NFL Power Rankings: Where Each Team Stands in Its Divisional Race After Week 7
Another interesting and exciting week in the NFL has created some changes in the power rankings, and some teams either helped or hurt their chances of winning their respective divisions.
The Denver Broncos' loss to the Indianapolis Colts was a tough one for the formerly undefeated team to swallow, and as a result the Broncos are now one game behind the perfect Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.
A win for the New York Jets over the New England Patriots not only erased the Pats' win over the Jets earlier in the season, but it also put the Jets right back into the thick of things in the AFC East.
Those are just two examples of teams who helped or hurt themselves in the divisional races. Let's take a look at where each team stands in its division after Week 7.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (7-0)
Granted, the Chiefs' schedule hasn't exactly been a tough one this season, but their latest win over the Texans in Week 7 once again proved this team knows how to win games and has all the pieces to make some noise in the playoffs.
Unluckily for Kansas City, it has Denver in the same division with a 6-1 mark. Otherwise the Chiefs would be running away with the AFC West. Regardless of that situation, there is a Chargers team beneath both Denver and KC that is 4-3 and will continue to put pressure on the top two teams in the division.
2. Indianapolis Colts (5-2)
If not for a horrid loss to the Chargers in Week 6, the Colts would have the No. 1 spot right now, but they shouldn't fall any further than here. After being the first team to defeat Peyton Manning and the Broncos this season, the Colts have shown they can beat the best teams in the league with wins over San Francisco and Seattle to show for it.
Indy has greatly benefited from a weak division this season. Sure, the Colts have done more than enough to earn their spot amongst the league's elite and feel comfortable in the division, but a depressing season from the Texans has made things a lot easier, as Houston is three games back and trailing a decent second-place squad in the Titans, who are just 3-4.
3. Denver Broncos (6-1)
A loss to the Colts isn't the end of the world for Denver—unless you're Manning and had to suffer such a loss in your old stomping grounds to the guy that replaced you in Andrew Luck.
Despite that, Indy has beaten plenty of quality opponents this season, and while it did expose some serious weaknesses for Denver, the Broncos remain in the top three in the league.
The loss in Indy dropped the Broncos off the pace in the AFC West, which is now being set by the only undefeated team in the league, the Chiefs. When looking at the respective schedules of the Chiefs and Broncos, this particular situation isn't likely to change anytime soon. Their Week 11 and 13 matchups will decide who stands atop the division.
4. Seattle Seahawks (6-1)
The Seahawks went in and took care of business against the Cardinals in Week 7. That's two wins in a row after a loss to the Colts, and it appears the Seahawks are getting right back on the horse in the winning department.
The NFC West is a two-team race at this point with the Seahawks owning a one-game lead on the Niners, while the Rams and Cardinals both have a ton of issues and are three games behind the first-place Seahawks. You can pretty much cancel the Rams out of the conversation now that quarterback Sam Bradford is out for the season.
5. New Orleans Saints (5-1)
The Saints are hanging on for dear life in the No. 5 position and managed to hang onto it after a bye week. New Orleans needs a big showing in Week 8 against the Bills if it hopes to stave off the Niners, who are right behind the Saints in the rankings.
Amazingly enough, it's the Panthers who are the biggest threat to the Saints' two-game lead in the division. Although they won in Week 7, the Falcons are three games behind the first-place Saints, and it's clear New Orleans is the class of the division.
6. San Francisco 49ers (5-2)
The Niners are beginning to round into form after a slow start to the season and have now scored 30 points or more in each of their last four games. A win over the Titans was another encouraging sign that this team has righted the ship, and a matchup with Jacksonville this week will only continue to help.
San Fran is very much in the hunt for the NFC West with a one-game deficit to make up. The Niners will also need a win down the road in Week 14 against the Seahawks if they hope to erase the divisional loss they suffered at CenturyLink Field in Week 2.
7. Cincinnati Bengals (5-2)
Cincinnati has consistently shown it can beat tough teams this season. The Lions were the latest victims for the Bengals, who have now beaten squads like the Packers and Patriots to add to their impressive list. Now, if not for two tough losses to the Bears and Browns, this team would be getting top-five respect.
