Bills vs Buccaneers: Allen vs Brady – Week 14 Preview

Bills at Buccaneers
(Getty Images)

The outlook on the Buffalo Bills season has never been lower. After sleepwalking through the easy part of their schedule and taking some bad losses, they are 7-5. They are now 1.5 games behind New England in the AFC East title race with the rematch coming in a couple weeks. They now look to turn things around on a short week against a familiar opponent, Tom Brady. This Bills vs Buccaneers matchup has the makings of an instant classic with plenty on the line.

Playoff Race

Many of us hoped that we would be tracking scenarios for the AFC 1-seed but now the target is just getting to the playoffs. Despite feeling like the season is over, the Bills stand a good chance of getting to the postseason. The Bills current playoff odds sit around 78% according to the NY Times playoff odds calculator.

A 3-2 record through the final 5 games elevates those odds to 88%. Winning 4 games guarantees a playoff spot. The remaining opponents are: Buccaneers, Panthers, Patriots, Falcons, Jets. This week’s Bills vs Buccaneers game is not a must-win, but a win would remove a ton of pressure.

Tom Brady Effect

There is no denying that Tom Brady owns a large plot of real estate in the Buffalo Bills’ headspace. Brady is 32-3 against Buffalo, all games occurring during his 19-year Patriots tenure. He won the Super Bowl in 2020, his first year with Tampa Bay.

Brady is now playing MVP-level football in his second season with Bruce Arians. The players won’t admit it, but this game is more “Bills against Brady” than Bills vs Buccaneers.

How to Win on Offense

The Buccaneers have an elite run defense. It is not even worth testing. Vita Vea is among the best interior defenders in the league and avoiding him would be smart. Josh Allen should throw 40 or more passes to have an optimal game plan. The rest of the defensive line is excellent at generating pressure. They have a big advantage over the Bills offensive line even if Jon Feliciano is able to return.

Allen should look to distribute the ball quickly even if it means taking short gains. On the back end, the Buccaneers are looking healthy with Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting back in action. They will play a lot of 2-high defense which has given Allen trouble this season. Linebacker Lavonte David is excellent in coverage and Devin White is a nasty run defender.

Diggs may see a lot of bracketed coverage so I would like to see Allen distribute the ball around. Featuring Gabe Davis outside would give him a physical advantage over Murphy-Bunting and could be our best opportunity for downfield shots. Cole Beasley has a big opportunity as our best zone-beater underneath. He should get double-digit targets as a run game replacement.

I would also make Zack Moss inactive and give either Isaiah McKenzie or Marquez Stevenson some designed plays on offense to spread the defense horizontally. Dawson Knox draws a tough matchup with David so it would be wise to keep him in-line to help protect Allen. The Bills should be able to move the ball but execution in the red-zone will be vital to success on Sunday.

How to Win on Defense

There is no sugar coating it, the Buccaneers offense is simply better than the Bills defense. Without Tre’ White, nobody on the team can stop Mike Evans. He is an elite receiver and routinely wins balls in perfect coverage. The key will be getting physical and giving his assignment safety help. Chris Godwin will primarily play the slot and will be Taron Johnson’s toughest matchup yet.

Fortunately, Antonio Brown is suspended for faking his vaccine card and will be replaced by a combo of Breshad Perriman and Tyler Johnson. At tight end, Rob Gronkowski is a familiar face who is still playing great football. Even running back Leonard Fournette has become a threat in the pass game.

This is a spectacular group of pass-catchers and Brady will find the open man more often than not. You can’t outright stop them, but you can limit explosives. That will be the biggest focus on defense.

Brady has also taken some risks this season and has thrown 7 interceptions in his last 5 games. The Bills need to attack the ball and try to force turnovers when the opportunities are there. As good as the skill players are, the Buccaneers offensive line is even better. They have no weak links and are among the best at limiting pressure.

Brady has been significantly worse when pressured so finding a way to get to him would be a huge help. The best matchup we have in the trenches is Ed Oliver against Alex Cappa. He can be the biggest catalyst to defensive success. The Buccaneers quietly have a top rushing attack as well and can attack a well-known weakness of the Bills defense. Greg Rousseau will have to be at his best at setting the edge in the run game to funnel things back inside.

This is a tough draw for the whole defense and points will be scored. Generating turnovers and pressuring Brady is easier said than done but could be the key to pulling off the upset.

Prediction

I fully believe that the Bills have the ability to win this game. I expect plenty of offense and a competitive game down to the last snap. The Bills are 0-4 in one score games this season so they are due for positive regression at some point. However, I think they make too many mistakes to put together the perfect game that they need in this contest. My final score prediction is

Bills 27
Buccaneers 31


Let’s hope for Allen to step up and lead the team to a win but remember not to lose our heads if we drop this one. The playoffs are within reach either way. Regardless, this Bills vs Buccaneers matchup will be must-watch football.

Go Bills!

Week 13 NFL Power Rankings

week 13 nfl power rankings
Jeff Siner – Charlotte Observer

The Week 13 NFL Power Rankings have movement all over the place! The Patriots and Lions stay put as the best and worst teams this week, respectively. But, so many other teams are moving significantly from where they were in last week’s power rankings.

32. Detroit Lions (0-10-1)

Last Week: 32

I apologize to all the Detroit Lions fans out there. But, I’m rooting for 0-16-1 at this point. It’s a feat that I’m not sure we’ll ever see happen again. For an NFL team to be good enough to come so close to winning so many times and fail to do so every single time is just… special. It’s a rough life.

But, hey, I’ll give you this: The Lions are currently 1-9-1 in my eyes. The refs failed to penalize the Baltimore Ravens with a delay of game penalty at the end of the Week 3 game. It would have knocked the Ravens out of even Justin Tucker’s inhuman field goal range. You can always hang your hats on that.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9)

Last week: 30

The Jacksonville Jaguars are so bad they can’t even complete a comeback attempt over the Falcons. Obviously I’m poking a bit of fun at the Falcons with that comment. But, I guess my question is, where the hell was that effort the rest of the game? The Jags looked as snake-bitten as they’ve ever looked with turnovers on back to back drives in the second quarter.

They basically set the Falcons up with a 14-3 lead at halftime. The thought process was… hey, if the Jags can stop making killer mistakes, they could always turn this game around. The Falcons haven’t exactly fully earned their halftime lead. The problem is you still have to push the ball down the field, and the Jags were unable to do that.

30. Houston Texans (2-9)

Last Week: 27

Chin up, Texans fans! The only other teams to lose to the Jets this year were the Bengals and Titans and look where both of those teams are right now! Although, it’s a little different because the Texans’ offense was completely inept. Tyrod Taylor accounted for nearly 200 yards of total offense on his own, but nobody else could accomplish anything.

The Jets’ defense has been notoriously awful this season, so what does that say about the Texans’ offense? The Texans have some fundamental issues holding their football team back right now, hence their tumble in the Week 13 NFL Power Rankings.

