Read as Nick Springer takes us through his weekly NFL Power Rankings, which are uploaded every Tuesday during the NFL season.
- Dallas Cowboys (8-1)- Previous rank: 2- Cowboys’ O-line for MVP! If any unit deserves it, it’s the Dallas O-line. Sure, Zeke and Dak have been great, but without the O-line this team is definitely not 8-1. More importantly, the Cowboys now hold the best record in the NFL after defeating Pittsburgh while starting two rookies in the backfield. If I’m Dallas I will look to deal Tony Romo after this season.
- New England Patriots (7-2)- Previous rank: 1- The Pats will still win the division. They will still be the number one overall seed in the AFC. The road to the Super Bowl will still travel through Foxborough. None of that changes with this loss to Seattle.
- Kansas City Chiefs (7-2)- Previous rank: 4- The Chiefs are the second-best team in the AFC right now. I would put the Pats first, but not by much. It was a nail-biter against Carolina, but Kansas City pulled out the win in dramatic fashion. The Chiefs have the defense to thank, specifically Eric Berry and Marcus Peters, for that victory. Kansas City will look to continue to roll against Tampa Bay at home next week.
- Seattle Seahawks (6-2-1)- Previous rank: 6- The Seahawks appear to be hitting their stride at just the right time, and they came up with a huge victory on the road against the Patriots. The offense is really clicking now after struggling early in the season. I’m not sure if the Seahawks are the best team in the NFC (*cough* *cough* Cowboys), but if not they’re definitely number two. We may have just witnessed a potential Super Bowl preview on Sunday night.
- Oakland Raiders (7-2)- Previous rank: 3- I’m having a hard time adjusting to the fact that the Raiders are a top-5 team. Can they actually win the division? Maybe, but they’ve got a pretty difficult back half of the schedule. The Raiders will be tested every week from now until the end of the season. If they do manage to win the division, I’ll be happy for them.
- Denver Broncos (7-3)- Previous rank: 7- Man, what a wild game in New Orleans. Controversy aside, the Broncos got the win and are still right in the thick of a heated AFC West race. With all three teams within a game of each other, every week matters even more now. Denver will get an extra week to prepare for what should be an exciting showdown at Arrowhead.
- New York Giants (6-3)- Previous rank: 8- Hey, the Giants have a run game everybody! The Giants are on a nice win streak, and they need to be if they still want to hang with the Cowboys. Odell Beckham appears to be past all of the antics for now, and that defense the front office payed all that money for came through against Cincinnati.
- Detroit Lions (5-4)- Previous rank: 9- I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: Matt Stafford and the Lions have quietly put together a solid first half to the season. With Green Bay and Minnesota faltering, now is the time for Detroit to pounce and take the division lead. They have Jacksonville and Minnesota in back-to-back home games after the bye. If they can win both of those games, watch out.
- Atlanta Falcons (6-4)- Previous rank: 5- This one was tough for Atlanta. Philadelphia just looked like they wanted it more. The offense had its first really bad game of the season. Juilo Jones still got his catches, but the run game struggled and Matt Ryan wasn’t as sharp as he has been most of the season. Atlanta fans shouldn’t worry though, as the Falcons are still well in control of the division. Now, the Falcons have a bye before taking on Arizona.
- Houston Texans (6-3)- Previous rank: 13- The Texans escaped from the fire against Jacksonville in a 24-21 victory. Had Houston lost that game, things could’ve gotten very interesting. Suddenly, the Titans are hot on the heels of Houston in the division, and the Colts aren’t out of the conversation yet either. Meanwhile, Brock Osweiler threw for 99(!) yards against the Jaguars. Osweiler has taken some heat this season, but people should remember that Houston currently sits atop the division at 6-3. Brock had better hope it stays that way.
- Washington Redskins (5-3-1)- Previous rank: 15- Another solid win for Washington, as the Redskins knocked off the reeling Minnesota Vikings at home. Kirk Cousins played very well, and Robert Kelley helped out on the ground. Washington will take on another struggling team, the Packers, next week before heading to Dallas for a big showdown against the Cowboys.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (4-5)- Previous rank: 12- It was a hard-fought loss for Pittsburgh, but a stinging loss nonetheless. Baltimore now controls first place in the division, but I still think the Steelers will find a way to pull the division out. They’re going to have to, because they won’t be able to snag a wild-card. If Ben keeps playing the way he did against Dallas, the W’s will start to roll in. Speaking of W’s, Pittsburgh is at Cleveland this weekend. Well, it looks like the Steelers are already 5-5.
- Philadelphia Eagles (5-4)- Previous rank: 16- The Eagles, and specifically that defense, bounced back very nicely against Atlanta. The ground game worked well for Philly, and Carson Wentz played mistake-free football. The story of this game was the defense shutting down the best offense in the league. The Eagles will travel to Seattle this weekend to take on a Seahawks team that looks like it’s hitting its stride. Maybe the Philly defense will have something to say about that.
- Miami Dolphins (5-4)- Previous rank: 19- If it were any other year, the Dolphins would probably be in the playoff conversation. But all you have to do is take a look at the AFC West standings to realize that Miami has slim to no chance of making the postseason this year. The Dolphins travel to LA next week for another winnable game. The problem is even if this team manages to go 10-6, I don’t think that’s good enough to get it done.
- New Orleans Saints (4-5)- Previous rank: 14- The Saints are not out of the wild-card discussion in the NFC. Would it have been nice to win against Denver? Sure, but New Orleans doesn’t have time to dwell on this game if they want to remain in the hunt. They’ve got an important matchup at Carolina coming up. The best thing for these guys is to put the Denver game behind them and move forward.
