NFC West Preview: Off-season Recap and Predictions

NFC West preview

The NFC West is one of the toughest divisions in football. The Super Bowl Champion LA Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, and Seattle Seahawks all made big moves this off-season. With three of the four teams believing they can win the division this year, there’s a lot to break down. Let’s see who each team lost and added, as well as predict their 2022-23 season in this NFC West preview.

NFC West Preview

4. Seattle Seahawks

Key loses – QB Russell Wilson, LB Bobby Wagner, CB DJ Reed Jr., DE Carlos Dunlap, OT Duane Brown, TE Gerald Everett, C Ethan Pocic

Key additions – LB/DE Uchenna Nwosu, QB Drew Lock, TE Noah Fant, DE Shelby Harris, CB Artie Burns, DEN 2022 first (OT Charles Cross) and second (LB Boye Mafe), DEN 2023 first and second round picks

Re-signed – QB Geno Smith (1-year), FS Quandre Diggs (3-years), DT Al Woods (2-years), TE Will Dissly (3-years), C/G Kyle Fuller (1-year)

Extensions – WR DK Metcalf (3-years, $72 million)

The Seahawks finished with a losing record of 7-10 for the first time in the Russell Wilson era. That was good for last in the NFC West. So, they decided to start their rebuild. They shipped Wilson to Denver for a plethora of picks and players, and released longtime linebacker Bobby Wagner.

While fans hate to see their leaders of the past ten years go, the franchise is excited for the rebuild. However, with quarterbacks Geno Smith and Drew Lock on the roster, they know this year will be tough.

While they did bring in Charles Cross to hopefully be their left tackle for the future, the rest of the offensive line is still a question. Gabe Jackson had a good rookie season, but during his sophomore season he took a step back.

Drew Lock and Geno Smith will have help in the skill positions. With DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, both QBs have reliable and exciting targets. The backfield looks to be between Rashaad Penny and rookie Kenneth Walker III. Penny finished last season with a 92-617-6 line in the last five games. Seattle finished with the 26th most rushes per game last season, but we should expect that to increase this season.

The defense is a mess for Seattle. The linebacker corps of Jordyn Brooks, Darrell Taylor, and Cody Barton is expected to take a big step back with the loss of Bobby Wagner. The defensive line could improve the addition of Harris and Nwosu. However, I wouldn’t expect it to.

The secondary is where they will get hurt the most. They ranked second-to-last in the NFL last season in passing defense, while also being in the bottom 11 in interceptions. The trade for Jamal Adams hasn’t panned out so far, and while they do have Quandre Diggs across from him, the tandem has shown struggles in coverage.

Prediction

I have the Seahawks finishing the year tied for last in the league with a record of 3-14. With a tough NFC West, they will go 1-5 with their only win divisional coming Week 9 at the Arizona Cardinals. It’s a rebuild year for Seattle, as they look to gain a top 3 pick and hopefully get their quarterback of the future in the 2023 NFL draft.

3. Arizona Cardinals

Key loses – DE Chandler Jones, ILB Jordan Hicks, DE Jordan Phillips, WR Christian Kirk, RB Chase Edmonds

Key additions – WR Marquise Brown, OG Will Hernandez, TE Trey McBride, DE Cameron Thomas, CB Trayvon Mullen Jr.

Re-signed – TE Zach Ertz (3-years), RB James Connor (3-years)

Extensions – QB Kyler Murray (5-year, $230.5 million), LT D.J. Humphries (3-year, $66.6 million)

Last season Arizona started off hot, as they went 7-0 before losing to the Packers in week 8. The second half of the season didn’t treat them as well, as they went 4-5. They finished the season with a record of 11-6, which was good enough for the fifth seed in the NFC and second in the NFC West.

They would go on to lose their playoff game 34-11 versus the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams. Kyler Murray struggled in that game going 19/34 for 137 yards with two interceptions.

The offense for the Cardinals lost an important piece for the first few weeks as wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is suspended for the first six games. They did bring back running back James Connor and tight end Zach Ertz to help carry the load again. The addition of Marquise Brown should open the field up more for Murray as well.

The offensive line is a mixed bag. DJ Humphries and Rodney Hudson are both very solid starters. They do, however, have one of the worst guard combos in the league with Will Hernandez and Justin Pugh. With their division having guys like Aaron Donald and Nick Bosa, the offensive line could struggle keeping the pocket clean for Murray. After ranking eighth in total offense last season, the Cardinals are looking for more of the same.

The Cardinals lost some key players on the defensive side of the ball with Jones and Hicks. They didn’t do a lot to fill those holes by bringing in defensive end Cameron Thomas and cornerback Trayvon Mullen Jr. For a defense that finished 11th in total defense last season, they look to take a small step back.

Their major issue on the defensive side of the ball was against the run, and that isn’t expected to change. With aging JJ Watt being the focal point, they will be looking for the rookie Cameron Thomas and defensive tackle Zach Allen to step up.

Their secondary should still be a force with Byron Murphy Jr and Budda Baker headlining. Their linebacker corps is interesting, as they have Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins, who haven’t lived up to the expectations yet. The defense should be solid this season, but nothing spectacular.

Prediction

I have the Cardinals finishing 7-10 in the NFC West, going 2-4 in the division. Kliff Kingsbury could be on the hot seat after this season if the team doesn’t make the playoffs. Arizona is looking to prove the doubters wrong and make it back to the playoffs in a weak NFC.

2. San Francisco 49ers

Key loses – OG Laken Tomlinson, DL DJ Jones, CB K’Wuan Williams, OL Tom Compton, RB Raheem Mostert, DE Arden Key, C Alex Mack             

Key additions – CB Charvarius Ward, DL Hassan Ridgeway, WR Ray-Ray McCloud, DE Kerry Hyder Jr., DL Drake Jackson, RB Tyrion Davis-Price, WR Danny Gray

Re-signed – RB Jeff Wilson Jr. (1-year), OL Jake Brendel (1-year), CB Jason Verrett (1-year)

Extended – WR Deebo Samuel (3-year, $73.5 million)

After finishing last season 10-7, good for the 6th seed in the NFC, the 49ers went on a run in the playoffs, losing in the NFC Championship game to the Los Angeles Rams. It was a successful season for the 49ers, but wasn’t good enough for them. They are looking to make some noise again this season, but with a different leader on offense. The change of their quarterback could make improve their stance in the NFC West.

The 49ers announced that Trey Lance will be their starting quarterback this upcoming season. They restructured Jimmy Garoppolo’s contract, making him the highest paid backup in the league. It will be interesting to see how the offense changes with Lance at the helm. They finished with the seventh best total offense last season behind a fantastic breakout year from Deebo Samuel.

They lost two pieces of their offensive line in Tomlinson and Mack. Those will not be easy pieces to fill, either. But, with Kyle Shanahan as their coach they should be just fine in that department.

Outside of Lance taking over, the skill positions on offense stayed almost the exact same. Elijah Mitchell comes back to lead the backfield, while Brandon Aiyuk looks to break out next to Deebo Samuel this season. The offense should still be a force with the Shanahan playbook.

