Earlier this week, I checked the top NFL stories before I went to bed. I thought I might be hallucinating, but I’m pretty sure the biggest stories around the NFL were that Tyreek Hill wants to be a pron star, Stephen A. Smith does not, and Jim Mora, Jr. knows who killed Tupac.
I don’t have a better intro than that, so let’s get right to it! For bookkeeping purposes, I’ll be including tiers every 4 weeks.
As always, may all your teams win or your receivers have interesting fallback options.
Tier I: 4, 3, 2, 1
1. Philadelphia Eagles
The top tier, as it has been all year so far, is interchangeable. We do seem to be changing the teams around a bit, but Philly won’t give up their spot. They just keep finding ways to win.
There have been developing concerns in their secondary, which they addressed as best they could with the addition of Bradley Roby this week. Apparently addressing the nickel spot means taking whatever the Saints don’t want anymore. It’s worked before.
2. San Francisco 49ers
I’m honestly 50/50 on Niners and Eagles. The slight edge to Philly is really just strength of schedule at this point. This week will be a huge test, and a decisive win over the Cowboys would likely bump the Niners up, regardless of what Philly does.
Christian McCaffrey proves more each week that he deserves every penny of his highest paid RB contract. When you deliver 177 yards and 4 TDs and barely get a mention around the league, you’re doing something right.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
Something felt off with the Chiefs last week. The defense was run over, which obviously is a concern, but something felt off with Patrick Mahomes. I don’t know if he just wasn’t as prepared as he usually is or if the Jets defense is just that good, but Pat was a questionable holding call away from throwing 3 picks.
4. Buffalo Bills
I really hope this isn’t another peak moment for the Bills. They started last season completely unstoppable, then Josh Allen got hurt and it all fell apart. Now they just put up 48 points on a team that put up 70 a week earlier, and whatever was going on with Stefon Diggs seems to be buried.
And I know I say it every week, but they’re doing all of this without Von Miller. Sounds like Von may be back this week. Perfect timing to help the team maintain this momentum.
Tier II: Top Tier Wannabees
5. Dallas Cowboys
You wanna be top tier, this week is the test. 49ers are arguably the best team in the league. Keeping it close isn’t good enough. Dallas needs to win this game if they want anyone to take them seriously.
Dak Prescott was almost flawless last week, spreading it around and finally showing some love to Jake Ferguson, one of my fantasy football super sleepers. He’ll be a great 3rd down option for Dak now that they know how to use him.
Micah Parsons Sack Watch: 4
6. Miami Dolphins
Miami came roaring in on offense like they never stopped playing from the week before. De’Von Achane finished the 1st half with 6 TDs over his previous 6 quarters, and now him and his ridiculous 11.4 yards per carry are sitting 3rd in Offensive Rookie of the Year odds at +450.
But alas, at some point in the 2nd quarter, the Bills remembered they’re the Bills and the Dolphins remembered the Bills aren’t the Broncos. You follow all that?
These two meet again in Miami in the season finale. I smell a flex coming.
7. Baltimore Ravens
I’m not saying DeShaun Watson sat this game out even though he was medically cleared (more on that later) because he was afraid of playing the Ravens defense. I’m not saying that.
But I am saying it’s not a bad idea. On the show Letterkenny they call it the Native Flu anytime a hockey player got “sick” right before they played the Native team. I’ve heard more than a few players and coaches in interviews talk about the Ray Lewis Flu.
If Watson wasn’t 100%, this is not the defense to face. Roquan Smith is an absolute terror. He could very well be the best linebacker around, and also has to be considered in the top 5 or 10 overall defensive players in the league.
Tier III: Top 10 Turn
8. Detroit Lions
There’s some inconsistencies that I can’t put my finger on, but I mostly chalk up to youth. This Lions team is very young.
But also very good. As a football fan, I’m glad they stuck with Jared Goff. As a Packers fan, I’m not. I can honestly say without hesitation that the Lions are the best team in the NFC North.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Baker Mayfield was a walk-on who won the Heisman. You think he would be held down for long? After everything he’s been through, he now leads this Bucs team into their bye week with a 3-1 record, a 70% completion percentage, and a 101.5 passer rating. More importantly, his receivers are getting fed, and they seem happy.
