All that “stability” that was forming prior to Week 6? Out the window.
As we continue to learn more about teams this season, Week 6 (and the early returns on Week 7) taught us a lot. We’re beginning to see Super Bowl contenders form, teams proving they’re better than last season, teams proving they’re simply not the same as last season… and still, teams still trying to find themselves… We also saw a free kick at the end of the first half in the Panthers-Bucs game in London; you think the British fans were confused!? 99% of America was too! You never know what you’ll see in a given week.
Biggest rise: Houston Texans, Minnesota Vikings (up 6 spots)
Biggest fall: Los Angeles Rams (down 9 spots)
1. New England Patriots (PR: 1)
Record: 6-0 | Week 7 opponent: New York Jets (away)
The Patriots are the only 6-0 team in the NFL, and have at least a two-game lead on every team in the AFC. Critics can talk about their doubts about Brady and the offense, but this defense is good enough to carry this team, and be honest: what other team in the AFC do you feel comfortable saying is even at their level? They have the inside track to home-field advantage, and will only get better as the season progresses (as they always do).
2. San Francisco 49ers (PR: 6)
Record: 5-0 | Week 7 opponent: Washington (away)
The next three teams you see are neck-and-neck, but at the moment the 49ers have a slight edge. They have not allowed a 300-yard passer all season, and neither Baker Mayfield nor Jared Goff passed for over 100 yards against them the past 2 weeks. This is a LEGIT defense. I worry about Jimmy G, but the current run-first offense is working, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
3. New Orleans Saints (PR: 2)
Record: 5-1 | Week 7 opponent: Chicago Bears (away)
Their first win without Drew Brees this season (against Seattle) was impressive, but everything after that is beginning to lose it’s luster. Wins are wins, and this team will still receive a boost when Brees does come back, but maybe it’s too soon to call them THE team to beat in the NFC. Regardless, their ability to compete during these moments will only help as the season goes on.
4. Seattle Seahawks (PR: 5)
Record: 5-1 | Week 7 opponent: Baltimore Ravens (home)
Russell Wilson’s MVP case only grows stronger and stronger by the week. The running game has been solid as well, but the days of the Legion of Boom are over, as Seattle’s secondary has been rather porous, which has kept opponents in games. As long as Wilson plays at this level, it won’t even matter, but games will be closer than they should.
5. Green Bay Packers (PR: 4)
Record: 5-1 | Week 7 opponent: Oakland Raiders (home)
Green Bay was handed the game on Monday due to the refs, but this is still a good team. More of a sloppy game than we’ve seen from the Packers this season, but their pass defense eventually shut down the Lions after an early surge. Rodgers has not been as dynamite as we’re used to seeing, but he still drove his team down the field for a GW FG on the last drive of the game. I like the makeup of this team, they have a chance to make some noise, but they will not peak until Rodgers turns it up a notch.
6. Kansas City Chiefs (PR: 3)
Record: 5-2 | Week 7 opponent: Denver Broncos (away); won
The Chiefs won in Denver, but lost their superstar QB in the process. It looked like it could’ve been much worse, but current tests have KC saying Patrick Mahomes will only miss 3 games (versus Green Bay, Minnesota, and at Tennessee). 35-year-old Matt Moore has a tall task in front of him… maybe KC signs/trades for a new QB. Just sucks to see a great player go down.
7. Buffalo Bills (PR: 10)
Record: 4-1 | Week 7 opponent: Miami Dolphins (home)
Who has the second best record in the AFC? The Buffalo Bills! As I’ve said in previous weeks, Buffalo has an awesome defense, but their ceiling will be limited due to the play of Josh Allen… you think they’d ever consider calling the Panthers about Cam Newton? There are some similarities in their game, and Sean McDermott was the DC in Carolina for 6 seasons, so he knows Newton very well. That would be interesting. Due to being in the AFC East, their best hope is earning the 5th seed, but that doesn’t mean they can’t win a game in January.
8. Houston Texans (PR: 14)
Record: 4-2 | Week 7 opponent: Indianapolis Colts (away)
What a win. Deshaun Watson didn’t have his best game statistically, but with the ball in his hands on 4th down in the 4th quarter, he was able to hit DeAndre Hopkins for a first down, clinching a victory in KC. The offensive line is getting better, as evidenced by a strong performance from Carlos Hyde, and the fact Deshaun Watson was not sacked for a second straight game; things are starting to come together. I’m a big fan of Watson, and he puts this team in a position to win time and time again; as long as the defense doesn’t cough it up, they’ll be in the picture in the AFC.
9. Indianapolis Colts (PR: 11)
Record: 3-2 | Week 7 opponent: Houston Texans (home)
It’s been almost 2 weeks since they beat the Chiefs, but it was still a big win. This is a smart team, and one that has faced a lot of injuries to key players, but can play with the best teams in the NFL. They’ll have a tough contest against Houston, but a win would put them in first place in the AFC South as we approach the halfway point of the season.
