Folks, we have entered the second half of the NFL season.
My apologies, as you may have noticed there were no rankings prior to Week 9, I got a little too obsessed following Steve Kornacki and the election. Anyway, football is still going (even with 2-3 COVID scares per team per week at this point) and the playoff picture is taking form.
Before we begin, I wanted to share my updates predictions for NFL awards. One quick note before that: although I did not post Week 9 rankings, I did have them saved on my phone (I have a master list I move around on Sundays). The previous rankings for this week are based on what the Week 9 rankings would be, and I put the Week 8 rankings for each team at the bottom of their blurb for reference.
Here are my award predictions for 2020 based on the first half of the season:
MVP: Russell Wilson, Seahawks
– Second choice: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
Offensive Player of the Year: Dalvin Cook, Vikings
– Second choice: Russell Wilson, Seahawks
Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald, Rams
– Second choice: T.J. Watt, Steelers
Coach of the Year: Brian Flores, Dolphins
– Second choice: Mike Tomlin, Steelers
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Justin Herbert, Chargers
– Second choice: Joe Burrow, Bengals
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Antoine Winfield, Jr, Buccaneers
– Second choice: Patrick Queen, Ravens
Comeback Player of the Year: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
– Second choice: Alex Smith, Washington
Onto the rankings
Biggest rise: New Orleans Saints (up 5 spots)
Biggest fall: Chicago Bears (down 3 spots)
1. Kansas City Chiefs (PR: 1)
Record: 8-1 | Week 10 opponent: BYE WEEK
Their win last week was a nail bitter versus the Panthers, but to Carolina’s defense they always play teams close. Mahomes is putting up gaudy numbers yet again, the running game is more consistent than a year ago, and the defense has actually been pretty good.
Week 8 ranking: 1
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (PR: 2)
Record: 8-0 | Week 10 opponent: Cincinnati Bengals (home)
It might be ugly (as was the case last week against Dallas), but Pittsburgh continues to win games. Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t need to be special, but he needs to be healthy and out there. His absence at the end of the first half brought back memories of last season.
Week 8 ranking: 2
3. New Orleans Saints (PR: 8)
Record: 6-2 | Week 10 opponent: San Francisco 49ers (home)
I was ready to coronate the Bucs the best team in the NFC after Seattle lost to Buffalo, then the Saints walked into Raymond James Stadium and blew their doors off. It was a complete beatdown, I’ve never seen a team with Tom Brady look that bad. Props to the Saints, play like that and you won’t lose to anyone.
Week 8 ranking: 8
4. Seattle Seahawks (PR: 3)
Record: 6-2 | Week 10 opponent: Los Angeles Rams (away)
We knew Seattle’s defense was vulnerable, and it’s becoming more apparent as of late. There’s only so much Russell Wilson can do. Luckily for the Seahawks there aren’t a lot of high-powered offenses remaining on the schedule, and hopefully as Jamal Adams gets reacclimated the defense can find some consistency to close the season.
Week 8 ranking: 4
5. Baltimore Ravens (PR: 5)
Record: 6-2 | Week 10 opponent: New England Patriots (away)
I know it’s easier said than done, but Lamar Jackson just does not lose games he’s not supposed to in the regular season. He’s 25-5 as a starter (best record through 30 games), with 3 losses against KC, one against the undefeated Steelers, then the only anomaly: a loss to the 1-2 Cleveland Browns last season. He’s won every other regular season start of his career.
Week 8 ranking: 3
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (PR: 4)
Record: 6-3 | Week 10 opponent: Carolina Panthers (away)
I am stunned how bad the Bucs lost to New Orleans. I’ll say it, that’s a game the Patriots never lose with Brady, at least that bad. Everyone looked awful. It’s just one game at the end of the day, but I went from thinking this was the best team in the conference to them having a chance but with flaws. Luckily there’s still time to fix them.
Week 8 ranking: 6
7. Buffalo Bills (PR: 7)
Record: 7-2 | Week 10 opponent: Arizona Cardinals (away)
I’m not ready to put the Bills any higher, but their win against Seattle was impressive. This is the same team that struggled against the Jets and Patriots their previous two games, which tells you how funny the NFL is. They seem well on their way to reaching the postseason for the third time in 4 years.
Week 8 ranking: 9
8. Tennessee Titans (PR: 6)
Record: 6-3 | Week 10 opponent: Indianapolis Colts, Thursday; lost
I try not to overreact too much on Thursday night games because they always tend to be ugly, but big picture the Titans are 1-3 in their last 4 games, not a good trend for one of the better teams in the league. Ryan Tannehill is looking like the Miami version of himself as of late. If that stays true, the ceiling of this group lowers considerably.
