Tier I – Still October Super Bowl
1. Philadelphia Eagles
Turnovers. They cause so many and commit so few. In 6 games, they have a +12 turnover differential… the next best team is +4. There are so many indicators of success we can point to for any team, any year, but turnover differential is almost always a constant of high win totals. Despite not being great at holding down point totals, their defense has created a league-leading 14 turnovers. Bend but don’t break and eventually create a mistake. Hurts takes care of the ball throwing and running. Offensive skill players don’t fumble. I can’t say enough about how impressed I am with this team. Bye week means they’ll get to hold this top spot until after their break.
2. Buffalo Bills
Should Jordan Poyer be required to drive to every game until they lose? I was a little concerned when Allen left Mahomes over a minute with only a 4 point lead, but Buffalo’s defense came through in impressive fashion. Allen looks like he can do whatever he wants out there, and Von Miller just doesn’t age.
Tier II – Serious Gamers Only
3. Kansas City Chiefs
They took Buffalo to the edge, but came up just short, which means they come up just short to them here. There’s talk of attempts to sign Odell, but I think they just need to focus more on JuJu Smith-Schuster. And not just for my fantasy team. But also for my fantasy team.
4. Dallas Cowboys
Standing O for Cooper Rush. 4-1 as a backup is more than anyone could ask. His last two games, however, showed his limitations. And they still managed to win one of them. I still think Pollard needs more touches, but Zeke actually looks good. It feels weird to have two teams in a row go up in rankings after a loss, but they also lost to the best teams in the league. Getting Dak back with the rest of the team humming makes this spot justified, as long as Dak doesn’t play boring.
5. Los Angeles Chargers
Enough with the dink and dunk! A few weeks ago, we watched a QB with torn rib cartilage throw a 40 yard frozen rope. Now he’s healthy and running designed throws that barely pass the line of scrimmage? Joe Lombardi needs to get it together and Herbert needs to let it fly. That last critical throw to Mike Williams felt so labored. It doesn’t help that they’re still trying to fill a gaping hole at left tackle until Rashawn Slater gets back, which may not be until the playoffs. However, they should have Keenan Allen back soon and Joey Bosa in a few weeks.
6. Minnesota Vikings
I didn’t get to watch their game, but I found it interesting that they struggled to move the ball early, then suddenly took off once they got Jefferson involved. He’s the key to this offense and they have to know it by now. They have enough other weapons that no defense can focus on him only, so Cousins should focus on him only.
Tier III – AFC North Delegation
7. Cincinnati Bengals
The AFC North is really up for grabs and Cincy and Baltimore are much better than the Browns and Steelers. But they need to create some distance with Cleveland before Watson gets his shot later this year. Bengals finally started getting Chase more involved and Burrow seems to be settling in. They barely snuck by New Orleans and now they get the underrated Falcons.
8. Baltimore Ravens
I realize this is a big drop and they lost to a supposedly good team, but they played like crap and I’m hesitant about how good the Giants are. Lamar has been confusing these past few games. They’ve got 3 tough games coming up, starting with a must-win Cleveland game. This might be as early as I’ve ever called a game “must-win,” but Watson is back in the Cleveland building, and Baltimore has a chance to really knock them almost out with a win this week.
Tier IV – New Jersey Delegation
9. New York Giants
I feel like I’m not allowed to keep a 5-1 team out of the top 10. And it’s not like they’re beating bad teams… they just beat the Packers and Ravens in a row. Now they get 4 straight winnable games against the teams I have ranked 24, 22, 31, and 29, respectively. They’ve gotta come out of that with at least 3 wins for me to believe their success isn’t some weird blip. In any case, Daboll is the early frontrunner for Coach of the Year.
10. New York Jets
But right on Daboll’s tail is Robert Saleh. How about these J-E-T-S? While the Giants barely snuck by the Packers in London, the Jets planted their flag on Lambeau Field. Which is really hard to do cause the ground is already getting cold around here. As hesitant as I am that the Giants aren’t as real as their record, I’m that confident the Jets are. They have legitimate and visible young stars getting better every game. Quinnen Williams is busting out from obscurity. Even their patchwork offensive line looks good. And Sauce looks like an absolutely dominant shutdown corner. This is a playoff team.
