Because there are 17 weeks in the NFL season, it’s hard to determine a true halfway point, but this might as well be it.
We’re through eight weeks of the season, and 18 of the league’s 32 teams are eight contests into their 16-game slates. The NFL trade deadline is also Tuesday afternoon, meaning teams who believe they’re still alive (and technically everyone still is, even you, Miami!) must decide how they want to mold not only the rest of their season but their franchise moving forward.
Perhaps the Week 9 version of the NESN.com NFL power rankings could be of assistance to those teams on the fence?
1. New England Patriots (8-0, Last week: 1): Tom Brady has “only” a passer rating of 88.2 the last three weeks, and the Patriots have won those games by an average of 23 points. They’ll finally start being tested this week, though, when they go to Baltimore.
2. San Francisco 49ers (7-0, 3): They’re the other unbeaten team and they’re coming off an impressive 38-point shellacking of a pretty decent Panthers squad. If we’re gonna say the Patriots are the clear-cut No. 1, despite not playing anyone, the blemishless Niners must be No. 2.
3. New Orleans Saints (7-1, 2): Drew Brees is back, and he looked healthy, but perhaps the most telling thing about the Saints’ system is Latavius Murray putting up 300 all-purpose yards over two games in Alvin Kamara’s place.
4. Green Bay Packers (7-1, 4): They didn’t have to face Patrick Mahomes, but going into Arrowhead and beating the Chiefs in primetime is a good win regardless. Aaron Jones, meanwhile, leads the NFL in total touchdowns.
5. Minnesota Vikings (6-2, 6): The Vikings’ 2-2 start feels like a distant memory now, huh? Mike Zimmer’s team has outscored opponents by a combined 58 points in their four-game winning streak.
6. Kansas City Chiefs (5-3, 5): Any thoughts of home-field advantage are likely gone, barring an undefeated run the rest of the way, but if Mahomes is healthy — and it sounds like he could return this week — then that’s all that matters, especially if they end up having to go to Foxboro in January.
7. Baltimore Ravens (5-2, 7): They’re in a perfect position right now. The bye week followed their impressive win at Seattle, giving them an extra week to prepare for the Patriots. A win Sunday night obviously would go a long way in solidifying them as a legit threat in the AFC.
8. Seattle Seahawks (6-2, 8): After a loss last week and letting the lowly Falcons hang around this week, it’s hard not to wonder just how good Seattle is. We’re about to find out, as they have the 49ers (twice), Rams,, Eagles, Vikings and Panthers left on the schedule.
9. Dallas Cowboys (4-3, 9): If the playoffs started today (spoiler alert: they don’t!), the Cowboys would win the East and be the No. 4 seed. Kinda weird, right?
10. Los Angeles Rams (4-3, 14): Good time for the Rams to be hitting the bye. They bounced back from a three-game losing streak by throttling two teams (Atlanta, Cincinnati) they needed to beat. They should improve, too, as Jalen Ramsey settles into that defense.
11. Indianapolis Colts (5-2, 11): There are some teams hot on the Colts’ heels in these power rankings who are probably better. Indy, after all, has just a plus-7 point differential, despite a potentially misleading 5-2 record.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (4-4), 14): We saw the Eagles’ true potential Sunday in Buffalo. If they’re able to find the right mix of Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders out of the backfield, Doug Pederson will have quite the offense at his disposal.
13. Houston Texans (5-3, 12): Almost everyone who’s anyone in Houston is at least kind of hurt right now — except for Deshaun Watson. Can Bill O’Brien patch it all together, especially with a trip to London on deck this week? Call us skeptical.
14. Carolina Panthers (4-3, 10): Little bit of a wakeup call for the Panthers, who were no match for the 49ers in Week 8. Kyle Shanahan might have Ron Rivera’s number at this rate, with his offenses scoring at least 33 points three of their last five matchups. Good news for Carolina: No Shanahan this week.
15. Buffalo Bills (5-2, 13): Facts are facts. The Bills two losses came against the Patriots and Eagles, who are combined 12-4. The combined record of the teams they beat? 7-31.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4, 19): The Jags’ homecoming London weekend is here, and the recipe for success is looking quite simple: Jacksonville is plus-8 in turnovers in its four wins and minus-seven in its losses.
17. Detroit Lions (3-3-1, 17): They can’t stop a nose bleed, have no running game to speak of and are reportedly looking at trading away cornerback Darius Slay and trading for running back Melvin Gordon. Color us confused.
18. Tennessee Titans (4-4, 22): Let’s try not to overreact to Ryan Tannehill’s play — the 115.3 passer rating stands out — but he has at least saved their season in a still-open AFC South.
19. Oakland Raiders (3-4, 18): Oakland could use Khalil Mack, but he’s paying dividends for the Raiders in other ways. First-round pick (acquired from Chicago) Josh Jacobs is averaging 5 yards per carry this season, and Oakland has two first-round picks next spring — just in time for the Vegas move.
20. Los Angeles Chargers (3-5, 23): Nice win in Chicago, but the best news for the Chargers this week might be some random speculation linking them to Tom Brady.
21. Chicago Bears (3-4, 16): The quarterback isn’t very good, neither is the kicker, and the coach might be a bonehead. This is how you waste a superstar defense.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-4, 21): The Steelers might be down to one healthy running back. Not great, especially when your quarterback room currently consists of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges.
23. Arizona Cardinals (3-4-1, 24): Tough two-game stretch here for the Cardinals, who go from facing New Orleans in Week 8 to a Thursday night game with the Niners. At least it’s a home game.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5, 20): The Bucs probably didn’t hire a veteran coach like Bruce Arians only to turn and sell at the deadline in his first season, but maybe it’s something they should consider on the heels of another sloppy loss.
25. Cleveland Browns (2-5, 25): When you watch the Browns play, it’s clear to see the talent, which also exposes the very obvious coaching issues for a team that leads the NFL in penalty yards per game and is tied for the third-worst turnover differential.
26. Denver Broncos (2-6, 26): You know things are bad when Joe Flacco says something other than “Hut!” for the first time in his life to rip his own team’s coaching decisions.
27. New York Giants (2-6, 28): Weird week for Leonard Williams, who goes from New York to New York in the first-ever Giants-Jets trade. Bad news: Both teams suck. Good news: He doesn’t have to move.
28. New York Jets (1-6, 26): Sam Darnold completed 21 of 30 passes Sunday in Jacksonville, which is actually quite good — until you consider three of those nine non-completions were interceptions.
29. Atlanta Falcons (1-7, 29): We don’t want to advocate for the firing of someone, but it’s really quite puzzling if the Falcons don’t fire Dan Quinn during the bye week.
30. Washington Redskins (1-7, 30): They’ve covered the last two weeks despite scoring a combined nine points. So, that’s something.
31. Cincinnati Bengals (0-8, 31): Why not just trade everyone you can at this point? Embrace the suck, guys.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-7, 32): The Dolphins led by 14 Monday night, easily their biggest lead of the season and still lost by two touchdowns. Pretty impressive, actually.