Intro paragraphs are for the weak. Or the busy. May all your teams win or your coaches be fired!
- 1. Baltimore Ravens
- 2. Philadelphia Eagles
- 3. Kansas City Chiefs
- 4. Miami Dolphins
- 5. San Francisco 49ers
- 6. Jacksonville Jaguars
- 7. Cincinnati Bengals
- 8. Detroit Lions
- 9. Dallas Cowboys
- 10. Buffalo Bills
- 11. Los Angeles Chargers
- 12. New Orleans Saints
- 13. Cleveland Browns
- 14. New York Jets
- 15. Seattle Seahawks
- 16. Houston Texans
- 17. Minnesota Vikings
- 18. Pittsburgh Steelers
- 19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- 20. Tennessee Titans
- 21. Indianapolis Colts
- 22. Washington Commanders
- 23. Denver Broncos
- 24. Green Bay Packers
- 25. Atlanta Falcons
- 26. Vegas Raiders
- 27. Los Angeles Rams
- 28. New England Patriots
- 29. Chicago Bears
- 30. Arizona Cardinals
- 31. Carolina Panthers
- 32. New York Giants
1. Baltimore Ravens
I’m sure many will disagree, but tell me a team playing better than Baltimore. You can’t. It’s not that I think they’ll win the Super Bowl at the end of the season, it’s that I think they would win if it were played today.
Lamar Jackson may not throw for 6,000 yards this year, but he is on pace for about 3,700 yards passing and over 800 rushing. More importantly, he’s completing an absurd and best-in-the-league 71.5% of his passes. Still waiting to hear from the “glorified running back can’t read defenses” crowd. They seem to have disappeared.
While the offense is humming along and scoring the 4th-most points in the league, the defense is 1st in points allowed, leading to a point differential that no other team can touch. They’re only 9 points short of doubling up their opponents on the year.
The Ravens defense leads the league in sacks with 35, and that total comes from 13 different players. Geno Stone leads the league with 6 interceptions, including 1 in each of the last 4 games. Are Stone and Roquan Smith + Patrick Queen the 2023 version of Ed Reed and Ray Lewis? I would never say something so bold. But it’s worth noting that this defense is only allowing touchdowns on 8.7% of drives. The only defense since 2000 with a better number than that… was the 2000 Ravens.
2. Philadelphia Eagles
8-1 and coming off a huge win over the Cowboys, you’d think this is the best team in the league. But this is where my methodology tends to differ from other NFL power rankings. This isn’t college football where a win automatically means you keep your ranking or move up.
Philly didn’t do anything to drop from 1st to 2nd, but they also didn’t do as much as the Ravens have lately to earn the top spot.
It feels wrong to go too negative on the team with the best record in the league, but I think a lot of us have this sense that it’s not a dominant 8-1. It’s a very scrappy 8-1. That can absolutely hold up and lead a team to and through a Super Bowl, but it’s hard to build confidence and swagger by squeaking by every week.
Now they get a week off to prepare for a Monday nighter in Kansas City in week 11, and what an absolutely perfect bit of scheduling by the NFL to give both teams a week 10 bye to set up the Super Bowl rematch.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
After a bizarre lost to the Broncos in week 8, KC recovered nicely against the Dolphins in Germany. At least in the 1st half. Then it was like they went to the locker room and stuffed themselves full of beer and sausages.
Luckily the defense caught a second wind in the 4th quarter and locked Miami down, but it was an overall shaky performance. And like Philly, they scrapped together the big plays they needed, right when they needed them.
As well as the defense played overall, we haven’t seen much from Chris Jones the past 3 weeks. Teams are locking him down and taking their chances with everyone else, so this is when they need the draft capital they spent on George Karlaftis and Felix Anudike-Uzomah to pay off.
4. Miami Dolphins
I have a hard time putting much weight on European games, which is why I’m not moving Miami down. They came out slow, and even looked slow, which seems impossible with the amount of speed they have.
Speaking of the over abundance of speed, I think they’ve reached a point of diminishing returns on talented offensive players. Seeing Cedrick Wilson Jr. make a huge 31-yard TD catch reminded me that, oh yeah, they have Cedrick Wilson. He has the talent of a 2 on most teams, but he’s buried on the depth chart by guys running 22 mph and catching Tua Tagovailoa darts in stride.
Tyreek Hill Receiving Yards Watch: 1,076
On pace for 1,912 in 16 games and 2,032 in 17 games. Current 16-game record is 1,964 by Calvin Johnson.
5. San Francisco 49ers
Has there ever been a team in history more in need of a bye week? Coming off their 3rd straight loss, I’m getting a little concerned the criticism is getting in Brock Purdy’s head. He’s trying to do entirely too much, and this isn’t the kind of offense that needs a QB to take over.
