LAST NBA season I wanted to do a form of Power Rankings and tossed up how I would go about it. Monthly, quarterly, weekly. Instead, I decided to break the season into fifth’s, so I’m doing the same thing with the NFL in 2018. With each team on the verge of playing their fourth match of the season, find out how all 32 squads are travelling.
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1. Los Angeles Rams (4-0)
EVERYONE knows the Rams are the best team in football at the moment. Their depth is about to be tested with Aqib Talib hitting injury reserve and Marcus Peters running at less than 100%. Still, with Jared Goff hurling the ball all over the place and Todd Gurley poised for another awesome season, Rams fans are getting early 21st-century flashbacks.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)
I’M not yet ready to claim my prediction of the Chiefs as AFC champs, but I’m getting close. With Patrick Mahomes looking like the second coming of Brett Farve, KC has roared to a 3-0 start with no signs of slowing down. While their defense continues to cause concerns they keep doing enough to help the team win. It’s not as alarming to give up 30 points a game when you are scoring 40 points with ease.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (2-1)
WITH Carson Wentz returning last week, Philly fans can sleep a little easier at night. The Eagles still have a long way to go before we consider them as Super Bowl contenders again, but there’s no doubt they are finding their feet with every week that passes. Remember, it’s only September.
4. Jaxonville Jaguars (2-1)
BY no means am I Blake Bortles believer. Yet. After raising eyebrows against the Pats, we wondered if the Jaguars had finally turned the corner offensively. Throwing 155 passing yards the following week and scoring just six points a team brought our thoughts back to reality. Leonard Fournette’s return should help but Jacksonville still has a lot to figure out on offense.
5. New Orleans Saints (2-1)
IN my mind the Saints still deserve to be considered favourites for the division banner. Defensively, they are a mess at the moment, which leads me to believe that they can only improve. Besides, Drew Brees is having an MVP calibre type of season and until he slows down, 10+ wins seem to be a formality.
6. Minnesota Vikings (1-2-1)
I’M still not punishing Minnesota despite just one win from four tries to open the season. Their tie can be put down to a terrible kicking performance and the L to Buffalo doesn’t worry me long term. Thursday nights showing against the Rams told me one thing though, this Vikings defense needs to step up if they want to truly contend.
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7. Carolina Panthers (2-1)
I had my doubts over Carolina in the tough AFC South to start the season, but things are looking up right now. With Cam Newton adapting to Norv Turner’s offense Carolina looks sharp and dangerous moving the chains, aided by Christian McCaffery’s development. If Greg Olsen can get himself rate in the back half of the year, the Panthers might be division champs.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)
RYAN Fitzmagic showcased the best and worst of his quarterback play on Monday night. He deserves to stay put as Tampa Bay’s starter right now, despite Jamies Winston returning from a three-game suspension. All eyes will be on his performance against the Bears to see if Winston gets his number called at any point in time.
9. New England Patriots (2-1)
IF Bill Belichick and Tom Brady can get out of this one with another Super Bowl ring, then I will have no problem crowning them as the greatest coach and quarterback, respectively to breath oxygen. Simply put, their players just aren’t that good and the two footballing wizards will need to figure out a way to utilize them and maximise their chances of remaining the Kings of the AFC.
Image from usatoday.com
10. Miami Dolphins (3-0)
ARE we sure the Dolphins aren’t good? One of three undefeated teams in the league, a healthy Ryan Tannehill has led Miami to one of their best starts in recent memory. The real test this week comes against New England. Should they triumph over the Patriots, a playoff berth would be theirs to lose.
11. Atlanta Falcons (1-2)
THE fact that Julio Jones has just one touchdown catch in his last 10 games is a crime against football fans. One of the best vertical threats in the league deserves to be targeted more in the red zone and yet, he continues to play decoy for Calvin Ridley and Austin Hooper. Injuries to the secondary are what has really put a dent in the Falcons season so far and they need Jones and Matt Ryan to put up points in a hurry to make up for their defensive shortcomings.
12. Chicago Bears (2-1)
KHALIL Mack’s arrival has Bears fans feeling all nostalgic after struggling to find an identity in the last few seasons. The best player on the defensive side of the ball so far this season has inspired Chicago to solid wins against the Seahawks and Cardinals. If they cant to keep up their winning ways, Mitchell Trubisky will need to take a step up, averaging just 197 passing yards a match (27th in the league).
13. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)
THE first of three straight AFC North teams find themselves atop the muddled, wide-open division. Without versatile back Joe Mixon they couldn’t outpoint Carolina last week leading to their first loss. Once Mixon gets back to full health this Bengals team will be in the box seat to claim the North.
14. Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
BALTIMORE seem set to return to the postseason in 2018, after missing out by the narrowest of margins a year ago. Their defense will keep them in contention for most of the season, but just how much Joe Flacco can get out of his receivers is uncertain. As long as he can get them over midfield Justin Tucker can take care of the rest.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1-1)
EVERY year we pencil Pittsburgh in for a playoff appearance without much thought, purely based on their Triple B’s. Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger have been doing their best through three games, but the third member of the trio Le’Veon Bell continues to put his feet up with no end in sight to his ongoing contract dispute. Couple this with the fact that the Steelers D looks shaky and we could see Pittsburgh miss the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
16. Green Bay Packers (1-1-1)
SMACK bang in the middle of the rankings is the Green Bay Packers, teetering on the edge of a freefall. Aaron Rodgers knee injury seems to be getting worse with every snap and there is a real possibility that the quarterback Jesus (sorry Tom) is playing with a torn ACL. Damn.
