A week is a long time in football. A month? Well, things are completely different now compared to Week 3. Checking in for the first time since the 20% power rankings means that a bunch of teams have fluctuated from their previous ranking as we start to understand which teams are the real deal and who is just making up the numbers. Funnily enough among all the pandemonium (spoiler alert), the top, middle and bottom teams all held their places, but almost everyone else has been in flux. Nearly half the league moved up/down by at least half a dozen spots with another six squads fluctuating by double-digits.
Biggest Rise: Texans, Chargers, Ravens
Biggest Fall: Jaguars, Buccaneers, Eagles
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32. Arizona Cardinals (level)
ARIZONA might not be the worst on paper team in football *cough Buffalo cough*, but they sure are close. They were waxed by Denver on Thursday Night Football last week, leading to their offensive coordinator Mike McCoy being fired. Things continued to trend downwards for the Cardinals with star corner Patrick Peterson asking for a trade before next weeks deadline too. All in all, it’s not a great time to be a Cardinals fan.
31. Oakland Raiders (level)
THE firesale is underway in Oakland with Jon Gruden eager to carve out his own imprint on the Raiders. Pro-Bowlers Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper have already been shipped out, leaving a team that doesn’t really do anything well to play out the final 10 matches of the season. If I was an Oakland fan, I’d spend my weekends watching college football to try and excite myself for the upcoming draft, because this Raiders outfit is destined to stay anchored near the bottom of the league.
30. Buffalo Bills (level)
FULL credit goes to Sean McDermott for miraculously winning two games through seven weeks. This Buffalo outfit is on pace to set all kinds of records for all the wrong reasons as their offense continues to spiral downwards in epic fashion. Josh Allen has had moments, but a thumb injury to their rookie means Derek Anderson and Nathan Peterman are the Bills’ best hope moving forward. Yuk.
29. New York Giants ( 2)
WHEN Eli Manning and the Giants offensive line can make an injury-ravaged Atlanta look good, you know things aren’t going well. With no succession plan in place at QB New York fans are throwing their hands up in the air stating Sam Darnold should have been taken over Saquon Barkley in last years draft. There’s still a possibility that Barkley is a generational talent, but until New York sorts out their quarterback room they will stay in the low 20’s.
28. San Fransisco 49ers (level)
WE all knew this was going to be a lost season once Jimmy Garoppolo’s knee erupted. C.J. Beathard is doing fine, but there is a limited ceiling for a team being run by a young backup quarterback. Kyle Shanahan is doing the best he can with the healthy bodies at his disposal, but this is going to be a long grind. Just keep thinking about that top pick San Fran faithful.
27. Indianapolis Colts ( 5)
GOOD news Indianapolis fans, Andrew Luck looks like himself again. Bad news, he doesn’t really have much of a supporting cast to help him turn the Colts around. Even though they have just two wins from seven tries this squad has actually outscored their opponents by four points feasting on the poor Redskins and Bills. T.Y. Hilton back healthy will only aid Luck and might translate to a few more wins as well. Might.
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26. New York Jets ( 1)
THREE wins so far for the Jets is a pretty respectable win total, especially given how young they are. Sam Darnold had a rookie outing against a dominant Mike Zimmer defense last week, but don’t let that deter you from being a Darnold believer. Their inter-conference matchups in November will tell us if he has a chance to play in the postseason in year one or not.
25. Cleveland Browns ( 2)
I genuinely feel for Browns fans. Cleveland has played in four overtime games so far this season and with a 1-2-1 record to show for it, things could be very different if they had have snuck in an extra win or two. I have faith that they are on the right track but they won’t be overachieving as long as Hue Jackson stays in charge.
24. Denver Broncos ( 4)
DENVER’S defense got the boost they needed last week by squaring off against a rookie quarterback in their own building. That’s one of the few bright spots through the Broncos season so far and they face a real test in Week 8 against the Chiefs. This game will go a long way into determining what type of team Denver is going to be for the rest of the season.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers ( 15)
RYAN Fitzpatrick’s hot start seems like an eternity ago now with Tampa Bay quickly falling into line subsequently sliding down the standings. Jameis Winston hasn’t set the world on fire since his return as well throwing more picks (6) than he has touchdowns (5) since returning in Week 4. Translation? A .500 record seems like the ceiling for the Buccaneers this year.