Tier V – Injuries and Shattered Dreams
11. San Francisco 49ers
This feels high after an embarrassing loss to Atlanta, but Atlanta is better than people think and the 49ers injury list is long and star-studded. Nick Bosa and Trent Williams practiced today, and that’s two guys who are among the best in the league at their respective positions. With them back healthy, SF could easily jump right back into the top 10.
12. Green Bay Packers
Lots of identity problems going on in Green Bay. I’m also just tired of Rodgers interviews. He tries to sound so smart and manipulate media stories, and I don’t really understand why. He’s like the physical embodiment of a Facebook post telling you to share this post so Facebook can’t steal your face or whatever. There’s no reason, and someone is out there giggling about it just because. That’s how I picture Aaron Rodgers after an interview where he says vague garbage. If he talks like this to his receivers, no wonder they always look so lost. Dude, simplify yourself.
13. Miami Dolphins
It’s been a tough 3 game losing stretch with backup QBs against good teams, but now they get Tua back and an absurdly easy schedule coming up. Time to see what they’re really made of. If Tua stays healthy and barring any other major injuries, there’s no reason they can’t be 8-3 going into December.
Tier VI – Someone Tell the QB the Season Started
14. Atlanta Falcons
I’ve already mentioned them twice, so it shouldn’t be a surprise I have them this high. They beat a good 49ers team. They now have the Bengals and Chargers over the next 3 weeks, but the rest of October and November is the Bears, Commanders, and the Panthers twice. Some version of 4-2 could have them leading the wide open NFC South.
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Did I not say Tom Brady looks bored? Ryan Fitzpatrick just said in an interview that he looks “disinterested.” Sounds about the same to me. I feel like Gronk firmly closed the door and now Brady is really regretting this decision. They’ve got a tough schedule the rest of the way, and I could see a scenario where they’re out of the playoff hunt early.
16. Indianapolis Colts
I don’t get this team. It’s one thing to have ups and downs, but these are some major swings. The good version is a playoff team. The problem is if the good version gets them to the playoffs out of the worst division in football and the bad version shows up for Wildcard Weekend. They won’t be able to field goal their way to an ugly win in January.
17. Tennessee Titans
Their tough, tough schedule the rest of the way is only palatable cause they also get to play their cupcake division. But they need to win every divisional game, starting this week against the Colts. Tannehill looks not terrible. Henry is getting way too many carries for early in the year. I don’t know how he can sustain this load all year and potentially into the playoffs, especially considering his past overuse.
Tier VII – Missing Identity
18. New England Patriots
Now that the Cowboys no longer have a QB controversy, it’s time to talk about Bailey Zappe! They’ve won the last two games with good defense (Judon is so good), but also by putting up a combined 67 points. And those points came from Zappe throwing 497 yards, 3 TDs and only 1 pick. The Brady comparisons are a bit early, but this is and should be a legit QB controversy and Zappe should get every opportunity to show if he’s for real.
19. Los Angeles Rams
They put together a mediocre win against one of the worst teams. Stafford still looks shaky and the running game is non-existent. Their schedule isn’t getting easier, so those things better come together soon. The defense really misses Von Miller. On the bright side, they took advantage of a weak opponent to force more involvement for Allen Robinson, which was smart. Stafford and the run game can only get better by utilizing all the talent in their receiver group.
20. Cleveland Browns
They have a great opportunity to stay in the division race until Watson’s suspension is up. But they can’t be getting walloped by teams like the Pats if they want to stay in it. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt combined for 16 carries in that game, and Hunt was only targeted once in the passing game… that can’t happen. At some point, one of Baltimore or Cincinnati will figure things out and take off. And oh look, those are their next two opponents. They HAVE to win every winnable game and steal a few along the way, otherwise it may not even make sense for Watson to suit up.