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17. Washington Redskins (2-1)
WITH All-Day Peterson winding back the clock, Washington seems to be in for the race for a division banner. An early bye week will likely keep the former MVP fresh and his output along with Alex Smith’s production will dictate if this Redskins outfit is a contender or pretender.
18. Los Angeles Chargers (1-2)
YEAR in, year out the L.A. Chargers remain the same. A team full of talent that continues to underachieve. Granted, the two L’s on the Chargers resume have come from the top team in both conferences, giving us some hope for the future. As injuries pile up though, I’m selling my stock.
19. Tennessee Titans (2-1)
I went all in on the Titans this preseason, predicting an AFC Championship appearance. I think I might be wrong. Until Tennessee can figure out who their starting quarterback is I don’t have faith in their playoff chances, however, they do play in a funk division. Time for Marcus Mariota to plant his flag as the franchise QB.
20. Denver Broncos (2-1)
FUELED by their running backs the Broncos have got off to a sound start with the real test coming this weekend against Kansas City. Phillip Lindsay recorded 100+ yards from scrimmage in the first two games of his career, while Royce Freeman has supported him scoring two rushing TD’s while averaging 4.2 yards a carry. If Keenum can keep finding his skilled wideouts in Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, this Denver team might surprise a few of us.
21. Detroit Lions (1-2)
THE Lions restored their fans faith with a gritty win over the Pats a week ago. What was more impressive was for the first time in 70 games Detroit had a 100 yard rushing player, with rookie halfback Kerryon Johnson stepping up big time. Given how tough their division is I have my doubts over this Lions team, but they are trending in the right direction.
22. Indianapolis Colts (1-2)
THE only thing you need to know about the Colts season to date is that they pulled Andrew Luck and put in Jacoby Brissett for a last-second Hail Mary attempt in Week 3. Until Luck can get his shoulder 100% healthy, nine or so wins remains their ceiling, which might still be enough to sneak into the postseason.
23. Cleveland Browns (1-1-1)
NO one in Cleveland is more popular than Baker Mayfield this week. The Messiah helped break their 635-day losing streak and the Browns won’t want to return to the losers column in a hurry. With a hungry defense and Mayfield now the permanent starter, things are looking up in Ohio.
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24. Seattle Seahawks (1-2)
A solid win at home has Seattle fans buzzing a bit, with the prospect of a 2-2 record after today’s game with the Cardinals. Don’t be fooled into thinking this team can go deep though, with no end in sight to the Earl Thomas saga. The safety demands to either be paid or traded, refusing to practice only to go on and record two interceptions last week against Dallas. Doug Baldwin’s return should see them win a few more games in the stinking NFC West.
25. New York Jets (1-2)
SAM Darnold’s stellar performance against Detroit seems like a lifetime ago now. Growing pains are an inevitable part of owning a young franchise quarterback and these lumps are all part of the process. If the offense keeps sputtering don’t expect a surprise playoff race by the Jets.
26. Dallas Cowboys (1-2)
I still don’t know why so many people were in on this Dallas team in the preseason. Dak Prescott is struggling to get going as his swallow receiver room remains a problem. Fantasy coaches will start protesting outside Jason Garrett’s house if he doesn’t give Zeke more carries/targets on offense. Force feeding your best player when times are tough might not be the greatest choice, but if Dallas doesn’t adopt that philosophy things are only going to get worse.
27. New York Giants (1-2)
IT baffles me why this Giants team struggles to put a winning score on the board each week. They have one of the most exciting one-two punch/WR-RB pairings in Odell Beckham Jr and Saquon Barkley and yet, they continually fail to top 30 points. It’s time to start planning for the post-Eli chapter.
28. San Fransisco 49ers (1-2)
ANY given Sunday a teams season can change and for the 49ers they are now in full tank mode. With the Vincent Chase of our generation, Jimmy Garoppolo succumbing to a torn ACL against the Chiefs, his and San Fransisco’s season is effectively done. With running back Jerick McKinnon falling to the same injury in the preseason, it makes sense for the 49ers to punt on the season and hope a top pick can help propel them next year.
29. Houston Texans (0-3)
THE Texans boast a ton of superstar power across the board, but behind their studs, there are gaping holes in this Houston team. The proud owners of perhaps the worst O-line in football are making life tougher for Deshaun Watson than it should be. The former Clemson play caller hasn’t had the greatest return from his ACL injury to date, although it’s only partially his fault. A loss to the Colts could lead to Bill O’Brien’s exit.
30. Buffalo Bills (1-2)
DESPITE the Bills shocking the world last weekend, I don’t have high hopes for their season. While rookie QB Josh Allen showed some promising signs their skill position players are the ones who will let Bills fans down. Let’s not forget that one of their players retired at half-time not too long ago, so don’t think everything’s rosy after one upset W.
31. Oakland Raiders (0-3)
JON Gruden told the media last week that it’s tough to find an elite pass rusher in this league. The same man also traded Khalil Mack to the Bears before the season began. I’m not a rocket scientist, but I don’t think that’s the type of guy you want leading your franchise.
32. Arizona Cardinals (0-3)
WE all knew Arizona was going to suck, but this still stings. Inept play calling has been the biggest cause for concern in the desert as the Cards have struggled to move the ball on offense, despite star halfback David Johnson being back to full health. With rookie QB Josh Rosen set to make his first career start Arizona has a long way to go before they can start climbing the standings.
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