Deebo took over the spotlight for this team, but the defense was still the best side of the ball. Finishing third in total defense last season, they are looking to be even better this season. Nick Bosa is leading the defensive line again this year. With defensive tackles Arik Armstead and  Javon Kinlaw, who is coming back off of an ACL sprain a season ago, they should be a great front again.

While having one of the best linebackers in the league in Fred Warner, the 49ers are looking to wreak havoc against opposing offenses for another year. Ambry Thomas had a good rookie season, but the corners are still a question for the 49ers. Charvarius Ward came over from KC and, while he is a solid corner, having Emmanuel Moseley across from him is still a major concern.

Prediction

The 49ers are looking to improve upon their 10-7 record. I have them doing that by one game. I see them going 11-6, finishing with a record of 4-2 against the NFC West. They will be hoping to get past the NFC Championship game and return to the Super Bowl to avenge their 2020 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

1. Los Angeles Rams

Key losses – OLB Von Miller, CB Darious Williams, NT Sebastian Joseph-Day, OG Austin Corbett, P Johnny Hekker, WR Robert Woods, LT Andrew Whitworth

Key Additions – WR Allen Robinson, LB Bobby Wagner

Re-signed – K Matt Gay (1-year), LT Joseph Noteboom (3-years), C Brian Allen (3-years), OL Coleman Shelton (2-years)

Extended –QB Matt Stafford (4-years, $160 million), WR Cooper Kupp (3-years, $80 million)

The winners of Super Bowl 56, the Los Angeles Rams are looking to repeat after their glorious run. They went all-in getting Matthew Stafford and it paid off. After finishing the regular season 12-5, Stafford finally got his ring in his first season out of Detroit, and he got rewarded with a major extension.

They also gave an extension to Super Bowl MVP and superstar wideout Cooper Kupp. While they lost superstar Von Miller to Buffalo, this team still has plenty of talent from their 2022 championship team.

The Rams 2021-22 offense was phenomenal. While they only finished ninth in total offense, they finished third in passing offense. The passing attack is expected to be just as good, if not better, with the substitution of Allen Robinson over Robert Woods next to Kupp — who just put up the second-best statistical season by a wide receiver in NFL history.

The run game is still a question, as Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr. look to each take a jump in 2022-23. The offensive line took a hit with Whitworth retiring and Corbett leaving. Though, they brought back Brian Allen, Joseph Noteboom, and Coleman Shelton to help protect Stafford. 2022-23 should be fun for Rams fans watching this offense as they look to finish in the top 10 again.

There is no question who the leader of this defense is: Aaron Donald. Arguably the best defensive player ever, he helped lead the Rams to the sixth-best rushing defense in the league. While they did finish 17th in total defense, they made a few changes.

They replaced a future Hall of Famer in Von Miller with another future Hall of Famer in Bobby Wagner. This gives a big boost to an interior linebacker corps that had Ernest Jones and Christian Rozeboom set to take the reins.

The secondary is still solid highlighted by All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey with Troy Hill opposite of him. The Rams should expect the defense to finish in the top 20 again, and maybe top 10.

Prediction

I have the Rams repeating as NFC West champs going 12-5 again, 5-1 in the division. The Rams are looking to go back-to-back and become the first team since the 2004-05 New England Patriots to do so. Will this team full of Hall of Famers be able to do it? We’ll have to wait and see.

Ranking All 13 NFL Alternate Helmets

This season, the NFL has allowed teams to have more than one colored helmet to wear. The rule change saw 13 NFL franchises introduce new helmets for their alternate uniforms.

Before I begin, I want to clarify what I ranked these helmets based on. There were three factors that went into my ranking: 1. Does the helmet itself look good? 2. Does the helmet fit with the rest of the uniform? 3. Could the team have done more with the helmet? With that in mind, here is my ranking for these new helmets.

The New NFL Alternate Helmets: 13-6

Chicago Bears alternate helmet for the 2022 NFL season
Photo Credit: Jacob Funk/Chicago Bears

13. Chicago Bears

I attend a school that wears orange helmets with its orange uniforms. It doesn’t work too well. Same thing goes for the Bears. The traditional navy helmet works so much better with any of Chicago’s jerseys, especially its orange one. This alternate helmet is a miss for one of the NFL’s most iconic teams.

12. Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals messed up big time with their new helmets. Arizona plans to wear these with its color rush uniforms. The red pops out with the black real well with those, so why not do the same with the helmets? If these had a red face mask, this could’ve been one of the better helmets. But instead, they go with a bland, black design.

11. Washington Commanders

I’m glad that Washington didn’t leave the “numbers on the helmet” look behind when it rebranded. However, the execution this time around feels poor. The “W” in the front doesn’t sit well. Maybe a stripe, like the Commanders’ primary helmets, would’ve been better. This helmet isn’t bad by any means, but ten other teams did a better job than Washington.

10. Carolina Panthers

This one might have to grow on me a bit. I like the all black concept the Panthers created, but this helmet feels almost too dark. From the photos, it’s difficult to see the Panthers logo. The colors mesh well together, but nothing pops out to the eye.

9. Houston Texans

The helmet itself is one of the best that have been introduced. What’s upsetting is the Texans plan to wear these with their red uniforms, according to gridiron-uniforms.com. These would look significantly better with their blue-with-red-lettering color rush jerseys. The all-red look Houston plans to wear doesn’t sit with me well.

8. New Orleans Saints

The Saints introduced a new look this offseason, and it’s not bad. The fleur-de-lis down the middle helps this helmet represents New Orleans well, and black and gold go together like bread and butter. However, nothing about this helmet stands out; it’s a bit bland. Maybe a gold face mask would help?

7. New York Jets

Now we’re getting to the helmets I really like. The Jets’ nailed this one. New York’s black uniforms look even better with this helmet. The green on the logo and face mask (take note, Cardinals) pop out and give the uniform more vibrance.

6. Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles kept their helmet change simple, and I’m all for it. They switched from an already-fresh midnight green and black look to a more fitting all black uniform. A slight change for the better.

NFL Alternate Helmets: The Top 5

Dallas Cowboys bring back the alternate uniforms and helmets for 2022
Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

5. Dallas Cowboys

The Thanksgiving uniforms worn in the late 2000s and early 2010s are iconic. Dallas finally gets the chance to bring them back this year. The simplicity of the helmet gives the Cowboys an old school look, something that somewhat resembles a cowboy. The white pops out with the rest of the uniform, and I love it.

4. New York Giants

The Giants’ white throwback uniform has been a staple amongst fans for a few years now. It’s about time they brought the blue back. The darker shade of blue on the helmet gives the uniform a more classic look. On top of that, the “GIANTS” along the side is significantly better than the block “NY”. A perfect helmet for a classic uniform.

3. New England Patriots

The Pat Patriot look is back! The red, white, and blue look has long been one of the best looks in football. The white stands out with the red jersey really well, giving New England a patriotic look. As someone who watched many Patriots games growing up, I’m so happy to see these back in action.

2. Cincinnati Bengals

Finally. Ever since the Bengals introduced their all-white uniforms, fans have been screaming for the Bengals to wear while helmets. Everyone’s wish came true, and this looks so clean. The new helmets put these uniforms in the conversation for the best in the NFL.

