There is no shortage of drama in football this week as Jalen Ramsey heads west and the College Football Playoff suffered a major shakeup as Georgia went down. Catch up on all of that and check out this week’s studs and sleepers. Plus find out which games to watch and the prospects to watch in each contest. You can find every episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
Welcome back to another NFL season football fans! After the 8-month long drought of meaningful football, we are now just two days away from the season kicking off. This is shaping up to be a very interesting season in the league. It feels like there are very few teams who seem to have no shot at the postseason this year. There will undoubtedly be surprises that very few saw coming. That’s what makes the league so much fun to watch every year.
This year, it feels like there is a pretty deep group of contenders. Picking the top team out of that group is difficult. Ranking the list of contenders is probably even harder. Every team has flaws. There is not a team that feels head and shoulders above the rest. Even the reigning champs have a couple of question marks after the retirement of Rob Gronkowski and departure of high-priced free agents. Yet, I will give it my best shot and fill you in on much of what happened during the offseason for each team. It’s time for the season’s first power rankings to begin.
1. Los Angeles Rams: Lost in Super Bowl
Los Angeles will try to buck the trend of teams who lose the Super Bowl struggling the follow season. New England certainly did, follow up its Super Bowl loss to Philly by taking home the Lombardi. The Rams return the majority of their roster. There was some turnover along the offensive line as both John Sullivan and Roger Saffold departed. However, the front office bolster the defense by keeping Dante Fowler Jr. and signing Eric Weddle from the Ravens. Oh and they also get Cooper Kupp back from injury. LA is far from a lock to win the Super Bowl, but they feel the best positioned to right now.
2. New England Patriots: Won Super Bowl
The champs are here. Winning the title and dropping one spot in the power rankings is not too bad when you consider how much roster turnover the Patriots had this offseason. I already mentioned Gronk moving on, but Trent Brown and Trey Flowers also left for greener (lots of green actually) pastures. New England added some savvy veterans like Ben Watson (suspended 4 games), Demaryius Thomas and Michael Bennett. The receiving core has also been bolstered by the conditional return of Josh Gordon. There are certainly holes on this Pats roster and Father Time will catch up with a number of key contributors eventually, by doubting Bill Belichick is a very questionable approach.
3. New Orleans Saints: Lost in NFC Championship
New Orleans should have been in the Super Bowl and actually caused a rule change this offseason. The Saints return all of its key offensive and defensive contributors. Mark Ingram does depart though after eight seasons in NOLA. This team was explosive to start the season, but really fizzled down the stretch. The lack of proven receiver depth behind Michael Thomas is a major concern, but the addition of Jared Cook at tight end should help alleviate some of the pressure. Latavius Murray also signed on to fill Ingram’s vacated role. If rookie center Erik McCoy transitions well to the pros and the defense takes the next step, the Saints could be hosting an extended Mardi Gras party in February.
4. Kansas City Chiefs: Lost in AFC Championship
Will Patrick Mahomes replicate his 50 touchdown season? Can he lead the Chiefs to the Super Bowl? Is he the greatest thing since sliced bread? These are just some of the questions floating around Chiefs’ camp coming off their deepest playoff run in 25 years. Kansas City tried to address its woeful secondary by signing Tyrann Mathieu and drafting Juan Thornhill in the second round. KC also allowed Justin Houston to walk and shipped Dee Ford to San Francisco. Bringing in Frank Clark from Seattle should ease those losses, but the defense once again feels like a question mark potentially holding the Chiefs back from a chance at a title.
5. Chicago Bears: Lost in NFC Wild Card
It is hard to know what to make of the Bears. Chicago shocked everyone by dominating the NFC North last season. It was a great run cut short by a a kick hitting the upright against the Eagles. Mitch Trubisky enters year three without a clear top receiving threat. The collection of Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Trey Burton did just enough to power the passing game. Chicago is very excited about David Montgomery and still returns the best defense in the league, but it is down a few key pieces. Adrian Amos and Bryce Callahan both departed in free agency, leaving some holes in the secondary. Da Bears took fliers on Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Buster Skrine to help patch it up. The front seven is still fearsome and should be good enough to mask any weaknesses in that back four.
6. Philadelphia Eagles: Lost in NFC Divisional
You know who would really like to make Philadelphia forget about Nick Foles? Carson Wentz. The former North Dakota State star has missed the conclusion of each of the previous two seasons due to injury. Foles stepped in and led the Eagles to a Super Bowl win and divisional round appearance respectively. Philly was likely an inexplicable Alshon Jeffrey drop away from a trip to the NFC Championship game as well. Now its Wentz’s turn to show he has what it takes to lead the Eagles deep into the postseason. The backfield is restocked with rookie Miles Sanders and import Jordan Howard. DeSean Jackson is back for another run. The secondary is finally healthy. If Wentz can stay on the field this year, Philly is going to be one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL.
7. Los Angeles Chargers: Lost in AFC Divisional
It feels like now or never for the Chargers. Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekler, Hunter Henry and Mike Pouncey are all in contract years. We’ve already seen that Gordon is not happy about entering the season without a new deal. However, Los Angeles needs to make significant progress from the team that was shelled by New England in the playoffs last year. Some improved offensive line play should definitely help solve that. Thomas Davis also adds a veteran presence to the defense, already boasting a stud pass rusher in Melvin Ingram. The AFC West will be tough, but the Chargers are in a good position to finish on top of the division.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers: Finished 2nd in AFC North
Even with Antonio Brown in Oakland and Le’Veon Bell in New York, the Steelers actually feel like a more complete team in 2019. Adding Devin Bush, Justin Layne and Isaiah Buggs through the draft gives Pittsburgh some young building blocks. Mark Barron is also an intriguing free agent signing. James Conner and Jaylen Samuel form a solid backfield tandem and the offensive line is among the best in the league. The front seven is among the better groups as well. If the Steelers can finally find some answers in the secondary, expect them back in the postseason this year.
9. Atlanta Falcons: Finished 2nd in NFC South
No team was more ravaged by injuries last year than the Falcons. With a healthier defense, a retooled offensive line and the return of Dirk Koetter as offensive coordinator, I am optimistic about the Falcons this season. They have depth at the skill positions and some intriguing talent on defense. If Vic Beasley can regain some of his 2016 form and Deion Jones and Ricardo Allen pick up where they left off before their injuries, the Atlanta should be a lot closer to what we saw in the back-to-back playoff appearances. Matt Ryan is an MVP-caliber quarterback with one the best receiver cores in the league. Keep an eye on these birds.
10. Minnesota Vikings: Finished 2nd in NFC North
There is no question 2018 was disappointing for the Vikings. Coming off an appearance in the NFC Championship game (a beatdown though it was), expectations were high for Minnesota. Instead, the Kirk Cousins-led offense sputtered and the defense could not do enough to carry them to the postseason. The Vikings invested a lot of draft capital into the offense and Dalvin Cook should be back in action as well. With possibly the best receiving pair in the league now with Adam Theilen and Stefon Diggs, Minnesota should be knocking on the door of the playoffs once again.
