NFL Power Rankings: Week 15

Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys have surged to first place in the NFC East on the strength of a five-game winning streak

Hats off to the NFL, who just delivered a weekend full of games that remind us why it’s America’s most popular sport. A Boise State-inspired lateral or two? Had that. A tipped, walk-off touchdown to all but eliminate the defending champs? Saw that too. Slipping kickers and improbable missed field goals? Check and check.

 

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 and where every team stacks up from 1 to 32.

 

Week 15 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. New Orleans Saints

NFL Power Rankings: SaintsLast week: 1

 

Not the best of first-half performances from the Saints in Tampa but the switch was flipped in time and the reward of back-to-back division titles for the first time in franchise history was the reward.

 

2. Los Angeles Rams

NFL Power Rankings: RamsLast week: 2

 

Every team is bound to have a clunker and we’ll file that disaster at Soldier Field as just that. It’s not time to panic with weather not expected to be a factor the rest of the way but it’s pretty clear the Rams lost a golden opportunity to lock up home-field advantage throughout.

 

3. Kansas City Chiefs

NFL Power Rankings: ChiefsLast week: 3

 

The good news is the Chiefs probably won’t see a defense like Baltimore’s again the rest of the way. The even better news is that tough OT win will help them prepare for the Chargers on Thursday.

 

4. Los Angeles Chargers

NFL Power Rankings: ChargersLast week: 4

 

You probably can’t blame the team if they were looking ahead to their Thursday night showdown for the AFC West this coming week when they hosted the Bengals but that’s two weeks in a row where the Chargers got critical late field goals. Maybe this really is a different version of this franchise.

 

5. Seattle Seahawks

NFL Power Rankings: SeahawksLast week: 7

 

That might have been the most impressive defensive effort of the season by any team in the thumping of the Vikings. Pete Carroll really has done a masterful job with this team in 2018 and has the Seahawks becoming one of the most feared teams in the league to play once again.

 

6. Chicago Bears

NFL Power Rankings: BearsLast week: 12

 

What a performance by the new Monsters of the Midway. Mitchell Trubisky is still holding this team back from being a true Super Bowl contender but if the defense keeps playing like it did Sunday night, it might not matter. Perhaps once his shoulder gets fully healthy we’ll see the ceiling for this team rise.

 

7. New England Patriots

NFL Power Rankings: PatriotsLast week: 5

 

Death, taxes and the snowbirds of New England losing in Miami. While you expect crazy endings like that against some teams, you had to be flabbergasted it came against a Belichick-coached one.

 

8. Houston Texans

NFL Power Rankings: TexansLast week: 6

 

All good things must come to an end and the Texans’ winning streak was one of them after nine in a row. That game against the Colts also fueled the critics’ fire that this team isn’t quite ready to challenge the big boys in the AFC.

 

9. Dallas Cowboys

NFL Power Rankings: CowboysLast week: 8

 

Credit where credit is due (Jerry Jones), Amari Cooper has been a game-changer for the Cowboys and easily worth that first-rounder now. That they survived an off game from Dak and still won was a good sign too.

 

10. Baltimore Ravens

NFL Power Rankings: RavensLast week: 11

 

The team took their first loss with Lamar Jackson starting and while the rookie did make some mistakes down the stretch, that was a heck of an effort overall for the team at Arrowhead. Add in the help the Ravens got from Oakland against their division rivals and it was a pretty encouraging weekend all things considered.

 

11. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 14

 

T.Y. Hilton still might be running wide open against the Texans' defense were it not for the clocks hitting zeroes. Knocking off their division rivals is yet more evidence this team is continuing to grow into one you don’t really want to play right now.

 

12. Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL Power Rankings: SteelersLast week: 10

 

Who knows how the final few games play out but the entire organization has to sit down this offseason and figure out changes to how they travel to the West Coast because it’s very much an issue under Mike Tomlin.

 

13. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 16

 

Staying alive on the backs of Derrick Henry’s big game, the Titans still have work left to do to get to the playoffs but that was an encouraging effort against the Jags.

 

14. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 18

 

Baker Mayfield showed why he was the No. 1 pick a few times with some of those throws against a fairly stout Panthers defense. Now it’s possible the Browns can — gasp — finish with a winning record.

 

15. Minnesota Vikings

NFL Power Rankings: VikingsLast week: 13

 

If you thought things were testy before between Mike Zimmer and his offensive coordinator, the Tuesday film session will make things even worse after that debacle in Seattle.

 

16. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 19

 

“Tannehill will throw it... and this will end it after the shovel. Or will it? Miami running around. Circling, oh look out, Gronkowski... didn’t have the angle! Touchdown! Kenyan Drake… a miracle! Miraculous in Miami!”

 

17. Denver Broncos

NFL Power Rankings: BroncosLast week: 9

 

Woof. Not much more needs to be said after that game in Santa Clara.

 

18. Philadelphia Eagles

NFL Power Rankings: EaglesLast week: 15

 

Dallas just may have delivered the knockout blow to the defending champs’ postseason hopes. While the fans may be bickering over the officiating or defensive lapses, the offense not having that extra gear like it did a year ago has really tripped this group up.

 

19. Green Bay Packers

NFL Power Rankings: PackersLast week: 26

 

The Joe Philbin era got off to a rocky start in the first few minutes but things certainly improved from there. More encouraging than what Aaron Rodgers and company were doing might have been the defense only allowing 14 non-garbage time points.

 

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 21

 

Fairly inspired effort for a little over a half in containing the Saints defensively. One just had to look at the crowd at Raymond James to get an idea as to the kind of season the Bucs have had though.

 

21. New York Giants

Last week: 25

 

With that performance against the Giants, it’s probably safe to assume Saquon Barkley has locked up rookie of the year honors. Sadly though, he did make it a little more difficult for the team to draft his new teammate in the backfield to replace Eli Manning.

 

22. Carolina Panthers

NFL Power Rankings: PanthersLast week: 17

 

Five losses in a row to all but eliminate the team from the postseason chase isn’t a great look for Riverboat Ron, especially when the last one was to Cleveland with few halftime adjustments.

 

23. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 22

 

Josh Allen did some good things and plenty of bad things in that loss to the Jets at home. One thing is clear: he needs a much better supporting cast if he wants to keep growing as a QB in this league.

 

24. Atlanta Falcons

NFL Power Rankings: FalconsLast week: 24

 

Five losses in a row, each more uncompetitive than the one before it. Not the trend you want in Atlanta, even if you want a top-five pick and don’t mind the loss after the other Mercedes-Benz Stadium tenant hoisted a trophy.

 

25. Detroit Lions

Last week: 27

 

It might have been ugly but a win is a win, especially when you have just one other the past six games. Still, Matthew Stafford has got to be better than that on the road even with the injuries on this team continuing to mount.

 

26. Cincinnati Bengals

NFL Power Rankings: BengalsLast week: 29

 

Surprisingly solid effort on the road with Jeff Driskel under center against the Chargers. The defense was much improved in limiting LA to field goals instead of touchdowns, which might be the takeaway going forward.

 

27. New York Jets

Last week: 31

 

Sam Darnold showed just how much he means to the team in the lineup with the first of many fourth-quarter comebacks for gang green. Both he and the team still need to pick things up but ending a losing streak is always a big move.

 

28. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 28

 

Dreadful performance against the Lions, which zaps any momentum from the victory over Green Bay and makes it yet another awful home outing for the team. Josh Rosen is going to have plenty of growing pains and that was a big one against Darius Slay to flip momentum away from the Cards.

 

29. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 32

 

The team has some seriously crazy home vs. road vibes but they certainly put everything together against Denver, thanks in part to the amazing George Kittle. Plus, they’re still in line to pick first overall so it didn’t cost them anything long-term either.

 

30. Oakland Raiders

NFL Power Rankings: RaidersLast week: 30

 

Good week for the $100 million man: pull off an upset of the visiting Steelers and got the decks clear with the ouster of GM Reggie McKenzie. And thanks to a few other upsets, didn’t lose any positioning for a top pick either.

 

31. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 23

 

On the bright side for the Jags this season, they’ll be right back in the thick of the conversation when it comes to the top five of the 2019 NFL Draft. It’s a familiar spot for many in teal and puts a lot of pressure on Tom Coughlin making big changes as a result.

 

32. Washington Redskins

NFL Power Rankings: RedskinsLast week: 20

 

Getting beat in by the four-win Giants and having to put in recently signed Josh Johnson at quarterback certainly qualifies as rock bottom. Add in everything that’s happened in recent weeks with the front office and you can’t blame fans for avoiding this team like the plague going forward.

 

 

 

 

Week 14 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 1

 

The Saints may have seen home-field advantage in the NFC slip away in that puzzling loss at Dallas but make no mistake, this is still one of the top Super Bowl favorites and among the elite teams in the league. Something says that performance will serve as a motivating factor going forward as the team closes in on an NFC South title.

 

2. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 2

 

Not the most effortless of games in Detroit but West Coast teams playing that early window in the East never do seem to play all that crisply. Either way, that’s back-to-back division titles for Sean McVey’s squad and much more coming if they keep rolling.

 

3. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 3

 

The Kareem Hunt story has rightfully dominated the headlines in Kansas City so you can understand why the team wasn’t its dominant self on the road at Oakland. Still, the next three weeks are no joke and the Chiefs will need a much better effort if they want to wrap up an incredible 2019 campaign.

 

4. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 4

 

All things considered, that comeback in the Steel City might be the best win any team has had this season. There’s something different about this group, which has played every bit as good as the three teams above them on this list and even overcame their voodoo hex to get a game-winning field goal.

 

5. New England Patriots

Last week: 5

 

It always feels like the Patriots really start to ramp things up when the calendar turns to December and that could be the case once again after an impressive victory over the Vikings that showcased the versatility of the offense against a tough front. Congrats to Bill Belichick on his 250th win with the franchise, sure to be just one of several more in Foxborough.

