Welcome to the NFL’s new normal. Top teams are upset on a weekly basis, Hall of Fame quarterbacks crumble against mediocre defenses, and no one has any idea who is good and who is bad. In a word, the NFL has achieved parity. Every week, chaos is bound to wash over the NFL, sending a shockwave through these power rankings.
Just a quick recap, the Eagles coasted past the Broncos, who beat the Cowboys last week. Meanwhile, the Cowboys shelled the Falcons, who topped the Saints a week ago. Two weeks ago, the Saints beat the Buccaneers, who have now lost two straight after a truly stunning defeat in D.C. Add in the new-look Rams falling flat against the previously downtrodden 49ers and you have a pretty clear picture of the mess that is the NFL right now. Even the teams that are 8-2 have some pretty clear question marks.
With all of that in mind, here is my best attempt at ranking the league’s teams.
1. Green Bay Packers: 8-2 (Last Week: 1)
Won 17-0 vs. Seattle
Defense wins championships and it seems like the Packers defense is rounding into form. Russell Wilson was clearly shaking off some rust, but he had never been shutout before Sunday. Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers made his return to the field and didn’t look great. He had no touchdowns and an interceptions. A.J. Dillon plunged in for a pair of short-yardage touchdown runs to seal an important victory. Even with Aaron Jones set to miss a week or two, the Packers should be in good shape to keep winning with a strong defense and reliable run game.
2. Tennessee Titans: 8-2 (Last Week: 4)
Won 23-21 vs. New Orleans
Is Tennessee really the second-best team in the league? Honestly, I don’t know. They sit at 8-2, but these two wins without Derrick Henry have been anything but convincing. The Titans got a bit of help from the refs with a questionable roughing the passer call and the Saints nearly tied the game in the closing minutes. In the end, the defense made a few big plays when the game was on the line. Mike Vrabel has built a gritty team. It doesn’t have to be pretty if they just keep winning.
3. Dallas Cowboys: 7-2 (Last Week: 6)
Won 43-3 vs. Atlanta
Talk about bouncing back. Dallas put a horrendous offensive performance in its rearview mirror with a thrashing of Atlanta. The Cowboys led 7-3 at the end of the first quarter, then outscored the Falcons 29-0 in the second quarter to put the game to bed. Dak Prescott played efficiently and the defense played lights out, holding Atlanta to just 214 yards of offense and forcing three turnovers. As of right now, the loss against Denver looks like an anomaly, but they can’t afford too many more duds like that.
4. Arizona Cardinals: 8-2 (Last Week: 2)
Lost 34-10 vs. Carolina
There is only so much magic the Cardinals can work with a depleted offense. The combination of Colt McCoy and Chris Streveler totaled 143 passing yards to go with an interception and four sacks. Defensively, the Cardinals had no answer for Christian McCaffrey, who finished with 161 yards of offense. This is one that you can probably just throw out when evaluating Arizona, but the offensive line still struggled against an elite defense. That is a red flag.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-3 (Last Week: 3)
Lost 29-19 at Washington
Tampa Bay fell flat once again, this time coming off their bye week. Tom Brady played his worst game of the season and the Buccaneers defense got pushed around all afternoon. While Brady’s two first-quarter interceptions made life difficult, the bigger issue was definitely the defense’s inability to get off the field. Washington held the ball for 39 minutes of game play, leaving the Bucs with very little opportunity to get into a rhythm. Tampa’s 47 plays were easily the fewest they have run all season. Bruce Arians has some serious work to do in order get this club back on track.
6. New England Patriots: 6-4 (Last Week: 8)
Won 45-7 vs. Cleveland
Oh no. The Patriots are back. Maybe not to the high-flying days of Tom Brady leading the league’s No. 1 offense, but this New England side is starting to resemble those early 2000s teams that won three Super Bowls in a four-year span. I’m not saying the Pats are going to win a title this year, but smashing the Browns definitely underlines this team’s potential. I know they have lost four games this season, but three of those four came by six points or fewer. With four straight wins, Bill Belichick has this team trending in the right direction.
7. Los Angeles Rams: 7-3 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 31-10 at San Francisco
You can take the quarterback out of Detroit, but you can’t take the Detroit out of the quarterback. Matt Stafford continues to come up well short in big moments for the Rams. For the second straight week, Los Angeles got whipped in primetime as their big offseason acquisition floundered. This week though, he might have an excuse. His receivers could not catch anything on Monday night. Stafford’s second interception went right through the hands of Tyler Higbee. Without any semblance of a running game and a defense that could not stop a nosebleed, much less Elijah Mitchell, L.A. looked completely overmatched. Sean McVay has a lot of questions to answer on the other side of their bye week.
