1. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-0) | Rank of the last week: 1
The Steelers got off to the best start to a season in franchise history when they faced the Ravens in Baltimore on the final Sunday of the game. It was a technical achievement, not a dominant one. But it was enough to keep the Steelers as the only undefeated team in the NFL.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (7-1) | Rank of the last week: 2
It’s not even that surprising anymore when Patrick Mahomes throws 416 yards and five TDs in one game. After all, it was just the jets. Did the Chiefs really have to use that fake boat? That seemed unnecessarily cruel.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2) | Rank of the last week: 4th
4. Seattle Seahawks (6-1) | Rank of the last week: 7
DK Metcalf was a standout player again, this time more for his skills than his ability to chase and catch an opposing defender trying to reach the end zone on an interception. The Seahawks bounced back from their Cardinals defeat by beating the 49ers relatively convincingly on Sunday. It doesn’t get any easier in street games against the Bills and then the Rams before the rematch with the Cardinals.
5. Baltimore Ravens (5-2) | Rank of the last week: 3rd
QB Lamar Jackson’s four turnovers were too much for the Ravens to beat the Steelers. This season doesn’t bring the smooth ride through the regular season that last season provided for Jackson and the Ravens. That may not be so bad considering how last season ended so abruptly with the playoff loss to the Titans. But the end-of-season ankle injury that Ronnie Stanley sustained just two days after signing his major contract extension on Sunday is a huge loss.
6. Arizona Cardinals (5-2) | Rank of the last week: 6
The cardinals return from their parting as honest contenders. There are heightened expectations for coach Kliff Kingsbury and QB Kyler Murray to deal with. It means they are making great strides. But the next steps won’t be easy.
7. New Orleans Saints (5-2) | Rank of the last week: 12
With all the problems with WR Michael Thomas and all the talk that Drew Brees has run out of magic in his right arm, the Saints are 5-2 after Sunday’s victory in Chicago. If they can find a way, Thomas will finally get back on the field to bring, they may still be the contender they expected this season to be.
8. Buffalo Bills (6-2) | Rank of the last week: 13
The Bills’ victory over the Patriots on Sunday felt like a change of guard at AFC East. The Bills are now the team to beat in the Division Race this season and the Dolphins could be their main opponent. The division has changed rapidly in the post-Tom Brady era.
9. Indianapolis Colts (5-2) | Rank of the last week: 9
The Colts took first place relatively quietly with the Titans at AFC South. Your next four games are against the Ravens, Titans (twice) and Packers. It’s a rough stretch.
10. Green Bay Packers (5-2) | Rank of the last week: 5th
To lose to the Vikings at home? Seriously? It might not be time for the Packers and their fans to panic. But it is also not time to be overly relaxed. That was an alarming result.
11. Tennessee Titans (5-2) | Rank of the last week: 8
Losing after a 5-0 start to the Steelers was one thing. But lose to the Bengals? The titans have to regroup a bit.
12. Las Vegas Raiders (4-3) | Rank of the last week: 16
The Raiders made it into Cleveland on Sunday in difficult, windy conditions. You have shown that this is a team that can be very good. What remains is the Raiders to add consistency.
13. Miami Dolphins (4-3) | Rank of the last week: 20
The first NFL start for rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa apparently inspired the defense and specialty teams when the Dolphins scored a goal in the same quarter after a fiddly recovery and punt return. Tagovailoa wasn’t great. But it was a win against a good Rams team. Tagovailoa should get better from here.
14. Los Angeles Rams (5-3) | Rank of the last week: 11
The Rams outperformed the Dolphins in their South Florida loss on Sunday by 471 yards to 145, but were dashed by their mistakes. The NFC West race is too tough to miss such games.
15. Cleveland Browns (5-3) | Rank of the last week: 14
So much for the idea that QB Baker Mayfield and the offensive could be better without the injured WR Odell Beckham Jr. In the windy conditions, not much went right against the Raiders on Sunday.
