After another topsy-turvy weekend of NFL action, let’s see how Commentary Box Sports‘ power rankings have altered seven weeks into the season.
1. New England Patriots (6-1) +1
The Patriots got to strangle the Steelers this week, pushing them up to a two-game lead in the division thanks to the faltering Bills. It looks like the Patriots can set things on autopilot if they can get the win in Buffalo. Brady and company look unstoppable so far.
2. Minnesota Vikings (5-1) -1
The Vikings finally got tripped up against the Eagles and the offense looked human. The defense was great again, so it should be looked at as a sign of optimism. They won’t face a defense like the Eagles again for a while, and a Monday Night game against Chicago could heal their woes.
3. Dallas Cowboys (5-1)
Things went swimmingly for the Cowboys during the BYE week, keeping their place at the top of the division and getting Dez Bryant back just in time for the upcoming date with Philly. This game is as big as it gets – we’ll see what Dak has up his sleeve for this one.
— NFL (@NFL) October 25, 2016
4. Denver Broncos (5-2) +2
The Broncos got back to their winning ways, ending their skid with a demolition of the Texans on MNF. The defense is as strong as always, and the offense got to score some quick hits on a battered Texans D. Things should start to swing back around now, and a rematch with San Diego at home should yield better results.
5. Seattle Seahawks (4-1-1) -2
There’s ugly…and then there’s what we saw Sunday night in Arizona. The Seahawks defense gave up over 400 yards, so you can’t be too thrilled, but they didn’t allow Arizona in the endzone. But special teams and the offense were awful, and that is the real story here. After weeks of looking improved, the offense regressed badly.
6. Oakland Raiders (5-2) +7
It’s time to start believing in the Raiders. After weeks of bashing them over their weak schedule, I’m going to start giving some credit for winning against who’s in front of them. The Jaguars were starting to roll and the Raiders crushed them. Sitting in the division lead with the defending champs looking back is a nice feeling.
7. Philadelphia Eagles (4-2) +5
Carson Wentz wasn’t spectacular, but he doesn’t need to be if the defense is playing like that. The offense has certainly regressed, but the defense has risen to be one of the best in the NFL. We’ll see what happens when Wentz plays in a meaningful game – they’ll need some points against Dallas.
8. Green Bay Packers (4-2) +6
The Packers got back to winning, even if it was against the Bears. Sometimes all you need is a rout to get you back to rolling. But the real reason for the move up is just as much the Vikings’ loss: the Packers are back to striking distance for the division and need a win in Atlanta.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) October 21, 2016
9. Kansas City Chiefs (4-2) +1
The Chiefs took apart a New Orleans offense that had previously looked efficient. But the better part is that their offense picked up the pace, too. If Alex Smith and the offense can deal like this, they may not be out of the division race. We’ll find out more about the defense when they travel to Indy.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) -3
Just when you thought the Steelers were ready to compete, they get dealt an injury to Big Ben, and get trounced by the Patriots. The loss of Roethlisberger on the offense was palpable, and the amped up pressure on Landry Jones is a blueprint other teams will follow. The defense isn’t good enough to carry them; they need Ben back.
11. Atlanta Falcons (4-3) -6
Is it getting time to panic in Atlanta? After a narrow loss to the Seahawks, the Falcons surrendered boohoos of points to the Chargers at home, and lost in OT. They are close losses, but all of a sudden they only have a half game lead in the division…and they are welcoming Green Bay this week. Uh oh.
12. New York Giants (4-3) +3
The Giants picked up solid momentum headed into the BYE week by beating up on LA. The offense is more in rhythm, and it looks more like the one we expected to see. Now, the Giants can sit back and wait for the Eagles. And on the plus side, one of Dallas or Philly has to lose.
13. Houston Texans (4-3) -2
When the Texans lose, they lose hard. That’s another blowout loss for Houston, getting demolished by the Broncos defense in a game where Brock Osweiler looked unnerved. Still, he’s looked good at other times, and the Texans shouldn’t worry much. The Lions are streaking, and the Texans need to right the ship.
14. Washington Redskins (4-3) -5
That one hurt. A loss to the Lions sent the Skins backwards, and they are now trailing the Cowboys and Eagles even further. They now need a win against Cincy, or risk falling further down the rankings as the rest of the division gains its footing.
15. Buffalo Bills (4-3) -7
In the most Buffalo outcome possible, the Bills wet the bed against the inferior Dolphins on the heels of the big matchup with New England that could have seen them takeover the division lead. A win would still be huge, but a loss would be bigger, sending them a full three games out in the span of two weeks.