11. Cleveland Browns: Finished 3rd in AFC North
This is easily the highest I have ever had the Browns in the power rankings to start the season. Cleveland went out and acquired Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon from the Giants this offseason. It also added Sheldon Richardson and Greedy Williams. While many are picking the Browns to win the AFC North, that offensive line has me a little worried, particularly after shipping Kevin Zeitler to New York. And while Baker Mayfield was amazing last year, this will be his first full season as the starter and Freddy Kitchens first full year as the coach. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic, but an ample amount of them to be cautious as well.
12. Green Bay Packers: Finished 3rd in NFC North
Talk about turnover. The Packers fired Mike McCarthy last year, replacing him with Matt LeFleur. Rumor has it Green Bay will run the ball a bit more this season, a wise choice with Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams available to carry the rock. Aaron Rodgers is still trying to find a second weapon to rely on in the passing game behind Davante Adams. If Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling or Jake Kumerow can finally step up, this offense should get back to where we expect it to be. Defensively, the secondary is deep, but pass rushers are hard to find. The Pack took fliers on ZaDarius Smith and Preston Smith. Rodgers is talented enough to overcome a lot of this, but he could desperately use some help after being stranded for the past several seasons.
13. Houston Texans: Lost in AFC Wildcard
Seem low for the Texans after reaching the playoffs last year? Maybe it is. They had an extremely busy offseason, adding Laremy Tunsil to bolster the offensive line, a move it desperately needed to make. However, it lost Jadeveon Clowney, a blow no matter how you look at it. Elsewhere, Deshaun Watson also needs some help from someone not named DeAndre Hopkins, a task made harder with Lamar Miller suffering a major knee injury. The defense is still one of the better ones in the league, led by J.J. Watt. The secondary took a few hits, but adding Bradley Roby should help mitigate any losses. In a tougher AFC South, the Texans need to play at a high level to make it back to the playoffs.
14. Seattle Seahawks: Lost in NFC Wildcard
If you are a fan of old-school, smash mouth football, the Seahawks are your team in 2019. With an improving offensive line, the dynamic duo of Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny and of course Russell Wilson, Seattle is going retro. It was the only team to run the ball more than it threw it last season. With Doug Baldwin, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor all gone, it is truly the beginning of a new era though. Adding Jadeveon Clowney should help, but it is possible these key veteran departures could be too much for this team to overcome. Even with Bobby Wagner leading the defense, Seattle has some work to do to replace that leadership.
15. Dallas Cowboys: Lost in NFC Divisional
On one hand, I get it. Paying a running back a ton of money seems like a questionable way to spend cap space. However, this is probably the most complete running back in the NFL we are talking about. Ezekiel Elliott powers that Dallas offense and I would be very wary of them making the playoffs, much less winning the NFC East if his holdout carries deep into the season. Sure there is other talent in Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, but the Cowboys are a bit short on proven skill position players. They are counting on Michael Gallup to take the next step and Jason Witten to pick up right where he left off after a year in the broadcasting booth. Thankfully, the defense does not seem to have too many holes, which should keep Dallas in the mix if the offense sputters.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Lost in AFC Wildcard
Baltimore had a tough offseason. Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley, ZaDarius Smith and Eric Weddle walked away, signing with new teams. The Ravens did fill the void by bringing in Earl Thomas and Mark Ingram, but it wasn’t enough to make it feel like the team had taken the next step. Surrounding Lamar Jackson with talent is the key, but there is no one right now that inspires confidence right now. Marquis Brown is explosive, but Willie Snead and Chris Moore are far from elite receivers. There are a lot of question marks on this offense and more on the defense than we are used to.
17. Denver Broncos: Finished 3rd in AFC West
Another year, another quarterback for Denver. This one though has the best resume of anyone since Peyton Manning hung up his cleats. Joe Flacco is no Manning, but he is a former Super Bowl MVP. With Emmanuel Sanders looking healthy, some solid tight ends and two young receivers coming up, this passing game should improve in 2019. Pair that with a lethal defense and this has the makings of a sleeper playoff team. Denver just needs to find a way to survive the juggernauts in the West.
18. Tennessee Titans: Finished 3rd in AFC South
Defense wins championships and Mike Vrabel has built a defense worthy of championship contention. He bolstered the group with veteran pass rusher Cameron Wake. Now if only the offense could find a way to support it. Marcus Mariota is in his finally year of his rookie deal and is out of excuses. He has a better receiving core after Adam Humphries joined this offseason. Derrick Henry is playing better and Tennessee still has Dion Lewis as well. Not having Taylor Lewan the first four games due to suspension is going to be hard, but this is the Titans year to either break through or look at a rebuild.
19. Jacksonville Jaguars: Finished 4th in AFC South
I’m buying the Jaguars turning things around this year. I know Nick Foles is not going to suddenly become Tom Brady, but he will be an upgrade from Blake Bortles. He has tons of big game experience. Leonard Fournette obviously needs to improve after a rocky season. It also remains to be seen just how good this receiving core is, led by Dede Westbrook. Defensively, Jacksonville is still stacked. Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, Yannick Ngakoue, Marcel Dareus, Calais Campbell, Myles Jack and now Josh Allen. This is an explosive group with tons of talent. The Jags feel like the team that could grind their way to a playoff appearance.
20. Carolina Panthers: Finished 3rd in NFC South
Which Panthers team are we going to see this year? The one that started 6-2 or the one that finished the season 1-7 after that? Much of that will depend on Cam Newton’s health. He has been banged up throughout his career. Carolina can rely heavily on Christian McCaffrey once again, but the difference between the Panthers being a postseason contender or a middling team will be Newton’s health. Luke Keuchley will have even more responsibilities with Thomas Davis gone. Edge rusher Brian Burns is making some early noise, but the corners remain a bit of an unknown. The Panthers are a quality team, but we’ve already seen how inconsistent they can be as a group.
21. San Francisco 49ers: Finished 4th in NFC West
The 49ers will almost undoubtedly be better in 2019 simply due to staying healthier and being a bit luckier. No one had fewer interceptions than San Francisco did last season and that was after losing Jimmy Garoppolo. With him back, Tevin Coleman and Deebo Samuel making plays and more talent on defense, the Niners are creeping into .500 territory. Make no mistake, this team is still a few pieces away from truly competing. We’ve already seen the struggles for Jimmy G coming back from his torn ACL in the preseason. If Nick Bosa can finally get on the field, this should be a fun team to watch on both sides of the ball.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Lost in Divisional Round
When I started working on this, the Colts were top 10 team. Then Andrew Luck retired. It’s easy to forget this team started last year 1-5. Indianapolis clearly showed what it was capable after that, finishing the regular season 9-1 and beating the Texans in the Wild Card. After boasting the best rookie class in the league last year, the Colts still have things to be excited about, but hopes of a Super Bowl walked out the door with Luck. The addition of Justin Houston gives Indy a proven pass rusher, so maybe the defense can find a way to carry it to another postseason appearance, but I’m not ready to put that much faith in Jacoby Brissett.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Finished 4th in NFC South
Time for the Bruce Arians era. For what feels like the 5th year in a row, there is a flickering of optimism surrounding this team. It still remains to be seen if that optimism will ever result in the Bucs taking a step forward. There is no question Jameis Winston will need to show some consistency this year if he hopes to still be on the roster next season. After an up and down year, Tampa does not feel like a true playoff contender, but should be more competitive in the NFC South.