10. Minnesota Vikings (PR: 16)
Record: 4-2 | Week 7 opponent: Detroit Lions (away)
Kirk Cousins must read my work, because last week I said they won’t move up in my rankings until they beat a good team, and folks, they did (unless the Eagles actually suck). Philly does have an awful secondary, but regardless, Cousins put together another phenomenal performance, and this team looked as good as they have all season. If Cousins can play at this level the rest of 2019 and not choke under pressure, then Minnesota is another NFC team to watch.
11. Chicago Bears (PR: 12)
Record: 3-2 | Week 7 opponent: New Orleans Saints (home)
Believe it or not, the Bears are 3rd in the NFC North. The last time we saw them play, they lost to the Raiders in their worst performance of 2019. We know how good this defense is, and tomorrow they get to face Teddy Bridgewater, a big test and potential playoff matchup. Will the bye week help Mitch Trubisky figure out how to play QB? Well, that’s the hope.
12. Carolina Panthers (PR: 17)
Record: 4-2 | Week 7 opponent: none (bye week)
The Panthers have won 4 straight games and are quickly rising in the NFC (and these rankings). Kyle Allen might not be the dynamic QB this team has been used to, but he does what’s asked of him… and it’s been working. Sadly, Cam Newton was 0-8 in his last 8 starts, and Kyle Allen is 5-0 as a starter with this team (4-0 this season). Newton did have health concerns that limited him last season and this year, but this team has just looked better with Allen.
13. Baltimore Ravens (PR: 15)
Record: 4-2 | Week 7 opponent: Seattle Seahawks (away)
The Ravens beat the winless Bengals to move to 4-2, but that’s not too impressive of a win. Regardless, at 4-2, the team has a solid division lead, one that will be hard to relinquish unless things go south. Lamar Jackson has been a playmaker all season, and the Ravens have a strong offense, and their defense received an upgrade with the acquisition of Marcus Peters.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (PR: 8)
Record: 3-3 | Week 7 opponent: Dallas Cowboys (away)
No team seesaws in my rankings more than the Eagles. They have all the pieces on offense and a good head coach, but their secondary is just atrocious; this was a team that needed Jalen Ramsey. Due to their weak division, they still have a clear path to making the playoffs, and their game against the Cowboys tomorrow night will be huge in determining who will represent the NFC East in the postseason.
15. Detroit Lions (PR: 13)
Record: 2-2-1 | Week 7 opponent: Minnesota Vikings (home)
I truly feel bad for the Lions. They lost a close game to the Chiefs in Week 4, then were screwed out of a chance to beat the Packers on Monday; if they did win, they would be in first place in the NFC North, a VERY strong division, but now, they’re in last. They’ll need to win games against their division (like tomorrow against the Vikings) if they want a chance to make the playoffs, because the NFC is too deep, but it’s a tall task. I like the direction things are moving though.
16. Los Angeles Rams (PR: 7)
Record: 3-3 | Week 7 opponent: Atlanta Falcons (away)
What is going on here? The Rams were absolutely dominated at home by the 49ers, and it might have been the worst game Jared Goff has ever played. They added Jalen Ramsey, an upgrade over Marcus Peters, but is that enough? Well, with games against the Falcons and Bengals the next 2 weeks, things should improve, but at this time, the Rams are not a contender in the NFC, and will have a tough time making the playoffs.
17. Dallas Cowboys (PR: 9)
Record: 3-3 | Week 7 opponent: Philadelphia Eagles (home)
I said last week the run game needed to be established if the Cowboys wanted to reach their peak, but that didn’t really happen. The Jets stormed out to a 21-3 lead against Dallas, and similar to their game against Green Bay, Dallas mounted a comeback, but it was too little, too late. The Jets did get Sam Darnold back, so things were different, but for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, this was disappointing. Similar to the Eagles, being in the NFC East means they still have a clear path to the playoffs, but winning tomorrow is a must.
18. Oakland Raiders (PR: 21)
Record: 3-2 | Week 7 opponent: Green Bay Packers (away)
As some other teams falter, the Raiders rise. It’s been two weeks since an impressive win against the Bears, and before that they beat the Colts. Can they put it all together and beat a strong Packers team on the road tomorrow? I’m not sure, but with the Chiefs in flux, if the Raiders can put some more wins together, they might have a chance to win the division.
