1. Philadelphia Eagles
Houston gave them a run, but Philly shut it down and finished. I get that it’s a bad team and it seems like it should’ve been a blowout. But when a team is undefeated this deep, playing them is the Super Bowl for every crappy team that comes in. The important thing for Philly is they closed it out. It was a two-score win that would’ve been bigger if not for some beastmode runs from Dameon Pierce. And I think it’s fair to say no one from the ’72 Dolphins was tackling Pierce on those runs. Now they get the Commanders at home on Monday night, and you better believe Heinicke will keep their hands full. No like, literally. Slay could come out of this with 5 picks by himself.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Tennessee shouldn’t have been able to keep it that close, but I’m not about to sit here and tell anyone they should’ve been able to tackle Derrick Henry. The defense should be fine. The offense has way too much talent to only put up 20 in that game. I’ve said it before, they need to keep JuJu involved. When he’s getting touches, the offense is moving. MVS can take the top off and Kadarius Toney will be a fun toy at some point, but JuJu is the clear number 1 alongside Kelce. It’s easy for people to forget how good he was early in his career when he had still-functioning Roethlisberger throwing to him.
3. Dallas Cowboys
Off to Lambeau following their bye week, during which I assume McCarthy created a whole new section of the playbook for Tony Pollard. Right? Right?? If not, they better be careful. As bad as the Packers have looked, it’s never easy playing a team backed into a corner. But if Pollard gets his touches and Dan Quinn can confuse this easily confused GB offensive line and it won’t matter cause Rodgers will ignore his wide open receivers anyway, they should come out of this easily.
4. Buffalo Bills
I’m not sure what a UCL injury means for Josh Allen and after reading more about it, I’m no further along in my understanding. I know he’s acting like it’s no big deal, which is typical. But they’re coming off a division loss and getting ready to face a 7-1 team, and a sore throwing elbow (I think?) isn’t something a QB can just pretend isn’t there or take a shot. When your arm is your moneymaker, a little bit of stiffness or soreness and concern over making it into a worse injury can get in a guy’s head. He’s also thrown 4 picks in the last 2 games, and several looked like very uncharacteristic throws. It wouldn’t be as big a deal if they had a running game that didn’t also rely on him. I just don’t see how this model is sustainable all year long and he still has anything left for a deep playoff run.
5. Minnesota Vikings
How many times do I have to say your offense needs to revolve around Justin Jefferson? First drive, he had 4 catches and a touchdown. Then he got 1 more catch the rest of the way through the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd quarters. They didn’t score again until the 4th quarter… and guess what happened then! He got 2 more catches and a run in the 4th and they put together 3 scoring drives to win. FORCE. IT. TO. HIM. I don’t care how. Have him take the snap. When he touches the ball, you win. I know T.J. Hockenson is a shiny new toy, but you have to wonder why the Lions were willing to trade him within the division, which is almost unheard of… I don’t know the reason, but I’m 100% sure it wasn’t a good faith gesture.
6. Baltimore Ravens
This is the Ravens defense I remember! Justin Houston was already scary enough, now they add Roquan Smith who somehow just walked in like he belongs there. And look what Lamar can do with basically nothing around him. It’s astonishing. There’s just no one like him in the league. He makes the right call on probably 90% of the RPO and option plays they run. And that’s missing his top 2 backs (Dobbins and Edwards) and top 2 receivers (Andrews and Bateman). This is a top 3 team if they could stay healthy.
7. Miami Dolphins
Holding off a surging Bears team is impressive. This wasn’t beating a weak team. This was beating a weak team that’s ready to break out behind a QB who’s putting it together. To me, that’s equal to beating a good team.
8. Cincinnati Bengals
Congrats to all you cunning fantasy GMs trading Joe Mixon this week at his absolute peak of value. This was an important game for Cincy to show their running game has to be considered, cause d-lines were starting to tee off on Burrow. I’m sure Mixon will have another big-ish game or two, but at some point Chase will be back and Burrow will start slinging again against defenses that suddenly have to honor the run.
9. Seattle Seahawks
I’m more impressed every week. End of the season, I plan on doing a top 10 for things I called early and got right, and things I got badly wrong. As of right now, Seattle will be represented on both lists. As a team, I was obviously way off to start the year, and it took me a while to believe. But I’m taking some credit for being ahead of the game on Kenneth Walker III. I’ve been ready for him to do this since he got drafted. In any case, 4 impressive wins in a row against not bad teams, and a winnable slate for the foreseeable future. They have a 1-1/2 game lead and still have their bye to get healthy after their German excursion this weekend. Imagine a week 15 home game against SF that could wrap up the division… I feel like a lot of you 12s are out there acting like this is a no-hitter and talking about will jinx it. Don’t worry, I got you.
