Read as Nick Springer takes us through his weekly NFL Power Rankings, which are uploaded every Tuesday during the NFL season.
New England Patriots (7-1)- Previous rank: 1- The Pats got an extra week to prepare for Seattle this coming Sunday. Earlier in the season, if you had asked me, I probably would have picked Seattle to win this game. But then Bill Belichick reminded me why I should never pick against New England. Also, Seattle’s offense has looked beyond horrible over the past couple weeks. Are the Patriots doomed to win the division every year for all of eternity?
Dallas Cowboys (7-1)- Previous rank: 2- Any semblance of a QB controversy has quickly faded away. This is Dak’s team. No question about it, and the Cowboys left no doubt about who’s the best team in the NFC on Sunday either. Zeke Elliot continues to bring home the bacon in the backfield, and the defense has done what it has needed to do so far this season. The Cowboys take on Pittsburgh on the road next week which is no sure thing, but they should still win.
Oakland Raiders (7-2)- Previous rank: 4- For the first time in forever, the Oakland Raiders are in sole possession of first place in the AFC West. The apocalypse is truly upon us. Latavius Murray shredded a depleted Broncos D, and although Derek Carr’s numbers were not impressive, he didn’t commit a turnover while leading Oakland to the victory.
Kansas City Chiefs (6-2)- Previous rank: 3- It wasn’t pretty, but the Chiefs got the win and that’s all that matters. Kansas City was without half the starting offense in the second half. Spencer Ware and Alex Smith sat out with concussions, Jeremy Maclin left with a groin injury, and Travis Kelce was ejected in style. If you’re going to get ejected, might as well make it fun. I propose we have referees for the referees. Then those refs can throw flags on the other refs when they make a bad call. It’s genius, right?
Atlanta Falcons (6-3)- Previous rank:5- Matt Ryan is without a doubt the MVP of the league to this point in the season. He played an almost flawless game against Tampa Bay as Atlanta improved to 6-3. The Falcons now have a commanding division lead, and right now, they are showing no signs of slowing down. They’ve got a test next week against Philly.
Seattle Seahawks (5-2-1)- Previous rank: 9- The offense finally came alive for Seattle against Buffalo. Well, half of it did. The Seahawks had absolutely no run game, but Jimmy Graham caught two first-half touchdown passes to propel the offense. A wild end to the first half where the officials screwed things up may have helped Seattle win, but I doubt any Seahawks players are complaining. Hopefully this game is what Seattle needed to get back on track.
Denver Broncos (6-3)- Previous rank: 6- Denver’s D is banged up pretty bad right now. They lost Derek Wolfe to a hairline fracture in his elbow, and Aqib Talib and Keyvon Webster didn’t even suit up on Sunday night. Brandon Marshall also missed most of the game against Oakland after suffering a hamstring injury. One thing became clear: Without the defense, the Broncos are very vulnerable on offense. Trevor Siemian isn’t a bad QB, but he’s certainly not to the level of carrying the offense.
New York Giants (5-3)- Previous rank: 12- Maybe New York doesn’t need to run the ball to win games. Eli Manning threw 4 TDs, but he also had 2 picks in the win versus Philly. The Giants get Cincy next week on Monday night, and they need to keep up with Dallas.
Detroit Lions (5-4)- Previous rank: 15- Are the Lions the best team in the NFC North right now? They very well could be. They just knocked off Minnesota, and Green Bay got upended at home by Indianapolis. Matthew Stafford could make a case for MVP if he continues to lead Detroit to critical wins in the second half of the season. The Lions could be a dark horse playoff team that other NFC contenders should be aware of.
Green Bay (4-4)- Previous rank: 7- Ok, maybe it is time to be concerned about the Packers. Losing to the Colts at home? Come on, this game should’ve been a slam dunk. Luckily for Green Bay, Minnesota has lost 3 straight and is playing just as bad right now.