 

6. Houston Texans

Last week: 6

 

Stretch that win streak out to nine after thumping the Browns, as the defense continues to make this one of those teams that nobody wants to play in the postseason. Progress though will ultimately be measured not by hanging a division title from the rafters but actually making noise in January.

 

7. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 8

 

A rude return to Seattle for Richard Sherman as the Seahawks were the ones laying the boom in that destruction of the 49ers. He may not wind up winning it, but Pete Carroll has to get some play for Coach of the Year given the roster early on and what he’s done with it to this point.

 

8. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 11

 

How ‘bout them Cowboys? That victory over the Saints certainly opened eyes to the fact that this four-game winning streak is not just pulled out of thin air. The D is for real and the offense has been totally been transformed by the trade for Amari Cooper.

 

9. Denver Broncos

Last week: 15

 

Other teams have put together better win streaks but you’d be hard pressed to find a club that has turned its fortunes around quite like the Broncos have. Phillip Lindsay has to be the front-runner for rookie of the year by this point and that Bradley Chubb pick isn’t looking too shabby either.

 

10. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 9

 

The first time in the franchise’s illustrious history they’ve blown a lead like that at home, which is saying quite a bit. It might not cost them the division long-term but it does show that there’s still a long way to go before they can compete with the top AFC seeds.

 

11. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 14

 

Lamar Jackson hasn’t seen much progression as a passer since taking over the starting job but it’s hard to argue with 3-0. The trip to Kansas City offers a huge test for both the young QB, should he start again, and the coaching staff.

 

12. Chicago Bears

Last week: 7

 

The Bears never should have been in position to be taken to overtime by a team like the Giants, even with Chase Daniel in at quarterback. Luckily they didn’t lose any ground in the division but efforts like that have got to be frustrating to everybody involved after running off five in a row.

 

13. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 12

 

Any glee Vikings fans might have felt earlier on Sunday by the result in Green Bay was quickly tempered by the way the team played against the Patriots. We’ll have to monitor if Mike Zimmer’s lament about the run game not being up to task is worth revisiting in a few weeks.

 

14. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 10

 

Let us not speak of... whatever that game was against the Jaguars... again. Either way, file that away as another game this team will probably regret if the Colts are sitting at home when the playoffs roll around.

 

15. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 17

 

Back to .500 by topping the Redskins but how much can you really tell about this team given that their opponent had a third-string, just-signed-two-weeks-ago QB in? The defending champs will need to take it up several notches in Dallas next week if they want to further any hopes of defending their title.

 

16. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 18

 

We’d recommend that the Titans quit getting themselves into such holes during games but that was a critical comeback against the Jets to keep those slim playoff hopes alive.

 

17. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 13

 

It wasn’t too long ago that you thought that maybe the Panthers had turned a corner and could actually make things a little interesting in the division. Now you have to wonder if Riverboat Ron is on his last legs, even with staff changes being made following the lackluster loss to Tampa Bay.

 

18. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 16

 

There’s still a clear gap between teams like the Browns and those who are playoff-caliber, as that game against Houston showed just how far the franchise has to go. At least Baker Mayfield threw for nearly 400 yards.

 

19. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 24

 

It’s not often you’ll see a team with only 175 yards win an NFL game but that was a victory the Fins had to have, even if they were more lucky than good on Sunday against Buffalo.

 

20. Washington Redskins

Last week: 22

 

If Bruce Allen is going to take the PR hit for Reuben Foster, what does he have to lose by picking up Colin Kaepernick to play QB after seeing Colt McCoy injured? It would never happen with Allen in charge and Dan Snyder owning the team, but it would at least be a move that would keep Washington fans interested in this team as their division hopes fade away.

 

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 25

 

Two in a row! If the offense isn’t turning the ball over, the Bucs have a shot in just about any game. We’ll see if that holds true as the schedule ramps up down the stretch though.

 

22. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 21

 

It came in a loss but you did see a few encouraging flashes from Josh Allen. Never a good sign when your rookie QB is the leading passer and rusher in a game though, much less in one with all those turnovers.

 

23. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 29

 

Congrats to Cody Kessler for finally getting an NFL win. It may not have been pretty, but snapping that seven-game losing streak is enough of a reason to walk a little taller this week.

 

24. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 19

 

Yes the Ravens' defense is pretty good but that’s not a great excuse for the way the Falcons moved the ball (or rather didn’t). Maybe the bigger question around Atlanta is where does this team go from here?

 

25. New York Giants

Last week: 27

 

That overtime victory won’t do the franchise any favors when it comes to drafting Eli Manning’s successor but it did delight the home crowd to see the playmakers like OBJ and Saquon Barkley step up and make some big plays. Nobody has a better opportunity to play spoiler over the next month quite like this group.

 

26. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 20

 

The Mike McCarthy era is over and while we all knew it was coming, it was still surprising to see it happen before the end of the year. Still, that listless performance at Lambeau against the lowly Cardinals probably required it.

 

27. Detroit Lions

Last week: 26

 

Losing to the Rams is no surprise but it really felt like the Lions had no interest in trying to go for a win in the second half at all. Probably par for the course with this group in a very forgettable debut season for Matt Patricia.

 

28. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 31

 

Chase Edmonds, who knew? It’s not been a great year in the desert but there have been some nice moments for the Cardinals and winning in Green Bay certainly qualifies.

 

29. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 23

 

Safe to say this is another lost season for the Bengals between Andy Dalton and A.J. Green hitting IR to the way they’ve been run out of their own building the past few weeks.

 

30. Oakland Raiders

Last week: 30

 

Few things sum up Jon Gruden’s return to the NFL quite like him throwing that challenge flag at the end of the first half on a play that was un-challengeable.

 

31. New York Jets

Last week: 28

 

The Jets have figured out the script well: play close and entertaining games but still wind up with the loss for better draft positioning. We’ll see if Sam Darnold’s return will keep that going.

 

32. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 32

 

The injuries are one thing but this team is falling further and further behind in making it a competitive game every week. That’s good news in getting the No. 1 pick and bad news for some members on the staff and in the front office.

 

 

 

 

Week 13 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 1

 

That's now 10 in a row for the team as Drew Brees continues to turn guys you’ve never heard of into prolific pass catchers. Maybe more importantly is that the defense has given up 23 points or fewer in every game (sans the Rams win) since late September.

 

2. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 2

 

The Rams nearly clinched their division despite being on a bye. That tells you everything about their season, even if they still need a little help to get home-field advantage throughout.

 

3. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 3

 

One wonders if Kansas City took any glance at the standings on their bye week, noting not just that the Chargers are nipping at their heels but the Patriots are too for home-field advantage. Still, a lot to play for with this team and only those Raiders games are gimmes down the stretch.

 

4. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 7

 

Philip Rivers was nearly perfect against the Cardinals in that romp at home but what was the team thinking keeping Melvin Gordon in the game when it was well in hand? Naturally, the tailback got hurt and that’s not a great sign with two big road games in the next three weeks.

 

5. New England Patriots

Last week: 5

 

Not the best of efforts early but the Patriots eventually put away the Jets for a comfortable second half win on the road. It will be interesting to see what kind of effect Rex Burkhead will have on the offense now that he’s finally ready to return to the lineup to complement Sony Michel.

 

6. Houston Texans

Last week: 6

 

After falling behind early, the Texans went into overdrive to take control of the Monday night game against a division rival. Despite that impressive spurt, there’s still some skepticism about this group despite eight straight wins. Given the way the back end of the schedule looks though, it might be time to at least start entertaining the idea that a division title is not the only thing Houston is playing for.

 

7. Chicago Bears

Last week: 8

 

Few teams in the league could survive a division game on the road with a backup QB, much less on a short week. The Bears do and not even the hard-charging Vikings may be able to keep up now.

 

8. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 10

 

There was some thought this offseason that Seattle would be in full rebuilding mode with a questionable roster to work with. Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson is a helluva combination though and the fight out of this group remains impressive. Nobody really wants to see the Seahawks on their schedule now.

 

9. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 4

 

That awful interception on the doorstep of the end zone to seal the loss might also put a fork in the pursuit of home-field advantage come January. The Steelers have come out unfocused before and it finally cost them on the road at Denver.

 

10. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 11

 

Andrew Luck might not have comeback player of the year locked up just yet given how J.J. Watt has played but he’s awfully close if he keeps mounting these crazy comebacks. Just imagine if they had played for the tie against Houston earlier in the year and were that much closer in the division race?

 

11. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 12

 

Guess Amari Cooper was worth the first-rounder after all, eh? While his addition has jump-started the offense, we’ll see if the defense can keep going as they face the tall task of slowing down Drew Brees on Thursday night.

 

12. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 13

 

A refreshing effort by the offense, for the most part, against Green Bay after that debacle in Chicago. The next two weeks will tell us if this is truly a contender in the NFC though.

 

13. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 9

 

Three losses in a row and that last one in particular was quite painful after Christian McCaffery nearly carried the Panthers on his back. Riverboat Ron needs to start coming up with answers because ending the year with two games against the Saints may spell certain doom.

 

14. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 14

 

Joe Flacco could be back at practice soon, leading to some big decisions ahead. Lamar Jackson is clearly the QB of the future even with some struggles as a passer and it will be telling to see what John Harbaugh does at the position going forward.

 

15. Denver Broncos

Last week: 18

 

You got the sense that things were starting to click in Denver and now that’s two big victories against playoff teams under their belt. The Broncos can get back over .500 and the door is certainly open to a postseason run if they can keep this momentum going.

 

16. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 20

 

Baker Mayfield keeps getting better and better and now there are even whispers of, what’s that, playoffs? It’s not completely out of the question in the AFC but any sort of baby steps forward are cause for celebration in Cleveland.

 

17. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 19

 

The division is there for the taking if the team still wants it and you wonder if that second half against the Giants is just the little ignition spark the Eagles needed.