10. San Francisco 49ers
A bye week to find new ways to use CMC cannot be good for the rest of the league. If the D can get and stay healthy and Jimmy G can stay out of the way, they could give Seattle a real run. And they might have to, cause the East looks like it wants at least 2 wildcard spots, which only leaves 1 for left for 4 teams with 4 wins. Plus another 5 teams with 3 wins, some of which seem to have an upward trajectory. Niners have their own upward trajectory going, but a tough matchup against the Chargers. Maybe. Depending on which LAC team shows up.
11. New York Jets
J-E-T-S are a top 10 team in a league with 11 top 10 teams. The loss of a Breece Hall seems less significant now, but it’s still a big loss. And Zach Wilson still needs to take a bigger step forward. He managed the game well last week, but the week before that against the Pats, they needed him to do more than manage, and he couldn’t. There will be more games like that. He has all the tools and talent to do it, and my goodness does he have a defense to lean on to always keep them in it.
12. Tennessee Titans
Hard to drop them too much after going to the wire with KC in KC with Malik Willis under center. This is an ugly football team with no business being 5-3 and I don’t know how Derrick Henry’s entire body is still functioning, but man is it ever. But they can claw their way to some unexpected wins, which is all you need to do for a few weeks in the playoffs. And thanks to being in the AFC South, playoffs should be a given.
13. Los Angeles Chargers
I need this team to show something to make me feel like I wasn’t dreaming when I thought they were once at the top of these rankings. Injuries to some key players continue to hurt them, but they’re still 5-3 and competing in every game. If they can hang in the playoff hunt, they could go into the last few weeks with returning health of Joey Bosa, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Rashawn Slater. Those are big names. It’s also notable that while rehabbing, those players haven’t been absorbing the grind of a long season on the field.
14. New York Giants
Still don’t buy it, and if they beat the Texans this week and the Lions next week, I still won’t. Unless they blow them out and look like a team that matches their record. Otherwise, I won’t accept that they’re actually better than a .500 team unless they’re 8-2 and give Dallas a run on Thanksgiving. Don’t even have to win it. Just show me you’re in the same tier.
15. New England Patriots
Another early candidate for ones I got wrong. When I heard “high ankle sprain” for Mac Jones, I thought it was over. Now that Mac is back, they seem like they’re putting it together. Problem is, their next 3 games are tue Jets, Vikings, and Bills. Those 3 teams combined are 19-6… ranked 11, 5, and 4 respectively in this ranking. If they can come out of that with 2 wins, preferably Jets and Bills, they can hang in the division race and playoff bubble. Matt Judon has to be in the mid-year running for DPOY.
16. Atlanta Falcons
Couldn’t have been nice seeing Brady wake up while Atlanta let one slip to LAC. Now they find themselves tied for first in the NFC South. Looking ahead, they’ve got a much friendlier schedule than the Bucs, and the Panthers and Saints are a mess, so no excuses if they don’t win this division. With Corderrelle Patterson back and the Panthers, Bears, and Steelers coming up, they need to grab a good hold of the division lead now so the final week of the season against the Bucs won’t matter.
17. Arizona Cardinals
DHop is back, but he can’t play defense. That’s a shame. One of the years these guys will all put it together at the same time and go on a run that will end with Kyler making some bizarre end of game decision. Until then, they’re a shake bet every week. Normally at this point I’d say something about how Eno Benjamin should be getting more touches than James Connor, and he should, but I can’t see how that matters when they combine for 11 carries.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
For a 44 second glimpse last week, Tom Brady looked like he still wanted to play football. That’s now a total of 44 seconds this entire season. We’ll see if it carries over. Tough matchup with the Seahawks this week before they mercifully get a bye and maybe some receivers back.
19. Los Angeles Rams
Their entire offense is Stafford and Cupp, and Stafford is in concussion protocol so it’s unknown if he’ll even play this week. At 3-5, they’re not out of the playoff race yet, but man is it time to wake up. If they can’t, this will be an old team with no cap room and no draft picks next year.
20. Washington Commanders
YOU BET I MOVED THEM UP! Taylor Heinicke is the best, and they almost pulled an upset on the 7-1 Vikings. Now they get the 8-0 Eagles. Brutal stretch, but Heinicke will keep them in it every time. And if he doesn’t, it’ll at least be entertaining. I hope they can get a 7th rounder for Wentz this offseason.
