- New England Patriots (6-0) – Despite the continued struggles on offense, the defense carried the Patriots to another victory, albeit against a Giants offense missing nearly all of its play-makers. The schedule has not been challenging, but the ability for them to take care of business week in and week out keeps them at the top spot. Tom Brady has not been great, but he doesn’t have to as long as the defense plays at this level.
2. San Francisco 49ers (5-0) – If you weren’t convinced that this 49ers team is for real after their throttling of the Browns last week, winning on the road against a desperate Rams team answers any questions. The defense, holding Sean McVay and his offense to 164 yards, continues to dominate. As long as Jimmy Garrapolo can take care of the ball, the 49ers should be able to ride their second-ranked rushing offense and second-ranked defense to continued success.
3. New Orleans Saints (5-1) – The Saints continue to win without Drew Brees, as their defense is back to playing at a high level as they did in 2017. If this team continues to win with Teddy Bridgewater under center, Brees should be able to step back in and make another deep run into the playoffs.
4. Green Bay Packers (5-1) – While Green Bay benefited from a few bad calls on Monday night, pulling out a divisional victory on a night where they were – for the most part -struggling on both sides of the ball is still impressive. The offense has still struggled a bit, but they’ve still managed to do enough to win without Davante Adams, who could be back this week against Oakland.
4. Seattle Seahawks (5-1)– The Seahawks pulled out another tight victory, and with Russell Wilson playing at an MVP level and three straight 100 yard efforts from Chris Carson, the Seattle offense is fifth in the league in yards per game. The defense forced three Baker Mayfield interceptions but must improve to keep pace in the competitive NFC West.
6. Kansas City Chiefs (4-2) – For the first time since 2015, Kansas City has lost back to back home games. The defense continues to hold this team back, giving up over 470 yards to Houston on Sunday. Further, Patrick Mahomes has looked human for the first time in his young career in the past few weeks. Ultimately, with Tyreek Hill back and healthy, the Chiefs should be just fine, but GM Brett Veach must seriously consider adding more talent to that defense.
7. Houston Texans (4-2)– With Deshaun Watson playing at an All-Pro level, Houston pulled off an incredible road victory in Kansas City. Playing this well consistently has been a challenge for this team, especially on defense, but there is no reason they should not finish atop the AFC South once again.
8. Minnesota Vikings (4-2)– After heavy criticism following week 5, the Vikings passing attack has completely turned itself around. While playing the Giants’ and Eagles’ secondaries have certainly helped, it’s been encouraging to see Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen, and Stefon Diggs all have big days the past two weeks. With a high upside passing game to along with the third-ranked rushing offense and a top-five total defense, the Vikings have gotten themselves back on track.
9. Detroit Lions (2-2-1) – The Lions fell to last place in the NFC North standings after a controversial loss to Green Bay on Monday, but they continue to play great football. Their only two losses are last-minute finishes to the Chiefs and the Packers. A couple breaks go their way and this team could be 5-0, as their defense is playing well under Matt Patricia. The loss was huge in terms of implications, but this is the best Detroit has played in the last few seasons.
10. Carolina Panthers (4-2) – After an 0-2 start to the year, Kyle Allen has completely turned around Carolina’s season winning four straight games. He has done enough to go along with an MVP-caliber start to the season from Christian McCaffery, and the defense continued its strong play with seven turnovers created against Tampa Bay.
11. Buffalo Bills (4-1) – The Bills had a bye week, which came at a convenient time as they are dealing with a number of injuries. They should continue their winning ways with a matchup against Miami next week, where they hope to get the offense back on track after recent struggles on that side of the ball.
12. Indianapolis Colts (3-2) – The Colts also had a bye week after their road upset in Kansas City last Sunday night, as they prepare for a huge divisional game against Houston coming up this week. They have been able to ride their run game and strong defense, but Jacoby Brissett and the passing game will need to take the next step to overtake Deshaun Watson and the Texans for the AFC South lead.
13. Los Angeles Rams (3-3) – The Rams have lost three straight games, and there are serious concerns on both sides of the ball. The addition of Jalen Ramsey will certainly help on the defensive side, but Jared Goff and the offensive line must improve in order to keep pace in the NFC West. The roster remains one of the most talented
14. Baltimore Ravens (4-2) – The Ravens beat the Bengals, but they have not looked impressive after a hot start to the season. They squeaked by the Steelers in overtime and won a closer game than most expected vs Cincinnati. Lamar Jackson had his best career game running the ball, but his passing has still been inconsistent. Adding Marcus Peters to an already talented secondary should further strengthen the defense, but to be a serious contender in the AFC the offense as a whole needs to become more efficient.
15. Dallas Cowboys (3-3) – After a hot start to the year, the Cowboys have lost back to back games, this week falling to the 0-4 Jets. They fell into a hole early and could not recover, and there are real concerns about the consistency of this offense.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) – The Eagles defense was torn apart Sunday vs the Vikings, as it may be time for Howie Roseman to finally make a move to improve that secondary, which has been a weakness for what seems like forever. A huge game is approaching this Sunday night as they travel to Dallas for the division lead.