- Tennessee Titans (5-5)- Previous rank: 22- Remember how I said beating San Diego would’ve been huge for Tennessee? How does clobbering Green Bay sound? I’ve been waiting for Tennessee to pick that marquee win, and they finally came through in a big way. Marcus Mariota was phenomenal, and DeMarco Murray could not be stopped on the ground. Hopefully, the Titans can build upon this momentum when they travel to Indianapolis next week.
- Baltimore Ravens (5-4)- Previous rank: 21- The Ravens did everything they could in the first half to let Cleveland pull away with it. Then they decided that they probably shouldn’t give the NFL’s worst team get its first win of the season in front of a home crowd. Baltimore now sits in sole possession of first place in the AFC North. I expect Pittsburgh to win the division, but at least the Ravens can now say they were in it in the second half of the season.
- Buffalo Bills (4-5)- Previous rank: 18- The Bills were close against Seattle, but with that loss, they can kiss their playoff hopes goodbye. They really didn’t have much of a chance before that loss either. And now, we’re back to the Rex Ryan discussion. This season was pretty much playoffs or bust. Should Rex or his brother Rob be on the chopping block?
- Green Bay Packers (4-5)- Previous rank: 10- Uh oh. Suddenly, nobody is relaxing in Green Bay. The Packers got absolutely manhandled by Tennessee on Sunday, and who’s to blame? The defense, Aaron Rodgers, or Mike McCarthy? Is McCarthy on the hot seat? Too many questions, not enough answers.
- Minnesota Vikings (5-4)- Previous rank: 11- What happened to Minnesota? This team looked like it was on the fast track to the Super Bowl just a month ago. Now they can’t run the ball, they’re still struggling to protect Sam Bradford, and the defense has not played great lately. The Vikings now find themselves in a dog fight for the divisional championship. Minnesota will return home to take on Arizona next week.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5)- Previous rank: 24- The Bucs picked up a nice win over Chicago on Sunday, and Jameis Winston threw for over 300 yards. Doug Martin was rusty, gaining only 33 yards on the ground. The Bucs will take on the red-hot Chiefs next week at Arrowhead.
- Indianapolis Colts (4-5)- Previous rank: 20- The Colts are by no means out of the divisional race in the AFC South. As bad as the South is, it should be an interesting race to see who wants to get knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. My money is on Houston still, but the Colts are hanging in there. Indy will host Tennessee next week.
- Carolina Panthers (3-6)- Previous rank: 23- The Panthers collapsed in dramatic fashion at home, and now they’re on the cusp of being eliminated from the playoff picture. This has to be difficult for an organization with Super Bowl aspirations this season. The Panthers have a short week as they take on New Orleans on Thursday night. Every game from here on out has become must-win for Carolina.
- San Diego Chargers (4-6)- Previous rank: 17- Phillip Rivers was bad. Melvin Gordon averaged 2.9 yards per carry, and San Diego struggled against a Miami team they’re capable of beating. The Chargers now sit at 4-6, and they’re well out of both the divisional and the playoff races.
- Cincinnati Bengals (3-5-1)- Previous rank: 25- Things aren’t looking good in Cincy. This team’s playoff struggles have been well-documented, but now it doesn’t appear they will even make the postseason this year. That spells trouble for head coach Marvin Lewis.
- Los Angeles Rams (4-5)- Previous rank: 26- Much of LA’s offense this season hinged upon Todd Gurley building off of his outstanding rookie year. So far, that hasn’t happened. And Case Keenum? Well, he’s Case Keenum. Luckily, the defense is still pretty good, and the Rams got the win against the woeful Jets on Sunday. Los Angeles hosts Miami next week, and they will have to find a way to slow down Jay Ajayi.
- Arizona Cardinals (4-4-1)- Previous rank: 27– David Johnson came back to give Arizona their only two touchdowns of the game against San Francisco. The offense pretty much runs through him. I think it’s time for Arizona to start considering life after Carson Palmer. The guy is clearly in a steep decline, and I don’t think he can lead them in the playoffs. That’s assuming they even make the playoffs this year.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (2-7)- Previous rank: 30- After breaking out on the ground against Kansas City, the Jags returned to their usual ways against Houston. Although 80 yards is still a significant improvement compared to what they were getting early in the season, it looks like the Jags are probably going to get another top 10 pick in the NFL Draft. I still feel like this team has some pieces, but they just can’t seem to fit them together.
- New York Jets (3-7)- Previous rank: 29- Fitzmagic finally got canned, and he was replaced by Bryce Petty at QB for the Jets. Petty wasn’t horrible, and he had some good moments, but no matter who’s at QB this offense struggles. The defense played well, but they were playing a below-average offense at best. The Jets now must take on a Patriots team that will be angry after their tough loss to Seattle. The NFL has smartly flexed this game off of primetime. It’s going to be a bloodbath.
- Chicago Bears (2-7)- Previous rank: 28- Jay Cutler returned to his usual form against Tampa Bay. Cutler threw two interceptions as Chicago was thoroughly dismantled by the Buccaneers. Jordan Howard picked up 100 yards on the ground for the Bears, but other than that, there isn’t a lot of positives to take away from this one. Chicago is at the New York Giants next week.
- San Francisco 49ers (1-8)- Previous rank: 31- There’s really not much left to say at this point. The 49ers are going to have a top 5 pick. The question is, who do they draft? First, I think they need to take a step back and reevaluate if Chip Kelly is going to continue as head coach of this team, because things just aren’t working right now on either side of the ball.
- Cleveland Browns (0-10)- Previous rank: 32- The Browns are 0-10, and Cleveland fans are already preparing for a party to celebrate their perfect season. Now comes the question of who to take with the number 1 overall pick, but first Cleveland needs to determine if Cody Kessler is the quarterback of the future. Until then, keep dreamin’, Cleveland.
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Feature photo courtesy of Nicole Cordeiro.