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NFL Power Rankings Week 7: Topsy Turvy Edition

Good teams mostly lost. Bad teams mostly won. Yet another weird week of NFL football.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

Forgive me if you don’t agree with everything you see below. Of the top 16 teams in my power rankings from last week, only 3 came away with victories during the Week 6 games. That makes for a tough time ordering teams and a few teams rising or falling further, or not as far, as they usually might. The Broncos’ loss was easily the most embarrassing, but they were by no means the only strong unit that went home with reason for regrets this week.

Conversely, a lot of bad teams won this week, and then there’s the usual muddled mess in the middle. But the whole thing can’t and won’t invert its order due to a single weird weekend of games.

NFL Power Rankings, Week 7:

1. Philadelphia Eagles

Last Week: 5 (+4)

The took down the Panthers in a tough Thursday night matchup that was probably one of the best games of the season so far. And with the fall of the Packers, the Eagles are the clear frontrunner in the NFC right now. And with KC’s loss, I’ll give them the nod for the top spot this week too.

Philadelphia Eagles v Carolina Panthers Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Last Week: 1 (-1)

As I’ve been pointing out, the Chiefs’ running game is not as invincible as some talking heads would make it seem. The Steelers shut Kareem Hunt down hard, holding him to just 2.33 yards per carry on 9 carries, and holding the Chiefs to just 28 rushing yards total. And they gouged the Chiefs’ defense repeatedly, even if the game was relatively low scoring.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers

Last Week: 9 (+6)

The Steelers jump back up after a down week, in response to knocking off the NFL’s final unbeaten team of 2017. They shut the Chiefs’ run defense down hard, and reliably fed their offensive playmakers on the way to a solid, competitive win. Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown combined for an impressive 346 offensive yards... out of 439 total offensive yards.

4. New England Patriots

Last Week: 6 (+2)

Tom Brady & company are on a 2 win streak, but I don’t think I’d consider either victory all that impressive. Jameis Winston very nearly brought the Bucs back for the win against Belichick’s crew last week, and this week the lowly Jets played tough and held a lead for basically the entire 1st half. The Patriots get a bit of a bump for the win, but it’s more due to the losses by several teams above them than it is to their own play.

5. Los Angeles Rams

Last Week: 6 (+1)

The Rams are feasting on bad to middling teams, but have yet to beat a top team when facing them. And the constantly inconsistent Jaguars certainly aren’t one of the latter. If they keep winning, they’ll keep rising. But if there’s a top 10 team primed for regression to the mean, Los Angeles’s real football team is the likely candidate.

Los Angeles Rams v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

6. Carolina Panthers

Last Week: 8 (+2)

The Panthers get a bit of a rise in ranking, despite losing this week. The Eagles are establishing themselves as the class of the NFC, and the Panthers played them close and tough. I don’t think there are many NFC teams that can be assured of hanging with Carolina. That said, their offensive success is pretty fragile and their ground game has been disappointing.

7. Denver Broncos

Last Week: 2 (-5)

A rookie head coach letting his team fall into a trap game the first time one comes around? That’s understandable, if not ideal. But doing it again, just a few weeks later? While coming off a Bye? That’s concerning. And for the first time there’s some room to really question Vance Joseph. If he’s such a great leader of men, how did he let this team take the field against the Giants so overconfident and under prepared? The same goes for his coordinators and the player leaders on the field and in the locker room.

This game should have been a foregone conclusion by halftime, and it was, but in the wrong direction.

As for Trevor Siemian, he was playing like his injured 2016 self... and that was before he got hurt. Coming off a Bye, healthy (at least initially), and with a noticeably better team around him than last year’s unit, there’s no excuse for that terrible performance.

The Broncos are now facing a trio of extremely tough away games, followed by a home game vs a Patriots team that looks like it might have its issues ironed out by then. It’s a make or break stretch, folks, and unfortunately the Broncos’ offense may have been exposed as a paper tiger. The Broncos, unfortunately, are the recipients of this week’s Dumpster Fire of the Week award.

