessee has one of the easiest closing schedules. The Jaguars, Steelers, 49ers, Dolphins and Texans remain. Just beating the Jaguars and Texans should get the Titans into the postseason.

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14. Pittsburgh Steelers: 6-5-1 (Last Week: 18)
Won 20-19 vs. Baltimore
This feels like a big move up for a one-point win, but everyone around the Steelers seemingly lost this weekend. Pittsburgh did just enough to pull off the victory. It might have been a bit of a lucky break that saw them hold on, but they did a lot to create that luck, if you will. The Steelers had seven sacks and nine tackles for loss. They also scored the go-ahead touchdown and converted on the all-important two-point conversion that put them up by seven with less than two minutes to play. Take the wins however you can get them.

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15. San Francisco 49ers: 6-6 (Last Week: 14)
Lost 30-23 at Seattle
The 49ers hit a speed bump. Maybe they were a little guilty of underestimating the Seahawks after Russell Wilson and company had floundered leading into this game. Jimmy Garoppolo tossed two interceptions while the offense managed just 2.8 yards per carry. Seattle gave San Francisco plenty of chances to win this game. The 49ers held a 23-14 lead at halftime, but their second half drives ended in a fumble, a safety, an interception, two punts and a turnover on downs. That is not a winning formula.

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16. Cleveland Browns 6-6 (Last Week: 19)
Bye Week
Suddenly, the outlook for the Browns does not seem so bleak. Losses by the Ravens and Bengals keep Cleveland within striking distance in the division. Plus, losses by the Bills, Raiders and Broncos keeps them firmly in the wildcard chase. With Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt hopefully back at full strength and Baker Mayfield rested up, the Browns’ offense should be much more competitive. A rematch with the Ravens awaits.

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17. Miami Dolphins: 6-7 (Last Week: 20)
Won 20-9 vs. New York
As I talked about earlier, this is quite the turnaround from Miami. Tua Tagovailoa is settling in nicely to the offense and taking care of the football. It certainly helped to face Mike Glennon instead of Daniel Jones, but this was still a pretty strong showing by the ‘Fins defense. Now if only Miami could run the ball consistently. The Dolphins get a week off before looking to continue their hot streak in a matchup with the Jets.

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18. Philadelphia Eagles: 6-7 (Last Week: 21)
Won 33-18 at New York
Minshew Mania is back! Gardner Minshew made his first start for the Eagles and did not disappoint. Granted, it was against the Jets, but the former Jaguars quarterback was hyper efficient and provided a different element to the Eagles offense. He got tons of help from Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell, who combined for 229 yards of offense and a touchdown. Dallas Goedert was heavily involved in the offense as well. Nick Sirianni has already said that Jalen Hurts is still the starter. Hurts could return following the bye week, but if he struggles, Philly fans will be clamoring for Minshew to see more action.

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19. Washington: 6-6 (Last Week: 23)
Won 17-15 at Las Vegas
I don’t know if winning 17-15 games is very sustainable, but Washington repeated the feat this week. Hometown hero Brian Johnson won it with a go-ahead 48-yard field goal in the final minute. It hasn’t been too pretty, but Washington is finding ways to win. It is far from likely, but with five divisional games remaining on the schedule, Washington controls its own fate.

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20. Las Vegas Raiders: 6-6 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 17-15 vs. Washington
Another winnable game blown by the Raiders. Las Vegas now has losses to Washington, Chicago and the New York Giants. All three have felt like missed opportunities. Winning even two of them would have the Raiders tied atop the AFC West. Instead, Vegas is tied with Cleveland and Denver for 10th in the conference. Unfortunately, the Chiefs are next on the schedule.

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21. Denver Broncos: 6-6 (Last Week: 17)
Lost 22-9 at Kansas City
Fresh off a win over the Chargers, the Broncos absolutely fell flat against the Chiefs. Maybe a road win was too much to hope for, but three points through the first three and a half quarters is a disappointing output from the offense. Costly turnovers from Teddy Bridgewater were the difference in the game. If nothing else, this offered a clear reminder that the Broncos will be in the market for a quarterback this offseason.

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22. Minnesota Vikings: 5-7 (Last Week: 16)
Lost 29-27 at Detroit
It was bound to happen to someone eventually, but being the first team to lose to the Lions this year still stings quite a bit. Keep in mind, this team beat a mostly full-strength Packers side just two weeks ago. The offense got off to a sluggish start to life without Dalvin Cook, managing just six points in the first half. Minnesota stormed back to lead 27-23, but the defense wilted in the critical moments, giving up a walk-off touchdown. Turn back up the heat on Mike Zimmer’s seat.

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23. New Orleans Saints: 5-7 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 27-17 vs. Dallas
Things look rough for the Saints right now. Taysom Hill finally got back on the field at quarterback and provided a spark with his mobility. Unfortunately, he suffered a similar injury to Russell Wilson, who missed a month with a torn ligament in his finger. Hill threw four interceptions, ending any hopes of upending the Cowboys. New Orleans has now lost five straight and show little sign of turning things around. It will be interesting to see if Sean Payton looks to bring in a free-agent quarterback.

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24. New York Giants: 4-8 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 20-9 at Miami
So maybe the quarterback isn’t the root cause of all the issues for the Giants offense. Mike Glennon looked mediocre, but didn’t get much protection either. He took eight hits and will begin this week in the concussion protocol. Now, it looks like New York will be starting Jake Fromm against the Chargers in Week 14. On the bright side, the Giants seem to be capable of running the ball. New York averaged 5.4 yards per carry. If Freddie Kitchens can establish the run early in the game and stay within reach, that will take a lot of pressure off the young quarterback.