24. New York Jets: Finished 4th in AFC East
Years of mediocrity could finally be coming to an end in New York. However, for the Jets are on their third coach in six years, meaning the direction of the franchise has changed once again. They also held onto Mike McCagnan through the NFL draft and then fired him in the middle of the offseason. A fresh start was probably needed, and there is some hope still in the form of Sam Darnold. The other major storyline playing out on Broadway this year will be the return to action for Le’Veon Bell. If he can regain his level of dominance he had in Pittsburgh, perhaps the nine-year playoff drought will finally be snapped.
25. Buffalo Bills: Finished 3rd in AFC East
The Bills are not ready to challenge the Patriots quite yet, but there is no question they closed the gap. That has more to do with what happened in Buffalo this offseason and less to do with any developments in New England. Adding John Brown and Cole Beasley should help Josh Allen’s progression. Even after cutting LeSean McCoy, the Bills look much stronger and deeper across the whole offense. Considering this is traditionally a talented defense, perhaps Buffalo can make some noise this year.
26. Oakland Raiders: Finished 4th in AFC West
It’s hard to know what to make of Oakland. There is no question this team got better during the offseason after addressing a bunch of needs with its three first round picks. There are still some major holes though, as Oakland lacks a proven receiver and still needs help throughout the defense. The Raiders will be more competitive this season without question, but they are playing in a tough division with a roster full of young players. There will be some growing pains.
27. Detroit Lions: Finished 4th in NFC North
I have been yelling it from the rooftops for years now. The Lions will never be a good team as long as Matt Stafford is the quarterback. Detroit enters another season with a ton of question marks across the roster. It let Ezekiel Ansah walk and replaced him with Trey Flowers, a smart move, but years of poor drafting has left the defense in shambles. Kenny Golladay, Kerryon Johnson and TJ Hockenson should form a solid trio of skill players, but with an average line and not much depth, it looks like another disappointing season is coming in the Motor City.
28. New York Giants: Finished 4th in NFC East
No team shed more top-tier talent than the Giants this summer, sending Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon to Cleveland and letting Landon Collins walk to Washington. With a porous offensive line and a battered defensive front, it looks like a long year for the Giants. Eli Manning is still the starter, even with Daniel Jones waiting in the wings. This is a massive transitional year for New York that could ultimately decide Pat Shurmur’s fate as the team’s coach.
29. Arizona Cardinals: Finished 4th in NFC West
If nothing else, Arizona will be a lot more fun to watch this season. Between Kyler Murray taking over at quarterback and Kliff Kingsbury coming in as the new coach, the offense should definitely receive a jolt. The line still isn’t great, but the franchise has turned the corner in it’s rebuild. Don’t expect much immediate success, but success for this team should really be judged by how well it progresses with Murray at the helm. Look for Byron Murphy to play a major role early on as well with Patrick Peterson suspended the first six games of the year.
30. Washington: Finished 3rd in NFC East
This ranking is not indicative of Washington’s offseason. Landing Dwayne Haskins and Landon Collins give them building blocks to push this team forward. Expectations are low though for any team that plans to start a rookie quarterback at some point. However, there is a lot of potential for this team to outperform those expectations. Derrius Guice is back after he missed his rookie year with a torn ACL. The defensive line also boasts a pair of former first round picks in Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne. Considering how good this team was last year before Alex Smith got hurt, there is still potential for Washington to make a playoff push.
31. Cincinnati Bengals: Finished 4th in AFC North
If there is anyone stuck in the middle of an awkward transition, it is the Bengals. They are still holding onto the veterans from the previous era who will not be on the team the next time Cincinnati reaches the playoffs. Topping the list of holdovers is Andy Dalton, who is on his last leg with the franchise. Dalton has never won a playoff game and hasn’t made it back to the postseason since crashing out in 2014. That isn’t for a lack of skill position talent with AJ Green, Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd and Giovani Bernard surrounding him, but the Bengals might have the worst offensive line in football other than potentially the Dolphins.
32. Miami Dolphins: Finished 2nd in AFC East
Speaking of the Dolphins, welcome to the bottom of the pile Miami. That’s what happens when you trade your stud left tackle, starting middle linebacker and most reliable receiver less than a week before the season. Who am I kidding, the Fins would’ve been here anyway. This is a team banking on Ryan Fitzpatrick delivering some of his magic once again, who also brought in Josh Rosen to see what he could do. Miami is the clear frontrunner for the first pick heading into the year and there is a good chance that won’t change much.
1. Los Angeles Rams: 8-0 (Last Week: 1)
It wasn’t always pretty, but the Rams earned another win. Still the league’s only undefeated team, Los Angeles faced some adversity early on in its contest with Green Bay. Jared Goff looked a bit off in the first half and the ground game was bottled up. The second half fared a lot better for the offense. If not for an untimely fumble by Ty Montgomery, this could be a very different story. LA will need to play better against the Saints.
2. New England Patriots: 6-2 (Last Week: 2)
The Patriots offense managed just one touchdown up in Buffalo. New England still managed an impressive victory with a bunch of field goals and a pick-six. The Bills have done this a few times this season, so credit to the Pats for escaping with a comfortable win. This team will likely look better once it gets Sony Michel back from injury.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: 7-1 (Last Week: 3)
The Chiefs were tested again against the Broncos, but the final score is all that matters. Kansas City failed to score in the fourth quarter, which allowed Denver to close the gap slightly. Overall, it was a solid win. The defense came up with five sacks. Biggest issue has to be the lack of a running game, accounting for just 49 yards in the contest. No one has come close to stopping the aerial attack in KC, but the lack of a running game is a rising concern.
4. New Orleans Saints: 6-1 (Last Week: 4)
Revenge achieved in Minneapolis. That loss to the Buccaneers feels like a decade ago as the Saints cruised to its sixth straight win. It was not the typical game from New Orleans. Drew Brees only threw for 120 yards. In fact, the offense only picked up 260 yards of offense. The defense stepped up with two crucial turnovers, one interception for a touchdown and one fumble recovery to set up a short-field score. This sets up a showdown with the Rams next week in which defense might be at a premium.