But if there’s a silver lining, it’s that the Chiefs and Raiders both lost Sunday as well. And that this loss was an inter-conference loss to an NFC opponent, not a divisional or in-conference loss.

8. Atlanta Falcons

Last Week: 4 (-4)

The Falcons just got all-around outplayed by a Dolphins team that, by all accounts, should be significantly inferior. It’s weird, and it sucks for them. Kind of like this next team on the list.

9. Detroit Lions

Last Week: 7 (-2)

If any team flew off the rails harder than the Broncos this week, it’s the Lions. Their defense has quietly been the driving factor behind a lot of their success early this season, but the Saints’ rushing attack eviscerated that defense. Stafford couldn’t do enough to keep up. This team will need to start beating the contenders they face if they want to be considered one themselves.

10. Houston Texans

Last Week: 17 (+7)

I said last week that Deshaun Watson was going to have to direct shootout victories to keep this team in contention in the face of crushing injuries on defense. The Browns, inevitably, couldn’t hold up their end of that bargain. But Watson was up to the challenge, and has now thrown 3 or more TDs in each of the last 3 games. Consistent production like that could take him, and his team, far.

11. Buffalo Bills

Last Week: 12 (+1)

Bye week, but a small bump up due to the Packers’ misfortune.

12. Washington Redskins

Last Week: 16 (+4)

The Redskins get a nice little bump for beating a 49ers team who is better than their record. Kirk Cousins is quietly playing some pretty darn good football for his soon to be former employers.

13. Seattle Seahawks

Last Week: 15 (+1)

Bye week, but Aaron Rodgers’ loss is their gain.

14. Dallas Cowboys

Last Week: 15 (+1)

Bye week. But sympathy for a familiar QB injury won’t keep them from taking a little rise at another NFC power’s expense.

15. Minnesota Vikings

Last Week: 18 (+3)

The Vikings not only beat Green Bay, they hit the Packers right where it hurts. With Rodgers out of the picture, Matthew Stafford and his Lions are the only things between the Vikings and their league’s-weirdest-QB-situation and the NFC North crown. In other news, the injury cart has become the official mode of transportation for any and all quarterbacks who find themselves in proximity to the Vikings.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last Week: 11 (-5)

The Bucs lost a mini shootout to the Cardinals. There’s a pattern forming here, and it tells of a team that needs more seasoning before it can be a contender. The next three games vs the Bills, Panthers, & Saints will finish establishing this unit’s identity, but I don’t anticipate that they’ll be revealed as a playoffs contender.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last Week: 13 (-4)

They beat the Texans and Steelers, but lost to the Titans and Jets. There’s no shame in losing to the 2017 Rams, but in the contest between both conference’s rising teams, the AFC’s Jaguars couldn’t measure up. Inconsistency is typically a sign of inexperience. They need more seasoning, and a new QB to contend.

18. Green Bay Packers

Last Week: 3 (-15)

Definition of defenestration

1:a throwing of a person or thing out of a window. As in: assassination by defenestration

That’s basically what just happened to the Packers. A team already struggling with a plethora of injuries lost its star QB for at least most of the season. To put it simply: Without Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are screwed. Their offensive line is a triage ward, and their defense won’t be able to bear up under the additional pressure of Rodgers’s absence. Brett Hundley suddenly finds himself at the reins of a storied franchise, and is in no way prepared or equipped to succeed.

Green Bay Packers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Maybe I’ll be wrong here. But I just don’t see anything good happening for the Packers this season while Rodgers is out for at least the next two months. By the time he returns, it’ll be too late to salvage anything meaningful.

19. New Orleans Saints

Last Week: 21 (+2)

The shootout may have been directed by Drew Brees, but Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara were the primary trigger men. The Saints are suddenly hot, but winning via shootout isn’t usually sustainable.

20. Miami Dolphins

Last Week: 23 (+3)

Impressive win against the Falcons. I didn’t think Jay Cutler and company had it in them.

21. Tennessee Titans

Last Week: 24 (+3)

A strong win over the Colts, even if it took a while to put them away. If they can get their feet back under them, this Titans team still has a chance to make some noise in a tight packed AFC South division. That said, the Texans and Jaguars are both going to be hard for this team to surpass.