1. Atlanta Falcons

When the Falcons got new uniforms in 2020, I was disappointed they went with black helmets instead of red. Now you see why. The red and black look with a sliver of gold bring back ’80s nostalgia, a more authentic throwback, and one of the cleanest looks in the NFL. It’s about time Atlanta brought these back. These are, without a doubt, the best of the NFL alternate helmets

Week 16 NFL Power Rankings

Week 16 NFL Power Rankings
Mike Mulholland – Getty Images

The Week 16 NFL Power Rankings are a mess. It’s kind of fun because we have a new No. 32 and a new No. 1 team this week. But, the middle of the Week 16 NFL Power Rankings are a total log jam. It was really difficult to sort through everything after the results came in this week. But, as always, we’re going to do our best to try to sort through this mess.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12)

Last week: 31

Last week, I lamented the fact that I couldn’t move this dumpster fire of a team down to No. 32. But, the week Urban Meyer gets fired the waters of the basement parted like the red sea. Now, I have every excuse to put this team where they belong in the Week 16 NFL Power Rankings. Let me know when you’re ready to talk about what you’ve done, Jaguars. Until then, you can stay in timeout.

31. New York Jets (3-11)

Last Week: 29

Zach Wilson running for a touchdown was kind of cool. And, hey, the Jets looked like they were going to bring the Miami Dolphins back down to earth there for a little while. But, this is a bad football team. It was really only a matter of a time until they showed their true colors. For that reason, I have to send them hurtling down in the Week 16 NFL Power Rankings.

30. New York Giants (4-10)

Last Week: 28

What is going on out there in New Jersey? Seriously, both of those teams play football like they’ve just ingested some toxic water or something. I don’t know what to say about the Giants at this point. But, playing Mike Glennon at quarterback certainly isn’t going to make it better

29. Detroit Lions (2-11-1)

Last Week: 32

The Detroit Lions are 2-3-1 since their bye week. Somehow, they’ve almost become a .500 team after that god awful start. Is Dan Campbell the answer? He sure made Kliff Kingsbury look like a fool this week. Man, if the Lions keep winning they might get themselves out of the bottom five despite sitting at No. 32 most of the season.

28. Carolina Panthers (5-9)

Last Week: 26

The memories of the Panthers’ 3-0 start seem like a distant memory. Now, they’re hanging out in the bottom five of the Week 16 NFL Power Rankings. Sam Darnold was clearly the wrong choice. Cam Newton isn’t what he used to be. PJ Walker definitely isn’t the answer. At this point, might as well bunker down and embrace the tank because there’s nothing left to play for this year.

27. Chicago Bears (4-10)

Last Week: 27

Is Matt Nagy gone yet? This season had so much potential to build something special. But, it’s all looking like a waste. Hopefully Justin Fields can take a step forward next year. Right now, there’s not a lot to look forward to in Chicago.

26. Houston Texans (3-11)

Last Week: 30

Nobody expected this season to be worth much for the Houston Texans. They pretty much had to take a hard reset on the Watson/O’Brien era. Not just because of the drama, but also because there’s not much to build on. It might be a few years before this team is relevant again. But, at least they’re still chugging away and dominating true cellar dwellers like the Jaguars. Rest assured, Texans fans. It might never get THAT bad.

25. Atlanta Falcons (6-8)

Last Week: 24

The dream of making a miracle playoff run is close to dead at this point. The new seventh playoff seed means they’re still technically only a game behind in the standings. But, come on. They would have to beat a resurgent Lions team, the Bills, and the Saints to get there and even then they’d need a bit of help. I don’t see that happening. Better luck next year, Falcons.

24. Seattle Seahawks (5-9)

Last Week: 23

The Seahawks probably got screwed a little by a bad DPI call this week against the Rams. But, that fact doesn’t do much but disguise the fact that this Seahawks team has been dead in the water for a while. It felt like they might breathe new life when Russell Wilson came back to start over Geno Smith. But, I don’t think there’s any saving this football team. Enjoy the draft picks you’ll get for Russ in the offseason.

23. Washington Football Team (6-8)

Last Week: 20

Last week Washington let their slim chances of taking the division slip out of their grasp against the Cowboys. This week, they fell asleep against the Philadelphia Eagles. In a two week span, they went from one of the more exciting teams with momentum to a team that looks like they have no chance to make the playoffs. They’re plummeting in the Week 16 NFL Power Rankings as a result.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6-1)

Last Week: 25

The Steelers making the playoffs after the way this season has gone seems like a fool’s dream. But, somehow, they’re still alive. Insanely, winning the AFC North might be the path of least resistance versus winning a wild card seed. But, after pulling a win out of nowhere against the Titans I don’t think anything would surprise me at this point.

21. New Orleans Saints (7-7)

Last Week: 22

I wanted to give the Saints more of a boost in the Week 16 NFL Power Rankings for knocking off the Bucs. Most of the time, that would be a huge statement that this team will not go quietly into the night. But, it seems pretty par for the course. No matter how bad the Saints are and how dominant the Bucs look, it seems like the Saints always have their number. Now, if they find a way to win out, I’ll be forced to sing a different tune.

20. Las Vegas Raiders (7-7)

Last Week: 21

The Raiders are still alive in the playoff race. I gotta admit, every time I think they’re dead, they rise like a zombie. “Don’t count us out yet” they say. Beating the injury and COVID riddled Browns on a last second field goal might not be the most impressive way to win. But, it’s a win nonetheless and it keeps them only one game out of the playoff race with three games left to play.

19. Miami Dolphins (7-7)

Last Week: 19

Barely beating the Jets keeps the Dolphins’ slim hopes of making the playoffs alive. But, when I say slim I mean SLIM. An ugly win is a win nonetheless, but it didn’t inspire much confidence in the Dolphins’ ability to actually win out. 9-8 is unlikely to be enough to make the dance. So, the margin for error remains super tight. Hence, why I’m not moving them up in the Week 16 NFL Power Rankings. 

18. Minnesota Vikings (7-7)

Last Week: 18

I’m keeping the Vikings in the same spot in the Week 16 NFL Power Rankings because I really wasn’t impressed with their win over the Bears. They’re back in control of the No. 7 seed right now. But, the way they’ve been playing I really have trouble believing they can win out against the Rams, Packers, and Bears again.

17. Denver Broncos (7-7)

Last Week: 16

The Broncos may have lost their best shot at making the playoffs this week in a 15-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals have a great defense, but that Broncos offense is broken. With a three game stretch against the Raiders, Chargers, and Chiefs remaining, the razor thin hopes of bouncing back to steal a playoff spot seem virtually extinct.

16. Philadelphia Eagles (7-7)

Last Week: 17

Right now, the Eagles are tied for the No. 7 playoff spot. Not to mention, that tie is with the Minnesota Vikings, who almost definitely will not hold on to that spot. I’ve got them just on the edge of the playoff picture in the Week 16 NFL Power Rankings because, honestly, they could be part of it next week. They beat the Washington Football Team by double digits this week and now only need to finish strong against other NFC East competition. Shouldn’t be too tough.