17. Chicago Bears (3-2) – The Bears are coming off a bye week, which came at the right time as they hope to get Mitch Trubisky back this coming week. Even if he returns, there are major concerns about their offense, but the defense should be able to keep them in every game.
18. Oakland Raiders (3-2) – The Raiders entered their bye week with surprising 3-2 record. The defense has been better than expected, and they are finding ways to move the ball on offense, especially behind rookie first-round pick Josh Jacobs. They look towards a difficult test in Green Bay this week, which should be a measuring stick of what this team really is.
19. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-4) – Gardner Minshew dropped another one this week against New Orleans, but Jacksonville was in the game until the end. Minshew had his struggles, but those will happen with a rookie sixth-round pick. It has been encouraging to see him give his team a chance to win any given game, and the defense looks to be getting back into a groove despite not having Jalen Ramsey, something they will have to get used to after shipping him to Los Angeles.
20. Cleveland Browns (2-4) – The Browns let one slip away at home vs Seattle after taking a late lead in the fourth quarter, continuing their disappointing season, considering the expectations. Baker Mayfield struggled again, but Freddie Kitchens is my biggest concern with this team right now. Still, there is enough talent on this team to get things together and make a run with a favorable second-half schedule. For that to happen, they have to get healthy in the secondary and there to needs to be improvement in the pass protection.
21. Denver Broncos (2-4) – Denver won their second straight game behind another fantastic defensive performance. Joe Flacco has done enough to keep his job after an 0-4 start, but the offense as a whole must improve if Denver wants to stay competitive this season.
22. New York Giants (2-4) – The Giants lost their second straight game, but overall there was a lot to be optimistic about after challenging the Patriots for most of the game despite not having Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, or Evan Engram. The defense played much better than the score would indicate, keeping them within striking distance until late in the fourth quarter. With Barkley and Engram hopeful to return this week, Daniel Jones and the Giants look to keep pace in a weak NFC East against Arizona on Sunday.
23. Los Angeles Chargers (2-4) – With high expectations entering the season, the Chargers have been one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this year. Dropping back to back games against the Broncos and the Devlin Hodges-led Steelers indicates where this team is at right now. The defense has been beat up, but the offense has been extremely underwhelming through six games.
24. New York Jets (1-4) – The Jets got their first win of the season in Sam Darnold’s return from mono. The defense was impressive, but the way the offense looked with their starting QB playing gives Jets fans reasons to be more optimistic in Adam Gase. The most important thing for the Jets at this point in the season is for Darnold to continue to develop into a franchise QB, and Sunday was a good start to that.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4) – Devlin Hodges made his first career start Sunday night and led his team to a fairly convincing win over the Chargers. Despite the record, Pittsburgh has been in every game since their week one blowout loss to New England. The passing game will continue to be a huge concern with JuJu Smith-Schuster almost non-existent for the most part this year, but the defense has played better the past few weeks.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) – Tampa Bay continues to be one of the most polarizing teams in the league this year. Their high-powered offense gives them a chance to win any game, but Jameis Winston continues to turn the ball over at an alarming rate, which is hard to overcome with the third-worst scoring defense in the league. The Bucs should be able to stay a competitive week to week, but unless there is major improvement on the defense and in the turnover department this team will continue to be frustrating.
27. Tennessee Titans (2-4) – The Titans benched Marcus Mariota for Ryan Tannehill on Sunday, which should be enough to tell you where this team is at right now. They finished with 0 points, and I don’t expect the offense to see much improvement with Tannehill named the starter for the immediate future. On the bright side, the defense has been solid over the last three weeks and ranks in the top five in scoring defense.
28. Arizona Cardinals (2-3-1) – The Cardinals won their second straight game, and the Kliff Kingsbury offense looks to be getting stronger. Kyler Murray continues to improve, this week throwing for 340 yards and three touchdowns. The fast-paced offense should be enough to stay competitive this season, but the defense – which ranks in the bottom five in both scoring and yards per game – will hold this team back for now.
29. Atlanta Falcons (1-5) – The Falcons have been easily the most disappointing team in the NFL this season, falling to 1-6 after a loss to the Cardinals. The offense had their most impressive outing yet, albeit against a bad Arizona defense, but the defense continues to get torn apart. Dan Quinn, a defensive minded coach, has to be on an extremely hot seat with his defense giving up the second most points per game behind only the Dolphins. There is talent on this team, but clearly things need to change on both sides of the ball.
30. Cincinnati Bengals (0-6) – The Bengals were competitive on the road against a solid Ravens team, but they remain without a win. The offensive line has been abysmal this year, providing no room to run for Joe Mixon and ranking in the bottom five for both sacks allowed and QB hits. The team is clearly lacking talent on both sides of the ball, partly due to injuries, but they have at least been involved in some close games throughout the season.
31. Washington Redskins (1-5) – In a battle between the bottom two teams in the league, the Redskins got their first win of the year over the Dolphins. Terry McLaurin continues to be one of the few bright spots of a lost season, catching another two touchdowns Sunday. It will be interesting to see if and when Dwayne Haskins is named the starter, as there is not much else to monitor in Washington this season.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-5) – After a loss at home to Washington, there is not much else to be said about the Dolphins this season. There is little talent on this roster, and their focus will be on the upcoming draft and developing the young guys they plan on being part of the future.