With 7 weeks down and a full slate of games for week 8 (no byes, fantasy footballers rejoice!), there are only a pair of 6-1 teams left. And oh look, it’s last year’s Super Bowl. If the NFL is scripted, that’s a boring script.
Skip the next paragraph if Tay Tay talk makes you weirdly angry.
I mean, I get it would be a big deal to have Taylor Swift at this year’s game to overshadow Usher’s halftime show and cause some drama. So of course I went looking for any connection between Usher and Tay Tay and managed to find Usher quoted as saying Swift is “crunk for real” a decade ago. You just can’t make that up.
End Swift paragraph. Take a breath. She can’t hurt you anymore.
My point is, if the league had a script, the Eagles wouldn’t be their opponent again. Sorry, Eagles fans, but you would maybe be the 5th or 6th most interesting NFC team to play the Chiefs. Much as I love the Brotherly Shove, no one wants to see a thousand QB sneaks in the Super Bowl. Unless the Chiefs counter it by putting Travis Kelce on defense right over Jason Kelce and…
Okay wait, now I’m rethinking this. Talk amongst yourselves. I’ll give you a topic: flea flicker is neither a flea nor a flicker. Discuss.
As always, may all your teams win or your fans get triggered every time the camera cuts to Taylor Swift and you don’t miss a second of football.
- Tier I: Super Bowl Rematch
- Tier II: On the Cusp
- Tier III: Winners Who Lose
- Tier IV: Losers Who Win
- Tier V
- Tier VI
- Tier VII
- Tier XXXV: Shame
- Tier IX
- Tier X: Overflowing Toilet
Tier I: Super Bowl Rematch
1. Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes doesn’t have to have a huge game when the Chiefs defense plays like that. But it helps when him and Kelce also have huge games.
Roshee Rice is really coming into his own as a potential future 1, and just to add insult to injury, they brought back Mecole Hardman for a late round pick swap with the Jets.
Save for a pair of turnovers and a big of difficulty establishing Isiah Pacheco and the run game, the Chiefs are looking pretty unstoppable right about now. That said, heading to Denver this week presents a pretty obvious trap game, as they then head to Germany to play Miami, then come home after a bye for a Super Bowl rematch with Philly.
*Sidenote, one of my goals for this draft season is to watch for how many times actually use their original 7th round pick*
2. Philadelphia Eagles
Last week against the Dolphins was a pivotal game for Philly. Even with just a single loss on the season, there was concern that they were noticeably chaotic and inconsistent on both sides of the ball. Beating Miami the way they did should quiet a lot of that chatter.
Their now well-known QB sneak play was critical on the drive that sealed the game. And head coach Nick Sirianni didn’t mince words when asked about it.
Every first down, it’s first-and-9. Knowing that if you get to fourth-and-1, shoot, a lot of faith in that play. So, it was awesome. Again, Jason Kelce starts it off. Jalen Hurts was right there. Because you’ve seen it across the league that people can’t do it like we can do it. They can’t do it like we can do it.Nick Sirianni, postgame press conference, 10/23/23
And he’s absolutely right. I mentioned this previously, as teams around the league have tried to imitate it and failed miserably. And as pointed out by Hall of Fame tackle Joe Thomas, this isn’t something you can just insert into an offense in the middle of a season.
It requires immaculate timing and coordination, and trying to do it without enough training risks injury. Imagine practicing this during the season and your QB or center or one of the shovers gets hurt. There would be no valid excuse for it.
For now, Philly has an advantage. Next year, 10 other teams will have it down, and a year later the defense will have ways to shut it down enough that it’ll be no more successful than other plays. This is the way.
Tier II: On the Cusp
3. Baltimore Ravens
Where are all the “Lamar is a glorified running back” or “Lamar can’t read a defense” people at? Cause Lamar Jackson just put on a passing clinic against a really good, well-coached Lions defense.
It’s almost like things started clicking after 6 weeks in a brand new system that gives Lamar more control than Greg Roman ever allowed him. Also doesn’t hurt that his playmakers are healthy and suddenly catching everything. Even Patrick Ricard, their 300 lb. fullback who was a defensive lineman in college, had a pair of rumblin’ bumblin’ stumblin’ catch and runs.