It’s also worth noting the Bucs offense has done all this with almost no running game. Rachaad White is averaging 3.3 yds/carry and they don’t seem interested in trying out anyone else. That’s some kinda loyalty.
10. Seattle Seahawks
Quick recap on some other players from that trade. They also got Charles Cross, who’s currently injured but started all 17 games for them last year at left tackle. Edge LB Boye Mafe came into his sophomore season much improved and has 2 sacks his the past 2 games. Then there’s rookie edge Derick Hall, who has already shown enough promise to play 35% of the defensive snaps in his first 4 games.
This is a haul that can only get better.
11. Jacksonville Jaguars
The London Jaguars will actually be the away team at Wembley this week, which seems weird.
Can we just move them already? I know there would be some serious travel issues, but I’m pretty sure London would chip in for a fast as hell team jet. Jacksonville fans seem indifferent about having a team and aren’t about to pony up a billy for anew stadium just so Florida’s 3rd team can feel relevant.
London actually looks like they really like them. And most importantly, Sunday morning football. The NFL found a way to grab that 4th Sunday window. Absolutely brilliant.
Josh Allen Sack Watch: 6
12. Los Angeles Chargers
Have a day Khalil Mack! I wasn’t even planning on watching the replay of this game cause the Raiders hurt my soul, but I had to see Mack go out there and tie for the league lead in sacks in just 4 quarters.
Frankly, the rest of this Chargers performance was underwhelming against a bad Raiders team with their backup QB. Also, under no circumstances should Justin Herbert ever have almost as many carries as completions. Ever.
Especially with their injury luck. I swear, the football gods don’t mess around when it comes to taking out the Bolts best players. Mike Williams out with an ACL, and last week they were missing Derwin James, Joey Bosa, and Austin Ekeler. 2-2 isn’t a bad place to be heading into a bye week they desperately need.
Khalil Mack Sack Watch: 6
Tier IV: Playoff Bubbles
13. Green Bay Packers
I feel like this is a bit of a homer ranking, but I was also pretty low on them to start the year, so it balances out.
Last Thursday was a “bury the tape” game. It’s that game where watching the film probably hurts more than it helps. Move on and confidently assure yourself that you’re not the team everyone saw on that field.
14. Tennessee Titans
Can anyone get a read on the Titans? They play with the inconsistency of a young team, but they’re not at all young.
Ryan Tannehill’s performance seems to be intricately tied to the running game, which makes sense, but also isn’t very encouraging. I imagine more teams will be selling out to stop the run against them and daring Tannehill to beat them.
But the nice thing for Tennessee is that it’s not easy to sell out and actually stop Derrick Henry and exciting rookie Tyjae Spears. You need some bulk. The Browns have that, and locked them down; Bengals don’t, and got run over.
Denico Autry Sack Watch: 4
15. Houston Texans
I’ll take some credit for being high on C.J. Stroud, and also pass some along to another writer on this site. But I don’t think anyone saw it coming this quickly. I’m honestly a little annoyed cause it’ll be really hard for Achane to overtake him as Offensive ROY.
Most importantly, they didn’t just win their last 2 games; they won them decisively, but a combined 67-23 score. And not bad teams, either. Jaguars are still ahead of them on this list, and Pittsburgh will never in the history of the NFL be an easy win. There should be a lot of excitement in Houston.
Tier V: Something Something Danger Zone
16. Cincinnati Bengals
It’s too early to count them out, and I’ll keep saying that until/if they reach the 8 or 9 loss level. That’s not happening soon, so I beg you Joe Burrow, take a break.
There’s 2 games coming up against Arizona and Seattle, and I bet Jake Browning could deliver one of them. Then the bye week. You come out of the bye with a 2-4 record and Burrow at 100%, then a couple “we’re back” statement games against the Niners and Bills, and any doubts will be gone.
17. Atlanta Falcons
Making me look a fool out here. Come on, Desmond Ridder! 13 points over 2 weeks does not cut it in this league. Time to start taking some chances. Let Kyle Pitts and Drake London go up and get it. Throw in some RPO now that everyone is afraid of Bijan Robinson and flash some of that 4.5 speed.