15. Baltimore Ravens (8-6)

Last Week: 15

Losing Lamar Jackson for a critical two-week stretch may have doomed the Ravens’ season. I know Tyler Huntley has been fine. But, with a tough matchup against the Bengals this week, the Ravens are in danger of failing to win a football game the entire month of december.

14. Cleveland Browns (7-7)

Last Week: 13

Losing the way the Browns lost this week has to sting if you’re a Browns fan. They had momentum and a chance to take control of the AFC North. But, the decimated state of their roster proved to be too much to overcome. And even then, still barely! They feel like a team that should be in the playoffs this year. Unfortunately, there is a strong possibility they won’t be if they don’t finish strong. That could be tough with the Packers, Steelers, and Bengals coming up.

13. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6)

Last Week: 14

The Cincinnati Bengals are back in control of the AFC North after a hard-fought win over the Denver Broncos. But, they can’t get too comfortable with that win. A pivotal game against the Baltimore Ravens looms this week. The Bengals beat the hell out of the Ravens earlier this year in Baltimore. So, doing it again in Cincinnati shouldn’t be too difficult, right? Problem is the Bengals’ record at home hasn’t been quite as impressive as on the road this year.

12. Arizona Cardinals (10-4)

Last Week: 9

The Arizona Cardinals are cooling off at the exact wrong time. Are they in danger of being another one of those teams that gets off to a hot start only to look like minced meat by the time the playoffs start? Hopefully they’ll be getting a couple of guys back by the time the playoffs get here. But, they have to play the red-hot Colts next week and are only a tiebreaker ahead of the Los Angeles Rams. Their stranglehold on the NFC West now appears to be more of a light tug.

11. Tennessee Titans (9-5)

Last Week: 7

Speaking of teams barely holding onto their division, the Titans might be in some serious trouble. They’re only a game ahead of the Indianapolis Colts when we all thought they’d run away with the division weeks ago. They still hold a season sweep over the Colts, so it would take the epic collapse continuing for another couple of weeks to lose control of the division.

But, the way the Titans have been playing lately, does anyone think that’s out of the question? Hopefully the Titans aren’t dead in the water by the time King Henry comes back.

10. Buffalo Bills (8-6)

Last Week: 12

The Bills got back on track this week against the Panthers. Also, they got some help against the Colts. So, they could actually take back control of the AFC West with a win over the Patriots this week. Then again, they’ll need to put up more of a fight than they did when they let Mac Jones beat them by only throwing three passes and two completions.

9. Los Angeles Chargers (8-6)

Last Week: 8

The poor Chargers had the division in front of them until the mean old Chiefs had to go spoil their fun. They’re in danger of falling out of the top 10 of the Week 16 NFL Power Rankings this week because of it. With a win over most of their wild card competition in their back pocket, they should be able to coast to a playoff berth. But, crazier things have happened. So, don’t get lazy.

8. San Francisco 49ers (8-6)

Last Week: 10

Wow. The team that started 2-4 is now in firm control after a playoff seed after winning six of their last eight games. Truly remarkable. The job isn’t done yet, though. They’re still only a game ahead in the Wild Card race and need to finish strong against the Titans, Texans, and Rams to get where they want to be.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-4)

Last Week: 4

I don’t know what it is about the Saints, but the Bucs seem to rarely ever be able to knock off the Saints. You know, other than last year in the divisional round. But, still, it seems like the Saints are always there to deal a blow when the Bucs aren’t prepared. It’s not going to hurt their playoff chances too badly. But, it does hurt their quest for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Now, they slide all the way down to No. 3 and once again need some luck to get other teams out of their way.

6. Indianapolis Colts (8-6)

Last Week: 11

The NFL season is a long season. So, the Colts turning around their season still seems unlikely to bring them a division championship, even though the Titans are floundering. I’m giving them the credit they can’t get from the standings in the Week 16 NFL Power Rankings, though. Someone has to recognize this team deserves to be considered the best in the AFC South.

5. Dallas Cowboys (10-4)

Last Week: 6

Regardless of the Cowboys’ skid back in November, they’re reestablishing themselves in December. They’ve now won three in a row since their disappointing outing on Thanksgiving. Also, the win clinched the NFC East, which looked to be a bit in doubt there for a minute. The NFC East isn’t very good. But, they’re still one of only two teams to clinch their division as of the Week 16 NFL Power Rankings. That deserves some credit.

4. Los Angeles Rams (10-4)

Last Week: 5

After getting some help from the Lions, the Rams are now back to being competitive for the NFC West. As of right now, they hold the same record as the Cardinals. Unfortunately, the Cardinals hold the tiebreaker due to their division record. The Rams still need a little bit of help. But, it seems likely they’ll get it. All they need to do is keep winning and they have a really good shot at the division crown.

3. New England Patriots (9-5)

Last Week: 1

The party had to come to an end at some point. The Patriots are still a dangerous team in the AFC right now. But, they might not be the best after losing to the Colts. In fact, they could end up not even being the best in their division if they fall to the Bills next week. After starting 2-4, the margin for error was always super thin. But, you gotta give them credit for that incredible run they went on.

2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)

Last Week: 3

The Chiefs seem like an unstoppable force at this point. Their win over the Chargers solidified them as the dominant force we all feared they’d return to being eventually. One more win and they’ll probably clinch the division. They’re holding a slim lead for the AFC’s No. 1 seed right now. But, they seem like the most likely team to take it home.

1. Green Bay Packers (11-3)

Last Week: 2

The Green Bay Packers are back to being on top in the Week 16 NFL Power Rankings. It was looking rough there for a minute as they squandered a lead against the Baltimore Ravens. But, I think John Harbaugh made the decision he made because we all knew Aaron Rodgers was going to go win it in overtime. The Packers are now the team to beat in the entire NFL.

Week 8 NFL Power Rankings

Week 8 NFL Power Rankings
Ja’Marr Chase speeds past Tavon Young – The Athletic

The Week 8 NFL Power Rankings are a fickle mistress. Just when you think you have things figured out, the Ravens get blown out by the Bengals in Baltimore and the Falcons finally hold onto a lead. Everything you know is wrong, so let’s dive into some more things that are going to be wrong next week! Right now, this is how the Week 8 NFL Power Rankings landscape looks heading into Week 8.

32. Detroit Lions (0-7)

Last Week: 32

Looks like we’re going to go back to the “yeah, but they played them really hard!!!” narrative in Detroit this week. Look, I respect Dan Campbell for what he’s trying to do with the Lions. It was an awful situation no one wanted, which is part of the reason Campbell was the best option for their vacant head coach position. But, still, I’m done giving the Lions the benefit of the doubt for losing close games. The fact of the matter is the season is almost half over and they still haven’t won a game. I’ll think about letting them out of time-out when they actually get a win.

31. Houston Texans (1-6)

Last Week: 30

Remember after Week 2 and we all thought the Texans were way better than we all thought they would be? They handily beat the Jacksonville Jaguars then traveled to Cleveland and gave the Browns a run for their money? Yeah. All that optimism is gone. Four of the Texans’ last five games haven’t been competitive, and this 31-5 loss to Arizona was a special kind of non-competitive. The kind of non-competitive that has literally never been accomplished before in NFL history. 