29. New York Jets (3-8)

Last Week: 31

The much awaited return of Zach Wilson happened this week and… well, it wasn’t pretty. But, the Jets won. It was largely due to a running game that tallied 157 yards on the day. But, that doesn’t change the fact that the Jets’ air game failed to take flight all day. Wilson finished with 145 yards and an interception.

Thank god, for his sake, Mike White and Joe Flacco didn’t play any better. I can’t put them too high in the Week 13 NFL Power Rankings. But, I’ll give them a nice little boost for eclipsing their 2020 win total.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5-1)

Last Week: 23

Speaking of misleading records, how the hell is this Steelers team 5-5-1? Like the Falcons, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re average because they have a .500 record. But, this team couldn’t beat the Lions. The refs handed them a win over the Bears. They struggled to put 15 points up on a very injured Browns team. They lucked out against Geno Smith and got a Bills team that wasn’t ready to go in Week 1.

In my opinion, they’ve only had one convincing win all season against the Denver Broncos. So, losing 41-10 to the Bengals is honestly about what we should expect. Do you honestly expect them to beat the Ravens, Vikings, Titans, Chiefs, or Browns? The Steelers are very close to visiting the Week 13 NFL Power Rankings’ basement.

27. Seattle Seahawks (3-8)

Last Week: 24

What can I even say at this point? Russell Wilson came back and this team is still hot doodoo garbage. This week might have been Seattle’s last chance to turn this season into something relevant or interesting. If only to build momentum for next year. But, now, it’s looking like it’s almost time to blow the whole thing up and start over.

26. Atlanta Falcons (5-6)

Last Week: 29

The Atlanta Falcons’ 5-6 record is a bit misleading. You’d be forgiven for thinking they’re an average football team right now if you only looked at that number. But, dive a little deeper, and you’ll see so many blown opportunities that you’d never trust this team ever again for the rest of your life. They almost had another one against the Jaguars this week. But, they prevented a fall in the Week 13 NFL Power Rankings by holding Trevor Lawrence’s heroic comeback attempt off.

25. New York Giants (4-7)

Last Week: 26

You have to give credit to the Giants’ defense. Considering the offensive production we saw, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have won this game without it. Three interceptions on Jalen Hurts put a bowtie on this pig of a game for Giants fans. Saquon Barkley was ineffective, Daniel Jones was uninspiring, and nobody had an answer for Hurts’ legs.

But, they found a way to get the job done. I don’t think it saves Joe Judge’s job. But, it’s the kind of hard-fought division win the locker room can hang their hat on.

24. Chicago Bears (4-7)

Last Week: 25

Wow. Um. Good job, Bears? You sure showed the Lions you could… score 16 points against them. Look, to be fair, the Bears got a win this week. It doesn’t matter in the final standings that it came against a Lions team that hasn’t won a game since Week 13 of last year (against the Bears, by the way).

Andy Dalton looked like Andy Dalton. But, hey, Darnell Mooney had a nice game! Maybe you’ve got a nice piece to build that receiving corps with?

23. Carolina Panthers (5-7)

Last Week: 21

So much for Cam Newton coming home to save the Panthers’ season, huh? Cam’s 5.8 passer rating this week was worse than anything the Panthers have ever seen out of Sam Darnold. He only completed five of his 21 passing attempts and threw it to the other team twice.

Then, perhaps even more insanely, the Panthers benched him for PJ Walker and he was sacked FOUR TIMES! The man only played two drives. I think there might be something fundamentally wrong with the Panthers, rather than their quarterbacks.

22. New Orleans Saints (5-6)

Last Week: 18

Life without Jameis Winston is tough in New Orleans. They were absolutely decimated by the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving this week. They didn’t even sniff the end-zone until the fourth quarter. And, if that wasn’t enough, they couldn’t even convert the two-point conversion after the fact.

The Saints’ defense did pretty well through most of the first half, but the whole team fell apart in the second half. If they’re not careful, the Saints could find themselves out of the playoff race when they looked like shoo-ins a few weeks ago.

21. Miami Dolphins (5-7)

Last Week: 27

Don’t look now, but the Miami Dolphins are only a single game out of the playoff race. It seems like they’re starting to get more comfortable with the idea of letting Tua take over in a more balanced offense. It’s not exactly the prettiest way to win games. But, it is one they could be successful with. It might seem crazy, but Brian Flores could potentially save his job if he learns to trust the quarterback the team spent a No. 5 overall pick on.

20. Denver Broncos (6-5)

Last Week: 22

Rumors of the Broncos’ demise have been greatly exaggerated. Patrick Surtain showed why he was worth a high draft pick this week by essentially putting the final nails in the Chargers’ coffin with a pick six. The Broncos’ offense was largely unspectacular, but it was efficient. Teddy Bridgewater avoided any major mistakes and finished with a 101.4 passer rating. This is the formula for winning, Broncos. I could see them right back in the playoff picture if they keep riding this strategy.

19. Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)

Last Week: 16

It’s pretty difficult to win a game when Jalen Hurts throws three interceptions like that. The Eagles are running out of breathing room in the playoff race. If they’re not careful, they could be out of it entirely in a few weeks. Dropping games to the lowly Giants is not going to help at all. Maybe they should run the ball more? After all, they did record 208 yards rushing on the day. They sure couldn’t accomplish anything through the air.

18. Cleveland Browns (6-6)

Last Week: 15

The Browns are currently in the AFC North’s basement when they could have been back in control of a playoff spot with even a modicum of offensive competence. Baker Mayfield’s case to remain the future of the Browns’ quarterback position took a massive hit this week. He mostly looked lost and totally out of sync with his receivers this week.

It reminded me a lot of the connection between Baker and OBJ, but this was every receiver on his team. Even Jarvis Landry missed a connection with Baker multiple times, despite finishing with 111 yards on the day. This Browns team is going to be back under .500 this year if their offense keeps playing like this.

17. Washington Football Team (5-6)

Last Week: 20

Astoundingly, the Washington Football Team is in control of a playoff spot! How crazy would that be, by the way, if WFT could make it into the playoffs as a Wild Card team with a losing record? I doubt that would happen, but it seems so fitting of a team that made it that way last year by winning the division. I’m not sure what’s gotten into them lately, but let’s see if it keeps up now that the schedule is about to get a lot harder.

16. Minnesota Vikings (5-6)

Last Week: 12

Welp, believing in the Vikings was fun while it lasted. I feel like I’ve been saying that a lot this year. But, they fall back down to dead-middle in the Week 13 NFL Power Rankings due to following up a huge win over a division rival with a flattening loss to a team they’re competing with for a Wild Card spot.

Plus, now Dalvin Cook is going to be out for a few weeks with a dislocated shoulder. Luckily, they draw the Lions, Steelers, and Bears over the next three weeks so he should have plenty of time to heal up before the Rams come to town in week 16.

15. Indianapolis Colts (6-6)

Last Week: 14

What a shame. The Colts had the Bucs right where they wanted them. Every Titan fan in the country was starting to sweat. Then, Carson Wentz imploded. They even pushed the ball down field late in the game to tie things up. But, the defense had no answer for Leonard Fournette. One somewhat predictable Carson Wentz interception later and the big statement upset had completely slipped out of their grasp, along with control of a playoff seed.