Week 8 ranking: 5
9. Green Bay Packers (PR: 9)
Record: 6-2 | Week 10 opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars (home)
The Packers were carved up by Minnesota two weeks ago, but beat a depleted 49ers team a few days later on Thursday. Again, not putting too much into a Thursday game. Aaron Rodgers is having arguably one of the best seasons of his career, and this is still a relatively well-rounded group, but it still feels like they’re susceptible to underperforming.
Week 8 ranking: 7
10. Arizona Cardinals (PR: 10)
Record: 5-3 | Week 10 opponent: Buffalo Bills (home)
After a great win against the Seahawks going into their bye week, Arizona lost to Miami in their first game back. It certainly was not Kyler Murray’s fault, who was excellent yet again. I really like the upside of this team behind Murray; I wish Chandler Jones was healthy, I feel like that would make a huge difference the rest of the way.
Week 8 ranking: 10
11. Las Vegas Raiders (PR: 12)
Record: 5-3 | Week 10 opponent: Denver Broncos (home)
The Raiders won a very boring game against Cleveland two weeks ago and just pulled off a win against the Chargers. They stand at 5-3 with a chance to make the playoffs. This is a young group with a ton of potential, and hopefully they can finish the year strong compared to last season when they lost 5 of their final 6 games.
Week 8 ranking: 14
12. Indianapolis Colts (PR: 13)
Record: 6-3 | Week 10 opponent: Tennessee Titans, Thursday; lost
After a win at Tennessee the Colts are suddenly in first place in the AFC South, a great place to be as the second half of the season begins to take shape. Philip Rivers has been better of late, and the secondary continues to do really well. This team was missing competent QB play a year ago, if Rivers can sustain it, it will compliment this talented roster.
Week 8 ranking: 16
13. Miami Dolphins (PR: 14)
Record: 5-3 | Week 10 opponent: Los Angeles Chargers (home)
The Dolphins continue to be the surprise of the season, improving as the season goes on and pulling off impressive wins in the process. Tua Tagovailoa looked awesome against Arizona last week. Remember how we thought they’d go 0-16 last year? Just a season later Miami’s knocking on the door of the playoffs. The NFL is funny that way.
Week 8 ranking: 17
14. Chicago Bears (PR: 11)
Record: 5-4 | Week 10 opponent: Minnesota Vikings (home), Monday
Oh Chicago. The Bears have lost three games in a row and stand at 5-4, just on the outside of the NFC playoffs. Nick Foles is not playing good, as the Bears are averaging under 18 PPG in his 6 starts, not yet eclipsing 24 points. Real shame considering the defense keeps these games very close.
Week 8 ranking: 13
15. Los Angeles Rams (PR: 15)
Record: 5-3 | Week 10 opponent: Seattle Seahawks (home)
I’m too far gone on the Rams are frauds train. Their wins this season have come against the NFC East and Bears. They still have to face Seattle and Arizona two times each and the Bucs once during the second half of the season. They aren’t bad, but they’re average at best.
Week 8 ranking: 12
16. Cleveland Browns (PR: 17)
Record: 5-3 | Week 10 opponent: Houston Texans (home)
The Browns are 5-3 as they enter the second half of their season. Things are going better than year ago, but you don’t know what Baker Mayfield you’ll get week-to-week. The best strategy seems to be to ride Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the running game, using Baker in a complimentary fashion.
Week 8 ranking: 15
17. San Francisco 49ers (PR: 16)
Record: 4-5 | Week 10 opponent: New Orleans Saints (away)
I feel for the 49ers. They got a wave of bad injury news to start the season, got a bit healthier and seemed to fine a groove, then they lost Jimmy G and George Kittle to injury yet again. Garoppolo might be done here, but it’s clear to me they have the right coach to be just fine with whoever comes next.
Week 8 ranking: 11
18. Carolina Panthers (PR: 18)
Record: 3-6 | Week 10 opponent: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (home)
I mentioned it at the top, but Carolina plays a lot better than their 3-6 record indicates. The margin between being good and bad is small in the NFL, and this group is not good just yet. They’re close though…
Week 8 ranking: 19
19. Minnesota Vikings (PR: 23)
Record: 3-5 | Week 10 opponent: Chicago Bears (away), Monday
Look no further than the 2018 season when Indianapolis made the playoffs after starting 1-5. That’s what the Vikings are trying to replicate, and with the way Dalvin Cook is playing, they might have a chance. Minnesota faces Chicago, Dallas, Carolina and Jacksonville in their next 4 games. They need to go 4-0 to have any chance at all, but I could see it.