5. Carolina Panthers: 5-2 (Last Week: 9)
In a lot of ways, the Panthers have flown under the radar. None of their games have been in primetime yet, but Carolina is looking good. This team has some great wins over the Bengals, Eagles and now Ravens, but also it lost to the Atlanta and Washington. The offense is weird but the defense is good. Watch out for Carolina in the second half.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: 5-2 (Last Week: 6)
A week off for the Chargers lets Melvin Gordon get healthy and the offense reset after some rough outings. Los Angeles seems well positioned to take a wild card spot in the AFC and still have a shot at the Chiefs, just one game behind Kansas City. A trip to Seattle awaits, where we will see what the Chargers are made of.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers: 4-2-1 (Last Week: 8)
It might be the Browns, but given how the last matchup with them went, this was a massive positive for the Steelers. James Connor had another incredible showing with 146 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Pittsburgh’s defense looked solid. Don’t look now, but the Steelers are leading the AFC North and picking up some steam. The Ravens are next on the schedule, so get ready for another edition of the best rivalry this league has to offer.
8. Minnesota Vikings: 4-3-1 (Last Week 5)
On paper, it seemed like the Vikings should have won this game. Minnesota outgained New Orleans by almost 200 yards and intercepted Drew Brees for the first time all season. Two turnovers cost the Vikings the game. Tough pill to swallow for the Vikings, especially as the Bears win to take control of the NFC North.
9. Philadelphia Eagles: 4-4 (Last Week: 10)
For most teams, playing in London means a neutral site game, but when playing the Jaguars that is undoubtedly a road game. It didn’t seem to matter as the Eagles handled the crowd, the trip and a resurgent Blake Bortles. The running defense was phenomenal and the passing offense continues to click, which is important considering the number of running back injuries Philly has suffered. The champs are .500 at the halfway mark, but it would be foolish to rule them out quite yet.
10. Washington: 5-2 (Last Week: 11)
Adrian Peterson turned back the clocks and dominated the Giants defense. The defense held the relatively anemic New York offense in check no problem. However, there is a lot to be desired as Washington only mustered 20 points. The record looks great, but Alex Smith and the passing offense still leaves a lot to be desired.
11. Chicago Bears: 4-3 (Last Week: 12)
No problems handling the Jets and with losses by the Vikings and Packers, the Bears currently top the NFC North. Matt Nagy is utilizing Tarik Cohen well and the offense will get better when Allen Robinson is back on the field. Turns out the defense is still pretty solid even without Khalil Mack. The tour of the AFC East continues as Chicago travels to Buffalo next.
12. Houston Texans: 5-3 (Last Week: 18)
Remember when the Texans were 0-3. The New York Giants do, as it was the only win Big Blue picked up this season. Since then, Houston has locked in offensively and found a way to utilize some dynamic offensive targets. Lamar Miller continues to impress after disappearing for a few weeks. Oh and Deshaun Watson seems to be all the way back with five touchdown passes on just 20 attempts. With the rest of the AFC South floundering, Houston looks to be in really good shape.
13. Baltimore Ravens: 4-4 (Last Week: 7)
This is a bad look for the Ravens. After a hot 3-1 start, Baltimore has dropped three of four to fall to .500. The Steelers are getting back on track and the Bengals continue to win tough games. The season is far from over, but a two-touchdown loss against Carolina raises a lot of doubts about Baltimore’s ability to make the playoffs.
14. Cincinnati Bengals: 5-3 (Last Week: 15)
Maybe a little closer than Marvin Lewis would have liked, but it was a much-needed win. It is great the Bengals intercepted Jameis Winston four times. It is troubling that ended in just a three-point victory on a game-winning field goal. This defense is a mess across the board right now. It could not get off the field on third down. That is going to be crucial for Cincinnati to solve on its bye week.
15. Seattle Seahawks: 4-3 (Last Week: 17)
This was a quality win for Seattle. Going on the road against a fellow wild card contender and winning is big. Russell Wilson posted a perfect passer rating and the ground game produced 176 yards on a whopping 42 carries. The Seahawks already have three road wins this season. With a home-loaded back half, Russell Wilson and company seem poised to make a legitimate run at the playoffs.
16. Atlanta Falcons: 3-4 (Last Week: 16)
There is no one in the NFL who needed a week off more than the Falcons. Atlanta has been ravaged by injuries on both sides of the ball. Considering that, 3-4 is not terrible for Dan Quinn’s crew. The offense is heating up and if the defense can get some key contributors back on the field, Atlanta could definitely run the table.
17. Green Bay Packers: 3-3-1 (Last Week: 14)
It is totally fair to be bitter after watching the Packers spoil a perfect start in LA. It was very reminiscent of Green Bay’s collapse against the Seahawks in the 2015 NFC Championship game. The defense made all the right plays and the offense just couldn’t get into a rhythm and capitalize. A two-point loss to the best team in football is nothing to be ashamed of, but it the Packers still seem a step behind the truly elite teams this season. Next test, a trip to Foxborough.
18. Detroit Lions: 3-4 (Last Week: 13)
Maybe I was a little premature on the coronation of Kerryon Johnson as the running back of the future for Detroit. The Lions ran the ball for just 34 yards with a 2.6 yards per carry rate. It only took 17 throws from Russell Wilson to put up 28 points on the defense. Three turnovers against the Seahawks is never going to be a recipe for success. Matt Stafford continues to struggle in big games.
19. Denver Broncos: 3-5 (Last Week: 20)
This is a young Broncos team continuing to grow. The rookie running backs are looking good as a pair. The passing offense is pedestrian though and the defense that crushed the Cardinals found out the Chiefs are just a bit better offensively. Patience is required, and this was a positive showing, but Denver is just not good enough this season to compete against Kansas City and Los Angeles.
20. Dallas Cowboys: 3-4 (Last Week: 22)
This was the right time for a week off in Dallas. The Cowboys had a chance to integrate Amari Cooper into the offense. It should lead to better results from everyone else on the offense just by virtue of his presence. It is an uphill battle after Washington picked up its fifth win of the season, but the Cowboys feel a lot more prepared for the challenge after the bye.
21. Miami Dolphins: 4-4 (Last Week: 21)
The cupcake schedule is over for the Dolphins, and it is proving to be a bit too tough so far. Miami’s secondary had some legendary blown coverages lead to touchdowns in Houston. On the bright side, DeVante Parker showed up with a massive six-catch 134-yard performance. A rematch with the Jets offers a chance to get back on track, but the ‘Fins will need a much better showing back home to stay in the postseason hunt.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars: 3-5 (Last Week: 19)
How is this the same team that beat the Patriots? Jacksonville continues to struggle offensively, putting up just 18 points in London. Perhaps having four players detained in a nightclub incident was a distraction, but the Jaguars look bad. They now sit in the AFC South cellar with a fifth loss in six games. Leonard Fournette cannot return soon enough.
23. Tennessee Titans: 3-4 (Last Week: 23)
Tennessee was on a bye this week, which hopefully gave the coaching staff time to figure out how to jump start the offense. Marcus Mariota has been mediocre at quarterback. The running game hasn’t been good enough. Ranking 30th in yards and points per game is not going to be good enough to reach the playoffs.
