NFL Power Rankings: Week 17

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs locked up the No. 1 seed in the AFC with their 10th straight win

The final weekend of the NFL regular season is upon us as we're on the doorstep of the playoffs after a campaign unlike any other in league history. While some teams have already mentally turned the calendar to 2021, there are still a handful of games left to finalize the draft order and postseason standings.

 

With all that in mind and factoring in everything from overall roster strength, to quarterback play, to the coaching staff, here is the latest edition of NFL power rankings following Week 17 and where every team stacks up from 1 to 32.

 

Week 17 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Kansas City Chiefs

NFL Power Rankings: ChiefsLast week: 1

 

The reigning champs have played with fire the last several weeks but haven't yet been burnt in locking up the No. 1 seed — essentially giving them two weeks off before it's win or go home time. The extra rest will be nice for all involved but even the seemingly unstoppable offense needs to up the execution moving forward.

 

2. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 2

 

Winning at least one playoff game is probably the bare minimum for meeting "expectations" around Buffalo this season but it sure has to be satisfying to lock up the division title so early and thump the Patriots twice — especially in the manner they did Monday night.

 

3. Green Bay Packers

NFL Power Rankings: PackersLast week: 3

 

What a sight that was with Lambeau under the snow on Sunday night as Aaron Rodgers (may have) locked up another MVP award against the Titans. Maybe the bigger picture takeaway is that it will be extremely tough to go to Green Bay come January both because of the elements and the team that calls it home.

 

4. New Orleans Saints

NFL Power Rankings: SaintsLast week: 4

 

There weren't a ton of Saints fans at the Superdome on Christmas but you could pretty clearly hear them (and those at home) screaming "Noooo" when Taysom Hill snatched a TD away from Alvin Kamara... only for those same fans to scream "Yesss" when Kamara later got his record-tying sixth score against the Vikings.

 

5. Seattle Seahawks

NFL Power Rankings: SeahawksLast week: 7

 

Yet another division title for the Pete Carroll-Russell Wilson combination and you can't help but think that the Seahawks are finding their groove once again after a few midseason struggles. The defense is playing better down the stretch and if the run game keeps progressing, this could once again be the team to beat out of the wide-open NFC.

 

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL Power Rankings: SteelersLast week: 10

 

Well, it took nearly a month but the Steelers finally got off the bench and clinched the AFC North. Could that second-half rally against the Colts wind up being just the kind of shot of adrenaline the team needed going into the playoffs?

 

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 11

 

There are ways of ending a playoff drought and there are emphatic ways of ending a playoff drought as the Bucs did in that beatdown of the Lions. When Blaine Gabbert plays the entire second half not due to injury, you know you were rolling.

 

8. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 6

 

We saw on full display all of the Titans' issues in the blowout to the Packers but that final score seems far more of a one-off than some of their other losses. The AFC South is still very winnable and you can't help but wonder if Ryan Tannehill's legs will be incorporated into the game plan more after that 45-yard TD run.

 

9. Baltimore Ravens

NFL Power Rankings: RavensLast week: 12

 

The Ravens took care of business early to coast to an easy win over the Giants and suddenly this looks very much like the team nobody wants to play in January's elimination tournament.

 

10. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 8

 

FitzMagic comes through again! And now you have to really wonder what the front office thinks about their chosen QB of the future even as they take a step closer to a potential wild-card berth.

 

11. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 9

 

For a while there it looked like the Colts were going to put the final nail in the Steelers' coffin as they extended their losing streak. Then Indy coughed up the lead in a pretty epic collapse that does not reflect well on anybody in the organization.

 

12. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 5

 

It's perfectly on-brand for the Browns to lose to the one-win Jets and possibly cost them a playoff bid. While there were some real roster issues coming into the game, throwing the ball 53 times when you don't have any wide receivers on the field seems like coaching malpractice.

 

13. Chicago Bears

NFL Power Rankings: BearsLast week: 15

 

That six-game losing streak feels like a decade ago as the Bears have somehow wrestled back control of their postseason fate the last few weeks and may have secured another year for their often beleaguered head coach/QB combination at the same time.

 

14. Los Angeles Rams

NFL Power Rankings: RamsLast week: 13

 

The Rams have the best defense in the NFL and yet it seems like they are constantly trying to bail out their quarterback every other week this season. Given Jared Goff just had surgery on his thumb, they'll need to rise to a superhuman level in Week 17 just for the team to make the playoffs.

 

15. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 14

 

The franchise has definitely improved from where they were a year ago but it still seems like the Cardinals have yet to find their footing in the second half of the season. That lackadaisical performance to the 49ers was the latest in a string of puzzling losses to teams they should beat if they want to take the next step into being real contenders.

 

16. Minnesota Vikings

NFL Power Rankings: VikingsLast week: 16

 

The Vikings' Christmas present was apparently a nice lump of coal in that no-show against the Saints on Friday, making their way into the record book in the wrong way while getting eliminated from the playoffs at the same time.

 

17. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 24

 

Pretty classy move by the organization to go up to Washington to face their former head coach and wear some "Rivera Strong" shirts and send some generally good vibes across the sidelines. Even better for Matt Rhule, his team came out and made the plays it had to early before holding on for a big win.

 

18. Los Angeles Chargers

NFL Power Rankings: ChargersLast week: 18

 

Justin Herbert set the rookie TD passing record and led yet another game-winning drive to secure the team's third straight win. All in all, the future continues to be quite bright for the Chargers, who really have to feel good about their QB situation among the two LA franchises.

 

19. Dallas Cowboys

NFL Power Rankings: CowboysLast week: 21

 

How 'bout them Cowboys? Still alive, somewhat miraculously, for the NFC East and the home playoff bid that comes with it. Andy Dalton has been great since his return to action as the backup proved once again to be a key offseason pickup. Still, the reason Dallas is in this position has also been due to the relative resurgence of their turnover-happy defense the last few weeks too.

 

20. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 30

 

Robert Saleh may have secured a head coaching gig somewhere around the league with yet another masterclass with a bag of broken parts on defense. That may be concerning to Kyle Shanahan even if he longs for the days of a roster full of starting-caliber players.

 

21. Washington Football Team

Last week: 17

 

Quite the week under center in D.C., from the emergency quarantine QB having to enter the game to Dwayne Haskins finding himself cut after Sunday's antics proved to be the last straw. The latter never seemed to fit with the new staff and what was apparent became official a day after another bad loss that could cost them the division.

 

22. Philadelphia Eagles

NFL Power Rankings: EaglesLast week: 19

 

The Jalen Hurts experience may be hitting some speed bumps but the lack of defense being played by the Eagles had to be the most frustrating thing for the coaching staff after a debacle in Dallas. To say there will be major changes in Philly this offseason might be an understatement but it certainly was confirmed after Sunday's no-show.

 

23. Las Vegas Raiders

NFL Power Rankings: RaidersLast week: 20

 

There may have been more painful ways to snatch a defeat from the jaws of victory but it will be hard to top what the Raiders did on Saturday night against the Dolphins to officially get knocked out of the postseason chase. Given how bad they've played down the stretch this year though, perhaps it was a fitting end to their first year in a place accustomed to people going home after some heartbreaking mistakes late at night.

 

24. New England Patriots

NFL Power Rankings: PatriotsLast week: 22

 

Bill Belichick has to be beside himself watching the film after games like that against Buffalo between the missed execution to the lack of hustle. The pandemic and opt-outs only explain so much as to why the Pats have sunk this low.

 

25. New York Giants

Last week: 23

 

Daniel Jones returned and looked... fine. But the more pressing issue for the G-Men is embracing their long shot at winning the division while facing the same questions about the offensive line they did six weeks ago.

 

26. Denver Broncos

NFL Power Rankings: BroncosLast week: 26

 

Poor Jerry Jeudy will want to forget that outing in Los Angeles after dropping one too many passes in a season full of them. That doesn't help his QB in-game or when it comes to the long-term evaluation, which still might have the jury out on Drew Lock after 2021.

 

27. Cincinnati Bengals

NFL Power Rankings: BengalsLast week: 27

 

Have to be impressed with the fight the Bengals have been showing lately even without their franchise QB and nothing to play for outside of draft position. That's just the kind of thing you can use to build upon in 2021 once Joe Burrow returns and the rest of the roster sees some upgrades.

 

28. Houston Texans

NFL Power Rankings: TexansLast week: 25

 

Congrats on the Texans for gifting the Dolphins their second win of the weekend in securing a top-five pick they don't have the rights to. That has to make the final play of the game for Deshaun Watson that much more brutal after he emerged from the postgame ice bath.

 

29. Atlanta Falcons

NFL Power Rankings: FalconsLast week: 29

 

The potential game-tying field goal swerving 20 yards at the last minute was simply the latest twist of the knife to a franchise that has endured one seemingly every week.

 

30. Detroit Lions

Last week: 28

 

The Lions were quite the walking advertisement for why good starting quarterbacks and a functioning coaching staff matter in the NFL after that "performance" against Tampa Bay.

 

31. New York Jets

Last week: 31

 

Can't win by winning, can't win by losing. Clearly the Jets' pursuit of the No. 1 overall pick was spoiled by firing Gregg Williams too early.

 

32. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 32

 

Those No. 16 Trevor Lawrence jerseys are going to be flying off the shelves in Duval now. Rare is the fan base celebrating at losing 14 in a row but here we are with the Jags.

 

 

 

Week 16 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 1

 

Considering how beat up the Chiefs are in the trenches at this point, going into New Orleans for what is likely their final road game of the season is doubly impressive. At this point, Kansas City remains the only threat to Kansas City repeating.

 

2. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 2

 

The Bills didn't seem fazed at all going on the road to Mile High on a short week, taking care of business in impressive fashion to thump the Broncos and secure the AFC East for the first time since 1995. Maybe just as important, they're peaking at the right time after winning four in a row.

 

3. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 3

 

Not the crispest of finishes for the Pack at home but they remain in line for the No. 1 seed in the NFC and are a whopping 25-7 with the combination of Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers. The latter said they had a few quarters that were "stinkers" but still won the game, an appropriate outlook on this crazy year.

 

4. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 5

 

Even with Drew Brees looking a little rusty in that potential Super Bowl preview, the Saints were able to keep things close against the champs. While the loss may have cost them a No. 1 seed in the NFC, it did prove they could compete with the league's best even when they were not in top form.

 

5. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 10

 

Baker Mayfield went from taking a backseat to the run game to playing within the system to completing 71 percent of his passes with eight TDs and a pick in December. Still a bit hard to fathom the 10-win, (almost) playoff-bound Browns but here we are.

 

6. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 8

 

That's back-to-back blowouts after Ryan Tannehill's career day and five straight games of 30 or more points. Aside from the Chiefs, there's not a hotter team in the league right now as everything seems to be rolling downhill for the Titans.

 

7. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 7

 

A win is a win this time of year, especially going across the country to face a stellar pass rush. However, Pete Carroll has to be at least a little worried that Russell Wilson has had fewer than 300 passing yards for six straight games and has tossed a pick in three in a row.

 

8. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 11

 

Had to be a satisfying moment for Brian Flores to turn the tables on his mentor and eliminate the Patriots from the playoffs at the same time. Credit to their defense for coming through again in the clutch while their offense made do with a ton of backups in the starting lineup.

 

9. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 12

 

Death. Taxes. The Colts recovering a Texans fumble at the goal line for a win.

 

10. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 6

 

It's officially panic time in the land of three rivers over an offense that seems more than broken. And it's not like the defense is getting any better either after allowing 24 points to the Bengals.

 

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 9

 

Tom Brady needed every bit of his magic touch to lead that comeback against the Falcons but it might be worth questioning this team for going down 17 to the same foe. The talent on the roster continues to exceed the actual play on the field despite the Bucs inching closer to ending the NFC's longest playoff drought.

 

12. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 13

 

It was just the Jaguars but the Ravens still had a little fun in taking care of business on both sides of the ball for an easy win. Good to see that momentum from the Monday night thriller wasn't lost.

 

13. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 4

 

The worst and most embarrassing loss of Sean McVay and Jared Goff's careers. And that is all that will be said about the clunker of clunkers at SoFi against the Jets.

 

14. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 14

 

Back-to-back wins over bad teams should give the Cards a bit of a boost but as that second half proved, closing things out will remain a work in progress. At least the offense is starting to find its stride as Kyler Murray seems healthier with each passing week.

 

15. Chicago Bears

Last week: 19

 

Remarkably, this group is still in the postseason hunt even after putting together a six-game losing streak. Finally finding a way to get the ground game (and David Montgomery in particular) going may also help Matt Nagy's case to remain in charge too.

 

16. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 16

 

Since beating the Lions by two scores, the Vikings have sandwiched the Bucs’ loss with a number of one-score games they needed late rallies to either win or keep close. Now those fleeting hopes of a rally to make a playoff game are thrown out the door.

 

17. Washington Football Team

Last week: 15

 

The WFT lost but remained in first place in the NFC East. Alex Smith can't return soon enough though Dwayne Haskins at least flashed a handful of times after a rough start.

 

18. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 24

 

Pretty good week for Oregon fans in Los Angeles, with Justin Herbert out-dueling Marcus Mariota on Thursday in Vegas and the Ducks winning the Pac-12 title at the Coliseum 24 hours later.

 

19. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 21

 

Those reports about Carson Wentz being unhappy came out even before Jalen Hurts nearly delivered a comeback win against a likely playoff team. Given the lack of protection and weapons, the QB change is going to force even more self-evaluation from the front office as to whether they will have the richest unhappy backup in league history come 2021.

 

20. Las Vegas Raiders

Last week: 20

 

Jon Gruden may have fired his DC but it's glaringly obvious the personnel on that side of the ball are a far greater hindrance to this team going forward.

 

21. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 29

 

Cowboys fans had to fret as soon as it was announced that Ezekiel Elliott was out. Turns out, they didn't sweat much at all in that destruction of the 49ers.

 

22. New England Patriots

Last week: 22

 

The playoff streak is over to nobody's surprise at this point but it is going to be fascinating to see what Bill Belichick does going forward with opt-outs returning to the roster and tons of cap space for 2021.

 

23. New York Giants

Last week: 17

 

It wasn't just Danny Dimes who was absent for that no-show against the Browns, it was the rest of the team pretty much failing to show up in a game the G-Men had to have to keep their NFC East hopes alive.

 

24. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 23

 

Carolina has been much more competitive than their 4-10 record suggests but losing eight of nine is still reflective of how far Matt Rhule has to go with this team.

 

25. Houston Texans

Last week: 25

 

The Texans' season can best be summed up by their effort on the doorstep of the end zone in the final minutes in TWO games against the Colts.

 

26. Denver Broncos

Last week: 18

 

Did the Broncos lose to a much better team? Sure. Did they look dreadful while doing it? Yes. Does that one-game sample force others to again reevaluate Drew Lock at QB and Vic Fangio as head coach? Indeed.

 

27. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 31

 

Few expected the Bengals to be competitive on “Monday Night Football” against the division leaders but clearly they overlooked Ryan Finley turning into a Hall of Famer for the game. It was a really good win for the head coach too just as doubt over his tenure was turning from a whisper to a roar.

 

28. Detroit Lions

Last week: 26

 

At some point you start to look like a team with an interim head coach and a banged-up QB and that's exactly what you saw out of the Lions in getting run over by the Titans.

 

29. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 27

 

The Falcons blew a big lead to Tom Brady? You just don't see that every day do you… //breaks out in laughter as Atlanta inches closer at blowing it all up now.

 

30. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 28

 

There comes a time where Kyle Shanahan just doesn't have any tricks left in the bag and can't paper over a roster full of replacement-level players. We have arrived at that time.

 

31. New York Jets

Last week: 32

 

The most stunning upset of the NFL season, bar none, down in LA. Now you have to wonder just how different the next few years around the league could be after the Jets knocked off the Rams to likely cost them the No. 1 overall pick and send fans of the franchise crying after actually avoiding going 0-16.

