Don’t look now, but the NFL season is already halfway over. Well just the regular season. Don’t worry, you still have three more months of football ahead of you. It was a fairly predictable week, with the biggest upset coming in the form of Buffalo falling at home. It was far from a shock though to see the Bills struggle. The Eagles cannot defend the pass and the Bills cannot effectively move the ball downfield, so something had to give. Otherwise, we saw first year head coaches not named Matt LeFleur struggle, veteran quarterbacks get upset about playcalling and the Dolphins look like an NFL team for one quarter.
As a result of a slate of mostly expected results, there really wasn’t much movement in this week’s rankings. It was easily the least we’ve had all year. With some exciting matchups on the horizon, things will get a whole less predictable in the weeks to come.
1. New England Patriots: 8-0 (Last Week: 1)
Won 27-13 vs. Cleveland
Win number 300 came for Bill Belichick came against his old ball club as the defense once again led the way for a Patriot victory. New England forced three turnovers early in the game and built a lead that it rode the rest of the way. Baker Mayfield never got comfortable either as the Pats sacked him five times in the contest. With Josh Gordon going on the injured reserve, there might be some room for concern about this New England offense, but Tom Brady has done more with less in the past and there is no reason to think this year will be any different.
2. New Orleans Saints: 7-1 (Last Week: 2)
Won 31-9 vs. Arizona
Welcome back Drew Brees. The future Hall of Famer really didn’t miss a beat as he aired the ball out for 373 yards and three touchdowns. We still have not seen this Saints team at full strength, which is unbelievable given their success on the season. Sheldon Rankins missed the beginning of the year. Brees had missed the past five games and Alvin Kamara has been out the past two weeks. With the division seemingly already locked up, New Orleans might just be the favorite to take home the Lombardi trophy in February.
3. San Francisco 49ers: 7-0 (Last Week: 3)
Won 51-13 vs. Carolina
If there was anyone still sleeping on San Francisco, which there really shouldn’t have been, there is no hiding from how good this team can be any more. Led by its stifling defense, the 49ers pummeled the Panthers en route to scoring 51 points. Tevin Coleman had four total touchdowns to lead the offense. Nick Bosa seems like a lock for Rookie of the Year with three sacks and an interception. No one expected the Niners to be this good, but this team has legitimate title aspirations.
4. Green Bay Packers: 7-1 (Last Week: 4)
Won 31-24 at Kansas City
It seems like Aaron Rodgers has found his groove in Matt LeFleur’s offense and that is a scary thing for the rest of the NFL. Rodgers put together another masterful performance on Sunday night, throwing for 305 yards and three touchdowns. He made one of the throws of the year on that touchdown pass to Jamaal Williams. What has been more surprising though is the emergence of Aaron Jones in the passing game. Green Bay will keep getting healthier and likely won’t face anyone with the speed Kansas City brings to the table again this year.
5. Baltimore Ravens: 6-2 (Last Week: 6)
Baltimore got a chance to rest up and get a few key players healthy. Marquise Brown and Jimmy Smith are expected to be back for a big clash with the undefeated Patriots in Week 9. Given how well we’ve seen this offense operate at times, the Ravens should give the Pats their best test of the year. We’ve already seen the defense starting to play better in recent weeks as well and it’s hard to think of a better secondary than one that boasts Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters and Smith.
6. Kansas City Chiefs: 5-3 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 31-24 vs. Green Bay
Despite missing Patrick Mahomes, this was an incredible showing from the Kansas City offense. Andy Reid did an excellent job to keep Matt Moore doing this he felt comfortable with. Granted, this team might just have the most talent at the skill positions of anyone in the league, but the veteran played well in his first start of the year. However, the defense was exposed once again, this time it was by a running back in the passing game. The Chiefs should definitely make a move at the deadline to bolster its secondary.
7. Seattle Seahawks: 6-2 (Last Week: 7)
Won 27-20 at Atlanta
It was a tale of two halves for Seattle, who led Atlanta 24-0 at halftime. After that, the Seahawks offense seemingly lost its way while the Falcons steadily climbed back into the game. The important thing is moving to 6-2 and staying perfect this season on the road, but that was not the type of second-half performance Seattle can put up regularly. It might be time to find some secondary help as well after allowing Matt Schaub to throw for 460 yards.