 

18. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 15

 

Says a lot about the state of the team that Marcus Mariota was nearly perfect as a passer but their one-time lead kept slipping until the Titans found themselves in a huge hole. Yes the injuries keep mounting but the coaching staff has a long week ahead too.

 

19. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 22

 

Red zone turnovers are an absolute killer. Having three on the road in a divisional game is a death knell — especially for a bad team like this.

 

20. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 17

 

Green Bay doesn’t typically make midseason coaching changes but given the divorce with Mike McCarthy is all but inevitable, why wait? This team is clearly miserable and wasting yet another year of Aaron Rodgers in his prime.

 

21. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 23

 

Safe to say the Bills got the last laugh with Jalen Ramsey by securing a victory on Sunday to avenge that playoff loss from last year.

 

22. Washington Redskins

Last week: 21

 

All things considered — having a backup QB on a short week on the road at a division rival — that eight-point loss at Dallas wasn’t awful. But the team didn’t play well and that division lead is slowly but surely slipping away.

 

23. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 16

 

Image of the season was Hue Jackson getting the ball after his old team intercepted his new one. Now Andy Dalton is out for the season and with five losses in six games, this is a situation that continues to spiral out of control.

 

24. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 25

 

Interesting play-calling down the stretch by Adam Gase, who is surely feeling heat beneath his seat now. Ryan Tannehill wasn’t bad in his return but the team had no idea how to finish in allowing the Colts to come back and win.

 

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 28

 

Solid day for Jameis Winston as the losing streak is over thanks to a victory over the team from that other bay. Still, the Bucs still need to step things up as the competition improves by a significant margin the next few weeks.

 

26. Detroit Lions

Last week: 24

 

So much for building momentum after that win against Carolina. Dropping a game to a backup quarterback at home is not a great look for this squad as the mighty Rams come to town next week.

 

27. New York Giants

Last week: 27

 

Just when you thought the team looked like they could turn the corner, the Giants let things slip away late to their division rivals. More eye-opening were OBJ’s comments about attacking a weak secondary not being in the game plan.

 

28. New York Jets

Last week: 29

 

Solid effort for the first half against the Patriots but the Jets also showed why it will still be a long wait until draft time and free agency when some help can come.

 

29. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 26

 

When the Bills beat you with a rookie QB completing only eight passes, safe to say that’s rock bottom just a season after making the AFC title game. A quarterback and OC change won’t salvage this lost year for the Jags.

 

30. Oakland Raiders

Last week: 30

 

We’re sure this isn’t what Jon Gruden had in mind with his big return to the NFL. Given how beat up Derek Carr has been lately, we’re sure it isn’t what he had in mind either.

 

31. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 31

 

Well, on the bright side, Josh Rosen led a beautiful opening drive that ended with a touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald. On the down side? Everything that followed.

 

32. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 32

 

The Rueben Foster story was yet another black mark on the franchise this year, which is certainly not a great look before you go out and look lifeless on the road against Tampa Bay.

 

 

 

Week 12 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 1

 

Oddsmakers made the Saints the Super Bowl favorites and how could you not after that demolition of the defending champions? As good as this team is, the fact that they continue to get better with each passing week is what’s truly scary.

 

2. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 3

 

Can we all just take a moment and give that epic "Monday Night Football" game with the Chiefs a standing ovation? Yes the Rams' offense was phenomenal, but the defense stepping up to make key plays — even with a 51 on the other side of the scoreboard — might be key if they get a rematch with the Saints in the NFC title game.

 

3. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 2

 

The Chiefs scored 51 points despite turning the ball over five times. They’ll be fine after they recover from the loss to the Rams but they better not let up because now there’s a door open to the rest of the AFC.

 

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 5

 

It felt like the Steelers were sleepwalking for three and a half quarters after spending too long on the beach down in Jacksonville. They woke up just in time during the final few minutes to avenge that playoff loss but it certainly wasn’t pretty.

 

5. New England Patriots

Last week: 7

 

Nice quiet bye week in New England where the only bit of news to come out might be Tom Brady’s supreme confidence in Michigan beating Ohio State on Saturday. We’ll see about that later on, but we might not learn much about this stretch run for the Pats until those games against Minnesota and Pittsburgh.

 

6. Houston Texans

Last week: 9

 

This team now has an outside shot at home-field advantage in the postseason after seven straight wins. It’s still hard to think they’re truly among the league’s elite just yet if you watch how they play but better to be lucky than good sometimes.

 

7. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 4

 

Felt like the Chargers were in for a letdown, even returning “home” to LA. The kicking game once again cost them and they saw firsthand what a difference a good kicker can make when Brandon McManus nailed down a divisional loss.

 

8. Chicago Bears

Last week: 11

 

Khalil Mack? Khalil Mack. Safe to say that trade has worked out better than anybody in Chicago could have imagined. The NFC North is the Bears to lose now but they still need better play out of their young quarterback.

 

9. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 8

 

Kudos to Riverboat Ron for going for the win and for Norv Turner coming up with a good play call. It’s all about execution though and Cam Newton didn’t quite have it at the end. File that one away in case the team misses out on the playoffs by a game.

 

10. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 15

 

Add Aaron Rodgers to the Seahawks' list of pelts after that Thursday night classic this team absolutely had to have. Few teams have a more favorable path to the playoffs than Pete Carroll’s crew does and remember that they’ve played the Rams close twice too.

 

11. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 19

 

Perhaps only division rival Houston has been as hot as Indianapolis has been lately. While the defense has stepped up, the most impressive thing about this team is the offensive line stepping up to protect Andrew Luck.

 

12. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 16

 

Jason Garrett went from potentially getting fired in the middle of the season the way things were trending to possibly hosting a playoff game given how the NFC East has started to shape up. We’ll see if the Cowboys continue to feed Zeke or if the team gets to cute on offense just when things were coming into focus.

 

13. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 6

 

Dreadful performance on offense against the Bears, especially when it came to the offensive line protecting Kirk Cousins. Both need to get a lot better if they want to salvage this suddenly fading season.

 

14. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 18

 

Solid start to the Lamar Jackson era, even if the rookie wasn’t quite given the full playbook to use. We’ll see if they can use that to create a bit of momentum the next few weeks or if there will be a change back to Joe Flacco under center.

 

15. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 10

 

Just about everything that could go wrong in Indianapolis, did. It would be a shock to any team to see their defensive coordinator head to the hospital beforehand but the Titans looked like they were never in that blowout loss on both sides of the ball.

 

16. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 14

 

There’s still an opportunity to make the playoffs in the AFC but losing games to divisional foes with a rookie QB making his first start is not a great look as the team enters a critical stretch after turkey day.

 

17. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 13

 

The Packers have one of the easiest schedules left in the NFC and they have Aaron Rodgers still playing at a high level. Not even the most die-hard cheeseheads think that combination can overcome Mike McCarthy as head coach though.

 

18. Denver Broncos

Last week: 22

 

This team was so close to having a breakthrough in a close game and finally got it on the road. It could be a short-lived bout of euphoria though if they fall flat on their face against the Steelers.

 

19. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 17

 

If the worst loss by a defending champ doesn’t wake this team up, then nothing will. There’s been injuries sure, but the talent is too great on this roster to be so mediocre at this point in the year.

 

20. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 20

 

Even when the Browns are on a bye, they wind up owning the NFL new cycle with the story that they want to interview Condi Rice. While that remains a wild idea, at least it’s reassuring to the fan base that general manager John Dorsey will leave no stone unturned.

 

21. Washington Redskins

Last week: 12

 

What an awful sight it was to see Alex Smith suffer that horrific leg injury. That it came 33 years to the day of Joe Theismann’s injury was spooky for a franchise that seems a little bit cursed.

 

22. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 21

 

Dan Quinn has to start feeling a little heat given how tight his team seems to play in close games. Yes there are major injuries but the talent on the field says this group should be much better than 4-6.

 

23. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 23

 

It will be interesting to see what the front office wants to do with Josh Allen close to being healthy again. While they probably should start Matt Barkley at QB again when the Jaguars come to town, the rookie will at least be in line to start for those two divisional games to begin December.

 

24. Detroit Lions

Last week: 27

 

The Lions truly escaped in that game against Carolina but it will all be for nothing if Kerryon Johnson is out for any significant amount of time with that knee injury. 

 

25. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 24

 

Ryan Tannehill appears as though he’ll return the week after next but that will do this team no good if they can’t get back on track in Indianapolis.

 

26. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 25

 

If you’re up 16-0 in the fourth quarter, you should typically win the game in today’s NFL. That the Jaguars let one slip away from the Steelers like that will only increase the chatter that there could be some massive roster changes next season.

 

27. New York Giants

Last week: 28

 

That’s two solid offensive performances in a row for the Giants, which could be a sign that Pat Shurmur’s system is taking root. Or it could be the result of the competition level. We’ll find out soon enough with a divisional game coming up.

 

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 26

 

The old adage "If you have two QBs, you don’t have one" might apply to the Bucs, who flip between Jameis Winston and FitzMagic like a light switch. At least if this team is losing games, they’re doing so in entertaining fashion.

 

29. New York Jets

Last week: 29

 

Daunting schedule ahead as the Jets look to end this four-game losing streak. Keep things up and Todd Bowles will either be a convenient scapegoat to bring in a new regime or use a few upsets to keep his job.

 

30. Oakland Raiders

Last week: 32

 

While that last-second win in Arizona didn’t do anything to help secure the No. 1 overall pick, the much bigger news to come out of the desert was that sideline blowup between Derek Carr and Jon Gruden. It seems apparent that the QB is not in the plans long-term but, even after they made up, it could get uneasy the rest of the year.

 

31. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 30

 

You saw flashes of the Cardinals being able to do some damage on offense but those Josh Rosen turnovers were a killer against Oakland. If the rookie QB can clean those things up, not all is lost for this team as they remain in the hunt for a quality draft haul.

