There’s a lot of minor shuffling in the Week 7 NFL power rankings, but the Packers suffer a big drop out of the top three.
1. Seattle Seahawks (5-0) | Last week: 1
The Seahawks rank No. 1 as they come off the bye, but the schedule will be a real test: at Arizona, vs. San Francisco, at Buffalo, at the Rams, and vs. Arizona takes them through Thanksgiving. It’ll help if they can get star safety Jamal Adams back in the lineup soon.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (5-1) | Last week: 2
The signing of former All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell was essentially an embarrassment-of-riches move for the Chiefs, who already feature impressive rookie runner Clyde Edwards-Helaire. With the way the offensive line moved the Bills around and created rushing lanes, Kansas City—which has also played stout defense for the most part dating back to late last season—is showing they can beat you in a number of ways.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-0) | Last week: 4 (+1)
Especially with Baker Mayfield banged up and the Steelers gearing up to get after him and hit him often, the dominant effort by Pittsburgh was one of the least surprising outcomes from last week. The defensive struggles from the Steelers a couple of weeks ago appear to be a momentary lapse—this is a top-tier unit that should keep them in every game while complementing a strong, balanced offense. But the loss of inside linebacker Devin Bush (torn ACL) for the season is a difficult blow to the team.
4. Tennessee Titans (5-0) | Last week: 5 (+1)
Ryan Tannehill continues to play at an MVP-caliber level, but as I’ve said for a while now, Derrick Henry is probably the most valuable non-quarterback offensive player in the league—don’t let the anti-running-back narratives fool you. Henry consistently wears down defenses to open up devastating play-action passes to A.J. Brown and company, and the monstrous running back breaks chunk runs when he gets a crease late in games. This Sunday’s matchup between the Steelers and Titans should be very fun.
5. Baltimore Ravens (5-1) | Last week: 7 (+2)
It felt like the Ravens may have gotten lax after getting a big lead on the Eagles, and they nearly gave it up late before making a two-point conversion stop to prevent Philadelphia from tying the game late in the fourth quarter. While Lamar Jackson broke another long touchdown run, Baltimore’s offense simply hasn’t clicked completely to this point, so we’ll see if the bye week can help them figure things out.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2) | Last week: 8 (+2)
Many have been behind on this, but it’s good to hear Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles finally getting a lot of credit as one of the league’s top coaches with the way the Tampa Bay defense is playing. The emerging defense was a key reason the Bucs were my preseason Super Bowl pick, and they completely shut down a Packers team that lit it up in the first quarter of the season. Ronald Jones is the only player in the league with three consecutive 100-yard rushing games this season, so the Bucs have been able to lean on that; look for the passing game to start clicking more with a healthy Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski looking good.
7. Buffalo Bills (4-2) | Last week: 6 (-1)
The Bills were thoroughly outplayed by the Chiefs on Monday evening, so to even have the score be relatively close and have a realistic chance to win the game in the end is a positive sign in my opinion. Perhaps it’s been due to playing at strange times because of COVID-19’s impact on the schedule, but Buffalo has simply felt off on both sides of the ball the past two weeks. They should be able to get things right this Sunday versus the Jets.
8. Green Bay Packers (4-1) | Last week: 3 (-5)
The best win of the season for the Packers through the first four games was probably the victory against the Saints, but New Orleans hasn’t been outstanding thus far. As much as Green Bay lit it up to begin the year, they may have been overrated slightly based on who they played. It was just one loss this season, but the Packers also struggled against some stingy defenses in 2019, and Aaron Rodgers needs to do a better job of shaking off any slow starts in the future after it looked like he got too disappointed and frustrated with early interceptions at Tampa Bay.
9. Las Vegas Raiders (3-2) | Last week: 11 (+2)
The Raiders had off last week, and I’m intrigued to see how they fare against the Bucs this Sunday night. No fans in Allegiant Stadium lessens the hype a bit, but this was one of the top games circled on my calendar when the NFL schedule was released. With Marcus Mariota officially back, look for Derek Carr to remain sharp knowing that he must continue to play well with perhaps the league’s top backup quarterback behind him.
10. Chicago Bears (5-1) | Last week: 12 (+2)
They might not be lighting it up offensively, but the Bears continue to win games and are in an excellent spot at 5-1. Nick Foles has occasionally forced some balls this season, but he’s gotten limited action with his new team, so I anticipate he’ll cut down on the mistakes as he gets more experience in Matt Nagy’s offense. If Chicago can beat the Rams this Monday night and get to 6-1, they might shoot up the power rankings higher into the top ten while also gaining more respect from doubters.
11. Los Angeles Rams (4-2) | Last week: 9 (-2)
I have to note, it was pretty funny to hear NBC constantly talk up Aaron Donald for him to make no noticeable impact for the Rams in their loss to the Niners. Donald is obviously one of the league’s top players, but to hear some talk like he’s the no-doubt best player in the NFL is mind-blowing—there are games, even when he’s not being consistently doubled, where Donald is very quiet; but you wouldn’t know that with the way Cris Collinsworth talked about him. Donald will have another shot in primetime this Monday night, and he’ll need to make an impact with the offense having another difficult task dealing with Chicago’s defense.