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22. Tennessee Titans ( 3)
MIKE Vrabel’s ballsy play calling cost the Titans a win in overtime last weekend against the Chargers. Going for two trailing by a point with just 35 seconds to go might not seem like the smartest coaching move but you have to admire his courage going for broke. It seems like Vrabel forgot that he has woeful skill position players and he’s steering an offense that has scored over 20 points just once this season.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars ( 17)
LATELY, Jacksonville looks like a shell of the team that made a run all the way to the AFC Championship game a season ago. Somehow Blake Bortles fooled the front office into thinking he was a capable starter in the NFL and worth an extension. His average (at best) play isn’t the Jags’ only problem and if they aren’t careful they could fall out the mix in the AFC South.
20. Miami Dolphins ( 10)
I had the Dolphins sliding considerably even before they were pantsed last night by Houston. After a 3-0 start, Miami has come crashing back down to Earth largely because of the injuries to key offensive pieces like Ryan Tannehill, Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson. Until they get back on the field I won’t expect Brock Osweiler to turn around this team’s fortunes.
19. Dallas Cowboys ( 7)
AMARI Cooper’s time in Oakland seemed like it was nearing an end and on Monday Dallas confirmed the rumours. Trading their 2019 first-round pick might seem like a lot to give up but Dallas might have finally found a true No. 1 receiver, which will help ease the pressure on Dak Prescott and Cole Beasley. A fresh start could help Cooper refind his mojo and steer the Cowboys back towards the playoffs. Still, their last-second loss to Washington showed us they have a lot of work to do before they can breath easy again.
18. Seattle Seahawks ( 6)
WHILE a .500 Seahawks team has some fans feeling optimistic I’m not being fooled. They have bullied three inferior teams for their three wins so far and following their bye Seattle faces a tough road trip to Detroit. If they can knock off the Lions then I might start to buy in.
17. Atlanta Falcons ( 6)
ONE could argue that all of Atlanta’s losses this season have come against playoff teams with Philadelphia perhaps the only exception. A rough schedule ahead will tell us what we need to know about this Falcons outfit, who still can’t get the ball to Julio Jones in the end zone. Injuries have seemingly ruined this team’s season, but I think Matt Ryan has a thing or two up his sleeve.
16. Green Bay Packers (level)
A week off came at a perfect time for a banged-up Green Bay outfit, especially given their quarterback’s health issues. According to reports Aaron Rodgers is set to remove his knee brace following the Packers bye, much to the delight of Green Bay personnel. Rodgers’ health will be the single determining factor in the Packers season and a matchup against the undefeated L.A. Rams will put his ‘healthy’ knee to the test right away.
15. Detroit Lions ( 6)
REMEMBER how we were all panicking over Detroit’s opening week loss to the Jets, with fans clamouring that Matt Patricia had lost the players trust and the locker room was turning against him? Those memories seem like a lifetime ago as Patricia has helped evolve this team with a smash-mouth dominant running game helping them build their way back up to 3-3. There are no easy wins in the relentless NFC North so Detroit will need to lean on this new dynamic offense if they want to keep up their winning ways
Image from thesportsdaily.com
14. Houston Texans ( 15)
FIVE straight wins have the Houston Texans surging up the rankings from cellar dwellers to firmly in the playoff mix. Leading the congested division at the moment, Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins are making up for the shortcomings this team has (see Dolphins/Texans game tape). It’s worth pointing out that Houston hasn’t defeated a team with a winning record yet as they continue to beat up on the rest of the inferior AFC South teams.
13. Philadelphia Eagles ( 10)
A typical Super Bowl hangover has hit the Eagles with Philadelphia in desperate need of a win. A trip to London could help them return to the winner’s collum with another loss making the playoffs a truly uphill battle. Simply put, Philly just isn’t as sharp and dominant as it was a season ago, highlighted by the fact that they have surrendered two double-digit leads in the fourth quarter already this year.
12. Cincinnati Bengals ( 1)
THE Bengals hold their ground from the 20% power rankings despite the fact that they were humbled by Kansas City last week. Cincinnati had a real chance to emerge as a threat in the AFC, but instead, their defense was picked apart, much like anyone who plays the Chiefs. Having Joe Mixon back and healthy increases the chances of claiming a postseason spot, but the Bengals’ defense has to step up.