Minnesota Vikings (5-3)- Previous rank: 8- The Vikes are in complete disarray right now, especially on offense. Norv Turner’s resignation caught Mike Zimmer and the players off-guard, and now they need to figure things out quickly. Also, if I’m the Vikings, I am in the market for a new kicker. Blair Walsh has been abysmal, but in the big scheme of things, the offense has been way worse. Minnesota is at Washington next week in a must-win game to get back on track.
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4)- Previous rank: 11- Big Ben took a little too long to get back into the groove of things, which costed Pittsburgh their 3rd straight loss. Now, the Steelers find themselves tied with Baltimore atop the division. Early in the season, it looked like Pittsburgh was going to run away with this division. Well, that’s not the case anymore. Maybe with the return of Ben, the Steelers can get their early-season mojo back.
Houston Texans (5-3)- Previous rank: 14- The Texans have a very favorable schedule in the second half of the season. It helps that they play in the worst division in football. If Houston somehow manages to lose the division, it’ll have to be in pretty epic fashion. They will head to Jacksonville coming off the bye. There’s no guarantees in the NFL, but this is the Jaguars we’re talking about.
New Orleans Saints (4-4)- Previous rank: 19- If you were hoping to see some defense in San Francisco on Sunday, you were sorely disappointed. But playing defense is optional when you’ve got Drew Brees at quarterback. Drew Brees wasn’t even the biggest story of this game though, as Mark Ingram exploded for the Saints with a 75-yard touchdown run. New Orleans takes on Denver next week, and the Broncos defense is hurting right now. Drew Brees and his fantasy owners should smell blood in the water.
Washington Redskins (4-3-1)- Previous rank: 13- After a bye last week, the Redskins will prepare to take on the slumping Minnesota Vikings. Washington is still very much alive in the NFC East, but they need to bring home a victory over Minnesota.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-4)- Previous rank: 10- Remember how efficient Carson Wentz was last week? Well, he was equally as inefficient on Sunday against New York. Philadelphia’s D was good early in the season, but lately they’ve struggled, especially in the secondary. That’s not good considering the Eagles have the best offense in the league in the Atlanta Falcons coming to town next Sunday.
San Diego Chargers (4-5)- Previous rank: 17- The Chargers have quietly put together a strong couple of weeks to get to 4-5. After early-season struggles in the 4th quarter, San Diego seems to have figured out how to close out games. They host Miami next week, which is another very winnable game. The problem? The Chargers are in the AFC West where Oakland is 7-2, Kansas City is 6-2, and Denver is 6-3. Good luck trying to get a wild card spot.
Buffalo Bills (4-5)- Previous rank: 16- To their credit, the Bills almost pulled off what would have been an impressive win on the road against Seattle. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t meant to be. The Bills couldn’t cover Jimmy Graham all game. On the bright side, Robert Woods played fantastic with 10 catches for 162 yards. The Bills have a bye next week, and they need to regroup if they’re going to make a playoff push in the second half of the season.
Miami Dolphins (4-4)- Previous rank: 20- Miami’s got some heads turning lately. Let’s not jump through the roof, though. They beat the Jets, not the Patriots. Unfortunately, the playoffs are still out of the question at this point. Jay Ajayi is doing everything in his power to change that; however, as long as Ryan Tannehill is the quarterback, I just don’t trust Miami.
Indianapolis Colts (4-5)- Previous rank: 21- Indy set the tone early in Lambeau with a kickoff return for a touchdown to open the game. The Colts never looked back and pulled off a remarkable win on the road against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. For the first time all season, Andrew Luck got decent pass protection from his offensive line. Frank Gore continued to turn back the clock with two rushing touchdowns, and the Colts’ secondary wasn’t horrible. Indy heads into the bye at 4-5, and they’re still alive in the hapless AFC South.
Baltimore Ravens (4-4)- Previous rank: 22- The Ravens snapped their 4-game losing streak against Pittsburgh, and they did it with great defense. The offense was not good if you take away that 95-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Mike Wallace; however, the special teams and defense played well enough to secure a much-needed win. The Ravens host Cleveland next week, and we remember what happened last time these two matched up. I feel like the Browns have improved a little since then, but has Baltimore?