24. Indianapolis Colts: 3-5 (Last Week: 27)
The Colts head into the bye week with back-to-back wins. While it might have been against two tanking teams, winning those games is still important. Indianapolis is out of the basement in the division and now in the mix. The offense is rolling and Andrew Luck looks in sync. The Colts might have something Marlon Mack as well.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3-4 (Last Week: 24)
FitzMagic is back! Well maybe. Kinda. Jameis Winston imploded to the tune of four interceptions. Ryan Fitzpatrick took his place and tied the game up in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the Buccaneers still have the worst defense in the NFL. Quarterback drama and a terrible defense usually leads to a coaching change.
26. Cleveland Browns: 2-5-1 (Last Week: 25)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Browns have fired their head coach midway through the season. Hue Jackson failed consistently in Cleveland and after a promising start, this team has fallen off completely in recent weeks. Baker Mayfield seems to be regressing and the run game is disappearing. This was always going to be a long project, but this signals the end of the Browns 2018 campaign.
27. New York Jets: 3-5 (Last Week: 26)
It was a sloppy loss for the Jets. Tons of penalties and absolutely no running game to speak of. New York averaged 2.4 yards per rush. Sam Darnold had another rough outing, completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes in the process. Todd Bowles is running out of time to fix these underlying mistakes continuing to plague the Jets. Before too long, he could be following suit of Hue Jackson unless the team’s play improves.
28. New York Giants: 1-7 (Last Week: 28)
I have to think any outside general manager would clean house in New York. Coach, offensive line, quarterback, skill players. The only three offensive players likely to make the cut are Odell Beckham Jr., Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley. The Giants are well on their way to a top-five draft pick. The trade deadline is very soon and there could be a few more players out the door.
29. Buffalo Bills: 2-6 (Last Week: 29)
The Bills played a great first half on defense and honestly a good second half as well. Turns out that bringing Derek Anderson out of retirement is not the best strategy to win football games, especially against the Patriots. It appears Buffalo is back to being a basement team in the AFC, at least for the near future.
30. Arizona Cardinals: 2-6 (Last Week: 31)
The Cardinals are capable of grinding out games against other bottom teams. If only Arizona could play San Francisco every week. The Cards are 2-0 against the 49ers and 0-6 against anyone else. It is hard to evaluate this performance, but the offense looked a bit more balanced. The defense harassed C.J. Beathard. There are some good pieces in place, but Arizona needs a lot more to build a team on.
31. Oakland Raiders: 1-6 (Last Week: 30)
Even without Amari Cooper the Raiders offense had no problem scoring points. The defense was totally MIA though, allowing 200 yards rushing, three passing touchdowns and failing to register a sack. Oakland is certainly rebuilding and has the draft capital to do so, but it is going to take patience that fans may not have.
32. San Francisco 49ers: 1-7 (Last Week: 32)
Losing Jimmy Garoppolo and Jerrick McKinnon to season-ending injuries might just be a blessing in disguise for the 49ers long term. San Francisco seems destined for a top pick and will be able to add some quality players to a solid returning core. If the 2018 season has shown anything, there a lot of holes left to fill on this team.
1. Los Angeles Rams: 7-0 (Last Week: 1)
It seems like the Rams are just picking up steam. Los Angeles blew out the 49ers on the road to make the division essentially out of reach. Sean McVay’s team faces a much tougher test with Green Bay paying a visit coming off a bye before LA heads to New Orleans. If the Rams survive that, we can start talking about a perfect season.
2. New England Patriots: 5-2 (Last Week: 2)
This game almost went to overtime, but New England’s defense did just enough to prevent Kevin White from tying the game up on a Hail Mary. The good news: the Patriots are well in control of the AFC East now after Miami lost to Detroit. The bad news: Sony Michel is likely going to miss some time with an injury he suffered on Sunday. He was really starting to emerge as an every down back for New England.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: 6-1 (Last Week: 3)
Kansas City remains the king of the AFC, at least in the standings, after demolishing Cincinnati on Sunday night. Patrick Mahomes tossed for 358 yards and four touchdowns. The defense also showed up for the first time all season, holding the Bengals to just 252 yards of total offense. If the Chiefs’ defense can come anywhere close to the level it played this weekend, this team is going to make a deep playoff run.
4. New Orleans Saints: 5-1 (Last Week: 4)
Was it a little lucky to avoid overtime? Probably, but New Orleans managed 17 fourth quarter points against the best scoring defense in the league. Drew Brees and this offense is still humming along. The addition of Eli Apple from the Giants should also help this secondary down the stretch. New Orleans is in a tough division, but clearly looks the best of the bunch.
5. Minnesota Vikings: 4-2-1 (Last Week 5)
Another week and another stellar performance from Adam Thielen. Kirk Cousins and company rolled over the team he spurned in free agency. Beating the Jets does not mark a marquee win for the Vikings, but a solid one on the road. Minnesota now gets a visit from New Orleans in a rematch of the Minneapolis Miracle. The Vikings should also get a boost in the form of Everson Griffin returning this week.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: 5-2 (Last Week: 9)
It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was rather ugly, but it was a win nonetheless. The Chargers managed just enough offense without Mevlin Gordon. The trip to London is tough for a West Coast team. Los Angeles now gets a week off and has to feel good being just one game back of the Chiefs.
7. Baltimore Ravens: 4-3 (Last Week: 6)
It was a really poor time for Justin Tucker to miss his first ever extra point attempt as it cost Baltimore the game. However, more of the blame has to sit with the defense that blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead. The Saints have a great offense, but that kind of collapse is unacceptable for the Ravens. Lucky for them, the Bengals looked awful against the Chiefs.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-2-1 (Last Week: 8)
So Le’Veon Bell still isn’t back, but the Steelers will be happy that every other team in their division lost during their bye week. With Cleveland set to visit this week, Pittsburgh has a big opportunity to pick up a division win and assert itself in the AFC playoff race. Leaning on James Connor seems like the way to go.
9. Carolina Panthers: 4-2 (Last Week: 11)
Don’t call it a comeback! Well, that’s actually exactly what it was. Carolina looked sluggish to start, but turned it around with 21 points in the fourth quarter to pull off a massive victory. The win keeps the Panthers just a game behind the Saints in the NFC South. If Carolina can beat Baltimore when it comes to town this week, it will inspire a lot of confidence in this Panthers team.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-4 (Last Week: 7)
It is time to start worrying about the Eagles. The reigning champs find themselves below .500 with a flailing offense. Philly allowed 21 unanswered points to end the game after starting up 17-0. The lack of a running game is a big issue as the Eagles mustered just 58 yards on the ground at 2.4 yards per carry average. With the trade deadline coming up, maybe it is time for Philadelphia to think about adding a running back.
11. Washington: 4-2 (Last Week: 15)
Washington bottled up Ezekiel Elliott and contained Dak Prescott just enough to earn a win. Alex Smith is still struggling a bit in the passing game with just 178 yards through the air. He played turnover free though and the defense came up with two fumble recoveries. That is a recipe for success, but it would nice to see the offense produce a bit more.