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11. Washington Redskins ( 6)
THE Redskins might accidentally just go and win nine or 10 games this season. With Adrian Peterson looking five years younger the Redskins continue to get the job done, with their latest triumph an impressive W against Dallas. As much as I love ‘All-Day’ Peterson, I can’t see the 33-year old halfback maintaining a similar level of dominance, which means the Redskins stay atop the NFC East could be a brief one.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers ( 5)
IF I was running the Steelers I would be awfully tempted to trade Le’Veon Bell before the deadline and move on from this whole pathetic saga. For that to happen though, he has to first report to the team, which is still yet to happen as the second half of the season nears. Pittsburgh seems pretty content to soldier on without him with James Conner performing just fine in his absence as the Steelers recaptured their rightful place atop the divisional standings.
9. Chicago Bears ( 3)
I still think Chicago has the talent to be a playoff team in 2018. The biggest question mark is how consistent Mitchell Trubisky can be. The former Tar Heel has shown plenty of promising flashes while making plenty of generic young quarterback mistakes in the process. They were one yard away from forcing overtime against New England and we have seen both their offense and defense clicking on all cylinders at one point or another this year. I have high hopes.
8. Carolina Panthers ( 1)
ARE the Panthers actually good? Lucky? Confusing? The last one for sure, as it’s tough to get an accurate read on this Carolina team. They connect on a 63-yarder at the buzzer one week, followed by laying an egg against Washington before completing a franchise record comeback, after trailing 17-0 against the Eagles last week. Visiting Baltimore this weekend will give us the answers we need; I hope.
7. Los Angeles Chargers ( 11)
MUCH like their fast-rising conference foes in Houston, the Chargers are riding a month-long winning streak into Week 8. Much like those Texans, Los Angeles has stormed to four straight wins against some lesser known names with the Titans and Raiders a few of the teams who have fallen to Philip Rivers’ golden arm. Credit where credit’s due, but I’m not convinced they are a real contender. Yet.
6. Baltimore Ravens ( 8)
WHO knew that Justin Tucker was mortal? After 222 consecutive made extra points Tucker’s game-tying attempt against New Orleans sailed wide right a week ago, handing the Ravens their third loss of the season. That being said I think they are still capable of winning the AFC North, especially if Joe Flacco can keep the passing game rolling.
5. Minnesota Vikings ( 1)
I didn’t penalise the Vikings for their slow start in my first rankings and they responded with three consecutive victories. The real test comes over the next three weeks with dates against New Orleans, Detroit and Chicago. My preseason choice to win it all needs to keep their running game and their defense trending in the right direction to ensure a win against those tougher opponents. This stretch will determine just how legit their Super Bowl chances really are.
Image from dailynorseman.com
4. New Orleans Saints ( 1)
NEW Orleans might just be the Rams biggest threat in the NFC right now. Drew Brees is in MVP form on the edge of 40 and he is chalking up more and more milestones every time he drops back. They might have the most impressive win of the season to date, going into Baltimore and leaving with a win despite trailing in the fourth. Trading for Eli Apple could help sure up their D as they gear up for a run at the Vince Lombardi trophy.
3. New England Patriots ( 6)
I’M a fool. I didn’t count out the Patriots (I’m not that stupid) but I will admit I did have some doubts after their sluggish start, especially when I looked at their depth chart at receiver. One Josh Gordon trade and a Julian Edelman return later, Brady and co seem destined to once again walk to 11-12 wins without breaking a sweat. It helps that they still have two matchups against Buffalo, with the first one coming on prime time Monday Night Football this week. Look away Bills fans.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (level)
IT’S hard to penalise the Kansas City Chiefs, who only have a loss on their resume because they scored too quickly against New England. If that’s your biggest problem the first half of the season has been a raging success. Adding a veteran presence to their defense at the deadline might help to put them over the edge as the favourites in the AFC.
1. Los Angeles Rams (level)
THE only undefeated team left in the league obviously holds down the top rung in the 40% rankings. Not much has changed since we last checked in with the Rams, however, the Todd Gurley MVP train is quickly gathering steam. The star tailback has totalled over 400 rushing yards in the last month finding the end zone an absurd seven times. To put that into perspective over half the league doesn’t have seven rushing touchdowns for the ENTIRE SEASON.
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