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25. Atlanta Falcons: 5-7 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 30-17 vs. Tampa Bay
Stat to know: Atlanta has a point differential of -113 this season. Detroit has a point differential of -116. That is the sort of company the Falcons are keeping. Matt Ryan and the offense moved the ball up and down the field, but consistently stalled when it mattered most. Atlanta scored a touchdown on its first drive and then managed a field goal the rest of the game. This team is technically not far out of the playoff picture, but the Falcons do not feel anywhere near the playoff conversation.

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26. Carolina Panthers: 5-7 (Last Week: 26)
Bye Week
In perhaps some of the most shocking and under the radar news of the weekend, the Panthers fired offensive coordinator Joe Brady. Sure, the Panthers offense has not lit the world on fire, but he is working with Sam Darnold, P.J. Walker and Cam Newton. Christian McCaffrey has played in just seven of the team’s 12 games so far. Carolina has also dropped 22 passes this year, second most in the NFL. Brady was considered one of the brightest young offensive minds in football. He was the architect behind LSU’s record-setting attack in 2019, when the Tigers won a national championship. If this was a reaction to Newton’s 5-of-21 passing performance against the Dolphins in Week 12, I think that is a huge mistake. Trying to find someone to build an offense around Newton is incredibly shortsighted. Brady will likely land on his feet. He will be a highly sought after offensive coordinator in the league and could be in the mix for a return to the college ranks.

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27. Seattle Seahawks: 4-8 (Last Week: 28)
Won 30-23 vs. San Francisco
While it might be too little too late for this season, this felt like a crucial win for the Seahawks. Ideally, this allows Russell Wilson to build some momentum and get this team trending in the right direction. Seattle still has a host of problems that need solving, namely its run game. Travis Homer ripped off a huge touchdown run on a fake punt, but that one play accounted for half of the team’s rushing yards on the afternoon. Neither Rashaad Penny nor Adrian Peterson could really get rolling. Shane Waldron has a chance to prove he can scheme some ways to spark the ground game.

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28. Chicago Bears: 4-8 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 33-22 vs. Arizona
QB1 had a rough day. Andy Dalton threw four interceptions in an embarrassing performance for the Bears offense. Somehow, Chicago did manage 22 points, but the defense simply could not overcome that many turnovers and short-field situations. Matt Nagy’s days in the Windy City are numbered.

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29. New York Jets: 3-9 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 33-18 vs. Philadelphia
For one fleeting moment, it felt like the Jets were turning the corner. New York scored three touchdowns in the first half (even if they missed two field goals and failed on a two-point conversion attempt). There were some special teams miscues away from being tied at halftime. Instead, the Jets were shut out in the second half. Their four drives in the half resulted in a punt, an interception, a turnover on downs and the end of the game. Focusing on the positive is that Zach Wilson looked a bit better this week. As long as he continues to improve, results do not matter.

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30. Detroit Lions: 1-10-1 (Last Week: 32)
Won 29-27 vs. Minnesota
When is the ticker tape parade??? Detroit reacted a bit like it had won the Super Bowl. While winning one meaningless regular season game is not really cause for celebration usually, this a huge weight off Dan Campbell and his entire team. The Lions had come agonizingly close on several occasions this year. This ensures that this Detroit side will not join the infamous group of winless teams. Who knows, maybe Campbell can even build off this. I wouldn’t consider it likely, but I also wouldn’t want to be the Broncos this week.

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31. Houston Texans: 2-10 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 31-0 vs. Indianapolis
Congratulations to the Texans for being the first team to be eliminated from playoff contention! Houston managed 141 yards of offense on an ungodly 2.8 yards per play. Tyrod Taylor suffered another injury as well, which means Davis Mills takes the reins again. Things are going to get much worse in Houston before they get better.

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32. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-10 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 37-7 at Los Angeles
It’s days like Sunday where I am left to sit around and wonder how on Earth the Jaguars managed to beat the Bills.

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2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 8

Week 7 felt like a changing of the guard. Cincinnati and Tennessee pulled off two massive wins that shake up the outlook of the AFC. Elsewhere, bad weather took the spotlight in primetime, the Jets reached a new level of ineptitude against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady set a new milestone with his 600th career touchdown pass.

Needless to say, the power rankings look very different this week once again as it feels like the tier of elite teams shrinks even further. Arizona remains at the top as it continues to delay the popping of champagne bottles in South Beach. With the NFL trade deadline approaching, it will be interesting to see what moves could be coming as we draw closer to the midway point.

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1. Arizona Cardinals: 7-0 (Last Week: 1)
Won 31-5 vs. Houston
Smoking the Texans does not make you a contender, but it does send a clear message that this team is focused. It would have been easy to play sloppy against an inferior team. Arizona looked to be headed that way following a safety and a field goal to go down 5-0. Far from an insurmountable hole, but not an ideal start. Instead, the Cardinals rattled off 31 unanswered points. Zach Ertz is already paying dividends and Kliff Kingsbury’s commitment to running the ball makes life easier on everyone.

2. Los Angeles Rams: 6-1 (Last Week: 2)
Won 28-19 vs. Detroit
Perhaps it was the emotions of having to go up against a former team for Matthew Stafford or a former quarterback for the Rams, but this was not the type of performance we expected. The Lions have challenged a number of talented teams this year, so maybe we just write this off as a down week. Los Angeles still got the win and Stafford posted incredible numbers. The only red flag would be the lack of a running game, as the Rams finished with just 47 yards on the ground.