14. San Francisco 49ers (6-5)

Last Week: 17

Winners of four of their last five games, the 49ers are coming. It seems like not too long ago many of us were wondering how long Kyle Shanahan can keep resting on injury excuses to keep his job. Well, I think this recent run of form has bought him a bit of time. This was a key win the 49ers absolutely needed against the Vikings, considering the playoff implications.

They snatched that opportunity by forcing Minnesota to make key mistakes. They’re currently the No. 6 seed in the NFC. I probably don’t have them high enough in the Week 13 NFL Power Rankings. But, give it a week or two. I’m sure they’ll be up higher soon the way they’ve been playing.

13. Las Vegas Raiders (6-5)

Last Week: 19

That’s more like it, Raiders! After looking absolutely dead in the water the past few weeks, the Raiders reminded everyone that they’re still a very talented football team in Dallas. Unfortunately, they’re just barely on the outside of the playoff race looking in due to losing to the Chargers earlier this year.

But, if they can at least keep pace, they’ll get another shot at them in Week 18. Vegas has a lot of winnable games against teams competing for a wild card spot down the stretch. So, we’ll learn if they are built to last or not.

12. Los Angeles Chargers (6-5)

Last Week: 11

The Chargers have not exactly been lighting the world on fire lately. Since their bye week, they’ve only won two of five. In fact, they almost choked one away to the Steelers. It could have easily been only one of the last five. The key factor in a lot of these losses has been Justin Herbert’s erratic, inconsistent play.

Yes, he’s an extremely talented individual. I’m not trying to suggest he isn’t a generational talent. But, he’s thrown seven interceptions in his last six games and taken 12 sacks. That’s a big reason why it looks like the wheels are starting to come off.

11. Los Angeles Rams (7-4)

Last Week: 9

Speaking of teams who have been presenting worry trends lately, the Los Angeles Rams haven’t won since October. There has to be something in the water in LA, right? Why else would BOTH Los Angeles teams be suddenly collapsing after such promising starts?

It’s actually, once again, a quarterback issue. Matt Stafford was inefficient most of the day and threw an absolutely crushing pick six just ahead of their comeback attempt. Reverse that play and the Rams have a legit opportunity to pull this one off at the end.

10. Buffalo Bills (7-4)

Last Week: 14

The Buffalo Bills got back to form this week with a total domination of a reeling Saints team. It was a good look, but not quite enough to wipe losing to the Jaguars and being dominated by the Colts out of my memory. They’ll have an opportunity to prove themselves with a couple games against the Patriots left on their schedule. But, I’m still not sure if I’m ready to bring the Bills back into the top echelon of the Week 13 NFL Power Rankings.

9. Baltimore Ravens (8-3)

Last Week: 10

Well… the Ravens won. I guess. It was about as ugly of a win as you could manage. But, it was a win. Lamar Jackson really needs to clean up the sloppy play and the turnovers if this Ravens team wants to make noise in the playoffs. At this point, I’d be shocked if they fell off and missed entirely. Although, the NFL is weird. So, I almost wouldn’t be shocked. Almost. Especially considering the rough schedule they have coming up.

8. Dallas Cowboys (7-4)

Last Week: 6

Are the Cowboys starting to turn into pretenders? Maybe, maybe not. But, you can’t spin the recent run of form in any way that’s positive. The Raiders looked like the much better team for almost the entire contest this week. Dak was efficient, but the Cowboys couldn’t run the ball.

The defense just got absolutely worked all game. Thank god the Eagles lost, right? That was almost under consideration for being an issue there for a minute! But, if the Cowboys have higher ambitions than a division championship, they’ll need to turn things around.

7. Tennessee Titans (8-4)

Last Week: 5

The Bucs ended their two-game losing streak on Monday night against the Giants. Tom Brady doesn’t typically deal well with being embarrassed, which is usually bad news for the next team up. He made the Giants pay for the sins of the Football Team and Saints with 307 yards and two touchdowns on the night.

There was a really ugly interception thrown deep in Bucs territory early in the second quarter that led to a game-tying touchdown. But, the mistake was compartmentalized and it was basically a slaughter from that point forward.

6. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)

Last Week: 8

Back on track. The Bengals stumbled a little with back-to-back alarming games against the Jets and Browns. Had they held onto that 11-point lead in the fourth quarter over the Jets, I don’t think the pushback after the Browns game would have been as strong. But, it happened, and now everyone who dismissed the Bengals (including myself) looks pretty stupid. The Cincinnati Bengals are a bona fide contender in 2021 and you can’t convince me otherwise.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3)

Last Week: 7

It’s kind of nuts to think about the fact that Leonard Fournette might be having a better career as a rotational player in Tampa Bay than he ever had as the feature back with the team that drafted him No. 4 overall.

He was absolutely electrifying in Indianapolis this week, and a huge reason the Bucs came from behind to keep their playoff seeding bid intact. Because, that’s pretty much what they’re playing for at this point, right? They have a 3-game lead in the division with six games left to go. So, I’d say probably.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)

Last Week: 3

I know it’s weird to knock a team down in the Week 13 NFL Power Rankings after a bye week. But the Chiefs are in sole possession of the AFC West after their rough start you say! Only good things happened during the bye week! What even is this trash article!

Well, sorry, but that’s part of the deal with being up this high. When you don’t do anything for a week, teams with big wins like the Packers could move you out of the way. Don’t take it as anything other than logistics.

3. Arizona Cardinals (9-2)

Last Week: 2

Same deal here. The Cardinals saw the Rams fall two games behind them on their bye week. So, how are they falling in the Week 13 NFL Power Rankings, you ask? Keep reading to find out.

2. Green Bay Packers (9-3)

Last Week: 4

A massive victory this week for the Green Bay Packers this week. They absolutely came to play against a Los Angeles Rams team that needed a big win to keep up in the division race. But, Aaron Rodgers was efficient, clinical, and hard to keep in check. AJ Dillon was the baaaad man this week with 90 all purpose yards and a rather photogenic touchdown.

All in all, you should be scared of this Packers team right now. They’re clearly the class of the NFC. In fact, they’re only half a game behind the No. 1 seeded Cardinals, whom they hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over.

1. New England Patriots (8-4)

Last Week: 1

The Patriots spanked the Titans this week, proving they’re worthy of the No. 1 spot. How crazy is it that Bill Belichick seems to be building a third championship caliber era Patriots team with a completely new quarterback? There isn’t any question that Tom Brady was a big part of winning six Super Bowls back in the day. But, perhaps we’ve been too easy to forget the man who made Tom Brady who he is today. The Patriots are back.

Week 9 NFL Power Rankings

Week 9 NFL Power Rankings
Joe Scarnici – Getty Images

In the Week 9 NFL Power Rankings, we’ve got a ton of movement! A bunch of last week’s top 10 teams had super rough weeks. Teams we dismissed a few weeks ago are starting to show signs of life. Hell, even the Jets are starting to look like they’re doing something right. The Week 9 NFL Power Rankings will probably look as ridiculous as any other week as early as next week. But, that’s part of the fun!

