The Seahawks found some much-needed defense, while Cam Newton and the Patriots dig themselves into a deeper hole.
There are few things that feel less important than NFL Power Rankings today, so here’s what we have to say: If you are reading this and you have not voted today, please stop. This week’s Power Rankings can be your reading material while you’re in line at your local polling place. If you have already voted, then consider this a needed Election Day distraction. If it helps, you can even pretend I ranked the Jets someplace other than 32 to transport yourself to an alternate reality?
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (7–0)
Last week: Win at Baltimore 28–24
Next week: at Dallas
The Steelers established themselves atop the AFC North in a game that, apropos of the teams’ fierce rivalry, came down to the final play—in this case, Minkah Fitzpatrick swatting away Lamar Jackson’s pass at the goal line. The Steelers are 7–0 for the first time since 1978, when the franchise won its third Super Bowl.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (7–1)
Last week: Win vs. New York Jets 35–9
Next week: vs. Carolina
The Chiefs have won games in myriad ways this season, but against the Jets we got to see Patrick Mahomes the gunslinger again. The Chiefs QB passed for more than 400 yards and five TDs, both for the first time this season. The fact that we hadn’t see this kind of typical Mahomes performance until midseason is a reminder of how multi-dimensional Kansas City is.
3. Seattle Seahawks (6–1)
Last week: Win vs. San Francisco 37–27
Next week: at Buffalo
If Bobby Wagner heard your concerns about the Seahawks defense, then he responded—by becoming the team’s pass rush. The All-Pro linebacker racked up 11 tackles, three tackles for a loss and his first two sacks this season to keep Seattle in first place of the competitive NFC West.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6–2)
Last week: Win at New York Giants 25–23
Next week: vs. New Orleans
The Bucs’ MNF win came down to a questionable DPI no-call on the Giants’ failed two-point conversion attempt. They’ll be back on primetime next week for the midseason duel with Drew Brees and the Saints that is everything the NFL schedule-makers hoped it would be: Two HOF QBs, two two-loss teams, first place in the division on the line.
5. Baltimore Ravens (5–2)
Last week: Loss vs. Pittsburgh 28–24
Next week: at Indianapolis
The game came down to the final play but hanging over the Ravens is the fact that Lamar Jackson’s worst performances of the season have come against Baltimore’s best opponents. Jackson threw two interceptions and also fumbled the ball twice inside Pittsburgh’s 10-yard line, but getting their passing game right falls on more than just Jackson.
6. Buffalo Bills (6–2)
Last week: Win vs. New England 24–21
Next week: vs. Seattle
Though this has been an uncharacteristic season for Buffalo’s chief AFC East rival, a win against the Patriots was an affirmatory step needed for this auspicious Bills start. Still, Josh Allen has cooled since his hot start and the Bills have a tough schedule ahead.
7. New Orleans Saints (5–2)
Last week: Win at Chicago 26–23
Next week: at Tampa Bay
The Saints held on for an OT win in the Windy City to set up this week’s division showdown. WR Michael Thomas hasn’t played for New Orleans since the opener, due to a combination of injuries and a one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team, and the thin receiving corps could use a boost.
8. Green Bay Packers (5–2)
Last week: Loss vs. Minnesota 28–22
Next week: at San Francisco
Aaron Rodgers hasn’t stopped issuing jabs about his dearth of offensive targets. But the biggest threat to the Packers’ Super Bowl dreams is the porous Green Bay defense, which allowed Dalvin Cook to almost singlehandedly win the game for the Vikings, amassing more than 200 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns.
9. Arizona Cardinals (5–2)
Last week: Bye
Next week: vs. Miami
The Cardinals were hoping to come out of their bye week atop the NFC West. They’re still in an excellent spot, but they’ll have to keep up the momentum from their pre-bye win vs. Seattle against the upstart Dolphins.
10. Tennessee Titans (5–2)
Last week: Loss at Cincinnati 31–20
Next week: vs. Chicago
The Titans’ inconceivably using the very legitimate scrutiny over their COVID-19 protocol compliance as victory fuel seems to have petered out.
11. Miami Dolphins (4–3)
Last week: Win vs. Los Angeles Rams 28–17
Next week: at Arizona
The Dolphins’ big win against the Rams had more to do with the defense than the debut of Tua Tagovailoa. But either way, Brian Flores has this team headed in a good direction—and perhaps sooner than most expected after last year’s roster tear-down. We can now say that Miami is the Bills’ biggest threat in the AFC East.
12. Indianapolis Colts (5–2)
Last week: Win at Detroit 41–21
Next week: vs. Baltimore
Linebacker Darius Leonard’s big return from his groin injury helped the Colts pull even with the Titans in the AFC South standings. Just in time, because the Colts are entering a schedule gantlet that includes two games against Tennessee in the next month.
13. Los Angeles Rams (5–3)
Last week: Loss at Miami 28–17
Next week: Bye
Sean McVay and the Rams must use their bye week to sort out what’s wrong with their offense. Jared Goff turned over the ball four times, and L.A.’s persistent reliance on the ineffectual empty sets raised questions about the unit’s flexibility.
14. San Francisco 49ers (4–4)
Last week: Loss at Seattle 37–27
Next week: vs. Green Bay
The upcoming NFC Championship Game rematch is not what we anticipated when the schedule came out. The 49ers’ injury woes continue with both QB Jimmy Garoppolo and TE George Kittle both sidelined indefinitely with injuries sustained in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss.