 

32. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 31

 

Productive off week: the team didn’t lose and somehow increased their odds for the top pick in the draft. It will be interesting to see if the offense stays productive coming off a bye week when the 49ers head to Tampa.

 

 

 

Week 11 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 1

 

The Saints have established themselves as the Super Bowl favorite the past two weeks and even got a little breathing room in the division in the process. Maybe the only question left to answer is if Drew Brees can wrap up the MVP early and see what progress the defense can continue to make after that thrashing in Cincinnati.

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 2

 

Tyreek Hill’s touchdown celebration involving a CBS camera was one of the highlights of the season across the league. There were otherwise a few things to nitpick in that victory over the Cardinals but otherwise it’s on to that massive "Monday Night Football" matchup in Mexico City against the Rams.

 

3. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 3

 

The second-half Rams showed up once again to help sweep the Seahawks and potentially wrap up the division before Thanksgiving. Now all eyes are on the showdown with Kansas City.

 

4. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 5

 

More and more, this team is looking like they are not just the Chiefs' biggest threat in the division, but the entire AFC itself. The Chargers should keep rolling (six in a row, so far) before things get interesting after turkey day.

 

5. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 7

 

52-21. Enough said after that thrashing of the Panthers and the Le’Veon Bell news getting pushed to the back page.

 

6. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 10

 

The NFC North is there for the taking and we’ll find out if the Vikings want it coming off a bye and heading into a pair of big divisional games the next two weeks.

 

7. New England Patriots

Last week: 4

 

Ugly, ugly effort on the road against a motivated Titans team filled with former Patriots. Now there are some doubts about the road in the AFC going through Foxborough.

 

8. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 6

 

Carolina might as well burn the game tape of that debacle against the Steelers. It is understandable to lose on the road in a short week, but not like that for a team that was rolling.

 

9. Houston Texans

Last week: 8

 

After six straight wins, is the bye week a bit of a momentum-stopper? We’ll find out with two upcoming games that will tell us if Houston is for real or just a flash in the pan.

 

10. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 18

 

You just know that all those ex-Pats players and coaches loved twisting the knife into Belichick and Brady. That second-half schedule is more than manageable now and if the offense continues to click like this, the Titans will be a team to fear in the postseason.

 

11. Chicago Bears

Last week: 15

 

That’s the first-place Chicago Bears, thank you very much. More signs of progress for Mitchell Trubisky but next week against the Vikings will see a big step up in competition from the lowly Lions.

 

12. Washington Redskins

Last week: 17

 

This may not be the same ol’ Redskins if they’re gutting out road wins like that. Still, the lack of offense the past few weeks is certainly a concern.

 

13. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 13

 

It wasn’t pretty at times but getting back to .500 is a big step in the right direction for the Pack. We’ll see if they can keep it up with a short week on the road though.

 

14. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 9

 

There are no silver linings or takeaways from that awful home outing against the Saints. The schedule still could allow for a playoff run but it’s clear this group isn’t ready for primetime.

 

15. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 14

 

The Seahawks played the Rams tough once again but mistakes behind that iffy offensive line cost them again. Big challenge for the defense once again with Aaron Rodgers coming to town next.

 

16. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 21

 

Jason Garrett quieted down the critics for another week and there’s hope in Big D that things might actually be turning the corner. You can debate just how good this team is but playing stout defense and running the ball will keep you in most games.

 

17. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 11

 

You can certainly blame injuries but that “it” factor this group had last season is a thing of the past. Philly fans booing the team might be a little bit much but Doug Pederson needs to come up with some answers — fast.

 

18. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 16

 

You’re already seeing stories about John Harbaugh’s tenure coming to an end and the impending start of rookie Lamar Jackson at QB coming out of the bye. Panic has set in Baltimore but the season isn’t quite lost given the back half of the schedule.

 

19. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 22

 

Three straight wins for the franchise and now you have to look back at those games against the Texans and Jets and do a bit of wondering with this group.

 

20. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 26

 

Gregg Williams needs just two more wins to match Hue Jackson’s tenure. It won’t be enough to get him the job but good signs in Cleveland, especially with their rookie quarterback.

 

21. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 12

 

Dan Quinn accurately said after that loss to the Browns that the game was a step back for the team. Indeed.

 

22. Denver Broncos

Last week: 19

 

Will the bye week yield any improvement? We’ll find out in Los Angeles but the bottom line is Vance Jospeh could be out before the month is over.

 

23. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 27

 

Matt Barkley, who knew? The bar for mediocre QB play with this franchise is not super high but the freshly-signed signal-caller certainly cleared it with plenty of room to spare.

 

24. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 20

 

As bad as the offense was up in Green Bay, it’s bound to get even worse with some of the injuries the team suffered. At least ol’ reliable Frank Gore is there but not much to write home about with this franchise right now.

 

25. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 24

 

Doug Marrone has to be feeling the heat after going from the AFC title game to absolute afterthought the next season. Already some indications of blowing part of this roster up.

 

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 25

 

In the game of football, it is awfully hard to have that many yards and score just three points at home but that’s the Bucs' season in a nutshell. Changes are certainly coming and they may be wholesale.

 

27. Detroit Lions

Last week: 23

 

Big offseason ahead for the franchise as the newly installed brain trust must make a ton of roster decisions to re-tool the Lions (again) after a third straight blowout loss.

 

28. New York Giants

Last week: 31

 

Big win across the country on Monday night as Eli Manning shushed the tabloids for a few more days. While this still doesn’t look like a well-coached team with a killer instinct, there’s still plenty of talent and that offensive line held up a lot better than expected on the road.

 

29. New York Jets

Last week: 28

 

That was a walking papers-type of effort for Todd Bowles’ team even if their head coach will remain in the fold for a few more weeks.

 

30. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 29

 

All things considered, not a half bad effort on the road in Kansas City. You could see some improved play-calling (Hi David Johnson!) and some solid plays by the rookie QB in the cold.

 

31. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 30

 

Nick Mullens took the loss in his second primetime game as a starter but he’s been a clear spark for the team even if they couldn’t squeak out a win. This is a beat-up roster that is still somehow staying in games and that’s a testament to the coaching staff.

 

32. Oakland Raiders

Last week: 32

 

It was a perfect encapsulation of the team’s season that Derek Carr threw a ball right into the ground on a 4th-down play. No. 1 pick here they come.

 

 

 

Week 10 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 3

 

Home-field advantage in the NFC is going to be a fight and the Saints landed the first big punch with that thrilling victory over the Rams. The entire organization pushed their chips all in for another run at the Super Bowl this season and they look like they’re more than capable of making that happen.

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 2

 

Patrick Mahomes became the first ever quarterback in league history to throw for 3,000 yards in his first 10 starts in that romp over Cleveland. Maybe the better news for Chiefs fans is how the defense continues to make progress week-by-week in different areas.

 

3. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 1

 

The 1972 Dolphins can pop their champagne bottles. It really felt like L.A. got way behind the sticks when they didn’t pick up the fake field goal in the first half but credit to this team for making a run in the second half. Still probably the favorite in the NFC to reach Atlanta but there’s a lot of little things that need to get tightened up.

 

4. New England Patriots

Last week: 4

 

Even without Gronk, that was quite an impressive effort against the Packers on both sides of the ball. That slow start seems like it’s a thing of the past as the AFC favorites have another clear path to the Super Bowl.

 

5. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 6

 

On the road after coming home from London, that was a quality win up in Seattle. Of course, those same old kicking woes made things a lot more interesting at the end of the game and probably only adds to what this team is doing right now between the lines.

 

6. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 5

 

The Panthers had to be a little bummed about the Rams not getting the job done at the Superdome but the Panthers have certainly been playing about as well as anybody in the past 10 quarters or so. Huge game ahead at Pittsburgh on short rest.

 

7. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 7

 

Four wins in a row for the Steelers, including three in the division to increase their stranglehold atop the AFC North. Le’Veon who?

 

8. Houston Texans

Last week: 9

 

There’s not much separation between teams in the NFL so you have to be a little lucky. The Texans are just that the way teams seem to gift them wins when they shouldn’t but there are signs of both sides of the ball living up to their preseason billing.

 

9. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 8

 

We’ll figure out if the 5-3 Bengals are really somebody to take seriously when they host New Orleans on Sunday but the back half of their schedule outside that game is certainly becoming more and more manageable.

 

10. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 13

 

Nice ho-hum victory over the Lions thanks to the franchise-record 10 sacks. Add in how Dalvin Cook looked in limited action and you wonder why that margin of victory wasn’t just a little bit larger.

 

11. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 16

 

Fresh off a bye, that’s a critical game against Dallas at home coming up to kick off a huge stretch that will tell us if this team has enough in it to truly defend their title come January.

 

12. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 19

 

Three in a row with two more winnable games coming up. While there was much rejoicing about Julio Jones finding the end zone, the establishment of the running game against a stout front was the bigger development for the birds.

 

13. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 12

 

The schedule has done the Packers no favors but that’s two weeks in a row where good first-half performances were spoiled after returning from the locker room. There’s no reason why, with Aaron Rodgers playing as well as he is, this team only has three wins. That said, the schedule is such where they can still win the division.

 

14. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 14

 

This team isn’t as bad as everybody expected this season and they had legitimate shots in their last two losses. They really needed that game against the Chargers though as their mid-season stretch is pretty brutal.

 

15. Chicago Bears

Last week: 15

 

Yes, that defense was looking great on the road against the hapless Bills but it was another iffy outing from the Bears' offense. Mitchell Trubisky can get away with a game like that in Buffalo but not against the division opponents coming up.

 

16. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 11

 

That hot start is a distant memory as the team is back below .500 following three straight losses, prompting plenty of calls for John Harbaugh to feel the hot seat. One thing is for sure: the pressure to make a change at quarterback will only keep increasing after Joe Flacco’s recent play.