I can’t say enough about the Ravens defense. Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen complement each other so perfectly. Odafe Oweh is back after being hurt for the past month and got right back to work with a strip sack. These guys are everything a Ravens defense should be.
4. San Francisco 49ers
I don’t think I could go lower or higher without knowing who’s healthy and suiting up.
There isn’t a team out there more in need of a bye week. Not just on offense, where Christian McCaffrey played through an oblique injury, Deebo Samuel is nursing a shoulder injury that’ll likely keep him out at least another week, and Trent Williams may or may not be back this week. And honestly I thought Brandon Aiyuk had to be hurt when Brock Purdy was trying to fit throws in for Ray Ray McCloud on that last drive. Speaking of Purdy, he’s in concussion protocol, and there’s no toughing through that one, so he may not be ready to go on Sunday, either.
Where was I? Oh right, not just on offense. Also on defense, where Dre Greenlaw and Fred Warner both went down and spent way too much time on the ground before popping up a play later. And there has to be some lingering injuries, or at least some serious fatigue, not get zero sacks on the anti-mobile Kirk Cousins.
The exasperated look on Nick Bosa’s face after they inexplicably let Cousins muscle a late completion with 3 guys in his face says it all. It’s been a rough couple weeks, but injuries will heal, they’ll eventually get a badly needed bye, and no one will be more dangerous down the stretch.
5. Miami Dolphins
How did I miss Mike McDaniel mic’d up in week 6? The clip came out a week ago and I just saw it today. Come on, YouTube, fix your algorithm. I literally search for his press conferences every few days and you can predict that I might be interested in his Mic’d Up? Get it together.
Tough loss to Philly, but I can’t fault a team too much for losing a game like that. Especially cause they had a real chance before Ohilly busted off what felt like an entire drive of QB sneaks. If anyone can figure out how to stop that play, it Mad Genius McDaniel.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars
Every time I say it’s all coming together for Jacksonville, they throw up a clunker. So I won’t say that. Not because I want them to win and their opponent to lose, but because I like good football.
Josh Allen Sack Watch: 7
Tier III: Winners Who Lose
7. Buffalo Bills
Can anyone explain the Bills to me? Seriously, give it a try. There are no wrong answers, just more confusion.
I hate to say it, but I’m a little concerned they won’t recover from the loss of Matt Milano. Further proof that off-ball linebackers, or what we used to call middle or inside linebackers, are far more valuable than their contract values suggest.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that New England beat the Bills defense with screens to oblivion. With the loss of their defensive QB and other key defensive players, they were powerless to stop it.
Plus Von Miller only played 6 snaps against the Pats and now he’s back on the injury report. Even if Josh Allen is healthy, and that’s questionable as well, it’s tough to win when your defense gives up that many points to a sad Pats offense.
Buffalo still has the horses, but things are extremely shaky. They may be the only team able to compete with the Niners for who most needs a bye week. Unfortunately for Buffalo, they’ve got 5 more games to go before a break, and all that break does is split up a pair of games against the top 2 teams in the league.
8. Detroit Lions
Jared Goff said in interview with Rich Eisen that there’s always something to learn from a game and no one just “throws the tape out.” To that I say, maybe you should.
I can’t see a single thing to pick up from that Ravens beatdown. It got so out of hand so quickly their heads were spinning. It was 28-0 before they had a chance to look at the scoreboard twice.
So maybe change your stance and just bury this one. The sooner it’s gone, the sooner you can push out the doubts that you’re good enough to play with the best in the league.
Believe me, every Lions fan is thinking exactly what all the Lions haters are saying. Got lucky against the Chiefs, beat a bunch of bad teams, then got exposed by the Ravens.
Put those thoughts to bed. Bury the tape, go out and put 40 on the Raiders on Monday night and head into the bye week to get healthy.
9. Dallas Cowboys
I wish the Cowboys could have a bye week, or any week really, where Jerry Jones just sits back and enjoys being a billionaire. Like how hard is that? If I was a billionaire, you wouldn’t hear a peep from me. Sorry, can’t hear you from my yacht.