Besides taking a week off to get their heads back in the game, there are a number of pesky injuries that have left guys like Christian McCaffrey and Brandon Aiyuk playing at 75-80% every week. Or not playing at all, like Deebo Samuel. Get those guys healthy, get Chase Young into the defense, and get ready for a statement game in Jacksonville this weekend that could very well set the tone for the rest of the regular season.
Also, I can’t remember if I said this before or just thought it, but I’m more and more confused why they picked now to insert a rookie kicker. Teams at their stage of development should be able to get any veteran they want and lock down everything up to 50 yards. You don’t need the guy who might hit it from 60; you need the guy who will always hit it from 40.
Jake Moody could be a great kicker someday, but it’s unfair to him to expect him to perform at the level of the team around him. Rookie kickers belong on teams like the Packers or Panthers. Young teams that know they’re a few years away. Niners need it now. Give the kid the rest of the year off and go get Mason Crosby.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars
I feel like I do this a lot. Teams gearing up to play each other are one spot away from each other and I’m reluctant to move either. it makes more sense to me to leave them here and let them decide which goes where.
The Jags don’t need this one as much as the Niners, but try telling them that. While the Niners come into this game after losing 3 straight, Jacksonville is flying high from 5 straight wins.
While the offense has been up and down, it’s the defense that’s been truly surprising. Josh Allen Defense Version is an absolute beast, and their secondary is phenomenal. Darious Williams is a revelation and worth every penny they gave him. Andre Cisco was worth the wait and might be a top-10 safety in the league in just his 3rd season.
They’ll need that defense to be all of that and more to face a healthy Niners offense with something to prove.
Josh Allen Sack Watch: 9 (current pace: 19)
7. Cincinnati Bengals
After ripping off 4 straight wins, the Bengals are right back in the thick of it. I’m tempted to bump them into the top 5, but trying to be patient while the Niners and Jags sort themselves.
In those 4 wins, Joe Burrow has averaged 283 passing yards per game while throwing 10 TDs against just 2 picks. He has a 75.8% completion percentage in that span, has taken just 10 sacks, and has a passer rating of 111.2. I think his calf feels better.
Trey Hendrickson Sack Watch: 8 (current pace: 17)
8. Detroit Lions
Lions went into their bye week looking like they could lock up the NFC North early, then watched the Vikings inexplicably pull within a game-and-a-half.
They don’t get an easy return from vacation as they head to LA to play the surging Chargers. Non-conference matchups have less overall importance than the pair of division opponents after that, but this should be a good measuring stick game.
9. Dallas Cowboys
I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a Cowboys fan. Every week is such a rollercoaster. They outperform expectations one week, then fall face first into obvious trap games.
At 5-3 with a cupcake schedule coming up, there should be some optimism. They should easily handle the Giants and Panthers the next couple weeks, then the Commanders and Seahawks at home. There’s no excuse for them to not be 9-3 when they get Philly at home for a rematch.
10. Buffalo Bills
That week 5 loss in London broke something on the Bills. Specifically, it broke a few key players, and it seems like there’s a leadership vacuum left by Matt Milano. Not locker room leadership… we’ll maybe that, too, but they’ve got plenty of good veterans for that. It’s the leadership that can only come from a QB that plays defense.
Someday, the running back position will regain its lost respect, but first, the off-ball linebacker will get his status back. When I look through the top 10, I see the financial investment made in guys like Milano, Fred Warner, Roquan Smith, and Foyesade Oluokun. I see the Chiefs and Lions using high draft capital on Nick Bolton and Jack Campbell, respectively. The top teams and defenses understand the value of a smart, fearless middle linebacker with sideline-to-sideline speed.
11. Los Angeles Chargers
I’m only hesitant cause I don’t trust them, but the Chargers look like a top 10 team. Maybe even top 5 if they keep things rolling the way they have.
For what seems like the first time, the combo of Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack looks genuinely terrifying. 8 sacks from the defense, 4.5 coming from that tandem. Now they need to do it against better offenses than the Bears and Jets.
They’ll get that shot this week against Jared Goff and the dominant offensive line of the Lions in what should be an important game for both teams.
Oh, and Derius Davis is fast. Holy cow is he fast. I don’t even think he hit his top speed. Last week’s game went from looking evenly-matched to looking like a lopsided mess in just the amount of time it took Davis to go 87 yards. Which was a very short amount of time. Cause he’s very fast.
Khalil Mack Sack Watch: 9 (current pace: 19)
12. New Orleans Saints
I can’t tell if Derek Carr’s sideline whining is working, or if the rest of the team decided to collectively ignore him and focus on themselves.
I’ve liked the Saints defense for a long time, so I’m happy the offense is finding success, but let’s not get too far ahead. A 2-game streak against the Colts and Bears is called winning the games you’re supposed to. Now let’s see Carr put up a 300-and-3 when the stakes are higher.