32. Detroit Lions (0-8)

Last Week: 32

Another week, another game where the Lions nearly get shut out in their own stadium. This time, instead of the upstart Cincinnati Bengals, it’s against the lowly Philadelphia Eagles. The wheels came off this train a long time ago. But, the walls are starting to come down now too. You have to imagine they’ll get a win eventually though… right? They can’t be the first 0-16 team AND the first 0-17 team can they?

31. Houston Texans (1-7)

Last Week: 31

A 22-point garbage time explosion doesn’t really do justice to how lopsided of a contest this was. Ka’imi Fairbairn’s missed 45-yard field goal as the second quarter expired was a perfect encapsulation of just how much of a disaster that first half was. The Texans are starting to show just how dysfunction their organization truly is. They couldn’t even move Deshaun Watson before the trade deadline. What a mess. 

30. Miami Dolphins (1-7)

Last Week: 30

It really feels like the Dolphins should be penalized in the Week 9 NFL Power Rankings for another loss. But, it’s pretty difficult to fall much further than they already have. At least they were mildly more competitive in their blowout loss this week than the Texans and Lions. I’ll give them some credit for having the good sense not to trade for Watson though. You made your bed with Tua, now sleep in it.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6)

Last week: 28

Many an NFL team have taken advantage of a Seattle Seahawks team featuring Geno Smith at quarterback this season. The Jacksonville Jaguars proved their ineptness by letting him blow them out. Yes, Seattle is one of the toughest stadiums to play in. But, man, the Jags weren’t even competitive until their second-to-last drive of the game. Even then the defense still couldn’t make a stop to make it remotely interesting. But hey, at least there’s teams worse than them.

28. Washington Football Team (2-6)

Last Week: 25

The Washington defense finally had a pretty decent game… against the Broncos. Washington joins the Jets, Giants, and Jags as the only teams in a bad enough spot this year to lose to the Broncos. Not exactly company you want to be mentioned with.

27. New York Giants (2-6)

Last Week: 27

I was going to give the Giants credit in the Week 9 NFL Power Rankings for playing their hearts out against a vastly more talented opponent. That is, until Daniel Jones did the most Daniel Jones thing ever and fumbled the ball on the final drive. Billy Price recovered the fumble to save catastrophe. But, then, he ran for about a one-yard gain with 15 yards to go and slid to avoid contact. Like he does know that basically ends the game, right? Why did you bother recovering the fumble if you’re just going to turn the ball over on downs without even trying to advance the ball? Giants gonna Giant.

26. New York Jets (2-5)

Last Week: 29

What even is this team? They’ve been embarrassed virtually every week they’ve played this year. Except, when they play top-10 teams. The Jets started Mike White in place of the injured Zac Wilson this week and he didn’t miss a beat. In fact, his 405 yards and three touchdowns would be a career day for most quarterbacks in the NFL. So, it seems the Jets are in good hands while Wilson recovers. Are they out of purgatory though? Time will tell, but it only took them seven games to equal their win total from last year.

25. Atlanta Falcons (3-4)

Last Week: 27

Just when you start feeling good about the Falcons… they pull the rug right out from under you. Then again, I guess that’s what it means to be a Falcons fan, huh? The Falcons fought their way back to .500 last week only to basically not show up in their own stadium against the Panthers this week. Carolina comes out looking like the team that could possibly turn things around, and Atlanta looks ready to go back to the basement.

24. Denver Broncos (4-4)

Last Week: 24

The Broncos did it! They finally won a game after failing to do so for an entire month! So, why aren’t they moving up in the Week 9 Power Rankings, you ask? Well, they really just confirmed what we already knew about them. They’re good enough to beat the bad teams, but still haven’t shown they can compete with anyone else. And what was that offensive performance? They made a WFT defense that has been extremely disappointing all season look stifling. And now they’re trading Von Miller to the Rams? I almost want to drop them, actually.

23. Chicago Bears (3-5)

Last Week: 20

That was an amazing run by Justin Fields! Seriously, I could see that play going down as one of those highlights that gets replayed endlessly on NFL Network every time this team is mentioned in a positive light. Problem is, all this game did was confirm that Justin Fields won’t save the Bears. Yes, he’s talented, but he’s in an awful position. The Bears take a slide in the Week 9 NFL Power rankings largely because of the way they completely collapsed in the fourth quarter.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (3-5)

Last Week: 26

I know it’s just the Lions. But, still, winning 44-6 on the road is a hell of an accomplishment, regardless of the opponent. They weren’t able to complete the shutout when Jared Goff managed to get a garbage time touchdown in the fourth quarter. But, the Eagles wouldn’t be the first team to fall just short of a shutout in Detroit this year. It’s been a rough year for a rebuilding Eagles team, but at least we know they can still dominate bad teams.

21. Seattle Seahawks (3-5)

Last Week: 22

The Seahawks beat the Jaguars handily in their own stadium. Yawn. Any win in the NFL is a good win, especially a dominating one like that. So, I’ll give the Seahawks credit with a boost in the Week 9 NFL Power Rankings. But, until Russell Wilson comes back, I don’t see much potential for this team.

20. Indianapolis Colts (3-5)

Last Week: 19

It was a good effort for the Colts this week. Unfortunately, the defense had no answer for AJ Brown. That said, the Colts probably could have won this game if Carson Wentz hadn’t melted down on the final four drives. Yes, he connected with Michael Pittman on a beautiful 38-yard pass that helped set up the game-tying touchdown. But, it could have been the game-winning touchdown if not for the pick six on the previous drive. Then, he threw the game away with an infuriating pick in Colts territory in overtime.

19. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)

Last Week: 21

The Steelers are now winners of three in a row, completely turning around what was looking like a lost season after losing three in a row. There are still some major question marks on that offense. But, Mike Tomlin is spinning straw into gold once again. Say his name. Rumpletomlin.

18. Carolina Panthers (4-4)

Last Week: 18

Alright! So, the Panthers beat the Falcons. Not exactly in the most photogenic way, mind you. Sam Darnold didn’t make any mistakes, but he also didn’t do much exciting either. He basically managed this game in an adequate way while Chubba Hubbard, Zane Gonzalez, and the defense buried the Falcons. I never really thought of Sam Darnold as the game manger type, but maybe it’s a role he should embrace? 

17. San Francisco 49ers (3-4)

Last Week: 17

Credit to the 49ers – they overcame a rough first half to put away a struggling Bears team in the second. Then again, this really felt like an instance of the Bears beating themselves rather than the 49ers doing anything spectacular. Jimmy Garoppolo managed the game well and found the endzone twice with his legs. But, it really felt like the 49ers were the much less exciting team to watch this week, even though they won.

16. Minnesota Vikings (3-4)

Last Week: 13

Just when I thought the Minnesota Vikings are going to make a jump in the Week 9 NFL Power Rankings, they turned everything upside down. The Vikings led the Cowboys through basically the whole game, save for a brief stretch early in the third quarter when it was tied. Then, they just had the absolute worst luck on the Cowboys’ final drive. What really felt like the Vikings’ opportunity to make a statement win turned into heartbreak. The Vikings are going to need to start finding a way to win these games before I take them seriously as playoff contenders.