19. Cleveland Browns (PR: 18)
Record: 2-4 | Week 7 opponent: none (bye week)
Things are falling apart since the Browns beat the Ravens. Cleveland came out to an early 20-6 lead against Seattle, but they could not hold it, losing 32-28 at home (their third loss at home this season). Baker Mayfield threw 2 more INTs, which gives him 11 for the season; as the weeks go by, it makes you wonder what happen to the player we saw last year. Their strong secondary keeps them in games, but it’s not enough.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (PR: 23)
Record: 2-4 | Week 7 opponent: Cincinnati Bengals (away)
The Jaguars lost last week, but it was a close game to the Saints, and they’re still competing better than their peers, so they get a bump here. Minshew had his worst game as a starter, but even then, they stayed within striking distance against one of the better teams in the NFL. Jalen Ramsey is finally gone, but the Jags loaded up with some draft picks. It might not help the team this season, but maybe those picks will help Jacksonville build around Minshew.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers (PR: 25)
Record: 2-4 | Week 7 opponent: none (bye week)
The Steelers somehow found themselves playing a home game in LA, and were up 24-0 at one point before winning 24-17. For a team playing under their third-string QB who started his first career game on the “road,” it was an impressive win. Devin Bush had a phenomenal game, and maybe this team is building something. It will likely be for the future, as they might be too far from competing in the playoffs, but stranger things have happened (see: 2018 Colts).
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (PR: 20)
Record: 2-4 | Week 7 opponent: none (bye week)
Oh no, Jameis Winston just threw another interception since you started reading this! What happened? He was doing so good for a month, but was absolutely exposed against the Panthers. Things are trending in the wrong direction here, and without another true home game until November 10, Tampa Bay will need to figure things out on the road against Tennessee and Seattle over the next few weeks.
23. Denver Broncos (PR: 26)
Record: 2-5 | Week 7 opponent: Kansas City Chiefs (home); lost
Denver seemed to be figuring things out against the Chargers and Titans, then proceed to get their doors blown off at home against the Chiefs. When Mahomes went down, it was a close game; you’d think they would jump on the chance to finish the night against a backup QB… nope. Denver was outscored 20-0 after Mahomes left, showing zero signs of life on offense. This was their chance to make a playoff run, and they lost it. Onto 2020.
24. Los Angeles Chargers (PR: 19)
Record: 2-4 | Week 7 opponent: Tennessee Titans (away)
What an absolutely embarrassing performance. Since getting Melvin Gordon back, the team has gone 0-2, and they are just being exposed. Never was it more apparent than last Sunday that they have no sort of fan base in LA, and injuries are adding up. This is not the team we saw finish 2018, and it looks less and less likely that they will recapture that magic.
25. New York Giants (PR: 25)
Record: 2-4 | Week 7 opponent: Arizona Cardinals (home)
The Giants last game was them playing close against the New England Patriots, but not being able to keep up. The Giants will face the Cardinals tomorrow, and it will be a game featuring another rookie QB with high hopes.
26. Arizona Cardinals (PR: 28)
Record: 2-3-1 | Week 7 opponent: New York Giants (away)
Kyler Murray had another big performance last Sunday against the Falcons, bolstering his stats, and giving the Cardinals their second straight win. He’s putting up more great games, and if it continues at this rate, he’ll be the favorite for Offensive ROY.
27. Tennessee Titans (PR: 22)
Record: 2-4 | Week 7 opponent: Los Angeles Chargers
Marcus Mariota was benched for Ryan Tannehill on Sunday, and Tannehill will start tomorrow against the Chargers. Maybe he can be a spark for a team that has gone 1-4 since blowing out the Browns Week 1. All is not lost as no AFC South team is too far ahead, but have they given you any reason to think they can flip a switch? No.
28. New York Jets (PR: 31)
Record: 1-4 | Week 7 opponent: New England Patriots (home)
Don’t look now, but one of my picks to make the playoffs prior to this season is on the rise! The Jets got Sam Darnold back last Sunday, and won their first game of the season. It was night and day compared to how their previous 4 games had gone, and it could be the boost they need. Sadly, they host the Patriots at home on Monday, but a strong performance against New England could define how the rest of 2019 goes… they have a chance.
29. Atlanta Falcons (PR: 27)
Record: 1-5 | Week 7 opponent: Los Angeles Rams (home)
Recently Steve Smith said on NFL Network that playing Atlanta is like going to the fix-it shop: you can fix everything wrong with your team when you face them. Well, the Cardinals were the most recent team to prove that theory true. Blow it up, start trading players, there’s nothing left to do this season. Onto 2020.
30. Washington (PR: 30)
Record: 1-5 | Week 7 opponent: San Francisco 49ers (home)
Washington won the Battle of the Tankers last Sunday in Miami, making them look like geniuses for firing Jay Gruden. Adrian Peterson had a vintage performance with 23 carries and 118 yards. With their next 3 games against San Francisco, Minnesota, and Buffalo, last week will probably be the bright spot of the season. Onto 2020.
31. Cincinnati Bengals (PR: 29)
Record: 0-6 | Week 7 opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars (home)
Another close loss, but now the Bengals are only one of the two remaining winless teams in the league. Onto 2020.
32. Miami Dolphins (PR: 32)
Record: 0-5 | Week 7 opponent: Buffalo Bills (away)
Miami has decided to make Ryan Fitzpatrick their starter again; poor Josh Rosen, that guy looks like he’ll never have a fair chance to develop in this league. Onto 2020.
Photo above from Getty Images
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