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3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-1 (Last Week: 3)
Won 38-3 vs. Chicago
Talk about all out domination. Tampa beat the brakes off Chicago on both sides of the ball. The defense put the offense in good positions to succeed and Tom Brady was efficient. This game was over by halftime, with the Buccaneers leading 35-3. Four sacks and five forced turnovers highlights just how well the defense played. Justin Fields had absolutely no chance. A very productive run game is also a really good sign. Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones and Ke’Shawn Vaughn each averaged more than five yards per carry. Establishing that ground attack will only make this offense better and take the pressure off the defense.

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4. Dallas Cowboys: 5-1 (Last Week: 5)
Bye Week
It is good to be atop the NFC East. Washington and Philadelphia lost again, which now means the entire division is at 2-5 behind Dallas. Being four games up in the loss column in late October is pretty impressive. Hopefully, with a week off, Dak Prescott is back to 100 percent after suffering a calf injury in Week 6. There is also a chance that Michael Gallup returns to action in Week 8. A road game in Minnesota won’t be easy, but Dallas also has some cushion even if they stumble.

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5. Cincinnati Bengals: 5-2 (Last Week: 8)
Won 41-17 at Baltimore
Welcome to the contender conversation Cincinnati. Joe Burrow put himself on the MVP shortlist as well with a statement game. His 416 passing yards set a new career high as he found his favorite college target early and often. Ja’Marr Chase went over 200 yards as he continues to run away with the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Perhaps even more impressive was the defense. Baltimore could not run the ball outside of Lamar Jackson. The Bengals sacked Jackson five times as well and recorded eight tackles for loss. This team looks to be more well-rounded than initially expected and are a legitimate challenger for the AFC North crown.

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6. Buffalo Bills: 4-2 (Last Week: 6)
Bye Week
So the loss to Tennessee looks a bit better following the Titans’ dismantling of the Chiefs. Still, Buffalo needs to recapture the defensive form we saw over the first five weeks of the season. The Bills allowed just 12.8 points per game heading into that matchup before surrendering 34 points. On the bright side, Sean McDermott and company get to ease back into things against the reeling Dolphins in the midst of quarterback trade talks. I don’t know if we should expect another shutout, but I think the Bills will be heavy favorites.

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7. Green Bay Packers: 6-1 (Last Week: 7)
Won 24-10 vs. Washington
One of the most underrated storylines of the NFL season has been the development of the Packers defense. Green Bay ranks in the top 10 in yards per game, points per game and forced turnovers. Following the Week 1 blowout, the Packers have allowed more than 22 points just once and have won five straight. If you are looking for a concern with this team, it might be the lack of production from Aaron Jones. He has just two touchdowns since his four-score outburst in Week 2. Sunday was also the fourth game in which he averaged less than four yards per carry. That feels like the only missing piece for Green Bay at the moment.

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8. Tennessee Titans: 5-2 (Last Week: 14)
Won 27-3 vs. Kansas City
How on Earth did this team lose to the Jets? Tennessee sweeps through the two participants in last season’s AFC Championship Game. Beating the Bills was a clear sign of the Titans’ potential, but thrashing the Chiefs was a reminder that this team is capable of winning without relying solely on Derrick Henry. The reigning Offensive Player of the Year still played well on a heavy workload, but Ryan Tannehill threw for a pair of touchdowns and the defense balled out. They sacked Patrick Mahomes four times and forced three turnovers. Tennessee appears to be rolling heading into a divisional showdown with Indianapolis.

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9. Baltimore Ravens: 5-2 (Last Week: 4)
Lost 41-17 vs. Cincinnati
For the first time all season, Baltimore looked like a team leading the league in players on the injured reserve list. Joe Burrow absolutely shredded the secondary, eclipsing 400 yards passing and tossing three touchdowns. The Ravens also had no answer for Ja’Marr Chase. The bottom line right now is that Lamar Jackson needs more help. He was sacked five times and rushed for 74 yards more than anyone else on the team. This is a really good time for a bye week.

10. Los Angeles Chargers: 4-2 (Last Week: 9)
Bye Week
Time for some revenge. 2020 was clearly a rebuilding season in Los Angeles with a rookie quarterback taking over and adjusting to the NFL. Still, anytime you lose 45-0, that sticks with you. That’s what New England did to this team a year ago. Justin Herbert and the offense has made some major strides since then and the Chargers defense is much healthier. I am eager to see if L.A. has a little extra juice in Week 8.

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11. Cleveland Browns 4-3 (Last Week: 11)
Won 17-14 vs. Denver
This was a gutsy win for the Browns. Without Baker Mayfield, Jack Conklin, Nick Chubb or Kareem Hunt, the defense stepped up big time and shut down the Broncos. Cleveland held Denver’s ground game to 41 yards on 2.9 yards per carry. Give D’Ernest Johnson credit for showing out as well with 146 yards and a score on the ground in relief of Chubb and Hunt. Hopefully, the Browns can use the extra days of rest to heal up ahead of a matchup with the Steelers.

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12. Las Vegas Raiders: 5-2 (Last Week: 13)
Won 33-22 vs. Philadelphia
Quietly, the Raiders move atop the AFC West with this win. Derek Carr played well, completing an outrageous 31-of-34 passes, and the defense came up with a pair of key fumble recoveries. The post Jon Gruden era has gotten off to a good start, even if the two wins came against lower quality competition. As long as Josh Jacobs’ injury is not serious, Las Vegas should feel pretty good about where it stands nearing the midseason point.