8. Buffalo Bills: 6-3 (Last Week: 9)
Won 45-17 at New York
Buffalo clearly did not dwell on its stunning Week 9 loss to the Jaguars. The Bills jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. They led 38-3 heading into the fourth quarter. Josh Allen played well and got plenty of help from the ground game. Four different players recorded a rushing touchdown in this one. Similarly, four different defensive players intercepted Mike White in a dominant performance. Buffalo clearly showed that its floor is very low, but this was a good reminder that they also have a very high ceiling.
9. Kansas City Chiefs: 6-4 (Last Week: 14)
Won 41-14 at Las Vegas
It is important not to overreact after just one game on the heels of about a month of lackluster play, but we saw the Patrick Mahomes of old on Sunday night. He shredded the Raiders secondary for 406 yards and five touchdowns in a resurgent performance. What’s more, Kansas City ran the ball enough to keep Las Vegas honest. The Chiefs averaged just 3.8 yards per carry, so there is room for improvement, but this was a good sign of things to come. Kansas City cannot afford a let down though with Dallas up next.
10. Baltimore Ravens: 6-3 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 22-10 at Miami
Goodness this was ugly. Miami bottled up Lamar Jackson as the offense spun its wheels all night long. The Ravens could not adjust to the consistent pressure Brian Flores sent throughout the game. Defensively, Baltimore held Jacoby Brissett in check, but gave up way too many big plays in big moments. With the Browns losing and the Steelers tying this week, this would have been a huge opportunity for the Ravens to build some separation in the division. Instead, Baltimore must rethink its offensive approach against blitz-heavy defenses.
11. Los Angeles Chargers: 5-4 (Last Week: 10)
Lost 27-20 vs. Minnesota
Reminder: the Chargers are a young team and there are going to be some growing pains. Justin Herbert turned in an uneven performance, with a touchdown, an interception and just 195 yards passing. Defensively, Kirk Cousins generally had his way with the secondary and Minnesota chewed up clock on the ground. This loss does not undo wins over the Chiefs or Browns, but Los Angeles is clearly not a true Super Bowl contender yet.
12. New Orleans Saints: 5-4 (Last Week: 11)
Lost 23-21 at Tennessee
Question time. Why is Trevor Siemian starting for the Saints? Taysom Hill went 3-1 as a spot starter for New Orleans when Drew Brees got hurt, in ahead of Jameis Winston. Now, Hill is back to his gadget player role, despite receiving a monster extension this offseason. I understand it was primarily for salary cap purposes, but it still makes me wonder what has changed since last year. Considering this loss came by two points on the road against a good team while the Saints were missing their best player, the sky is not falling. However, after two straight losses, it is fair to wonder if a change at quarterback is necessary.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers: 5-3-1 (Last Week: 12)
Tied 16-16 vs. Detroit
If nothing else, we learned that Mason Rudolph is not the Steelers quarterback of the future. He managed a meager 4.8 yards per attempt and finished with a QBR of 36.7. There is plenty of blame to go around though, as Pittsburgh coughed up two fumbles in overtime to halt two potential game-winning drives. Meanwhile, the defense gave up 229 yards rushing. All the way around, it is a wonder the Steelers did not lose this game. They desperately need Ben Roethlisberger back in Week 11.
14. Indianapolis Colts: 5-5 (Last Week: 17)
Won 23-17 vs. Jacksonville
Perhaps we should just chalk this up to divisional games being difficult. However, the Colts did not play well and let the Jaguars hang around way too long in this one. Carson Wentz was pedestrian at best and no one other than Jonathan Taylor really produced much. If not for a special teams touchdown early in this game on a blocked punt, there is a good chance Indianapolis loses this game. Like I said, divisional games are wonky and often lead to unexpected results. Hopefully, the Colts can raise their play because a visit to Buffalo is up next.
15. Minnesota Vikings: 4-5 (Last Week: 19)
Won 27-20 at Los Angeles
At long last, Minnesota built a late lead and hung onto it. Kirk Cousins aired it out and Dalvin Cook put in a ton of work. The defense deserves a ton of credit for making life difficult on Justin Herbert, sacking him twice and intercepting him. Controlling the clock on offense and limiting big plays on defense is a winning formula for this side.