8. Minnesota Vikings: 6-2 (Last Week: 8)
Won 19-9 vs. Washington
Clearly, this offense needs Adam Thielen in order to be successful. With the veteran receiver out due to a hamstring injury, Minnesota managed just 19 points against what has been a weak Washington defense. Stefon Diggs and Dalvin Cook put up big numbers again, but this paltry scoring output comes on the heels of three straight weeks with at least 28 points. There is a lot to be positive about though as the Vikings move to 6-2, continuing to keep pace with the Packers in the NFC North. They face significant tests though with road games against the Chiefs and Cowboys up next.
9. Los Angeles Rams: 5-3 (Last Week: 10)
Won 24-10 vs. Cincinnati (London)
Cooper Kupp might still be running past fallen Bengals defenders as you read this. The third-year receiver had an outrageous 220 yards receiving, including a 65-yard touchdown. Jared Goff looked very comfortable for the second straight week. While it is easy to dominate the weaker teams in the league, the Rams still have some holes to address. The ground game mustered 3.8 yards per carry against the worst rush defense in the NFL and the Los Angles defense gave up over 400 yards of offense to Cincinnati. With a bye coming up, Sean McVay needs to get this team firing on all cylinders heading into the second half.
10. Dallas Cowboys: 4-3 (Last Week: 11)
While Dallas can still feel good about its dominant win over Philadelphia the Eagles won in Week 8 and the Cowboys only have a half-game lead in the division. It is important to remember that it has been a rocky first half of the year in Texas. After all, Dallas is still only one game removed from a three-game losing streak. Given how well the offense has played and what the ceiling is for the defense, Dak Prescott and company should be fine. With a tough second-half schedule, the Cowboys will need to get into a good rhythm out of the bye.
11. Indianapolis Colts: 5-2 (Last Week: 12)
Won 15-13 vs. Denver
Indianapolis is proving that it can win close games, but it also seems incapable of winning comfortably. Adam Vinatieri made up for missing a potential game-tying extra point by kicking the game-winning field goal. Still, the Colts need to turn more drives into touchdowns the rest of the way. The defense played very well, but Denver’s offense has been among the worst in the NFL, so it is hard to get too excited about the overall performance. Indy’s slate is one of the easiest ones over the next few weeks though with Pittsburgh, Miami and Jacksonville on the docket.
12. Houston Texans: 5-3 (Last Week: 13)
Won 27-24 vs. Oakland
Where would Houston be without Deshaun Watson? If I had to guess, it would be the dark, scary place called the AFC South basement. The former Clemson standout threw another three touchdown passes and accounted for 325 yards of total offense. He came up clutch in the fourth quarter to pull out a crucial win over another AFC playoff hopeful. It was nice to get back on track, but the Texans are still waiting on an improvement from that pass defense. They have already added one player via trade, now its time for that unit to gel and stop giving up big plays.
13. Buffalo Bills: 5-2 (Last Week: 9)
Lost 31-13 vs. Philadelphia
This was always the concern for Buffalo. In a week where the defense did not play its best game, the Bills offense did not have enough firepower to come out on top. Josh Allen has improved drastically from last season, but without a true big play threat, this is exactly what will happen when Buffalo falls behind. There simply is not enough offensive playmaking for this team to effectively play when down big. I have already advocated for this front office to add a proven contributor at receiver, because this offense needs some help if the Bills want to continue this impressive start.
14. Philadelphia Eagles: 4-4 (Last Week: 16)
Won 31-13 at Buffalo
Welcome back to the win circle Philadelphia. It was a really solid week for the Eagles, who bounced back in a big way after the drubbing they took from the Cowboys. The offense played extremely well against what has been a great defense this year. Philly rumbled for 218 yards rushing and Carson Wentz took care of the football. It wasn’t a huge day through the air, but with DeSean Jackson finally coming back, things are looking up.
15. Detroit Lions: 3-3-1 (Last Week: 15)
Won 31-26 vs. New York
It wasn’t always pretty, but Detroit got back to .500. Matt Stafford played extremely well to lead a banged offense to a big day. Defensively, this team has completely fallen apart. After getting torched by Kirk Cousins a week ago, Daniel Jones had a field day against this Lions secondary. Give them some credit for mostly bottling up Saquon Barkley, who only managed 3.4 yards per carry, but it is time for Matt Patricia get this defense back to where it was at the start of the season. With hopes of a playoff run still on the table, Detroit will need to play more complete games going forward.
