NFL Power Rankings: Can surging Ravens pass Patriots in AFC?
The Ravens beat the Patriots yet are still looking up at them after another eye-popping win while the Patriots were raking leaves on Sunday. That’s correct. Because the team the Ravens beat to get to 7-2 hasn’t beaten anyone yet and is coached by President Zachary Taylor, member of the Whig Party who died of stomach disease in 1850.
So I don’t care that Lamar Jackson ran through Cincy on Sunday or that he took a flamethrower to the Dolphins in Week 1 when they were barely an NFL team. It’s the whole résumé people!! I do care that Baltimore is on fire right now and the Ravens very much have my attention. VERY MUCH!
The Chiefs, Colts and Bills all lost so there’s some movement going on in the rankings.
16. Cincinnati Bengals
They lost by 36 to Baltimore. At home. I have to admit, I love the losing. No NFL season is complete without some team going deep without a win to make it compellingly sad.
(Last three rankings: 16, 16, 16)
15. New York Jets
Got themselves to 2-7 with a win over the equally putrid Giants. Is that good? Winning a game? Yes. But no sooner is the game over than Dummy Darnold is talking about the playoffs if they win out. Baby steps. OK?
(Last three rankings: 11, 14, 15)
14. Miami Dolphins
They’ve won two straight and have been right there in each of their past five games. I can’t wait to see what happens when they host the Browns in two weeks (am I the only one I America that feels that way?).
(Last three rankings: 15, 15, 14)
13. Jacksonville Jaguars
They’ve won four games but have a strength of victory of just .270. Coming off their bye they have the Colts and Titans. I might be tempted to have them go shooting up the rankings if Nick Foles gives them a turbo boost but right now, don’t trust.
(Last three rankings: 8, 9, 11)
12. Cleveland Browns
They won for the first time in five games, 19-16 over the Bills. It wasn’t a handsome affair. The Browns are 3-6 and play two of their next three against the Steelers.
(Last three rankings: 9, 10, 13)
11. Denver Broncos
You like money? Want some free money? Take the Broncos at Minnesota this Sunday. You know Kirk Cousins can’t stand all this prosperity and Vic Fangio has that NFC North résumé he can use to undress Kirky. Denver (3-6) has four of five on the road and isn’t going to make much noise after this but will be a pain in the ass.
(Last three rankings: 12, 12, 10)
10. Tennessee Titans
Tennessee gets to the bye at 5-5 and has won three out of four with the lone loss a hard-fought game at Carolina last week. There’s no denying Mike Vrabel pulled the ripcord on Marcus Mariota at the right time. But can Ryan Tannehill land this plane in the playoffs?
(Last three rankings: 9, 10, 12)
9. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers have won five out of six and their lone loss was in OT against the Ravens. They also have an easy schedule coming up (at least based on record) with only a Week 17 game against the Ravens as a matchup with a playoff-bound opponent.
(Last three rankings: 14, 13, 9)
8. Buffalo Bills
They’ve lost two out of three and the only win was over Washington. Everyone beats them. Now at 6-3, they are entering an interesting part of their schedule — at Miami, Dallas, Pittsburgh and New England and home against Denver and Baltimore. They got run all over for the fourth straight game.
(Last three rankings: 6, 7, 7)
7. Indianapolis Colts
So now they’re 5-4 and that meat-and-potatoes win over the Chiefs seems like last decade. They barely beat Denver with Jacoby Brissett and have now lost two straight with Brian Hoyer at the controls. They have three division games — Jags, Houston, Tennessee — which will go a long way toward deciding whether they’re in or out in January.
(Last three rankings: 2, 2, 5)
6. Los Angeles Chargers
Did you know that the Chargers have the second-best strength of victory in the AFC? They do: .514. So even if they are 4-6, that fact, the wins over Chicago and Green Bay, the narrow loss to the Raiders and the fact they haven’t lost a game by more than seven points, I went with them here. Plus, I’m pissed at the Colts and Bills.
(Last three rankings: 14, 11, 8)
5. Kansas City Chiefs
Only the Bengals, Dolphins and Raiders have allowed more than the 239 points Kansas City’s allowed this year. The 6-4 Chiefs allow 148.1 on the ground and 5.14 per carry. They can score as well as anyone. They also can’t stop anyone. And, I’m sorry, I thought Patrick Mahomes was the NFL’s Jordan/Tiger/LeBron? One loose kneecap and a couple weeks watching and the next thing ya know, he’s been lapped by Lamar? Comes at you fast.
(Last three rankings: 4, 4, 4)
4. Oakland Raiders
They are 5-4 and should now blast the Bengals and Jets over the next two weeks to roll their record to 7-4? Jon Gruden is my Coach of the Year frontrunner. They’ve been everywhere, man, and even though it's their last season in Oakland, they are unfazed.
(Last three rankings: 7, 6, 6)
3. Houston Texans
Game of the week for Houston traveling to Baltimore this Sunday coming off their bye. After that, Colts and Patriots. They are currently 6-3 and nobody ever takes them seriously because they kinda do this on an annual basis. Make it through this gauntlet without looking inept in one of the games, minds may change.
(Last three rankings: 3, 3, 3)
2. Baltimore Ravens
You can’t use the “but it’s the Bengals…” disclaimer against the 7-2 Ravens this week. Or any week. Not after their performance against the Patriots in prime-time. But the next three are a true test not just for Jackson — the MVP VP behind Russell Wilson — but for the entire team in terms of dealing with success and premature coronations.
(Last three rankings: 5, 5, 2)
1. New England Patriots
Heard enough about the four-game gauntlet the 8-1 Patriots are facing? Don’t blame you. Especially when the gauntlet consists of opponents who routinely throw up down the front of their shirts the moment they are regarded with respect — witness the Cowboys and Chiefs on Sunday, the Texans with astonishing regularity through this decade. We’ll see what the Eagles can do about that.
(Last three rankings: 1, 1, 1)