16. Cleveland Browns 5-5 (Last Week: 13)
Lost 45-7 at New England
What to make of the Browns? On the heels of a blowout win against Cincinnati, Cleveland drove right down the field for an opening-drive touchdown. Then, the Browns surrendered 45 unanswered points as Baker Mayfield struggled mightily before exiting with a knee injury. D’Ernest Johnson did his best to carry the load, racking up 157 yards of offense, but Cleveland looked lifeless on both sides of the ball. The sign of a great team is consistency, which goes a long way towards explaining the Browns’ 5-5 record. This team cannot string together performances right now.
17. Cincinnati Bengals: 5-4 (Last Week: 16)
It was a good week for the Bengals. The Ravens, Browns and Steelers all did not win. Now Cincinnati needs to take advantage. Joe Burrow and company have flashed the potential to be one of the best teams in the AFC, but are coming off back-to-back losses to the Jets and Browns. With a bye week to regroup, the Bengals now have a chance to prove they are a legitimate playoff team and not just another middle-of-the-road side.
18. Las Vegas Raiders: 5-4 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 41-14 vs. Kansas City
It seems like the on-going circus around the Raiders has finally caught up with them on the field. First, Jon Gruden was fired (technically, he resigned, but let’s read between the lines) for some horrible emails containing racist, homophobic and misogynistic language. Then, Henry Ruggs was arrested after killing someone while driving drunk, going 156 miles per hour with a loaded gun in the car. Most recently, Damon Arnette was released following a series of social media posts containing death threats while he brandished firearms. And that was all before they went into a rivalry game with the Chiefs. Needless to say, Las Vegas fell flat. Patrick Mahomes pulled apart the Raiders secondary and the offense did not score after halftime. Rich Bisaccia has a tough task ahead of him.
19. Philadelphia Eagles: 4-6 (Last Week: 22)
Won 30-13 at Denver
Philadelphia put together a complete game as it ran all over Denver’s defense. The Eagles racked up 214 yards on 40 carries and got stronger as the game went on. With the game tied at 10 midway through the second quarter, Philly outscored Denver 20-3 the rest of the way. Given how much chaos has occurred in the NFL this season, the Eagles are just one game back of a playoff spot. They will face another wildcard contender in Week 11 as the Saints come to town.
20. San Francisco 49ers: 4-5 (Last Week: 25)
Won 31-10 vs. Los Angeles
Kyle Shanahan clearly has Sean McVay’s number. San Francisco has notched five straight wins over Los Angeles, with Monday’s being the most impressive, and perhaps important, yet. The 49ers ran the ball 44 times to amass a time of possession of over 39 minutes. Meanwhile, Matthew Stafford never looked comfortable and the Rams could not hold onto the ball. Two early interceptions, including a pick-six, coupled with an 11-minute scoring drive set the tone for the game. L.A. never recovered. San Francisco will have a chance to build on this win in Jacksonville.
21. Carolina Panthers: 5-5 (Last Week: 24)
Won 34-10 at Arizona
Even though he did not start, there is no doubt Cam Newton provided a huge emotional boost for the Panthers. Super Cam scored on his first two offensive snaps in his return to Carolina. The defense certainly benefited from facing Colt McCoy instead of Kyler Murray, but still impressed nonetheless. The Panthers tallied four total sacks and only allowed 169 yards of offense. It was the type of stifling performance that makes you think that Carolina could be a real problem down the stretch if Newton can get into form and provide some kind of stability on offense.
22. Denver Broncos: 5-5 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 30-13 vs. Philadelphia
Denver followed up an impressive road win over the Cowboys with a lopsided home loss to the Eagles. Make it make sense. The biggest difference was the run game. After allowing just 78 yards to Dallas, Philadelphia rumbled for 214 yards on the ground. After falling behind, the Broncos could not continue to run consistently, which is where they found a decent amount of success earlier in the game. Still at .500 and only a game back in the AFC West, Denver is in the mix, but results like this make it hard to believe in the long-term potential.
23. New York Giants: 3-6 (Last Week: 21)
This was a tough week for the Giants. Not because of anything they did. Hopefully, they finally got healthy. Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Kenny Golladay and more have missed enough time already. No, unfortunately, every other team in the NFC East won, which pushes New York back into the divisional basement. Joe Judge and Daniel Jones have a lot to prove in the second half of the season.