 

17. Washington Redskins

Last week: 10

 

Adding to the insult of that home beatdown at the hands of the Falcons was some notable injuries, including three more key players lost for the year. If they don’t get things done down in Tampa, the pressure is about to be turned up several notches in D.C.

 

18. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 22

 

Based on that game in Dallas, third down offense was a big area of focus in practice and it paid off with a win. That keeps the Titans afloat in the division race but more of those kinds of performances are needed.

 

19. Denver Broncos

Last week: 17

 

The way the Broncos' season has gone, especially the past two weeks, there’s increasing skepticism that head coach Vance Joseph makes it through December.

 

20. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 21

 

It’s hard to survive an offensive performance that bad but Adam Gase can thank his lucky stars for Sam Darnold throwing all those interceptions.

 

21. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 18

 

Jason Garrett getting caught on camera last week at the World Series and then the offense putting up that clunker against the Titans will do their head coach no favors. At least the Amari Cooper addition paid some early dividends.

 

22. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 20

 

Will the bye week stem a little of that momentum from the past few weeks? The Colts' offense certainly doesn’t hope so going into a big stretch that will tell us if they can make any noise in the division.

 

23. Detroit Lions

Last week: 23

 

Poor Matthew Stafford, he might be in the ice bath until Friday after getting beat up by the Vikings. Something says firing the special teams coach will not turn things around in the Motor City either.

 

24. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 26

 

Will the bye week bring any answers for the Jags? We’ll learn plenty when they travel to Indianapolis.

 

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 24

 

The Bucs will be sticking with Ryan Fitzpatrick going forward but the quarterback derby isn’t helping anybody in the organization after that loss to Carolina.

 

26. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 25

 

Lost amid the dysfunction the past week or so around the franchise, that wasn’t a half bad game for Baker Mayfield in the loss to the Chiefs. There’s no way a rookie QB should be throwing it 40-plus times in this league but you take what you can get if you’re a Browns fan.

 

27. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 27

 

Sean McDermott didn’t seem to rule out any of his quarterbacks starting next week at the Jets. Left unsaid, however, is that recently sighed WR Terrelle Pryor might be the best QB of the bunch.

 

28. New York Jets

Last week: 28

 

Another game to forget for Sam Darnold. While the rookie QB’s play is rightfully a concern lately, his lack of support and the iffy play calls also warrant further examination in the Big Apple.

 

29. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 29

 

Awfully quiet week in the desert as Sam Bradford was released by the team and sailed through waivers unclaimed.

 

30. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 32

 

Where were you when the legend of Nick Mullens began? Given the way he played on Thursday night, no surprise to see the coaching staff stick with the young QB going forward.

 

31. New York Giants

Last week: 31

 

Never a great sign when the biggest story of the bye week is your rookie backup QB getting arrested for a traffic violation.

 

32. Oakland Raiders

Last week: 30

 

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse in Oakland, the Raiders were run off the field by a former practice squad quarterback. Viva Las Vegas, indeed.

 

 

 

Week 9 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 1

 

The Rams caught a late break with a fumble but let’s face it, once again the second half edition of this team came out after making adjustments to remain undefeated. All things considered, holding Aaron Rodgers to just 27 points is probably a sign of progress on defense in particular.

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 2

 

Patrick Mahomes joined some of the game’s greatest QBs in throwing for four touchdowns in three straight games but the six interceptions in the last four games are what Andy Reid will be harping on to clean up over the coming weeks. It’s going to be far more interesting to see what this team does before the trade deadline.

 

3. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 3

 

Heading into that massive game against the Rams, the Saints can start thinking about having home-field advantage. Sean Payton clearly thinks the window is now with this team to get another Super Bowl and they’re clearly going for it after that impressive showing in the Twin Cities.

 

4. New England Patriots

Last week: 5

 

Didn’t learn a ton from that outing in Buffalo other than the fact that finishing drives was a bit of an issue on the road. The Josh Gordon situation that popped up before the game is worth monitoring however.

 

5. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 7

 

Full credit to the coaching staff for that game plan against one of the best defenses in the NFL. Cam Newton isn’t back to an MVP level quite yet but he’s certainly developing under Norv Turner the past few weeks and there are playmakers all over that he can find down the field.

 

6. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 6

 

Productive week off after returning from London as the team looks more and more like one nobody wants to play in the AFC. That trip to Seattle on Sunday is looking like the stiffest test the Chargers will face in the coming weeks.

 

7. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 9

 

It was a rough start, but the Steelers are finally — and firmly — in control of the division after dispatching the Browns. That performance at home was hopefully a nice distraction in the city given the tragic events the day before.

 

8. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 11

 

It wasn’t easy in the end as it felt like the offense took the pedal off in the second half but nobody in Cincy will complain about winning ugly (ok, they will). Nice to see Jessie Bates pull down a pick-six to justify the draft hype and for Randy Bullock to lock things down on a big field goal.

 

9. Houston Texans

Last week: 13

 

That's five in a row now for a team that’s finally living up to the billing with all that talent. Deshaun Watson at altitude on Sunday in Denver is worth monitoring but the schedule is really opening up over the coming weeks.

 

10. Washington Redskins

Last week: 10

 

Going on the road and winning in the division is never going to be a walk on the park and that was the case in New York. The way this team can stop the run and then turn around and run the ball themselves — with ageless wonder Adrian Peterson — gives them a chance every week.

 

11. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 8

 

Just another awful Joe Flacco performance on the road and you won’t find anybody on that Ravens defense that will be happy about allowing 36 to Carolina. They can put that behind them against the Steelers at home but a fourth loss in five games would put this team at a crossroads.

 

12. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 12

 

Aaron Rodgers is rightfully still upset about not getting a chance to do his thing in the final few minutes of a game. The defense did show signs of improvement after the bye week against the Rams but progress needs to start being measured in wins or, even in a wide-open division, the playoffs won’t be a guarantee at the end of the year.

 

13. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 4

 

There was no Minneapolis Miracle repeat or even a thrilling close game against the Saints as the Vikings have to be frustrated with the way 2018 has gone. The passing game is living up to expectations but everybody else on the roster has not stepped their games up to go with Kirk Cousins and company.

 

14. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 19

 

The offense has been rolling the past few weeks and you would be forgiven for putting Russell Wilson on the edge of the MVP discussion as a result. Still, the reason Pete Carroll’s crew is winning games and looking a lot better than early expectations is that plus-10 turnover margin.

 

15. Chicago Bears

Last week: 16

 

Solid job beating the Jets without Khalil Mack as the Bears' defense seemed to make a bit of a statement that they were not a one-man show. Even with a shaky performance from Mitchell Trubisky, Anthony Miller might already be one of the better young receivers in the game right now.

 

16. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 14

 

It took going across the pond but Carson Wentz finally showed flashes of that MVP form from his pre-injury days. Getting back to .500 is big but it’s a make-or-break stretch upon returning from the bye as their division hopes will sink or swim over the next six weeks.

 

17. Denver Broncos

Last week: 18

 

The Broncos aren’t in the same class as the Chiefs so the fact that they made things as interesting as they did late in the game was notable given how many terrible penalties were committed on both sides of the ball. Things could get worse before they get better given the names being thrown around to get jettisoned via trade.

 

18. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 20

 

Jason Garrett took in a baseball game in LA and then made some staff changes during the bye. Who knows if letting go of the offensive line coach will help things but that might not be the only change over the coming weeks if the Cowboys don’t start winning.

 

19. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 22

 

Falcons have yet to win a game on the road as they take a trip to Washington after the bye. We’ll see if some R&R will help the offensive line and defense show any improvement.

 

20. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 27

 

Quietly, those draft and free agent additions along the offensive line are paying off as the offense continues to hum with Andrew Luck finding time to throw. The Colts are not dead yet in the AFC South and can get back in the race if they keep this momentum going.

 

21. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 17

 

Four losses in five weeks and the frustration might not be over either in Miami. Brocktober is indeed over.

 

22. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 21

 

We’ve seen a few coordinator changes in the NFL already and you have to wonder if rookie head coach Mike Vrabel is considering something along those lines if things don’t improve after the bye.

 

23. Detroit Lions

Last week: 15

 

When the opposing quarterback says after the game they can do whatever they want offensively, you know you had an awful day. And to add insult to that, having a punter ice the game by running for a first down was just the cherry on top for Matt Patricia’s group in a big step back.

 

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 23

 

FitzMagic is back! And probably for good after that Jameis Winston performance in Cincinnati. Tampa faces a ton of looming decisions in the offseason from the front office to the coaching staff to the quarterback in what could be a total reset of the franchise come January.

 

25. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 24

 

The Hue Jackson era is mercifully over in Cleveland after a 3-36-1 run. Things can get better going forward and this is an attractive opening considering the roster but it can’t be great for a rookie QB to experience such turnover. Life in the NFL though.

 

26. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 25

 

It’s never good to cause an incident in a foreign country. It’s even worse to do so before an NFL game and then allow an opposing QB to slice you up. Tom Coughlin might be on the verge of some major roster changes in the very near future.

 

27. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 30

 

Derek Anderson, who knew? Quality outing at home against their division rival to welcome "Monday Night Football" back to Buffalo but that was importantly a close game that resulted in better draft positioning when all was said and done.

 

28. New York Jets

Last week: 26

 

Another rough game for Sam Darnold, who continues to trot out there with a smile on his face despite a poor surrounding cast. At least he got a good look at what the blueprint was for Year 2 down in Chicago by watching all of the Bears' young talent on offense.

 

29. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 32

 

Josh Rosen gets his first fourth-quarter comeback but something says it’s not his last. There’s still some top-notch talent on this roster but getting better up front should be priority No. 1 with their young QB.

 

30. Oakland Raiders

Last week: 31

 

If nothing else, the Raiders are really chasing that No. 1 overall pick given the way they’ve been playing. Huge matchup across the Bay on Thursday in that respect.