 

32. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 30

 

TRE-VOR LAW-RENCE! TRE-VOR LAW-RENCE!

 

 

 

Week 15 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 1

 

The Chiefs went from down double digits to running off four straight touchdowns at one point against the Dolphins, a rather ho-hum win against a good opponent. Patrick Mahomes' interceptions and the lack of a run game are concerns but there's still one team that everybody in the league is chasing.

 

2. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 4

 

Circle those wagons Bills fans because you just might have the second-best team in the… league? This ain't the 1990s but Josh Allen and a team that keeps improving sure are on the doorstep of an elusive division title (and maybe more).

 

3. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 6

 

Aaron Rodgers is playing at an MVP level and Davante Adams might be the league's offensive player of the year as the Packers suddenly are atop the NFC standings. As good as Green Bay has been the since Matt LaFleur took over though, they all know they'll be judged on how things go in January.

 

4. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 9

 

The Rams have the edge in the NFC West race and it really might come down to Jared Goff being the difference between this group making another Super Bowl run or having an early exit. Given how the run game has come along and how well their defensive studs are playing, this is becoming much more than a sleeper pick for the Lombardi.

 

5. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 3

 

It's almost like the Saints were looking way ahead to next week and forgot to game plan at all for what the Eagles were going to do with Jalen Hurts. Not a crushing loss by any stretch but it may have cost a veteran group that postseason bye.

 

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 2

 

The alarms are ringing at full force by the three rivers as this team has gone from undefeated to facing real questions about how they're playing right now. The lack of a run game plus the injuries at linebacker are putting a limit on just how far the Steel Curtain could go next month.

 

7. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 10

 

Not going to learn much from thrashing the lowly Jets but a nice "get right" game for the 'Hawks. Jamal Adams had to really enjoy that win against his old team almost as much as he did setting a new record for sacks by a defensive back.

 

8. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 11

 

Derrick Henry has is the first player in NFL history to have four games of 200-plus rushing yards and two touchdowns. The scary thing is that effort against the Jaguars was his second this season. That's rounding into form at the right time.

 

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 5

 

Considering how little the Bucs' offense held the ball against Minnesota, we'll still have to wait and see just what kind of tweaks the coaching staff made over the bye to get on the same page moving forward. Still, they'll take a win in any fashion this time of year.

 

10. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 7

 

What a, ahem, crappy way to lose on Monday night but the Browns did show some fortitude in going back-and-forth against the Ravens. If the defense can find some fixes in the run game, they should be more than alright going forward.

 

11. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 8

 

The 'Fins gave the champs their best shot and picked off the likely MVP three times. If they can get the offensive line to hold up and see continued progress with Tua, this just might be a team nobody wants to see later this year and for the next several seasons too.

 

12. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 12

 

We've been waiting for a real breakout moment from rookie Jonathan Taylor and we may have seen it against the Raiders. You know you had a little too much fun in Vegas when you end up getting somebody else fired the next day.

 

13. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 13

 

The stomach cramp game just doesn't sound right nor appropriate for what we saw against the Browns on Monday night. Could that be a spark that sends the Ravens on their way to the postseason or just a flash in the pan before flushing them toward door, uh, No. 2.

 

14. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 19

 

It sure looked like Kyler Murray was much healthier the way he was running and throwing almost like normal in that romp against the Giants. Maybe just as notable was the defensive play and how attacking the front seven was in overwhelming the opposing offensive line.

 

15. Washington Football Team

Last week: 15

 

Chase Young was the best player in the draft for a reason and now Washington has won four in a row for the first time since 2016. Ron Rivera certainly has dealt with an awful lot this season but is well ahead of schedule in what had been a pretty big rebuild.

 

16. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 16

 

It was rather surprising Dan Bailey wasn't left by the team on the tarmac at the airport after all those misses against Tampa.

 

17. New York Giants

Last week: 14

 

Seems clear Daniel Jones was rushed back a little too soon and his limited mobility was a huge issue behind a rickety offensive line. Joe Judge can't be happy about failing to win in the other two phases of the game too.

 

18. Denver Broncos

Last week: 21

 

Despite all of the injuries and a roller-coaster of a ride to this point on the calendar, the Broncos may have started to build toward next year with a gutsy win over Carolina. That is particularly true of Drew Lock in delivering some big-time throws to secure the victory.

 

19. Chicago Bears

Last week: 26

 

Guess Mitchell Trubisky didn't want to hear all that Deshaun Watson/Bears draft talk on Sunday. Apparently his defense didn't either.

 

20. Las Vegas Raiders

Last week: 18

 

Firing your defensive coordinator won't make a dent if the interim guy doesn't have the players. And after the past few weeks, it's clear the Raiders don't have the players.

 

21. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 28

 

One of the biggest mismatches on paper was the Saints' front vs. the Eagles' offensive line but the game plan for Jalen Hurts turned that weakness into a surprising strength. Now, can the team build upon the rookie's effort under center going forward?

 

22. New England Patriots

Last week: 17

 

That may have been the worst Pats offensive performance in the Bill Belichick era to conclude the LA road trip with quite the thud. Add in the division title streak coming to an end and it was not the smoothest of weekends in New England.

 

23. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 24

 

Carolina has generally overachieved this season under Matt Rhule but that loss was quite a tough one for the staff to go back and watch. You have to admire the resolve the team showed though, even if they came up just short in the end.

 

24. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 27

 

The Chargers won a close game on a walk-off field goal, which is a remarkable statement to say out loud given the franchise's history. Yet if Anthony Lynn gets fired at the end of the year, that sequence before halftime will go atop the lowlight reel as to why.

 

25. Houston Texans

Last week: 22

 

Deshaun Watson took a brutal shot from Roquan Smith against the Bears but what was worse for Houston was the way their run defense played against a team that generally hadn't been able to run the ball. As a result, it's no secret why they're 4-9.

 

26. Detroit Lions

Last week: 25

 

Admirable fight down the stretch but it just wasn't enough for the Lions, as they got another glimpse at what life could be like without Matthew Stafford going forward.

 

27. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 23

 

The Falcons' social media department tweeted out the Spiderman meme out when describing the franchise taking on the Chargers and, based on how things played out down the stretch, that checked out.

 

28. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 20

 

You have to feel for the team given everything they've been going through this season but the lack of a ground game crippled them against Washington and the turnovers didn't help one bit either. The reset button can't be hit fast enough with this group.

 

29. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 31

 

Successful "homecoming" of sorts for Andy Dalton but the real head-turner might have been the defense looking halfway competent. Playing the Bengals will do that.

 

30. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 28

 

The Jags had displayed quite a bit of fight the last few weeks but after giving their best shot at a win against the Vikings, they followed that up with a dud at home by letting Derrick Henry run roughshod over them.

 

31. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 30

 

Rolling out the welcome mat for Andy Dalton was nice of Cincy but… maybe not to the level of making the Cowboys look like a Super Bowl contender. That is the kind of game people remember for a long time when making personnel and coaching decisions down the road.

 

32. New York Jets

Last week: 32

 

The Jets showed just how bad they really are in that dreadful no-show against the Seahawks. But hey, one step closer to Trevor Lawrence, right?

 

 

 

Week 14 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 2

 

Wild to think that of all the receivers out there in the NFL, it was Tyreek Hill who didn't beg and plead with officials or his head coach on what should have been a sure touchdown. There's still a lot of little things for this team to clean up but the Steelers' setback now allows everybody to know the defending champs are right where they should be atop the rankings.

 

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 1

 

Those with Terrible Towels at home were none too happy to see the 1972 Dolphins taking to social media on Monday night to celebrate Pittsburgh's first loss of the year — but then again, those same fans may have been more upset at the way their team played down the stretch against Washington. The abysmal run game has to get fixed before the postseason rolls around as Mike Tomlin will surely point out to his team the rest of the week.

 

3. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 3

 

The first playoff bid in the NFC has been locked up by, not surprisingly, the best team in the conference. While Taysom Hill is the one generating headlines, that Saints defense has been lights out the last few weeks and the real reason they're a Super Bowl favorite once again.

 

4. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 6

 

The Bills finally got some revenge from their last trip to Glendale by putting on their most complete effort of the season in dominating the 49ers. Josh Allen was of course terrific but the timely turnovers the defense came up with are the real reason why Buffalo moved a step closer to a division title.

 

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 7

 

Given how wide open the league looks right now, the Bucs may be primed to start ripping off wins after emerging from their bye fresh and healthy. Much of that will come down to whether or not Bruce Arians and Tom Brady used the time off to truly get on the same page offensively.

 

6. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 9

 

Don't look now but if the Chiefs can beat the Saints down the road, the Packers would have the inside track to the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC.

 

7. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 11

 

Was that a rope-a-dope strategy the Browns used with their passing game the past few weeks, all to set up an amazing performance by Baker Mayfield against the Titans? One can have a few gray hairs on your head and think that might have been the best first half of football played by a Cleveland team in one's lifetime to help secure a remarkable statement victory.

 

8. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 8

 

Statistically one of Tua Tagovailoa's better efforts but it still seems like there's a fairly high ceiling left for the young QB to reach for after that win against Cincinnati. Perhaps it was a coaching staff playing a bit too conservatively but Dolphins fans certainly won't mind the number in the win column.

 

9. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 10

 

It appears Sean McVay challenging his quarterback to be better paid off in a massive game for Jared Goff and the offense. Not to be overlooked though, rookie running back Cam Akers continues to look like a draft steal the way he runs between the tackles.

 

10. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 4

 

That MVP talk sure went dead silent after the game Russell Wilson had against the Giants, a loss that seemed to be weeks in the making based on the way he and the rest of the team have been playing for most of the past month.

 

11. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 5

 

It felt like if anybody was going to punch a team in the mouth and not look back, it would have been the Titans to the Browns. Even with things happening the other way around, credit to Tennessee for not folding and making things much more interesting in the second half.

 

12. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 12

 

A win is a win but Colts players have to feel pretty lucky after the way things ended against the Texans. They're getting better (and healthier) but still need more out of Phillip Rivers unless they want to be one-and-done upon making the postseason.

 

13. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 16

 

Dallas may provide the perfect opportunity to end this three-game slide the team is on but it remains to be seen if the return of Lamar Jackson can do enough to offset the offensive line struggles of late.

 

14. New York Giants

Last week: 21

 

Credit to Joe Judge and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who have gotten their team to fight every single week and are now being rewarded with the big wins they've normally fallen short of. Suddenly reaching the playoffs and winning the division is not only realistic, but creating even higher expectations.

 

15. Washington Football Team

Last week: 23

 

Alex Smith has really reenergized this team since taking over at QB and he was quite the crafty old veteran in delivering an upset for the ages on Monday. Ron Rivera has been through so much this year but it was cool to seem him soak up that comeback against Pittsburgh.

 

16. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 17

 

A win is a win this time of year but that Vikings defense won't be too excited at watching the film of their effort against the lowly Jaguars. Luckily good Kirk Cousins showed up and wideout Justin Jefferson kept pressing his case to be Rookie of the Year.

 

17. New England Patriots

Last week: 19

 

Even Bill Belichick probably felt a little sorry for the Chargers at the end of the game in what may have been the best special teams game he's put together with the Pats (not entirely of their doing of course). Still, getting this roster to .500 has been a bigger accomplishment than most realize.

 

18. Las Vegas Raiders

Last week: 15

 

That awful coverage by the Jets really saved the Raiders from having an East Coast trip from hell the way they've played the past two weeks. It's still hard to get a read on just how good this group can be if they keep playing up and down to their competition.

 

19. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 14

 

Kyler Murray's shoulder isn't the only concern that Cardinals fans have with this team after they've slipped from division contenders to fighting an uphill race to make the postseason. That's still progress based on where they were a year ago but also proof of the untapped potential still left with this group in 2020.

 

20. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 13

 

The lack of a run game combined with costly turnovers is a terrible combination for a team already at a roster disadvantage and the final score was a rather predictable one in their new home base of Arizona.

 

21. Denver Broncos

Last week: 25

 

No matter what John Elway decides to do at the end of the year, Vic Fangio will be in hot demand by others to figure out what he's doing so well on the defensive side of the ball against some of the league's best signal-callers. Now if the offense could match the play of their brethren across the line, there may be hope for Denver yet.

 

22. Houston Texans

Last week: 18

 

Poor Deshaun Watson, who is the one thing the Texans have going for them each and every week but truly allowed his team to nearly snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat.

 

23. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 20

 

The way the team's defense looked against Taysom Hill may have been costly to Raheem Morris' chances of keeping the head coaching gig but also shows why the new front office will have a tall task ahead of them to return this team to being competitive in the division as well.

 

24. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 22

 

Dealing with a COVID outbreak isn't how Matt Rhule wanted to come off the bye week but such is life nowadays in the NFL and in this country. The offense does get Christian McCaffrey back but he might be the only weapon left by the time the Broncos game rolls around.

 

25. Detroit Lions

Last week: 27

 

Congrats to Darrell Bevel for getting on the board as an interim head coach in leading that wild comeback against the Bears. All eyes on ownership as to the new direction of the franchise but good to see the team still playing hard with thoughts of Matt Patricia long gone.

 

26. Chicago Bears

Last week: 24

 

Never good for one's job status blowing a double-digit fourth-quarter lead to an interim coaching staff but alas, here is where Matt Nagy is at.

 

27. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 26

 

There have been many atrocious efforts on special teams this year but that Chargers' showing against the Pats is an all-timer and should convince the front office about Anthony Lynn's future if there was any sort of waffling on it.

 

28. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 29

 

Say what you want about Doug Marrone and this Jags team, they have been pesky all season long despite their win-loss record. Won't buy anybody a reprieve from the coming house cleaning but you have to give them credit for not throwing in the towel.

 

29. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 28

 

The Jalen Hurts era... maybe, sort of has begun? So many questions surrounding this Eagles team from top to bottom that will be obscured by that quarterback situation over the next few weeks.

 

30. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 30

 

While the Bengals showed some actual fight between the lines when the whistles were already blown, that loss to the Dolphins might have been the toughest to watch during Zac Taylor's tenure.

 

31. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 31

 

Zach Martin going on IR with an injury sure seems like a cherry on top of this dreadful year in Big D.

 

32. New York Jets

Last week: 32

 

Coaching malpractice gifting the Jets a better shot at a franchise-altering quarterback in the draft is definitely a storyline that New York sports talk will take lightly.

 

 

 

Week 13 NFL Power Rankings
 

1. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 1

 

After complaining about the Ravens game getting moved, the Steelers wind up having COVID-19 issues of their own. Where does that leave Pittsburgh? With a fascinating, uh, Wednesday matinee to keep their perfect season rolling.

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 2

 

Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill, that's it. That's the line. Quite the dress rehearsal for the Chiefs against the Buccaneers for what could be the first of two trips to Tampa this season.

 

3. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 3

 

The Saints took care of business in Denver to nobody's surprise but the offense wasn't quite as sharp as you would have liked. Taysom Hill struggling may have been equal parts his own limitations as much as it was the Broncos' defense. Still, the end result is a third straight double-digit win to cement NFC front-runner status.

 

4. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 5

 

Their nearest division competitors both took losses and they had an easy trip across the country to Philly. Nice week for a team that looks like they're getting better — especially on the defensive end.

 

5. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 14

 

The Titans appear to be back on track as they take control of the AFC South. Derrick Henry was phenomenal once again with a monster day to lead the thumping of the Colts.

 

6. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 7

 

Sloppy win against a bad team but they needed it with the rest of the division contenders also securing Ws. That said, holding a red-hot Justin Herbert and company to just 17 points is a sign of progress for the Bills defense.

 

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 6

 

Todd Bowles might have nightmares after watching the Patrick Mahomes-to-Tyreek Hill torch his secondary. Maybe more pressing is the fact that Tom Brady has been turning the ball over more in the past four games than just about any stretch in his career.