16. Carolina Panthers: 4-3 (Last Week: 14)
Lost 51-13 at San Francisco
Wow. That was bad. I understand that may be an oversimplification, but any time you give up 50-plus points in a game, that’s pretty awful. Carolina had no answer for the San Fran ground attack, or Nick Bosa for that matter. The Panthers offensive line hung Kyle Allen out to dry, allowing him to be sacked seven times. He didn’t do much to help himself either though, tossing three interceptions. Allen has already been announced as the starter for next week’s game against the Titans so he will need to find a way to settle down and avoid mistakes against another good defense.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars: 4-4 (Last Week: 18)
Won 29-15 vs. New York
Jacksonville’s defense came to play and so did Gardner Minshew. The rookie out of Washington State tossed three touchdowns and racked up 279 yards through the air. The defense registered eight sacks and intercepted a trio of passes. One major issue that unexpectedly showed up was an inability to run the ball. Leonard Fournette ripped off a 66-yard run, but only managed 10 more yards on his other 18 carries. That is horribly inefficient and will need to pick up for the Jaguars to beat better teams.
18. Tennessee Titans: 4-4 (Last Week: 20)
Won 27-23 vs. Tampa Bay
Suddenly the Titans are .500 and look like they belong in the playoff conversation. There is still a long way to go for this defensive-minded outfit to really deserve serious consideration, but Ryan Tannehill has righted the ship. On the season, Tannehill has completed 73.1 percent of his passes at an average of 8.3 yards per attempt for five touchdowns and just two interceptions. He has actually elevated his play each week. If the defense can keep generating turnovers, it had four in this game, Tennessee is more than capable of picking up some gritty victories.
19. Chicago Bears: 3-4 (Last Week 17)
Lost 17-16 vs. Los Angeles
Kicker woes cropped up again, but honestly that should be the least of Chicago’s worries. The Bears managed just one touchdown despite several drives in their opponent’s territory. Mitch Trubisky had another game to forget despite a huge game from David Montgomery. The rookie back amassed 135 yards on the ground, but that resulted in just 16 points. Matt Nagy had some questionable playcalling leading into the missed field goal as well. This team is a mess right now.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-4 (Last Week: 19)
Won 27-14 vs. Miami
There were boos raining down at Heinz Field, and it had nothing to do with Halloween. Pittsburgh eventually got back on track and handled Miami, but that first quarter is cause for concern. Credit is due for in-game adjustments by the coaching staff and a stellar night from James Conner. He finished with 145 yards on the ground, but left the game late with a shoulder injury. The Steelers cannot afford to start this slow again with games against the Colts and Rams coming up.
21. Oakland Raiders: 3-4 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 27-24 at Houston
Oakland played three great quarters of football, but could not see the job through to the finish. The Raiders defense gave up 14 fourth-quarter points to drop a heartbreaker to the Texans. It was a massive opportunity for Oakland to secure a solid position in the AFC playoff picture. Instead, the defense wasted a great performance from Derek Carr to fall below .500 again. Don’t be surprised if the Raiders are working to acquire a defensive back at the trade deadline.
22. Cleveland Browns: 2-5 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 27-13 at New England
If you missed the first 10 minutes of this game, you probably thought the Browns played a decent game. In those first 10 minutes though, Cleveland managed to turn the ball over on three straight offensive plays. Spotting any team a free 17 points is a recipe for disaster. Doing so against a team that is already one of the most dominant in the league removes any chance of winning the game. Baker Mayfield had another rough outing and the five sacks he took really underlines how badly this team needs offensive line help if it has any hope of making a playoff push.
23. Arizona Cardinals: 3-4-1 (Last Week: 23)
Lost 31-9 at New Orleans
So that wasn’t a great outing for this young Cardinals team. Granted, it was against one of the best teams in the NFL, but failing to score a touchdown gave Arizona fans little to be excited about. You have to give Kliff Kingsbury some credit for staying aggressive, but as soon as Chase Edmonds went down, this offense could not find a way to string together a drive. Kyler Murray played fine, but ran just twice for 13 yards. Without the top two options at running back and a speedy quarterback, it was a bit surprising not to see Murray involved with his legs.