30. Miami Dolphins (1-6)

Last Week: 29

How much lower can things get for Miami in the Week 8 NFL Power Rankings? The disappointment for a team many thought was headed in the right direction is immense. The story all week has been rumors of the potential blockbuster trade for disgruntled Texans’ quarterback Desean Watson. But would that actually help? Tua Tagovailoa threw for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns. He completed 80 percent of his passes. Yeah he threw two ugly picks in Falcons territory. But, he also brought the Dolphins back down the field and gave them a lead with 2:33 left in the game. Watson won’t save this team, and losing all those draft picks will probably set them back for years. Actually, if I was Watson, I’d refuse to play there too.

29. New York Jets (1-6)

Last Week: 27

Under most circumstances, getting blown out 54-13 by a team with a losing record would be worthy of a steeper drop than this. Luckily for the Jets, the bottom three teams look even worse than they do after this week. Although, Zach Wilson heard a pop in his knee in the second quarter. Now, every Jets fan in the country is in purgatory. If Wilson misses significant time, it might be time to embrace the tank in Jersey B.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5)

Last week: 31

After their 20-game losing streak, the Jacksonville Jaguars have now gone two whole weeks without a loss! I’m kidding. The Jags barely beat the lowly Dolphins last week and didn’t play at all this week. But, there has been plenty of turmoil going on among the NFL’s worst teams this week. So, the Jaguars come out looking slightly less awful in the Week 8 NFL Power Rankings than they did a few weeks ago. Now that the national attention is off their dysfunction, can they refocus and stay out of the basement?

27. New York Giants (2-5)

Last Week: 28

Daniel Jones had an ‘ok’ day as a passer this week (23/33, 203 yards, one TD). He didn’t make any major mistakes, which is progress. He also made one of the coolest catches you’ll see all season.

I’m not here to tell you beating the crap out of a Panthers team that has completely collapsed over the last month is praiseworthy. It’s a nice feel-good win for the Giants. But, it was one of the least impressive blowout wins I’ve ever seen. Keep grinding, Giants. There’s potential there, though I’m not sure you’ll find it many more times this season.

26. Philadelphia Eagles (2-5)

Last Week: 24

Poor Jalen Hurts. He’s trying so hard to give Philadelphia something to root for. He started to do just that after the Eagles’ first drive finding Kenneth Gainwell for a 13-yard touchdown pass. Unfortunately, the Eagles couldn’t get anything going again until they were already down 30-7 in the fourth quarter. Like last week, Hurts engineered a pair of touchdown drives late in the game but couldn’t make it happen on their last possession. Even if he had, it might have been too late. But, it certainly would have been a fascinating ending.

25. Washington Football Team (2-5)

Last Week: 25

For most of the first half, it looked like Washington had a chance to pull off a miracle. They had a 42-yard field goal that would have given them the lead, blocked in the second quarter. Then, they blocked one of their own, but couldn’t capitalize. A Taylor Heinicke sack-fumble after the first drive of the second half began a series of unfortunate events. Eventually, it resulted in a 24-7 deficit well into the fourth quarter. I don’t see this loss as confirming anything we didn’t already know about Washington, so at No. 25 they stay this week.

24. Denver Broncos (3-4)

Last Week: 22

After such a promising start, the Broncos are now losers of four in a row. This week, it came against Case Keenum, D’Ernest Johnson, and Johnny Stanton. Who is Johnny Stanton you ask? He’s the Browns backup fullback of course! I can’t believe you didn’t know that. In seriousness, when the backup fullback is making plays against you, you know it’s time to hit the reset button. Something is critically wrong in Denver. It might not be long before they find themselves in the company of those bottom-feeder teams they feasted on in the first three weeks.

23. Atlanta Falcons (3-3)

Last Week: 26

Way to go, Falcons! You finally didn’t Falcon up a huge lead! They lead 20-7 with 20 minutes left in the game. But, in typical Atlanta fashion, they let the opposing team back into the game. In fact, they actually lost the lead near the end of the fourth quarter. Luckily, the Dolphins are awful. Matt Ryan drove the Falcons back down the field to set up an easy 36-yard game winner for Younghoe Koo. Suddenly, the Falcons are 3-3 and knocking on the door of the playoff race. 

22. Seattle Seahawks (2-5)

Last Week: 17

This Seattle Seahawks team is just hopeless without Russell Wilson. It seems like every week Geno Smith has an opportunity to go win the game at the end due to the relative incompetence of their opponent. He’s turned the ball over every single time, whether it’s an INT, a fumble, or a super inaccurate throw to DK Metcalf after taking back-to-back crippling sacks. This team still has a few more weeks before Russ comes back. At this point, I’m not sure even he can save their season.

21. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3)

Last Week: 21

The Pittsburgh Steelers did not play a game this week. They’re back to being alone in the AFC North basement after the Browns got back to their winning ways this week. But, they get those same injury-riddled Browns in Cleveland this coming week. Win, and your season is back on track. Lose, and you’re still stuck in no-man’s land.

20. Chicago Bears (3-4)

Last Week: 19

I have no idea what to make of this Bears team. One week they look legit, beating a very good Cincinnati Bengals team, then they let Justin Fields be sacked nine times against the Browns. Then, they put together two solid wins against the Lions and Raiders. They even did decently against the Packers last week, even though Aaron Rodgers confirmed he still owns them. This week was just a complete rejection of all the progress they’ve made. Justin Fields looks broken and I’m not sure Matt Nagy can put him back together.

19. Indianapolis Colts (3-4)

Last Week: 23

I expected a little more out of a Colts team that took the Ravens so close last week. Yeah, they won, but it was about as ugly a win as you could have. The Colts benefited from four extremely well timed turnovers. They gave it away a few times themselves and seemed only capable of actually scoring any points following a big turnover. This game probably would have looked more like a high scoring baseball game at the end if it hadn’t been for the turnovers.

You’re telling me this was the best you could do for SNF, NFL??? No, it’s ok guys. We don’t need to flex the Bengals-Ravens battle for first place in the division and conference. Everyone is going to love the snooze fest between the two most boring teams in the NFL! Still, they won and there was a ton of movement in the Week 8 NFL Power Rankings, so they benefit.

18. Carolina Panthers (3-4)

Last Week: 14

Sam Darnold… just… holy crap man. I don’t think anyone disputes the Jets made him worse. But did they break him beyond repair? He was awful today. Darnold didn’t throw a single pass longer than 10 yards until the second half. He gave up a safety  at the beginning of the second quarter with an unnecessary intentional grounding. He took his third sack of the day on the final play of the third quarter and the Panthers benched him for PJ Walker. Walker didn’t fare much better, but at least we learned the Sam Darnold renaissance was fool’s gold.

17. San Francisco 49ers (2-4)

Last Week: 16

Welp. Last week I talked about this team flipping their 2-3 start to 4-3 taking advantage of an easy couple of games. You can’t do that when you turn the ball over four times, which is what the 49ers did against the Colts this week. Jimmy Garoppolo alone accounted for three of those turnovers. All three of them came in the second half. Deebo Samuel’s came in the first, but it helped spark a Colts team that looked offensively inept through most of the contest. Without those turnovers, San Francisco probably grinds away a low scoring 18-7 victory and we basically learn nothing about either team. But, the 49ers refused to win this one the Colts repeatedly tried to hand them.