 

8. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 12

 

FitzMagic came through in a pinch and the Dolphins keep pace in the division and playoff races. Maybe more important, the defense once again returned to form ahead of a key closing stretch to 2020.

 

9. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 13

 

Not sure how much you can read into that performance against the lifeless Bears but Aaron Rodgers continues to make life miserable for his fellow division opponents.

 

10. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 4

 

Aaron Donald is a bad, bad man. Where would this team be without him turning in such dominant performances? Might not get him MVP honors but should put him in the conversation. Now if only the offense would raise their game to a similar level instead of likely costing the team a shot at the division.

 

11. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 11

 

For the first time since 2007, the Browns will not have a losing season. That should be the focus in Cleveland instead of the lackluster performance against the Jags.

 

12. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 8

 

Being down all those defenders didn't help but when bad Philip Rivers showed up, the Colts were toast against the Titans.

 

13. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 20

 

Kyle Shanahan off a bye was easy money, even going down to LA shorthanded once again. The bad news is the masterclass from defensive coordinator Robert Saleh may have earned him a head coaching gig for sure.

 

14. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 9

 

It's hard to give away a game as well as the Cardinals did, from bypassing field goals, to missing other kicks to stupid penalties allowing the Patriots to walk away with a win Arizona needed badly.

 

15. Las Vegas Raiders

Last week: 10

 

They say you shouldn't let a team beat you twice but it kind of felt like the Chiefs did just that to the Raiders after the lifeless performance against the Falcons. Jon Gruden needs to rally the troops and fast before their playoff chances disappear.

 

16. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 15

 

While COVID-19 issues have dominated the league discussion this year, there's not been anything quite what's happened in Baltimore. The league, rightfully so, can't be happy.

 

17. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 18

 

A banged-up Dalvin Cook, no Adam Thielen, some awful mistakes on a punt return... and the Vikings still managed to get a victory thanks to Kirk Cousins and Chad Beebe. Just like they drew it up?

 

18. Houston Texans

Last week: 23

 

Once again, just put that Deshaun Watson tape on for every head coach interview to help assuage concerns over the lack of draft capital.

 

19. New England Patriots

Last week: 24

 

Bill Belichick: still got it, never lost it.

 

20. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 25

 

Five turnovers, five sacks, and one massive blowout has made Raheem Morris a real contender for the full-time gig with a 4-2 mark thus far. If he can close strong against a super-tough slate, it might be one of the most impressive turnarounds in the league this season.

 

21. New York Giants

Last week: 22

 

The Giants are in first place and have one of the easier paths to the playoffs in the NFC East. That might not mean much if Danny Dimes' hamstring keeps him out the rest of the way.

 

22. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 16

 

There is snatching a defeat from the jaws of victory and then there's giving up 18 fourth-quarter points and doing that against the Vikings down the stretch. Matt Rhule has worked some miracles but that was not one of them in the Twin Cities.

 

23. Washington Football Team

Last week: 26

 

Your first-place Washington Football Team (although Giants have the tiebreaker edge). Just keep putting it on repeat before reality returns next week against the Steelers.

 

24. Chicago Bears

Last week: 21

 

The Bears have spent a total of $72,873,362 on their quarterbacks since 2017 for a 30-29 overall record. Let that sink in.

 

25. Denver Broncos

Last week: 17

 

Well, Kendall Hinton will be a household name around Denver for a long time after being forced into action — even if the end result was quite predictable against the Saints.

 

26. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 19

 

The final drive against the Bills was perfectly indicative of why there will be a new coaching staff in charge of this obviously talented team next year.

 

27. Detroit Lions

Last week: 28

 

It was always a matter of when, not if, the Lions would fire Matt Patricia/Bob Quinn, and that Thanksgiving display was the final straw. Now attention turns to who will try to rescue the franchise from their current state of despair.

 

28. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 29

 

So much for all that talk about Jalen Hurts potentially getting some play at QB. Even if the second-rounder doesn't get a bigger role, the franchise will need to do some soul searching on how to salvage Carson Wentz and this offense.

 

29. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 30

 

Say what you want about this team, they still play hard in a lost season and are still entertaining while losing. The reboot has begun after the loss to the Browns though, with general manager Dave Caldwell getting jettisoned in the first house cleaning move of many.

 

30. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 31

 

A surprisingly good effort against New York in the first game of the temporary post-Joe Burrow era. Plus the Bengals didn't hurt their draft position to get the best OT on the board in the spring either.

 

31. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 27

 

It's one thing to lose, it's another thing to be embarrassed with the entire country watching on Thanksgiving. Jerry Jones may not give up on Mike McCarthy just yet but big changes look likely in Big D.

 

32. New York Jets

Last week: 32

 

Sam Darnold returned to the lineup but didn't seem to make any difference in the Jets' offensive performance against the Dolphins. Alas, future Jets QB Trevor Lawrence did return to action and had one of his best performances ever for his final home game at Clemson.


 

 

Week 12 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 1

 

After a slow start, the Steelers took care of business in Jacksonville with an easy win. Maybe the bigger takeaway as they get set for a Thanksgiving game against Baltimore is the fact that Chase Claypool needs to be much higher on rookie of the year lists after his 10th TD in 10 games.

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 2

 

Was there any doubt that Patrick Mahomes was going to come through in the end to avenge his team's only loss? The issues with protection are a real concern come playoff time but this group continues to be the most dangerous in the league.

 

3. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 3

 

The Taysom Hill Experience certainly was... an experience. You can tell Sean Payton was feeling the effort in a convincing win over the Falcons but the Saints' D stepping up the way they have been the last few weeks is really what has driven them to the top of the NFC.

 

4. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 10

 

The Rams have followed up the bye with back-to-back wins over fellow NFC contenders Seattle and Tampa Bay — both potential playoff previews. Given the light finish to the season, the division is in play if Jared Goff (and that nasty defense) can keep playing like he did Monday night.

 

5. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 11

 

The offense didn't turn the ball over, controlled the clock, and saw the Seahawks' defense play one of their best games of the year against a dynamic quarterback. That's a winning formula every week and keeps them atop the division with a perfect 5-0 home record.

 

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 4

 

Another disappointing primetime outing for Tom Brady and company as speed on defense once again overwhelmed the offensive line. There's still time to stroll to a wild-card spot and an easy trip to an NFC East foe but the field has certainly narrowed the gap to the Bucs.

 

7. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 9

 

Sean McDermott has to hope that the team didn't get too comfortable on the bye with two winnable games upcoming before a telling contest against the AFC-leading Steelers.

 

8. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 13

 

They needed OT and a lucky turnover but the Colts came through against Green Bay to stay atop the AFC South heading into a make-or-break rematch against the Titans. This group has been on a roller-coaster ride this season and it should continue next Sunday.

 

9. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 6

 

The Cardinals have to be disappointed after Thursday's result as that was a prime case of blowing an opportunity to take control of the NFC West. While sitting at 6-4 right now is a step forward overall for Kliff Kingsbury, the line between good and lucky is starting to be explored in the desert.

 

10. Las Vegas Raiders

Last week: 8

 

The Raiders may be one offseason away from being a real contender but it's hard not to see this group as a team others want to avoid in the first round of the playoffs. Derek Carr was particularly great on Sunday against the rival Chiefs aside from that final throw.

 

11. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 14

 

Baker Mayfield isn't throwing touchdowns but the Browns keep winning. You won't even hear the brash quarterback complaining about it either as the team inches closer to ending that playoff futility streak.

 

12. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 5

 

All eyes on Tua going forward given his injury history and what happened in Denver. A small step back is the nature of the league but Brian Flores can't be thrilled at that tape against the Broncos to snap a five-game winning streak.

 

13. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 7

 

We're hitting Thanksgiving but we really don't even know just how good (or average) this team really is. The Packers blew that game against the Colts in more ways than one and it may come back to haunt them down the road as they spoiled another special Aaron Rodgers performance.

 

14. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 15

 

There's a reason they call him King Henry now, but that Titans OL and the defense may still pose a problem down the stretch. Still, getting rid of that losing streak in that fashion has to fire up Mike Vrabel.

 

15. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 12

 

It's time to admit it, the Ravens just aren't a great team. After the way they've struggled up front, it's getting close to the time where we have to question them even being a good team after that collapse against the Titans.

 

16. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 17

 

Mike Tomlin, Brian Flores and others are certainly in the running for Coach of the Year honors but goodness does Matt Rhule need to be firmly in the conversation. With a banged-up roster that was already not that good, he's made something out of this group to the point where he's winning games going away with P.J. Walker.

 

17. Denver Broncos

Last week: 24

 

It seems like Drew Lock comes through with a big win every instance people start to question is status at QB. The next two weeks however, will be huge measuring stick contests for the entire roster as they face the best teams in both conferences.

 

18. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 16

 

They lost to an NFC East team, what more needs to be said? Turnovers really plagued the Vikings against Dallas and no amount of near heroics will be able to overcome that.

 

19. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 25

 

Never a great long-term sign when you struggle to put away a Jets team but a win is a win as they say. One thing seems clear: that Justin Herbert-Keenan Allen connection keeps getting better and better.

 

20. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 23

 

Nobody needed a bye week more than the banged-up 49ers. Kyle Shanahan with some extra time to prepare against a division rival he knows well could make for an entertaining game down in LA on Sunday that doubles as a glimpse at what to expect out of this franchise going forward.

 

21. Chicago Bears

Last week: 21

 

The four-game slide is on everybody's mind in Chicago but the team at least benefited from some rest on the bye and the rest of the division all took losses on Sunday. Add in a bit of good injury news about Nick Foles and maybe that game against the Packers is a better spot to turn things around than most expected.

 

22. New York Giants

Last week: 20

 

There's no question that the G-Men have been playing better the last few weeks but can they take advantage of the schedule down the stretch in order to capture the division? Some positive test results in the building don't help but the team should at least be able to keep the momentum going against a Bengals squad without their QB.

 

23. Houston Texans

Last week: 29

 

The play of Deshaun Watson remains a huge selling point for the front office when talking to head coaching candidates and that game against the Patriots might be the latest example heading into a stretch of very winnable games the rest of the year.

 

24. New England Patriots

Last week: 18

 

It's very on-brand for 2020 that both the San Antonio Spurs' and Patriots' long playoff streaks will come to an end. It's not official in New England but that loss to the Texans probably ended any hopes of a resurgence and might actually say more about the team they most recently beat.

 

25. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 19

 

Raheem Morris' luck appears to have run out and that effort against the Saints — the division measuring stick at the moment — can likely help push the front office into more of a total reboot. There is still talent on this roster but getting it all in sync to beat a better opponent has been a rare occurrence no matter who has the big headset.

 

26. Washington Football Team

Last week: 28

 

Joe Burrow's terrible injury overshadowed the end result of the WFT getting to parity in the win column with the rest of the division and Alex Smith quietly getting his first win in two years. The feel-good story under center has turned out to be much more than that throwing the football and makes the Turkey Day game in Dallas a much more interesting affair.

 

27. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 31

 

Jerry Jones said Andy Dalton was one of the best backups in the league and that was partially true in a massive upset to keep the 'boys in the division hunt. Will they be able to seize it or falter on Thanksgiving? Stranger things have happened in the NFC East already.

 

28. Detroit Lions

Last week: 22

 

Many Lions fans had to be somewhat surprised that Matt Patricia wasn't left on the tarmac in Charlotte after that loss to the Panthers. There have been many low moments for the franchise, and that was another chapter in the book.

 

29. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 27

 

The Eagles have just one win in the month of November and have forced their passionate fan base to turn away in disgust for each of their past two games. And yet... they're still in first place. The NFC East baby! That dreadful division aside, how close are we to seeing Jalen Hurts at QB more? It has to be asked after the trip to Cleveland.

 

30. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 30

 

The last time the Jags lost nine in a row, they fired their coach. That might be on ownership's mind after repeating the losing streak and putting one of the worst defenses in the league on the field. In order to "fix" this team though, more than just a new coach is needed.

 

31. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 26

 

After weeks upon weeks of watching this team, you just knew that OL would come back to bite them. Bite it did in allowing face of the franchise Joe Burrow to go down to an awful knee injury. And with him, any reason to watch this team was carted off alongside him.

 

32. New York Jets

Last week: 32

 

The Jets looked surprisingly competent in spurts to keep things close in Los Angeles. In the end though, they remained ringleaders for the top pick in the draft and became the first team officially eliminated from the postseason.

 

 

 

Week 12 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 1

 

Nice, easy win against Cincinnati to remain undefeated and set another franchise record with this start to the season. While the opponent had something to do with that, no doubt it was nice for Mike Tomlin to see after that close call against Dallas.

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 2

 

Two OL starters and a third backup hitting the COVID-19 list was quite a concerning bit of news out of KC's bye as the Chiefs begin a rather tough stretch the next few weeks.

 

3. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 3

 

Well, we're about to find out a lot about the Saints' future QB plans with Drew Brees' injury but the team is at least good enough to survive the next few weeks without the Hall of Famer under center.

 

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 7

 

Talk about a two-game stretch that was truly a Jekyll/Hyde situation for this team, going from doing nothing on either side of the ball against the Saints to doing almost anything they wanted against Carolina. What version will show up on Monday night against the Rams?

 

5. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 10

 

All the talk about Tua the past few weeks but the QB change has suddenly ignited the defense and special teams of this group too. The coaching staff made the move to contend for a playoff spot and it appears they have one in their sights after the way they've been playing.

 

6. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 12

 

The Hail Murray was phenomenal and surely boasts Kyler's MVP case but it proves once again that the DeAndre Hopkins trade was a straight-up theft by the Arizona front office.

 

7. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 4

 

Was that game against the Jags a case of not taking them seriously or just an off day? Either way, a few more signs of concern for the cheeseheads.

 

8. Las Vegas Raiders

Last week: 11

 

Hard to follow Jon Gruden's script more perfectly than what the Raiders did in beating the Broncos and Las Vegas didn't even play one of their crispest games. Don't look now but they may be about to run off a few more victories in the same manner.

 

9. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 6

 

That's a tough way to lose against Arizona and yet another set of issues for the coaching staff to harp on defensively. Not only that, but there was the full highs and lows of the Josh Allen experience too as the AFC East race gets tighter.

 

10. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 13

 

It really goes without saying but hiring defensive coordinator Brandon Staley was one of the better moves of the offseason by any head coach in the league. There still enough offensive inconsistency to give you a slight pause but the Rams will head to "Monday Night Football" with a two-game lead on the next team in the standings for a postseason spot.

 

11. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 8

 

Russell Wilson seems to be pressing more and more to make up for the team's bad defense and when he's turning the ball over, the Seahawks have no shot against any team with a pulse. The MVP talk can cool down now but he and the team have a chance to get right on Thursday in their rematch with the Cardinals.

 

12. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 5

 

Blame the monsoon they played in all you want but awful execution running the ball led to an inexplicable loss to a vulnerable Patriots team. The result will only add fuel to the "Lamar Narrative" critics bring up, but there are some real issues along the offensive line that's hampering everything the Ravens want to do.

 

13. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 15

 

Uncle Phil sure had a grand old time against that Titans defense and if he can play like that, there's a reason this group might be the AFC South favorite once again.

 

14. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 14

 

Not the prettiest of games but Cleveland fans are so scarred from the past few years that they'll take them any way they can get them. The rushing attack going as well as it did with Nick Chubb looking healthy is a big sign that they'll be alright moving forward.

 

15. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 9

 

Mike Vrabel loves to instill toughness but his team simply doesn't have it anymore. It's almost like they were broken in that loss to Pittsburgh and haven't been able to recover at all in this recent slide.

 

16. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 20

 

The hottest team in the league right now might just be these Vikings. After Kirk Cousins got the MNF monkey off of his back, you take a look at the remaining schedule and can't help but think more wins might be coming to the Twin Cities too.

