I normally set the power rankings order on Tuesday, then put together the analysis-or-anecdote before the Thursday game. And more often than not, something happens during the week that makes me change my initial rankings.
One would think the news of Deshaun Watson’s season-ending shoulder surgery would have caused a shift. But I’ll tell you upfront, it did not. They’re where I put them on Tuesday, despite the news breaking on Wednesday. And the reason why will shock you!
Eh, it probably won’t, but did you like my clickbait-y hook? Me neither. I’m pretty transparent about my opinion of the Browns. But for more info, you’ll have to read all the way to the bottom of the top 10. Bait=Set.
Or click the anchor tag I conveniently and foolishly provide. As always, may all your teams win or your coach be the inexplicably unfireable Brandon Staley.
- 1. Philadelphia Eagles
- 2. Kansas City Chiefs
- 3. Baltimore Ravens
- 4. San Francisco 49ers
- 5. Miami Dolphins
- 6. Detroit Lions
- 7. Dallas Cowboys
- 8. Cincinnati Bengals
- 9. Jacksonville Jaguars
- 10. Cleveland Browns
- 11. Buffalo Bills
- 12. Houston Texans
- 13. Minnesota Vikings
- 14. Pittsburgh Steelers
- 15. Seattle Seahawks
- 16. Los Angeles Chargers
- 17. New Orleans Saints
- 18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- 19. Indianapolis Colts
- 20. New York Jets
- 21. Denver Broncos
- 22. Tennessee Titans
- 23. Vegas Raiders
- 24. Washington Commanders
- 25. Atlanta Falcons
- 26. Green Bay Packers
- 27. Arizona Cardinals
- 28. Los Angeles Rams
- 29. Chicago Bears
- 30. Carolina Panthers
- 31 New England Patriots
- New York Giants
1. Philadelphia Eagles
Once again, teams about to play each other are lined up in rankings, ready to determine the true mid-to-2-3rds-of-the-season king. Having the Eagles go to KC to play the Chiefs on a week 11 Monday night is, once again, some perfect scheduling.
It helps that neither team has disappointed this year. Well, but much anyways. Even at 8-1, Philly fans and non-fans alike are desperate to find what’s wrong with them.
Seems like the only thing wrong is that they don’t dismantle opponents on their way to winning 8 of their 9 games.
By the way, I have a theory about the Brotherly Shove. When your offensive linemen are so locked in that they can put out a fantastic Christmas album together, it shouldn’t be a surprise that their timing is impeccable on a QB sneak. I bet they figured out how to count it off together while they were in the studio.
Jordan Mailata had some serious chops.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs could be number 1, but their offensive line doesn’t have a Christmas album. Travis Kelce did join his brother on this year’s sequel, so maybe he’ll carry over some cheery goodness.
KC has some work to do, and it’s the perfect time of the season to do it. In their past 2 games, they put up a clunker against Denver, then almost blew a 3-TD halftime leader to Miami in Germany. But luckily they eventually remembered they have a really good RB in Isiah Pacheco.
3. Baltimore Ravens
That’s what I get for putting the Ravens at the top. Baltimore’s loss to the Browns exposed an inability to close a game with the run, which is discouraging for a team with a good running game. They could really use a guy like J.K. Dobbins in situations like that, cause Gus Edwards got shut down.
This is where the short passing game could’ve been used to substitute, but it has to be recognized earlier. Zay Flowers is a great short option, Mark Andrews catches everything in his general vicinity, and Keaton Mitchell has some game-breaking abilities. Get that man some screens and grind the clock with a little variety.
4. San Francisco 49ers
I have another theory. A Venn Diagram of the people who thought Lamar Jackson was a glorified running back who can’t read a defense and Brock Purdy was a fraud cause he had a few rough games is almost, not completely, but almost a perfect circle.
It also helps to have most of the team back from injury. Weird how literally every QB struggles when his blindside tackle and half his playmakers are hurt. That doesn’t make the QB bad, it makes a team good.
As long as I can type, I’ll put this out on the interwebs a million more times: QBs don’t win Super Bowls, teams do. That’s not some sugury sentiment, it’s the 100% truth. Purdy makes Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, and Christian McCaffrey look good, and they make him look good.
Nick Bosa struggled earlier this year, but put Chase Young on the other side, and Bosa was NFC Defensive Player of the Week. This is why baseball teams know it’s important to have a good cleanup hitter so the person batting 3rd can get a decent pitch to hit.
Teams win ‘ships.
5. Miami Dolphins
I’ve heard just about enough of the can’t beat a good team line. Do you know why it’s hard to beat a good team? Because they’re good. I know that’s a tricky concept for some fans to get their head around.
