Written by Ben Slavin
Fans of many teams rode an emotional roller coaster this week. There were five games where teams had the opportunity to win or tie in the final two minutes and couldn’t pull it off. Many of those were due to the continuation of a league-wide kicking epidemic while we also saw a near Hail Mary as time expired, a turnover on downs, and a failed two point conversion for the win. Outside of those, Cleveland played another overtime game and Buffalo went back to their blowout (loss) ways. And for the first time all season seemingly, the best teams were largely able to avoid large upsets. Let the rankings commence.
Real quick, let’s reiterate. Now that we’re into the season, teams will move up or down a lot based on trades, injuries, or big wins or losses. Who the opponent was, how close of a game it was, and just in general how good the team looked will be considered more than just getting the victory.
32. San Francisco 49ers (1-6, Same)
A week after giving the Packers all they could handle, the 49ers showed their true selves against the Rams. C.J. Beathard is still bad, and while he can make the occasional nice throw, his decision making is among the worst in the league. Some games, Kyle Shanahan will keep the Niners competitive. Most of the time, though, their lack of remaining talent will show.
31. Arizona Cardinals (1-6, Down 1)
Arizona must really want the last spot in power rankings. They couldn’t do anything against Denver. David Johnson, one of the best backs in the league, faced a Broncos defense fresh off allowing nearly 600 rushing yards the last two weeks … and totaled 39 yards. That says a lot about the rest of the talent on the team.
30. Oakland Raiders (1-5, Up 1)
During the Raiders’ bye week, Jon Gruden set the asking price at a first round pick for Amari Cooper. Everybody laughed and called Gruden crazy. Then he went out and got it. Unlike the Khalil Mack trade, this was hard to hate. The Raiders' shell of a team remaining has to get ready for Andrew Luck and the Colts coming to town.
29. Buffalo Bills (2-5, Down 2)
Already devoid of talent, Buffalo lost their best offensive player, Lesean McCoy, to a concussion. And then they lost his backup, Chris Ivory, to an undisclosed injury. They could head into next week with their third string running back and a quarterback they just picked up off the street. Not to mention the worst receivers in the league. Let the blowouts continue.
28. New York Giants (1-5, Up 1)
The Giants lost Monday night’s battle of bad teams. Unlike the Falcons, the Giants are bad because they’re just bad. Their problems along the offensive line and at quarterback are so severe they can’t even beat a Falcons team missing half its defense. The talents of Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley -- each of whom are in the conversation for the best player at his position -- are being wasted.
27. Cleveland Browns (2-4-1, Down 6)
It’s hard not to think that a better head coach would help the Browns improve their ability to close out games. Other than last week’s blowout loss to the Chargers, the Browns haven’t lost by more than three points in any game this year and have played four overtime games. They’re only 1-2-1 in overtime, a time when the best coaches propel their teams to wins.
26. Indianapolis Colts (2-5, Up 2)
Once again, the Bills qualifier needs to be applied before rewarding the Colts for winning by over 30. Especially when these aren’t even the best Bills. It’s still nice to see T.Y. Hilton back and connecting with Andrew Luck while the defense holds a team to three points.
25. New York Jets (3-4, Down 2)
The Jets were no match for the Vikings. They can beat up on similarly mediocre teams, but Minnesota is another story. Sam Darnold’s turnover spree continued Sunday. Although, there’s good news. Not all the picks have been his fault, and when Peyton Manning was a rookie, he threw 28.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3, Up 1)
Tampa Bay’s decision on Jameis Winston this offseason is going to be one of the most interesting in the league. Winston was just suspended for groping an Uber driver and combines great plays with puzzling throws. My advice: ditch him. They have enough weapons to make any quarterback on a cheaper deal look competent and they need the money to fix the defense.
23. Atlanta Falcons (3-4, Down 1)
The Falcons nearly blew the Monday night game against a one-win Giants team that can’t throw the ball more than a yard downfield. But the Falcons pass rush is so bad there were many plays where Eli had enough time to get the ball to his dynamic weapons in Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard. With their Super Bowl window about to close, this was not a great time for an injury epidemic in Atlanta.
22. Miami Dolphins (4-3, Down 4)
Miami couldn’t use advantageous scheduling to their advantage this week. They are not a particularly good team and it shows. They’ll still win some games, especially at home with humid Miami irritating opponents, but other than that, this isn’t the playoff team expected after a 3-0 start.
21. Denver Broncos (3-4, Up 5)
Von Miller’s comments seemed to motivate the Broncos as they quite literally came out and kicked the Cardinals’ asses. The Denver defense preyed on a rookie quarterback, forcing five turnovers and even taking two back for scores. The offense wasn’t great and didn’t need to be. Quick and explosive, Phillip Lindsay deserves the lionshare of the carries in the Denver backfield.
20. Tennessee Titans (3-3, Up 4)
Other than the two long touchdowns they allowed, the Titans really controlled the London game. They dominated time of possession at over 35 minutes. After his bold decision won them the game against Philadelphia, Mike Vrabel’s ill-fated choice to go for two cost his team the chance to win in overtime. Calling pass plays both times (a Chargers penalty gave the Titans another chance) was idiotic.
19. Seattle Seahawks (3-3, Up 1)
After a dominating trip to London, Seattle had their bye week. This week, they’ll be on their way to Detroit.
18. Dallas Cowboys (3-4, Down 3)
A week after The Cowboys dominated Jacksonville, they had a great opportunity to keep momentum with a win that would put them atop the division. They lost, of course. Because Dallas. Then they went out and traded a first round pick for Amari Cooper. Because Dallas.