24. Los Angeles Chargers: 3-5 (Last Week: 25)
Won 17-16 at Chicago
Los Angeles pulled off a big win Sunday, but the offense needs a real rework. The Chargers fired offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt on Monday. That should reshuffle things a bit and it was clear Philip Rivers was unhappy with the playcalling. LA is still in the mix for a playoff push, but they have a long ways to go. Running the ball 12 times for 36 yards, what the Chargers managed against the Bears, is not good enough. This team needs a jolt offensively.
25. Denver Broncos: 2-6 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 15-13 at Indianapolis
Joe Flacco was spot on. This team is playing not to lose and that isn’t exactly going well. Denver decided to punt late in the game, allowing Indianapolis to set up a game-winning field goal. Flacco had a lot of issues with the timid playcalling down the stretch. Well now Flacco is out with a neck injury, meaning Brandon Allen is going to be the starting quarterback going forward. This feels more and more like a lost season for the Broncos and is certainly a troubling start to the Vic Fangio-era.
26. New York Giants: 2-6 (Last Week: 26)
Lost 31-26 at Detroit
Daniel Jones had his best game of the year, but it was his one mistake that ended up being the difference. A lost fumble returned for a touchdown was extremely costly in a close contest. Defensively, this was not a great showing. Matt Stafford tore the secondary apart despite the total lack of a ground game. I also have no idea what the Giants are doing trading for Leonard Williams. Sure, he is talented, but he doesn’t really feel a need for right now for a team sitting at 2-6. Adding a corner or linebacker seems like it would’ve been a better investment of draft picks.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2-5 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 27-23 at Tennessee
I know Bruce Arians defended Jameis Winston, but with four more turnovers, it is hard to not blame him somewhat. There is still more to be pinned on a secondary who gave up three touchdowns to Ryan Tannehill though. While Mike Evans showed up for an amazing outing, Tampa Bay has to be frustrated after another tough loss. A struggling secondary and missing running game leaves a lot to desired.
28. New York Jets: 1-6 (Last Week: 28)
Lost 29-15 at Jacksonville
Jacksonville had a lot of fun heckling Sam Darnold and Darnold gave them plenty of ammunition. He threw three interceptions and the offensive line failed to block once again. The hopes that Darnold would solve all of the offensive issues are long gone. Defensively, the secondary had a really rough day again, giving up tons of big plays to the Jaguars offense. There is no question the Jets are focusing on the upcoming draft at this point.
29. Atlanta Falcons: 1-7 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 27-20 vs. Seattle
After a brutal first half, Atlanta did turn things around in the second half. Matt Schaub actually put up monster numbers, with 460 yards and a touchdown. Three turnovers made the 24-0 margin at halftime too large to overcome though as the Falcons dropped their fifth-straight game. Coach Dan Quinn’s seat is getting a little bit warmer and there is talk of making deals at the deadline. This shocking season continues for a team that entered the year with much higher hopes.
30. Washington: 1-7 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 19-9 at Minnesota
Honestly, this was one of the better showings from Washington’s defense all year. It helped that Minnesota’s Adam Thielen could not suit up, but there is a lot to like about some of the young performers from Thursday night. Jonathan Allen played extremely well as part of a great night in the red zone defensively. Unfortunately, Dwayne Haskins struggled again in limited action, but Terry McLaurin looks like a great find. Washington is a long way from competing, but there are a couple of pieces in place to build around.
31. Cincinnati Bengals: 0-8 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 24-10 at Los Angeles (London)
Somewhere, Marvin Lewis is probably laughing. Zac Taylor’s tenure has been a really rough go so far. The offense managed just 10 points and the defense had an embarrassing showing. For the Rams, Cooper Kupp could not be stopped and Jared Goff had one of his best games of the season. It’s par for the course for a struggling team with very little direction. Cincinnati needs a full-scale rebuild. That has to start by making moves at the trade deadline to add draft capital.
32. Miami Dolphins: 0-7 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 27-13 at Pittsburgh
For a short while there, the Dolphins were making a lot of noise. Unfortunately, that early lead disappeared and Miami gave up 27 unanswered points to lose their seventh straight game. What compounds this loss for the Dolphins is that they own the Steelers’ first round pick, which would’ve only increased the value of that draft slot if they could have mustered their first win. Brian Flores still has a long ways to go with this group, but the start was promising and something to build on.
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