But Jerry thinks any time is a good time to act like a tough guy negotiator, like last week when he said he isn’t calling anyone about trades; they have to call him.
By the way, anytime someone tells you how tough they are in negotiations but has no way to prove it, they’re full of shit. I once got an extra $700 of value on a trade-in after waiting out the salesman for a few weeks, but at least my wife was there and witnessed the entire thing. I’ll tell that story til the day one of us dies.
At best, this was Jerry posturing in hopes that he could scare other billionaires into screwing themselves over to his benefit. He’s good for a soundbite every once in a while, but what a pointless human being.
10. Cincinnati Bengals
Ideally, the bye week will have given both the Bengals and Seahawks some time to fully digest their ridiculous showing 2 weeks ago. Now Cincy gets to show what they’ve learned against a wounded Niners team.
And while that may sound enticing to Bengals fans, I promise there’s no worse situation right now than facing a determined 49ers d-line coming off a sack goose egg looking to prove something against a stoic pocket passer who historically gets sacked a lot.
If the Joe Burrow getting sacked line was 7, I’d take the over.
Trey Hendrickson Sack Watch: 7
Tier IV: Losers Who Win
11. Seattle Seahawks
Yes, they’re a loser who wins. It’s a term of endearment in my universe. I started the 2022 season with Seattle in the dead last spot. Not only did they prove me wrong then, but they e kept their foot on the pedal to keep making that prediction look worse.
They’ve got a tough matchup this week against whatever the Browns are these days, which could turn into a defensive showdown. Speed against power. Legion of Boom against Dawg Pound.
12. New York Jets
I’m really excited to see the Jets come out of their bye week. Before the stretch schedule gets tougher, they’ve got the Giants, Chargers, and Raiders coming up. There’s no reason they can’t come out of that at least 5-4 before they hit the Bills and Dolphins.
And I have to admit, there’s a petty part of me that wants to see Zach Wilson continue to succeed so Aaron Rodgers tries to come back as the savior at the end of the year and Saleh is like no thanks, we’re good.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I don’t really know how to describe last week’s showing against Atlanta other than like, you guys are better than that, right? Like just tell me if you’re not so I know. No judgment. Okay, mild judgment.
Biggest issue is in the running game, and I really kinda need the Bucs to understand that Rachaad White is an awesome person an probably a great leader, but he’s not it.
Not that he’s getting a ton of room to run, but a key stat used to evaluate running backs is “Expected Yards.” In other words, based on what happens on a play, how many yards should we expect a RB to get. White was really bad in this category last season, and he continues to be bad this year.
Baker Mayfield needs some time to find his receivers, and part of that time is having a RB who can create and force defenses to rally towards him. White is not that guy.
14. Los Angeles Chargers
I don’t even know what to say. At this point, I don’t think there’s much at all to say as long as Brandon Staley is leading this team. He can’t possibly last much longer.
Khalil Mack Sack Watch: 7
15. Houston Texans
For those scoring at home, the Texans just have to beat the 0-6 Panthers to get to 4-3. DeMeco Ryan’s has to be on the Coach of the Year list.
16. Cleveland Browns
This DeShaun Watson thing is getting weirder and weirder, and somehow the Browns are getting better and better. I’ll let Florio run down situation much better than I can. Bottom line is that no one is telling the same story and I’m strangely confident the actual story is something they haven’t disclosed.
In the meantime, P.J. Walker is 2-0 and holding things down until Dorian Thompson-Robinson is ready to ascend, Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt are helping to show just how good the offensive line is, and Myles Garrett is a ridiculous human being.
Myles Garrett Sack Watch: 7.5
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
I don’t have time to look all the way back, but I don’t think the Steelers have ever been outside of 15-25 on my rankings. It’s like they’re always building towards something but it’s never anything too big.
Nice win over the Rams last week gives them a 4-2 record and just a half-game out of the division lead, despite a negative point differential. I can forgive that for a 6-game sample size, but it’s definitely concerning.
T.J. Watt Sack Watch: 8
18. Atlanta Falcons
I don’t think I have to qualify my consistent love for the now division-leading, 4-3 Falcons. But wtaf was that disaster of a somehow win. T
hat was a perfect representation of what pretty much everyone says… even the top of the NFC South is terrible.