12. Chicago Bears: 3-3 (Last Week: 10)
An easy start to the season gave false hope to many of the Bears’ potential for this year. Back-to-back losses where the defense allowed a ton of points brought Chicago back down to Earth. Had Kevin White made it into the end zone, we might not be talking about a loss. Don’t be fooled by the rushing numbers either. Tarik Cohen and Jordan combined for a woeful 53 yards on 18 carries. Matt Nagy has to find a way to jump start the ground attack. Also, that defense needs to get back to its early season form.
13. Detroit Lions: 3-3 (Last Week: 18)
Finally! The Lions have found their running back of the future, or so it seems with the continued emergence of Kerryon Johnson. The rookie from Auburn picked up 158 yards rushing on just 19 carries against the Dolphins. Matt Stafford completed 82 percent of his passes as well. Detroit is right in the mix for a wild card spot heading into the second half of the season. Newly added Damon Harrison will help the cause as well.
14. Green Bay Packers: 3-2-1 (Last Week: 14)
The Packers got a much-needed week off and the assumption has to be that Aaron Rodgers is much closer to be healthy now. That is a scary thing for the rest of the league. Green Bay is going to need him to be with a trip to Los Angeles coming up.
15. Cincinnati Bengals: 4-3 (Last Week: 12)
They are who we thought they were! No seriously, after starting the season 4-1, the Bengals have dropped two straight in disappointing fashion. This defense has a long way to go still and Andy Dalton is still too inconsistent to consider this team a real contender. Cincy has a visit from the high-flying Buccaneers offense coming up as well and desperately needs to play better.
16. Atlanta Falcons: 3-4 (Last Week: 16)
The Falcons are a bit lucky it was the Giants they played on Monday night after struggling to get the ball into the end zone for much of the game. Matt Ryan is putting up MVP-like number though, which is good enough to win games for this team. With rumors that Patrick Peterson wants out in Arizona, it might be time for Atlanta to fill a hole in its defense and set itself up for a playoff run.
17. Seattle Seahawks: 3-3 (Last Week: 17)
The Seahawks enjoyed a bye week, but several other wild card contenders picked up wins. It is not going to be an easy road for Seattle to make the playoffs with Los Angeles already at 7-0. A trip to Detroit is going to be vital in deciding the NFC wild card picture.
18. Houston Texans: 4-3 (Last Week: 22)
Make it four straight! The Texans are on fire after picking up another divisional win and now control the AFC South. Houston’s defense came up with big turnovers and chased Blake Bortles from the game. Lamar Miller came up with 100 yards on the ground as well. Deshaun Watson had a forgettable performance though, completing just 50 percent of his passes for 139 yards and one touchdown. The Jaguars defense is good, but Cody Kessler threw for more yards in the second half alone than Watson did the whole game.
19. Jacksonville Jaguars: 3-4 (Last Week: 13)
The Jaguars are officially spiraling. I hate to blame everything on Blake Bortles, because the running game hasn’t been good either, but after fumbling twice and being replaced by Cody Kessler, it’s not a good look. The Jaguars offense managed fewer than 10 points for the third time this season. It is clear what the issue is for this team. The addition of Carlos Hyde should help some, but Jacksonville needs to find a passing game.
20. Denver Broncos: 3-4 (Last Week: 23)
Denver flat out demolished Arizona and took advantage of a rookie quarterback with two pick-sixes. In total, the defense came up with five turnovers and six sacks. The offense cashed in on short field opportunities. Case Keenum was efficient and the running game was effective. This is a formula the Broncos can rely on to win games, just maybe not in quite as devastating fashion every week. We’ve seen what this team can do with an average quarterback and elite defense before.
21. Miami Dolphins: 4-3 (Last Week: 19)
Miami managed to avoid blowing a fourth quarter lead this week, mostly because it never had one. Brock Osweiler played fairly well though. The run game was solid. The offense was not really the issue. Sure 21 points is not usually enough to win, but allowing 32 points and 450 yards of offense is almost always going to result in a loss. It will need to move on quickly playing Thursday against Houston.
22. Dallas Cowboys: 3-4 (Last Week: 20)
The high the Cowboys were feeling following a massive win over the Jaguars faded quickly. Dallas looked hopeless offensively once again against Washington. However, the big news is Jerry Jones landed his new number one receiver. The Cowboys sent a first round pick to Oakland in exchange for Amari Cooper. His presence should open up more running lanes for Ezekiel Elliott and take some pressure off Dak Prescott. It is an uphill climb, but Dallas seems better prepared for it now.
23. Tennessee Titans: 3-4 (Last Week: 21)
The Titans defense turned in another stellar performance, this time over in England. It wasn’t quite enough to produce a win. Tennessee has a championship caliber defense. The offense is nowhere close to good enough right now. Marcus Mariota and the offense have scored more than 20 points just once this season. The fact Tennessee is 3-4 and not 1-6 is a testament to how good the defense is.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3-3 (Last Week: 26)
Tampa almost blew it against the Browns, but held on for the win in overtime. This offense can pick up tons of yards, but turnovers are killing the Buccaneers. With 15 already this season, the Bucs need to do whatever they can to hide the weaknesses on defense. Giving the other team extra possessions is not the way to do it.
25. Cleveland Browns: 2-4-1 (Last Week: 24)
Oh Cleveland. The Browns have now gone to overtime in four of their seven games. If nothing else, Baker Mayfield and friends are making it entertaining to watch the Browns lose this year. This team is still clearly a few years away, but the experience it is getting in these tight games is invaluable. Cleveland scored 14 fourth quarter points to tie the game and force overtime in the first place. Hue Jackson has this team on the brink of truly breaking through.
26. New York Jets: 3-4 (Last Week: 25)
These are the lumps you take when you have a rookie quarterback. Sam Darnold competed just 17 of his 42 throws and tossed three interceptions. He isn’t the only one to blame though. The running game disappeared. Bilal Powell hits IR with a neck injury. Isaiah Crowell has struggled to be a consistent threat. It is best the Jets just move on after a truly ugly performance.
27. Indianapolis Colts: 2-5 (Last Week: 28)
Marlon Mack went off and the Colts crushed the Bills. For most 2-5 teams, winning against other bottom feeders just hurts draft position. For Indy, this division is not totally out of reach with the Texans only at 4-3. I don’t expect the Colts to really close that gap, but this was a dominant performance against a Bills team that was shutting down opposing offenses. It could be the spark Indianapolis needs to get back in the divisional race.
28. New York Giants: 1-6 (Last Week: 27)
The fire sale is officially on in New York. Eli Apple and Damon Harrison have already been shipped out. At 1-6, the Giants are certainly thinking about next season. Stockpiling draft picks is great, but the concern seems to be that this year’s draft class is fairly week past the top 15. Every class produces a few diamonds in the rough, but it might be a tough climb back for the Giants.
29. Buffalo Bills: 2-5 (Last Week: 29)
The Bills might genuinely need to think about holding an open tryout for fans to play quarterback, Invincible style. Buffalo is last in passing yards, passing touchdowns and completion percentage, each by a pretty sizable margin. Bills quarterbacks have combined to throw three touchdowns and 12 interceptions in seven games. As much as they hated him, Bills fans desperately miss Tyrod Taylor right now.
