NFL Power Rankings: There's a new No. 2 in the AFC after Week 7
Know what? It’s starting to get good. While the Patriots are firmly entrenched as the best team in the conference and the league, the scratching and clawing happening among the next six contenders and pretenders has gotten very interesting as we near the halfway mark of the season.
16. Cincinnati Bengals
They are 0-7 and headed to L.A. to play the Rams. Feels like a winless half-season is in the offing for the deadly dull Bengals.
(Last three rankings: 14, 14, 15)
15. Miami Dolphins
Two pretty competitive games in a row? Why not throw the Fins a bone despite the 0-6? I’d take the points this week when they play Pittsburgh.
(Last three rankings: 16, 16, 16)
14. Los Angeles Chargers
They’ve lost five out of six and are at an irritated Chicago Bears team this weekend before hosting Green Bay and traveling to Oakland. At 2-5, they are sinking.
(Last three rankings: 11, 12, 13)
13. Pittsburgh Steelers
They are 2-4 and have had three respectable games in a row, winning two of them. They get Miami this week before hosting the Colts and Rams. Can they at least make things interesting in the AFC North or should we just crown the Ravens now?
(Last three rankings: 13, 13, 14)
12. Denver Broncos
Joe Flacco’s on his last legs and a fire-sale may be approaching. This week the Broncos (2-4) are at Indianapolis and it’s hard to see them walking out of that game with a win.
(Last three rankings: 12, 11, 9)
11. New York Jets
Just an abysmal performance from the Jets on Monday night that has to shake their confidence in Sam Darnold. They are 1-5. They have the Jags, Dolphins, Giants and Redskins. They have a shot still to save their season.
(Last three rankings: 15, 15, 11)
10. Tennessee Titans
They beat the Chargers. Everybody beats the Chargers. But Ryan Tannehill got the offense headed in the right direction again. This week, they have Tampa at home with a chance to get back to .500
(Last three rankings: 9, 8, 12)
9. Cleveland Browns
The Browns have lost two straight since beating Baltimore. At 2-4, coming off their bye, they have to get their ship righted in a hurry because the shine has come off Baker Mayfield. And they have to do it against the Patriots.
(Last three rankings: 9, 9, 10)
8. Jacksonville Jaguars
They are 3-4 and it’s hard to get excited about anybody beating Cincinnati as the Jags did Sunday. They should get to .500 this week hosting the Jets on a short week for Gang Green and the still-shaking Sam Darnold.
(Last three rankings: 5, 7, 8)
7. Oakland Raiders
They got sliced up by Aaron Rodgers. It happens, sure, but 42-24 is a pretty solid beating. And Derek Carr blowing a sure score by being careless at the goal line is the kind of risk a savvy quarterback wouldn’t make in a close game on the road. Gotta clean that up.
(Last three rankings: 8, 6, 6)
6. Buffalo Bills
They still have just one loss (5-1) and that’s second-best in the AFC but Miami gave them a little more resistance than I expected them to in a 31-21 Bills win. They face their toughest challenge this week against the Eagles.
(Last three rankings: 3, 3, 4)
5. Baltimore Ravens
The strength of their wins was not good. Until Sunday. Going into Seattle and winning handily was a watershed win. Or should be. Lamar Jackson’s brilliant performance on the ground overshadowed that he went 9 for 20 throwing the ball. But the Ravens (4-2) are a team on a roll with three straight wins. They have a bye this week then the Patriots coming off of that.
(Last three rankings: 10, 7, 7)
4. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs (4-2) hammered Denver without Patrick Mahomes for the majority of the game and that was almost all thanks to their defense. But that performance was an aberration. And now the Chiefs have Green Bay and Minnesota before traveling to the Titans and Chargers. If KC can hold up against Aaron Rodgers defensively, they’ll earn their way back into the top three.
(Last three rankings: 2, 2, 4)
3. Houston Texans
They beat Kansas City so I can’t put the Chiefs ahead of them in good conscience. And they were in it all the way on the road against the Colts. But they just aren’t efficient and consistent enough to be counted upon.
(Last three rankings: 6, 5, 2)
2. Indianapolis Colts
I’ve been holding that Raiders loss over their heads. But after a dominant win at KC and their impressively efficient win over Houston, they’ve shown themselves to be the second-best team in the conference at 4-2.
(Last three rankings: 4, 4, 5)
1. New England Patriots
I thought the Jets would give the Patriots a game. I really did. Somehow, despite diligently chronicling the defense’s path to one of the most impressive seasons in NFL history, I believed Sam Darnold might be able to come up with something against them. I overestimated him. Worse, I underestimated the Patriots.
(Last three rankings: 1, 1, 1)