And did you know that if you lose to a team in the regular season and then play them in the playoffs, the game still starts 0-0? It’s true. They even still do a coin flip.
I have no doubt that Mike McDaniel will have his team ready to run through a wall for him when it matters. What’s important now is getting and staying healthy, and last week’s bye should’ve helped.
De’Von Achane and his 12 yards a carry looks ready to play and give Raheem Mostert a needed and we’ll-earned rest. Despite my shift to C.J. Stroud for Offensive Rookie of the Year, you know that could shift quickly if Achane starts where he left off.
6. Detroit Lions
Remember when the Lions were supposed to trade for this or that QB or trade up in the draft to get one of the top ones because the people saying that thought he was washed up while still in his 20s? Same people in the Venn from before.
I bet I could fit a lot of overreacting fan situations in that diagram. This is about to be a new project for me. Damn you all for making me think of it!
I’ll say this, and it’s why I think the Lions are ready for a deep playoff run… they have the best offensive line in football. Patiently built from the ground up just like the Eagles and other teams with dominant offensive lines over the years.
7. Dallas Cowboys
Just like I told people to settle down about Dak Prescott’s interceptions last year, it’s time to settle down about him winning the MVP this year. I swear, if I could pick one team to play for, the Cowboys would be my last pick. It’s all hot and cold, no room for warm or cool.
8. Cincinnati Bengals
Tough loss to Houston, but this is where we all need to step back and think about what we need to see out of this team to believe in them.
This Thursday game with Baltimore might be more exciting for me than Monday’s Super Bowl rematch, so these teams better deliver.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars
Remember my whole speech about throwing out the tape? This is one of those moments. Jacksonville ran into the brick wall of 49ers who were healthy and pissed off about the trash being said about them. The ‘72 Dolphins couldn’t have won that game.
Shake it off and get ready for the Titans, who will feel like a JV team in comparison.
10. Cleveland Browns
Here we go! Top 10 Browns with Watson, and top 10 without him.
The Browns are not 6-3 because of Deshaun Watson. Far from it, actually. They’re 6-3 because they have a dominant offensive line, a really good RB with Jerome Ford doing his best Nick Chubb, and a defense led by the best pass rusher in the game and talent and depth at every level.
And now, it’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson time. I didn’t expect him to fully take over until 2025, so I hope he’s ready and this doesn’t stunt his development. Either way, I’m ready for DTR!
11. Buffalo Bills
No 5-5 team should be this high. That’s how much respect I have for the Bills talent. Since the Bills have been talked and written about to the point of nausea this week, I’ll address something different.
Firing the coordinator. It’s a kiss of death for a head coach. It’s how they buy time, and it’s important to consider the context of who makes the decision.
Who fired Ken Dorsey, was it Sean McDonough or Brandon Beane? Because if it was McDonough, then Dorsey was clearly a problem. If it was Beane, then the Bills just made a major change right before playing the Super Bowl teams back-to-back (with a bye in-between).
That’s called creating a context. Firing the coordinator right before a really tough part of the schedule sets up the ability to fire the head coach of the team fails after that.
I’m not guaranteeing anything, but keep an eye on it. After the Jets this week, the Bills finish out the season with 4 of their remaining 6 games against teams with a better record, 3 of them on the road.
This week they get the Jets, and if they don’t quickly set the tone, this Super Bowl contender might watch the playoffs from home.
12. Houston Texans
I love teams that can win in different ways. Oh, your rookie phenom QB had a few turnovers? Don’t worry, Devin Singletary and Noah Brown got your back. Oh, and Sheldon Rankins is here to step up with 3 sacks out of nowhere.
I don’t know where they’re at. Playoffs? Sure. Deep playoffs? Maybe. Lightning in a bottle? I don’t speak of such things this early in the season. Let’s just say I like them a lot.
13. Minnesota Vikings
I feel like me and Joshua Dobbs would be friends.
I would like to use the rest of this blurb to let this sit in… I apologize for my T.J. Hockenson disrespect. I don’t know if it was just how Kirk Cousins used him or what, but he was always the 3rd or 4th option that Kirk always checked to and it drive me nuts.
Josh Dobbs make him look like Keith Jackson down the seam. Is that a TE’s favorite word? I was a high school tight end but in a wishbone option offense… there were no seam go routes for me. But in the NFL, you hear seam route and it’s always one of the prettiest throws to a TE you’ll ever see. It’s a thing of beauty, and Dobbs dropped it perfectly at a critical moment for the Vikings.
I like Kirk Cousins and his wife is just the best, but Josh Dobbs adds dimensions to this team. Like real, rocket sciency dimensions. All 10 or 11 of them.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers
I don’t like the Steelers this high but they just won’t lose.