 

17. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 16

 

Rough news with Teddy Bridgewater as the Panthers' surprisingly strong play seemed to hit a wall on Sunday. Maybe that was just being on the receiving end of an angry Bucs side as much as it is the roster's flaws showing up in a big way.

 

18. New England Patriots

Last week: 29

 

Ol' Bill Belichick put on a master class of coaching wizardry against Baltimore to prove that he still hasn't lost the magic touch. Are they better than 4-5? Maybe only a bit but next up is a big opportunity against the lowly Texans to get back to .500.

 

19. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 19

 

The Falcons may have just caught a break with the Saints' injury issues and if they can take advantage coming off of their bye, the talk of Raheem Morris' record in charge will continue to grow.

 

20. New York Giants

Last week: 27

 

Joe Judge sure has this group playing hard and now it's translating on the field and the scoreboard. It might be a little too early to think about winning the division but the fact that it's realistic tells you a lot about many things in the NFC East.

 

21. Chicago Bears

Last week: 18

 

Nick Foles' injury may have solidified this slide and Matt Nagy's coaching tenure in the Windy City. A once-promising start has now forced the fan base to pay a bit more attention to draft season now as they continue to waste a good defense with such an inept offensive output.

 

22. Detroit Lions

Last week: 24

 

Talk about an uninspiring win given the way the Lions let Washington back into what had been a contest on cruise control. Thankfully Matthew Stafford still had a little time to work with and Matt Prater was nails. It also might be time to talk about D'Andre Swift fully emerging as the lead back after such an effective all-around game.

 

23. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 25

 

Competitive effort on the road against one of the NFC's best, which again speaks to what Kyle Shanahan and his staff can do. Sadly this isn't much more than a practice squad in terms of talent, however.

 

24. Denver Broncos

Last week: 22

 

The Raiders straight up played bully ball against the Broncos and they mostly obliged to drop their second straight with a tough three-game stretch upcoming.

 

25. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 23

 

If there's any positive from that loss to Miami, it's that they didn't blow any sort of lead. But losing in just about every phase of the game will get Anthony Lynn run out of town a lot quicker. The silver lining, if there is one, might be Justin Herbert at least being able to reunite with old teammate Penei Sewell in the draft given where the Chargers might pick.

 

26. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 21

 

Not a pleasant day for Joey B. and Bengals against the NFL's best but amid that beating came a reminder there's still a long way to go before the team can become a contender in the division race.

 

27. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 17

 

Philly talk radio is going to be apocalyptic this week and rightfully so after that dreadful outing in New York. Just when you thought the team was getting healthy and turning the corner, they douse themselves in NFC East-ness and produce that result.

 

28. Washington Football Team

Last week: 30

 

Alex Smith helped rally the WFT from out of nowhere on Sunday and has put up some pretty good numbers since returning to action. As good of a story is though, he needs help in getting the team over the hump to turn these close one-score games into wins.

 

29. Houston Texans

Last week: 26

 

For a team that's supposed to have a high-powered offense, there sure seems to be a lot of issues. Yes, the weather wasn't great in Cleveland but 243 total yards and just one scoring drive isn't going to cut it against anybody.

 

30. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 31

 

This group has been feisty for the last several weeks and nearly pulled off a truly miraculous win in Lambeau. That would have hampered their chances at getting a generational QB but order was restored by the end of a game that had a fun second half.

 

31. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 28

 

Andy Dalton appears to be back in the fold after the bye and it's not hard to look at the rest of the schedule and think every game is winnable. Of course in Big D this year, actually getting the victory is easier said than done.

 

32. New York Jets

Last week: 32

 

The Jets on a bye meant their fans got to watch much better NFL teams on Sunday in New York and across the country. That might be their biggest win of the year so far.



 

Week 10 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 1

 

Hard to believe that in the illustrious history of the franchise, they've never been 8-0 before. They needed a 13-point comeback against the lowly Cowboys but that lackadaisical effort may well serve as a wake-up call going forward as they hold off some elderly Dolphins opening champagne for another week.

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 2

 

The Chiefs had to claw back from an 11-point hole but even despite that deficit, it never felt like they were in real danger of losing outright against the Panthers. That speaks to how good this group is but also a reminder that they sometimes play down to their competition if it's not a big name matchup.

 

3. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 4

 

Beat. Em. Down. You know when the Taysom Hill packages are being talked about in a positive light all game long that the Saints were truly rolling in what likely amounts to locking up the division title.

 

4. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 7

 

COVID-19 issues aside, a nice easy win for the Pack and a small measure of revenge for last year. Question is, will they keep this momentum going or will it be another case of two steps forward, one step back?

 

5. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 6

 

The Ravens have scored an NFL record 20-plus points in 31 straight games but that latest one in the streak was a bit more laborious than OC Greg Roman probably wanted. Lamar Jackson remains a good young QB but still needs to find ways to elevate his game and that of his teammates around him.

 

6. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 8

 

Josh Allen played nearly flawlessly against that Seahawks defense, throwing for 415 yards and posting four total TDs. While the team isn't quite back to their early-season form, they looked a lot closer to it on Sunday against a true NFC contender.

 

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 5

 

Was that performance a one-off or troubling signs of an offense in flux with so many big names? Incredibly that was the first time ever Tom Brady was swept by a divisional opponent and it may have cost them more than the NFC South title and a home playoff game.

 

8. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 3

 

The offense became the sixth team in league history to score 25-plus points in their first eight games. That's notable considering Russell Wilson and company have to be that good in order to bail out their defense. If Russ doesn't have his A-game though, as he didn't against Buffalo, the entire house of cards seems to collapse.

 

9. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 11

 

That two-game losing streak is now behind them in what was likely their best defensive effort of the season against the Bears. That sets up a massive two games in three weeks stretch against the Colts that could decide the division and whether this group can threaten the rest of the top teams in the AFC.

 

10. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 13

 

Many questioned the move to Tua Tagovailoa based on the timing, but the coaching staff clearly had eyes on making a playoff push with a QB with the huge upside he displayed in Arizona — especially on that key touchdown drive in the second half. If the defense keeps making plays in a timely fashion, this group is a tough out.

 

11. Las Vegas Raiders

Last week: 12

 

They got a close call against the Chargers on Sunday but suddenly find themselves sitting in the sixth seed with a host of tie-breakers to their name. The winning hasn't been pretty at times but the 6-3 mark is something not regularly seen for the franchise recently regardless of location.

 

12. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 9

 

Kyler Murray was efficient through the air and on the ground but it didn't matter one bit as their defense failed to get the necessary stops. As bad as things were after seeing a 49-yard field goal attempt to tie fall short, that loss to Miami may wind up costing the Cardinals even more with a difficult stretch coming up.

 

13. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 15

 

Productive bye week for the Rams as they rested up and saw everybody else in the NFC West lose. While that opens their path in the division race, the fact is they've only beaten one team with a winning record so far and still need more out of their offense.

 

14. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 17

 

Baker Mayfield being put onto the COVID list was not the headline you wanted to see during the bye but it will quickly be forgotten if they can get him back and play well against the Texans next Sunday.

 

15. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 10

 

Yet again, the offense struggled to find much consistency and rank near the bottom of pretty much every metric after that loss to the Ravens. They're still on the fringes of the playoff picture but will need to be known for a lot more than Philip Rivers throwing meme-worthy interceptions.

 

16. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 18

 

Welcome back Christian McCaffrey! It was almost like he didn't miss a beat as either a runner or a receiver. The tough news for Matt Rhule was that his team had a great game plan, led early and made some big plays (like Teddy Bridgewater going all Superman) but it still wasn't enough to trip up the Chiefs.

 

17. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 20

 

Prime spot next week to get to .500 against the Giants and keep the multi-game divisional lead they currently have. The Eagles continue to rotate guys off the IR and onto the field now it just has to show up between the lines for a team that, on paper, is improving.

 

18. Chicago Bears

Last week: 16

 

Bears fans are normally pretty tough on their team but they have every right to rip into this group after that offensive performance to further this three-game losing streak. It's not like things can get much better either with a pair of primetime games that could turn a rough few weeks into a bruising headache for Matt Nagy.

 

19. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 25

 

You could make the case that interim head coach Raheem Morris is 4-0 but he and the team will still gladly take 3-1 after the brutal start to the year they had. And hey, despite allowing 21 fourth-quarter points to the Broncos, they still managed to close things out this time.

 

20. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 21

 

That's just short of 500 total yards the past two weeks to go along with his six touchdowns as Dalvin Cook has gone beyond delighting fantasy owners to one of the biggest threats in the NFL right now. If he can do something similar against Chicago's front, then we're going to have to break out some history books for this kind of run.

 

21. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 22

 

The Bengals probably were hoping for the Steelers to win comfortably against Dallas and be a little overconfident coming into the game but perhaps now they have a better game plan on Sunday. Left unsaid: after the trip to Pittsburgh, the rest of the season features a slate of games that are all winnable.

 

22. Denver Broncos

Last week: 19

 

While the fourth-quarter fight was nice, the Broncos have to be in a better position to where they don't have to score four times as they miss out on a chance to get to .500 on the year. Not helping matters is that injury list continuing to grow with each passing half of football.

 

23. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 23

 

What more can you say at this point? Three-quarters of Anthony Lynn's losses have come by one score and that one against the Raiders was yet another painful defeat to drop him to .500 during his tenure as questions continue to mount about his job security.

 

24. Detroit Lions

Last week: 24

 

Despite his struggles down the way in Ann Arbor, would Jim Harbaugh be a quality upgrade for the team when they eventually clean house at the end of the year? Fans in the area in varying shades of blue probably have an opinion on the subject.

 

25. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 14

 

The 49ers resemble much more of a practice squad than a playoff contender at this point and things don't get any easier the next few weeks either. That Super Bowl hangover is real and really bad in the Bay Area this season.

 

26. Houston Texans

Last week: 29

 

A win is a win but nearly blowing a game against the lowly Jaguars in that fashion isn't a good look for a team that still has a ton of talent taking the field on both sides of the ball.

 

27. New York Giants

Last week: 27

 

Daniel Jones has established he can beat Washington but the bigger test is whether he can play just as mistake-free against teams in other uniforms. The results so far haven't been encouraging but the second win of the year at least muddles the eventual question of whether or not to take a QB in the draft again.

 

28. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 30

 

That was perhaps the best offensive line performance of the season by the Cowboys against one of the better defenses in the league, which played a big role in the team nearly pulling off a miraculous upset.

 

29. New England Patriots

Last week: 26

 

Nearly losing to the Jets is only slightly better than actually losing to the Jets but the Pats at least saved themselves from themselves. Still, the roster issues with this group are very apparent each and every week.

 

30. Washington Football Team

Last week: 28

 

Kyle Allen's injury and Alex Smith's late turnovers were just the latest reminders that maybe the staff gave up just a bit too early on Dwayne Haskins this season.

 

31. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 31

 

Pretty good debut for Jake Luton in throwing for three bills and a touchdown, keeping the game close and still keeping the team in the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes. It's still clear he's not the long-term guy in Duval but maybe the entertainment factor with this team isn't completely gone with Gardner Minshew injured.

 

32. New York Jets

Last week: 32

 

The Jets had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, ran four offensive plays and lost. That is the state of the Jets right now... and their fans are kind of okay with it because of Trevor Lawrence.



 

Week 9 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 1

 

It wasn't pretty offensively but the Steelers got the job done in Baltimore to seize control of the AFC North and possibly the rest of the conference too. The team smartly dipped into the trade market to fill in some holes on the banged-up defense but the last undefeated team left sure has an easy path to the No. 1 seed now.

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 2

 

Le'Veon Bell didn't quite have his revenge game in terms of personal numbers but his team sure did. The Chiefs continue to show how dangerous they are with the ability to make you pick your poison in terms of stopping the run or stopping Patrick Mahomes. Safe to say we know the route the Jets selected to predictably disastrous results.

 

3. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 7

 

Russell Wilson was phenomenal again but the most encouraging sign for the Seahawks bouncing back from their first loss may have been the play of their defense against their division rivals.

 

4. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 8

 

They needed OT to get the job done but a quality road effort against the stingy Bears on Sunday sets up another showdown against Tampa on Sunday night for an outcome that almost assuredly will decide who hosts a playoff game.

 

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 4

 

Was that close call against the Giants a case of a look-ahead to the Saints or the product of a healthy bit of travel for a veteran team? Either way, the competition level steps up in a big way next week.

 

6. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 3

 

If you had hidden the score from the stat sheet, you might have thought the Ravens ran away with their game against the Steelers. Yet it was those killer turnovers that wound up making the difference as the narrative around Lamar Jackson in big games continues to grow ever so slightly.

 

7. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 5

 

Green Bay's run defense was the reason they stopped at the NFC title game a year ago and it doesn't appear to be fixed between the Bucs loss and that dreadful outing against Dalvin Cook and the Vikings on Sunday. Not even Aaron Rodgers can overcome that.

 

8. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 11

 

They needed a late turnover but beating the Patriots sure felt like getting the monkey off the Bills' back after all these years. They've gotten back to their winning ways but there's still a little distrust in Buffalo taking the next step based on what they've shown so far.

 

9. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 9

 

Suddenly only two teams have longer win streaks than the Cardinals do and they should be freshly rested going into a fascinating meeting of Kyler vs. Tua next week at home.

 

10. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 15

 

Frank Reich can't be super happy that the run game isn't as productive as it should be but can at least take some confidence away in how Phillip Rivers and the passing game has picked up the slack. They got a gift in the division race thanks to that Titans loss to the Bengals but they'll still have to step up their play to take advantage of the next few weeks.

 

11. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 6

 

Was there a more inexplicable loss over the weekend than the Titans getting run out of the building by the Bengals? The lack of a pass rush remains a glaring issue for Mike Vrabel to figure out going forward despite all the big names coming off the edge.

 

12. Las Vegas Raiders

Last week: 14

 

Talk about executing a game plan, the Raiders controlled the clock in a big way and saw their defense come up with just enough stops to breeze past Cleveland in some unique weather conditions. Still, there's some hesitancy over carrying that momentum over to the next week given how the season has unfolded so far.

 

13. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 17

 

Tua time turned out to be a bit of a dud but it didn't matter one bit thanks to what might be the best defense in the AFC East. Dating back to last year, Brian Flores has put together one of the most impressive of turnaround jobs.

 

14. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 10

 

The 49ers are a walking case of adding insult to injury, losing to their division rivals while sending a steady stream of players to the medical tent. As good as Kyle Shanahan has proven to be, winning consistently with a bunch of practice squad guys isn't sustainable.

 

15. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 12

 

Do you think the conversations between the Rams defense was civil with their counterparts on offense after that showing in Miami? Talk about a long and brutal flight back home and into the bye for one of the more disappointing teams in the NFC.

 

16. Chicago Bears

Last week: 13

 

The smoke-and-mirrors record seems to finally be getting exposed, even if there was a bit more fourth-quarter magic saved up in the Windy City. You know things are bad when inserting Mitchell Trubisky to juice the run game is an actual talking point during the game and the rest of the week.

 

17. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 16

 

Sure seems like the Odell Beckham Jr. injury wasn't the biggest issue the Browns had to deal with against Vegas. While Baker Mayfield only threw for a (game-high!) 122 yards, even he wasn't the only reason they took the "L."

 

18. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 18

 

Divisional games can always be a bit tricky but at home against that Falcons team is a loss that can really sap some of the momentum Carolina had been building. Not great news given who is up next but at least Christian McCaffrey appears on the verge of a return.

 

19. Denver Broncos

Last week: 20

 

Going to be hard to get the image of Drew Lock doing the finger guns out of your head after the QB led that second-half comeback against the Chargers. Even with all that excitement though, taking the next step has proven elusive in the past.

 

20. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 21

 

The NFC East... it's winnable!