16. New England Patriots (3-4)

Last Week: 20

Tom Brady might be moved on to his new home in Tampa Bay. But, the Patriots’ absolute dominance over the Jets from that era still lives on. New England still hasn’t lost to Jersey B since a surprise overtime loss in 2015, and they haven’t lost to them in regulation since Mark Sanchez won that inexplicable playoff game in January of 2011. Mac Jones was clinical and Damien Harris rushed for over 100 yards. The Patriots are not dead yet.

15. New Orleans Saints (4-2)

Last Week: 15

Two wins in a row for the New Orleans Saints plus a useful bye week has a generally positive feeling sweeping through Nawlins. Though, they really lucked out that Geno Smith was the opposing quarterback. Winston was sloppy. His fumbled snap turned touchdown pass to Alvin Kamara that gave the Saints their first lead was a microcosm of their entire season. Yeah, it looked like a pretty janky way to score. But they still scored, dammit. I still have no idea if this Saints team is good or not. So, just outside of the playoff teams they remain in the Week 8 NFL Power Rankings.

14. Las Vegas Raiders (5-2)

Last Week: 18

I thought the Raiders were dead in the water after the Jon Gruden debacle. This was a sloppy team that I felt deserved ‘pretender’ status as much as the Broncos and Panthers. Then, they lost their head coach. How could they possibly survive that? Well, after two ‘get right’ games against the Broncos and Eagles, the Raiders are suddenly 5-2 and right back in the playoff discussion. Was Jon Gruden that bad of a head coach? Has their soft schedule the last couple of weeks inflated their rebound? It could be a while before we find out as they’re on bye next week and play the Giants the week after their upcoming bye. 

13. Minnesota Vikings (3-3)

Last Week: 13

In the coming weeks, the true nature of the Minnesota Vikings is going to be revealed. They play the Cowboys, Ravens, Chargers, and Packers each of the next four weeks. The way this team has played, you could just as easily see them pulling off a respectable numbers of wins as getting totally blown out in every game. If I had to bet, they’ll probably split those games 2-2. Because of course they will. For now, they’re still a playoff team in the Week 8 NFL Power Rankings based on what we’ve seen so far.

12. Kansas City Chiefs (3-4)

Last Week: 9

Is having the 3-4 Kansas City Chiefs ahead of the 5-2 Las Vegas Raiders disrespectful? Probably. That’s what happens when reigning back-to-back AFC Champions flash big-game potential at points in the season, even though they’re putting up their fair share of stinkers too. This was Kansas City’s worst game of the season, and I’m starting to think it might not get better in a timely manner. Hence, nearly falling out of the playoff contenders in the Week 8 NFL Power Rankings. They’ll probably beat up on the lowly Giants this coming week and lose to the Packers. Then they go to Las Vegas. We’ll find out a lot about where the Chiefs are at that point.

11. Cleveland Browns (4-3)

Last Week: 11

Ouch. That’s the battle cry of the Cleveland Browns right now. Luckily, Baker Mayfield is expected to come back at some point this season. D’Ernest Johnson looks good enough to hold the fort down until Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt can come back. This was an ugly win against the Broncos, but this was also an ugly version of the Browns. Kevin Stefanski proved he is a hell of a coach. Watch out for this Browns team once they’re healthy.

10. Baltimore Ravens (5-2)

Last Week: 6

Lamar giveth, Lamar taketh away. The Ravens are far too unpredictable this year to really get behind. They should be 4-3 right now because of an uncalled delay of game against the Lions. They fooled me last week when they put a hurting on an overmatched Chargers team. They’re still a top-10 team based on what they’ve done this season. But, getting dominated like that at home makes me think this Ravens team doesn’t have the consistency to overcome their big game problems.

9. Tennessee Titans (5-2)

Last Week: 12

Derrick Henry, man. Not only is he a force in the ground game, but apparently he can throw for touchdowns too! He was held relatively in check as a rusher this week (3.0 YPC, 0 TDs). But, when he puts together cool highlights like that in a 27-3 beatdown against the reigning AFC champs, you have to take notice. The Titans are as hot as anyone in the NFL right now so watch out.

8. Los Angeles Chargers (4-2)

Last Week: 8

The Chargers are coming off their bye this week to prepare for a New England Patriots team coming off a massive blowout win. They can right the ship after the debacle against the Ravens last week with a win. But, a loss will raise a LOT of questions about whether this team is a true Super Bowl contender right now.

7. Green Bay Packers (6-1)

Last Week: 7

It was a bit of a slow start for the Packers this week. Were it not for TJ Slaton’s blocked kick, the Packers would have been trailing the Football Team at one point in the first half. But, the Packers hit the gas in the second half and wound up with a fairly convincing 24-10 victory. I won’t award any brownie points for that one, but 6-1 is 6-1.

6. Cincinnati Bengals (5-2)

Last Week: 10

You could make the argument that the Bengals could be 6-1 right now if Evan McPherson had made either of his missed field goals against the Packers. Hell, you could make the argument they could be 7-0 with a bit better luck at the end with the Bears. ‘What ifs’ won’t get you anywhere in the NFL, but beating the snot out of a division opponent on the road absolutely will. After winning only six games the past two years combined, the Cincinnati Bengals are looking like fringe Super Bowl contenders in 2021.

5. Los Angeles Rams (6-1)

Last Week: 5

Matthew Stafford put together a very good performance against his old team. Even though it cost two first round picks and a third, it’s looking like that Stafford-Goff trade in the offseason was a great idea. I haven’t forgotten the Rams struggled to put the Lions away all game. But, they did take the lead in the fourth quarter and sealed it with two interceptions on their former No. 1 overall pick. Like I said with the Packers, 6-1 is 6-1.

4. Dallas Cowboys (5-1)

Last Week: 4

The Cowboys were on bye this week and still managed to separate even further from the rest of the NFC East. There’s still 11 games left to play, but it already feels like this division is wrapped up. The Cowboys might be tested a little next week in Minnesota, but after that it could be a while before they have a realistic chance to slip up.

3. Buffalo Bills (4-2)

Last Week: 3

The Bills get a week of rest to process their loss to the Titans, who look even better after this week. Their next three games? Dolphins, Jags, Jets. I’d be shocked if they aren’t 7-2 when they get ready to host the up-and-down Colts in Week 11.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-1)

Last Week: 2

Chris Godwin had a dominant day against Chicago with 111 yards on 8 catches and a touchdown. Brady’s other three touchdown passes went to Mike Evans, although Evans wasn’t as electric with the ball in his hands this week. The Bucs forced six turnovers on a Bears team that looked totally lost. Could #8 be in the future for Tom Brady?

1. Arizona Cardinals (6-0)

Last Week: 1

The Arizona Cardinals achieved Scorigami this week against the Houston Texans. For those who don’t know, it means their 31-5 final score had never been done before in NFL history. How did they get there? Well, they allowed the Texans to go up 5-0 with a field goal and a safety in the first quarter. But, it was all Arizona after that after Kyler Murray led the Cardinals to four touchdowns and a field goal the rest of the game.