Tennessee Titans (4-5)- Previous rank: 18- Beating San Diego would’ve been huge for Tennessee. This team is so close to taking the next step forward, but games like this past Sunday are ones they need to win if they want to finally get over the hump. The Titans have a big home test next week against Green Bay.
Carolina Panthers (3-5)- Previous rank: 23- Somehow, Carolina managed to escape with a win over Los Angeles. Cam Newton got hit, and he got hit a lot, but most of the hits on him were pretty clean this time around. The return of Cam and running back Jonathan Stewart has not translated to great performances on the field. Sure, they’ve won a couple of games, but this team still has a lot of issues. The Panthers host Kansas City next week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)- Previous rank: 24- Tampa’s two young stars played very well against Atlanta, but they both finished the game with injuries. It sounds like Jameis Winston is going to be OK after limping off late, and Mike Evans is being evaluated for a concussion. The Bucs have dropped two straight, and at this point, it will be difficult for them to get back into the playoff hunt. Tampa hosts the Bears next week, which should be an opportunity for them to get back on track.
Cincinnati Bengals (3-4-1)- Previous rank: 25- Cincy will take on the New York Giants coming off their bye week. The Bengals are in real danger of falling out of the playoff race, especially if they can’t find a way to win against New York. Andy Dalton has been known for his great regular season play, but we haven’t seen it thus far.
Los Angeles Rams (3-5)- Previous rank: 26- Remember when the Rams were 3-1 and in first place in the NFC West? Remember when Todd Gurley was supposed to be one of the top running backs in the league? Remember when some people actually thought Case Keenum wasn’t a bad quarterback? Yeah, to say LA’s season has gone off the rails would be an understatement. On the bright side, the Rams take on the equally disappointing New York Jets next week.
Arizona Cardinals (3-4-1)- Previous rank: 28- Arizona hosts San Francisco next week after their bye, but they have back-to-back road games at Minnesota and Atlanta after that. Not good for a team that’s trying to claw its way back into playoff contention. They must beat the 49ers and win at least one of those road games in order to have a chance. I don’t like those odds.
Chicago Bears (2-6)- Previous rank:27- The Bears got an extra week to prepare for Tampa Bay. If they can win that one, the rest of their schedule isn’t extremely difficult. Then again, it’s the Bears. It’s Jay Cutler. Surely there’s no way they could come back from a 2-6 start to make the playoffs.
New York Jets (3-6)- Previous rank: 29- Signing Ryan Fitzpatrick this season was probably a bad decision. But let’s think about this for a second. Would the Jets be any better than 3-6 with Geno Smith as their starting QB? Bryce Petty? So really, resigning Fitzmagic wasn’t all that bad, was it? Oh, wait, yes it was. You live and learn. Except Todd Bowles because he’s probably going to get fired.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6)- Previous rank: 30- The Jags have discovered how to run the football! Wait, they still lost? Oh, never mind. But seriously, the fact that Jacksonville rushed for more than 40 yards in a game is impressive. Honestly, the Jags probably should’ve beat the Chiefs at Arrowhead. Turnovers and dropped passes killed them. At this rate, there’s no way Gus Bradley is still the head coach of this team next season.
San Francisco 49ers (1-7)- Previous rank: 31- The 49ers fell to 1-7 on Sunday, but Colin Kaepernick played his best game of the season. Keep in mind, it came against arguably the worst defense in the NFL, but at the very least it could be a confidence builder. San Francisco is desperate for some kind of spark right now. DuJuan Harris came in and at least provided a new element to an otherwise stagnant offense. Should Chip Kelly’s job be in jeopardy?
Cleveland Browns (0-9)- Previous rank: 32- Poor Browns. I pity you. I really do. Cody Kessler wasn’t even horrible, but the Browns have no running game. They have no secondary. Their front 7 is shaky at best. Their O-line is not good. Their running backs are bad. Outside of Terrelle Pryor, their receivers are well below average. That spells 0-9. Keep dreamin,’ Cleveland.