NFL Power Rankings: How the AFC stacks up at midway point
A bunch of teams at the midseason point. Let’s dole out some midseason awards.
Biggest surprise? Raiders.
Biggest disappointment? Browns.
Headed for a fall? Ravens.
Ready to rise? Jaguars.
Current playoff team that won’t make it? Bills.
Current non-playoff team that will? Jaguars.
Will the Patriots go undefeated? No.
16. Cincinnati Bengals (0-8)
Bengals can’t lose this Sunday. BYE WEEK!!!!! Oh, we have a lot of laughs, don’t we?
(Last three rankings: 14, 15, 16)
15. Miami Dolphins (0-7)
They got up 14-0 on the road and then saw 27 unanswered dropped on them. They’ll win Sunday against the Jets.
(Last three rankings: 16, 16, 15)
14. New York Jets (1-6)
Got waaaaaayyyyy ahead of myself (over my skis!!!!!) after the Jets knocked off the Cowboys. Let’s recalibrate here. They are at the Dolphins next week. I am rooting so hard for Miami.
(Last three rankings: 15, 11, 11)
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-4)
The Steelers are 3-4 after taking care of the Dolphins, who nobly competed Monday night before getting rolled over. But the fact is they haven’t beaten a team worth a damn. Bengals, Dolphins and Chargers. Let’s see how they do next week with the Colts.
(Last three rankings: 13, 13, 14)
12. Denver Broncos (2-6)
Excruciating loss for Denver on the road at Indy. Awful looking game too. The two teams combined for 20 penalties and were 6 for 24 on 3rd down between them. Denver makes teams look a little sloppy and that is their strength. But that won’t get you far.
(Last three rankings: 11, 9, 12)
11. Los Angeles Chargers (3-5)
No matter how bad Mitch Trubisky is — and he’s pretty bad — the Chargers winning at Chicago was one of the most stunning results I’ve seen this year. So bless the Chargers but also note they went 2 for 10 on third down and had 11 first downs all day. They ran for 36 yards. They remain … not good.
(Last three rankings: 12, 13, 14)
10. Cleveland Browns (2-5)
The Browns have lost three in a row and they are right now like a household being run by the oldest teenage brother. Freddie Kitchens has no business being an NFL head coach right now. The Browns actually are talented enough to steal wins. And they will. But what a disaster.
(Last three rankings: 9, 10, 9)
9. Tennessee Titans (4-4)
Also hanging around at 4-4, since getting embarrassed by the Broncos 16-0 and moving on from Marcus Mariota. They did what they should against the Chargers and Bucs winning by three and four points respectively. Now they have a tough stretch to make their season or break it.
(Last three rankings: 8, 12, 10)
8. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4)
Hanging around. My preseason pick to click, they’ve jammed three seasons worth of silly into a half year and are there at 4-4. They cleaned out the two teams they needed to — Bengals and Jets — and now host the Texans ahead of their bye week. Great checkpoint game.
(Last three rankings: 7, 8, 8)
7. Buffalo Bills (5-2)
Kinda had their hands full with the Dolphins last week. Took a beating from the Eagles at home on Sunday. They’re 5-2 but their quarterback Josh Allen is so limited as a thrower. They also got run over on the ground (218 yards). If they are to be taken more seriously despite the 5-2 record they need to plow through their next four games — Redskins, Brown, Dolphins, Broncos.
(Last three rankings: 3, 4, 6)
6. Oakland Raiders (3-4)
They’ve lost two straight but I say, “No shame.” The final was misleading against Green Bay the prior week and they had the Texans roped before losing. Both good teams, both on the road. Now the Raiders get a string of three straight at home before visiting the Jets. These boys gonna be 7-4.
(Last three rankings: 6, 6, 7)
5. Baltimore Ravens (5-2)
The Ravens’ strength of victory was every bit as underwhelming as the Patriots has been until they went into Seattle and came out with a win last week. Coming off their bye, they need to understand that the Patriots are going to do everything to keep Lamar Jackson from going off on the ground while begging him to throw. He was 9 for 20 against Seattle.
(Last three rankings: 7, 7, 5)
4. Kansas City Chiefs (5-3)
The Chiefs are digging a little hole in the AFC playoff standings without Patrick Mahomes. Actually, they started digging before Mahomes went down with losses to the Colts and Texans. Highly entertaining loss to the Packers Sunday night which revealed two things. As great as Mahomes is, a great fleet of skill players will prop up any quarterback as Matt Moore was 24 for 36 for 267 with 2 TDs on the road. And the Chiefs still can’t stop the run even though their pass rush is a little daunting. Vikings up next.
(Last three rankings: (4, 3, 2)
3. Houston Texans (5-3)
Huge blow losing J.J. Watt for the rest of the year but they have the AFC quarterback who’s playing the best in Deshaun Watson. A comeback win over the underrated Raiders after a narrow road loss at Indy and a win over the Chiefs at Arrowhead. They’re 5-3 but I still think they’re the second-best team in the conference when Mahomes is down. But can’t put them ahead of the team that just beat them last week.
(Last three rankings: 5, 2, 3)
2. Indianapolis Colts (5-2)
I was so pissed that I held off on these Colts and then — after I put them at No. 2 — they were about to lose to the Broncos at home. A 51-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal saved them from a loss but when I’m out here looking for zits on the Patriots after a 14-point walkover and the second-best team is life-and-death with a 2-6 team led by Joe Flacco? See why I don’t trust them?
(Last three rankings: 4, 5, 2)
1. New England Patriots (8-0)
The trade deadline approacheth. So does the road game at the Ravens that’s circled as the date when the Patriots' 2019 season begins. This is Baltimore’s in-season Super Bowl and the Ravens will come off a week of rest and preparation. I expect competitive football. But if it’s not and the Patriots put Lamar Jackson in a tiny box and store him on the top shelf of the closet? On the road in prime time? Is there any place other than “1” I could put this team?
(Last three rankings: 1, 1, 1)