15. Las Vegas Raiders (4–3)
Last week: Win at Cleveland 16–6
Next week: at Los Angeles Chargers
On a very windy day in Cleveland, the Raiders’ ground game led the way in what could end up being a key win in the jockeying for AFC wild-card playoff positions.
16. Chicago Bears (5–3)
Last week: Loss vs. New Orleans 26–23
Next week: at Tennessee
You, me, Troy Aikman, Nick Foles … we are all confounded by this Bears offense.
17. Cleveland Browns (5–3)
Last week: Loss vs. Las Vegas 16–6
Next week: Bye
The bye week comes at a good time for pass rusher Myles Garrett, who entered the game with a sore ankle and said he also injured his knee early in the loss to the Raiders.
18. Carolina Panthers (3–5)
Last week: Loss vs. Atlanta 25–17
Next week: at Kansas City
The Panthers have exceeded expectations this season, but even before Teddy Bridgewater was on the receiving end from an illegal hit by the Falcons’ Charles Harris, their offense struggled to gain traction with Bridgewater under heavy pressure all night.
19. New England Patriots (2–5)
Last week: Loss at Buffalo 24–21
Next week: at New York Jets
This was a better performance by Cam Newton, until the devastating fumble with the Patriots in-range of a game-tying field goal in the game’s final minute. The Patriots still had five division games left entering this past weekend, so we weren’t ready to write them off yet, but this loss to the Bills puts them in a hole that might be too large to emerge from, especially with the flawed roster that frustrated even Tom Brady last season.
20. Minnesota Vikings (2–5)
Last week: Win at Green Bay 28–22
Next week: vs. Detroit
This win was a Dalvin Cook masterpiece. The Vikings RB is the first player to score on each of his team’s first four possessions since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (2-5-1)
Last week: Win vs. Tennessee 31–20
Next week: Bye
The Bengals cruise into their bye week with a statement win for rookie Joe Burrow. They’ve had to play musical chairs on the offensive line due to injuries, but the No. 1 overall pick made the offense work and got out of this win without being sacked.
22. Atlanta Falcons (2–6)
Last week: Win at Carolina 25–17
Next week: vs. Denver
The Falcons have won two out of their three games with interim head coach Raheem Morris at the helm, and were one Todd Gurley brain freeze away from winning all three.
23. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-1)
Last week: Win vs. Dallas 23–9
Next week: Bye
The good news for the Eagles is that they are in first place in the NFC East. The bad news is that Carson Wentz continues to turn the ball over, this week four times, a pair of interceptions and two lost fumbles.
24. Los Angeles Chargers (2–5)
Last week: Loss at Denver 31–30
Next week: vs. Las Vegas
This has been a gutting stretch by any standard for the Chargers, who are the first team in NFL history to surrender a lead of 16 or more points in four straight games. Justin Herbert has been a thrill to watch, but it may be time for Anthony Lynn to consider a defensive coordinator change.
25. Denver Broncos (3–4)
Last week: Win vs. Los Angeles Chargers 31–30
Next week: at Atlanta
Drew Lock appeared to use criticism about his recent play as motivation for his team’s second-half rally, in which the Broncos scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, including a literal last-second game-winning TD.
26. Detroit Lions (3–4)
Last week: Loss vs. Indianapolis 41–21
Next week: at Minnesota
The fact that a win against the Colts would have pushed the Lions over .500 for the first time in the Matt Patricia era is damning. So, too were the results: The Lions yielding 41 points to the Colts in their seventh straight loss at home. Lions ownership billed this as a judgment year for Patricia and GM Bob Quinn, and games like this certainly make reaching that judgment easier.
27. New York Giants (1–7)
Last week: Loss vs. Tampa Bay 25–23
Next week: at Washington
The Giants delivered their best performance of the season against one of the top teams in their conference. But QB Daniel Jones still hasn’t shaken the turnover bug, throwing two INTs on plays where he could have easily thrown the ball away.
28. Washington Football Team (2–5)
Last week: Bye
Next week: vs. New York Giants
Winning the NFL’s worst division is still very much in reach for Washington. The team’s only division loss so far is to the Giants last month, but they’ll have another crack at them this week.
29. Houston Texans (1–6)
Last week: Bye
Next week: at Jacksonville
The Texans could still be players before today’s trade deadline (Will Fuller?), selling on what has quickly become a lost season. The team’s dearth of draft capital will be an impediment to whatever rebuilding the next regime will undertake.
30. Dallas Cowboys (2–6)
Last week: Loss at Philadelphia 23–9
Next week: vs. Pittsburgh
Suddenly starting for the Cowboys was too tall of a task for seventh-round rookie Ben DiNucci, and with teams free to key in on the running game, Ezekiel Elliott hasn’t had much room to run. A surprising bright spot for Dallas, though, was the play of its defense.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1–6)
Last week: Bye
Next week: vs. Houston
The Jags had been mulling a QB change due to Gardner Minshew’s inconsistent play, but that decision appears to have been made for them. Minshew will reportedly miss this week’s game due to injuries in his throwing hand discovered after the team’s Week 7 loss to the Chargers, with either veteran Mike Glennon or rookie Jake Luton replacing him.
32. New York Jets (0–8)
Last week: Loss at Kansas City 35–9
Next week: vs. New England
Things are dark in Florham Park. “I’m doing this job to win, not to go out and get my face stomped in,” Adam Gase said after another listless performance. But the Jets are 0–8 for second time in franchise history, and a winless season seems plausible.
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