 

31. New York Giants

Last week: 28

 

The Eli Manning discussion dominates the headlines and talk radio discussion in the city but it’s the entire roster that is not performing. Add in some bad coaching decisions and there’s a reason the talk has turned to the draft.

 

32. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 29

 

What a disheartening loss, giving up 15 points in the final quarter to a rookie quarterback in a game that was already hard to watch. At least a potential top pick can be secured now between that result and the one coming up against the Raiders.

 

 

 

Week 8 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 1

 

Aaron Donald has returned to form as the best defensive player in the game with that dominant performance against the overmatched 49ers. Now the Rams are 7-0 for the first time since… well, a few years before many players on the roster — and their head coach — were born (1985).

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 3

 

Beating a solid Bengals teams like they did is a good way to shake off the first loss of the season. It’s too bad we still have a few more weeks until Chiefs-Rams takes place down in Mexico City though.

 

3. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 2

 

That game against Baltimore had the feel of a playoff game and the Saints have to thank their lucky stars that they could complete Drew Brees’ big fourth-quarter comeback (with a little help, of course). Going on the road to gut one out will only serve this team well as they look ahead to Minnesota and Los Angeles.

 

4. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 4

 

Twenty-point wins on the road are nothing to overlook in the case of the Vikings given a few of their offensive issues. Luckily that defense looks like it’s rounding into form at just the right time.

 

5. New England Patriots

Last week: 5

 

The Pats' defense continues to limit the ceiling for this team but when they’re getting extra scores from special teams, it is going to be incredibly hard to beat them.

 

6. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 7

 

Heck of a road trip for the Chargers, who are more than looking like the Super Bowl contender many expected to see. A bye week will be just what the team needed with Melvin Gordon banged up and a pretty easy stretch in November upcoming.

 

7. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 13

 

What an incredible comeback for Cam Newton, one of the best fourth-quarter rallies you’ll see in the league all season long. More to the point, that win against the defending champs allows them to keep pace with the Saints.

 

8. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 6

 

Justin Tucker picked an awful time to miss the first extra point in his career. Kudos to the veteran kicker for owning it after the loss but a game like that shows Baltimore that they can make some noise in the postseason.

 

9. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 8

 

Productive bye week for the Steelers: Browns lost, Bengals lost, Ravens lost. Suddenly the only two-loss team in the AFC North is first-place Pittsburgh.

 

10. Washington Redskins

Last week: 12

 

Somebody has to win the NFC East and it appears the Redskins are staking their claim with that escape against Dallas. It’s still hard to figure out if this is a good team overall, and if they can win on the road with any consistency, but baby steps are baby steps for one of the NFC surprises.

 

11. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 9

 

Yes it was on the road at Arrowhead but that dreadful offensive showing on Sunday night made the Chiefs’ previously porous defense look like the 1985 Bears. The past two games have shown that even if the Bengals can still win the division, another early exit in the playoffs feels all but assured.

 

12. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 14

 

Aaron Rodgers was probably not all that relaxed on the bye if he was watching that Rams defense. Of course, neither were Packers players on defense if they had a close eye on Todd Gurley and company in anticipation for that trip to Los Angeles this Sunday.

 

13. Houston Texans

Last week: 15

 

There’s streaky and there are the Texans, who have now run off four straight wins after that 0-3 start. There’s still an opportunity for more victories coming up but they better get their quarterback healthy enough so they don’t have to bus him to away games in the future.

 

14. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 10

 

Between the brouhaha between Eric Reid and Malcolm Jenkins, plus blowing a big fourth-quarter lead, Philly sports radio is going to be gold all week until the team heads to London. Contrary to what Doug Pederson claimed however, the pressure is not off the defending champs.

 

15. Detroit Lions

Last week: 23

 

Hopefully by now the coaching staff should realize that Kerryon Johnson and only Kerryon Johnson should be getting just about every carry possible. After a rough start though, the Matt Patricia era is starting to get going.

 

16. Chicago Bears

Last week: 18

 

Bears fans are used to frustrating experiences watching games but the fact that the most recent one came in a game where they could have beat the Patriots at home is another experience entirely. Matt Nagy is still learning on the fly how to be a head coach but correcting a lot of those little things with this team is his biggest challenge.

 

17. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 11

 

The Dolphins now are who we though they were. It’s one thing to lose games with Brock Osweiller as your quarterback but it’s another thing entirely to allow the Lions to run all over your defense.

 

18. Denver Broncos

Last week: 24

 

We can’t take too much away from that thrashing of the Cardinals but it was another badly needed win for Vance Joseph.

 

19. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 20

 

The Seahawks might be the only thing stopping the Rams from clinching the division in November, which is not what you want to hear when Seattle’s upcoming games include a trip to Detroit, the Chargers, Rams, Packers and Panthers from now until Thanksgiving.

 

20. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 16

 

The good news is Dak Prescott flashed enough in that rally against Washington to quiet all the critics for a few more days. The bad news is this seems like a team ticketed to a Jason Garrett special of 8-8 the way they can yo-yo from week to week, even if adding Amari Cooper should help the offense going forward.

 

21. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 19

 

Give credit to Mike Vrabel for making the right decision to play for the win against the Chargers… but put the microscope on Titans OC Matt LaFleur for the play call on that conversion attempt after helping lead a pretty good comeback in the final minutes.

 

22. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 22

 

Not the prettiest of wins on Monday night but every little bit helps in Atlanta as this group looks to get back on their feet. While it’s too early to say if some of the defensive issues were truly cleaned up, that was a good start against the Giants.

 

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 27

 

The Bucs attempted to give that game to the Browns several times but the visitors wouldn’t take the bait. The defense did look better without Mike Smith but we going to have to see if that holds up next week against the Bengals instead of a rookie QB.

 

24. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 21

 

This team really does find new ways to lose every week. In a league where winning and losing is decided at the margins of close games, can Browns ownership really keep stomaching this coaching staff?

 

25. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 17

 

That thumping of the Patriots feels like it was last year, not last month. We’re now to the point where everybody who wondered why the front office stuck with Blake Bortles instead of going out to get a quality QB can now say they told you so.

 

26. New York Jets

Last week: 26

 

Rough day against the Vikings defense for Sam Darnold, who is simply going to have those kinds of games given that he is both a rookie and has a penchant for turning the ball over.

 

27. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 31

 

The Colts' defense has flashed at times this season and if guys like rookie Darius Leonard keep improving by the week, this will be a unit that suddenly isn’t a glaring weakness for the Colts. Especially if that Andrew Luck guy is still throwing touchdowns like he has been and keeping the turnovers to a minimum.

 

28. New York Giants

Last week: 29

 

It’s going to be a fascinating few days and weeks in New York in the run up to the trade deadline. Will some Giants veterans be on their way out in a shakeup or does the team charge ahead with this group that is clearly not cutting it?

 

29. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 28

 

The 49ers are probably better than their record suggests but the way they keep turning the ball over suggests this is still one of the worst teams in the league.

 

30. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 25

 

It’s pretty incredible that this team went from the playoffs to the worst quarterback derby imaginable. That’s life in the NFL for a select few franchises.

 

31. Oakland Raiders

Last week: 32

 

If it wasn’t crystal clear to everybody, this is Jon Gruden’s rebuilding operation in Oakland now. Only question for the upcoming week is who will join Amari Cooper on their way out of town?

 

32. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 30

 

It’s one thing for a rookie quarterback to have a bad game in primetime and get blown out. It’s another thing when he isn’t even put in a position to succeed in the first place and then compounds the problem. Firing OC Mike McCoy might just be the first of many changes out in the desert going forward.

 

 

Week 7 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 1

 

A trip to snowy Denver proved to be no challenge at all for the Rams, which looked the best they have all year on defense for the most part. The injuries and lack of a pass rush off the edge are still a bit worrisome long term but the NFC’s best remains undefeated and ready for whatever comes their way.

 

2. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 3

 

It’s not yet time to cement this group atop the division given their upcoming, make-or-break stretch but things are certainly trending that way as the Saints sat on their bye week and saw a lot of sub-par play across the NFC South on Sunday.

 

3. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 1

 

The flaws in the Chiefs' defense are readily apparent to everybody and getting in high-scoring affairs is going to be the norm against big teams. That first loss to a veteran Patriots team isn’t anything to fret about but could be an issue when it comes to home field throughout the playoffs.

 

4. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 5

 

Rather ho-hum win at home against the Cardinals was encouraging mostly for the way the defense showed signs of life and for the strong running of Latavius Murray — a sharp departure from being overly reliant on Kirk Cousins’ play.

 

5. New England Patriots

Last week: 7

 

Lost amid the furor of that wild win over the Chiefs was the fact that the Pats rushed for 173 yards. Given the limitations on defense, that’s a trend that will only help make this offense more dangerous and allow them to win shootouts and physical battles all the same.

 

6. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 11

 

The Baltimore defense straight up suffocated the Titans on Sunday and that pass rush became downright nasty (11 sacks!). Joe Flacco didn’t need to do much as a result but was efficient enough to get the W.

 

7. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 9

 

The performance in Cleveland was the Chargers operating at their peak with things firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball. That rushing attack is no joke and there’s a huge opportunity over the coming weeks to solidify a potential playoff spot.

 

8. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 12

 

Antonio Brown was great down the stretch against a leaky Bengals defense and now Le’Veon Bell might be on his way back for real. That victory on the road in the division could be quite the turning point for this group.

 

9. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 4

 

When Joe Mixon crossed the goal line late, it felt like the Bengals were on the verge of a massive win. Instead the defense let them down and now there’s plenty of skepticism in Cincinnati about this group once again.

 

10. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 13

 

Carson Wentz looked much closer to his MVP form of last year in that romp over the Giants on Thursday night but you still want to see more out of the ground game if the Super Bowl hangover is going to be truly cured.

 

11. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 15

 

It’s Brocktober ladies and gents, and might be for a while judging by all the strange comments about Ryan Tannehill’s health. Nobody was more excited about that OT win than Kenyan Drake given what he did at the door step earlier in the extra frame.