13. Cleveland Browns
I think the Browns are being judged too much, including by me, for a misunderstanding. You see, when they gave Deshaun Watson that unicorn contract, all they had to say was “we just need this guy to not be bad.”
That’s it, that’s all. Lower our expectations, and we’d all be looking at them right now as geniuses. I don’t think we’ll ever see the Watson from Houston again, but with the team around him, all he had to be is average for the Browns to be competitive.
Myles Garrett Sack Watch: 9.5 (current pace: 20)
14. New York Jets
I’m not saying the Jets offense is good, or even mediocre… but you see it, right? It’s in there. There’s a confidence that’s strong, but too easily shattered. The Jets as a team need to be able to give up a punt return TD and shake it off.
Instead, they shattered. Garrett Wilson fumbled, then Zach Wilson fumbled, and it was well past over. This is the kind of young team that will win or lose with momentum. That’s why they needed Aaron Rodgers to come in and bring some stability. But they’ll have to make do with Rodgers whispering sweet nothings to Wilson on the sideline to keep his nerves in check.
15. Seattle Seahawks
I don’t think I’ve ever used the term “turd burger” before, or even where I might‘be heard it to have it cross my mind when I saw Seattle’s name come up here. But it fits, right?
Granted, they dropped that turd burger, which seems like a solid verb-noun combo, against a Ravens team playing the best football in the league. But it would’ve been nice to be slightly competitive. And as much as I like Jaxon Smith-Njigba, he can’t be the focus of an offense that also has D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Kenneth Walker III.
You can convince me the Ravens swarming defense can lock down a player or 2, but all 3 of those incredibly talented offensive weapons? That suggests more profound issues on the Seahawks offense.
16. Houston Texans
Is C.J. Stroud something special or what? Halfway through the season and he’s currently an absurd -500 to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year. I’ve heard talk that he should be shooting higher, as his 14:1 TD/INT numbers warrant a spot in the MVP conversation, where oddsmakers disagree and still have him at +10000. Another week like last week, though, and that number will plummet.
How many times have I said Stroud would settle in better when he learns how to utilize Dalton Schultz? I think he figured it out.
So can we finally throw the rookie intelligence tests in the garbage? You know, the one where Stroud did poorly compared to peers who can barely even be called his peers anymore?
17. Minnesota Vikings
I think Paul Allen likes Joshua Dobbs. I seriously went looking for the call after the game.
As I mentioned last week, Dobbs was the big pickup fans wanted, but he was a great value trade. It was essentially a hedge trade. Barely give up anything while keeping fan interest and maybe winning a few games.
But now it looks like fans want more than to just win a few games. At 5-4, the Vikings are in the playoff hunt and not far off from getting Justin Jefferson back on the field. Unfortunately, just as JJettas gets ready to come back, they lost newly-acquired Cam Akers for the year. That hurts, but it’s far from insurmountable.
The next 4 games are extremely winnable, and they finish the year with 2 out of 3 against the division-leading Lions.
Danielle Hunter Sack Watch: 10 (current pace: 19)
18. Pittsburgh Steelers
As a team that’s a few years away, the Steelers are in an important spot to get their young playmakers working well together and keeping them happy with their progress. My concern is that they had too much success before they were ready.
Which is why George Pickens is lashing out right now. He’s young, tasted some success, and now he needs more of it. But that’s not how this league works, especially for someone with his level of talent. He had a rough night, with 2 catches for -1 yards… meanwhile, Diontae Johnson and Jaylen Warren went off.
That’s how offenses work today. You develop as many playmakers as you can until defenses can’t account for everyone. You see different weapons each week from the Dolphins, Bengals, Niners, Ravens, etc. Despite his almost absent numbers, the team won and is 5-3. Take some pride in being a great decoy.
As Kenny Pickett matures, he’ll get better at keeping everyone fed, and hopefully Pickens will get better at channeling his frustration.
T.J. Watt Sack Watch: 9.5 (current pace: 20)
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
So Baker Mayfield got my message and got it together. And then they ran into a train.
As weird as that analogy sounds, that’s what hit them in the 2nd half last week. The Texans schemed up a brilliant halftime counter to the Bucs defense and dropped 29 2nd half points on them.
And it’s not like Baker and the offense slouched and gave up. They put up 20 of their own in the 2nd half, but the Texans offense was just too much.
Now they need to overcome a 4-game skid from 3-1 to 3-5 and get it together for the Titans.
20. Tennessee Titans
It’s seriously wild how often I find my rankings lining teams up next to each other right before those teams play each other.
Will Levis didn’t look as good as the week prior, but he still looks like the real deal. He made the mistakes you expect, but also the plays no one expects. Now he gets to face a defense that gave up 39 points to his fellow rookie QB, so it’ll be interesting to see how he measured up, or if that pressure to be too good, too fast affects him.