Falcons are still 2-2 so there’s plenty of time to right the ship, but don’t take too long or Tampa may run away with it.
18. Los Angeles Rams
Rams remind of the Titans in a way. Lots of experience, but I still don’t know what I’m getting from week to week. They finally have a running game behind Kyren Williams, and Cooper Kupp is back in practice hoping to join the Puka Nacua fun.
And they’ll need it all to face the Eagles at home this week. If Kupp plays, hopefully Matthew Stafford doesn’t hesitate trying to figure out his favorite target. This is a bit of a trap game opportunity for the Rams.
19. New York Jets
I know no one wants to hear that Aaron Rodgers is the reason for any of this, and as a known disliker of Rodgers as a person, I have to admit I think he may have gotten through to Zach a bit.
What I saw from Wilson was what I’ve been waiting to see, and what Rodgers has done so well for so long. Make the easy passes. No one cares if you can throw an 40-yard off-platform fade if you can’t hit a 5-yard out every time. Every time. Every time. Hit those every time, then you can start improvising.
At another point in my life, I was a classically-trained trombonist, which sounds like I’m making it up, but I promise I’m not. My professor used to tell me to I needed to be able to play a phrase perfectly at least 5 times in a row… and then I could start to practice it.
It’s the same here. Muscle memory has to make the routine happen without thinking.
Tier VI: Something Else Danger Zone
20. New Orleans Saints
Every time I think the clock is ticking, I hear Chris Berman in my head. You either get that or you don’t.
My point is, the clock is ticking on the Saints defense, and I’m no longer certain they have the QB on their roster who can deliver what they need. Derek Carr looks lost, Jameis Winston even more, and there’s no telling if they’ll even bother to bring Jake Haener back after his suspension.
21. Indianapolis Colts
You see? Anthony Richardson finally played a game start to finish, and you lost.
Okay, obviously it wasn’t his fault. If anything, he’s the main reason they had any kind of chance. But I still think they could do some really awesome things by utilizing both Richardson and Gardner Minshew II.
22. Washington Commanders
Sometimes you lose and move up. It happens when you lose in overtime to the best team in the league.
I now have a couple toes dangling on the Sam Howell hype train. I’m not there yet, but the flashes are promising. I still just don’t think the rest of the team was in a position to wait on a QB’s development.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers
Kenny Pickett’s injury last week made it more concerning that Mitchell Trubisky somehow still doesn’t look ready to play. I’m not sure what the context would be, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mason Rudolph at some point this season.
I know NFL players insist it’s one game at a time, but you can’t tell me a few of those guys weren’t looking ahead to Baltimore next week. That’s always one of the most contentious matchups where it feels like a brawl could break out at any time.
T.J. Watt Sack Watch: 6
Tier VII: The 25th Element
24. New England Patriots
In honor of whatever the hell the Pats are doing, this week delivers a 25th Element duo. I’m not saying anything more about the Pats until they FREE MAC JONES. So here’s a video about Bill Belichick picking a Pro Bowl longsnapper because the guy was dating Pamela Anderson and Bill thought he might bring her to Hawaii.
I could listen to Belichick stories all day long. I kinda hope he hits 300 wins and retires after this season, cause his Hall of Fame acceptance will be must-watch TV.
Matt Judon Sack Watch: 4
25. Minnesota Vikings
Last week, I very loudly suggested the Vikings stop giving double digit targets to T.J. Hockenson. Against the Panthers, he had 2 catches on 3 targets. This is how his production looks next to the scores:
I’m not saying I’m absolutely right, but you have to admit, there’s something there. I would rather throw it in the general direction of Justin Jefferson than a wide open Hockenson.
Danielle Hunter Sack Watch: 5
Tier VIII: New Team, Who Dis?
26. Cleveland Browns
Last week, DeShaun Watson appears to have gotten a case of Ravens Flu. He was medically cleared to play, but he decided to sit and let Dorian Thompson-Robinson get beat up by the Ravens D. And then Kevin Stefanski had to go and say that Watson “knows his body better than anyone.” *shudder*
Consider this a first, because I’m here to defend Watson on this one. Too many QBs try to tough out injuries and ultimately end up hurting their team. If Watson believed the team would have a better chance of winning with DTR at 100% than with Watson at 75%, then he made the right decision.