15. Cleveland Browns (4-4)

Last Week: 11

What a fall from grace for the Browns. This team won three of their first four, but reversed course to lose three of their last four. To be fair, injuries have played a huge role in that decline. However, Baker Mayfield needs to be better. The Browns need more from their available receivers. This was a winnable game that the Browns appeared to be in control of until Jarvis Landry fumbled the ball away in Steelers territory in the fourth quarter. Next week they draw a pissed off Bengals team looking to bounce back in front of their home crowd. Yikes.

14. New Orleans Saints (5-2)

Last Week: 15

The up-and-down nature of the Saints’ season reared it’s ugly head again this week. The Saints beat the division rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers and are now just half a game behind in the race for the top spot. But, they lost QB Jameis Winston for the year with a torn ACL in the process. Trevor Siemian played well enough in relief. But, it’s a bittersweet feeling for a Saints team that, otherwise, looked poised to make a run.  

13. Las Vegas Raiders (5-2)

Last Week: 14

It was a good time to have a bye for the Raiders. After all the Gruden turmoil, they proved their team is stronger than any controversy by handily winning their next two games. Now, they’re alone for first place in the AFC West. Is it sustainable? Find out next week on DRAGON BA…. err… the ATB NFL Power rankings.

12. Kansas City Chiefs (4-4)

Last Week: 11

An ugly win is a win at the end of the day. I’m no stranger to knocking teams down even after a win. But, I’m only going to do that in the case of an injury meaning more than the win itself meant. I’ll criticize the Cheifs all day long for a crazy sloppy game against the New York Giants. Honestly, we got more questions than answers out of this one. But, they won, so I won’t knock them down in the Week 9 NFL Power Rankings.

11. Tennessee Titans (6-2)

Last Week: 9

Uh-oh. Alright, I know it looks weird when a team that just beat their only competition for the division crown falls in the Week 9 NFL Power Rankings. But, hear me out. If Derrick Henry is out for the year, what even are the Titans anymore? Ryan Tannehill can sling it, but he won’t do that all the time. I’ll give the Titans credit for beating the Colts, which is why they don’t fall farther. But, ever heard of Pyrrhic victory? Supposedly there’s no bad wins in the NFL, but this might qualify.

10. Cincinnati Bengals (5-3)

Last Week: 6

Ouch. Remember all those good feelings we had about the Bengals after they demolished the Ravens last week? Yeah those are mostly gone after losing to the Jets. I still think this is a top-10 team because they’re remarkably healthy. And, they’re currently undefeated in the AFC North. The only other team the Jets have beaten this year are the Titans, who would be the No. 10 team this week had Derrick Henry not gotten hurt. So, maybe it’s not time to hit the panic button. Weird games happen. Go beat the Browns next week and those good feelings start coming back.

9. Los Angeles Chargers (4-3)

Last Week: 8

Over the last few weeks, Justin Herbert has looked more like the player I expected to see in the NFL. I’ve already admitted I was wrong about him, but he got outplayed by a pedestrian looking Mac Jones this week. The Chargers looked like they were generally in control of this game until he threw his first interception. They managed to overcome it and hold onto the lead, but then he threw a pick six in the fourth quarter. That was pretty much it for their chances this week, save for a too little too late touchdown with 40 seconds left in the game.

8. New England Patriots (4-4)

Last Week: 16

Am I being too generous to the Patriots here? Probably. But, last week I said they’re inching closer and closer to relevancy. Like the Steelers, the Patriots have completely reversed course on their abysmal start to the season. The difference is they did it with an absolute demolition job last week and a victory over a Super Bowl contender this week. I don’t see them losing any momentum with the Panthers, Browns, and Falcons coming up. But, if they do, it’ll show their boost in the Week 9 NFL Power Rankings was an overreaction. If not, they’ll be 7-4 in a few weeks.

7. Baltimore Ravens (5-2)

Last Week: 10

What a bye week for the Ravens! I haven’t forgotten they were blown out in their own stadium by the Cincinnati Bengals last week. But, the Bengals fell back down to earth against the Jets this week and gave the Ravens the half-game lead for the division race. Also, pretty much all the other AFC contenders stumbled this week, other than the Bills. I still can’t put them up as high as they were before last week. But, they benefited from the turmoil of their competitors in the Week 9 NFL Power Rankings.

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2)

Last Week: 2

It looked like Tom Brady was going to do typical Tom Brady things and lead his team back from the dead. The Bucs were staring at a 23-7 blowout midway through the third quarter. Brady turned it on after that and actually gave them the lead at one point. But, a pick-six with 1:24 left in the game sealed their fate. It was a wholly ugly game for the Bucs. They would have deserved plenty of criticism even if they won. But, they didn’t, so out of the top-3 they go.

5. Los Angeles Rams (7-1)

Last Week: 5

There’s not much to learn about the Rams in this one, other than that they’re a really good football team. But, you already knew that, and blasting the Texans probably didn’t change your mind. Matt Stafford looked near perfect with 305 yards and three touchdowns. They failed to cover their lofty Vegas expectations by letting the Texans rally in garbage time. But, the Rams weren’t going to let the Texans recover like four onside kicks in a row. So, there was never really any doubt.

4. Arizona Cardinals (7-1)

Last Week: 1

I figured it was coming eventually. I wasn’t the biggest fan of having the Cardinals as the best team in football. But it’s hard to argue against when they just kept winning. Perhaps a three spot fall in the Week 9 NFL Power Rankings is a bit much. Especially when the Cardinals just BARELY lost their first game because AJ Green forgot what the play call was. But, I’ve been skeptical of them all season. Let’s see how they bounce back with a fairly difficult second half of the season.

3. Dallas Cowboys (6-1)

Last Week: 4

Another close one for the Dallas Cowboys, but the Minnesota Vikings are much better than their record indicates. I’m impressed by the Cowboys’ resilience to win without Dak Prescott. The Cowboys will play the struggling Broncos and Falcons the next couple of weeks while Dak is out. So, getting this win was huge. If the Cowboys can win out while they’re waiting for Dak to come back, I’m not sure what’s going to stop this Cowboys team.

2. Buffalo Bills (5-2)

Last Week: 3

Beating the Miami Dolphins isn’t exactly the most impressive thing in the world. But, the Bills have looked as good as anyone throughout most of this season outside of a weird Week 1. Technically, the Tennessee Titans hold the No. 1 seed in the AFC right now due to head-to-head matchup. But, do you really think the Bills aren’t the best team in the AFC right now considering the Titans will be without King Henry?

1. Green Bay Packers (7-1)

Last Week: 7

What the Green Bay Packers have managed to accomplish this season is unbelievable. How Matt LaFleur isn’t the current unanimous front-runner for Coach of the Year is beyond me. Have you seen this team’s injury list? Za’Darius Smith, David Bakhtiari, Jaire Alexander, Josh Meyers, Marquez Caldes-Scantling, Allen Lazard, and Kevin King have all missed significant time this year. Hell, they didn’t even have Davante Adams against the Cardinals. But, they came away with a win against the only undefeated team left in the NFL. Can you imagine what this team will look like when they get healthy? Look out. For now, they’re well represented at the top of the Week 9 NFL Power Rankings.