 

12. Washington Redskins

Last week: 16

 

Can anybody make sense of this team? Beat Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers at home but also get sliced up by Drew Brees and a mediocre Colts team. Alex Smith and company are incredibly still in the driver’s seat in the NFC East going into that game against Dallas next week.

 

13. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 6

 

The Panthers can only shake their heads at how they’ve lost twice this season in road games they should have won. It was nice to have guys like Thomas Davis back in the lineup but that’s one of those games that could ultimately keep this group out of the playoffs in the stacked NFC.

 

14. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 10

 

Maybe this team overlooked the 49ers coming in and didn’t take the game seriously but that effort on Monday night was awful defensively. As good as Aaron Rodgers is, he isn’t able to carry this team every week and that dreadful effort for about three quarters at Lambeau showcased the flaws on this roster.

 

15. Houston Texans

Last week: 19

 

Bill O’Brien has won three times this year and yet has been gifted those victories each time in the form of a puzzling midfield decision against the Colts, DeAndre Hopkins saving the day against Dallas, and Nathan Peterman going full Nathan Peterman for the Bills. This isn’t a great team but three in a row is three in a row.

 

16. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 20

 

Who saw that performance against the Jaguars coming? It was a save your job type of game for Jason Garrett... at least until next week.

 

17. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 14

 

Thirteen turnovers on the season and yet another awful outing by the defense on the road. That huge win over the Patriots is looking more and more like a fluke as a potential commanding grip on the division has turned into a dogfight going forward.

 

18. Chicago Bears

Last week: 8

 

There’s no excuse for that kind of game off a bye and against a team starting a backup QB. The offense had its moments but giving up 380 yards and three scores to Brock Osweiler is inexcusable.

 

19. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 17

 

Poor Marcus Mariota, he will need a week-long immersion in the cold tub after getting beat up with all those sacks against the Ravens. After a promising start, this team is now stuck in reverse and there are no quick fixes available.

 

20. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 24

 

Successful trip across the pond as Pete Carroll has the left-for-dead Seahawks back at .500. The franchise, however, has to be reeling from the news on Monday that one of the great owners in the NFL, Paul Allen, tragically passed away at the age of 65.

 

21. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 18

 

Baker Mayfield had quite the rookie quarterback type of game against a good Chargers squad. You have to live with those if you’re a Browns fan but all that enthusiasm from last week was zapped a bit.

 

22. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 26

 

Good news: the red zone problems under Steve Sarkisian appear to have subsided. The bad news? The defense looks like it belongs in a Big 12 game on Saturdays.

 

23. Detroit Lions

Last week: 21

 

The bye week came at a good time but it remains to be seen if the week off will help fix all the issues facing this team heading into a big stretch the rest of the month.

 

24. Denver Broncos

Last week: 22

 

The Broncos got back into that game against the Rams late to make the score look a little better but the bigger news for the franchise was John Elway had a front row seat this weekend to scout possible QB of the future in Oregon’s Justin Herbert.

 

25. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 23

 

That pick-six Nathan Peterman threw felt like it was in slow motion for Bills fans the way the play developed. Josh Allen appears destined for the bench to recover from his injury but the front office should be in no position to rush him back even if his backup remains a huge liability.

 

26. New York Jets

Last week: 29

 

Jets fans have to like how Sam Darnold keeps developing despite the limited supporting cast and lack of a quality offensive line. Back-to-back wins is a nice step in the right direction but the real test comes against the Vikings to see if progress has truly been made in gang green.

 

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 25

 

That game against Atlanta felt like a 7-on-7 matchup at times but the Bucs nearly pulled off a Peach City Miracle on the final play of the game. Even with the dismissal of DC Mike Smith, there are far more questions about the future of this coaching staff, front office and depth chart upcoming.

 

28. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 32

 

While Aaron Rodgers ripped the team’s heart out at the end, it was actually the perfect result for the 49ers for their trip to Green Bay. The team played well throughout on the road and gave fans enough confidence that even without Jimmy G, there will at least be some entertainment from this group every week the rest of the way. Oh, and that loss will help when it comes to the draft down the road too.

 

29. New York Giants

Last week: 27

 

Lots of focus on Eli Manning being the guy under center going forward but what happened to the G-Men on defense? There’s way too much talent for this group to get sliced and diced like what the Eagles did.

 

30. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 30

 

As a former defensive coordinator, head coach Steve Wilks had to be sick the way the Vikings were able to run all over the Cardinals. Josh Rosen was okay given the environment but the lack of success for David Johnson was much more concerning on the offensive end.

 

31. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 28

 

After a few weeks of progress on the defensive side of the ball, a rookie was able to throw all over the Colts. Not a great sign going forward, to say nothing of the turnovers they gifted the Jets throughout the day.

 

32. Oakland Raiders

Last week: 31

 

There’s nothing the Raiders are doing right in any phase of the game and they will have to take that long flight home from London wondering what lies ahead. Gruden’s return has been much more of the Chucky variety — and that’s way scarier than anybody could have predicted all of a month ago.

 

 

 

Week 6 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 2

 

Even on an off day from Patrick Mahomes (who still threw for more than 300 yards) and the offense, the Chiefs dropped 30 points on the Jaguars thanks to an outing from nowhere by their defense. Things don’t get any easier going forward but if that kind of performance becomes something that happens more regularly, Andy Reid and company may be burying a lot of franchise anguish from over the years in Atlanta next February.

 

2. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 1

 

Divisional games can always be tricky but the porous Rams defense is really becoming a problem that is starting to give those outside L.A. plenty of reason to doubt this team come playoff time. Still, outscoring everybody at will is working just fine in the regular season.

 

3. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 3

 

Great moment seeing Drew Brees become the NFL’s career passing yardage leader on Monday night. Even better seeing the team shake off their regular-season struggles quicker than normal and return to looking like a trendy Super Bowl pick.

 

4. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 8

 

This will ultimately be a team judged on if they can get something (really anything) done in the playoffs. But that comeback against Miami put them firmly in control of the AFC North right now and they can put things on lock next week against Pittsburgh.

 

5. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 12

 

Nobody has had a tougher stretch to open the season than the Vikings have given the number of NFC contenders they’ve played and this group finally closed things out — on the road — against the defending champs. Such an outcome could be a launching point going into this next stretch.

 

6. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 10

 

Graham Gano, dontcha know? That incredible kick to beat the Giants could end up being a season-saver given the way the NFC South is trending but this is a team that needs to start winning second halves instead of just going through the motions at times.

 

7. New England Patriots

Last week: 13

 

It wasn’t long ago that there was concern across the league about this team. Sun rise, sun set and the Patriots are back on top of the division. Things won’t get any easier going forward but the adjustments are being made and the offense looks significantly more dangerous with the receiver corps at full strength.

 

8. Chicago Bears

Last week: 11

 

Bears fans probably were not thrilled about the early bye but they can just repeat "first place in the NFC North" a few times and get over it this week.

 

9. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 14

 

It’s not on the national radar like it should be but what a find Austin Ekeler has been for this team to provide a spark and complement an improved version of Melvin Gordon. We still haven’t seen a full 60-minute performance out of this group but the signs are there.

 

10. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 4

 

Poor Mason Crosby, if he didn’t have the history that he does, he would have never even made it on the flight home to Green Bay after that debacle against the Lions. It wasn’t an awful effort by the Packers aside from those missed kicks (and given the injuries) but we still have a lot of questions left for this team to answer.

 

11. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 6

 

Just when you thought the Ravens were all set to start making a statement in the AFC, they lay that clunker against the Browns in overtime. They had their chances but it was clear early on that it just wasn’t Joe Flacco and the offense’s day.

 

12. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 20

 

They’re not dead yet and that win over Atlanta showed the potential for the Steelers to possibly get back in the division race. It won’t be easy but it’s imminently doable given the upcoming slate in the next few weeks.

 

13. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 9

 

The Super Bowl hangover is an extended one apparently. The division is so weak that missing the playoffs isn’t yet a concern but losing Jay Ajayi isn’t going to help ease the frustration many on this team and in this city are feeling right now.

 

14. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 7

 

It really feels like the injuries are piling up for the Jaguars and that keeps putting more and more pressure on Blake Bortles. Against the Chiefs, we saw what happens when he can’t handle things, leading to turnovers upon turnovers and a sense he has to do even more.

 

15. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 16

 

Adam Gase will be preaching about the ability to finish in the fourth quarter after seeing things slip away against Cincinnati. Those woes on offense won’t be fixed overnight which isn’t good considering a few of the units on the upcoming schedule.

 

16. Washington Redskins

Last week: 15

 

It was an awful weekend in the NFC East but nobody can feel worse about how things went than the Redskins given how they were nearly run out the building in New Orleans. At least they remain in first place but you can see that there’s a clear game plan to make Alex Smith uncomfortable and put this team on their heels.

 

17. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 5

 

Just when you thought that head coach Mike Vrabel was ready to lock in this team as one of the pleasant surprises in the AFC, they go out and lose to the Bills. Marcus Mariota has shown zero consistency this season and the team needs better play out of their franchise quarterback because even a mediocre effort would have gotten them a win on Sunday.

 

18. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 25

 

The Browns won! On a Sunday! What’s wild is not that this team is rapidly improving, but the fact that there’s a good case they should be 5-0 after their third overtime in five weeks.

 

19. Houston Texans

Last week: 24

 

The Texans got lucky to beat Dallas thanks to the greatness of DeAndre Hopkins. There’s not a lot to feel good about with the way this team is playing right now even if they have strung together some wins.

 

20. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 18

 

Jason Garrett hot seat status is officially being bumped up to extra toasty after that Sunday night debacle.

 

21. Detroit Lions

Last week: 27

 

Hope the Lions sent an extra-large gift basket to Mason Crosby.