A two-game lead in the AFC North is a great one when considering the total disarray teams behind the Bengals are in. The Ravens and Browns are both two games back with the Steelers two back in the loss column, but none of these teams is even close to as good as Cincy. It's the Bengals' division to lose.
8. Green Bay Packers (4-2)
A 1-2 start to the season wasn't a pretty one for Green Bay, but since then the Packers have bounced back to win three games in a row. A win over the Browns and their tough defense helped keep the Packers in this spot, but losing Jermichael Finley to injury has further depleted Aaron Rodgers' options through the air.
The NFC North is tight to say the least. Green Bay has a one-game lead in the loss column with Chicago and Detroit breathing down its neck, and one loss could kick the Packers out of the division lead.
9. New England Patriots (5-2)
The Pats lost their second matchup of the season with the Jets after winning the first. The return of Rob Gronkowski didn't make much of a difference, as Tom Brady struggled and the Jets defense kept the Pats in check overall—and rookie Geno Smith outplayed the future Hall of Famer.
New England no longer has a divisional win advantage over New York since the two teams split their games. As a result, the Jets are just one game back of the Pats, and the Dolphins and Bills sit one and two games behind in the loss column, respectively. The AFC East is a lot tighter than anyone ever thought it would be.
10. San Diego Chargers (4-3)
We already know the Chargers can move the ball on offense and score, but after allowing just 15 total points in its last two games, San Diego's defense is starting to come around. Granted, one of those games was against Jacksonville, but a Week 6 win over the Colts, who scored just nine points, was a huge statement for this squad.
The Chargers are having a surprising season to say the least. It would be going even better if not for the two elite teams ahead of them in the Chiefs and Broncos, but the AFC playoff picture is wide open this season. San Diego and New York are the conference's only 4-3 teams. San Diego's division hopes are still alive just three games back, although it will be impossible to catch two teams that are playing at such a high level.
11. Dallas Cowboys (4-3)
The Cowboys have to love their horrible division. Two consecutive matchups against teams like the Redskins and Eagles have helped place Dallas atop the NFC East, although the win over Philly wasn't exactly a pretty one; the Cowboys' potent offense could only muster up 17 points against an awful Eagles defense. A win is a win, I guess.
Despite how terrible each of the teams below the Cowboys has been this season, they are just one game ahead of the Eagles, and the Redskins are just one back in the loss column. If the Cowboys can ever get on a hot streak and reel off a few more wins in a row, there is a good chance Dallas runs away with this division.
12. Detroit Lions (4-3)
A tough loss at home to the Bengals has dropped the Lions in the rankings a bit. Detroit is now struggling, having lost two of its last three games after starting off the season 3-1. Before their bye in Week 9, the Lions will have another challenging contest in Week 8 against the Cowboys.
With the Bears dealing with a ton of injuries and faltering at the moment, the Lions must look above at the Packers, who appear to be their biggest competition for the division this season. Since the Packers already had their bye, the Lions and Bears have played one more game and are tied with a one-game deficit for first place in the loss column.
13. New York Jets (4-3)
The Jets are enjoying an incredible season thus far. Not only have they played well beyond their expectations and are witnessing a rookie quarterback develop, but the Jets also managed to beat the Patriots in a huge Week 7 win at home.
With that win over New England, New York stands just one game behind its division rival. It has a realistic shot at winning this division should the Pats continue to look lost offensively and have problems on defense sprung from tons of serious injuries to key players.
14. Chicago Bears (4-3)
After losing three of four games, the Bears are beginning to look more like a pretender rather than a contender. Losing to Washington was bad enough, but allowing the Redskins to drop 45 points is a bad sign for this Bears defense. It must step up now that QB Jay Cutler is on the shelf.
A bye week is much needed for Chicago in Week 8. Not only do they have a chance to rest up, but the Bears will also have an extra week to prepare for a showdown that could determine first place after nine weeks against the Packers—so things aren't quite as doom and gloom just yet in Chicago.
15. Buffalo Bills (3-4)
The Bills are one of those middle-of-the-road teams that keeps narrowly losing to good teams while beating fellow decent or mediocre squads. Week 7's win over the Dolphins was another example of that after losing to the Bengals in overtime by a field goal in Week 6.