NFL Week 7 – 7 Up, 7 Down: Seventh Circle of Heaven?

Credit: USA Today

A somewhat dross and quaint NFL Week 7 is in the books. What were the hottest topics for those in the inner sanctum within the league? Who were the headliners that made waves in the seventh week of the season? The Weekly Power Rankings have arrived and the question is: who made it to the seventh circle of heaven?

Up

1. Non QBs throwing touchdowns!

– We had a pair of non-quarterbacks to get the scoring fiesta started on Sunday within minutes of each other. 

First up, was MVP contender Derrick Henry throwing a perfectly timed pass to tight end MyCole Pruitt (on national tight end day, no less!)

Next was Patriots receiver Kendrick Bourne doing the honors. 

2. Throwback uniforms for GB and SF

Two iconic legacy franchises sporting high-caliber throwback duds. Enough said. 

San Francisco’s clean 1994 throwbacks

3. Local meteorologists in the Bay Area

Every dog gets its day or so they say. Well, viewers of the Sunday Night Football broadcast heard the words, “atmospheric river” and “bomb cyclone” enter the sporting lexicon. Strange times indeed as the Niners and Colts did battle in a seemingly endless torrential monsoon. There was a crazy sequence in the first half where both teams couldn’t hold onto the slick ball, trading turnovers like baseball cards (they still do that, right?)

4. Joe Burrow to Chase is pretty pretty pretty good

– Yeah, you got the prohibitive favorite for offensive rookie of the year award catching passes from a young gun with the dawg in him. It appears that the lethality of 2019 LSU Burrow to Chase carried over to Ohio’s Queen City. Not much more to say than Larry David probably approves of the young emerging duo. This could be a weekly thing in the article. Is this the remake of the 1998 Vikings with Randy Moss?

5. Dan Campbell’s bravado and passion

– Campbell’s Lions are fighting every single week despite the stacked odds against them. Most 0-7 teams would have caved long ago and dissolved into internal dissension. You can see the tangible chemistry and passion that his players play for him. It’s too bad that Jared Goff isn’t the answer for a moribund Lions franchise. Campbell is part of an increasing trend of coaches laying it all on the line and going for it despite the odds of failing to convert first downs. May the Lions get their first win soon. 

6. Kyler Murray’s MVP candidacy

– Murray has to be the favorite for the MVP award at this point in the season, leading the Cardinals to a 7-0 record against a tough schedule. It’s not like the Cardinals are loading up on wins against the patsies of the league, either. They’ve had to deal with tough COVID issues knocking out their head coach for a game along with multiple key pieces. He’s one of the more dynamic playmakers in the league alongside the terrifying Lamar Jackson. He’s making plays like this seemingly every drive

7. Marshawn and the Legendary ManningCast 

– The affable, jovial, and loquacious Marshawn Lynch joined Monday Night Football’s ManningCast and he did not disappoint. In related news, the FCC could be just as happy that their coffers will be filled by ESPN’s banking department for Lynch’s glorious expletive-filled appearance. The only downside was Peyton “apologizing” for the fun. We need more Marshawn on prime-time TV! 

DOWN

1. Sam Darnold isn’t the present nor the future

– He has turned into a pumpkin after a solid start to life in Charlotte and 2021 will likely be his last as a starter in this league. Darnold was benched for PJ Walker on Sunday and it isn’t like Walker lit it up either. Perhaps the damage done to Darnold in New York is too much for him to rebound from. Carolina took a gamble passing on multiple rookie passers with their first-round selection. It hasn’t worked out but that’s life. The Panthers were on the periphery of the Deshaun Watson chase but now are firmly on the list of top-tier contenders for his services after the past few weeks. 

2. Brian Flores and Matt Nagy’s job security

– The expectations for either man to keep his current job beyond this season have to be slim to none. Flores has been a fun quote machine during press conferences and his Dolphins are on life support in the AFC East. Fortunately, Miami has long been the rumored destination for one Deshaun Watson. Nagy on the other hand, is a dead man walking as the Bears look lifeless, their star rookie passer running for his life, and the coach mostly ambivalent about the whole affair. It’s over for the Nagy regime in the Windy City. Flores’ rear end is firmly planted on the hot seat if he can’t turn it around. 

3. New York teams 

– Both New York teams are a colossally terrible combined 3-10 through seven weeks of this season. The Jets have a plan in place to build something at least despite the horrific decision not to have a veteran backup quarterback throughout the offseason to guide a now hurt Zach Wilson. Robert Saleh might be regretting his decision to go for this job as his defense has been something awful. Meanwhile, the Giants are just bad and rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic under the embattled Dave Gettleman. Granted, they’ve suffered a ton of injuries but Daniel Jones is looking more and more not the long-term answer. Joe Judge still has some cache so there’s that. 

4. Mike Evans and historical landmarks

– On a more light-hearted note, Mike Evans wasn’t cognizant of the implications of Tom Brady’s 600th touchdown pass and gave the ball to a now-infamous fan in the stands. That said fan was the subject of immense ridicule for giving the ball up for such little return. Evans had a hilarious reaction after the fact and a member of the Buccaneers staff had to go and negotiate for the return during the game for all to see. It all worked for everyone involved as the fan won out relatively decently, Evans scored a couple more, and Brady got to roast everyone on national TV. 

5. Chiefs D is still bad 

– Yeah, it was bad and Patrick Mahomes couldn’t bail them out on Sunday after the woebegone Titans defense held the Chiefs to a field goal. It felt like the Titans were actively trying to sit on the lead during the second half. A silver lining could be that the horrendous Kansas City defense held the Titans’ offense in check after allowing a 27-0 deficit? It’s still a long way to go but it’s increasingly looking like a massive Achilles’ heel for the franchise. 

6. Homecomings

– Not the most enthralling of contests between the two quarterbacks traded for another in Los Angeles. Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff weren’t at their best in this one. At least Dan Campbell made it entertaining with his panache and derring-do? A game that left a lot more meat on the bone, that’s for sure. Maybe next time?

7. Kyle Shanahan 

 – Are we sure that the boy wonder can evolve instead of being all hype? When opposing defenders are openly deriding your offensive philosophy, it’s time to question certain things. We all know Jimmy Garoppolo is injured and limited as a passer when healthy but at least Frank Reich adjusted to his passer’s strengths in the eternal monsoon. Shanahan will need to go back to the drawing board and figure out what went wrong. Please get healthy, Trey Lance. I mean, the coach couldn’t figure out that this play was working exceedingly well for the opposition and couldn’t adopt the same tactics? 

