1. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles currently hold the best record in football with a 27-20 loss to the Chiefs serving as the only flaw on their record. Carson Wentz is using every receiver he has at his disposal as he leads the NFL in TD passes with 17 already. The Eagles appear poised to win the NFC East behind their aerial assault offense but they will have to overcome the injury to Jason Peters.
2. New England Patriots
The Patriots are starting to look like themselves after some atrocious defensive performances to start the season. Tom Brady continues to play at a high level and the Patriots defense just held the Falcons to 7 points with Johnson Bademosi playing for the injured Stephon Gilmore. The AFC East is tight in the standings but the Patriots still don’t appear to have much to worry about.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have stumbled with 2 straight losses following a 5-0 start but both losses have come by one possession. The Chiefs still have one of the most dynamic offenses with stars at every skill position. Alex Smith has taken another step this season while he is surrounded by Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill. The Chiefs also have victories against the Patriots and Eagles on their resume. A win against the Broncos on Monday Night would right the ship.
4. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are a completely new team with Sean McVey instead of Jeff Fisher at the helm. Jared Goff looks confident and Todd Gurley has shaken off last season’s struggles. Goff has several skilled receivers such as Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Sammy Watkins, and Tavon Austin to look for in the top scoring offense while he proves his worth as the team’s franchise QB. The defense is coming off a shutout against Arizona and is building its reputation week by week. The Rams are scary on both sides of the ball. Greg Zuerlein is also as dependable a kicker as there is in the NFL.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers don’t appear to have much competition for the AFC North title at the moment. Drama inside the organization continues with Martavis Bryant wanting a bigger role or to be traded elsewhere. Le’Veon Bell is the bellcow the Steelers need him to be and Antonio Brown is still a top 3 wide receiver in the league. Juju Smith-Schuster is starting to get more targets from Big Ben who maybe does have something left in the tank after all.
6. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks and the Rams will compete for the NFC West title. Seattle wins games with its defense, they hold the top scoring defense in the NFL. The offense doesn’t have much of a ground game to threaten defenses with so their performance depends heavily on Russell Wilson. The Seahawks don’t need to score a ton of points to win games, and Wilson is more than capable of taking them to the playoffs.
7. Washington Redskins
The Redskins have 2 losses to the Eagles which means their playoff chances are likely left to the wild card. Despite the 3-3 record, the Redskins have shown flashes on offense and defense that they can compete with the top of the league. They will be tested the next 4 weeks with big games vs. Dallas, at Seattle, vs. Minnesota, and at New Orleans. We’ll be able to play pretender or contender and see where this team really stands.
8. Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota has overcome the injuries to Dalvin Cook and Sam Bradford among others to take the lead in the NFC North at 5-2. Case Keenum is doing enough to get the job done while the team leans on the defense and special teams. The defense is one of the best in football from guys up front such as Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen, linebackers such as Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr, and a secondary with Trae Waynes, Xavier Rhoads, Harrison Smith, and Andrew Sendejo. The defense will carry this team, the Vikings need the offense to keep up.
9. Oakland Raiders
Amari Cooper had more receiving yards (210) in last week’s game against the Chiefs than he had all season. A big win against the Chiefs could have them headed in the right direction after a 4 game skid. If Derek Carr and Amari Cooper can replicate their performances, the Raiders could be the team we thought they would be headed into the season.
10. Houston Texans
Early Rookie of the Year frontrunner Deshaun Watson was off last week but he has pumped some life into the Texans. The defense has had some struggles against superior offenses and it will be tough to improve without J.J. Watt or Whitney Mercilus. Still, Watson can light up any defense he faces and has the Texans in the thick of the division race. For the first time in a while, the Texans have an offense that really scares their opponents.
11. New Orleans Saints
The Saints appear to have seized control of the NFC South for the time being while Carolina stumbles. The Saints carry the same high scoring offense they always have with Drew Brees at QB but this year they have a defense that is rising to the occasion. Marshon Lattimore gives them a legit corner in the secondary. It is time for the Saints to capitalize on the talent of Drew Brees.
12. Buffalo Bills
The Bills probably won’t win the division but the offense is being productive even without Charles Clay who had emerged as a big target for Tyrod Taylor. Both losses have come by a single possession and the Bills are 3-0 at home. They’ll continue to rely on LeSean McCoy and look to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
13. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys are 3-3 with wins against the 1 win Giants, the 3 win Cardinals, and the winless 49ers. The Ezekiel Elliott case is still unfinished and it is clear he is the most important piece to their success. The defense hasn’t looked great against quality offenses and the schedule is about to face 4 of them in the next 4 weeks. I’m not sold on the Cowboys playoff chances at the moment.
14. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars have realized that the best way to run offense is to run the ball. The NFL’s top ranked rushing offense has taken the ball out of Blake Bortles hands and found success. The defense is cashing in on the talent and potential it has and the Jaguars are the most competitive version of themselves we have seen in years. They’re right there with the Titans and Texans in the AFC South race, time will tell which team emerges.
15. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons have lost 3 games in a row and the last 2 have been especially disappointing, Giving up a 17-0 lead at home to the Dolphins by allowing 20 unanswered and then almost getting shut out in the Super Bowl rematch. The Falcons look like they’re in a Super Bowl hangover and they need to snap out before it’s too late.
16. Detroit Lions
The Lions look like the Vikings top competition for the NFC North at the moment and would be closer if the controversial call in the Falcons game had gone their way. Matt Stafford is getting sacked too often and there is still no run game for defenses to be afraid of. The Lions are coming off a bye week and will hopefully have Kenny Golladay back soon. The Lions have a tough Sunday night matchup with the Steelers but it is in Detroit. That game is followed by several winnable games including the Rodger-less Packers, the Browns, and the Bears.
17. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers looked awful against the Bears. Mitch Trubisky won a game by throwing 4 completions and the Bears scored 2 defensive TDs. The Panthers have been inconsistent this season looking unbeatable at times and lethargic at others. The next 2 games are against divisional opponents, must win games in the tight NFC South.
18. Miami Dolphins
Jay Cutler is injured so it is Matt Moore’s turn to lead the 4-2 Dolphins into 3 straight primetime games. The Dolphins have been surprisingly competitive and every win has come on 4th quarter scores. It remains to be seen how long the Dolphins can keep this up.
19. Los Angeles Chargers
3 straight wins have the team looking past its 0-4 start. The Chargers are showing they may actually have one of the better defenses in football and Phillip Rivers has gotten the offense moving over the last couple weeks. Hunter Henry is stepping up at tight end in his 2nd year. The Chargers head to New England for a tough road matchup next week.
20. Denver Broncos
The Broncos started to fall in the rankings after giving the Giants their first win of the season when they were without their top 4 receivers. Being shutout to the Chargers doesn’t make them look any better. The next 3 games include road trips to Kansas City and Philadelphia and a home game against the Patriots. The Broncos could find themselves in a hole too deep to dig out of.
21. Tennessee Titans
Tennessee currently holds the tiebreaker for 1st in the AFC South after ugly wins against the Colts and the Browns. Nonetheless, a 4-3 team headed into a bye week could get Corey Davis healthy and will continue to compete in the tight division race.
22. Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers is no longer behind center to cover up the vulnerable defense and the offense is won’t ever be the same without him. That’s what happens when you lose a yearly MVP candidate. The Packers have lost both games without Rodgers and find themselves in real danger to fall out of the playoff picture.
23. Chicago Bears
The Bears have one of the worst offenses in the league but defensive touchdowns have helped them win back to back games despite Mitch Trubisky only completing 12 total passes. The Bears will make it tough on opponents, but they aren’t a legit threat to make noise late in the season.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs have lost 3 straight games despite owning the top passing offense in the league. There’s not much else to be excited about as the run game is offering no help and the defense is giving up too many points. The Bucs need to win some of these shootouts to help their playoff chances.
25. Baltimore Ravens
Joe Flacco has more interceptions than touchdowns this season and will face the Dolphins in a matchup of stagnant offenses on Thursday night. The Ravens only have 10 offensive TDs on the season through 7 games. The AFC North doesn’t look like it will be much of a challenge for the Steelers.
26. New York Jets
The Jets have back to back close losses to division opponents which long term will probably help them more with a better draft position then any chance at the playoffs. The Jets have not been an easy game for any team except the Raiders in week 2 and now take on the struggling Falcons at home. The Jets may have something to prove.
27. Cincinnati Bengals
Continuing with the theme of ineffective offenses outside the Steelers in the AFC North, the Bengals also only have 10 offensive TDs so far this season. That includes just 1 rushing TD for a team that averages 3.3 yards per carry. The Bengals may not even get to 8-8 this season.
28. Arizona Cardinals
Adrian Peterson was effective for 1 week and then the offense got shutout by the Rams. All 3 wins have come by one possession and they have all been against teams with losing records. The Cardinals are an aging team that doesn’t seem to have many solutions to their problems.
29. New York Giants
Injuries have destroyed the Giants completely and the season is basically headed for a top draft pick in order to give the offensive line some help. Evan Engram continues to shine and is a player to keep an eye on. He has a bright future.
30. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have 2 wins against winless teams and Andrew Luck’s status is still unclear. At this point it may be better to hold him out and save him for next season rather than rush him back and risk further damage.
31. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers haven’t won a game but they are ahead of the Browns because of how close some of their losses have been.
32. Cleveland Browns
The Browns still don’t have a QB and still have to live with the fact that they passed on Wentz and Watson in consecutive drafts.