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13. New Orleans Saints: 4-2 (Last Week: 12)
Won 13-10 at Seattle
Well that was ugly. New Orleans emerged from Seattle with a scrappy three-point win that featured very little offense. Thankfully, Alvin Kamara was ready to work. He didn’t do much as a rusher, finishing with 51 yards on 20 carries. However, he racked up 128 yards through the air on 10 catches with the team’s lone touchdown. On the other side of the ball, the Saints surrendered one big play on D.K. Metcalf’s 82-yard touchdown. After that, they were close to lights out. New Orleans benefitted from a pair of missed field goals though. This offense needs to be more productive.

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14. Kansas City Chiefs: 3-4 (Last Week: 10)
Lost 27-3 at Tennessee
Steve Spagnuolo’s seat is only getting hotter. However, the offensive struggles took centerstage this week. The last time Kansas City scored three points or fewer was Week 15 in 2012 when it was shut out by the then Oakland Raiders. Brady Quinn was quarterbacking the team in that game. Tennessee also seems to have Kansas City’s number winning five of the past six matchups. Andy Reid has a really tough task ahead of him as he looks to rejuvenate this offense while figuring out how to hide the clear deficiencies within his defense.

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15. Minnesota Vikings: 3-3 (Last Week: 15)
Bye Week
The general consensus on the Vikings right now is that they are better than their record would indicate. Their three losses came against the Bengals, Browns and Cardinals, having been outscored by only 11 points in those three contests. However, they also topped the Lions and Panthers by a combined eight points. Hard to really gauge how good this team truly is at this point. Week 8 offers an opportunity to make a statement, facing the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. A week off should allow Dalvin Cook to get back to full strength after dealing with an ankle injury earlier in the season. That could be a key difference maker in what should be a close game.

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16. Indianapolis Colts: 3-4 (Last Week: 22)
Won 30-18 at San Francisco
Suddenly, the Colts don’t feel as far out of the playoff picture. With back-to-back wins, Indianapolis is now just one game under .500 and one game back of the Browns for the final wildcard spot in the AFC. There is still a long way to go, but Carson Wentz should have Colts fans feeling a bit more optimistic. Outside of a terrible interception (or fumble, it’s hard to tell), Wentz played really well. He didn’t have the gaudiest of numbers playing in an atmospheric river, but he tossed two touchdown passes. Thankfully, he also has Jonathan Taylor to hand off to. A tough test against the Titans is up next, but the Colts are trending up.

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17. Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-3 (Last Week: 19)
Bye Week
Is there a path to the playoffs for the Steelers? It would almost certainly be as a wild card, but this upcoming three-game stretch will go a long way in determining if that is possible. Pittsburgh faces Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit, all winnable games, before finishing the season against the Chargers, Bengals, Ravens, Vikings, Titans, Chiefs, Browns and Ravens. That is a brutal final two months. If Pittsburgh is anything other than 6-3 following Week 10, I don’t think they have any shot of reaching the postseason.

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18. San Francisco 49ers: 2-4 (Last Week: 17)
Lost 30-18 vs. Indianapolis
I really wanted to drop San Francisco even lower, but it was hard to figure out who to drop them behind. It was an ugly week for a lot of the NFL’s middle of the road teams. Unfortunately, the 49ers were unable to handle the adverse weather conditions. Four turnovers in the rain is slightly understandable, but both teams have to play in the elements. That turnover battle ended up being crucial in determining the outcome Even in a disappointing loss, there are still some positives. Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel both reached the century mark. Still, being 2-4 is not a good look for a team expected to bounce back following a dismal 2020 season.

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19. New England Patriots: 3-4 (Last Week: 23)
Won 54-13 vs. New York
Few things match Bill Belichick’s hatred for the New York Jets. Despite leading 31-7 at halftime and knocking Zach Wilson out of the game, Belichick refused to call off the dogs, as the Patriots scored 23 more points in the second half, including 20 in the fourth quarter. Mac Jones took care of the football and Damien Harris had a big day. Make no mistake, New England isn’t good, their only wins are against the Jets and Texans, but the Patriots are still more than capable of blowing out a hapless opponent.

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20. Chicago Bears: 3-4 (Last Week: 16)
Lost 38-3 at Tampa Bay
Beating the Bucs always felt like a longshot, but it would have been nice if the Bears had been even remotely competitive. Justin Fields continues to struggle behind an overmatched offensive line, accounting for five of Chicago’s six turnovers. The defense did not offer much resistance either, allowing five touchdowns in the first half. On the bright side, Khalil Herbert continues to look like a quality find in the draft with his second straight game of at least 97 yards rushing.

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21. Carolina Panthers: 3-4 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 25-3 at New York
That was rough. Sam Darnold got pulled in the midst of a horrible outing and the quarterback play somehow got worse. Darnold and P.J. Walker combined for 19-of-39 passing for 144 yards passing and an interception. Carolina could not run the ball either, finishing with 56 yards on 3.3 yards per carry. The defense played decent, but could not make enough plays to make up for such a dud offensively. Trade rumors involving Deshaun Watson to the Panthers are certainly going to intensify.

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22. Denver Broncos: 3-4 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 17-14 at Cleveland
This was an embarrassing loss for the Broncos. The Browns were about as shorthanded offensively as we’ve seen with Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb and more sidelined. Another disappointing showing from Teddy Bridgewater and the offense made that obsolete. In the midst of this four-game losing streak, Denver is averaging just 16 points per game. The Broncos have beaten three teams with a combined four wins. The heat is definitely rising on both Vic Fangio and Bridgewater.