 

21. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 25

 

Dalvin Cook may have earned every bit of his contract with that outing in Lambeau as the game was taken out of Kirk Cousins' hands to great effect.

 

22. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 24

 

Joe Burrow and the Bengals have been so close to breaking through with a truly signature victory and finally got one against the Titans. It wasn't a fluke either the way they dominated the game, highlighted by a surprisingly stout offensive line performance.

 

23. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 19

 

What more can you say at this point after a fourth straight blown double-digit lead? Not much, other than that seat under Anthony Lynn is mighty toasty for a group that has the talent to contend with everybody but the 2-5 record that doesn't quite line up with it.

 

24. Detroit Lions

Last week: 22

 

The rough part about the Lions is they're just good enough to not be able to tank and just bad enough to have no shot of moving up in the standings. That kind of no-man's land is not the place you want to be in the NFL or with a potential lame-duck coaching staff.

 

25. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 28

 

Matt Ryan and company seemed to have a message amid all those trade rumors for just about everybody on the roster. Maybe more to the point, Raheem Morris continues to make an impressive case for another head coaching gig in Atlanta or elsewhere this offseason.

 

26. New England Patriots

Last week: 23

 

The all-knowing Bill Belichick may still be the greatest coach of all time but Bill B. the general manager might have one of the worst rosters in the AFC right now between injuries, opt-outs, and straight-up draft busts. Add it all up and a miserable winter in New England looks like it will drag on.

 

27. New York Giants

Last week: 30

 

Danny Dimes nearly gave the game away a few times but had one late rally left in him against the Bucs to make things close. Still, all those moral victories don't mean much in the win column though Joe Judge has his team playing hard.

 

28. Washington Football Team

Last week: 26

 

Next week's game against the Giants may well be a test of just where the franchise goes from here. If they lose, they can focus on tanking their way to an elite QB. Win and it might be time to think about entertaining winning this awful, awful division.

 

29. Houston Texans

Last week: 27

 

Few teams have a more interesting bye week given all the trade rumors and the fact that this team can't really tank for a top pick either. Next Sunday is a very winnable opportunity and those don't come easy the rest of the way.

 

30. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 29

 

If you thought that game against the Eagles was ugly, what will the Steelers be able to do against this team? About the only entertainment left for America's team is to find out when they might cover the spread for the first time all year.

 

31. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 31

 

Rough news with Gardner Minshew hurt as he was one of the few entertaining parts of watching this team. With the 'stache out, it looks like it's Jake Luton's turn to keep the team in games enough before securing that ever-important draft position by the final whistle.

 

32. New York Jets

Last week: 32

 

With Trevor Lawrence out after contracting COVID-19, did Jets fans pass the time this weekend by studying up on Justin Fields? Or did they start pondering what a two-game lead for the No. 1 overall pick might be like?

 

 

 

Week 8 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 2

 

The Steelers nearly gave that game away against the Titans but remained in the ranks of the undefeated thanks to a handful of timely plays down the stretch and the luck of a missed field goal. Mike Tomlin can be excited at what this team can do as a Super Bowl contender but also has to correct the lapses that have led to closer than expected outcomes the past several weeks.

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 1

 

The Chiefs didn't even play super well offensively in the Denver snow but still wound up dominating on the scoreboard. That just goes to show that if they're getting contributions on special teams or defense, pretty much nobody can beat them.

 

3. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 4

 

The Ravens got some additional firepower via the trade market to go into that game against the Steelers in what might be the latest measuring stick for one of the AFC's top contenders.

 

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 8

 

Father Time comes for us all but Tom Brady seems to be aging like a fine wine with each passing week of the season. Mix in what might be the best defense in the NFC and all that Tampa sports energy seems to really be flowing with this group now.

 

5. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 6

 

Nice ho-hum bounce-back game against Houston as Davante Adams looked five years younger feasting on the Texans' secondary.

 

6. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 5

 

Mike Vrabel knew his fourth-quarter runs would dry up at some point this season, which means fixing the slow starts is going to be a priority over the next few weeks. This group still looks like a Super Bowl contender in the AFC but work remains to get over the hump.

 

7. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 3

 

Pretty much everybody was saying that the Seahawks' lack of defense would catch up to them. Despite a superhuman first half from Russell Wilson, that ended up being the case even if some bizarre plays helped cost them the game in OT. (But hey, DK Metcalf though, right?)

 

8. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 7

 

Drew Brees looked sharp and the run defense came to play in a big way against the Panthers during what was a much more comfortable divisional win. That's now three in a row and a return to looking like the team many expected in New Orleans ahead of a season-defining stretch after the bye.

 

9. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 13

 

What a signature victory for Kliff Kingsbury that was over Seattle, even if it came in unconventional ways down the stretch. Kyler Murray has clearly made a sophomore leap and could be a 4,000-yard passing/1,000-yard rushing guy if he keeps this level of play up.

 

10. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 15

 

A pair of statement victories the past two weeks on opposite coasts as Kyle Shanahan has his team on the upswing. Getting healthy has been one thing but the ability to control the clock and make timely defensive adjustments might be just as big.

 

11. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 11

 

You never want to be truly upset when you hold a team to four yards in a second half but the folks in the offensive meetings have to know that the execution needs to be upped in a big way when facing better opposition.

 

12. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 12

 

Excellent way to shake off that 49ers loss by going out and executing well in all three phases. While Jared Goff and Co. putting up all those points against one of the league's best defenses is nice, the bounce back from their defense was more encouraging to the long-term future of the team.

 

13. Chicago Bears

Last week: 9

 

That razor-thin margin the team was living on was never going to be enough against good teams if the offense didn't come through. It didn't in Los Angeles and a predictable result occurred for a team still needing any sort of consistency on the side of the ball their head coach is focused on.

 

14. Las Vegas Raiders

Last week: 10

 

If you asked Raiders fans about being 2-1 against the Saints/Chiefs/Bucs at the beginning of the year, they'd take it. Still hard to get a real read on how good/mediocre the team really is but we'll find out soon enough with that trip to the Browns.

 

15. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 16

 

Productive bye week for the Colts between the Titans, Texans and Jaguars all losing. Still TBD if the team can take advantage.

 

16. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 18

 

Baker Mayfield started that game about as bad as you could but from the second quarter on he was pretty much money, including to secure the win in the final minute too. While he gets the headlines, the more pressing issue moving forward for the team is finding some fixes on defense after getting run up and down the field by a rookie.

 

17. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 20

 

Tua Time grows closer by the day, but the question remains if the move alone will be enough to keep the 2020 momentum going in South Florida.

 

18. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 21

 

You have to admire the toughness that Matt Rhule has installed in this team as they've been competitive even when facing superior rosters. While going for that long field goal down the stretch was questionable, the Panthers have to re-watch that Saints game and wonder about a few other plays going their way to come up with a win.

 

19. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 19

 

Special teams was an absolute mess against the lowly Jags which was the only thing that kept that game from becoming one-sided. The good news is that Justin Herbert was stellar once again as it looks like the Chargers really have a gem in their franchise QB.

 

20. Denver Broncos

Last week: 17

 

The brutal schedule to start the season makes it difficult to judge the team but the lack of consistency all-around has to be overcome if the young core wants to take a step forward. Doesn't help that getting thumped by the reigning champs was punctuated by Chad Henne scoring a touchdown to cap off a blowout.

 

21. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 28

 

Not pretty but given events elsewhere in the division, the Eagles have to like how they're positioned to make it to the playoffs regardless of their record. Getting healthy remains key for the team going forward and if they can do that, perhaps a comfortable lead in the standings could be forthcoming even after that mediocre performance against the Giants.

 

22. Detroit Lions

Last week: 22

 

Usually it's the Lions who snatch a defeat from the jaws of victory but they had to enjoy being on the other end of things against the only franchise that seems similarly cursed in the final quarter.

 

23. New England Patriots

Last week: 14

 

Tom Brady's name will be uttered quite a bit in light of this slight and his success but things would probably be even worse if he were around taking snaps. The roster just isn't in good shape and the execution is even worse against any teams with a pulse, which must drive Bill Belichick nuts while watching the film.

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 26

 

The old adage is you are what your record says it is but... the Bengals might be an exception. Still a long ways to go to build the roster but nobody in the league is doubting they have the right guy at QB moving forward.

 

25. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 27

 

While the trade of Yannick Ngakoue closes a chapter on that bust of a move, will he be the first of several to leave town before the deadline?

 

26. Washington Football Team

Last week: 31

 

There is a lot of dysfunction in Washington, D.C. but the Football Team at least showed up to play on Sunday with their most complete effort of the year.

 

27. Houston Texans

Last week: 23

 

Just when you thought the team was going to start turning a corner, they remind you they're not. The whole thing is made worse by the fact that it's not like they're even going to get good draft position out of all this losing either.

 

28. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 25

 

Win probability has shown the Falcons have had three games they were given a 98 percent chance of winning… that they ultimately lost. Truly a performance art for a team that might have to get burnt to the ground.

 

29. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 24

 

There are low points and there are lower points and there are the depths of getting blown out by the WFT in an empty FedEx Field. The Dallas offensive line might be the worst in the league right now so it doesn't really matter who's at quarterback going forward.

 

30. New York Giants

Last week: 29

 

Few things could possibly sum up the Giants for much of the past few years quite like Daniel Jones in an open field stumbling and bumbling. Perfection really.

 

31. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 30

 

Doug Marrone was aggressive on the road but the West Coast woes the Jags have had historically were too much to overcome. Amid the reports of a QB change though, the game confirmed that Gardner Minshew isn't the issue in Duval but really the one thing keeping them afloat because that roster is very, very bad.

 

32. New York Jets

Last week: 32

 

On the bright side: the Jets covered a line for the first time all year. On the other: four total yards in the second half.



 

Week 7 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 2

 

After an abnormally early Monday night victory, the Chiefs now have head-to-head wins over fellow AFC contenders Baltimore, New England and Buffalo. Andy Reid really made it a point to establish the run and the conditions had nothing to do with that in an impressive return to the left-hand record column.

 

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 6

 

What a statement win that was for the Steelers, not just in the division but in the AFC race overall. We all knew the defense was stellar but when Big Ben and Co. are hitting big plays like that, there's hardly anybody that can stop this team. Rough news about Devin Bush though.

 

3. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 3

 

It was a much-needed recovery week for the Seahawks as they embark on a critical stretch the next five weeks that could determine their ceiling in the NFC playoff race.

 

4. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 4

 

What is it about this team getting too comfortable while up big late? They nearly did it against Washington and did so again vs. the Eagles. It nearly cost them as being a little too lax against overmatched opponents and this no doubt is going to be a talking point from John Harbaugh in meetings this week.

 

5. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 9

 

Another week, another win even if it took blowing a lead and, eventually, overtime to get the dub. Derrick Henry may not garner too much love in the MVP race given what some of the QBs are doing but he's been on an absolute tear the past few weeks.

 

6. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 1

 

The No. 1 offense in the league gets back their top weapon… and yet nearly scored as much for the other team as they did themselves. Aaron Rodgers seemed off in the Florida heat but, for now, perhaps that was just a bad one-off outing and not a sign of things to come.

 

7. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 8

 

Sure seems like Michael Thomas will be back in the starting lineup after the bye and the Saints could be prepared to go on a run the next few weeks before what could be a division-defining game at the Bucs next month.

 

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 14

 

No need for Tom Brady to know how many downs there are late in a game if you're up by double digits most of the afternoon. The veteran QB was pinpoint with his passing on Sunday against the Packers in what might prove to be a key head-to-head win come playoff time.

 

9. Chicago Bears

Last week: 12

 

A faux 5-1? Sure. But you won't hear the Bears complaining about the overall record despite the un-pretty nature of play each week. Perhaps the offense will improve as Nick Foles becomes more comfortable but leaning on that Chicago D seems to be working out okay.

 

10. Las Vegas Raiders

Last week: 10

 

The Sunday night game against the Bucs might be the toughest non-Chiefs game left on the schedule but the Raiders still have to take advantage and actually win the games to build up more momentum in Las Vegas.

 

11. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 5

 

Josh Allen's struggles the past few weeks will generate the headlines but what happened to the normally stout defense? Sure they rise to the occasion in spurts but the long-term trends don't look great for a team that normally prides themselves on their play on that side of the ball.

 

12. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 7

 

Just when you thought they were all set to make it a fun NFC West race, the Rams stumble in the primetime spotlight. Sean McVay lit into his team for their performance and it was pretty clear the execution was lacking to the point where that blame game was deserved.

 

13. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 17

 

Kyler Murray moved to 7-0 as a starter at AT&T Stadium with that win over the Cowboys but the bigger story was the aggressiveness from the defense in getting some turnovers. Still hard to get a feel at just how good this team can be but it's pretty clear they're significantly improved from last year.

 

14. New England Patriots

Last week: 13

 

Going to be a lot of debate over the performance of the team after the COVID-19 issues but the bottom line is they're 2-3 for the first time since 2001 and have a big hill to climb. It will be fascinating to see how Cam Newton bounces back from that kind of effort too as that was easily his worst outing with the Pats.

 

15. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 25

 

Great job by Kyle Shanahan against division rivals and no surprise, getting healthier had a little to do with that. Sustaining this momentum into the coming weeks still remains to be seen.

 

16. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 15

 

The record (4-2) is respectable but how sure are we that the Colts cross the line of being "good" in the NFL right now? They haven't played the greatest competition and needed a furious rally to come back against the Bengals. The team is capable of so much more but haven't shown it yet.

 

17. Denver Broncos

Last week: 28

 

Drew Lock and Phillip Lindsay's returns were good sure, but salty defense and Brandon McManus will win you a lot of games too. Inspiring effort against the Patriots but next week poses a much, much bigger challenge for a young team.

 

18. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 11

 

Well, that was ugly. Much will be made about Baker Mayfield's struggles and the inability to run the ball but that's going to happen against good teams — especially in the AFC North. The bottom line is the team has to be better and can't get so far behind the chains early on. Maybe more concerning was just how lost the defense looked, especially on the back end.

 

19. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 21

 

Going to be interesting to see if Justin Herbert can keep up his stellar play after the bye. The Jaguars offer a great opportunity to do just that but the rookie still has to get it done next week before a tough pair of divisional games after that.

 

20. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 19

 

The positive momentum continues in South Florida even if beating up on the lowly Jets doesn't mean much overall. But hey, Tua Time for real!

 

21. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 16

 

Panthers came back to earth a bit against Chicago but the defense continues to outperform expectations. That was one area that looked circumspect coming into the season but Matt Rhule has quickly gotten his unit to play above its weight.

 

22. Detroit Lions

Last week: 26

 

That may not have been the best performance of the Matt Patricia era but it sure was close in thumping the Jags. The pass rush was encouraging but you want to pause any optimism before seeing if it will carry over into the coming weeks.

 

23. Houston Texans

Last week: 20

 

Credit to the Texans for coming back against the Titans but you could tell by Deshaun Watson's reaction at the OT coin toss that he knew the defense wasn't stopping Derrick Henry in the extra frame.

 

24. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 23

 

Credit to the Cowboys defense, they welcomed DFW-native Kyler Murray home in style (and made Kenyan Drake look really good too). Amazingly though, that loss didn't damper their NFC East chances at all. How 'bout them Cowboys indeed.

 

25. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 27

 

So maybe Dan Quinn was an issue, huh? Too early to say definitively on that but an impressive outing on the road to thump the Vikings and deliver a cathartic beatdown.

 

26. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 22

 

That's a rough blown lead for a young team that is still trying its best to gain some momentum. The fact that they've been in pretty much every game late is good but getting over that hump remains a challenge for the coaching staff.

 

27. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 18

 

Well, it was pretty clear that the inspired effort in Seattle was nothing more than a flash in the pan. Kirk Cousins was awful but then again, who wasn't in that dreadful performance against the Falcons.