Tier VIII – Could Burst At Any Time
21. New Orleans Saints
New Orleans leads a group of teams in unique territory. They have so many pieces to go along with a few questionable pieces, but if those questionable pieces put it together, they could go on a run. The defense is good if the offense can produce. And they have a lot of skill position talent on offense, but without a general under center, they’ll never be able to consistently put up points. Taysom Hill is a unique talent that makes them dangerous every week. He has 267 rushing yards and 5 TDs rushing while averaging over 10 yards per carry.
22. Seattle Seahawks
Can Geno cook? Much better than Russ so far this year. More importantly, he makes very few mistakes and hasn’t thrown an interception since September. Even though they lost Rashaad Penny, I’ve been excited to see Kenneth Walker III, and he definitely hasn’t disappointed. They’re 3-3 in a shaky division, so anything could happen here.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers
I don’t get why they would go back to Pickett. He needs more time to sit and learn, and he’s coming off a concussion. Sure, he could pass concussion protocol, but even if he does, why risk it? We all saw what happened to Tua. Trubisky can win games for them right now. In other news, Najee Harris is averaging 3.2 ypc, and Jaylen Warren only got 2 carries last week. Why? I would usually know better than to question a Mike Tomlin-led team, but I don’t get some of these decisions.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars
With youth comes inconsistency. I still like their trajectory. The running game looks great and Trevor Lawrence seems to have more ups than downs. Maybe it’s a year too early to talk about playoffs, but they’re in range and have the talent to go on a run.
Tier XXV – Washington Commanders
25. Washington Commanders
I was concerned last week that they would blow the Bears out and I would be forced to move them up, or they would lose to the Bears and I would be forced to move them down. Nope, in true 25th fashion, they beat a bad team and looked horrible doing it. They need to take advantage of a struggling Packers team this week, and with Wentz hurt, they get to do so with Taylor Heinicke. Who I love. Honestly, this could be the best thing for them. I reserve the right to move them up if Heinicke starts dealing, and especially if they stick with Heinicke once Wentz is cleared to play.
Tier X – So Much Wasted Talent
26. Las Vegas Raiders
No team has ever been more in need of a bye week. Now they get to play the worst team in the league at home with fresh legs. This could be a leaping off point, so keep an eye on the Raiders going forward.
27. Arizona Cardinals
Kyler looks bad, but he gets DeAndre Hopkins back tonight. If that doesn’t get them going, nothing will. They best not underestimate New Orleans.
28. Denver Broncos
I know Russ thinks he can come back, but this would be a good week to let him sit and watch a game while seeing what you have in Mark Rypien’s nephew. Also, while I understand using less of Melvin Gordon, I don’t understand not telling him why. He’s had fumbling issues, but he started the game and hadn’t yet fumbled when he was benched. Hackett has a lot to learn as a head coach. He was also 200% sure Rodgers would follow him. That number will continue to go up every time he’s standing on the sideline looking like he’s not getting what he thought he signed up for.
29. Detroit Lions
They seemed like such a fun team with a great narrative and high-scoring offense, up until they got beat 29-goose to the Pats 3rd string QB. Hopefully their bye week fixed some things, because Jamaal Williams is the best person in the NFL and he deserves better.
30. Chicago Bears
Keep running, Justin! Was anyone else screaming that at the TV on that last drive? The moment I saw him go out of bounds, I knew it was over. No way they would score, because they were determined to throw it in for some reason and their receivers are terrible. Even when Fields threw a perfect pass, Mooney dropped it. He’s a half-second away from doing a lot of great things, and that may come with time if they give it to him.
Tier XI – The Toilet
31. Houston Texans
They obviously didn’t earn a move up one spot, but they were on a bye and Carolina looked horrible. At the moment, Davis Mills beats P.J. Walker.
32. Carolina Panthers
McCaffrey somehow hasn’t been hurt all year, but he might as well be. They might pick up some wins when Baker is 100%, but right now they don’t seem to have a chance in any game. Side note: Baker practiced this week, two weeks after a high ankle sprain, but interim coach Steve Wilks already announced he wouldn’t be playing. Good for Wilks. Baker needs to stop trying to tough things out when he’s not healthy. That’s what screwed everything up for him in Cleveland. If Baker is part of their future, he needs to learn to take care of himself and quit with the grit.