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23. Philadelphia Eagles: 2-5 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 33-22 at Las Vegas
Philadelphia suffered another loss in which the offense went MIA for much of the game. After scoring a touchdown just four minutes into the first quarter, the Eagles did not put points on the board again until the fourth. Jalen Hurts continues to struggle with accuracy, finishing just 18-of-34 passing. He made some plays with his legs, but the ground game was not as effective after Miles Sanders left with an injury. Nick Sirianni needs to make some progress with this offense. At least the Dolphins lost again.

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24. Atlanta Falcons: 3-3 (Last Week: 26)
Won 30-28 at Miami
If we are going to bash the Broncos for beating up on the league’s basement dwellers, we have to do the same to the Falcons. Wins over the Giants, Jets and now Dolphins, all by one possession, are far from impressive. A last-second field goal from Younghoe Koo delivered this latest victory. On the bright side, Kyle Pitts had the best game of his young career so far, totaling 163 yards receiving. Still, Atlanta has done little to inspire confidence in its ability to hang with the better teams in the league.

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25. New York Giants: 2-5 (Last Week: 27)
Won 25-3 vs. Carolina
What in the world just happened? The Giants turned things around big time following last week’s 34-11 drubbing by the Rams. For the first time all season, the defense that inspired so much confidence in this team’s future down the stretch finally showed up. Carolina had a horrible day offensively, which was at least in some part due to a very disruptive front seven. New York tallied seven tackles for loss and six sacks, destroying Joe Brady’s offensive game plan for the week. This is a massive step in the right direction for Joe Judge and company.

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26. Seattle Seahawks: 2-5 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 13-10 vs. New Orleans
Seattle really misses Russell Wilson and Chris Carson. Outside of an 84-yard catch-and-run by D.K. Metcalf, the Seahawks could do basically nothing offensively. Still, they should have won this game. The defense stepped up and limited the vertical passing game for the Saints. Unfortunately, Jason Myers missed two field goals, which proved to be the difference in the game. Thankfully, the Jaguars are up next.

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27. Washington: 2-5 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 24-10 at Green Bay
What happened to the team that legitimately challenged the Buccaneers in the playoffs? Taylor Heinicke looks lost in the offense without anyone other than Terry McLaurin to rely on. The defense showed some signs of its 2020 form, with three sacks and strong showing against the run, but have not replicated the wrecking crew that struck fear into the hearts of opposing quarterbacks everywhere. Getting healthy will certainly help, with Dyami Brown, Curtis Samuel, Cam Sims, Logan Thomas and Brendan Scherff all out against the Packers. Perhaps a reeling Broncos team will be the cure to what ails Washington.

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28. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-5 (Last Week: 28)
Bye Week
Is it possible the Jaguars could win two in a row? Jacksonville still has not won on U.S. soil since Week 1 of 2020. However, the Jags face a banged up Seahawks team that has lost five of its past six games. A week off to reflect on his first six games in the NFL could be good for both Trevor Lawrence and Urban Meyer. A second straight win would greatly change the outlook of this franchise and this season.

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29. Detroit Lions: 0-7 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 28-19 at Los Angeles
For a little while, it looked Detroit was about to pull off the ultimate upset. Had Jared Goff and the Lions managed to beat Matt Stafford and the Rams, social media would have had a field day. Instead, Detroit records another hard-fought loss. L.A. outscored Detroit 11-0 in the fourth quarter as Goff sealed the win for his former team with an interception in the end zone. The Lions feel really close to breaking through. A home game against the Eagles could finally see this losing streak end.

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30. Miami Dolphins: 1-6 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 30-28 vs. Atlanta
Another loss is tough to swallow, but Tua Tagovailoa was definitely not the issue. He did have two interceptions, but also tossed four touchdowns while completing 32-of-40 passes for 291 yards. Unfortunately, it was the defense that could not come up with a big play when they needed it. I expect Miami to look better down the stretch, but hopes of a playoff run are officially dead.

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31. Houston Texans: 1-5 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 31-5 at Arizona
If you think about it, the Texans actually improved by two points this week from the week before. Yeah, it is hard to find much to be positive about if you are a Texans fan. Well, I’m going to try to find a way regardless. Houston is scoring more points per game than the Jets. Wow, this is harder than I thought. Oh, the team has a first-round pick for the first time since 2017, when the franchise selected Deshaun Watson. More first-round picks could be on the way with a Watson trade rumored to be imminent.

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32. New York Jets: 1-5 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 54-13 at New England
I hate supporting this team. Giving up 50-plus points while losing the rookie quarterback is the worst-case scenario for the Jets. Now, Joe Douglas is trading draft picks to acquire a 36-year-old backup because the team never really had a contingency plan for if Zach Wilson got hurt. Oh, and to top that all off, this all happened against the Patriots. Because of course it did. At least the Seahawks lost. Maybe two more top-15 picks will get the Jets to look even remotely competitive. Questions have to be asked of Robert Saleh as well. Coming off a bye week, New York once again looked wholly unprepared for its opponent. That is unacceptable. I know this team is young and the coaching staff is young, but it would be good if we could see they were actually learning something in all of these abysmal losses.

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2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 7

Welcome back to the best reality TV show in the world. Justin Herbert and the feel-good Chargers were humbled by the Ravens. Cleveland has gone from loveable losers to frustratingly average. Three more games went to overtime on Sunday before the Bills opted not to go to overtime Monday in a stunning conclusion to Monday Night Football. All in all, the drama that comes each week in the NFL is unmatched by anything you can find on your television and we are just getting started. Did I mention Jared Goff has to return to Los Angeles to face the team that traded him away in Week 7? The storylines never stop!