12. New England Patriots (2-3) | Last week: 10 (-2)
Bill Belichick might not come out and say it plainly, but you could tell the lack of practice time due to COVID-19 has impacted the Patriots’ play, particularly on offense. Turnovers and falling behind is not the formula to success for any team, but New England in particular hasn’t clicked enough in the passing game to get into a hole. We’ll see if New England can run the ball effectively this Sunday against the Niners.
13. New Orleans Saints (3-2) | Last week: 13
Following the bye, the Saints figure to get All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas back in the lineup after he missed the previous four games with an ankle injury, but hopefully for the sake of the team there’s no drama during practice after Thomas got into it with his defensive teammates a couple of weeks ago, leading to his team-imposed suspension. And the Panthers have done well against top receivers this year, so that’ll be something to watch this weekend when the NFC South foes face off.
14. Indianapolis Colts (4-2) | Last week: 15 (+1)
A 21-point comeback might not have been how Frank Reich drew it up against the Bengals, but he’ll take it with his team now 4-2 heading into their bye week. The comeback could be a momentum- and confidence-builder for Philip Rivers in Indy, and hopefully the Colts are able to get defensive leader Darius Leonard and others back in the lineup when they return to action in a couple of weeks.
15. Arizona Cardinals (4-2) | Last week: 17 (+2)
Quite honestly, it’s difficult to judge an offense that faces a Cowboys defense that has been playing very poorly this season, but it was nice for the Cardinals to get running back Kenyan Drake going after his superb end to last season. Arizona didn’t complete a bunch of passes versus Dallas, but Kyler Murray made some of his completions count, including a deep touchdown throw to Christian Kirk. On defense, the secondary led by Budda Baker has been a difference-making group, and Haason Reddick stepped up in the first game without Chandler Jones.
16. San Francisco 49ers (3-3) | Last week: 18 (+2)
While the Rams just missed on a few plays that could have changed the game, San Francisco’s defense looked much better on Sunday night—and the play of Jimmy Garoppolo, who looked healthier, was perhaps an even better sign. I’m surprised Jimmy G’s return to New England isn’t being talked about much, at least not yet from what I’ve heard; but the matchup is an ideal late-afternoon headliner.
17. Cleveland Browns (4-2) | Last week: 14 (-3)
Are the Browns tough to gauge or what? Maybe not, as—while they do have an impressive home win over the Colts—they have beaten the Bengals, Washington Football Team, and Cowboys in their three other wins while getting demolished by the two teams they need to topple in the AFC North. I recently gave Odell Beckham Jr. props for seemingly being well behaved, but we’ve learned that only lasts so long and while things are going well. Let’s see how Cleveland responds this Sunday at Cincinnati.
18. Carolina Panthers (3-3) | Last week: 16 (-2)
Teddy Bridgewater did not play well last Sunday against the Bears, as he was surprisingly inaccurate and missed a couple of critical throws in the Week 6 loss. Also, Mike Davis has played extremely well in place of Christian McCaffrey, but he lost a fumble in the close loss to Chicago. McCaffrey looks like he’ll be out at least one more week, and the Panthers would be in a solid position if they can upset the Saints this Sunday ahead of a Thursday nighter versus Atlanta.
19. Miami Dolphins (3-3) | Last week: 21 (+2)
Obviously, it was a matter of when not if Tua Tagovailoa would take over for the Dolphins, but I thought there was a chance it wouldn’t even happened this season if the team was competitive and Ryan Fitzpatrick played well. So it was a bit of a stunner that Miami decided to make the move to Tua while at 3-3 and right in the AFC East mix. The Dolphins simply feel that Tagovailoa is ready and can potentially take the team to the next level, and it only would have been a matter of time before people clamored for him with the way fellow rookies Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert have played. The decision comes at Miami’s bye week, giving Tua extra time to prepare for his first career start.
20. Denver Broncos (2-3) | Last week: 28 (+8)
The Broncos make the biggest leap in this week’s power rankings, as they got back a healthy Drew Lock and upset the Patriots in Foxboro. The stats weren’t amazing in a defensive battle, but Lock was very impressive and made his usual spectacular throws in the victory. Lock’s playmaking paired with a tough Vic Fangio defense should keep the Broncos competitive. Denver will hopefully also get tight end Noah Fant back in the lineup this Sunday against the Chiefs—with snow in the forecast.