22. Cincinnati Bengals

Last Week: 22 (+0)

Bye week, so no change here.

23. Los Angeles Chargers

Last Week: 26 (+3)

Something we didn’t think we’d be saying a few weeks ago: the Chargers have climbed out of the basement of the AFC West. And they did it by pulling an IT and dragging the Raiders down in there. Good for them. And thanks for keeping the Faiders off our backs in a bad week in Denver.

24. Baltimore Ravens

Last Week: 19 (-5)

They lost a close one to the lowly Bears. This team is just too inconsistent to be counted upon. I called it way back in Week 1: the Ravens just don’t have the right stuff this season.

25. Oakland Raiders

Last Week: 20 (-5)

The commitment to excrement is alive and well, as the preseason AFC West favorites are currently last in the division. Derek Carr coming back as early as possible was supposed to right the ship for them... either the team has lost its mojo, or they brought Carr back too quickly and are endangering his season by playing him. Maybe both. And upcoming games against the Chiefs and Bills arguably look even less winnable.

26. Arizona Cardinals

Last Week: 28 (+2)

Good game by the Cardinals. Peterson had a great game for himself in his debut with the birds. But some of that success smacked of matchup to me, so it’ll be a relatively modest increase for the Cards for now.

27. New York Giants

Last Week: 29 (+2)

Kudos, Giants. Your guys came to play, and ours came unprepared. Way to show some heart. I think your team needed a statement win for pride, but I also think there’s just too much damage already done to recover the season, thus the relatively modest increase. If they can sustain the success, better rankings could be on the horizon.

28. San Francisco 49ers

Last Week: 31 (+3)

Wait. But didn’t they lose? Why’d they jump up?

Yes, the Niners lost... but: As I noted last week, they’re on a string of close losses. It’s now 5 weeks in a row that Kyle Shanahan’s club has lost by 3 points or less, with two of those near misses coming against likely playoff teams in the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins. Two others were decided in overtime. A team that competitive is not the 31st best team in the league. If they keep that up, the Niners could find themselves near the middle of the pack in these rankings, regardless of their W/L record. If they can find a QB this offseason (See: Cousins, Kirk), they’ll be dangerous in 2018.

San Francisco 49ers v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

29. Chicago Bears

Last Week: 30 (+1)

They eked out another close win, but I’m not sure I’m sold. Head Coach John Fox’s seat is surely cooling off a bit with back to back wins, but I still think this team is going nowhere with him at its head. Teams succeed in spite of John Fox, not because of him.

30. Indianapolis Colts

Last Week: 29 (-1)

Jacoby Brissett did all he could, but I think there’s just no saving this Colts team. Andrew Luck will be back soon, and presumably he’ll be as rusty as the civil war muskets from his viral fake twitter account. Hint: He won’t be able to save them either.

31. New York Jets

Last Week: 25 (-6)

This is a rather large drop for a team that just played the Patriots competitively. Part of that was the movement of other teams, and part of it is pure mistrust of the Jets.

But if there’s a redeeming feature of the Jets, it’s that they’ve always played that division rival relatively competitively even when they’ve sucked. Now, that said, their three wins came against the Dolphins, Jaguars, & Bears and their three losses were at the hands of the Bills, Raiders, & Patriots. I’m not sold on this team yet.

32. Cleveland Browns

Last Week: 32 (0)

Water is wet. Fire is hot. The Browns suck.

There are constants by which we measure our lives. It’s good for the soul to know some things never change; that there are limits. Rules. And one of those the Browns, at least this version, are never truly good. They’ve got 2 winning seasons (9-7 and 10-6 in 2002 & 2007 respectively) out of 19 since they resumed play. And that 10-6 season? Yeah, the Browns didn’t make the playoffs that year. They have 4 seasons of 3 wins or fewer during those 19 years of play, not including the current 2017 season.

Water is wet. Fire is hot. The Browns suck.


Which team suffered the worst loss of the week?

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