We are six weeks in and the NFL hierarchy is finally starting to settle. At least for now. There was a lot less movement than there had been in recent weeks, but still a new look to the rankings with the Bills falling out of the top 5 and the Browns tumbling out of the top 10. Plus, the Jaguars finally won a game to move off the bottom. Now if only they could win in America. Anyway, let’s dive into this week’s power rankings.

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1. Arizona Cardinals: 6-0 (Last Week: 1)
Won 37-14 at Cleveland
Arizona continues to impress. Cleveland was incredibly beat up, but it barely even mattered. The Cardinals are playing well on both sides of the ball and find new ways to win pretty much every week. This time it was a heavy run focus with Kyler Murray tossing four touchdowns. The defense did its part as well, sacking Baker Mayfield five times. I feel like there is still resistance in putting the Cardinals among the NFL’s, but they have picked up some quality wins and seem to be improving as the year rolls on.

2. Los Angeles Rams: 5-1 (Last Week: 3)
Won 38-11 at New York
After an ugly start, the Rams cruised to a monster victory. Matthew Stafford lit it up with four passing touchdowns, while the defense made life miserable for Daniel Jones. They came up with three interceptions, recorded four sacks and limited him to just 4.7 yards per passing attempt. From the second quarter on, it was one-way traffic. Sean McVay wants his team to start faster, which will likely be required when facing better opponents.

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3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 5-1 (Last Week: 4)
Won 28-22 at Philadelphia
The offense had a bit of an off night. For context, an off night for the Buccaneers still involved just shy of 400 yards of offense and 28 points. It just didn’t feel as fluid. Tom Brady and company did come up clutch though in the closing minutes, running nearly six minutes off the clock to seal the contest. Thankfully, the defense was smothering for most of the game. Philadelphia managed just 213 yards and struggled to find a rhythm. It was good to see the secondary step up and have a good night. The Bears are up next.

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4. Baltimore Ravens: 5-1 (Last Week: 6)
Won 34-6 vs. Los Angeles
Whoa. This was a statement game for the Ravens. Baltimore made Justin Herbert look pedestrian and shut down the run game. While the offense will get some love for putting up 34 points, it was really the defense that stole the show. Los Angeles entered the game with at least 28 points in each of its past three games. If this is the level the Ravens can play at consistently, this team is the clear favorite in the AFC. That season-opening loss against the Raiders is clearly in the rearview mirror.

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5. Dallas Cowboys: 5-1 (Last Week: 8)
Won 35-29 at New England
It took overtime and some rookie mistakes from Mac Jones, but the Cowboys pulled off their fifth straight win. This game probably should never have reached overtime, but some questionable play calling and a bit of bad luck cost Dallas a lot of points in the first half. A failed fourth down run and a fumble at the goal line kept the Patriots around despite the Pats picking up way fewer yards. The Cowboys definitely need to finish drives better and clean up some of those mistakes, but it is good to pick up a hard-fought win heading into a bye week.

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6. Buffalo Bills: 4-2 (Last Week: 2)
Won 34-31 at Tennessee
The Bills defense we watched dominate the past month of the season was nowhere to be found on Monday Night Football. Buffalo had a pair of shutouts and a thrashing of Kansas City under its belt, but it did not matter in Nashville. Sean McDermott got aggressive in the closing seconds, going for it on fourth down to win the game and avoid overtime. Josh Allen slipped on a quarterback sneak and Jeffrey Simmons blew up the play. Despite the disappointing finish, the offense was not the problem. Surrendering 146 yards and three touchdowns to Derrick Henry was. Tennessee scored on six straight possessions to finish the game as well. Buffalo has some soul searching to do.

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7. Green Bay Packers: 5-1 (Last Week: 9)
Won 24-14 at Chicago
Ownership of the Windy City apparently belongs to Aaron Rodgers. Candace Parker might have a good claim, but it is hard to argue with Rodgers’ success in Chicago. He moved to 22-5 all-time as the starter at Soldier Field, capping off the game with a touchdown scramble. While Rodgers made headlines, the defense did the dirty work. Green Bay sacked Justin Fields four times and held the Bears to just 14 points. It actually wasn’t the best day we’ve seen from the Packers offense either. Going two-for-eight on third-down conversions is definitely a red flag. It is clear Matt LaFleur is still working out the kinks with this team.

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8. Cincinnati Bengals: 4-2 (Last Week: 10)
Won 34-11 at Detroit
Is it possible that the Bengals are a legitimate playoff contender? You don’t usually earn that status against the winless Lions, but looking at the team’s full body of work, it is hard not to be impressed. With two losses by a combined six points and four wins, it is clear that Cincinnati has made some major strides from 2020. Performances like this against Detroit go a long way in that as well. Two weeks ago, the Bengals squeaked by the Jaguars on a last-second field goal. Avoiding another close game against an inferior team is a really good sign.

9. Los Angeles Chargers: 4-2 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 34-6 at Baltimore
Talk about laying an egg. In what was billed as the game of the week, the Chargers came out flat and never recovered. The defense spent way too much time on the field as the offense sputtered and failed. Los Angeles finished with just 208 yards and could not run the football at all. Justin Herbert was the team’s leading rusher with 12 yards. It is clear we need to cool the Super Bowl hype on this team, but the Chargers are still in good shape, leading the AFC West.

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10. Kansas City Chiefs: 3-3 (Last Week: 12)
Won 31-13 at Washington
This was a crucial win for the Chiefs. It does not change the clear number of issues that still exist with how they are playing. Kansas City leads the league in turnovers, as Patrick Mahomes threw two more interceptions and Mecole Hardman coughed one up. That needs to stop immediately. The Chiefs defense looked much better on Sunday, but putting them into sudden change situations frequently is a recipe for disaster. They face a Titans team fresh off a big win in Week 7.