24. Atlanta Falcons: 4-5 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 43-3 at Dallas
Last week, I said that Matt Ryan was putting together a Jekyll and Hyde type season. He turned it up a notch in Week 10. After an impressive win over the Saints in which he had 343 yards and a pair of touchdowns, Ryan went 9-for-21 passing for 121 yards and two interceptions. He was pulled late in the third quarter with the team trailing by 40. Atlanta is still just a half game back of the Panthers for the NFC’s final wildcard spot at the moment, but it is hard to think of this group as a playoff team.
25. Seattle Seahawks: 3-6 (Last Week: 23)
Lost 17-0 at Green Bay
So, Russell Wilson didn’t exactly fix the offense. The veteran quarterback struggled mightily, finishing 20-of-40 throwing for 161 yards and two interceptions. He simply did not look sharp, nor did he have much time to throw. Green Bay hit him five times, including three sacks. On the bright side, the defense limited Aaron Rodgers and kept Seattle in the game until late on. Unfortunately, things will not get much easier with the Cardinals up next.
26. Miami Dolphins: 3-7 (Last Week: 28)
Won 22-10 vs. Baltimore
Don’t look now, but the Dolphins are on a win streak. Brian Flores blitzed the hell out of Lamar Jackson, mostly from his secondary, holding the former MVP in check. In fact, this has to go down as one of the most impressive defensive performances of his tenure. However, questions must be asked of Flores’ handling of his quarterbacks. Tua Tagovailoa was deemed injured and unable to start the game. Yet, he was active as a backup. Jacoby Brissett exited with an injury, thrusting Tagovailoa into the game. Brissett never returned despite being cleared to play. So if Tagovailoa was too hurt to start, why was he left in when Brissett was able to come back? Miami’s quarterback situation continues to be an enigma.
27. Washington: 3-6 (Last Week: 29)
Won 29-19 vs. Tampa Bay
Add the Washington Football Team to the list of teams that act as kryptonite to Tom Brady. Washington intercepted the future Hall of Famer twice in the first quarter to build an early lead. However, the real key was a 10-plus minute touchdown drive in the fourth quarter to put the game away. Washington remained committed to the run despite only managing 2.8 yards per carry. Now, Ron Rivera must prepare for an emotional reunion with his former team in Cam Newton’s first home game since returning to the Panthers.
28. Chicago Bears: 3-6 (Last Week: 26)
Maybe a week off will allow Matt Nagy and Bill Lazor to finally build an offense that suits Justin Fields’ skill set. The rookie quarterback has had the typical ups and downs that come with the transition to the NFL. However, the Bears have been unable to unlock their best offensive player in Allen Robinson and often leave Fields in tough situations. Chicago’s defense is usually good enough to win games. If the offense can find a bit more consistency, the Bears could be a factor down the stretch.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-7 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 23-17 vs. Indianapolis
Jacksonville nearly followed up one upset with another. Trevor Lawrence was strip-sacked after making it into Colts territory on the team’s final drive, ending hopes of another massive win, but there are some positives to take away. The defense seems to have taken a much-needed step forward. Carson Wentz did not find much success through the air, but ultimately, the Jaguars could not slow down Jonathan Taylor. Now, if Urban Meyer could find a way to help Lawrence develop, Jacksonville would be in a good place.
30. New York Jets: 2-7 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 45-17 vs. Buffalo
It is ridiculous to think about, but how warm is Robert Saleh’s seat getting right now? New York’s defense has been almost unprecedentedly bad, allowing 417 yards per game and just shy of 33 points per game, both the worst marks in the league. Saleh was formerly the defensive coordinator for the 49ers, so this was supposed to be his forte. I don’t expect the Jets to fire him after just one season, but it would be good for the unit to show progress in the second half of the year.
31. Houston Texans: 1-7 (Last Week: 31)
Houston largely sat out the trade deadline and now sits at 1-7. An extra week to get Tyrod Taylor back to full health likely bodes well for the offense. With very little expectation and already having won a game to avoid the dreaded winless season, there really does not seem to be much to play for in Houston.
32. Detroit Lions: 0-8-1 (Last Week: 32)
Tied 16-16 at Pittsburgh
This might be the most Lions way to break a 12-game losing streak: an ugly tie in a game where Detroit probably should have won, but couldn’t quite get over the hump. Jared Goff is clearly not the quarterback of the future, but with a mediocre quarterback class coming up, how the Lions address the position will be interesting. Dan Campbell has this team competing hard, but at some point, that is not going to be enough any more.
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