NFL Power Rankings: Week 7

NFL Power rankings Week 7
Emilee Chinn, Getty Images

The NFL Power Rankings Week 7 are seeing quite a bit of movement. Basement teams are shuffling around, the top 10 is shuffling around, and we even have a new No. 1 this week! The Detroit Lions had the biggest fall this week all the way down to the bottom spot in the NFL. The Las Vegas Raiders saw the biggest climb after overcoming their head coach drama to put away the struggling Broncos.

32. Detroit Lions (0-6)

Last Week: 29

The bottom fell out. The Detroit Lions are the last winless team in the NFL and they got there in absolutely embarrassing fashion this week. They were completely shut out in their own home stadium against the Cincinnati Bengals. That is, until the Bengals started playing prevent defense and allowed the Lions to march down the field and put 11 garbage time points up against their backups. Dan Campbell is no longer crying for his players. Now he’s just disappointed in them. That hurts worse, and that’s why they’re now at the bottom of the NFL Power Rankings.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5)

Last week: 32

The Jacksonville Jaguars finally snapped their 20-game losing streak. It figures it would happen in London, their second home, where they’ve played more than any other team. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still worried about how this locker room feels about Urban Meyer. But, for this week, they got the job done and earned a bit of credit on the NFL Power Rankings.

30. Houston Texans (1-5)

Last Week: 31

Trust me, I don’t feel good elevating the Houston Texans a spot after being blown out 31-3 by a team that came in with the same record as them. Unfortunately, that’s how things go sometimes when you’re down this deep in the Power Rankings. Sometimes you get dropped for looking awful, and sometimes the ineptitude of your peers makes you look slightly better.

29. Miami Dolphins (1-5)

Last Week: 27

Currently, I don’t believe the Miami Dolphins are a fundamentally more flawed team than the Jacksonville Jaguars. Miami’s quarterback situation is a mess and their defense couldn’t stop a nosebleed. But, Brian Flores still has to be a better coach than Urban Meyer, right? Flores’ fall from grace has been spectacular. But, at least his players still respect him. I think.

28. New York Giants (1-5)

Last Week: 28

Hey. They had a lead through the end of the first quarter. That’s progress right? Nevermind the fact that they let the Rams score 38 unanswered points after a pretty good start. I’m joking, of course. They’ve been absolutely spanked both of the last two weeks. You thought they were making progress when they upset the Saints after two close losses. But, it’s starting to feel a bit hopeless in Jersey.

27. New York Jets (1-4)

Last Week: 30

Sometimes one of the best things you can do is nothing. That’s what the Jets did this week on their bye week. In the process, they capitalized on an opportunity to not embarrass themselves, as they’ve done quite a few times this season. Luckily for them, a bunch of their peers on this end of the NFL Power Rankings had really bad weeks. So, the Jets end up with a large climb due to simply not looking worse than teams like the Dolphins, Texans, and Lions.

26. Atlanta Falcons (2-3)

Last Week: 26

The Falcons don’t get quite as lucky as the Jets on their bye week. Unfortunately for them, nobody in their area of the Power Rankings embarrassed themselves as badly as the teams in the bottom five. They’ll have an opportunity to get back to .500 against the lowly Dolphins next week, but for now they stay put.

25. Washington Football Team (2-4)

Last Week: 25

That was an admirable performance by Washington. They bullied Patrick Mahomes and went into halftime with a lead. Unfortunately, Mahomes decided to stand up for himself. Washington allowed the Chiefs to score three touchdowns on three drives after a missed field goal. Taylor Heinicke completed the meltdown with an interception thrown late in the fourth quarter. The game was probably already out of hand at that point, but that sealed it.

24. Philadelphia Eagles (2-4)

Last Week: 23

For a brief time, the Eagles turned a stinker of a Thursday Night Football game into a briefly watchable affair. They weren’t able to finish out the comeback due to a completely dead looking defense on the Buccaneers’ final drive. But, Jalen Hurts looked great on those final three drives.

23. Indianapolis Colts (2-4)

Last Week: 24

After nearly upsetting the Ravens last week, the Colts showed they’re still a dangerous team this week. They did it with a 31-3 drubbing of the struggling Houston Texans. Running back Jonathan Taylor exploded for 145 yards and two touchdowns. He was matched by Carson Wentz in the air, who had a very efficient night. When the Colts play like this, it makes you think they could do something exciting. The problem is, games like this have been few and far between in Indy this year. 

22. Denver Broncos (3-3)

Last Week: 19

RIP to that much talked about 3-0 start. The Broncos have gone from one of the most hyped teams in NFL Power Rankings to a “bad” team. In theory, they had a devastated Raiders team delivered, like lambs, to the slaughter. In reality, the Broncos were completely outclassed by a far more talented Raiders team that looked motivated to overcome their coaching woes.

21. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3)

Last Week: 22

I can’t say I’m exactly impressed after the Steelers ground out wins against a hilariously overrated Broncos team and the Geno Smith Seahawks. But, a win is a win, no matter how ugly. And boy, was that an ugly win. The Steelers subjected America to an overtime nobody wanted. They pulled it off in the end, but this Steelers team still has way more questions than answers.

20. New England Patriots (2-4)

Last Week: 20

You have to give it to the Patriots: They played the Cowboys much closer than any other team has since Week 1 when Tom Brady beat them. It seems like ol’ Bill Belichick is inching this team closer and closer to contention every week. But, they had a tough task against Dak Prescott and the Cowboys this week. Still, they had a lead late and almost broke it in overtime. Patriots fans have to feel like they’re right there.

19. Chicago Bears (3-3)

Last Week: 18

As a fan of a team that has been owned by a hall of fame quarterback for the last decade or so, I feel for Bears fans. They won’t stop hearing “I still own you!” all week and possibly all year. They seem like they’re good enough to turn their season around and make the playoffs. But, they did this one to themselves. They’re going to have to get out of their own way if they want to play with the big boys.

18. Las Vegas Raiders (4-2)

Last Week: 21

I did not see that coming. Last week, the Bears were absolutely mauled by the Chicago Bears in the midst of the Jon Gruden fiasco. This week, they managed to put the drama behind them and play mostly flawless football en route to a huge win. It proved they are not pretenders of the same kind as the Broncos. Was it real, or was it an emotional reaction to their awful week? Their next three games are against the Eagles, Giants, and Chiefs. So, they could easily work their way back into the top 14 if they take advantage.

17. Seattle Seahawks (2-4)

Last Week: 15

Thank God Russell Wilson is coming back eventually. They aren’t going to do much winning with Geno Smith at quarterback. He almost brought them back at the end, but it was clearly a struggle to get there. Then, he fumbled the ball away at the critical moment. Just like the interception last week. Is this what Jets fans had to deal with? Poor suckers.

16. San Francisco 49ers (2-3)

Last Week: 17

The 49ers are probably happy that the Seattle Seahawks fell just short of a victory this week. The season is still early, so you could easily see their 2-3 start flip to 4-3 with games against the Colts and Bears coming up. Then again, they could easily plummet in the power rankings if they fail to win those games.