Big time test against the Browns this week. Their strong defense gets to play a rookie QB, but an unpredictable highly mobile rookie QB. And the shaky offense gets to play the Browns really good defense.
I want to say this is one they should lose, but they just won’t. This will end up being 17-16 and all the players will remember is the bruises.
15. Seattle Seahawks
Nice response last week against the Commanders after getting walloped by Baltimore. Geno Smith spread it around and hit everyone involved.
But they need more from this defense. 3 sacks on the kiss sacked QB in the league? That should be embarrassing. Get these young edge rushers done room and let ‘em fly.
16. Los Angeles Chargers
No, I refuse. There is zero reason for Brandon Staley to still have a job. This is probably my version of an overreacting fan, but I don’t personally care what the Chargers do. I just don’t like things that defy reason.
Your offense of flying and Kellen Moore is right there to take over. Cut the Brandon Staley cord before the players turn.
17. New Orleans Saints
Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, doesn’t seem to matter. The Saints are the most consistently inconsistent team I’ve ever seen. I bet if you went back through my rankings, you’d find them between 14 and 18 like 90% of the time.
With a young team, that’s fine. But this is a veteran team that’s somehow leading their division. Time to string some performances together.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Baker Mayfield heads to San Francisco to play the most talented team in the league.
There’s not a single QB I’d want more than Baker in that spot. No one is better backed into a corner.
19. Indianapolis Colts
Last week I picked Shane Steichen as my midseason prediction for Coach of the Year. It’s not about having a good team and only somewhat about being a good coach. What he has is a 5-5 team in a division that’s up for grabs and a supremely weak schedule coming up.
If the Colts finish 10-7 with a backup QB, Steichen should walk away with that hardware.
20. New York Jets
I can’t get excited about anything til they put together a string of something more solid. Or Aaron Rodgers comes back.
21. Denver Broncos
I’m begrudgingly coming around, mostly cause the Broncos receivers seem determined to turn this around. That makes Russell Wilson more comfortable, and the team better.
22. Tennessee Titans
I’m assuming no one thought Will Levis would just go off and they’d run this all the way through the playoffs, right?
He’s the future, but needs time. Maybe too much time to ride Derrick Henry.
23. Vegas Raiders
I mean, they won. So that’s something. I literally took a power nap before that game hoping to make it through. I didn’t make it to halftime.
I’ll watch games later for analysis, but I watch live for enjoyment, and you better deliver or I’m out.
24. Washington Commanders
4-6 and fresh off trading 2 of their best defensive players, DC fans can probably start making other Sunday plans. Or be a real fan and suffer through so you can better enjoy it when it turns around. No judgment from me either way.
25. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons were outscored by a combined 10 points the last 3 weeks. That’s 10 points between 4-6 and 7-3, in a division where the leader is 5-5.
I still think they’re close, but they feel so much further. Patience, Falcons fans. Lots and lots of patience.
26. Green Bay Packers
I’ve got all the patience here. Keep losing close games til these kids can’t stand it anymore. I’ll wait.
27. Arizona Cardinals
Kyler Murray out here studying the game! My man! Heard a lot of chatter that he took film study very seriously over his rehab. That should scare teams, cause his talent was never in question.
28. Los Angeles Rams
They had a bye and I literally didn’t realize it til now. From Super Bowl champs to the most forgettable team in the league in 2 years.
Maybe that’s not the worst thing. Best way to rebuild is under the radar.
29. Chicago Bears
30. Carolina Panthers
Stop marching, Panthers fans. Come on. You have a rookie QB who’s learning and it turns out another rookie QB went off before yours did.
I was very clear that I thought Stroud was a better QB than Bryce Young, but that doesn’t mean Young isn’t capable of being a very good NFL QB. He’ll get there, long as the fans don’t match on his house.
31 New England Patriots
What. Tf. Was that. Mac Jones had a chance to win the game. Yeah, he hadn’t played well, but all QBs have those games. If he’s your starter, you put the ball in his hands with the game on the line.
Counterfactual: Imagine if Mac led a game-winning drive. What then? They build momentum. His team gets behind him. He builds confidence. And the 2024 Patriots come in ready to take over the league.
But nope, in comes Bailey Zappe to save to the day and throw an ugly pick that ends the game.
They deserved that loss. I don’t know what happens to Mac Jones, but I hope someone can be patient with him and give him the time to grow. Cause the Pats wasted his talent.
32. New York Giants
They’re not just the worst team in the league. Now they’re just straight getting blown out of the sky every week.
Think my rankings are great? Or suck? Let me know in the comments or on my Facebook page. I’ll spit back with equal fire in both places.