Desmond Ridder, who I’ve defended since day 1, came out of that game with no interceptions and a 107.1 passer rating. Do you know why? Because passer rating doesn’t take into account his 3 fumbles.
Do better, Falcons. My dignity as a football writer can’t handle games like this.
19. Los Angeles Rams
With a tough loss at Pittsburgh, Rams are now 3-4 and on the bubble of playoff contention. I realize it’s way too early to talk about playoffs, but they go to Dallas this week and could very well be 3-5 with a couple days to decide whether they can make a run, or start a fire sale.
The trade deadline is Tuesday. The only real trade pieces they’ve got are Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald. Kupp is unlikely to move, and Donald would probably retire before moving to a new city. But don’t be surprised if they’re trying to stack some late round picks to rebuild a depleted roster that went all-in for a ‘ship.
20. New Orleans Saints
Alvin Kamara is as great as ever. Even Michael Thomas looks pretty good. If only they had a $40 million QB to take advantage of their talents. Or at least an exciting rookie with some questionable headshots who got suspended for heaven only knows what he put in his body.
Nope, neither of those. Welp, guess the Saints are wasting away another season of a dominant defense.
21. Minnesota Vikings
I mean, I’m not saying SKOL yet, but maybe skol? That seems fair.
Some offenses need a tight end presence. This one does not. Because every 3 yard completion to Hockenson is a missed opportunity to a big play to Jefferson, Addison, or K.J. Osborn.
Btw, remember when Danielle Hunter was definitely getting traded? 3-4 with a weak Packers opponent coming up tells me Hunter will be playing this year out as he chases the sack record. I’m not kidding.
Danielle Hunter Sack Watch: 9
22. Tennessee Titans
Is it time for Will Levis? Probably not, but it sounds like it’ll happen regardless. I get that there’s a mindset of wanting to get reps to a rookie, but I’m afraid there’s also a sense of throwing a rookie out there to save coaching jobs.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.
23. Indianapolis Colts
Gardner Minshew II is the past, present, and future of Colts football.
Does that sound like an overreaction? Of course it is. So is an owner losing a game and immediately demanding a change to the rules that would’ve prevented his team’s loss.
These owners. My goodness. Sit down and let smarter football people do their jobs.
24. Washington Commanders
Some 3-4 teams look like they could turn things around and make a run. The Commanders are not one of those teams. Ron Rivera had to be on deck when Brandon Staley gets axed.
Tier XXXV: Shame
25. Green Bay Packers
Once again, bizarre defensive calls led to impossible situations for a stacked defense against a floundering offense. I don’t even want to talk about it. On my list, 25th is basically worse than anything below it. Packers should be ashamed of this spot.
Instead of breaking down that disaster of a game, let’s watch former Packers QB Kurt Benkert play Would You Rather while also telling us he probably won’t be coming back to the league cause he’s getting more money playing Madden.
26. Vegas Raiders
Just absolutely curb-stomped by the Bears. The Bears. Number 26 is a gift, because somehow they sometimes show up. And somehow it’s more often than the Bears. So congrats on the back end of the 20s.
27. Chicago Bears
Bagent was really good at handing the ball off last week. Fields would be lucky to net a 3rd round pick right now. The NFL doesn’t actually work like Madden.
Tier X: Overflowing Toilet
28. New England Patriots
Apparently there’s an unwritten rule that I have to move them up after they beat a top 10 team for Bill Belichick’s 300th win. So they got a bump, This is as far as I’ll go for being able to execute a bunch of screens.
29. Denver Broncos
Second-ugliest win of the week, and they barely pulled it off. Is it possible Sean Payton’s success was a symbiotic relationship with Drew Brees? There’s a bigger article about coach-QB symbiosis that I’m absolutely preparing. Stay tuned.
30. New York Giants
31. Arizona Cardinals
Gross. Pretend to try and we’ll talk about it.
32. Carolina Panthers
Point of pride week for Bryce Young. I know these guys like to act like it doesn’t phase them and it’s all about the fans in front of them. Bullshit. Bryce Young mentally circled this game. I expect him to show that.