The passive-aggressive way the Browns and Stefanski have handled this makes me even more convinced they forced Baker Mayfield to play through the shoulder injury that effectively ended his time in Cleveland.
This is some high-level dysfunction. You have to wonder if Myles Garrett might start looking for a trade if things don’t change. After this season is Garrett’s first realistic out in his contract.
Myles Garrett Sack Watch: 5.5
27. Arizona Cardinals
Even when they lose, they’re just so damn scrappy. It’s actually a little fun to watch. Joshua Dobbs is putting on a bit of a show, and undrafted 6th-year vet Dennis Gardeck hits the sack watch with his 4th sack last week.
I’m not saying the Cards are beating any worlds, but could they beat the struggling Bengals this week and the Rams the following week and then hang around .500 until Kyler Murray comes back? There’s at least a little intrigue here.
Dennis Gardeck Sack Watch: 4
Tier IX: A Tiny Spark
28. Carolina Panthers
It’s starting to look like Bryce Young’s status as the 3rd best rookie QB who was drafted ahead of the other 2 is maybe getting in his head a bit.
I really think now is the time to give the reins to Andy Dalton and let Bryce spend some time sitting and learning. There’s something missing… maybe it’s just the lack of talent around him, but he’s not processing the game as quickly as Stroud and Richardson. For some players, that just takes time, even if that time is sitting and watching how it’s done by a savvy vet who’s seen it all.
29. Vegas Raiders
I’m sorry, Raiders fans, but I have bad news. I really don’t think Josh McDaniels will get fired. Mark Davis had to likely shell out 8 figures to Jon Gruden when the team settled with him (his contract had $40 million left on it, but he likely didn’t get that much), and the McDaniels contract has another 2 years at $10 million a year after this season. Firing him now may not be possible. At the very least, it would be highly discouraged by Raiders accountants.
That won’t stop Davante Adams from trying to get out next spring, or even sometime this year. Josh Jacobs will likely go looking for greener pastures. It could take some time for the Raiders to be truly relevant again.
Maxx Crosby Sack Watch: 4
30. Denver Broncos
Just like the Dolphins offense played 2 quarters last week like the previous game never ended, the Broncos defense did the same. A 21-7 halftime score made it look like Denver was in for another beatdown, this time from one of the worst teams in the league.
But then they brought some magic and put up 24 unanswered points to sneak in a win. Well, maybe not all magic, cause the Bears did their best to give the game away. The biggest performances came from unexpected places, with 2nd year edge Nik Bonitto delivered 2 sacks and a critical forced fumble that was recovered for the tying touchdown, and undrafted rookie RB Jaleel McLaughlin putting together a huge performance and threatening to take the job away from Javonte Williams.
Tier X: The toilet
31. New York Giants
Like just about everyone, I put way too much stock into early season performances. Even as I watched the Giants crumble last Monday and get completely dominated by the Seahawks, there was this itch in my brain telling me not to count them out just yet.
Take a step back in time with me to September 16, 2007. The Giants got crushed by the Packers, and their defense had given up 80 points over the first 2 weeks leading to an 0-2 start. They looked completely lost and broken. If I had some power rankings back then, they might’ve been 31 on that list as well.
Fast forward a few months to January 20, 2008, where they beat those same Packers 23-20 in the NFC Championship Game, which lead into beating the undefeated Patriots in one of the greatest Super Bowl upsets of all time. That same broken-looking team from week 2 ended their season with a ‘ship.
I’m here to tell you… that’s not happening again. I don’t even know why I brought it up.
32. Chicago Bears
As of right now, the Bears have the top 2 picks in the 2024 draft. And if they use those picks on Caleb Williams and Marvin Harrison, Jr., Ryan Poles should be fired for gross negligence of a defense. It would be an exciting combo, but it would also be a pair that would need to score a thousand touchdowns to keep up with the giant defensive holes being run over and through by every team in the league.
Trade back again, get some defensive leaders, and give Justin Fields a chance. Or put Fields in at linebacker. Seriously, it can’t hurt.