17. Detroit Lions (3-3, Up 2)
The Lions were able to avoid the Miami trap that Chicago fell into last week. Coming off their bye, in the Miami heat, the Lions were the better team from start to finish. Kerryon Johnson is a future star at running back and deserves 20+ carries a game.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4, Down 6)
The Jaguars get one last week of leniency. Another blowout loss isn’t ideal, but at least this week they came to their senses and benched Blake Bortles. It’s not like Cody Kessler is going to be much better, though. This is what the Jaguars get for reinvesting in Bortles and ignoring the backup position. Lost in the blowout is that Jacksonville’s defense rebounded and only really allowed points after they were repeatedly forced back onto the field from Bortles’ ineptitude.
15. Cincinnati Bengals (4-3, Down 2)
Andy Dalton was bad against the Chiefs. A.J. Green had 110 yards in the first half and should’ve approached 200 in the game if his quarterback made accurate throws. It’s hard to punish a defense for getting shredded by the Chiefs, but the Bengals offered no resistance. Cincinnati’s quick start has slowed to a halt.
14. Houston Texans (4-3, Up 3)
While a 20 point lead is impressive, you have to consider that Blake Bortles once again acted as a saboteur against his own team. The Texans struggled to move the ball when Jacksonville’s defense wasn’t gassed. Houston’s defense has been playing great lately, though.
13. Green Bay Packers (3-2-1, Up 1)
Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay probably enjoyed the early-ish bye more than most teams. Hopefully healthier, Rodgers leads them into Los Angeles to face the undefeated Rams.
12. Washington Redskins (4-2, Up 4)
Washington won again. This time, it was easier to buy their win as legit, even if the quality of opponent was lower. Adrian Peterson ran well against a tough Dallas defense and Alex Smith did just enough in the passing game. The defense shut down Ezekiel Elliott, one of the league’s leading rushers heading into the game.
11. Baltimore Ravens (4-3, Up 1)
What a heartbreaker for Baltimore. Justin Tucker had never missed an extra point in his career before blowing the game-tying kick against the Saints. The Ravens were in a great position to win and then allowed 17 straight points. Against one of the best teams in the league, the Ravens fight was still impressive.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4, Down 2)
A fourth quarter collapse is not the best look. But before that, the Eagles were dominant. Carolina is a good team and the Eagles were pitching a shutout with one quarter to go. There’s more positives than negatives to take away, despite the loss. Alshon Jeffery has revived the Eagles offense and his connection with Carson Wentz is symphonic.
9. Carolina Panthers (4-2, Up 2)
It was an ugly first three quarters for Panthers fans. Then came the final frame, which was a euphoric experience. Even though falling down 17 isn’t ideal, good teams keep fighting for 60 minutes and find a way to win. Super Cam put the team on his back once again.
8. Chicago Bears (4-2, Up 1)
The city of Baltimore wasn’t alone in football-induced heartbreak. Mitchell Trubisky was a yard shy of being one of the few quarterbacks outside of Wisconsin to complete a miracle Hail Mary. If not for two special teams touchdowns allowed, the Bears wouldn’t have needed a miracle.
7. Minnesota Vikings (4-2-1, Same)
The Vikings seem to be forgetting their early season struggles. While the game was 10-7 at the half, the Vikings pulled away in the second half. Their defense shut down a strong Jets running game and forced Sam Darnold to beat them. He wasn’t up to the task and the Vikings came away with three picks and the win.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2-1, Same)
The Steelers came into their bye riding a two game win streak, having erased most of the doubt caused by their poor start. Next week, Cleveland visits, after the two teams tied Week One.
5. Los Angeles Chargers (5-2, Same)
We learned two things about the Chargers in London. First, good offenses don’t travel as well as good defenses. Second, and most importantly, Melvin Gordon is the life of the offense and undoubtedly one of the best running backs in the league. Without Gordon, Los Angeles struggled to move the chains outside of the two Philip Rivers bombs.
4. New Orleans Saints ( 5-1, Same)
This year more than most, the bye week seems to be making teams come out slow. The Saints abided by this and found themselves down ten to Baltimore. After that, they woke up and overcame one of the best defenses in the league to pull ahead. Luck shined on them in the end as a missed kick moved the Saints to 5-1.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (6-1, Same)
Kansas City’s offense is unbelievable. Kareem Hunt is nearly untackleable and is probably the fourth most feared Chief. This week, the much maligned defense stepped it up. While they’ve done a great job of forcing turnovers all year, this was the first time they shut down an opposing offense.
2. New England Patriots (5-2, Same)
A road win over a great team should signal a happy day. Unfortunately for the Patriots, that’s not one hundred percent true. They didn’t look great as a team and needed some lucky breaks to secure the victory. Even worse, stud rookie Sony Michel suffered a scary-looking injury. His injury continues the shredding of the Patriots running back rotation. James White is the only one left from the initial 53 man roster.
1. Los Angeles Rams (7-0, Same)
Is anybody still doubting the Rams? The defense has looked a lot like a Super Bowl unit the last two weeks after struggling the two before. Wade Phillips’ boys filled the box score with four turnovers forced, a blocked punt, and a safety. Oh, and the Rams still have Todd Gurley, who’s up to 14 touchdowns. Good luck, NFL.
Think your team is ranked too low? Or just in general think I know nothing about football? Go crazy in the comments.
Walker, Childs. “Ravens Lose to Saints on the Unthinkable Play, a Missed Extra Point by Justin Tucker.” Baltimoresun.com, 22 Oct. 2018, www.baltimoresun.com/sports/ravens/bs-sp-ravens-saints-gamer-1022-story.html.