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11. Cleveland Browns 3-3 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 37-14 vs. Arizona
Injuries are mounting in Cleveland as hopes of a title challenge are quickly fading. Baker Mayfield could be facing some time on the sidelines. Kareem Hunt almost certainly will miss time. Odell Beckham Jr. exited early with a shoulder injury. Both of the Browns starting offensive tackles were already out along with Nick Chubb. On top of all of that, the defense did not show up to play. After a fairly strong start, Cleveland has now given up 84 points over the past two weeks. They need to step up big time with the offense in taters.

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12. New Orleans Saints: 3-2 (Last Week: 11)
Bye Week
A week off for the Saints allows them to regroup after an up and down start to the season. Jameis Winston has been serviceable while the defense is quietly having a really good season. New Orleans currently ranks third in points allowed per game. With a number of key players hopefully returning soon from injury, this bye came at a great time. If Michael Thomas, Terron Armstead, Erik McCoy, Marcus Davenport and Kwon Alexander can get back on the field, this will look like a much different team.

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13. Las Vegas Raiders: 4-2 (Last Week: 15)
Won 34-24 at Denver
Las Vegas looked like it had a weight lifted off its shoulders. With Jon Gruden gone, the email scandal was on the back burner as the Raiders were allowed to focus on football again. It seemed to work out well, as the team rewarded Rich Bisaccia with a win to start his tenure. Derek Carr bounced back with a really impressive performance as the defense came up big. Three interceptions and five sacks of Teddy Bridgewater gave Las Vegas a clear edge. At 4-2, a division title is very much in play.

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14. Tennessee Titans: 4-2 (Last Week: 17)
Won 34-31 vs. Buffalo
It is hard to believe this is the same team that lost to the Jets two weeks ago. Derrick Henry proved once again that he is the best pure runner in the NFL. It has been a while since we have seen a player with his blend of power, speed and stamina. Mike Vrabel’s defense still has a lot of room for improvement, but holding Buffalo to 3.6 yards per carry and two-for-five in the red zone are huge victories that he can build off of going forward.

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15. Minnesota Vikings: 3-3 (Last Week: 18)
Won 34-28 at Carolina
Kirk Cousins regained his electric form, racking up 373 yards and three touchdowns to lead Minnesota to an overtime win. Dalvin Cook did his part as well with 140 yards and a score on the ground. While earning a road win is always good, it came at a cost. Patrick Peterson hit the injured reserve with a hamstring injury and the cracks are starting to show elsewhere in the secondary. This game could have gone very differently if pretty much every Panthers receiver managed to catch passes. Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore and Chuba Hubbard all struggled to haul in Sam Darnold’s throws, which certainly helped the Vikings out. A bye week to work on defensive improvements should be very welcome.

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16. Chicago Bears: 3-3 (Last Week: 14)
Lost 24-14 vs. Green Bay
The offense struggled once again as Matt Nagy is running out of time to prove he is the right coach to develop Justin Fields. The rookie quarterback has flashes of brilliance, but clearly has a ways to go to capitalize on his immense potential. On the bright side, Khalil Herbert stepped into the lead back role well, racking up 112 yards of offense. Unfortunately, Fields was sacked four times and the passing game never got into a rhythm. The offense needs to start showing progress soon. Tampa Bay awaits, which will be another big test for Chicago.

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17. San Francisco 49ers: 2-3 (Last Week: 16)
Bye Week
The week off came at a great time for San Francisco. Trey Lance still remains a doubt to play heading into Week 7, but Jimmy Garoppolo could be in line for a return. K’Waun Williams is back at practice as well. A chance to get healthy is crucial in the midst of a three-game losing streak. The 49ers face the Colts in Week 7.

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18. Carolina Panthers: 3-3 (Last Week: 13)
Lost 34-28 vs. Minnesota
Sam Darnold had another rough day, but he got absolutely no help from his receivers against Minnesota. Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore and Chuba Hubbard all dropped a couple of catchable balls. Carolina got a huge spark from its special team with a blocked punt that was recovered for a touchdown. Darnold also led a game-tying drive in the closing minutes to force overtime. There were definitely some positives, but a week where Darnold completed 17 of his 41 passes and Christian McCaffrey hit the injured reserve cannot be considered a good one.

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19. Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-3 (Last Week: 19)
Won 23-20 vs. Seattle
Pittsburgh ground out another win which was maybe a bit closer than it should have been. Ben Roethlisberger had a lackluster game and the Steelers continued to struggle running the ball efficiently. Thankfully, the defense is one in the best of the league. Pittsburgh sacked Geno Smith five times, recorded 10 tackles for loss and T.J. Watt came up with the play of the game on his strip sack of Smith in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal. It was far from a convincing victory, but winning ugly is much better than losing close.

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20. Philadelphia Eagles: 2-4 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 28-22 vs. Tampa Bay
Another rough week passing the ball cost the Eagles a chance at a major upset. The Buccaneers came into the game with one of the worst pass defenses in the league, and while they put together a better performance, finishing with 113 yards passing is disappointing. Philly also seemed to shy away from running the ball despite finding a decent amount of success. Miles Sanders had 6.2 yards per attempt, but only had nine carries in the game, including one in the first half. Jalen Hurts was the only other player to record a rushing attempt. Nick Sirianni clearly has to tweak his offensive approach.