30. Oakland Raiders: 1-5 (Last Week: 30)
The Raiders didn’t lose this week! Well they were on bye, but you can count front office moves as a win. Oakland shipped Amari Cooper to Dallas in return for a first round pick. That kind of return for a player who has struggled with drops in his career is fairly impressive. Suddenly, the Raiders may find themselves with three picks in the top 20 selections come the 2019 draft.
31. Arizona Cardinals: 1-6 (Last Week: 31)
Well that was awful. Josh Rosen had a game he would like to forget and the Cardinals found themselves down 35-3 at halftime. It is no secret this is not a team destined for the playoffs, but that was pathetic. Patrick Peterson has demanded a trade and it seems like Steve Wilks has no clue what he is doing as the head coach of the team.
32. San Francisco 49ers: 1-6 (Last Week: 32)
San Francisco went from almost competitive to almost unwatchable in just one week. Sure it was against the best team in the league, but the 49ers are far and away the worst team in the NFL. Kyle Shanahan’s team has a turnover ratio of -18, which is bottom of the pile. This team has struggled with injuries, but even without them, it looks like San Francisco is a while away from truly competing.
1. Los Angeles Rams: 6-0 (Last Week: 1)
And then there was one. Just the Rams remain in the undefeated circle after the Chiefs fell on Sunday night. Los Angeles escaped Denver with a win, thanks in large part to MVP-candidate Todd Gurley. Los Angeles’ offense is explosive across the board, but the former Georgia running back leads the league in yards from scrimmage and touchdowns. Even with Jared Goff struggling, Sean McVay knows he can rely on Gurley.
2. New England Patriots: 4-2 (Last Week: 3)
It was a sight all opposing coaches hate to see. Tom Brady got the ball back with three minutes remaining in a tie ball game. Brady naturally torched the Chiefs defense to set up a chip shot for Stephen Gostkowski. Turns out Sony Michel is no joke as well. The defense failed to slow down Kansas City in the second half, but held Patrick Mahomes and company to just nine first half points. Not to mention, the Patriots came up with two interceptions. This team is well-solidified among the league’s elites once again with this victory.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: 5-1 (Last Week: 2)
The Chiefs came so close to over coming a slow start and pulling off a stunning comeback. Tyreek Hill is still out running Patriot defenders. The issue continues to be the defense, which struggled all night long to deal with New England’s balanced attack. Kansas City still leads the AFC, but faces another tough test as the Bengals come to town.
4. New Orleans Saints: 4-1 (Last Week: 4)
Odd stat of the day: the Saints lead the league in fewest rushing yards allowed per game. That is offset by allowing the third most passing yards per game and potentially a product of the offense’s ability to score. Still New Orleans has shown flashes of defensive talent. If it can find that consistently, this team will be extremely scary.
5. Minnesota Vikings: 3-2-1 (Last Week 6)
It is time to start recognizing Adam Theilen as a great receiver. The Vikings wideout hauled in 11 balls for 123 yards and a touchdown. He and Stefon Diggs create one of the best receiving duos in the league. Minnesota finally got its pedestrian ground game going as well, which is more impressive because Dalvin Cook is still out with an injury. Mike Zimmer is finding ways to win despite missing both a starting safety, defensive end, left tackle and running back. Unfortunately, rookie stand out Mike Hughes is also done for the year with a torn ACL.
6. Baltimore Ravens: 4-2 (Last Week: 10)
Talk about dominant defensive play. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and whoever else you want to throw in from the legendary Ravens’ defenses of the early 2000s would be proud of the effort Baltimore displayed in Tennessee. The defense allowed just 106 yards of offense and shutout the Titans. The offense was solid, if unspectacular. That is all it will need to be with the league’s top scoring defense running the show.
7. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-3 (Last Week: 11)
Turns out the cure for a Super Bowl hangover is the play the Giants. Philadelphia demolished its long time rival to pick up the road win. It doesn’t completely alleviate the concerns surrounding the team, but Carson Wentz looked phenomenal in the victory. The Eagles had no answer for Saquon Barkley though. Not many teams have to this point, but he accounted for 229 yards of offense, which is never a good thing for the opposing team.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-2-1 (Last Week: 12)
It proved to be a rather dramatic finish in Cincinnati, but the Steelers picked up a divisional road win. James Connor starred again and Ben Roethlisberger continues to have a career year. The unfortunate news is Le’Veon Bell seems to be continuing his hold out, despite previous reports he would return the team’s upcoming bye.
9. Los Angeles Chargers: 4-2 (Last Week: 13)
While many thought the Chargers would struggle heading east for a matchup with the Browns, Los Angeles took care of business. The defense battered Baker Mayfield to the tune of five sacks. Melvin Gordon and Tyrell Williams had a field day against the Browns defense. Don’t look now, but the Chargers are just a game back of the Chiefs.
10. Chicago Bears: 3-2 (Last Week: 5)
What happened to the Bears defense that dominated the rest of the NFL for the first four weeks of the season? Granted the game went into overtime, but Chicago surrendered 541 yards of offense and did not sack Brock Osweiler once. Mitch Trubisky threw a costly interception in the end zone to deprive the Bears of points. This is still a young team with a lot to prove.
11. Carolina Panthers: 3-2 (Last Week: 8)
One of the easiest signs of the Panthers struggling is when Christian McCaffrey picks up only 20 yards on 8 attempts. Carolina’s lack of a run game hurt them in D.C. Cam Newton used his legs well, but this team works best when it is picking up tons of yards on the ground. The defense only allowed two touchdowns in the game. The Panthers offense has to do more to get the win.
12. Cincinnati Bengals: 4-2 (Last Week: 9)
The team that seemed to always find a way to win in the fourth quarter suffered its first late-game let down of the season. Cincy out played Pittsburgh for much of the contest, but the Steelers high-powered offense proved to be too much. The fact is, the Bengals failed to lean on the running game when it should have, as Joe Mixon only had 11 carries. That number needs to be higher going forward.
13. Jacksonville Jaguars: 3-3 (Last Week: 7)
When you get blown out 40-7 against a team who had previously been averaging under 17 points per game on offense, you drop six spots in the rankings. Jacksonville looked outmatched in every aspect of the game. Blake Bortles is looking more and more like the quarterback all his critics made him out to be. Luckily for the Jaguars, they still hold a share of the division lead. This upcoming matchup with the Texans is crucial.
14. Green Bay Packers: 3-2-1 (Last Week: 14)
Well that was exciting. Aaron Rodgers went into All-Madden mode in the fourth quarter to lead a furious comeback against San Francisco. Green Bay should never have been in that spot in the first place. The defense has a ton to work on after allowing C.J. Beathard to torch them. The Packers have a sorely needed bye to get healthy before facing a gauntlet. The Rams and the Patriots await following the week off.
15. Washington: 3-2 (Last Week: 16)
Washington bounced back well after a lackluster performance in New Orleans. Returning home helped. So did actually playing defense. Jay Gruden’s team still leads the NFC East, but with both the Cowboys and Eagles picking up big wins in week 6, Washington still has a lot of work to do. The division is wide open and stifling run defense like we saw this weekend could be key to winning it.