 

22. Denver Broncos

Last week: 17

 

The offensive issues will generate all the talk in Denver but the Broncos' defense getting torched by a rookie quarterback like that, especially on all the big plays, is the bigger concern for John Elway and company.

 

23. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 30

 

The Bills have a clear blueprint to winning games and brining Josh Allen along: play stout defense then run the ball, run the ball and run the ball. They did that to perfection to upset the Titans and look ever more dangerous.

 

24. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 23

 

Excellent fight from the Seahawks against their division rival but it just wasn’t quite enough. The edges of this roster are still fairly thin so you’ll see issues down the stretch in every game even if Russell Wilson is still finding the end zone.

 

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 21

 

All eyes on Jameis Winston this Sunday as he gets his first start.

 

26. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 19

 

Did anybody see 1-4 coming in Atlanta? The defense is bad to be sure, but Matt Ryan getting sacked six times and the inability to run the ball are pressing issues.

 

27. New York Giants

Last week: 26

 

The Giants may have passed on a franchise quarterback in last year’s draft but the way they’re losing games, they could have a shot at another one next spring. The season isn’t ready to be written off just yet given the division standings but it’s going to be a big climb.

 

28. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 28

 

There are signs of progress with the Colts, especially on defense, but this is still a team not quite ready to make things interesting against top tier opponents.

 

29. New York Jets

Last week: 31

 

Heck of a turnaround from that loss to the Jaguars and most encouraging was the fact that Sam Darnold really made some beautiful throws against the Broncos. If Isaiah Crowell can continue to hurt defenses like that, the rookie QB will have a lot more room to grow.

 

30. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 32

 

Josh Rosen sure kicked things off with a bang against the 49ers to get the Cardinals out of the ranks of the winless. The rookie class was on full display in the game too, which is a bright spot in the desert despite the ugly nature of that first victory.

 

31. Oakland Raiders

Last week: 22

 

The Jon Gruden experiment is a long-term bet but things sure are rough for the Raiders in their swan song in Oakland.

 

32. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 29

 

Kyle Shanahan knows there’s not much of a margin for error with this roster but if the 49ers are turning the ball over like that, there’s no chance of getting a win on Sunday.

 

 

 

Week 5 NFL Power Rankings

 

1. Los Angeles Rams

Last week: 1

 

If it wasn’t official before that thriller against the Vikings, it became very clear that Sean McVay is the best play-caller in the NFL. The Rams' offense is what can take them all the way to the promised land, but this group still has to get better on defense and develop more of a pass rush off the edge if they want to hold up the Lombardi Trophy in the end.

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Last week: 2

 

The legend of Patrick Mahomes grows even more with that Monday night game for the ages. It felt like there was pressure in his face just about every snap and yet the young QB never let the moment get to him. Maybe the bigger development for Kansas City was how the defense played on the road.

 

3. New Orleans Saints

Last week: 4

 

Alvin Kamara and Drew Brees are the talk of the town but that’s now two of the past three weeks where there have been some signs of life on defense. Good thing too considering the brutal stretch this team is about to go on the next month of a half.

 

4. Green Bay Packers

Last week: 5

 

Aaron Rodgers didn’t seem all that happy about the play-calling in that romp over the Bills but nobody is really complaining after seeing that effort out of the defense in a shutout.

 

5. Tennessee Titans

Last week: 11

 

Mike Vrabel may be a rookie head coach but he might be the NFL Coach of the Year through the first quarter of the year by winning a variety of ways. With Marcus Mariota looking a lot healthier, this is a team that won’t go away in the AFC because of their tenacity and penchant for timely big plays.

 

6. Baltimore Ravens

Last week: 15

 

The Ravens are second in the NFL in point differential and have some of their toughest games left in the division at home. The schedule is manageable but the run game has to start improving considering Lamar Jackson is the second-leading rusher right now.

 

7. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: 8

 

The Jags took care of business against an overmatched Jets team but Leonard Fournette’s status continues to put an artificial limiter on how good this team can be. Next week in Kansas City may very well be a huge tiebreaker for home-field advantage come playoff time.

 

8. Cincinnati Bengals

Last week: 19

 

Good Andy Dalton showed up in Atlanta and not surprisingly, A.J. Green did A.J. Green things late. We’ll see how Tyler Eifert’s absence will effect this team going forward as injuries continue to mount but this is your AFC North leader right now.

 

9. Philadelphia Eagles

Last week: 3

 

Are we starting to see that Super Bowl hangover show up in Philly? Kind of seems like it after such an uneven start to the year. Carson Wentz has been okay since returning but his protection has not been, a worrying trend given the slate coming up through Thanksgiving.

 

10. Carolina Panthers

Last week: 10

 

Ron Rivera will grumble about the early bye but it does give the team additional time to get free agent Eric Reid up to speed.

 

11. Chicago Bears

Last week: 17

 

Nobody will ever expect to see that kind of performance out of Mitchell Trubisky again but it was still extremely encouraging if you’re a Bears fan to see that kind of ceiling out of your quarterback. Between him and Khalil Mack looking like the league’s MVP right now, things are not bad at all in the Windy City after this week.

 

12. Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 6

 

Whoever predicted the Vikings would have just one win after the first month of the season better go play the lotto tomorrow. While Kirk Cousins carried this team against the Rams, the continued defensive lapses have to be setting off alarm bells for Mike Zimmer and the rest of his staff in Minnesota.

 

13. New England Patriots

Last week: 16

 

The safest bet in the league on Sunday was for the Patriots to bounce back at home against the Dolphins. It was encouraging to see the run game get going but the bigger development might be that seven spot the defense allowed (which really was a shutout prior to garbage time).

 

14. Los Angeles Chargers

Last week: 14

 

It must be maddening to be a Chargers fan considering the inability for the team to look even competent in the kicking game. The jury still seems like it’s out for this team being an actual AFC contender until something gets figured out on special teams but a nice little run could be in store over the next month against a soft schedule.

 

15. Washington Redskins

Last week: 18

 

This is the most mysterious team in the league right now and the early bye doesn’t help figure out if Washington is closer to the group that beat Green Bay or lost to the Colts.

 

16. Miami Dolphins

Last week: 7

 

The Dolphins ran into a buzz saw in Foxborough but we’ll have a better handle on this team during their upcoming game at Cincinnati. It’s not time to sell all your Miami stock but those flaw became giant cracks this past week against the Patriots.

 

17. Denver Broncos

Last week: 17

 

The Broncos will watch the film on Tuesday and rue a lot of little things that prevented them from beating the Chiefs. This is still a team that can rally to make it to the playoffs but blowing a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter at home is hard to fathom and will only increase the pressure on Vance Joseph in Denver.

 

18. Dallas Cowboys

Last week: 23

 

The Cowboys got the victory over the Lions but it wasn’t pretty (with the exception of Zeke) and did nothing to quiet questions about Jason Garrett. A strong run game and stout defense will still win you a lot of games though.

 

19. Atlanta Falcons

Last week: 9

 

Two weeks in a row, at home, where the Falcons scored 36 points — and lost. Injuries are one thing, the situational football that’s leading to these tough losses is another.

 

20. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week: 12

 

Is that lackluster offensive outing against Baltimore the impetus Le’Veon Bell needed to report in a few weeks? Given this kind of start by the Steelers to the season, even his return in a few weeks may not be enough to salvage things if this group doesn’t get going in October.

 

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week: 13

 

The FitzMagic is gone and to nobody’s surprise, the team is now in Jameis Winston’s hands. He can’t play defense however, which is the real issue in Tampa.

 

22. Oakland Raiders

Last week: 29

 

It wasn’t easy — and it took longer than expected — but Jon Gruden finally has returned to the win column. Still, fourth-quarter woes remain and will continue to limit the Raiders if they don’t figure out how to win the final 15.

 

23. Seattle Seahawks

Last week: 22

 

Pete Carroll caught a break down the stretch against the Cardinals to eke out a victory and make it to .500 on the year. This isn’t a great team by any stretch of the imagination and losing their best defensive player for the year in Earl Thomas officially marks the nail in the coffin for the Legion of Boom era.

 

24. Houston Texans

Last week: 28

 

Bill O’Brien needs to send a gift basket to Frank Reich for giving him the Texans’ first win of the year and prevent an angry mob from forming in Houston.

 

25. Cleveland Browns

Last week: 20

 

Baker Mayfield’s first start, in the Black Hole, went about as expected with some ups and some downs. Still, not even the No. 1 overall pick can help Hue Jackson overcome his allergic reaction to winning games on Sunday.

 

26. New York Giants

Last week: 24

 

Pat Shurmur was brought into to help juice the offense but the team has only scored more than 20 points once this year. Considering some of the skill position talent available, that’s not a great sign.

 

27. Detroit Lions

Last week: 25

 

It looks more and more like that effort against the Patriots will be a huge anomaly on the Lions' record by the end of the year. The defense doesn’t get any time off to fix things with Aaron Rodgers coming in on Sunday either.

 

28. Indianapolis Colts

Last week: 27

 

Frank Reich set the league on fire with his decision on fourth down in overtime. While you can admire his attitude in going for it, the losses all count the same and that one was firmly on his shoulders.

 

29. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 31

 

Inspired effort on the road in the first game without Jimmy G. but it was another brutal week for the 49ers on the injury front down in L.A.

 

30. Buffalo Bills

Last week: 26

 

Back down to earth (hard) against Green Bay for the Bills after their big win. Even the return of LeSean McCoy didn’t help take some of the load off Josh Allen.

 

31. New York Jets

Last week: 31

 

Thirty-four (34) rushing yards isn’t going to help your rookie QB one bit. It was against a stellar defense but there’s no excuse for the Jets being that bad against Jacksonville.

 

32. Arizona Cardinals

Last week: 32

 

Josh Rosen’s debut resulted in a loss but you could see the flashes out of the rookie quarterback, who no doubt gives this team a better chance to win every Sunday.

 

— 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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