21. Philadelphia Eagles (1-4-1) | Last week: 19 (-2)
The starts have been slow and you can argue that opposing defenses haven’t been sharp after building huge leads over the Eagles, but Carson Wentz appears to be playing better than he did earlier this season. Philadelphia is now down Miles Sanders (knee) and Zach Ertz (ankle), so Doug Pederson and company will be relying on more backups to step up on a short week tomorrow against the Giants. Bringing in older players like DeSean Jackson doesn’t help, but the Eagles must change something with the way they have been unable to stay healthy over the past handful of years—they were probably the healthiest team in the league under their previous regime led by Chip Kelly and his sports science program.
22. Dallas Cowboys (2-4) | Last week: 20 (-2)
In their first game without Dak Prescott this season, the Cowboys needed players like Ezekiel Elliott to step up and carry a heavier load—but the opposite happened, with Zeke losing two more fumbles early versus the Cardinals. From there, the Cowboys just couldn’t get anything going in the Monday night loss, and some players anonymously criticizing the coaching staff is a terrible look. The defense has looked awful, but I personally feel players should take a responsibility to play hard no matter how bad you think your coaches are.
23. Atlanta Falcons (1-5) | Last week: 26 (+3)
The Falcons get a three-spot bump in the power rankings after getting their first win of the season. Julio Jones returned to the lineup and lit up the Vikings secondary along with NFC Offensive Player of the Week Matt Ryan, and you could see Atlanta had a different mindset in how they wanted to finish the game under interim coach Raheem Morris. Again, the schedule leaves an opening to make some noise on paper, and the Falcons shouldn’t be entirely counted out yet with an extra postseason team added in each conference.
24. Detroit Lions (2-3) | Last week: 25 (+1)
Step one was a success for the Lions, as they handled the Jaguars to get within one game of .500 off the bye. Now, the Lions will look to make it two consecutive wins to get to 3-3 before the calendar turns to November. Rookie running back D’Andre Swift flashed his dynamic ability in Week 6, and Detroit has plenty of playmakers to keep up in potential shootouts, which may be necessary this weekend in Atlanta.
25. Los Angeles Chargers (1-4) | Last week: 24 (-1)
Hopefully the bye week gave Keenan Allen (back) time to get to full strength, but Justin Herbert is playing like he’ll deal the ball with major success to whoever is at receiver for the Chargers. I’d like to see Joshua Kelley get going with a heavy workload this Sunday against a struggling Jaguars defense.
26. Houston Texans (1-5) | Last week: 23 (-3)
1-5 is a tough hole, but the Texans showed fight in their overtime loss to the Texans. Houston has simply been unable to stop Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown, and things probably won’t get easier this week when they take on a Packers offense that’ll be looking to explode after getting shut down last week. Green Bay also figures to present some challenges for Deshaun Watson and the Texans offense.
27. Minnesota Vikings (1-5) | Last week: 22 (-5)
With shuffling in the secondary from the offseason and Dalvin Cook out with a groin injury, Kirk Cousins was supposed to be the constant reliability the Vikings could lean on as their high-priced franchise quarterback. But Cousins has struggled to take care of the ball this season, and he admitted that he won’t be playing for long if he keeps turning the ball over. The bye week will hopefully allow Cousins and Minnesota to reset with a healthy Cook back for the start of November.
28. Cincinnati Bengals (1-4-1) | Last week: 29 (+1)
The Bengals are coming off a two-win season from last year, so this is a team that needs to figure out how to finish and win games as a group. Cincinnati has mostly been competitive and close—and the play of Joe Burrow has helped—but it’d be good to see them get a divisional win versus a beatable Browns team. Cleveland ran all over Cincinnati in their first matchup last month, so the Bengals might try to force Baker Mayfield to do more this time around.
29. New York Giants (1-5) | Last week: 30 (+1)
Joe Judge was able to get his first win as a head coach against Washington, and the Giants are suddenly just one game back in the NFC East with a battle in Philadelphia coming up tomorrow night. The defense has had a couple of poor outings, but they’ve played pretty tough for the most part overall through six weeks. If the Giants can get Sterling Shepard back in the lineup, it’ll be a boost for Daniel Jones and the offense.
30. Washington Football Team (1-5) | Last week: 27 (-3)
Ron Rivera lived up to his nickname by going for the win last week against the Giants, and it just didn’t work out. Despite the loss and a 1-5 start, Washington has a chance to potentially bring all the NFC East teams to two wins at best after Week 7 if they can top Dallas this Sunday.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5) | Last week: 31
The Week 1 victory for the Jaguars feels like a distant memory, and five consecutive losses is a bad sign, but two straight losses by 16+ points is an indication of where they are in 2020. Perhaps Jacksonville can make Justin Herbert look more like a rookie this week, but it’ll be an uphill battle.
32. New York Jets (0-6) | Last week: 32
Coming off a shutout loss and the release of Le’Veon Bell last week, the Jets need some type of identity moving forward as they look to right the ship. I like the way Gregg Williams defenses play hard, but he probably shouldn’t have passive aggressively criticized the offense while talking about his defense giving up points—that won’t help the team win games.