 

28. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 24

 

If you could just bottle up that energy the team plays with when they're way behind, you can talk yourself into winning the division with an above .500 record. Sadly all four quarters count and Philly keeps putting themselves behind too much and don't have the juice to finish those comebacks.

 

29. New York Giants

Last week: 30

 

Good news: Joe Judge got his first win! Bad news: now all the media talk in the Big Apple will be about handing the No. 1 pick to the rival Jets.

 

30. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 29

 

There was a segment early in the season about the Jaguars' potential for making the playoffs before their Thursday night game against the Dolphins. That feels ages ago as the franchise has underscored they're still a bad football team in 2020. Bring on the race for Trevor Lawrence, et. al.

 

31. Washington Football Team

Last week: 31

 

Kudos to the WFT coaching staff going for two at the end, sparing us overtime and helping their chances at the No. 1 overall pick.

 

32. New York Jets

Last week: 32

 

For the record: Trevor Lawrence had one of the best games of his career on Saturday and you just know ratings for Clemson games will be through the roof in the NYC market the rest of the fall. Now just ignore the -110 point differential and feuding head coach/coordinators.



 

Week 6 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 2

 

Not a bad off week for the Packers, who will rest up for a long run the next few months knowing the NFC is theirs for the taking the way they have been playing.

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 1

 

Well, a loss had to happen at some point and a divisional game when the team just didn't have it in them seemed like the perfect spot. While there are some issues to correct, it's not time for panic by any stretch even if the margin for error in earning the No. 1 seed just got a little bit smaller at the moment.

 

3. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 4

 

Never doubt Russell Wilson, even if you can doubt that Seattle defense on just about every drive.

 

4. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 3

 

An angry Ravens defense against a rookie QB was always going to be a lopsided matchup but kudos to the team for not letting up one bit against a divisional rival. They can't look ahead past next week and another lowly team in the Eagle, however.

 

5. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 5

 

We'll see if the long layoff will have any impact on the Bills, who seemingly had a lot of momentum going into a Tuesday night matchup.

 

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 6

 

The Steelers let up at the end to allow their in-state rivals back into the game but thankfully that Big Ben-Chase Claypool connection kept coming up in the clutch. As the rookie later tweeted, 7-11 (their two numbers) is always open.

 

7. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 8

 

If the Rams had gotten that final stop against the Bills, would we elevate them into the conversation as the best team in the NFC? They might be the most complete even if they've taken advantage of some below-par competition.

 

8. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 9

 

Saints fans frustrated with the Taysom Hill package can at least ignore how the team's defense played for about three quarters against the Chargers. That was one of those better lucky than good performances on Monday night to advance the cause.

 

9. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 10

 

A win on Tuesday night could give the Titans an inside track to a No. 1 seed given events in Kansas City and the fact that they play in a lackluster AFC South.

 

10. Las Vegas Raiders

Last week: 14

 

Was this a breakthrough win for Jon Gruden and company? They certainly played one of their most complete games to notch the victory over the reigning champions and suddenly have some real aspirations in the AFC West. Have to keep the momentum going however or it won't mean much.

 

11. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 13

 

Be prepared for a lot of "the last time the Browns were 4-1" photos. With good reason as Kevin Stefanski has his crew playing well and buying into the system.

 

12. Chicago Bears

Last week: 15

 

This might be the flimsiest 4-1 team in the NFL right now but you won't hear the Bears fans complaining after notching a come-from-behind victory against Tom Brady — helping berth a timeless meme from the Buccaneers quarterback in the process too.

 

13. New England Patriots

Last week: 12

 

Who knows when we'll see the Patriots on the field next but it's pretty clear that they're starting to take control of the situation based on reports out of Foxborough.

 

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 7

 

Throw every excuse you want at the team (short week, injuries, etc.) but that was close to an inexcusable loss for a franchise that is aiming to make it to the Super Bowl in their own stadium. Tom Brady not knowing what down it was on the final drive was just the chef's kiss.

 

15. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 11

 

Phillip Rivers giveth, and he taketh. The Colts are getting the full experience from the quarterback, spoiling a short-handed defense's effort against the Browns.

 

16. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 16

 

The Panthers still might have one of the worst rosters in the league, which underscores the work Matt Rhule and Co. have done in getting a third victory before we've even hit mid-October. Perhaps so good, in fact, that OC Joe Brady could be one-and-done in Carolina if things keep going this well the rest of the way.

 

17. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 17

 

That was a "get right" game for the Cardinals against the Jets. The offense still seems a tad slow to ramp up but when Kyler Murray is going downfield to Deandre Hopkins, the team can be a fun one to watch.

 

18. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 21

 

Kirk Cousins has seemingly been playing the same kind of game against Russell Wilson dating back to college. He played well enough to win Sunday night but it felt like the team changed completely once Dalvin Cook went out with an injury against Seattle.

 

19. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 25

 

Brian Flores not only had an answer to Kyle Shanahan at every turn but Ryan Fitzpatrick turned the magic up a few notches just as the Tua Talk became extra loud. That long plane ride home from the West Coast was a lot sweeter after a win like that.

 

20. Houston Texans

Last week: 22

 

While it may have been the Jaguars on the other side making things easy, it sure seemed like the team played much looser in nabbing their first dub of the season. Wonder if that had anything to do with Romeo Crennel being in charge as he became the oldest head coach in league history to notch a win.

 

21. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 18

 

The Chargers truly have found themselves a quarterback in rookie Justin Herbert, who has been the equal or better of Tom Brady and Drew Brees in consecutive weeks. Of course, that's the lone bright spot for a team that still seems cursed when it comes to closing out games.

 

22. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 24

 

While one game won't undo some early progress, the regression to the mean for this team (and Joe Burrow) was bound to happen at some point. Against a good Ravens squad, it did. Now we'll have to see if they can respond.

 

23. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 19

 

It was just heart-wrenching to see that injury to Dak Prescott. 2020, still the worst.

 

24. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 20

 

It's incredible to think that even after all that has transpired to start the year, this team might now be the favorite in the NFC East. Not a ringing endorsement for the Eagles as much as it is the dreadful state of the division.

 

25. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 23

 

Yes there are injuries and the roster is bare but there are few excuses left to play like that at home against a team like the Dolphins. That Super Bowl run feels like a decade ago.

 

26. Detroit Lions

Last week: 26

 

Matt Patricia was off this week but he can't feel all that great watching the news ticker seeing another head coach get a pink slip.

 

27. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 27

 

The Dan Quinn era is over to nobody's surprise. He and general manager Thomas Dimitroff are unlikely to be the last to go in Atlanta either after a dreadful 0-5 start that has been made worse with each passing week.

 

28. Denver Broncos

Last week: 29

 

It's going to be interesting to see what the Broncos have done with the extra time off and if the move will be to go to Blake Bortles at QB going forward. Not exactly what fans want to hear.

 

29. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 28

 

Losing three straight games to previously winless teams is a work of art by the Jaguars, even if they've at least been entertaining while doing so. That win against the Colts feels like it happened a decade ago at this point.

 

30. New York Giants

Last week: 31

 

While it's clear the Giants are improving in terms of their overall level of play, their inability to actually get over the hump for an actual win is reflective of just how far the franchise has to go.

 

31. Washington Redskins

Last week: 30

 

An incredible moment from the franchise and the league overall when Alex Smith trotted out onto the field for his first action since the injury. Sadly that was the lone high point for the team against the Rams as things have gotten away from the coaching staff quickly.

 

32. New York Jets

Last week: 32

 

You know things are bad when the only thing generating headlines in the New York media is about the team off the field now instead of on it.



 

Week 5 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 1

 

The Chiefs are 2-for-2 in looking fairly ho-hum (by their standards) against backup quarterbacks but it was nevertheless another win against a top AFC contender for that No. 1 seed. Yes, it would have been a lot more fascinating to see the defense against Cam Newton than Brian Hoyer or Jarrett Stidham but you can only play who's in front of you.

 

2. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 2

 

Don't know what one can learn from destroying the Falcons at this point other than Aaron Rodgers is also in that crowded field of MVP candidates and playing as well as he has in years.

 

3. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 3

 

The short trip down to Washington was a productive one as the Ravens took care of business early against an overmatched opponent and didn't look back.

 

4. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 4

 

Given the long trip, not surprising the team wasn't hitting on all cylinders but can't complain too much about another efficient Russell Wilson performance. The last time the team was 4-0 they made it to the Super Bowl so Seahawks fans are hoping for similar vibes this season.

 

5. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 5

 

Josh Allen added to his MVP case on the road Sunday, scoring three times while not tossing an interception. The 4-0 Bills are in rare territory and might have a chance to really seize control of the division race over the next few weeks.

 

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 6

 

The Steelers didn't play because of the Titans' COVID-19 issues, so now Pittsburgh prepares for a stretch of 13 straight games, starting at home on Sunday against an Eagles team that finally has some momentum to build on.

 

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 8

 

It was an uneven start for Tom Brady against the Chargers but when he flipped the switch, he certainly flipped it big time with five touchdowns and 369 passing yards. You can tell the offense is starting to find its groove and even managed to pick up their defense at times for the first time this season.

 

8. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 11

 

Overs have been killing it this year in the NFL but the Rams went the other way in a big swing against the lowly Giants. While Sean McVay will dislike such a performance but at least the team fought until the end — and we're not just talking about Jalen Ramsey.

 

9. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 12

 

The Saints gave the league quite the scare on Saturday but showed no issues the final three quarters against the lowly Lions. Drew Brees looked pretty crisp (including, shockingly, downfield passes) while Alvin Kamara was his usual self too. There's a very winnable stretch of games coming up but the team can't slack off now.

 

10. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 9

 

We'll file this week's update under IR/COVID-19 for the Titans.

 

11. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 13

 

Less than three yards per carry (2.7 to be exact) usually doesn't get the job done in the NFL but the Colts' defense came through to help save the day a few times against Chicago. This team still hasn't had a full, four-quarter performance against somebody with a pulse (sorry Jets) but they'll be tested against the Browns on Sunday.

 

12. New England Patriots

Last week: 7

 

A little tough to judge the team given all they went through but Bill Belichick's faith in Brian Hoyer and all those rumors about Jarrett Stidham being the guy in the spring and summer simply don't make sense after that Monday night game against the champs.

 

13. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 17

 

It's taken four games for Kevin Stefanski to match Hue Jackson's win total as head coach of the Browns. That says a lot about the franchise but is also a credit to how the new head coach has leaned into what the team does well offensively while mixing in a dash of creativity. It wasn't easy at the end but progress is progress.

 

14. Las Vegas Raiders

Last week: 15

 

While you can see signs of progress from the offense, the defense isn't on the same schedule in Las Vegas as the unit could not come up with enough stops. Derek Carr said he's tired of losing afterward but he is going to need some more help to change that sentiment.

 

15. Chicago Bears

Last week: 10

 

The run game was bad enough against the Colts but it felt like Matt Nagy just wanted to trigger the fans watching at home by running Cordarrelle Patterson in a key situation down the stretch. Simply not good enough for a team that now has to turnaround and improve on a short week.

 

16. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 20

 

It's still too early to say that the team's issues are fixed but progress is being made in a slow and steady way that will make Matt Rhule happy. That's two wins in a row but it was even nicer to see Teddy Bridgewater scrambling to find the end zone on the ground.

 

17. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 16

 

The offense still seems stuck in neutral for the second straight week but it was the defense that was appallingly bad on the road against a team that did not have the personnel to put up that amount of points or keep converting third downs like they did.

 

18. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 22

 

For about three and a half quarters, Justin Herbert was every bit the equal of Tom Brady and continued to unleash some absolute dimes down the field. A late turnover did hamper the performance some but there should be no going back at QB the rest of the way now no matter what Anthony Lynn says.

 

19. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 14

 

If you could just bottle that fourth-quarter energy up and unleash it over a full game, this team might just be the best in the league. But there are three other quarters to play and Mike McCarthy hasn't figured out anything to solve those issues. The defense being bad is an understatement and the only saving grace remains the division they are in.

 

20. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 29

 

Your first-place Philadelphia Eagles sounds much better than your one- win Philadelphia Eagles. The offense still needs a lot more work if they want to keep that position in the standings given what the next two weeks look like but some positive momentum is certainly welcomed after the city was on riot alert if they dropped another.

 

21. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 23

 

Let's all hope any subsequent wins don't include Adam Thielen trying to hit the Griddy anymore and leave that to Justin Jefferson. No rest for the weary though with the Seahawks coming up.

 

22. Houston Texans

Last week: 18

 

To add to the insult of the 0-4 start, it's not like the Texans can even tank since they don't own their early draft picks. Guess that's why GM Bill O'Brien was shown the door as much as Bill O'Brien the head coach was in the season's first firing.

 

23. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 19

 

At some point, the injuries were going to catch up to the 49ers and playing backup QBs is going to bite you. It happened Sunday night but it's not yet time to sell all of your stock in the team just yet.

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 27

 

First of many wins for Joe B. and company. The team smartly utilized Joe Mixon all over the field and seem to have their quality young core in sync already. The competition will keep getting better but this isn't a team you immediately change the channel when they pop up — something that wasn't true of them last year.

 

25. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 24

 

Inspired performance against an NFC favorite but even with Ryan Fitzpatrick's solid effort again, the pressure from the outside to see what they have in Tua is just going to keep increasing with each loss. That's especially true given how well fellow top-10 picks Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert have played so far.

 

26. Detroit Lions

Last week: 21

 

Per Elias Sports, that loss to the Saints was the sixth straight the team had lost despite taking a lead of 10 or more points. Just when you think it can't get any lower in Detroit, the Lions come back and surprise you.

 

27. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 26

 

Matt Ryan's contract is pretty immovable at this point but given the trajectory of the team, how quickly could the Falcons pivot to tanking for (Georgia native) Trevor? One thing is pretty clear: there will be a head coach pivot soon enough.

 

28. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 25

 

In the words of the great Denny Green, perhaps the Jags are who we thought they were? The Gardner Minshew Show keeps the team in games but it does nothing if they keep giving up drives the other way all game long.

 

29. Denver Broncos

Last week: 30

 

Brett Rypien alternated from greatest ever to near goat against the Jets but came through in the end to notch the team's first win of the year. Not a lot to be proud of in the end but this team has to get the wins if they can against fellow bad teams.

 

30. Washington Football Team

Last week: 28

 

Think Chase Young would have helped against Lamar Jackson and company? While his absence was missed, so too was some offensive production aside from Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin.

 

31. New York Giants

Last week: 31

 

Odell Beckham Jr. had three touchdowns on Sunday, the same number of trips to the end zone the Giants have this season. Not much more needs to be said even if the defense stepped up against the Rams in a surprising way.

 

32. New York Jets

Last week: 32

 

It's never a good sign when the biggest source of your offense is Sam Darnold running the football and Joe Flacco has to enter the game. Also never a good sign when your head coach's job status is getting far more play from the booth than the action on the field. Such is life for the J-E-T-S.



 

Week 4 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 2

 

Is Patrick Mahomes actually underpaid? It's a thought that crossed more than a few minds after that effort in Baltimore — which is, uh, saying quite a bit at how good the Super Bowl MVP is right now.

 

2. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 4

 

It was probably safe to think there would be some regression from this team when looking at things in the preseason but that hasn't been the case. A properly motivated Aaron Rodgers continues to age like fine wine and the defense looks like there's still a lot of room to grow if healthy. Given how open the NFC looks, they just might be the favorites for a return to the conference title game right now.

 

3. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 1

 

When the Ravens got down early, it was actually interesting to see if Lamar Jackson was going to be in a position to lead a comeback like his counterpart had so often in recent years. Things did get interesting late but the bottom line is that when the team gets behind by any significant amount, they get taken out of the system that leads to so much of their success. It's not worth causing panic in Baltimore yet but does make the road to a No. 1 seed that much harder.