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21. Denver Broncos: 3-3 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 34-24 vs. Las Vegas
Remember when the Broncos were 3-0? Yeah, it has been a really rough month of October. We all knew Denver’s record was inflated having faced the Jaguars, Jets and Giants in September, but this has been a disappointing run. Derek Carr posted an absurd 12.6 yards per attempt as the secondary got shredded. Vic Fangio desperately needs to get his defense back on track. He won’t get much time to solve those issues as a trip to Cleveland on Thursday is on the horizon.

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22. Indianapolis Colts: 2-4 (Last Week: 24)
Won 31-3 vs. Houston
Any frustrations from Week 5’s collapse against the Ravens were clearly resolved by battering the Texans. Indy bent, but never broke defensively and cashed in a few big plays in the passing game. Carson Wentz completed two passes for at least 50 yards, including a touchdown to Paris Campbell. That wasn’t even the biggest play of the game, as Jonathan Taylor ripped off an 83-yard run. The score line was definitely a bit exaggerated, but with a plus-three in the turnover battle allowed the Colts to pull away.

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23. New England Patriots: 2-4 (Last Week: 23)
Lost 35-29 vs. Dallas
Apparently, the Patriots can only play close games. This was their third straight contest decided by one possession. Unfortunately, they have only won one of them. New England came up with some huge plays to get off the field in key moments defensively. Stuffing Ezekiel Elliott on fourth down and punching the ball out of Dak Prescott’s hands on the goal line kept things close in the first half, but the Patriots didn’t really build off it. Mac Jones tossed a pick-six, but followed it up with a 75-yard touchdown pass. New England is clearly close to breaking through, but they need to capitalize on their opponents’ mistakes more and limit their own.

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24. Seattle Seahawks: 2-4 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 23-20 at Pittsburgh
The limitations that come with having Geno Smith at quarterback are clear, but it would be unfair to solely blame him for this loss. He was far from perfect, but the offensive line did not play well, allowing five sacks. Seattle had the ball with a chance to win the game in overtime, which is about as good as you could ask for given the situation. It is hard to believe that the Seahawks are now sending out Smith to hand the ball off to Alex Collins. Hopefully another week of preparation will produce some better results in the passing game.

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25. Washington: 2-4 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 31-13 vs. Kansas City
It turns out Washington is simply a team that finished last year with a losing record and did not make much progress during the offseason. Taylor Henickie had a game to forget, Antonio Gibson exited with an injury and the defense fell apart in the second half. This team needs to turn things around quickly if they have any hope of challenging for the wild card. Things don’t get much easier with a trip to Green Bay up next.

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26. Atlanta Falcons: 2-3 (Last Week: 26)
Bye Week
It is hard to tell which direction Atlanta is headed in. Their two wins this season came against the two teams from New York, who have a combined two wins. Arthur Smith has definitely reintroduced some potency to the offense, but the defense remains a train wreck. Only Washington has allowed more points per game this season. They will get a chance to prove themselves with the Dolphins, Panthers and Saints in their next three games.

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27. New York Giants: 1-5 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 38-11 vs. Los Angeles
OK, now we can be harder on the Giants. Even with all the injuries, this was a dismal showing by all involved. The coaching staff mishandled several key situations. Daniel Jones tossed three interceptions and got very little help from anyone else on the offense. After a strong start to the game defensively, New York looked powerless to stop Matthew Stafford. The offense turning it over four times likely didn’t help, but this was one of the games where you should probably just burn the film and move on.

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28. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-5 (Last Week: 32)
Won 23-20 vs. Miami
All it took was a trip to London to finally snap the 20-game losing streak. The offense did just enough and the defense did just enough to beat what is clearly a Dolphins team in free fall. Now, the Jaguars get a bye week to reassess and see if maybe Urban Meyer can help gear his team up for the rest of the year. It has been a really rocky start to his tenure, but if he can avoid off-the-field distractions and start winning a couple games, our outlook of this team will shift dramatically.

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29. New York Jets: 1-4 (Last Week: 31)
Bye Week
The Jets move up two spots, but being 29 might actually be too high for them at this stage. New York is yet to score in the first quarter of a game this season. Zach Wilson has shown flashes, but is really struggling to avoid turnovers and find some rhythm in the offense. The defense has been solid, roughly around league average when it comes to yards and points allowed. If the offense can step it up and sustain a few drives, that defense will look even better.

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30. Houston Texans: 1-5 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 31-3 at Indianapolis
Perhaps this is just the existence of a team without much talent being led by a very unproven rookie quarterback. One week after nearly knocking off the Patriots, the Texans looked overmatched. Davis Mills struggled with two more interceptions and the defense gave up too many big plays. Houston has shown flashes, but this was also their fourth loss by double digits. This team needs to cut down on the turnovers to have any hope of competing.

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31. Miami Dolphins: 1-5 (Last Week: 28)
Lost 23-20 at Jacksonville
That win over the Patriots feels like a lifetime ago. Even with Tua Tagovailoa back, the Dolphins offense was a bit underwhelming. They moved the ball just fine, as Tagovailoa threw for 329 yards. Managing 20 points against the Jaguars is not going to cut it though. It is hard to know where Miami goes from here. Brian Flores needs to recreate the identity of this team during the upcoming bye week.

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32. Detroit Lions: 0-6 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 34-11 vs. Cincinnati
As the lone winless team in the NFL, the Lions belong in the NFL basement. Following a noncompetitive loss against Cincinnati, Detroit has now lost 10 straight games. Jared Goff did not play well and the team continues to struggle running the football. There isn’t a ton to like about what the defense did either. To make matters worse, the Lions have to go visit Matthew Stafford and the Rams in Week 7. If Goff looked bad against the Bengals, I can only imagine how his return to L.A. will go.

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