21. Indianapolis Colts
Would you believe the Colts are 4-5? They actually play a worse team this week with a shot at getting to .500. A lot of this is a weak schedule, but it somehow isn’t getting much harder. This could be a 9-8 or even 10-7 team with a shot at a playoff spot. What a weird year.
22. Washington Commanders
Coming off a win against the Pats, the Commanders are a kinda sneaky team. They gave the Eagles a real run, right after somehow losing to the Giants. Their current 4-5 could’ve ended up as 5-12 or 9-8.
But then they traded away half their defensive line, which was their only position of real strength.
There has to be a lot of uncertainty in DC. Despite the assurances that Ron Rivera was totally part of trading away major pieces of the defense, I have a lot of doubts about that. Sounds to me more like, “Hey Ron, we’re letting you know that you were involved in all this.”
23. Denver Broncos
Denver hasn’t seen the field since inexplicably toppling the Chiefs 2 weeks ago. Forgive me for being hesitant that they’ll show up in the same way against the Bills this week. If they do, I’ll give Sean Payton a smidgeon of props despite the trainwreck he’s aided in putting together this season.
I was happy to see they didn’t sell the farm at the trade deadline. They aren’t far off if they can put the pieces together.
24. Green Bay Packers
A win that wasn’t a blowout in a game that should’ve been a blowout is enough to vault the Pack out of that loathsome 25th spot. But just barely.
One of these weeks, the Packers offense needs to come out and play a first half. At least a part of that is on coaching. If Matt LaFleur has a first 15 plays, he needs to step up his scouting game.
25. Atlanta Falcons
Sorry Falcons, but you deserve this. I went as far as making the Falcons a top 10 team to start the season, but the disappointments keep piling up.
As much as Brandon Staley and Ron Rivera deserve the boot at some point, Arthur Smith isn’t that far behind them. They’re not at 8-1 progression yet, but they should be at 6-3, so 4-5 doesn’t cut it.
Talk about circle of football life… last year, the Commanders were permanently in the 25 spot cause they wouldn’t put Taylor Heinicke in for Carson Wentz. Now the Falcons fall there right when they actually made the move to Heinicke.
26. Vegas Raiders
I like Aidan O’Connell a lot, and I’m excited for his potential future with Vegas. I also think the coaching change was warranted, though unexpected, and opens up a lot of opportunities for what this team could be in the not so far off future.
But I also don’t think O’Connell is ready for the Jets defense. I hope I’m wrong.
Maxx Crosby Sack Watch: 9.5
27. Los Angeles Rams
So Brett Rypien isn’t ready to be his uncle quite yet. Regardless, I’d rather roll the dice with him each week than bet the house on putting the aforementioned Wentz in your locker room.
But the Rams disagree, and they have more trophies than me. For now.
28. New England Patriots
Does anyone else think Belichick is trolling us? Like, all this back and forth, will he stay will he go, is he fired oh he got an extension.
I know we don’t get to see him smile much, but I bet he’s smiling a little at how much people freak out about his every decision.
29. Chicago Bears
If you’re looking toward to this Thursday night game between the Bears and Panthers, you’re either a Bears or Panthers fan, or a true football fan.
I am neither of the former, but enough of the latter that I made a blog about it. So here we are, watching 2 of my 4 worst1ranked teams gearing up for primetime football.
Did Bezos really pay money for this?
30. Arizona Cardinals
Kyler Murray is back! You think he put in enough film time while he was out?
Part of me hopes he took the whole film study contract thing personally and spent his entire rehab with a clicker in hand.
I’m honestly just mad that someone named Kyler is more talented than someone named Clayton Tune. This world isn’t fair.
31. Carolina Panthers
Bryce Young put it together when facing off against fellow top 3 QB C.J. Stroud, but then a week later, Stroud threw 5 TDs and Young threw 3 picks.
The Bears have shown flashes, but they’re not a very good defense, despite the weird Montez Sweat addition. Bryce needs to go off and reevaluate. Should help that Adam Thielen is very familiar with the Bears defense.
32. New York Giants
What an awful football team. Let’s go back and look at what I said in week 1:
I’m sold on Brian Daboll, and that’s about it. And that’s a scheme thing. I think he could develop Daniel Jones into a phenomenal player, but I don’t think Jones can stay healthy enough in this offense for it to matter. He’s running around like Josh Allen, but he’s not built like Josh Allen. Add in Circle Button Saquon and Darren Waller and holy crap they better be paying top-dollar on training staff.New York Giants Week 1 Analysis
Daniel Jones is out for the season. Darren Walker is on IR and out at least 4 games with a hamstring injury. Saquon Barkley has been in and out. And the Giants, who put everything into these 3 players, are the worst team in the league.
Who could’ve possibly seen that coming?