Previous Editions

Week 1: Opening Overreactions

Wk 2: Perceptive Repeats

Week 3: So Nice, Do It Thrice

Wk 4: Good Quads Like Saquon

Week 5: Thrive at Five

NFL Power Rankings: Week 6

NFL Power Rankings
James P. McCoy – The Buffalo News

The NFL power rankings are always a fun exercise. Drama reigns supreme in the 2021 NFL season. You really can’t tell what some teams are going to do on a week-to-week basis. And even beyond the results, some of these games are simply fascinating. The New Orleans Saints and Tennessee Titans made the biggest jump in the rankings this week at 3 spots. The Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders look like identical teams and have an identical 4-point drop in the rankings. Let’s dig into it.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5)

Last week: 30

I thought the Jaguars were showing some progress with close games against the Arizona Cardinals and Cincinnati Bengals. But, after the Bengals game head coach Urban Meyer became a massive distraction, embroiling himself in controversy.

Not only was he caught on camera letting a young woman who was not his wife grind on him at a bar. But, it was his own bar in Columbus with a picture of him and his wife on the bar, and he handled the situation like a naughty first grader who just got caught throwing rocks at windows.

His players no longer respect him, he’s lost the confidence of the fanbase, he seems to have lost the confidence of ownership, AND they just got smacked 37-19 by the division rival Tennessee Titans. The Jags are in free fall.

31. Houston Texans (1-4)

Last Week: 32

The Texans did a few things worthy of inspiring the faintest hint of promise this week. First of all, not laying a stinker amid a media firestorm and an inferno of controversy like the Jaguars helps. Second of all, Davis Mills turned in an extremely efficient game against the New England Patriots. They weren’t able to hold on to a 22-9 lead early in the third quarter. But, getting there in the first place shows a bit of progress.

30. New York Jets (1-4)

Last Week: 29

The New York Jets very nearly pulled off a second win in a row this week against the always hilarious Atlanta Falcons. Unfortunately, they had no answer for Matt Ryan and Kyle Pitts and put themselves in a position where they needed to recover an onside kick to win the game. Zach Wilson is still struggling to show why the Jets selected him with the No. 2 overall pick. But, they feel a lot closer to some form of relevancy right now than they did after their 0-3 start.

29. Detroit Lions (0-5)

Last Week: 31

Dan Campbell is a hell of a coach. His passion was evident after the Lions’ last-second loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately, this is a bad football team. That was evident when they couldn’t accomplish much of anything through 56 minutes of game time. Jared Goff is a limited quarterback who shows flashes from time to time, but on the whole is holding the Lions back from any sort of real success.

28. New York Giants (1-4)

Last Week: 27

Ouch. The Cowboys have been embarrassing a lot of teams lately, but it’s never fun when it’s your turn. In addition to getting blown out against a division rival, the Giants lost Saquon Barkley, Daniel Jones, and Kenny Golladay to injuries. Hey at least Kadarius Toney finally looks worth that first round pick.

27. Miami Dolphins (1-4)

Last Week: 26

Hopefully Tua Tagovailoa is back this coming week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. But, it’s not going to matter much if the Dolphins keep putting… well… THAT around him. Truth be told, Jacoby Brissett has performed fairly well in Tua’s place. Yeah, he threw a garbage time interception and fumbled the ball late in the first half. But, the real problems for this team are a porous defense and an even worse offensive line. The way this team is trending, I could see them pushing the 30s by the end of the season.

26. Atlanta Falcons (2-3)

Last Week: 28

Those Falcons almost did it again! They put up a strong first half performance against the New York Jets and somehow forgot to continue playing football through the rest of the game. To their credit, they finally managed to (barely) hold onto a lead in the fourth quarter. But, it came against the lowly Jets. So, did you really win?

25. Washington Football Team (2-3)

Last Week: 22

I’ll give WFT this – Taylor Heinicke is fascinating to watch. He scrambles all over the field, knows how to put a drive together, and generally looks like a solid option most of the time. That is, until he starts making mistakes. The Washington Football Team had a genuine chance to be competitive this week against the Saints. But, Heinicke threw a bone headed interception just shy of the endzone on an opportunity for a touchdown. He threw another bad one on their own 26 with only a 4-point margin between the teams. You just can’t win with that.

24. Indianapolis Colts (1-4)

Last Week: 21

Tough break for the Colts. They outplayed the Ravens for the majority of the Monday Night Football game, but fell apart in the fourth quarter. If that wasn’t bad enough, Carson Wentz still managed to drive them down the field for the game winning field goal kick. But, Rodrigo Blankenship pushed it wide left from 47 yards. The Ravens’ offense was on a roll at that point, and they won the coin toss. It was pretty much a wrap from there.

23. Philadelphia Eagles (2-3)

Last Week: 25

From a neutral perspective, the Panthers and Eagles played an ugly game. From an Eagles fan’s perspective, you’re happy to return near .500. And, doing it against a team many recently considered to be one of the best teams in the NFL. However, that blocked punt at the end of the game perfectly encapsulates just the kind of craziness that needs to happen for the Eagles to look competitive right now.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3)

Last Week: 24

The Steelers finally looked like a competent team this week against a struggling Denver Broncos. Ben Roethlisberger played unspectacular, but mistake-free football. Najee Harris finally looked like the force on the ground the Steelers needed him to be. Losing JuJu Smith-Schuster for the rest of the season hurts too. The result wasn’t certain through the vast majority of the game, but they came away with the win at the end and that’s what matters.

21. Las Vegas Raiders (3-2)

Last Week: 14

I thought the Broncos were the biggest pretenders in the NFL. Boy was I wrong. The Raiders’ sloppiness has been there all season and is starting to get in their way. Their inability to get the two yards necessary for two points after their lone touchdown of the Chargers game exemplifies just how bad this team was at running the ball this week. Then there’s the coaching issue. Four years into a 10-year contract, head coach Jon Gruden is now gone. We don’t need to talk about the controversial aspects of that in this article. But, it is devastating from a football perspective. The Raiders’ season could very well fall off a cliff after this.

20. New England Patriots (2-3)

Last Week: 20

To be clear: the reason why I’m moving the Patriots down a spot is because I wasn’t all that impressed by their win, and teams around them are moving quite a bit. The Patriots looked dead in the water most of this game until a late rally beginning in the middle of the third quarter sparked a last-minute comeback. It was finished off by Nick Folk kicking the go-ahead field goal with 15 seconds left in the fourth quarter. It’s good for Patriots fans, who were staring 1-4 in the face. But, I see more of the ugly side of this one.

19. Denver Broncos (3-2)

Last Week: 15

After being pulverized by the Ravens last week, I called the Broncos pretenders. I’m going to go ahead and double down on that statement this week. They managed to avoid being completely embarrassed this week against a downtrodden Steelers team. But, they showed massive signs of weakness. Like Roethlisberger, Teddy Bridgewater was mostly serviceable if unspectacular this week. He didn’t make too many mistakes until an absolutely gut wrenching interception with 11 seconds left in the game killed any hopes the Broncos had of tying the game and sending it to overtime. It wasn’t even a fluke thing, it was just an awful throw and the Broncos finish things out looking like the biggest pretenders after a promising 3-0 start.

18. Chicago Bears (3-2)

Last Week: 23

You have to give credit to the Bears. Despite all the drama surrounding Matt Nagy’s decision making and Justin Fields’ development, they’ve won three of their last four games. Wins over the Bengals and Lions weren’t exactly easy, but it looked pretty easy against the Raiders this week. Keep an eye on this Bears team. They could sneak their way into the playoff picture if you take your eye off of them.

