Things are starting to come into shape in the NFL.
We’re now approaching the midway point of the regular season (hard to believe), and it’s becoming pretty clear who the contenders and the pretenders may be.
Things stayed mostly the same following Week 7, with the Baltimore Ravens making perhaps the biggest statement of the weekend while the Dallas Cowboys bounced back in impressive fashion on Sunday night. Meanwhile, the Patriots continue to rule above the rest.
Let’s get into our power rankings heading into Week 7.
1. New England Patriots (7-0, last week’s rank: 1): “The Boogeymen” will be giving poor Sam Darnold nightmares for a while. Are we ruling out New England actually using apparitions on defense? #GhostGate?
2. New Orleans Saints (6-1; 2): Teddy Bridgewater is 5-0 as the starter in Drew Brees’ absence. But even more impressively, the Saints defense has been pretty stout. With Brees on his way back either in Week 8 or following the Week 9 bye, you have to think the Saints only will improve going forward.
3. San Francisco 49ers (6-0; 3): It was messy, but that was about all the weather would permit in Washington. The defense has allowed 10 points over the last three weeks.
4. Green Bay Packers (6-1; 4): The Packers needed an emphatic win and Aaron Rodgers needed an emphatic performance. They got both Sunday, and now a big one awaits at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday night.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (5-2; 6): The Chiefs get a much-needed bounce-back trouncing of the Denver Broncos, but it came at a cost as Patrick Mahomes will miss time with a knee injury. Can Andy Reid work wonders with a backup quarterback?
6. Minnesota Vikings (5-2; 7): Kirk Cousins has thrown for 300 yards in three consecutive games as the Vikings managed to win a shootout against the Detroit Lions. They appear to be the Packers’ lone challenger in the NFC North.
7. Baltimore Ravens (5-2; 15): Lamar Jackson continues to lead a dynamic running game. But the highlight Sunday was the Ravens defense forcing Russell Wilson and the Seahawks into their worst performance of the season, in Seattle no less.
8. Seattle Seahawks (5-2; 5): Russell Wilson has been the picture of consistency for quite some time, but Seattle’s offense shut down when the running game couldn’t get going against Baltimore. Turnovers also reared their head.
9. Dallas Cowboys (4-3; 11): Jason Garrett can breathe a little, for now, after a very complete performance against the Eagles. The Cowboys still have control of the NFC East, which isn’t saying much.
10. Carolina Panthers (4-2; 8): The Panthers sit tight during their bye week, but their biggest test sits out in front of them as they take on the Niners on the road. Will an extra week of prep make the difference?
11. Indianapolis Colts (4-2; 12): The Colts came off their bye and took hold of the AFC South with a nice win against the Houston Texans. Jacoby Brissett really is starting to settle in under center.
12. Houston Texans (4-3; 9): A controversial call may have taken away a touchdown from the Texans and ultimately made the difference on the scoreboard, but there’s little doubt Deshaun Watson got outplayed in this one, which is not something we would have guessed coming in.
13. Buffalo Bills (5-1; 10): The Bills moved to 5-1 (!) after needing 22 points in the fourth quarter (!!) to pull it out against the Miami Dolphins (!!!). It’s hard to trust the Bills at this point but they keep finding ways to win football games.
14. Los Angeles Rams (4-3; 13): A matchup against the Falcons defense was exactly what the doctor ordered for a Rams offense that has struggled to find a rhythm in recent weeks.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4; 14): The Eagles had massive problems taking care of the ball on Sunday night against the Cowboys and their defense is looking awfully leaky at the moment.
16. Chicago Bears (3-3; 16): A prime example of how the box score likes to lie. Mitchell Trubisky is not the answer in Chicago and David Montgomery is not touching the ball nearly enough.
17. Detroit Lions (2-3-1; 17): Sunday’s 12-point loss actually was Detroit’s biggest deficit of the season as the Lions could not find a way to stop Kirk Cousins nor outgun the resurgent Vikings offense.
18. Oakland Raiders (3-3; 18): The Raiders actually played a decent game against the Packers but Aaron Rodgers simply was undeniable. Josh Jacobs looks better every week.
19. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4; 19): Things got a little weird Sunday in Cincinnati, but the Jags were able to get back into the win column thanks to a very impressive performance from Leonard Fournette on the ground (29 carries, 131 yards).
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4; 20): The Bucs have yet to win a game at home this season, so maybe it’s a good thing they go on the road to face a new-look Tennessee Titans squad on Sunday.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4; 27): The Steelers got a necessary bye week to heal up, and now they face the Miami Dolphins on Monday night. All things considering, moving to 3-4 would be a solid consolation for what seems like a lost season.
22. Tennessee Titans (3-4; 24): Ryan Tannehill was an immediate and easily-noticeable improvement over Marcus Mariota. The Titans got a little lucky in the end, but a defensive goalline stand could breathe new life.
23. Los Angeles Chargers (2-5; 23): The Chargers have lost in brutal fashion a few times this season, but marching down to the goal, only to have Melvin Gordon fumble on the half-yard line in the closing seconds has to be the worst of them all.
24. Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1; 25): It was an ugly game in the rain against the New York Giants, but the Cardinals trolled fantasy owners with Chase Edmonds and got the W.
25. Cleveland Browns (2-4; 27): The Browns got an extra week to prepare for the Patriots, but it seems “The Boogeymen” defense is only getting better as we near Halloween.
26. Denver Broncos (2-5; 22): Honestly, I kind of forgot the Broncos played Thursday night. The only mildly interesting thing going on in Mile High is the Emmanuel Sanders trade chatter.
27. New York Jets (1-5; 26): Mono, ghosts … it’s been tough sledding for Sam Darnold.
28. New York Giants (2-5; 28): The weather was terrible, but with Saquon Barkley back in the lineup, it was a dismal outing in Week 7 for the offense.
29. Atlanta Falcons (1-6; 29): Things are going to get really ugly for the Falcons, who face the Seahawks, Saints and Panthers over the next three weeks.
30. Washington Redskins (1-6; 30): The Redskins had absolutely no chance of scoring against the 49ers in a torrential downpour. No. Chance.
31. Cincinnati Bengals (0-7; 31): The paper bags were out in Cincinnati!
32. Miami Dolphins (0-6; 32): They can’t stop teams from scoring when they onside kick.