 

4. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 3

 

The defense remains an issue, especially giving up big plays, but Russell Wilson is just so good that it might not matter one bit. The MVP favorite threw for five TDs the second straight week and has thrown for more scores than anybody in NFL history at this point on the calendar.

 

5. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 9

 

Circle those wagons, these Bills are actually legit. Yes, the blown lead/near-collapse was concerning but the Josh Allen Experience is never easy nor pretty. In the end though, the results are what matter.

 

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 10

 

Despite the undefeated start, this team really hasn't yet put together a full four-quarter effort on both sides of the ball. That's the scary thing about the Steelers given they might have the best overall defense in the league and a passing attack that seems to keep clicking as the game gets going.

 

7. New England Patriots

Last week: 5

 

Bill Belichick remains the king of getting his team focused after a tough loss and it almost was easy money thinking they'd run away with a win against the Raiders. Still a few issues to clean up, which we're sure the head coach will be harping on moving forward.

 

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 8

 

Bit of a ho-hum effort against a banged-up Denver squad but taking care of business on the road is not to be overlooked in the NFL nowadays. The defense continues to be the best group on the field but you're starting to see yet more signs out of Brady and Co. as his weapons start to lock in with their Hall of Fame QB.

 

9. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 11

 

The Titans are 3-0 by the thinnest of margins but they'll take it, especially given what their chief division rivals have done to start the year. Still, the issues with giving up the big play are going to drive Mike Vrabel nuts for another week.

 

10. Chicago Bears

Last week: 15

 

The Bears are 3-0 thanks to two incredible fourth-quarter comebacks behind two different quarterbacks. What a wild ride it's been but now comes the really interesting part with this team having Nick Foles under center going forward.

 

11. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 6

 

Now the Rams really know what it's like to have a controversial pass interference call go against them in a crushing loss. As Sean McVay will tell his team this week though, don't get in a position to where you need to make incredible comebacks or rely on penalties to win the game.

 

12. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 7

 

The talk is going to continue to be about Drew Brees not throwing downfield but any judgment about him being done should be reserved until after Michael Thomas returns healthy. Just as pressing is the defense not at all living up to the hype they had entering this season.

 

13. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 17

 

Congrats to Philip Rivers on throwing his 400th career touchdown pass. The Colts didn't really need him to play at a high level given the opposition but the milestone sure was nice to celebrate on a day where many of the team's backups saw plenty of action.

 

14. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 13

 

This team really is bailed out by the fact that they play in the lowly NFC East. While Dak Prescott isn't really the issue, not feeding Ezekiel Elliott enough so that the defense doesn't have to be on the field is something Mike McCarthy needs to figure out quickly.

 

15. Las Vegas Raiders

Last week: 14

 

The Raiders had a real chance to make a statement in Foxborough but gotten taken out of their regular game plan by Bill Belichick and never could adjust. The Raiders now get their shot against the Bills and need to find a way to maintain the early momentum or else they could be in store for a rough stretch the rest of October.

 

16. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 12

 

Kyler Murray simply wasn't good enough against the Lions. That's all it came down to as you can't gift even bad teams in the NFL and still expect to win. It was good that the team rallied to make things interesting late but that was too much to overcome having their defense on the field that long.

 

17. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 18

 

Hard to fathom what's crazier, that the Browns haven't been above .500 since 2014 or that Kevin Stefanski is off to the best start with the franchise since Butch Davis. The competition hasn't been great but any sort of win is taken without question in Cleveland.

 

18. Houston Texans

Last week: 16

 

Yes, it's about the toughest start you can get in the NFL but 0-3 is 0-3 for a team searching for some answers. There were some positives to look at in the first half but changes need to come quickly or their margin for error will be close to zero when it comes to any postseason hopes.

 

19. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 21

 

Kyle Shanahan remains a master at figuring out a game plan for a bunch of spare parts in order to get a win. Luckily for the team, they are done with MetLife and that truly awful turf.

 

20. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 28

 

Heck of a game plan from Matt Rhule to get win No. 1, even if nothing about it was pretty. Fans back in Carolina may not have enjoyed it given draft implications but a big first building block under the new staff.

 

21. Detroit Lions

Last week: 31

 

Matthew Stafford outplayed his hot-shot, young counterpart and the defense came through to get several short fields. There's still a lot of work left to be done but a step in the right direction for a franchise that took a few on the chin the first few weeks.

 

22. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 19

 

The narrative around this team might be a lot different if that hook-and-lateral had worked at the end of the game. Still, the Chargers played down to their competition and those offensive line struggles against a team normally not sporting much of a pass rush held back rookie Justin Herbert from having another solid effort under center.

 

23. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 20

 

There are a lot of disappointing teams in the league but it might be hard to top the Vikings given how bad they've looked for stretches in every single game. The defense remains a huge liability and might be the more pressing issue for Mike Zimmer to fix if he's holding any hope for a wild-card berth.

 

24. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 29

 

It's like Ryan Fitzpatrick kept hearing all that Tua talk and decided to channel a bit of that magic form to deliver a win out of nowhere.

 

25. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 22

 

Minshew Mania came back down to earth on Thursday night and it came in a similar spot to where did a few times last year. Consistency is always going to be key for this team as the Jags try to keep proving people wrong.

 

26. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 23

 

What can you say at this point? Given all that has transpired already this season, there really is no reason to keep stringing Dan Quinn along.

 

27. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 24

 

Joe Burrow continues to impress even if the wins have not followed just yet. The offseason priorities along the offensive line are clear but the coaching staff also has to get Joe Mixon involved more down the stretch to take the heat off their rookie QB.

 

28. Washington Football Team

Last week: 27

 

The growing pains we saw from Dwayne Haskins aside, it was fellow Buckeye Chase Young who showed how critical he was to his team in a return to Ohio on Sunday. This team isn't quite ready to compete for a full 60 minutes anytime soon it appears.

 

29. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 25

 

It's now time to call a spade a spade and a bad team a bad team. Philly's only saving grace from this dreadful start to the year is that fans aren't in the stands to boo them in person and instead have to turn to talk radio in the city.

 

30. Denver Broncos

Last week: 26

 

Losing to the Bucs was expected given the injury list, which will put extra pressure to get a "W" on "Thursday Night Football" or else it could be an even rougher start to the year for the Broncos.

 

31. New York Giants

Last week: 30

 

It's one thing to lose at home to the reigning NFC champs. It's another thing to lose to the 49ers' JV team. The state of the franchise feels about as low as it's ever been lately and no amount of front office changes will alter that in the short term.

 

32. New York Jets

Last week: 32

 

It seems certain that it is only a matter of when, not if, Adam Gase gets the pink slip so the rest of the season regarding the Jets will have to center on if Sam Darnold is going to still be the QB of the future. Based on returns so far in 2020, that won't be the case either.


 

Week 3 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 2

 

Is this the most fun team to watch in the NFL right now? No offense to the Chiefs or Kyler Murray's theatrics, but between that offense, the defensive takeaways and their special teams, the Ravens are rolling and next up is a visit from the defending Super Bowl champs.

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 1

 

Getting taken to OT by a rookie isn't what the Chiefs were probably thinking about when they walked into SoFi Stadium for the first time. They at least pulled out a win as it seems like they love to dial up the level of difficulty in order to mount another comeback.

 

3. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 4

 

Was that not the perfect Pete Carroll game? From finally letting (MVP favorite) Russell Wilson cook early, to a questionable short-yardage play call, to a terrific goal-line stand to win it and get an iota of revenge against Bill Belichick.

 

4. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 5

 

Back-to-back games of 40-plus points and the Pack is doing so on the ground as much as they are through the air. While many expected a bit of a regression from Green Bay given their luck last year, that hasn't shown up yet as they look like the easy division favorite.

 

5. New England Patriots

Last week: 7

 

While they lost literally in the final yard at the final second, that kind of performance might actually give credence to the team having a much higher ceiling with Cam Newton under center. The key flaw that Belichick will harp on when back in New England however is that secondary performance, with the team giving up as many TD passes to wideouts as they did all of last season.

 

6. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 10

 

The final score really doesn't indicate how in control the Rams were in their trip to the other coast. If they can stay healthy, there's little question they have the talent to make even more noise in the crowded NFC playoff picture.

 

7. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 3

 

Is it too early to panic in New Orleans? Certainly the offensive woes are the one item on everybody's mind and especially the hesitancy out of Drew Brees after he threw his first pick against the Raiders. One can't truly judge the upside with this group until Michael Thomas returns healthy but not quite the start the team wanted after Monday night.

 

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 8

 

Tom Brady and company got a few of their issues cleaned up and it paid off with a convincing win. The defense stepped up against a bad team but the offensive explosion will be all that anybody is going to discuss the next seven days.

 

9. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 9

 

That just might have been Josh Allen's best ever game, even with all the weather-related interruptions. If you're on the coaching staff though, the fact that you got that kind of effort from the QB and still had the Dolphins sticking around all game is a bit of a red flag however.

 

10. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 6

 

Are they 2-0? Yes. Have they beaten up two bad teams? Yes. Do they have the pieces to still be a threat to knock off the AFC's top dogs? Yes. Still, they seemed to lose focus in the second half at times and that's something Mike Tomlin will no doubt address a number of times during practice this coming week.

 

11. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 11

 

This team just does not understand closing out wins and seem to prefer that flair for the dramatic. It may not make Mike Vrabel happy but at least the entertainment factor with the Titans is way ahead of where it was late last year.

 

12. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 14

 

The Kyler Murray MVP talk isn't going away at all, is it? Nor should it after these kinds of performances. The competition is about to start taking steps up but some pretty good signs of progress in Arizona as the team continues to look better by the week.

 

13. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 15

 

Never a doubt about that comeback, right Cowboys fans? Truly a great loss for the NFL in general to not have Jerry Jones conducting his normal postgame media scrum because it's badly needed in light of this start to the year from Dallas.

 

 

14. Las Vegas Raiders

Last week: 17

 

Viva Las Vegas indeed! After that shaky start on the road, the team opened their Death Star (or is it a Roomba?) of a stadium in fashion by upsetting a trendy Super Bowl pick. Derek Carr was pinpoint most of the night but the most encouraging thing might have been the run game continuing to look good despite missing a few key names up front. Given issues elsewhere in the division, might a window be opening for Gruden's guys?

 

15. Chicago Bears

Last week: 18

 

The team still needs to learn how to put teams away but a win is a win two weeks in a row. Neither of them were pretty but who thought we'd see a 2-0 squad and Mitchell Trubisky looking like he's stepping up his play for that contract extension?

 

16. Houston Texans

Last week: 13

 

Toughest draw in the first two weeks of the year anybody has probably faced in decades but predictable results for the Texans nevertheless. The puzzling decisions from Bill O'Brien seemingly every quarter make this a tough group to watch at times.

 

17. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 19

 

While we wouldn't say the run game issues are fixed but that was certainly a lot better on the ground at home. The end result? Not too much on their aging QB's plate and a much-needed victory.

 

18. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 20

 

Run the ball. Play action. A simple formula that was executed well on Thursday night. Now comes the hard part: repeating it consistently against better teams. Still, some good momentum by the lake after getting run off the field in Week 1.

 

19. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 23

 

The Justin Herbert era began unexpectedly but went pretty well initially. The Chargers just failed to put away the reigning champs when they had a chance and thanks to a gassed defense allowing a big play or two down the stretch, they'll start off 1-1 instead of an excitement-inducing 2-0 in 2020.

 

20. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 16

 

Kirk Cousins posted a 15.9 quarterback rating against the Colts, which was an improvement from 0.0 he had most of the afternoon. In non-garbage time situations this year, the offense has been, well, garbage.

 

21. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 12

 

You really can't call it a Super Bowl hangover if every starter is on the IR. And to make matters worse, the team has to return to the Big Apple to play at MetLife again even after that all those issues against the Jets.

 

22. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 27

 

Gardner Minshew II is the QB many people thought Baker Mayfield was when he was drafted No. 1 overall. One thing is clear: there's so much fight in this group and they'll be a tough out every week no matter the talent disadvantage they're at.

 

23. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 21

 

Lol.

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 30

 

The first of many backdoors for Joe Burrow and this team in 2020 on Thursday night and it was great for a national audience to get a glimpse at how much more fun this group is with their feisty rookie QB. The wins aren't there but the team looks light years ahead of schedule.

 

25. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 22

 

Pretty easy to fathom what the fans would be screaming at this team if they'd have been allowed into the Linc. Actually, don't think about that.

 

26. Denver Broncos

Last week: 24

 

Double whammy: the team drops a second game they could have won and see their young QB head to the sidelines with a shoulder injury. All the promise the Broncos had to begin 2020 seems to also have been put on the IR.

 

27. Washington Football Team

Last week: 25

 

Did the defense watch any film of Kyler Murray running around? Like, at all? Didn't seem like it at times as that once terrific front seven was sliced up on the road in another case of one step forward, two steps back in D.C.

 

28. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 26

 

Rough start to the Matt Rhule era and if there's one thing the head coach wants as part of this rebuild, it's to limit turnovers. That wasn't the case in Tampa and the lopsided result was therefore pretty expected.

 

29. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 28

 

Some nice fight out of the team in the second half and FitzMagic looked a lot better than he did last week. Still, concerns up front along the line and on defense — especially those highly priced additions — popped up yet again.

 

30. New York Giants

Last week: 29

 

On the bright side, at least the team had a shot to win it in the end. On the other end of the spectrum, there's Saquon Barkley's injury and, well, everything else for the Giants.

 

31. Detroit Lions

Last week: 31

 

We're in such a strange set of affairs in the world right now so perhaps the head coach firings won't come until as late as possible. But this miserable team looks like it is barreling towards a full house cleaning from top to bottom by the time the offseason rolls around.

 

32. New York Jets

Last week: 32

 

Alabama offensive analyst Adam Gase is definitely going on a business card in the near future.



 

Week 2 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 1

 

It's not just that the Chiefs picked up right where they left off last year — it's that they looked scarier. The addition of Clyde Edwards-Helaire appears to be as impactful as expected and the defense continued to show they're not the Achilles heel it was this time a year ago. There will be tougher tests ahead but the reigning champs are showing no signs of slowing down.

 

2. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 3

 

There were a few points on Sunday where it looked like the Ravens were just toying with their AFC North rivals, really not needing to do much to run away with a win. Rookie J.K. Dobbins appears to be another dangerous weapon in the backfield and MVP Lamar Jackson seems even more comfortable in the pocket throwing the ball.

 

3. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 2

 

The final score was not indicative of the fact that there were some season-opening struggles for the Saints on offense. Some of that is due to facing off against a good defense from a division rival but Sean Payton will be looking to fix some issues on third down and in the red zone. This is still the most complete team in the NFC right now but that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement.

 

4. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 5

 

Russell Wilson playing nearly flawlessly and the run game looking efficient is a recipe for lots of success, especially after a certain division rival fell later in the day. Pete Carroll's D also seemed to showcase their shiny new addition Jamal Adams frequently in clamping down on an opponent throwing a ton of first-round picks onto the field.

 

5. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 13

 

Well, the Aaron Rodgers middle finger campaign to the front office for drafting his successor got off to a hot start. Perhaps that 13-3 mark was less of a fluke than most thought it was for Matt LaFleur's crew.

 

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 7

 

Welcome back Big Ben. A little concerning to see him come up limping after the first five snaps but turns out that may have been for show after a pretty solid return to action. Still plenty of things Mike Tomlin will want to nitpick when they get back to Pittsburgh but still a fairly easy win after not having many of those recently.

 

7. New England Patriots

Last week: 15

 

Bill 1, Tom 0. Turns out giving the best head coach in NFL history a former MVP for peanuts might be an issue for the rest of the league.

 

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 8

 

Not the kind of start many envisioned for the Tompa Bay era but it wasn't awful either. The offensive line issues identified as a weakness showed up right away in terms of allowing pressure on the QB and not clearing the way in the run game. The defense played better than the stats indicated but the offensive brain trust seemed rusty in New Orleans.