17. San Francisco 49ers (2-3)

Last Week: 16

Trey Lance didn’t look particularly comfortable in his first game as a starter. He couldn’t find the endzone, was sacked twice, and threw a costly interception on his first drive of the game. If he’s to save the quality of the 2021 rookie QB class, he’s going to need to perform much better going forward. But, I will give credit to the 49ers defense. They kept a high-flying Cardinals team to only 17 points this week. Put a decent offense on the field, and this team is a contender.

16. New Orleans Saints (3-2)

Last Week: 19

I’m really starting to get sick of your antics, Saints. Particularly you – Winston. Can you make up your mind if you’re good or not? The Saints looked like a very good football team this week. The defense allowed 373 yards, but only two touchdowns. One of which came late in the fourth quarter when it would have taken a miracle for Washington to come up with the win. Jameis threw for four touchdowns and only one interception. I wonder how they’ll lose next week?

15. Seattle Seahawks (2-3)

Last Week: 13

Russell Wilson’s doctors allegedly believe he has a realistic chance to return to the lineup in four weeks. That’s huge, because I’d have to push this team down farther if they were planning on playing Geno Smith all season. He was good enough to engineer a comeback, but he still did Geno Smith things at the end by killing it with an interception.

14. Minnesota Vikings (2-3)

Last Week: 17

Barely beating the Detroit Lions isn’t necessarily worth jumping three points in the NFL power rankings. However, contextually, the Minnesota Vikings are starting to turn things around. Don’t forget, this is the same team that is literally only a handful of traditionally low-impact plays away from being 5-0 right now.

13. Tennessee Titans (3-2)

Last Week: 18

Derrick Henry. That’s all I really need to say about the Titans. In fairness to Ryan Tannehill, he was very efficient. He even threw a touchdown pass in the second quarter! But, let’s be honest. This game was about Derrick Henry going OFF for 130 yards and 18 of the Titans’ 24 offensive points. It’s just the Jaguars, but Derrick Henry stepping on the scene is never good for the rest of the NFL.

12. Carolina Panthers (3-2)

Last Week: 11

I’m not ready to leave the Panthers behind just yet, but getting beaten by a struggling Eagles team just isn’t a good look. It’s even worse when you see Sam Darnold getting sacked three times and throwing three interceptions. Are the ghosts returning? Let’s see how they do against the Vikings next week.

11. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2)

Last Week: 12

Barely losing a strange game against the very good Green Bay Packers is not something to be terribly worried about. The season is still early and the Bengals showed a lot of fight against a Super Bowl contender. The Bengals can still make an impression with the Ravens and Browns making up two of their next four games. But, if they want to be a top-10 team, they’ll need to figure out more ways to spark the offense beyond simply chucking it deep to Ja’Marr Chase.

10. Kansas City Chiefs (2-3)

Last Week: 10

It seems kind of nuts to me to have a sub .500 team in the top 10 of the NFL power rankings. But, we all know what the Chiefs are capable of when they catch fire. Their three losses (Ravens, Chargers, Bills) have all come against teams ranked higher than them in these power rankings. Not to mention, one of their wins also came against one of those teams (Browns). I have a feeling they’ll get it turned around sooner or later, but they might fall out of the top 10 with another lackluster performance against Washington this week.

9. Cleveland Browns (3-2)

Last Week: 7

I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why people are blaming Baker Mayfield for this loss. What more do you want from him? He threw for over 300 yards, two touchdowns, only took one sack, and was extremely efficient all night. If the Browns didn’t have such a scary backfield, he probably would have thrown for more touchdowns. The defense isn’t quite ready to stop elite quarterbacks like Justin Herbert, but the Browns kept pace. They’re still a top-10 team in my eyes.

8. Baltimore Ravens (4-1)

Last Week: 9

The 1-4 Indianapolis Colts aren’t exactly a juggernaut, but you absolutely have to give it up to the Ravens for that comeback victory. Don’t get it twisted, though. I haven’t forgotten about the slow starts, and I haven’t forgotten that they lost to the Lions. Baltimore gets credit for climbing to 4-1 by climbing in the NFL power rankings, but I’m still skeptical if they can keep this up.

7. Green Bay Packers (4-1)

Last Week: 6

Credit where credit is due: The Packers survived two pivotal missed field goals by Mason Crosby and came out with a very weird win. But, this is a very injured football team. Hopefully Elgton Jenkins and Josh Meyers can return soon to put that offensive line back together. But, they’re still missing Jaire Alexander for a while. They’re still without Zadarius Smith for the rest of the season. When you have Aaron Rodgers you always have a chance, but they’re edging toward the fringes of the Super Bowl contenders.

6. Los Angeles Chargers (4-1)

Last Week: 8

If you’re still not convinced the Los Angeles Chargers are legit, I don’t know what more information you need. Justin Herbert was nearly perfect against the Browns throwing for just under 400 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. He got off to a bit of an up and down start this season, but the last three weeks he has been absolutely automatic. 

5. Los Angeles Rams (4-1)

Last Week: 5

The Los Angeles Rams, right now, are a team that feels like they have no holes. The only thing they’ve kind of struggled with this year is pass coverage, and even then they make up for it with well timed interceptions. That’s what they did as Geno Smith marched the Seahawks down the field this week. It was hard to stop the Geno train, but they pulled it off with their fifth pick of the season.

4. Dallas Cowboys (4-1)

Last Week: 4

I’m a sucker for a good ol’ deep pass by a wide receiver. That’s what we got from WR Cedric Wilson this week in the fourth quarter when the Cowboys were already in clear control of this football game. At that point, they were just showboating. But, it was still fun to watch nonetheless. I’m not sure if the Cowboys are benefiting from a weak division this year, but it sure didn’t help them last year. So they must also be really good.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-1)

Last Week: 3

Beating up on the poor Miami Dolphins just doesn’t seem fair. Tom Brady owned them for years in New England and now he’s moved about 200 miles northwest just to add insult to injury. The Bucs absolutely spanked them 45-17 in a game where Brady truly looked like a GOAT. Their only loss so far this season is to the Rams, but I’m confident they could win that game if they see them again in the playoffs.

2. Arizona Cardinals (5-0)

Last Week: 2

Another week, another No. 2 appearance for the only undefeated team left in football. I wasn’t terribly impressed by their 17-10 win over a struggling 49ers team. Kyler Murray was efficient but unspectacular, but their defense did look good against the rookie Trey Lance. I absolutely think they’re a dangerous team, I’m just not sure if they’re the MOST dangerous team.

1. Buffalo Bills (4-1)

Last Week: 1

The Bills ARE the most dangerous team in football right now. Josh Allen is playing lights out in the air, their ground rotation is lethal, and their defense is stifling. Week 1 is a weird stain on their season, considering the loss came to the struggling Steelers. But, I think we can safely say that game was a fluke. In the last four weeks, this Chiefs game was the only one remotely close. And they still won by 18 points.