15. New Orleans Saints (3-2)

Last Week: 16

The New Orleans Saints also benefit from Geno Smith’s ineptitude on their bye week. Then again, this is two positive results in a row for the Saints. That seems pretty unsustainable considering their run of form this year. Is that a bad omen for their matchup with the Seattle Seahawks this coming week?

14. Carolina Panthers (3-3)

Last Week: 12

Broncos fans are probably looking at this list thinking I’m an idiot for putting them so low and the Panthers, who also blew a 3-0 start, still in playoff range. Rest assured, if the Panthers put up another bad performance next week, they will be plummeting down these Power Rankings. The difference, however, is the Broncos dominated three awful opponents then got exposed when they played real teams. The Panthers at least beat the Saints and have made each of their losses interesting. Sam Darnold is starting to fall back down to earth, but they still managed to force overtime against the Vikings. They didn’t even get the ball in overtime, but you feel like they might have won the game if their offense got the ball first.

13. Minnesota Vikings (3-3)

Last Week: 14

The Vikings’ luck in their 1-3 start was absolutely brutal. But, two solid wins since have brought them back to .500. Their schedule is absolutely brutal the next four weeks as they play the Cowboys, Ravens, Chargers, and Packers. But, they’ve proven they can hang with anyone. If they can even go 2-2 in that stretch, you have to feel good about their playoff chances.

12. Tennessee Titans (3-2)

Last Week: 13

The Titans beat the team that I considered to be the most dangerous in football, so you can’t deny they look like a bona fide playoff team. Their offense is still heavily reliant on Derrick Henry continuing to be an absolute force. But, Ryan Tannehill came up clutch down the stretch too. He kept the Titans driving late in the game, allowing Derrick Henry to save his angry runs for big situations.

11. Cleveland Browns (3-3)

Last Week: 9

The last two weeks haven’t been great for the Browns. You could sort of look past that loss to the Chargers. Herbert’s gonna Herbert, but at least Baker Mayfield and the offense kept up and participated in a wild shootout. This week, Baker Mayfield couldn’t stop turning the ball over and the Browns’ offense simply could not keep up with the Cardinals. The Browns turn around on a short week to host the sputtering Broncos before getting 10 days of rest to host the Steelers. Hopefully that’s enough to shake off a rocky couple of weeks, because they need it.

10. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2)

Last Week: 11

The Cincinnati Bengals are a top-10 team in the NFL through six weeks, just like we all expected. Ok but seriously, did anyone see this coming? Granted, it’s not like the Steelers, Jaguars, and Lions are exactly difficult outs. But, they’ve been beating the teams they’re supposed to beat and that’s not nothing. Hell, they would have beaten the Packers if one of those field goals went in. They proved themselves this week by dismantling the Lions. Maybe not as efficiently as you’d hope, but it was still a blowout.

9. Kansas City Chiefs (3-3)

Last Week: 10

I was ready to move the Chiefs out of the top 14 after halftime. The Chiefs were sloppy in that first half and looked to be confirming the doubts of many with their play. But, they turned things around in the second half to the tune of a 21-0 shutout on the road. This is why I never moved the Chiefs out of the top 10. Because they’re still capable of stuff like this.

8. Los Angeles Chargers (4-2)

Last Week: 6

That was a bad loss. The Los Angeles Chargers’ vaunted offense was completely shut out in the second half and most of the first half. The missed extra point on their lone touchdown near the end of the second quarter perfectly encapsulated a day where almost nothing went right for the Chargers. The Chargers have had some close calls this year against less-than-stellar competition. But, this is also the same team that dropped 47 points on the Cleveland Browns last week. So, I’m not ready to demote them to pretenders in the NFL Power Rankings just yet. We’ll see how they respond to this setback.

7. Green Bay Packers (5-1)

Last Week: 7

Do your victory lap, Aaron Rodgers. When you’re 22-5 against an opponent, I think you have every right to claim you own them. For the most part, the Packers played pretty average football against the Chicago Bears. They held Justin Fields under 200 yards passing, but they allowed 140 yards on the ground. However, Mason Crosby hit all of his kicks and Aaron Rodgers personally scored all three of the Packers’ touchdowns against a Bears team that looked like it was turning a corner.

6. Baltimore Ravens (5-1)

Last Week: 8

How many times is Lamar Jackson going to overcome being super reckless with the football and end up looking good by the end of it? He had a bad day (167 yards passing, one touchdown, two interceptions). The Ravens STILL blew out a Chargers team many consider to be dark horse Super Bowl contenders. When they’re firing on all cylinders like this, Lamar can afford to be less than perfect. The Ravens look as tough as anybody right now despite some close games against bad teams earlier in the year.

5. Los Angeles Rams (5-1)

Last Week: 5

The Rams went into New Jersey to face off against a Giants team missing all of their legitimate offensive weapons. I can’t say this is the most legitimizing win of all time, considering many already consider the Rams to be Super Bowl contenders. But, they got the job done against an obviously inferior opponent and they absolutely deserve credit for that. There’s not much room to move around this high in the power rankings. Especially, when everyone else up here also won their games. But, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Donald both showed exactly why many value them so highly.

4. Dallas Cowboys (5-1)

Last Week: 4

It was getting tense there for a minute in Foxborough. The Cowboys came in against a below average Patriots and almost fell victim to what could be argued as a trap game and a plunge in the NFL Power Rankings. But, Dak was electrifying as ever. He overcame a boneheaded interception where he tried to force a touchdown pass into really tight coverage to wind up throwing for 445 yards and three touchdowns. 

3. Buffalo Bills (4-2)

Last Week: 1

Don’t feel bad, Buffalo. Everyone struggles against Derrick Henry. The Bills ended their run of dominance this week that had me claiming them as the best team in football despite the Week 1 loss. Josh Allen tried his hardest with 379 yards of total offense, three touchdowns, and only one interception. The problem is, his bowling ball style of scrambling couldn’t get the job done on a questionable 4th and one call. I get the Bills were trying to go for the win, but you could have lived to see overtime. I imagine they’ll take their frustrations out on the Dolphins after their bye week. But, another stumble and they could see a sharp fall in the NFL Power Rankings.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-1)

Last Week: 3

If you turned the Thursday Night Football game after halftime, no one could blame you. The Bucs were dominating the Eagles through the first half after the Eagles’ first drive. If you kept watching, you saw the Bucs somehow let the Eagles back into the game, even after extending their lead to 28-7 in the third quarter. A missed Eagles field goal takes away from just how close the Eagles were to breaking through. But, the Bucs got their act together on the final drive and ran the clock out. Overall, it was a pretty solid win that shouldn’t have been a game.

1. Arizona Cardinals (6-0)

Last Week: 2

The Arizona Cardinals continued to make their case as the best team in the NFL Power Rankings as they dominated the Cleveland Browns from start to finish. A second quarter rally by the Browns gave them a fighting chance, but the Cardinals completely shut the door in the second half. Coffin nails were arguably achieved late in the third quarter when Deandre Hopkins reeled in a touchdown pass from Kyler Murray to make it 30-14. But, all hope was extinguished when AJ Green went in the endzone against his familiar foe with just under five minutes left in the game.