On Landry’s hit on Williams: “Totally unncecessay. Did he launch? Target? Yeah. Unsportsmanlike? Yeah. Now I have a player in jeopardy.” pic.twitter.com/gxoPyIJEGL
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) October 24, 2016
16. Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1) –
As mentioned previously, that one was ugly. But the Cardinals managed to remain in striking distance of the Seahawks. Still, the tie feels like one that will haunt them as they look up at Seattle in the standings.
17. Detriot Lions (4-3) +3
Don’t look now but Matt Stafford may not need Megatron after all. The QB is all kinds of efficient with Jim Bob Cooter, and it’s propelled them to just a couple of games out of the division. We’ll see how they do against better competition, but the Lions look alive.
18. San Diego Chargers (3-4) +7
Don’t look now but the Chargers have racked up another big win over a top opponent, this time on the road. The takedown of Atlanta was on the offense, but any road win is a big one. Could the Chargers be turning it around?
19. Indianapolis Colts (3-4) +8
The Colts badly needed that one, and thankfully got it. With Houston’s loss, they are back in the swing of things, but still have a very slim margin for error going forward. The defense they’ll get this week is going to be a much stiffer test than the last.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3) +4
Now just a half game back of the Falcons, all of a sudden things are turning back the right way for Tampa Bay. Unfortunately, the red-hot Raiders are coming to town. An upset there would be huge, albeit unlikely.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@TBBuccaneers) October 26, 2016
21. Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) +2
The Bengals aren’t dead yet, now sitting just a game back of the Steelers for the division lead. The Roethlisberger injury has bought them some time to figure things out, and get the defense playing better. Andy Dalton is starting to swing back to form, and it could be game on for the Bengals.
22. Miami Dolphins (3-4) +1
The Dolphins got to play the spoiler leading into the BYE, shocking the Bills in a game not a lot of people saw coming. It was a coming out party for Jay Ajayi, who rushed for over 200 yards for the second straight week. The coaching staff is doubling down on the run, which may not be the worst thing
23. Baltimore Ravens (3-4) -6
That one stings. Losing to the lowly Jets when you had an opportunity to gain ground in the division isn’t fun. Now the Ravens have an uphill climb, after the BYE, with the Cowboys and Bengals on the docket.
24. Los Angeles Rams (3-4) -6
Things got pretty ugly for the Rams offense in their loss to the Giants. And because of that, the rumor mill is swirling that Jared Goff will get practice with the first team and could be the starter against Carolina after the BYE. They need something to stop the steady skid they’ve been on.
25. Tennessee Titans (3-4) -6
A big opportunity squandered as the Titans dropped one to Indy at home. They are still very much in the thick of the division, but the offense wasted a lot of opportunities. They’ll kick themselves over that game. Thursday night against Jacksonville is huge.
26. New Orleans Saints (2-4) -4
The Saints were slowed against the Chiefs, and now find themselves a game and a half out of the division. Which is crazy to think about, but there’s still a big chance to catch up. The only problem is they’ve got the Seahawks’ talented defense coming to town.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-4) -6
Tough break for Jacksonville running into the Oakland offense. But they struggled mightily against a pretty bad pass rush. They’ve got a make-or-break game on Thursday night against Tennessee, and any hope of competing for the division probably rides on the outcome.
28. Carolina Panthers (1-5) –
The Panthers were off on the BYE this week, but they got to sit back and watch the Falcons drop a game. Now it’s up to them to capitalize this week, as the Falcons are doing all they can to keep them in the race. If there was ever a time for them to wake up, it’s now. Another loss is probably the end of the road.
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) October 24, 2016
29. New York Jets (2-5) –
The Jets got the win, but it was rough. Fitzpatrick is pissed about losing his starting job, but he’s got it back now. As long as the turnovers stop, the Jets have a chance of winning. They’ve got another chance to get a win against Cleveland – and they need to take advantage.
30. Chicago Bears (1-6) –
The poor Bears are still sliding. Jay Cutler is back this week, and we’ll see how he rolls into a new chance to start. Alshon Jeffery should see more targets, but getting the Vikings in your first start back is a tough draw.
31. San Francisco 49ers (1-6) –
San Francisco mercifully heads into a BYE this week after dropping six straight. I don’t know of a team outside of Cleveland that has had a tougher six week stretch, and it gets not better after the BYE: the Cardinals and Patriots are on the schedule next month.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-7) –
The Browns got another loss this week, dropping to divisional opponent Cincy. But on the bright side: they’ve got a winnable game against New York this week, and don’t they need it. November and December will be brutal.