21. Green Bay Packers
A miracle happened this week. Rodgers did his regular spot on McAfee, said some stupid, douchebaggy stuff, and no one cared. I hear most big NFL stories within a few hours, and I literally had to go look for someone talking about his interview. Tl:dr, he still doesn’t accept blame and called his critics “armchair quarterbacks.” I miss Olivia Munn-era Aaron. I’ve seen enough of post-Shailene era Aaron. Run the damn ball.
22. New Orleans Saints
There’s so much talent on this team, but I feel like they didn’t really try at QB. We all knew Jameis was a guaranteed injury, we all knew Taysom couldn’t be a full-time QB, and I doubt anyone thought Dalton was the answer. And while I get that Dalton outperformed Jameis, I’m not complete sure I understand why the now-healthy Winston is riding the bench. Cam Jordan is 33. Kamara is 27, which may as well be 33 in RB years, and and who knows how much he’ll be available next year while he’s facing felony charges. The supposedly tried for Watson, but what about Baker or Russ or Rodgers? This has been a disappointing year that won’t get much easier with their schedule. Then again, 3-6 in the NFC South might as well be a winning record.
23. Cleveland Browns
After a well-earned bye week following their thumping of the Bengals, it’ll be interesting to see if took to heart what got them that win. 30 combined carries, no less, for Chubb and Hunt. Jacoby is fine but he’s not winning you anything, and their line can maul better than they can protect. Run the damn ball.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars
If you look at the Jags schedule this far, there hasn’t been a single game in which they weren’t competitive. The only embarrassing loss in the Texans. Their chances in the AFC South are fading as Tennessee pulls away, but I feel like a young team that’s finding itself under a new, competent coach could have a second half of the season spark. Unfortunately, if they do spark, it’ll have to be against KC, Baltimore, Dallas, and Tennessee twice. Yeesh.
25. Chicago Bears
I’m saying this as a lifelong, diehard Packers fan… I really like this team. Their front office is still trash, despite the nut they found in the Claypool trade. But Eberflus and Fields are vibing and they are fun to watch. He was giving me Kaepernick-playoff nightmare flashbacks. Claypool can be a 1, Mooney is a solid 2, Cole Kmet could be a top 10 fantasy TE the rest of the year, and they have two solid backs in Montgomery and Herbert. This team could put up a lot of points. And they’ll have to, cause after losing Quinn and Roquan, the defense is getting thrashed.
26. Las Vegas Raiders
So apparently their bye week did nothing. They looked like they recovered a bit when they put up 38 against Houston right out of it, then a goose egg at New Orleans and another blown lead in Jacksonville have them reeling and looking around the locker room for the problem. Never a better time for a get-right game against the Colts and their struggling backup QB and high school head coach.
27. Detroit Lions
This is a bump for them. I know it seems like it should be more, but that would only be the case if the Packers were good. They are not. I award you a few points for this minor win and because Jamaal Williams.
28. Indianapolis Colts
I almost just left them off the list completely. How does anyone look at this week and say, oh yeah I can see how the Colts season plays out. They might end up sliding into the permanent-ish 25 spot as long as Heinicke is still leading Washington.
29. Denver Broncos
I have to know why Russ has a problem with the wristband playbook. Like, is it somehow limiting his throwing motion? What a joke, a Pete Carroll’s trolling was masterful. Doesn’t Russ kinda remind you of that kid who never studied cause he knew he could just go to class and half-listen and still get a B only now his teacher sucks so he gets to the test and he’s like, wait a second we didn’t cover any of this? Tough pull going to Tennessee out of the bye week, but maybe over two weeks Hackett learned how to teach and Russ remembered how to cook. Let’s ride.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers
Put Trubisky back in or I swear you’re going to The Toilet. At least they’re finally acknowledging that Jaylen Warren needs more touches.
31. Carolina Panthers
It was fun to watch them play for a bit, but now we’re back to reality. I’m assuming Baker will be allowed to walk after this season so they’re trying to develop PJ Walker, which is the only reason I can think of to send Baker back to the bench after last week.
32. Houston Texans
If you gave me Dameon Pierce and Nico Collins as skill players to start a franchise, I’d be stoked. I might even try that on Madden. They hung in there against Philly last week in prime time, but still lost by two scores. I like where they they’re headed, and there will come a day where they will compete for this sad division.