Since the Pats aren't doing much to put this division away early on, the Bills are hanging around in last place just two games back. It remains to be seen if quarterback Thad Lewis can take them there while EJ Manuel is out, but the Bills are still in the hunt for the time being.
16. Carolina Panthers (3-3)
With three wins in four games, Carolina looks primed to at least make a run this season. Its offense has scored 30 points or more in the three wins, and its defense is among the league's best after six games. A win over the Rams isn't exactly eye-opening by any stretch, but it's a game the Panthers should have and did win.
The Panthers' sign of life is coming at the right time, as they are now just two games behind the first-place Saints in the NFC South. Even if New Orleans keeps playing at a high level, Carolina's chances at a playoff berth in the NFC are starting to look like a strong possibility if things keep going well.
17. Miami Dolphins (3-3)
After a third straight loss, the Dolphins are looking like pretenders in 2013-14. A loss to the Saints in Week 4 was understandable, but Miami should have at least split its last two contests against the likes of the Ravens and Bills. That didn't happen.
The AFC East is still wide open despite Miami's nosedive. The Dolphins are in third place and just one game behind New England in the loss column. If Miami wants to have a prayer at winning this division, it must rebound and do it quickly.
18. Baltimore Ravens (3-4)
Baltimore had a golden opportunity to keep pace with the Bengals in the AFC North, but failed to do so after a loss to the lowly Steelers. The Ravens defense has done its best to keep the team in games, as Baltimore's offense has scored just 33 points in two weeks.
Even though both the Ravens and Browns are only two games back for the division lead, it's quite obvious those two teams are nowhere near as complete and talented as the Bengals. After a Week 8 bye, Baltimore will have two divisional matchups in a row against Cleveland and Cincinnati, so there could be some movement in the division coming.
19. Cleveland Browns (3-4)
Cleveland's offense once again made it impossible for this team to win a game with Brandon Weeden behind center. The Browns' normally stellar defense did allow 31 points last week, but how can it expect to succeed when the offense does little to nothing to give it a rest with quick, failing drives?
The Browns are tied for second in the division and are just two games back after seven weeks. A quarterback change to Jason Campbell, per Tom Pelissero of USA Today Sports, should help give this offense a boost and could help return this team to the successful days of Brian Hoyer's short-lived tenure at the position.
20. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4)
Quarterback issues are plaguing the Eagles right now as Nick Foles was the latest signal-caller on the roster to get hurt. In their mess, the Eagles scored only three points, and what was thought to be their strong point—offense—totally failed them against the Cowboys.
Despite their inconsistency and overall struggles, the Eagles are just one game behind the Cowboys and have a shot to erase the divisional win advantage the Cowboys have in Week 17. Until then, Philly must keep pace with Dallas and hope that Michael Vick's return, per Phil Sheridan of ESPN.com, will fuel them to a hot streak.
21. Atlanta Falcons (2-4)
The Falcons are doing nothing to give people hope they will turn things around this season, and that's after a win on Sunday. Atlanta was blessed with a matchup against the winless Bucs, but gave its lowly opponents a chance to tie the game with just under two minutes left in regulation.
With a horrid defense and a suspect offense ravaged by injuries, the Falcons just don't look like a team that can make up a three-game deficit in the NFC South. That's especially true when factoring in how well the Saints have played.
22. Arizona Cardinals (3-4)
Things were looking up for the Cardinals after starting the season 3-2, but two straight losses are quickly dropping the Cardinals in their division. Losing to the Seahawks is nothing to be ashamed about, but it does show Arizona will never be more than a decent team this season.
The Cards have lost two divisional games in a row, and while their prospects are looking better in the NFC West than the fellow 3-4 Rams, it's doubtful the Cardinals have even close to enough talent to run with the Seahawks and Niners in this division.
23. Tennessee Titans (3-4)
The Titans' loss to the Niners won't hurt their ranking all that much, but it does hurt their playoff standing in the AFC heading into a bye week. Tennessee has now lost three games in a row, although on the brighter side of things those three losses were all to elite teams (Kansas City, Seattle, San Francisco).