 

9. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 10

 

Pretty ho-hum win over the Jets that featured the full Josh Allen experience. The team took their foot off the gas a bit after halftime, which is something Sean McDermott will certainly hope to correct going into that trip to Miami.

 

10. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 16

 

As long as this team can stay healthy, we know they have the top-end talent to make a playoff run. The creativity and execution were a tad lacking on Sunday night but a win is a win in that brand-new palace of theirs.

 

11. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 9

 

That will forever be known as the Stephen Gostkowski game and it will never be spoken of again around Nashville.

 

12. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 12

 

A Super Bowl hangover was expected but maybe not this quickly. Jimmy G. and company did not seem sharp at all and now the already-tight division race sees them behind the eight-ball right away. Kyle Shanahan is smart enough to get things back on track but the mounting injury list will pose a problem.

 

13. Houston Texans

Last week: 14

 

The combination of losing in the NFL opener like that and DeAndre Hopkins posting huge numbers in an upset win on Sunday sure made it a miserable Week 1 for Bill O'Brien. No rest either with the league MVP on deck.

 

14. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 22

 

The Kyler Murray Show remains the single biggest attraction in the NFL during the late windows the team often plays in and that DeAndre Hopkins addition continues to look like a highway robbery of the highest order after just one week. This was a trendy worst-to-first group prior to kickoff and the Cards made a loud statement confirming such status.

 

15. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 4

 

Cowboys fans had to be wondering if Jason Garrett had somehow used a mask to hide the fact that he was calling the shots on the sidelines for that game against the Rams. The complaints over the controversial OPI call are warranted but the bigger issue was bypassing the game-tying field goal earlier as Mike McCarthy's tenure gets off to a bad start.

 

16. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 6

 

Many in the Twin Cities will concentrate on the defensive issues after getting run off the field by the Packers (and there were many) but the absence of Kirk Cousins' crew for three quarters could hamper this team more in the long run. Bottom line, there's a lot to tweak if the team wants to truly get back into the thick of the NFC race.

 

17. Las Vegas Raiders

Last week: 21

 

It's still a bit strange to see LAS in the box score instead of OAK but a good start in the team's first game repping Sin City. The offensive game plan worked to perfection with the heavy dose of Josh Jacobs but the other side of the ball still has things to fix as the talent level increases in the coming weeks.

 

18. Chicago Bears

Last week: 23

 

There were A LOT of social media posts deleted before the fourth quarter about QB Mitchell Trubisky. The jury remains out on this team overall this year but those kinds of comebacks can help lead to big things moving forward.

 

19. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 11

 

You can take Philip Rivers out of the Chargers but you cannot take Philip Rivers out of Philip Rivers. The gunslinger will get a lot of the attention due to the turnovers but the lack of a run game and Marlon Mack's injury is a way bigger concern for the team than anything that happened in Duval. It's hard to never punt and put up 445 yards but still lose to a team tanking.

 

20. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 18

 

New year. New coaching staff. Same old Browns. Yes, it was against one of the two best teams in the league but the lack of production from all those talented players reinforced why this is the greatest tease in the league every August.

 

21. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 19

 

Yes, they were playing a top NFC contender but those defensive issues from a year ago don't seem any closer to being corrected despite some talk out of Atlanta this offseason. On the other hand, playing in a bunch of shootouts every week at least makes things a lot more fun for the rest of 2020.

 

22. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 17

 

Carson Wentz gets the attention but that might be a conversation for another day after that woeful performance out of his banged-up offensive line. This team just hasn't been all on the same page since they hoisted the Lombardi.

 

23. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 24

 

You know 2020 is bizarre when the Chargers are on the right side of a kicking snafu that costs somebody a game. A disjointed effort overall but a win is a win (and it should count extra in those gorgeous uniforms).

 

24. Denver Broncos

Last week: 20

 

What an awful loss despite being gifted some miraculous field goal luck the other way. Some early struggles probably are to be expected given the late loss of Von Miller and the fact that the offense is just so young and inexperienced but that could have been a key moment against a playoff team yet will go down as a loss all the same.

 

25. Washington Football Team

Last week: 30

 

Riverboat Ron and Dwayne Haskins helped put a ton of headlines behind them after an offseason that seemingly lasted forever. That defensive line was as advertised too but we're going to need a lot more out of this group to truly get a read on if it' s a new era in D.C. on the field.

 

26. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 31

 

Matt Rhule's debut did not result in a win but, considering the state of the roster, it was actually a pretty encouraging performance. If the team can make progress as the year goes on, the NFC South will live up to the billing as the toughest division in the league.

 

27. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 32

 

This team, and especially Gardner Minshew, apparently didn't get the memo they were Tanking for Trevor (Lawrence). There are still some long-term concerns but an encouraging start in the lone game with some actual fan support in the house.

 

28. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 25

 

The calls for Tua have already begun after that stinker from the offense vs. the Patriots. They're likely to keep growing as we're reminded that the rebuild still needs some time to come together in South Florida.

 

29. New York Giants

Last week: 28

 

Veteran NFC East observes saw Jason Garrett's fingerprints all over that offensive performance. Sadly that's not a great thing for the Giants, who managed just 29 rushing yards — mostly by their quarterback.

 

30. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 29

 

Pretty good effort from Joe Burrow in his debut even if it was spoiled at the end by the kicking game. Still, they showed the Bengals were leaps and bounds better than they were at this point last season in several areas.

 

31. Detroit Lions

Last week: 27

 

There are losses in the NFL... and there are LOSSES. Not hard to figure out which the Lions regularly put up.

 

32. New York Jets

Last week: 26

 

Adam Gase wasn't the favorite to be the first head coach fired but after Week 1... he just might be. Sam Darnold stepped up to take some of the blame after the game but he does not deserve the lion's share.


 

 

Pre-Week 1 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Few fan bases were rewarded after they won the Lombardi Trophy quite like Kansas City's after a busy offseason brought good news at seemingly every turn. The group remains loaded once again and even with guys like running back Damien Williams opting out that could wind up helping fuel Andy Reid's creativity given more reps for dynamic rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Getting the No. 1 seed has never been more important and you could wind up seeing KC give their all every single week as a result in 2020.

 

2. New Orleans Saints

Alvin Kamara's situation is worth monitoring but few teams are as all-in for a Super Bowl run as the Saints are. Health is always going to play a factor of course but the roster is deep and talented, the messaging from the top on down is clear and there's going to be a bit of extra hunger after the way they've exited the postseason in recent years. The NFC is there for the taking and few are as complete an option as there is in New Orleans.

 

3. Baltimore Ravens

Releasing Earl Thomas may not hurt as much as his big name suggests, both as a result of much-improved defensive depth and the simple fact that the offense should be just as dangerous as ever. Even if they don't take the league by storm like they did a year ago, Lamar Jackson continues to improve his all-around game and offensive coordinator Greg Roman is going to be on a mission to prove a lot of folks they missed out on hiring him last offseason.

 

4. Dallas Cowboys

No way having the 'Boys this high will back fire, right? No team may have benefitted from a coaching change (even in the middle of a workout-limited pandemic) than Dallas did going from Jason Garrett to Mike McCarthy. One of the league's best offenses got better just from that and then it adds CeeDee Lamb to the mix to boot. The defense has worried some in the Metroplex but this unit actually seems pretty solid in the front seven and just needs to be average at best on the back end to put a big run together this year.

 

5. Seattle Seahawks

The Jamal Adams trade told us all we needed to about this team going all-in for 2020. The lack of Jadeveon Clowney is worth monitoring but Pete Carroll has typically figured things out with his front seven even if it takes a few games. Going all in might also be key in the team giving into past instincts and simply let Russell Wilson cook for four quarters instead of just when they're trailing in the second half.

 

6. Minnesota Vikings

The rebuilt secondary is the thing to keep an eye on early but it kind of feels like things have come together on the other side of the ball this season. As good as Stefon Diggs was at times, he might not be missed with Justin Jefferson in the fold. New offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak running the show suits Kirk Cousins and may finally get this team to where it wants to be.

 

7. Pittsburgh Steelers

Obviously a lot rides on the health of Ben Roethlisberger but even average play from their starting signal-caller can elevate a pretty talented roster within striking range of the Ravens in the AFC North. Mike Tomlin did one of his better coaching jobs down the stretch last season and will hope to carry over that momentum with other key guys back in the lineup.

 

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

All reports out of the franchise have been overwhelmingly positive about Tom Brady and that the playmakers around him are elevating their games as a result — even previously disappointing players like O.J. Howard. As much as the offense has hogged the spotlight though, the defense could be the real difference-maker for this group as they aim to take the next step amid the hoopla.

 

9. Tennessee Titans

There's a lot to be said in the days of COVID-19 about a team knowing its identity and understanding what they need to do no matter who is in the lineup. Mike Vrabel has established that in Nashville and now comes the hard part of no longer being a surprise and instead being viewed as a threat.

 

10. Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen. That's it. That's all you need to know about the Bills this season. If he continues to show progress, then winning the AFC East is there for the taking in ways it hasn't been for two decades. If he stays about where he's been, there's still enough talent and a good enough coaching staff to get to the playoffs. But if things start to slip, a roll down the standings could happen quickly in upstate New York.

 

11. Indianapolis Colts

This will be one of the better offensive lines Philip Rivers has ever played behind so it makes sense that he can cut down on turnovers and learns to do more with less inside of Frank Reich's offense. If the QB can resist those game-changing mistakes then this could be a surprisingly stout defensive team that loves to pair that with running the ball. While they might not be Super Bowl-caliber given some of their fellow AFC teams involved, winning the division isn't too much to ask.

 

12. San Francisco 49ers

This might be a surprising spot to find the reigning NFC champs but when you combine the awful injury luck they've had recently with the general Super Bowl hangover that losing teams have experienced, then it makes more sense. Mix in an even more difficult divisional road and we may see how thin that line is between good and great is in the NFL represented by the 49ers.

 

13. Green Bay Packers

There's got to be a certain amount of 'screw you' attitude that can lead Aaron Rodgers to one of his best years under center but as was mentioned quite a bit around the draft, there's not a whole lot of roster improvement that happened this offseason. It's doubtful they can be as lucky as they were in 2019 either so taking a half-step back despite more stellar play from their illustrious QB might be the play around Lambeau.

 

14. Houston Texans

The season may well come down to: can Deshaun Watson stay healthy? That has been the case for seemingly years in Houston but maybe never more so than with this group after the tumultuous offseason. There are still plenty of high-end starters that can help win the division but the competition isn't backing down anytime soon.

 

15. New England Patriots

The most intriguing team in the league? There are few that will garner the interest this group will given a different MVP under center, a ton of opt-outs and the general feeling around the Pats to begin every September. A lot is being placed on the shoulders of Bill Belichick to navigate, well, *everything* but if anybody can do it, it's him.

 

16. Los Angeles Rams

The narrative surrounding this group last year did not line up with their actual record, which has clouded their future somewhat this season. They still have the best defender in the league in Aaron Donald and tons of quality pieces for offensive savant Sean McVay to work with. Plus there's an increased energy around this group that might not have been present in the Super Bowl hangover of 2019. Will it be enough to reach the postseason?

 

17. Philadelphia Eagles

This team used to have one of the best rosters in the league but that may no longer be the case as depth is looking perilously thin. It's not just some of the camp injuries taking hold but the fact that there are a lot of new faces that may have to play key roles as the season rolls on. There are still quality front-line starters and Carson Wentz has a chance to return to MVP form but holding up over 17 weeks might be a little tougher this year.

 

18. Cleveland Browns

A new coaching staff is probably the greatest reason for optimism but more important may be the work the front office did in filling holes up front along the offensive line. The talent is certainly there on this roster but putting it all together and seeing a leap out of Baker Mayfield remains the tall task the Browns hope to move past.

 

19. Atlanta Falcons

There are first-round picks at nearly every position on offense but the real Achilles heel for the Falcons will once again be there defense. The late-season momentum was nice enough to save Dan Quinn's job but he's still on the hot seat and will have plenty of pressure to make a statement early in the campaign with this team.

 

20. Denver Broncos

Few teams underwent quite the transformation than the Broncos did on the offensive side. There's a lot of faith being placed in Drew Lock and with the additions in the backfield and receiving corps, that's not unwarranted. If Bradley Chubb returns healthy then Denver might move up quickly.

 

21. Las Vegas Raiders

Calling this team Las Vegas instead of Oakland is going to be strange and something everybody trips over until the calendar turns 2021. The offensive core is pretty good but the overriding issue is going to be the signal-caller. Any struggles from Derek Carr could be enough to turn the clamor up to play Marcus Mariota to a roar.

 

22. Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray as MVP? That's been the buzz this offseason based on what he flashed in his first year plus thinking about the growth he and Kliff Kingsbury can have after (needless to say limited) another offseason together. There's no question the talent level is better with guys like DeAndre Hopkins and Isaiah Simmons in the fold but the tough divisional race might hamper too much progress this year.

 

23. Chicago Bears

Will we see a return to an elite defense in 2020 or not? The talent is certainly there in the front seven. The larger question centers on the quarterback position — as it has seemingly since the dawn of time in the Windy City.

 

24. Los Angeles Chargers

"Hard Knocks" is contributing to some optimism around this team but they still have a rookie QB waiting in the wings to play and injury concerns across the roster. Add in such a competitive division and it might be tough to really show meaningful progress. At least they get to play in that grand palace of a stadium.

 

25. Miami Dolphins

Operation Tank for Tua was a success but how soon will we see the young QB take the field? It doesn't matter that much with some veterans ahead of him to handle the load so continued development of the young roster will determine this team's true ceiling as much as their floor.

 

26. New York Jets

It's a make-it or break-it campaign for QB Sam Darnold, who won't have a receiving corps that inspires confidence early in the year. His protection should be a bit better but we'll have to see how much of a difference that makes. Then there's that Jamal Adams trade to contend with and how the defense fills a rather large hole in the middle of the field.

 

27. Detroit Lions

This is becoming a trendy pick to go from worst-to-first in the NFC North largely due to the return of Matthew Stafford. While the signal-caller staying healthy undoubtedly makes the team stronger, there's still much left to be desired in terms of that defense.

 

28. New York Giants

Talk about a complete unknown for 2020, the Giants have question marks all over the board. That starts with their inexperienced first-time head coach Joe Judge all the way down to replacing a number of contributors in the starting 22. QB Daniel Jones has a lot riding on his shoulders moving forward.

 

29. Cincinnati Bengals

Zac Taylor has gotten off to a tough start to his tenure but things are at least looking up a bit with the arrival of rookie Joe Burrow. Having such a young quarterback doesn't usually work out in terms of wins but some growing pains are readily expected amid some cautious optimism. Maybe more of an issue is on defense, where a big free-agent signing will be out most of the year and the team has to break in a new defensive coordinator.

 

30. Washington Football Team

There's a pretty good set of pass rushers but plenty of uncertainty all over the rest of this roster. Dwayne Haskins will have a lot of attention on him but he does have a few weapons to work with at least. Add in everything that's been happening off the field combined with a new coaching staff trying to find their footing and it could be yet another long season in D.C. At least there will be another reason for all those empty seats at FedEx Field.

 

31. Carolina Panthers

Here's another team breaking in a number of new pieces, from head coach to offensive coordinator to quarterback. While they do have Christian McCaffrey to build around and Teddy Bridgewater has proven to be a solid starter, the roster itself is undergoing a pretty significant rebuild. This is a franchise looking much more at 2022 than winning this season.

 

32. Jacksonville Jaguars

One of their best players took a pay cut — in these times — to play elsewhere. There's a new offensive coordinator in charge and Leonard Fournette was unceremoniously cut. While Gardner Minshew has shown flashes, there's still much TBD if he's the guy long term. Add it all up and it could be a long season in Duval.

 

— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.

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