Week 8 ranking: 28
20. Denver Broncos (PR: 20)
Record: 3-5 | Week 10 opponent: Las Vegas Raiders (away)
Denver always seems to be in close games under Vic Fangio, it’s quite remarkable. As the season goes on the hope of Drew Lock being that guy seems to be getting smaller and smaller. John Elway keeps swinging and missing in that department.
Week 8 ranking: 20
21. Detroit Lions (PR: 19)
Record: 3-5 | Week 10 opponent: Washington (home)
After seemingly figuring things out to get to 3-3, Detroit has lost their last two games and yet again look mediocre with an outside chance of being average. That’s really been the story of this organization for a long time, and it hasn’t changed under Matt Patricia.
Week 8 ranking: 18
22. Cincinnati Bengals (PR: 21)
Record: 2-5-1 | Week 10 opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers (away)
The Bengals pulled off a great win at home against the Titans for their second win of the season. Outside of their loss against the Ravens, this has been a really competitive group, and Joe Burrow has looked pretty good.
Week 8 ranking: 23
23. New England Patriots (PR: 24)
Record: 3-6 | Week 10 opponent: Baltimore Ravens (home)
I can’t believe I’m saying this but there was a good portion of the game on Monday I was rooting for the Jets to pull off the win. I started getting thoughts of a top 5 pick. However, Cam Newton and Jakobi Meyers brought me back to reality. Maybe this is the beginning of a late season surge, but I won’t get too optimistic after beating the Jets.
Week 8 ranking: 21
24. Philadelphia Eagles (PR: 22)
Record: 3-4-1 | Week 10 opponent: New York Giants (away)
The Eagles begin the second half of their season tomorrow. With games against Seattle, Green Bay, New Orleans and Arizona looming, the best case scenario looks like 7 wins… which should be enough to win the division.
Week 8 ranking: 25
25. Atlanta Falcons (PR: 27)
Record: 3-6 | Week 10 opponent: BYE WEEK
Yup, they’re doing it again. The Falcons are 3-1 since firing Dan Quinn, and if last season taught us anything, Atlanta can suddenly turn into the best team in the NFL during the second half of the season. Might be harder this season with 5 of their remaining games against New Orleans (twice), Tampa Bay (twice) and Kansas City, but they’ll make it interesting.
Week 8 ranking: 26
26. Los Angeles Chargers (PR: 25)
Record: 2-6 | Week 10 opponent: Miami Dolphins (away)
I really feel for this team. Each week they find a way to lose. Last week Justin Herbert seemed to throw a TD in the corner of the end zone at the buzzer, only for a slight bobble making it an incompletion. He’s having one of the best rookie seasons ever, yet the Chargers are 1-6 in his starts. It’s remarkable.
Week 8 ranking: 22
27. Houston Texans (PR: 26)
Record: 2-6 | Week 10 opponent: Cleveland Browns (away)
After a ruthless first half schedule, things should be a bit more forgiving the second half of the way for Houston. There’s no reward for losing, as the team doesn’t have their first and second round draft picks this season, so they might as well try to win.
Week 8 ranking: 24
28. Dallas Cowboys (PR: 28)
Record: 2-7 | Week 10 opponent: BYE WEEK
The Cowboys rolled out their 4th starting QB of the season and almost pulled off an upset against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers. They stand at 2-7, but with three divisional games left – including a game versus Philly – if they pull off a few wins there could be a path to winning the division.
Week 8 ranking: 27
29. New York Giants (PR: 31)
Record: 2-7 | Week 10 opponent: Philadelphia Eagles (home)
Daniel Jones is 4-0 in his career versus Washington, but 1-16 against the rest of the NFL, with his only win coming in his first career start (meaning he’s lost 16 straight starts against non-Washington teams). Like the Giants, there’s a path, but if they lose to Philly tomorrow it closes up pretty quickly.
Week 8 ranking: 31
30. Washington (PR: 30)
Record: 2-6 | Week 10 opponent: Detroit Lions (away)
Washington is going to Alex Smith at started due to Kyle Allen being hurt. Maybe this can turn around their season. They have a chance being in the NFC East, and their defense doesn’t suck, but they have a tendency to just stop fighting at the end of games.
Week 8 ranking: 30
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (PR: 29)
Record: 1-7 | Week 10 opponent: Green Bay Packers (away)
The Jags are 0-7 since Week 1 and have the second worst record in the NFL. They suck.
Week 8 ranking: 29
32. New York Jets (PR: 32)
Record: 0-9 | Week 10 opponent: BYE WEEK
I really though the Jets were gonna pull off the upset, then they pulled off the most Jetsy performance I’ve ever seen. They just wanted that loss more. You almost have to respect it.
Week 8 ranking: 32
Photo above via Yahoo Sports
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