Despite this losing streak, the Titans remain just two games back in the AFC South and have remained in second place almost by default thanks to the disappointing season the Texans are having. The Titans have a great chance to recover, however, as games with the Rams and Jaguars are coming up after the bye. They will need those wins as the Colts continue to play elite football and will be extremely difficult to catch.
24. St. Louis Rams (3-4)
When Sam Bradford was lost for the season, it pretty much KO'd any hopes St. Louis had of making a run. Even before the injury, a loss to a team like the Panthers in Week 7 wasn't giving the Rams' fanbase much hope.
The Rams are in the same division with two of the top teams in the league. A three-game deficit without their franchise QB will be way too much to overcome. The Rams' only shot at saving the season is to make a run at a wild-card spot, which is highly unlikely in and of itself with Kellen Clemens taking the snaps.
25. Washington Redskins (2-4)
Washington's defense has done next to nothing to give this team a shot at winning games this season. The same can be said for Week 7 after the Redskins defense allowed 41 points but was saved by the offense, which dropped 45.
This team has so many holes on both sides of the ball, it's hard to fathom it making a run this season. Still, Washington is just one back in the loss column and could conceivably make a push for the division if the teams above it don't take the bull by the horns.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4)
The Steelers have some life after two straight wins, although neither was against a top team. A win over the Ravens last week proved the Steelers are by no means a bottom feeder, and a favorable schedule filled with winnable games leaves some hope moving forward.
Pittsburgh remains in last place thanks to a horrid 0-4 start to the season. Two wins in a row have certainly made the Steelers relevant in their own division, but the Bengals will be nearly impossible to catch with a two-game lead in the loss column and the Steelers' often erratic play week to week.
27. Oakland Raiders (2-4)
Oakland enjoyed a bye in Week 7, so the team should be well rested when welcoming the Steelers to town on Sunday afternoon. That's a game the Raiders could certainly win and that could help the Raiders stay afloat in the playoff picture.
The Raiders are four games behind the Chiefs in the loss column, and even if Kansas City falters, Oakland still has Denver to worry about in regard to winning the AFC West. There's no chance that either of those two teams struggles enough to let the Raiders back into the hunt.
28. Houston Texans (2-5)
Despite owning the label as the league's most dysfunctional team, the Texans had a chance to beat the undefeated Chiefs in Week 7 but were unable to do so, losing by just one point on the road. Houston has now lost an astounding five straight games as its nightmare season continues.
Houston sits three games back and in third place in the AFC South. With the way things are going, it would be crazy to talk about even a playoff berth for the Texans, let alone a chance at the division.
29. New York Giants (1-6)
The only thing worse than watching the Giants on Monday night was witnessing how bad the Vikings looked. New York notched its first win of the season against Minnesota and its sloppy offense. Not much to write home about there.
Giants fans are still holding onto the hope that this team can make up a three-game deficit in such a messy division. Until the Giants win against a tough opponent that has its stuff together this season, there's no chance the Giants can make a run at first place with all their problems.
30. Minnesota Vikings (1-5)
The Vikings are a total disaster right now. It's bad enough that new QB Josh Freeman looked lost on Monday night, but now the lack of a passing game is making Adrian Peterson irrelevant on the ground. The fact that Minnesota couldn't get anything going against a lowly defense in New York further proves this team is going nowhere this season.
The team announced on Wednesday that Freeman suffered a concussion, which means Christian Ponder will get the nod if he's not ready.
There is simply too much turmoil in Minnesota for the Vikings to make a run in 2013-14. The Vikings are in a very competitive division and are no doubt the worst team of the bunch. At this point, a three-game deficit in the loss column is a mountain too big to climb for such a bad team.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-6)
The Bucs had a great shot to win in Week 7 against a wounded and struggling Falcons team, but they squandered their chance to get that elusive first win, losing by eight.
Tampa Bay is a full five games behind the Saints for the division lead and has not a chance in the world of making it up or getting to the playoffs for that matter. The only thing that can make this a successful season is if rookie QB Mike Glennon shows he can play in the NFL.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-7)
There are some bad teams in the NFL, but the Jags keep showing they are the worst of the worst. In Week 7 against the Chargers, the Jags simply couldn't muster up any points and continue to be a doormat for the rest of the league.
Forget the division, the Jags will be lucky to get a single win this season.
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