16. Atlanta Falcons: 2-4 (Last Week: 15)
It was almost a catastrophic collapse, but Atlanta hung on for the win. The offense looks prolific. The defense looks prolifically bad. The Falcons rank 30th and 31st in total defense and scoring defense respectively. Luckily for them, the only team worse in both those categories is Tampa.
17. Seattle Seahawks: 3-3 (Last Week: 21)
Oakland might be terrible, but Seattle did exactly what you are supposed to do to terrible teams. Russell Wilson was efficient. The defense played at an extremely high level. Knocking Amari Cooper out of the game certainly made stopping the Raiders offense easier, but Derek Carr had one of the worst games of his career. The Seahawks need to win these kind of games to have a shot at the wild card.
18. Detroit Lions: 2-3 (Last Week: 18)
A week off for Detroit came at the right time. The Lions have played a number of close games in recent weeks, but have no consistently shown up on offense. This also gives Golden Tate a chance to get healthy. With the Bears losing, the Lions are now only one win behind everyone in the NFC North. Detroit has a date with Miami, who just knocked off Chicago.
19. Miami Dolphins: 4-2 (Last Week: 24)
Turns out the solution to the Miami Dolphins late-game issues was Brock Osweiler. That was never a sentence I thought I would type. The former Broncos quarterback played well for his old offensive coordinator, tossing three touchdowns and 380 yards. The Dolphins are right back in the wild card hunt with a solid win over a great Bears defense.
20. Dallas Cowboys: 3-3 (Last Week: 25)
Bring Connor McGregor to every Cowboys game going forward. Dallas found its swagger and blasted the Jaguars at home. Cole Beasley finally showed up. Dak Prescott looked comfortable shredding what was supposed to be one of the league’s top defenses. If the Cowboys can play anywhere close to this well on offense the rest of the year, Dallas has a real chance at winning the division.
21. Tennessee Titans: 3-3 (Last Week: 17)
While defense can win championships, offense is a nice thing to have too. The Titans were embarrassed all over the field. For what is usually one of the better offensive lines in the league, Tennessee surrendered 11, the second most allowed in league history. Marcus Mariota is probably still in the ice bath.
22. Houston Texans: 3-3 (Last Week: 23)
Remember when everyone was wondering where the supposedly vaunted Texans defense had disappeared to? Houston is looking like it has an elite defense once again. While Buffalo has a great defense of its own, Deshaun Watson has been way too turnover prone in recent weeks for the Texans to keep overcoming his errors. Watson needs to take care of the football and take the pressure off this defense.
23. Denver Broncos: 2-4 (Last Week: 20)
This is the NFL. Moral victories don’t exist, but Vance Joseph has to feel a lot better about his team’s defense effort this week. Yes, the Broncos still allowed Todd Gurley to rumble for over 200 yards and two scores, but it also stifled the best passing offense in the league. Denver also mounted a fourth quarter comeback attempt. Joseph has his work cut out for him, but his team was much improved this week.
24. Cleveland Browns: 2-3-1 (Last Week: 19)
Just when it seemed like it was finally time for the Browns to turn it around, Cleveland laid an egg against Los Angeles. For the first time this season, it is probably important to remember this is the youngest roster in the NFL. The Browns are in the middle of a massive rebuild, well another one at least. The result isn’t good, but when you have a rookie quarterback playing through a knee injury against a red hot team, sometimes this happens.
25. New York Jets: 3-3 (Last Week: 26)
Turned out to be a great week to have Jason Myers as your fantasy kicker. He set a franchise record with seven made field goals. New York has a lot to be happy with as Sam Darnold played his best game so far in his rookie season. It will face a much stiffer challenge as Minnesota comes to town. How the Jets fare against the Vikings will let us know how close this team is to breaking into legitimate playoff contention.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2-3 (Last Week: 22)
Another week, another brutal loss for Tampa, and it cost defensive coordinator Mike Smith his job. This one was brutal in a different sense then the previous blowout to Chicago. The Buccaneers had a legitimate chance to win the game and came up about seven yards short of a winning touchdown as time expired. Jameis Winston played a lot like Ryan Fitzpatrick actually. He threw for 395 yards and four touchdowns, but tossed two early interceptions and fumbled twice. For the first time all season, Tampa showed signs of a running game, averaging 6.2 yards per carry.
27. New York Giants: 1-5 (Last Week: 27)
Don’t look now, but the Giants are turning themselves into one of the worst run franchises in football. This is a team dominating the back pages with all of the drama unfolding. Pat Schumur has no idea what to do. Eli Manning is being put in an impossible situation as an aging quarterback with an awful line. On the bright side, Saquon Barkley is running away with the rookie of the year award.
28. Indianapolis Colts: 1-5 (Last Week: 28)
It was a wild game in New York, but the Colts made way to many mistakes to win. Andrew Luck toss three picks, although the first one was not his fault. Robert Turbin also lost a fumble. Indianapolis’ defense gave up a ton of points to a rookie quarterback as well. The positive spin is despite consistently having good starting field position, Indy forced the Jets to attempt seven field goals in the game.
29. Buffalo Bills: 2-4 (Last Week: 29)
For the second straight week, the defense almost found a way to win it for Buffalo. Unfortunately, who else but Nathan Peterman got in the way, throwing two back-breaking interceptions in the final two minutes. Allen left with an injury midway through the game. Peterman is making a case to be one of the worst quarterbacks in NFL history. He has thrown an interception on 11.4 percent of his passes in his career and a completion percentage of 44.3. For reference, JaMarcus Russell completed 52.1 percent of his passes and only threw an interception on 3.4 percent of his passes. The Bills need a new backup quarterback.
30. Oakland Raiders: 1-5 (Last Week: 30)
The Raiders are officially in free fall. Oakland got rocked across the pond by Seattle in a 27-3 drubbing. Reportedly, the Raiders are also shopping their top wide receiver Amari Cooper and 2016 first round pick Karl Joseph. The fire sale is on in Oakland. Apparently Jon Gruden does not want any good players on the roster by the time the team moves to Las Vegas.
31. Arizona Cardinals: 1-5 (Last Week: 31)
Unfortunately for Arizona, the rebuild is going to take some time. There were some positives from this game, like producing two turnovers, including a fumble returned for a touchdown. The downside is the Cardinals allowed one of the worst running teams in the league to pick up 195 yards on the ground. Josh Rosen looked rather average, but not outmatched against a good Vikings defense. Steve Wilks needs to find a way to get David Johnson going.
32. San Francisco 49ers: 1-5 (Last Week: 32)
Few expected it, but San Francisco put on an offensive show in Green Bay on Monday Night Football. C.J. Beathard was nothing short of masterful and the running game accounted for 174 yards. However, the 49ers still came up short as Beathard threw a late-game interception to set up the Packers’ winning drive. Kyle Shannahan is clearly not interested in tanking the rest of the way.