16. Chicago Bears (5-3) | Rank of the last week: 15
The losses for the Rams and Saints have lowered expectations a bit. But the NFC Nord stays there for the shot if the bears can bring things together.
17. San Francisco 49ers (4-4) | Rank of the last week: 10
QB Jimmy Garoppolo and TE George Kittle were eliminated with injuries during Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks and are expected to miss a significant time. The defending NFC champions can’t take a break and don’t seem to play a role in NFC again.
18. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-1) | Rank of the last week: 19
The Eagles can only be considered a competent team if QB Carson Wentz can stop flipping the ball. Some of the injured players have returned to the line-up and the Eagles are hoping to return to full strength after their bye week.
19. Denver Broncos (3-4) | Rank of the last week: 22
The Broncos found a way to beat the Chargers with the pass disruption in the end zone, followed by the TD pass in the final game and the crucial extra point with no time on the clock. It was a great last ride for young QB Drew Lock and the Broncos season is suddenly promising again.
20. Atlanta Falcons (2-6) | Rank of the last week: 26
The Falcons held on to Carolina on Thursday evening. They’re not exactly known for protecting leads and properly ending games. Maybe that will even out for them in the second half of the season.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (2-5-1) | Rank of the last week: 27
The Bengals are making significant strides in Joe Burrow’s rookie season at QB. The triumph over the Titans underscored this. But it happened before this surprising victory.
22. Minnesota Vikings (2-5) | Rank of the last week: 28
Dalvin Cook was great with the performance of four TDs in the breathtaking win over the Packers at Lambeau Field. Maybe it’s not a lost season after all. But there is still a lot of work to do.
23. Detroit Lions (3-4) | Last week’s ranking: 17th
The Lions weren’t good enough against the Colts. But their schedule for the rest of November is forgiving and they could play meaningful games in December. If so, this would be a significant step forward under coach Matt Patricia.
24. Carolina Panthers (3-5) | Rank of the last week: 21
RB Christian McCaffrey should be ready to come back from his ankle injury after training last week but not play on Thursday night. The Panthers need him back as they lost three straight defeats after three wins.
25. Washington Football Team (2-5) | Rank of the last week: 24
Washington has a chance to be the second best team in NFC East. Consolation prizes are not getting any more modest.
26. Los Angeles Chargers (2-5) | Rank of the last week: 18
Does anyone lose more agonizing than the chargers? The hawks are getting closer. But the chargers seem to lead the league in this unsavory category.
27. New England Patriots (2-5) | Rank of the last week: 23
28. Dallas Cowboys (2-6) | Rank of the last week: 25
Rookie Ben DiNucci wasn’t the answer at QB. Did anyone really expect it? The Cowboys were competitive on Sunday night in Philadelphia. The defense wasn’t terrible for a change. But is there any reason to believe that this team will improve in the second half of the season? Andy Dalton’s return to QB does not create overwhelming confidence.
29. New York Giants (1-7) | Rank of the last week: 29
The Giants made a bold attempt to piss off the Bucs before missing the failed two-point conversion in the final seconds. QB Daniel Jones made some big games during crunch time, but his sales remained a big problem.
30. Houston Texans (1-6) | Rank of the last week: 30
The Texans took a win-now approach with all of the draft picks they traded to the Dolphins last year. Just think how bad it would be if they actually refueled on purpose.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6) | Rank of the last week: 31
Rookie Jake Luton (Oregon State) gets his chance at QB when Gardner Minshew II is out with a thumb injury. It makes sense that coach Doug Marrone would go with Luton over veteran backup Mike Glennon. There is nothing the jaguars can save from this season. It’s all about the future.
32nd New York Jets (0-8) | Rank of the last week: 32
The jets only occupy 32nd place as no lower numbers are available. They kept Le’Veon Bell at seven rushing yards and 31 receiving yards in the Grudge Match subplot of their 26 point loss in Kansas City. Does that count for anything? Not really. But with this team this season, you will take your achievements where you can get them, no matter how overwhelming they may be.